Monday, 30 March 2015

Such love

Matthew 21:14-15
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry

There will always be those
who are suspicious
of the motives of others
or threatened
by their popularity
Those who cannot see good
for what it is
Love in action
And for those 
who practice justice
and love mercy
and walk humbly 
the naysayers
bring danger
and do their best
to suck the good out of
all that promises 
wholeness and healing.
But love had - and has the last word
Even as he was being crucified
the King of love cried
"Father, forgive them"
And such love
could not be extinguished
but triumphed
over the angry ones.
Such love.

Making room

Matthew 21:12
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
No room for the poor
who couldn't afford the temple taxes
or acquire the right kind of offerings
No room for the sick
who might defile the space for others
No room for the sinners
who might dilute the righteousness
No room for the lonely
who might carry the expectation of community
Jesus entered the temple
and cleared the space
making room for those
who wanted to pray.
And what of our sanctuaries today?
Is there a place for those who could use some care
Those who don't sit still for very long
Those who interrupt
Those who are confused
Those who need our patience 
as we sit with them in welcome
Those who do not contribute
except by affording us the opportunity
to welcome and embrace.
Is there a place
for the poor and the lonely
for the sick and the hurting
for the righteous and the sinner
Is there a place for prayer?
Matthew 21:13
He said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Sunday, 29 March 2015


Matthew 21:9
The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Lord save us
cried the children
mimicking their elders
Lord save us
cried the weary
pleading for an easier load
Lord save us
cried the women
longing for compassion
Lord save us 
cried the outcasts 
hoping for acceptance
Lord save us
cried the disciples
still confused about their journey
And who are the folk today crying
Lord save us
Seeking companionship
on their journey 
compassion and acceptance 
along the way
a lightening of the load
and purpose
for each new day
Lord save us
A cry that awaits
our response today.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Pray, pray and pray again

Colossians 1:9
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

To be covered in prayer
Is a gift without price
Like a comfort blanket
gently draped
or held on to.
Like a duvet
being pulled back
on a cold wintry morning.
Like a soft fleecy snuggle
that brings warmth.
Prayer that
Prayer that
Prayer is a gift
For giving
And receiving
A blessing 
too often overlooked
but never overdone.
Pray without ceasing

Friday, 27 March 2015

Avoiding corruption

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Caring involves
rolling up our sleeves
diving in
making a difference.
It's often hands on
rough and gritty.
Not too effective
when we hold ourselves back
and try to care remotely.
But it's easy to get sucked in
become complicit.
It's easy to find our worth
maybe even our identity
in serving others.
And going that bit further
to help folk up
to enable
risks our sense of being.
It is that seduction
that poses a danger
a trap into which
we might fall.
There is a balance to be struck
and finding it allows us 
to be more effective
at restoring the rights and freedom
df others.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A time for clearing

1 Peter 2:1
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
​Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.

That's a tall order
ridding oneself
of all malice
of guile
of insincerity
of envy
and slander
What will be left
but a gaping hole
in the places
where those things resided.
A gaping hole
into which can move
positive regard
And still there would be room
for other positive qualities
Qualities that take energy
to cultivate
but which bring
their own growth
and capacity for expansion
A tall order.
Clearing the weeds
to allow beauty to grow.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


1 Peter 3:8-9
Suffering for Doing Right
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

A tender heart
may be bruised
even broken.
But the ability
to be a blessing
outweighs all the risks.
And the strength there is
in being tender hearted
especially against the odds
compensates every slight
heals every hurt
and binds up
every brokenness.
Be challenged
Throw caution to the wind
And let your tender heart
shine through.
Be blessed.
And be a blessing.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

Like the oyster pearl
produced by irritation
yet emerging as a thing of great beauty
so there is opportunity
to use all the discomfort
of being put down
of being falsely accused
of having integrity questioned
of being disrespected
or overlooked
to build up resilience
and the ability
to know the nearness of God
even in those
who would do us harm
and, in discovering God there
to give thanks
for a new way of seeing
an insight
not afforded
by easy times
but a saving grace
of trial.

Monday, 23 March 2015

To see Jesus

John 12:20-22
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
To see Jesus
Among the crowds
At the festival
In the disciples
In places of worship
On our streets
In our places of work 
In the coffee shop
In the garden centre
On the High Street
Huddling on a bench
Sleeping in a doorway
Holding out a cup for  loose change
Selling newspapers
Driving the bus
At the school crossing...
To see Jesus
in all whom we meet today.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The least of these

Matthew 25:40
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

A cup of cold water
A kindly word
A look of understanding
A brief smile
All conveying a depth of love
Love that doesn't stand on ceremony
Love that doesn't intrude
Love that conveys a shared empathy
but does not overwhelm
Love that acts as a shelter
or a safety net
Love that restores dignity and autonomy
yet waits in the wings
poised and ready to act
in the wobbly moments
Love that gives and receives
valuing shared action
that enables gifts to emerge
and resilience to grow
Love that recognises
that we are the least of these
The family of God united in love.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The kingdom belongs...

Mark 10:14
But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

The Kingdom belongs to children
To those whose maturity
does not stifle their spontaneity
To those whose experience
has not rendered them cynical
To those whose exuberance
has not been damped down
To those whose optimism
sees beyond the present reality
To those who squander love
as though there was an endless supply
To those whose smile is contagious
making every day much brighter
To those who see the rainbow
at the end of every rain shower
The Kingdom of God belongs to children

Friday, 20 March 2015

Just one thing

Mark 10:21
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Just one thing
Not very far
But not quite there
Yet Jesus loved him
That is the good news
All those times we don't quite cut it
Still we are loved
All those moments we don't quite measure up
Still we are loved
Because Jesus meets us on the road
He doesn't wait until we reach him
He doesn't hang back to see if we can make it
He comes out to meet us
And he greets us with love
Wouldn't that make you want to find that one thing
And spread the love
Just one thing
But still there is love.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Without shame

Genesis 2:25
And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

When shame crept in
innocence checked out
For shame is insidious
Winding its way around
what is innocent
Choking the life out of
what is pure
Stunting growth
and potential.
Shame steals and changes relationships 
And it is hard to imagine that time
before shame existed.
When humans knew pride
and security.
When the need to compete
was less prevalent
and all were valued
in their diversity.
All with a place
and a purpose.
With esteem not hard won
but gifted
Perhaps it would be enough
for redemption
to recapture
that time
before shame.
Recovering the gift of God
for creation.
But not ashamed.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Breath of God

Genesis 2:4-7
Another Account of the Creation
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

No remoteness
No aloofness
But a living, breathing, life-giving God
Hands on with creation
Forming the dust
Breathing life
Setting free
Gifting autonomy
No puppeteer
Rather, a companion
A co-creator
who shared the privilege of naming
the birds of the air
and the fish in the sea
and the wild creatures
that flew and swam 
and roamed and prowled.
Sharing the power
to shape and define
and determine character.
A God who, even after all this
saw the vacuum
that could only be filled
by human relationship.
A God who realised the potential
of human love
and created the possibility 
of community.
Just another account
of creation.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Not now

Matthew 26:3-5
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

Not now
It's not safe
Wait awhile
until it's quiet
When the crowd has dispersed
Then we can arrest him
Even the chief priests
and the elders
underestimated the fickleness
of the crowd.
Who hailed Jesus one day
and shouted Crucify him! 
the next.
There was a riot
A riot baying for the blood
of an innocent man.
Today's crowds
are just as fickle
Easily swayed
by skilled rhetoric
or false promises.
The Son of God
would fare no better
at our hands.
We probably wouldn't even wait
for the cover of night.
He'd be tried and condemned
in the cold light of day.
And we'd barely spare him
a passing thought
before moving on
to the next cause
the next petition
that catches our imagination
and demands
our swift action
while love lies
trampled in the dust.

Monday, 16 March 2015


Matthew 6:28
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin...

Pausing long enough to think
Standing back
Taking in the sights
and sounds.
Feasting on the colours.
Breathing in the fragrance.
Soaking up the stillness
then catching the rustle of a breeze 
as it weaves its way in and out
picking up and setting down
teasing, stirring.
The joy of stopping long enough
to notice all this
and the wonder that it happens
seen or unseen
appreciated or not.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Taking a look

John 3:14-15
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Held up
For healing 
Held up
For life 
Held up
that all may see
the way
to life forever
The way
that brings healing
The way
that brings life
The way
that lasts forever
Held up
For you and me.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Consider your call

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

When our feathers are ruffled
When we want to stand on our dignity
When we want to rise up
and assert our authority
We are exhorted:
Consider your call

When we feel put down
When we've been overlooked
When we've been misjudged
and found wanting
We are exhorted:
Consider your call

When our contributions are dismissed
When we encounter narrow minds
When we long to simply take our gifts
somewhere they will be appreciated
We are exhorted:
Consider your call

God calls us for times and seasons
not of our  choosing
God calls us to serve in places
out of our comfort zones
God calls us to work with others
who are not like us
And when it all seems like too much 
We are exhorted:
Consider your call

Friday, 13 March 2015

Comic Relief

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Time spent with friends
Not in debate
Not in discussion
But in stuff and nonsense
Perhaps sharing vulnerabilities
Certainly sharing foolishness
Laughing with one another as we go
Sustenance for those days
when smiles are few and far between
when the business of life
requires sobriety
Today is a day
for indulging the humour
for creating a store
on which to draw
in days to come
when the load needs lightened
by the restoring balm
of a deep and raucous belly laugh.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Anticipating good

Luke 6:37-38
Judging Others
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Just imagine the difference
if we always anticipated good.
If we didn't assume the worst
but expected the best.
If we always gave
the benefit of the doubt.
And, more.
If that anticipation was returned.
If our example
inspired others
to do likewise.
A world without harsh judgement
would be incredible 
as people flourish 
in a climate of hope.
Experiencing love
and forgiveness
and anticipation
of good.
A world worth diving into
with abandon.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Instinctive knowledge

Matthew 11:25
Jesus Thanks His Father
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

Knowledge that comes
not from learning
not from study
but from instinct
that begins in the womb.
Wisdom that, through the years
becomes tarnished
by the weight of years
by disillusionment
by cynicism.
Ground down
by hurt
and rejection.
worth holding onto
for as long as we can.
The gift of insight
from the God of heaven and earth.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Moving Godwards

Ephesians 4:31-32
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Giving others the benefit of the doubt
Using slights or false accusations
or mischief making
as opportunities 
to choose the better path.
Refusing to repay evil with evil
Choosing, instead
the path that leads us
closer to God
Forgiving because we know forgiveness
Moving on
Not without hurt
or scars
but in the knowledge
that God binds our wounds
and hugs into us
tender heartedness
and forgiveness.
Seeing the malice of others
as an opportunity by which
God allows growth.
Putting away those things
that take us far
from God.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Love of church or church of love

John 2:13-17
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

How do our sanctuaries appear to those who visit? 
Are they warm and welcoming 
or closed and inhospitable?
Do the greeters on the doors pause in catching up with each other 
long enough to welcome the stranger 
or do they close ranks and exclude the newcomer?
Who or what are our money hangers and dove sellers?
And what hoops to we require folk to jump through before they can enter?
Is our zeal today for God or is it for the house of God?
What would Jesus do
if he came to our place of worship today?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Accepted and changed

Matthew 22:1-14
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
​Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Come one, come all
The feast is ready
Come as you are
Leave changed by grace
God's invitation is extended without conditions
All are welcome
And as each is embraced
and accepted for who they are
Grace accomplishes its work
breaking down barriers
building up love
infiltrating hearts and minds
until change is inevitable 
Fuelled by love
Powered by grace.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

What I learned from 11 year olds - and their teachers

Having spent the last 5 days with 63 pupils who are in their final year in Primary School (11year olds), here are some of the things I've learned:

- they are resourceful individuals

- they can survive being "off the grid" for 5 days.

