Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Come and see

John 1:35-42
The First Disciples of Jesus
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Come and see - 
the curiosity of a seeker
Come and see -
the invitation of one smitten
Come and see -
the catalyst
that set in motion
a whole world
of adventure and intrigue
of excitement and trepidation
of unanticipated joy
and heart wrenching sorrow
Come and see
O that we, today,
were as spontaneous,
as inviting
as inclusive
as willing to risk
as Andrew.
To follow a summons
and recruit others
to venture out with us.
Come and see

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Preaching to myself

Joel 2:28-29

God’s Spirit Poured Out
Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Often, when I preach, I'm preaching the things I'm wrestling with and the things I need to hear. 
Looking ahead to this Sunday, the message from Joel reminds us that we don't just need to have vision but we also need to live out the vision. By so doing, we will see change - as Gandhi said: Be the change you want to see.
Joel encouraged folk to live into the promise of the future - to live as if dreams have already come true. The more they lived as though  their future was bright  the brighter their future would be.
What you live into becomes your reality.
So, how can we live as the beloved of God, engaged in building God's kingdom in all the contexts in which we are placed? How can we restore hope in the world today?
Perhaps by living in hope and becoming known as those who hope.

Monday, 28 November 2016


Matthew 24:36;42-44
The Necessity for Watchfulness
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

With joy
With dread
With patience
With hope
Advent - the season when all of these come together
Confronting, against the odds
apathy and indifference
in a world where darkness and oppression
have leached out every last vestige of light
Proclaiming with starkness
the reign of God
that breaks in with the promise
of peace and justice
when least expected.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Summoning the Light

Matthew 24:42
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 

I recently heard 2016 described as " the rapture in slow motion" - the world has lost so many folk who have used their gifts and skills and artistic genius to enhance life for others. These are the great and the good as well as the ordinary folk known only to you and I.
Leonard Cohen, one of the more recent losses, famously wrote: "Everything has a crack in it; that's how the light gets in." 
Perhaps just one of our tasks this Advent, is to rediscover those cracks to allow the light back into the darkness of the world. 
Leading towards the light has always been an Advent pursuit - this year, we need it more than ever.
Discovering cracks probably involves getting up close to things, venturing into darkness that we most likely didn't want to encounter so intimately. Often cracks aren't too obvious or immediately visible, so a degree of care and patience is required to reveal them as well as preparation for letting the light shine through once they are exposed.
Preparation, examining closely, intimacy and bringing light - our tasks for Advent 2016,

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Seeing beyond

Luke 10:23-24
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Looking for the sights that matter
Listening for truths that are important
Amidst all that wounds and disturbs
Seeing through the glare
Hearing in the cacophony
that quiet voice 
that brings focus
in all the distraction
And, in the midst of chaos
discerning the gift
hidden from voyeurs,
the treasure revealed to pilgrims
who leave what they know
to venture beyond the threshold
and are rewarded
with wisdom
not of this world.
Blessed are those eyes
Blessed are those ears.
Blessed are they.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Holding the space, drawing the lines

John 8:2-11
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”]]

Thrust into his space
with no formal contract
but with clear expectations:
Condemnation - the only conceivable outcome
in the eyes of the Scribes and Pharisees
But not in the alternative kingdom 
which Jesus modelled
In the space where he taught
and held folk to account
to live out Scripture
He freed the woman caught in adultery
and freed the Scribes and Pharisees
from their self righteousness.
He drew a line in the sand
and then straightened up,
looked the women in the eye
and set her free
from condemnation
from vulnerability
From the powerful
whose power diminished
in the face of truth
and integrity
and compassion.
In the face of such subversion
we are called
to lay down our stones
and to open our hearts
to be vulnerable
with the other,
holding the space
where power and vulnerability 
can be exchanged
as one ministers to the other,
as we give ourselves
and in the giving
find healing
and forgiveness
and newness of life.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Genesis 8:22
As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.”

