Monday, 26 January 2015

En route

I love the term en route
Between places
On the way
It carries so much promise
The hint of potential
An aura of mystery and maybe even intrigue
Of course it could describe
the usual morning commute
But even then, there is amazing possibility
Limited only by our imagination
En route
That's where I am today
And every day

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What is satire?

So, an acceptable response to the terrorism in France is for Charlie Hebdo to publish more offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed? Rather than honouring the dead, that seems to me to dishonour. A more fitting remembrance and tribute might have been to produce an edition filled with the kind of satire that questions the world in which we live, (something this publication has done well in the past) where hate is fuelled by injustice and where the Western world floods news channels with terrorist attacks on the home front while ignoring huge scale massacre in Nigeria. In mounting such an impressive display of unity such as that seen in Paris last week, where world leaders linked arms and marched together, along with millions of others, we overlook the very real contribution of those powers in sowing the seeds of terrorism and in creating and funding regimes in which such evil can thrive.
Satire is not a tool to mock minorities but to challenge the powerful. None of us condones violence and evil on any scale but, sadly, we seem able to make some lives seem more valued than others. 
Je suis Charlie? Not if being Charlie elevates the rights of some above others and ensures that some voices are heard while others continue to be silenced.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Ditching the dream?

The Magi put their considerable wealth and experience
behind their mission to follow the star.
But, when push came to shove,
they weren't too high and mighty
to change their plans
and return by another way.
Having stirred up a hornet's nest
of insecurity and threat,
corruption and evil
in a malevolent power,
their humility saved the life
of the child born to be king.
And their presents
of gold, frankincense and myrrh,
which must have seemed so impractical
quickly took on a whole new meaning
becoming just what the baby God needed.
We may not have their wealth or wisdom
though perhaps we do.
But we too are called
to that moment of Epiphany
and, having offered our gifts,
to be willing to change our course
and be led in a new direction.
And though the road ahead is seldom clear
in the absence of a star
yet it is full of adventure
and mystery
and learning
and growth
ours for the discovering.
An Epiphany for today
and everyday.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Knowledge or passion?

Matthew 2:1-6
The Visit of the Wise Men
​In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

After being interviewed and appointed to my first post in Health Care Chaplaincy, one of the interviewing panel shared with me that the task of the panel that day, having interviewed several candidates, was to make a choice between experience and passion. I did not have the experience that some deemed necessary for the appointment, having newly graduated from Theological studies at University but I was passionate about the role. (It also served me well that I had previously worked as a biomedical scientist in a hospital haematology lab.) In this newly created role it was deemed that fresh vision might serve more effectively than tried and tested methods.
When King Herod wanted to know where the King of the Jews had been born, the Chief Priests and the scribes, who had studied such things, were able to tell him: "In Bethlehem of Judea." Their reading and learning informed their knowledge. While the wise men followed a star.
Following a star, pursuing a dream, leads to rookie mistakes. The wise men tipping off Herod to the presence of a potential rival, so the story goes, led to the Massacre of the Innocents and I, with many others, have often questioned their wisdom. But perhaps there is something to be preferred in making a response based on the warm rush of instinct than on one based on the cold light of knowledge. The Wise Men's passion or the Chief Priest's and Scribe's knowledge - which would you choose? The safety of controlled learning or the risk of being changed by responding to opportunity that is to be found around every corner? Still there are choices to be made, encounters to be discovered - that is the journey of Epiphany.

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