- life is complicated for 11 year olds.

- snow is simply irresistible. It calls out to be picked up. It is not possible to walk from A to B in snow without picking some up and moulding it into a missile!

- walking is very difficult. Why walk when you can run?

- their logic defies adult reasoning. That is a failing of the adult, not the child!

- they can be kind, considerate, encouraging, selfless - and fun, fun, fun.

- they are challenging,in good ways and in all sorts of other ways.

- their staff have nerves of steel, hearts of gold, the wisdom of the ages and infinite patience, all tempered with an amazing sense of humour.


Hebrews 4:12
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Gods word
Let loose
All of this
And more.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Past learning

Job 8:8-10
“For inquire now of bygone generations,
and consider what their ancestors have found;
for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing,
for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you
and utter words out of their understanding?

Learning from those gone before
One generation telling another
Sharing wisdom gleaned
from trial and error
through success and challenge
and by hard work and study
The wisdom of the ages
and of the aged
is not to be scorned
but sifted and weighed
to find treasure for today
The store of wisdom grows daily
as each adds experience and insight.
Not all new
Not all ancient
But, together, all contributing
to a wealth that we could not achieve
on our own.
"Inquire now of bygone generations"


2 Corinthians 8:1-4
Encouragement to Be Generous
​We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints—

Acts of random kindness
A discipline open to all
of whatever means
or position
or status.
Not just for the wealthy
to do unto others
But also
the gift of receiving
from others
what they can do
within their means
simply for the joy of giving.
Called together
to share the privilege
of ministry
one to another
bearing witness to
the love
and generosity
of God.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Nothing wasted

John 6:12-13
When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

Jesus - the original green agitator
Recycling the scraps
Redistributing wealth 
Making sure that nothing was wasted
Be it a loaf of barley bread
Or a tax collector 
or widow
or orphan.
Each one honoured
Each given purpose and status
None lost 
to the fickleness 
of a consumer society
that blows hot and cold
that one day values
and the next discards.
Instead each and all
are swept up
in a tide of momentum
that gathers
and cradles
each fragile scrap
until love flows in
bringing healing 
and leaving wholeness 
in its wake.
"So that nothing may be lost."

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Beyond imagination

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Beyond imagination
That must be some achievement
Beyond imagination
Our imaginations are pretty fertile
Creative, far reaching...
So beyond that
must be quite something.
We ask for the impossible
For the miraculous
And yet there seems to be
a whole new level
of which we haven't even dreamed.
And it is there
that the God
of all ages
and all places
longs to take us.
And the only thing 
that stops us going there
is our own holding back.
Beyond imagination
is what God places
within our grasp.

Monday, 2 March 2015

A word

Proverbs 15:23
To make an apt answer is a joy to anyone,
and a word in season, how good it is!

A word in season...
A word of encouragement
A word of jest
A word of approval
A word of delight
Hand written
Spoken from the heart
To counter all the other words
that are offered every day
and every hour
Words that tear down
and put down
Words that seep in
and destroy
We have our work cut out to offer
words that make a positive impact
on a world full of words.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Generous God

Matthew 20:15-16
Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Those who have been here forever 
and those who have joined more recently
have equal status in the eyes of God.
Those who spend all their time here
and those who pop in and out as the notion takes them
are equally loved and blessed by God.
For God's love and regard are not rewards to be earned,
but gifts freely given.
No holds barred.
No conditions attached.
That knowledge is at once freeing and frustrating,
reassuring and incredible,
grounding and earth shattering.
There only one thing for it – 
Enjoy, share and let God take care of the rest.

(Written for Spill the Beans)

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