This new book, from Wild Goose Publications, arrived in the post today, just before I left for work.
It was a long and varied day, filled with meetings and calls and catch ups, involving copious amounts of coffee. And, between meetings, i was able to read snippets of the poems, prayers and resources from this new volume - most of them penned by folk I know, some of whom I've never actually met but have know virtually for quite some time.
Words to chase away the chill of winter or to allow us to live fully into all that the season brings. Words in season. Today I am particularly grateful for all those who find words to help us connect with the God of every season who weaves through our lives in all manner of unexpected ways and who accompanies us through the dark and cold of winter.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Myths or Relationship?

John 18:33-34
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

How often is our judgement of others
decreed before we have met?
How often do the myths and hearsay
determine our relationships?
It was the myths that determined Jesus' fate - 
the rumours and the gossip
the hopes and the dreams...
It was the aspirations of others
that there should be a vanquishing leader
that put the nails in his cross.
He did a good job of raising folks hackles
He wasn't the best with social etiquette - 
but his reputation went before him
to condemn him.
And in a system of justice
corrupt and swift
he had no chance.
No chance to be heard or understood
Merely the opportunity
to leave an impression
that would not quickly fade.
That was Jesus the man.
And in our world today,
will Jesus the baby
fare any better?
Or is his advent
already tarnished
by our fear
and low expectations
and lack of hope
that anything can pierce the darkness
of our world today?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Alternative Source of wisdom

Psalms 24:1-2
Entrance into the Temple
Of David. A Psalm.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.

Ignore Sat. Nav.
Narrow bridge ahead

This sign, on a local road between Hamilton and East Kilbride, always makes me smile. The bridge to which is refers is barely the width of a car and at a crazy angle. The sign was put up after a spate of road blockages because there is nowhere for HGVs to turn around on the approach to the bridge - and they certainly cannot cross.
I am very reliant on Sat Nav and would be, quite literally, lost without it - I often struggle even with its' assistance! Map reading is a mystery to me!
There have been occasions when I have followed Sat Nav instructions to a completely different town simply because the street name I've requested is the same as one in another area and I've failed to realise that I'm not heading where I intended.
It's relatively easy to follow blindly. It requires little effort.
That is not the nature of faith.
Faith demands investigation on our part, resourcefulness that enables informed choice, not a slavish following that may lead us in the wrong direction.
Faith emerges as a response to something deep within us - the beating heart of God, that can only be discerned by looking and listening deeply within. There will be many external voices that seek to distract or to lead in the wrong direction but there is no mistaking the whisper of God when we seek to follow the way God leads.
Ignore Sat. Nav.
Narrow bridge ahead

Monday, 21 November 2016

What is truth?

John 18:37-38
Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

In the church calendar yesterday, we celebrated the Reign of Christ, celebrated that Christ models a different kind of reign in the world - one based not on power or oppression - but on service and love.
And now, as we head into advent, we have the opportunity to share a message of hope, of love, of joy and of peace.
We have the opportunity to model those themes in our lives.
In a post-Brexit, pre-Trump world, where fear and hatred abounds, spilling into our streets and neighbourhoods, where those who are perceived as other are persecuted and reviled, where darkness seems to eclipse the light, those traditional Advent themes need, not only to be heard, but to be modelled.
And the story of God breaking in to a world covered in darkness, seized by fear, longing for something new and radical, is a story that needs to be shared more than ever, holding out the hope for transformation today.
Advent calls for us to step up and share an unlikely story in these unlikely times.
A story of a baby, of questionable conception, being born in unfavourable conditions, in a far from obvious place, being God's response to the cries of the world.
A story that reminds us that we do not have to settle down and simply make the best of what we see happening around us in the world today.
Still God breaks in - quelling fear, fighting hatred, defying oppression, calling us to be instruments of hope and joy and love and peace.
It was just as inconceivable 2000 years ago as it is now, yet, today, God invites us to join the Spirit's subversive action in the world.
This Advent, will we choose transformation- for our lives and the life of the world?
Will we choose light over darkness,
Love over fear,
Inclusion over hatred
Freedom over oppression
Joy over sorrow
And hope over despair?
Will we choose a baby in a manger over politics of tyranny and power?
This Advent will we choose the subversive Spirit of God as the rule in our lives?
And will we share truth with the world?
The Reign of Christ takes on flesh - in you and in me.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The world that was

Matthew 5:3-11
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

"In his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kung popularised the term Paradigm Shift. He made clear that, even in the scientific field, a paradigm shift is tantamount to what religion often calls "major conversion." And it is equally rare in both science and religion...
Kuhn said that paradigm shifts become necessary when the plausibility structure of the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork fixes that a complete overhaul, which once looked utterly threatening now appears as a lifeline."
Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell in The Divine Dance

That "great rummage sale" of which Phyllis Tickle spoke, that happens every 500 years is surely here. We're at the bottom of the cereal box, shaking out the last crumbs, looking for the prize.
Folk are kicking against establishment, against the institutions, even and especially if that leaves them coming up empty. What has gone before is not sufficient for this age.
When the real extent of the darkness that is racial, gender, ability and sexuality discrimination is uncovered, it seems that there is nothing left with which to fight.
Until today, I would have been the first to assert that love triumphs over all.
Love has not triumphed when those on the margins, those with whom the church is called to be, who have, for some time, been living in fear, have that fear reinforced, rubbed in and tamped up.
Even love is, quite simply, not enough today.
We need new weapons with which to counter such darkness, such a changed reality, such a decisive voice of protest at establishment, such oppression of those who are other.
We need a new story to tell, not only to our children but to those kicked while they are down today.
We need new expressions of faith, new actions, new ways of being, new ways to stand alongside those to whom and with whom we are called to invest in the reign of God.
I have faith that those new ways will be revealed.
I have faith in the reign of God.
But, right now, our call is to commitment to reach out to and to stand with God's beloved children of whatever political, racial, gender differentiated, sexual oriented hue - to reach out to the other and, in time, to discern a way forward, a way out of the miry pit.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

No disrespect

The "Every man remembered" sculpture, currently in George Square in Glasgow is striking. And the campaign by the Royal British Legion and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to commemorate everyone who died in the First World War is admirable. I cannot help reflecting on the women who will also be remembered - there are over 800 women in the CWGC records for the First World War - and the initiative was inspired by a young woman. And I wonder why, today, when women are as likely to serve in the armed forces as men, why "Every One Remembered" could not be the wording that adorns the sculpture. However, I fear that posing the question will be seen as a sign of disrespect alongside those who choose other ways to remember and reflect on war, those who wear white poppies and those who call for peace in our time.
In a world that is heaving with gender injustice, where misogyny is taking centre stage in US politics, it saddens me that the UK could not have been a little more sensitive.
I will remember the men and the women, military and civilian, of the past and the present whose service to their country has cost them and their loved ones dearly.
Every One Remembered.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

For all the saints...

The deep conversations
The throw away remarks
The taken for granted wisdom
seldom, if ever, appreciated for its worth at the time
but now longed for and missed.
Just a few precious minutes more.
Questions we yearn to ask
Stories we long to share
Words of thanks we'd love to pass on
to those saints who have gone
whose lives affected ours
whose influence lives on.
Yet, still today, at every turn
there are those who inspire
those who teach
those whose example still helps us
reach higher
and be more than we ever dreamed.
Those saints are found
not often in the places we naturally look:
Not in those hallowed corridors
or sanctified buildings.
Not even in those set apart
or called to serve
although, if we look carefully
we might get lucky.
But today's saints surround us
in the morning commute
in the rush hour traffic
in the doctor's surgery
and in the hospital waiting room.
There, just at the moment we need
to glimpse the love of God
shining through the reality of life
that is ours this day.
This day
we give thanks
for the saints
of the past
and we look for
those saints who continue
to hold out God's love and light
in the world today.
This day,
we endeavour
to hold out
the light of Christ
for others.
For all the saints...

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed