Monday, 17 December 2012

Advent - at this time of year....

Last week disappeared in a blur
I was expecting a mad busy time. lots of meetings, lots on and in amongst it, the gift shopping and spending time with one of my boys - typical two weeks to Christmas

Into that mix came news we had anticipated and dreaded at the same time.
a member of the congregation; a good, good friend who has been fighting her own battle against the big C was in the last stages.

the privilege of ministry is that we are called into these times; we are treated as an extension of the family. It is an honour, it is painful, it is truly awesome to sit alongside a family as they say goodbye.

so my week disappeared; no small thoughts for each day to share.
No lists completed
Just being
and holding
and weeping
and knowing

and God in amongst us

Sheila had an attitude to life that was full on!
She loved to laugh, and to sing, and to play
She was beloved wife, and mother, and daughter and sister and Aunt, and good friend to many people.

Yesterday as I paid tribute to her in our Sunday worship there was not a dry eye in the house of God.
Thursday, as we say our final farewell to her will be the same

God has called her home
and we part, not forever, but until we meet again

go well my friend
go well

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent 4 & 5

Today being Wednesday my task is to create a sermon outline
the scripture was chosen Monday
and this being Advent the second Sunday has a familiarity, a traditional feel
John the Baptist

I had a memory of a poem I wrote - some years back to reflect on the relationship of John to Jesus
and I thought I might post it here today...
but what do you know?!!
I posted it this time last year!! (Almost- if you want to see it - archive 2011 -Nov)

so it got me thinking...
how often do we use and reuse our resources
at what stage do they become old/ worn/ out of date?

how often do we take for granted what we have
at what stage do we stop and think?

John had a destiny - not to be remembered for himself, but for the message he bore
he did not care for convention
nor did he worry about offending folks...

have you ever wished you could declare "You brood of Vipers!!"?  

Monday, 3 December 2012

Advent 3

And the Lord sent an angel messenger
The Lord has found favour with you, and you will bear a son....

Meantime, over here, and pretty much everywhere else, the news is full of an impending royal birth...
I feel quite sorry for them - on many levels
forced to go public early beacuse of severe morning sickness
forced to tell the world about the secret you want to keep to yourselves for a while
forced into the spotlight, when really all you want is peace and quiet, and rest

blessings on all couples who wait tonight - expecting your own wee blessings is a wonder indeed

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent 2

Sunday night
and all's well
the word was preached
and songs were sung
my voice held out (just)
and the people brought their advent prayers of hope and expectancy to the tree

Waiting... and waiting...
in this season of hopeful waiting
may we be blessed by the things we hope for
and spared the things we dread
Lord God, as we wait - lighten the darkness and guide us into hope

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Advent 1

Today is the first of December -
today I opened the first door of my advent calendar.
No chocolate in mine!
Instead a wee verse: telling the tale
Each day will give a new verse.
Each day - through Advent - I aim to write a little.
To share a thought; a blessing; hope, peace, joy and love
Advent - God approaches
Advent - the new year
Advent - bringer of joy and hope.
the world that waits in darkness...

Monday, 27 August 2012


I have been reflecting on words
My work means that I use words constantly
I write, I create, I reflect and in each case, the way I use words can make or break the occasion
Words, like a tree's roots go deep and can capture and hold onto a heart or mind - and can damage or heal
disturb or calm

I conduct a funeral - and the family is comforted. But if I were to use the words carelessly then the comfort could be lacking - or worse non-existent
I lead a meeting - and how I speak, how I encourage, or temper the participants can change the atmosphere for good or bad
and of course, more than anything else - I preach
I preach

It was this that started my reflectings; yesterday being Sunday
The encounters I have through the week will always inform the words I use on Sunday morning - or earlier when I am writing what I will say
Sometimes there has been pain and tragedy; other times the news has been joyous. But each week, as I read the scriptures, and choose the music to fit... underlying it all is the words that will come together to communicate something of God, of the Spirit - of Faith and Grace and Hope and Joy.
And it is a painful process!
Some weeks I am sure I will never manage to create something I am satisfied with
Some weeks it feels as though come Sunday all I will have is a blank sheet
But by prayer and God's amazing, and sufficient grace words do appear
and often, it is the most painful; the ones which have been hardest; the ones I am not satisfied with that somehow touch others

Yesterday was such a day - even as I prayed before the service I was unsure and yet, an hour later so many people thanked me!
God is gracious
God will provide
I am nothing without Him

I am a wordsmith - blessed am I

Monday, 20 August 2012

time - where did you go?

In the past several weeks I have composed many short blog posts in my head - just never took the time to sit down and commit them to keyboard.
The topics have covered family; phones; keys; frustrations; and family again.
The thoughts have been philosophical; maudlin; excited; joyous and ever so slightly ditsy...
and the ideas have flowed quite freely!

in quick order: 
family: a family gathering where all my closest relatives were there. My parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews and my aunt & uncle - truly joyous time!
the loss of my phone. Irksome; frustating and then slightly appalled by how badly I missed it
the forgetting of keys: frustrating (because if I hadn't lost the phone the arrangements would have been SO much simpler!)
the sluggishness of returning to work
the productiveness of my garden
the fun of conducting a summer wedding
and another family gathering - this time with my beloved's family

what a summer it has been!
now school is back
meetings pick up
routine is re-established
and life goes on

How blessed we are!

Monday, 16 July 2012

treasures in the sand....

Golden Sands hold golden treasures
walking on the beach today
head down into the wind
my eye was caught by the beauty of a tiny shell
green and white striped 
shiny in the foamy brine
and as I went
more and more I saw:
gold and red
white and black
striped and plain
they shone like beacons
God's eye for detail
creating perfection in a handful of empty shells
When I was a child, and
when my children were young
we would waste hours in glorious shell hunting 
in the golden sands, for a moment of bliss
I was that child again
gathering my treasures
and praising God for the day 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Happy Holidays....

or Why I Love my Wee House Beside the Sea

I am on my holidays.... not anywhere exotic, just up on the North East coast of Scotland in a wee fishing village called Findochty (Finechty...) 
I bought this little house as a fixer-upper a couple years ago, and after extensive work it is almost done. It has been almost done for around 18months because I ran out of cash and relocated to over 200 miles away. But it is warm and dry and it's a wee haven of tranquillity. 

The weather is grey and overcast; 
rain falling occasionally - but it's still beautiful. 
It's still great walking on the beach - 
watching the waves crash on the rocks
smelling the salty air
and generally letting my cares away on the tide

It's good to get some sunshine
but it isn't essential
The change in routine, and the chance to unwind and relax 
these are the things that make the holiday

I am on holiday
and I am feeling GOOD!!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Jubilee to Olympic Relay - a Jubilympic few days....

June came in with a blast!
 We began in the village with a weekend of activity; roads closed, community worship, activities and fireworks... all to celebrate the 60 year reign of our Queen.

Fast forward 10 days and Olympic fever reaches the Borders; our little village one of those visited by the torch relay. What a day! Barriers along the High Street; no parking allowed; police patrolling the street... and as the time approached more vehicles than I ever contemplated. I have heard the vehicle cavalcade was going to be over 100 vehicles - and had assumed it was all exaggeration!

We began with some Police outriders; then 3 or 4 small buggy type vehicles playing loud music and giving away big blue rattly things; then a few more Police Motorbikes; then 4 big police vans with riot shields. 

Then a wee Coca Cola bus; some more vans; more motorbikes....
then bigger buses... Coke; RBS & Samsung.... an Olympic mini bus, a big bus.... more motorbikes
some runners...
more bikes
another big bus and finally
the torch bearer!!

He passed through in a matter of moments (29 seconds to pass by where I was, I recorded it!) the cavalacade had taken more than an hour to make its way along our little roads and lanes!
was it all worth it?
You bet!!
The High Street was lined with pupils from our Primary and Secondary Schols, plus some from neighbouring schools not on the route
Folks lined the street, cheered and laughed and turned a cold, dreich day into a happy, warm community event.
What's not to like?!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

prayer for Sunday morning

God of rolling hills and deep valleys
God of brilliant sunshine and clinging mists
God of light fluffy clouds and brooding dark skies
Light and dark, high and low, you made it all
You made it for your creation to grow, to thrive, to enjoy and to reflect your glory and majesty
We are awestruck by the immensity of your creation
And we come, quietly, timidly, with joy and humility to worship and praise and adore you
Accept our worship we pray
Even as we approach you
Even as we bring you our worship
We pause
We hesitate
Aware of our weakness, our failings, our forgetfulness and our carelessness
For we know there is darkness in our hearts
There is sadness in the deep
And we cling on to old hurts and old ways
So we bring you these too:
The things we’d rather overlook
The times we forgot you, and turned away from your light
We are fearful to ask for forgiveness
And yet, through your Son comes the confidence
He pays the price
We receive the grace
And so we can be reassured that our sinfulness is forgiven
And our weakness is replaced by strength
Through Jesus Christ
Our Lord and Saviour
Who called us friends
And showed us your ways,
All our prayers, spoken and unspoken we make in his name

Saturday, 9 June 2012

and finally.....

I have been meaning to do this for weeks (well a couple or so) but life kind of caught up with me.
Taking time out for the Assembly was good, and returning to parish for a relatively quiet week was good too... spent a week "just being a minister" visiting, planning worship, catching up on admin etc....
Then a week of mayhem- the Jubilee was lovely, but taking time off compromises the rest of the week...

A couple of days ago I attended Colloquium - a half day conference on the theme of Language, Women and the Church of Scotland (not its full title - but near enough) during it I had a few thoughts of my own which I need to work through.
I found myself with a question about nature and nurture - how much of our behaviour, response and way of life is decided by our being, and how much by the way we are influenced during development?

I am now, at 52, totally happy in my own skin
I like who I am, how I've developed
I like how I dress, and how I live
I will never be the tall willowy person I imagined was trying to get out of my tall and well rounded frame.
I am, who I am
But I also know that I am this person because of the influence of my parents and my teachers in my earliest years.
I grew up believing that I was capable of anything; that my gender made no difference. And that has stood me in good stead over the years. For a long time I thought this was a generational approach, until I discovered people of similar gaes to me with totally different outlooks on life!

I was raised to be independent, free to challenge, and free to express my own opinion - and always ready to justify and explain that opinion - thus, when I write, when I converse, when I reflect I know those early years are still influencing me... still guiding me on.
And that is something to be very grateful for

Friday, 25 May 2012

Misty morning

Friday dawns, the lovely views of last evening obscured by thick mist and what looks suspiciously like rain.
The forecast implies this will lift and the sunshine return....
Can we say the same of our church I wonder?
What can we say about the 2012 assembly?
The Bogle Assembly?
Or as he referred to it yesterday "the alleluia assembly"

Our country is in the depths of recession, and has been for the past four or five years. We could I'd say, think the same of our church.
We have argued amongst ourselves, we have fallen out and made up. Some people have felt so marginalised and undervalued they have left, others have felt the same but felt all the more determined to stay and to ensure that the church remains broad, remains constant to its commitments to share the gospel and minister to all God's people.

The Assembly is one of our constants, the third week of May sees 800 church people descend on the capital, to listen to reports of what the church is doing, and wants to do. It can be a very dry time. There are pockets of wonder, of emotion, of excitement and hope. And there are also hours of talk, talk, TALK!!

This has been a dry, subdued week. There have been moments that lift the day - more than moments, there have been times when the assembly has felt moved, lifted and encouraged. But I strongly suspect that the overall impression looking back will judge it rather dull. And I for one, am a little disappointed at that. Because (as I said a week ago) I love it!

We witnessed due process
We shared in decision making
We will send a message home that the church is looking to the future
We will send a message home that the church is "Live and Well"
We must live in the moment, not in the shadow of years and decisions to come
I love God, and I love the people he has placed in my care, time for us to look forward, in hope, in love, to 'listen for the gospel.....'

Thursday, 24 May 2012

End in sight....

The penultimate day
Exhaustion is now really setting in! In any one week I may go out a couple or even three evenings, and will work long days talking, leading, reading, but I do not ever get as tired as I do in Assembly Week.
The difference is many things. At assembly first, I am not at home, with all my own things around me, and at home, I am easily able to go walk in my garden, stretch cramped muscles, and take a breather. Not so at assembly!
I have walked more this week than normal (and still I forget to bring REALLY comfy shoes!) and sitting in the assembly hall is not comfortable for hours and hours on end.
Add into that mix the opportunity to catch up with friends, to socialise, to make connections, mean the evenings have been filled with dinners (I know hard life!!) and late nights.
So today at the sixth day, the body is really beginning to protest - and yet!

Today's the day we will feel our hearts swell and the emotions stir as we acknowledge the work done by the chaplains of HM Forces. The sight of them in the hall is in itself stirring. But hearing personal stories and knowing that these men and women have such an important supportive role moves the soul.
Time to get going then!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Taking the commission

As I sit in my hotel room looking out over the capital city this morning I am reflecting on the week so far and the days still to come.
Today we will hear from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. He will be the guest speaker of the Ecumenical Report and I am looking forward to that. Later on we will hear the ministries report which will I suspect challenge a few of the commissioners.

But, the biggest part of my reflecting, has been about what it means to accept your commission - and use it. The last time I was a commissioner the end of the day brought a half empty hall. Not this year! The need to log in it seems has been effective. People queue up to speak, to commend, to criticise, to ask questions and to take an active part. And yet, still not everyone speaks or takes part. (this is most likely a good thing - we'd never get home!)

There is a quietness about assembly this year. Maybe it's the content. The lack of serious controversy. Maybe it's the Moderator - Albert, who is simply being himself! He is relaxed, he looks like he's having fun, I guess some folks will think he's too relaxed, but actually I think it gives the gathering a different tone, and I rather like it!

Time to get organised and go up the Mound to do today's diligence....

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


So we get to Tuesday; for me the morning began well, singing in the choir made me happy!

Then the business began! First report The Guild. Never underestimate the Guild! This amazing group of women (and men) is celebrating its 125th anniversary it has, in the past three years raised almost a million pounds for their projects - in the depths of recession no mean feat. The report was inspiring and gave a snapshot of the work, the friendships, the hopes and aspirations and it was a great tribute to teamwork and dedication...

From the Guild (at one point referred to "at your age") to the Youth Assembly. The young..... the enthusiastic ..... those who are not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to probe and, in their level of preparedness those who put many of the rest of us to shame. Their report is of the business of their own assembly which takes place in the late summer each year. It takes a similar form to the GA with debates and deliverances, and in turn informs some of the questions they ask of the council reports. To see these young adults addressing the assembly, challenging and questioning is a wonder, and an inspiration and gives us great hope for the church in the years to come.

In total contrast the rest of the day was Review & Reform and then Mission and Discipleship. Here will be plenty others to comment on that.... suffice to say I popped up and asked a couple of questions about publishing. But mostly what could have been controversial simply wasn't. Reports were received; questions asked; amendments proposed and the day passed.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Dull? Not really.....

Today was an interesting sort of day, not that it necessarily looked like it on face value. and Society is always an interesting report and the issues surrounding poverty, debt and injustice are far from tame.... The debates were challenging - we cannot overlook the increasing burdens of debt and the resulting consequences which often lead to homelessness and violence - and yet in all of this there was, amongst all of this deep and difficult discussion a sort of weariness - as though we all know the problems, but feel often that we are utterly helpless in seeking ways to find solutions. And yet it was clear from the passioned comments and questions that all through the land there are groups of people striving to respond in a loving and pragmatic way. Not just standing on the sidelines and hand wringing but actually rolling up their sleeves and doing something....
The scope of the Council's remit is huge - from home based issues to the wide reaching response to the segregation and partiality there is in Israel/ Palestine.... Yet in all of this there was lone voice calling out for balance for an equality of approach to the undoubted problems in that region.
Anyone who has ever travelled to the Holy Land knows the issues faced by people who find themselves on the wrong side of the wall.. .. No it is never simple; it is never one side right and the other wrong, but there does need to be a voice to speak out for the voiceless and the people of Israel have a bigger and louder voice than the Palestinians ever will - at least for the foreseeable future anyway... thus ended the day, wee had sat and listened and debated for almost 9 hours (with a brief respite for lunch) was the day dull? Not at all! Long yes. Dull never!!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Love as Jesus Loves

In China there is an amazing group of people who work together under the banner of Love Never Ends...... In the Assembly Hall today we heard about real, Awesome God given, God inspired love in action...... And we debated about whether the church's vision statement should be expanded to include the phrase "Love as Jesus Loves" The motion was defeated which on the surface sounds pretty terrible.... The church doesn't want to love like Jesus?? Actually that's not what was concluded - it was more about not changing the vision statement without thinking about how it should be re-worded to include love. Love. We're not good at expressing it... We're not good at showing it.... We have this vague notion that people will know they are loved through instinct or telepathy.... But I am sure you know that telepathy is NOT one of the gifts of the Spirit!!! We love... It is in our Christian DNA but actually we need to remind ourselves and others about what love in action is really about.... Loving sacrificially, unconditionally, in a Christlike way..... That is what we are about.... I for one think it's time we stood up and said so

Pomp and Ceremony

One of the things I love about the UK is the way we can embrace things.
As I write I am watching live TV link of the arrival of the Olympic Flame at the start of the relay It's 7am and there are hundreds of people waiting to cheer it on its way
Over the next few weeks this symbol of peace (for that it its original purpose) will travel up and down the land. June 14th will see it come through our little village
And over the time 8000 different people will be flame carriers
We are good at ceremony
We are good at pageantry
We enjoy the spectacle and the opportunity to come together
In a couple hours I'll be at an entirely different but no less special ceremony
The start of the General Assembly is heralded by trumpets and brights uniforms
There are hats and medals and ribbons
It is a stirring ceremony
More than 800 voices will raise the rafters of the assembly hall as we sing hymns and psalms
It will be a good day

Friday, 18 May 2012

A week of meetings

Getting ready to go to the General Assembly: a week of debate, reports, some fascinating and stimulating, others not.
It's a week I look forward to when it is my turn.
In the past few weeks I've heard a whole range of responses to it: from it's boring and tedious, to I love it - and everything in between
And it has got me thinking - when I was ordained amongst all those vows was one to play my full part in the life of the church...
And I guess for some that one is less important than some of the others.
But actually we aren't given to choose which vows we honour and which we avoid.
One of the others should be printed out and taped up in front of every one- we promised to be cheerful friends!!!!!!!
So I am looking forward to this week.
It will be long.
It will have moments of joy and moments of despair.
There will be lots of chances to catch up with old friends, and make new ones and put faces and names together at some of the group meals we have organised between us
But most of all it will be a week when church people come together, to worship together, to sing God's praises and to seek His will for the future of our church- what's not to like?!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

the Sermon Blog

I am laughing because of the web address.... it's actually called home is where the heart is!
Today's sermon to follow; and, if I have time some archive ones

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Unexpected Blessings....

"I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and Wait for the Lord" (Ps 27: 13-14)

This morning feeling a little weary and fragile I prayed for inspiration and strength;
out of the blue came a text: did I have 10 mins to spare?
and later on, came an answer to a wee difficulty I have been tussling with:
what joy! How amazing is our God!!
Psalm 27 tells us, reminds us to seek God's face.
So often as we seek God in the 'proper' places we
 overlook that which is right in front of us.
In ministry there is a huge temptation to be all things to all people
we are burdened with the job description of all round skills
frequently we are our own worst enemies: instead of practising the art of delegation, helping others to exercise thier gifts we struggle on, trying to be "Jill of all Trades"
(for we.... substitute I....)
today - I discovered that in being honest about the things I find hard to do, God put exactly the right person in my path, at exactly the right time
Our God is an Awesome God!!

Monday, 30 April 2012


A productive couple of weeks; I didn't read all of the books I took with me (to be honest that would not have been possible!) but I did take time to reflect, to think, to consider the future - on a personal level and in the way my ministry is developing. 
All of which were goals I had set for myself.
 Taking the time at Dunkeld - Silence and Solitude and reflecting on what Pilgrimage is and can be 
 Taking time to read, to think back over my first year in my country charge, to consider now what we could be doing to glorify God, to excite and encourage those who have fallen away from the church, and to reach out and inspire those who have no connection at all.
 Letting my imagination run, and be inspired by the Spirit to imagine the possibilities: 
 I have ideas now 
 I have things to try 
 outlines to pad out 
 and inspiration to bring about some of the things that have been bubbling away in the back of my mind 
 One of the greatest joys has been worshipping in different places - during the days at Dunkeld of course, and then on each of the Sundays I was away visiting congregations I haven't seen for a year or so - always so good to be fed and nourished - thank you Andrew and Shuna! 
 and so now to return. I must journey from north to south.
 Tomorrow back to the desk, to catching up with two weeks worth of mail and village life 
 I return refreshed, renewed and ready

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Vision

I am now into week two of study I have read a couple of new (to me) books - Brian McLaren which have stirred something - still trying to work out what that something is Today I have revisited a book that first inspired me as an undergrad in 2002; it is an old book(relatively -1992) but still it speaks to me and moves me to my very first inklings of a pastoral ministry Raymond Fung: The Isaiah Vision: the concept that a community comes together through being motivated to work together for the good of all. in his introduction he suggests that the Isaiah Vision will "make sense of Christianity to those who are not interested in Jesus Christ" (p.3)
the Vision is simple: Children do not die Old people live in dignity those who build houses live in them those who plant crops eat the fruits (Is 56:20-23)
Surely this is one of those blatantly obvious, eternal truths? The Isaiah Vision is a fresh today as it was when first written (either 1992 or even 8th century BC?!)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Silence and Solitude

Having just spent three days in the hallowed environs of Dunkeld Cathedral; listening to Ian Bradley wax lyrical about Pilgrimage I am feeling somewhat chilled.
This retreat/conference is an annual affair and to which I was invited by a dear friend. There were short lectures followed by an equal amount of silence and solitude. A chance to wander and wonder on what had been heard and what our own response was. This made for a very relaxing way to learn.
I left feeling relaxed, informed and nourished, such a refreshing change when often one returns from conferences with an information overload and needing a holiday to recover.
Now - to write; to read; to consider
I have a further 10 days of study leave - time to reflect and plan what I might put into a doctorate proposal - and indeed the thesis!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

with this ring....

we choose a ring
as a sign and symbol
it signifies an endless quality
no beginning and no end
and with that ring
as we promise solemnly
to love and honour
we give our hopes and dreams
a wedding is just a single day - a moment that captures a new beginning
what follows is the main event
the Marriage
a lifetime of living and loving and honouring the promise of that First Day
"A cord of three strands is not quickly broken"
when God blesses a union a strong cord is created:
Husband, Wife and God
with God at the core there is strength

down-side up....

O Lord your world was upside down
We didn’t know where to go
You seemed to abandon us to chaos
And then... creeping like dawn’s early light
Came Hope!!

Then suddenly all was once again right-side up!!
Light shone into the darkest corner
There was no barrier in the way
As the dawn’s mist slowly lifted
So too did our spirits ... and around the corner
Came Hope!!

You O Lord did it!!
You did the impossible
You righted the wrongs
You restored the lost
And into the world
Came Hope!!

Thursday, 12 April 2012


What is up there?
Shall we look?
Shall we climb the rocky path to see?
Seeking answers, seeking clarity in all our questions...
*as they gave up hope and walked away to Emmaus
*as Thomas listened to his friends babbling and chattering
*as the discples listened to the hysteria of the women...
as we consider all these stories, and their absurdity
we seek to see for ourselves, to touch that remote and far off thing
to know, deep inside, for ourselves the truth of the cry
Jesus is Risen!
what does it mean for you?
What does it mean for me...
He lives on in heart and mind and soul
inspiring the faithful
comforting the lost
challenging the reluctant
and showing us the way
Come!! Let's climb the rocky ways together and see where life will take us!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

"He is our God! We have put our trust in him, and he has rescued us. He is the Lord!"
The grave is empty
the stone away
the cloths lie folded
the earth rejoices
the cross now bears a garland of joy!
Christ is Risen Halleluiah!!!

Friday, 6 April 2012

where to turn.....

Good Grief!!
Good Friday
Where do we go now?
This day - the awful, dreadful, terrible day
leaves us empty
there is nothing left
no hope
no joy
no peace
just pain and guilt and fear and longing
and the endless lists of
if only.....

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Maundy Thursday

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday Communion

Tonight we give you thanks and praise
Loving God
We remember tonight Jesus sharing a last supper with his companions
Laying aside his garments
Taking a towel and pouring out water and kneeling at the feet of his friends to wash away the dust of the day; and the stain of all sin

We remember Jesus taking bread and wine, the things of every day and setting the apart from all ordinary use to the most mysterious and wondrous use of all

Tonight we break bread together, fruit of the earth, work of human hands; we pour out wine, and share the fruit of the vine, crushed and flowing out a rich red symbol of all you did for us in Jesus; this we do as he told us to do and as every generation since has done, remembering him and this Holy Night
We praise your name
Your grace permeates our world
Turning despair into hope
Transforming pain into peace
Lifting your faithful people form sorrow into joy
If only we were more appreciative more responsive to your Spirit’s prompting
Tonight we remember the holiness which emptied itself out in bitter betrayal and abandonment at Gethsemane accepting the cup as the disciples slept
With your words ‘not my will but yours Father’
In gratitude and thanks for your selfless love in Jesus we praise your name

Come to us now in the power of the Holy Spirit and as Christ blessed the bread and wine on that first night so bless us now as we gather here in this place:
May we sit at his table
Share in His feast
Offer ourselves in service
And look forward to the fullness of eternity

30 pieces of silver

that was all it took to set the wheels in motion
30 pieces of silver isn't much
not a life changing amount of money
not a fitting cost for a priceless treasure
but once you shake on it
then you're done
the deal is struck
the contract made
no turning back
no turning back
30 pieces of silver
not much for a life
not much for a friend
not much at all

how heavy did it feel in its bag?
how heavy did it weigh on your heart?
was it worth it?
what was it worth - oh yes - a small plot of land....
just enough for a burial ground.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The calm before the storm

Tuesday blew in with a blizzard and a gale all wrapped up in a power cut
there was a little adjustment needed to the day
we cancelled our monthly worship at the sheltered housing - not wanting to encourage folks to brave the elements
but communion in the Care Home still went ahead - they have their own generator
and folks with various types of dementia or Alzheimer's or stroke impairment need their routine
And so we gathered, and they listened to the Easter Story
and we sang Easter hymns
and those who could sang along
holding the hymn sheets upside down, or scrunched up
but singing along anyway to words they have known all their life
When I Survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died
my richest gain I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride
They who have lost so much
they sang out
knowing the words
knowing Jesus
being known by him.
We have such privilege, we who are called to serve
the schedule in Holy Week can be overwhelming
planning, choosing, recruiting, writing, seeking to share the immensity of those words
see from his head, his hands his feet
sorrow and love flow mingled down
did e'er such love and sorrow meet
or thorns compose so rich a crown
and when it's all done
when we've remembered how God was dismembered
we we've re-membered Him
put him back together for another year
we'll sit and sigh
and offer him everything - the tired eyes, and the sore feet and the weary back
and know it's nothing
we give him whatever we can
whatever we have
whoever we are
and know we can never come close to meeting the debt we owe
were the whole realm of nature mine
that were an offering far too small
love so amazing so divine
demands my soul, my life my all
here I am Lord
ready to serve




Monday, 2 April 2012


While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper....
How long does it take for a name to stick?
and how much longer does it take to lose it again?
Simon the Leper
he wasn't a leper any more
in fact he must have been clean for a long time
otherwise no one would have been at his home
especially not him
and yet - this mystery woman at his home is remembered for what she did - but not who she was
and he is remembered for a disease that was gone
did Jesus clean him?
was he one of the ten?
she did a beautiful thing
he used to be a leper
wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Why did you Judas?

Judas, what were you thinking?
Judas, what did you do?
What was your motivation Judas?
Did you want your dream come true?

Judas, what did you think?
That he’d come with his heavenly band?
And then what Judas did you expect?
From the man who took to the stand?

Judas – you wanted to bring it all right
You wanted to see God change it all
Instead all you did was betray him
And sent your friend to his earthly pall

What did you do Judas?
Oh tell me please, tell me now
God needed someone to do it
But why Judas, did you know how

It would pain him, and tear him apart
Before all the trials began
He loved you just as you were Judas
A keen and a righteous man

Why did you do it Judas?
Did you think it would make all things right?
You went to your master and teacher
And then ran off into the night

And when it was over Judas
What did you go and do then?
Did you really know so little
Of the plans God had for men?

Oh where did you go then Judas?
In the darkest night of your soul
If you’d only waited a little
His forgiveness was there for all

Yes, even for you, precious Judas
Who acted within God’s whole scheme
Jesus death was for all who knew him
All those who hope and who dream

Where did you go to Judas
When you did that deadly deed?
Was Jesus waiting there for you?
A bruised but not broken reed.

Saturday, 31 March 2012


tomorrow is Palm Sunday
April 1st
All Fools Day
How appropriate to remember the triumph of the crowds following Jesus into Jerusalem on All Fools Day
Ah yes! The foolishness of God
allowing his Son to be given over
humiliated and killed
such power forsaken
and why?
for what?
for whom?
Because of Love
Because of Love
Because of Love

Friday, 30 March 2012

Let all the world in every corner sing!

They sang out at church today
they sang out last night at school
they sang with joy and exuberance
some said last night was good
others said that today in church had something extra
"Let my People Go"
in the House of God stirred the heart for sure
But maybe it was something else...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

the boat was just there
waiting for someone to claim it; move it; use it

big and small
played a large part in Jesus' life
he slept in one
and told stories from another
he told fishermen how to fish in one
and he walked across the water to get into another
he took control of wind and rain
and moved people to awe and worship

all in a boat

the boat was just there
on the shoreline
waiting for its moment
waiting for the boat man

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Tonight was the last in our Lenten series
we have travelled from the wilderness to Jerusalem
from the Temple courts to Pilate's Palace
from Gethsemane to Calvary

tonight we reflected on the choice
the choice God made when creating
choosing to give us choice
choosing to allow us to choose him or not
choosing to die to reconcile us
choosing the cross

loving us first
so we may choose to love in return
how do we know?
how can we tell?
as we broke bread the scales fell away

here is my body broken for you
here is my blood poured out

unless the grain is crushed
it cannot become bread
unless the grapes are burst
there is no wine
each is the partner to the other
joy and pain
dark and light
elation and sorrow

in the breaking of bread
and the pouring of wine
we know and are known

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

One of the Crowd

I wrote this a couple of years ago when reflecting on the Passion for Palm Sunday Evening....

Crowds were such a key element of Jesus’ ministry and life
Crowds filled the place where he was born
Crowds obscured him from view when as a boy he stayed chatting in the temple
Crowds gathered for a wedding feast to drink miraculous new wine
Crowds followed his cousin John out into the wilderness and witnessed the baptism of God
Crowds followed him, through town and country, hills and valleys; over the Lake and up the mountain
Crowds cheered and called him their king
And crowds abandoned him
Crowds screamed and cursed
Crowds feared
Crowds ran
Crowds hung him on the tree

Crowds called for blood
And called him fool
And abandoned him
And left him
Crowds left until there were none left
Just Him
And the two poor sods who hung either side of him
They couldn’t run
Couldn’t join the crowd – though one of them would’ve liked to...
and the other took the less obvious route and joined him with an altogether different crowd in paradise

Monday, 26 March 2012

Saturday - Sunday

a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies...

The weekend brought sunshine; and hard labour; and good worship.
The weekend brought reflections on how we manage all our resources - keeping ourselves and the church healthy - and how we take responsibility for what happens. Time to stop waiting for others to get involved; time to stop waiting for others to grow the church - we are all in this together. Our land, our community, our church is feeling the pain of the current financial rigours; we must take up the reins - time to take stock and be accountable. March signifies Annual Business Meetings for all the churches in the C of S - and it calls for some hard looking - and some forward planning. The grain of wheat may die but something amazing then happens:
...if it does die then it produces many grains

Friday, 23 March 2012


I was minded today of the way we use languange:
in fact - just the very fact that I said "I was minded" - now that is a Scots way of saying something came to mind.
I am not Scottish by birth
more by adoption
I have lived here for almost 23 years, in another five years that will be more than half my life; to those who live here I still sound English; to the English I sound more Scottish
To others again - they cannot work it out!

Sometimes something is so familiar that we forget its meaning
Words that trip off the tongue without a second thought
Language - spoken & unspoken
familiar and unfamiliar
loving and compassionate - or destructive and cruel
So much it can do.

We use words often when we pray
but sometimes it is simply the cry from the depths
we use words fmailiar, known by heart
and we use words familiar but reworked
Doric is the language of the North East (of Scotland) I think it is particularly beautiful

Thursday, 22 March 2012


I have spent the day on paperwork
it was a necessary chore and it feels good to get it done
but while I was plodding away, making up lists, answering letters and the phone and thinking forward to Easter liturgies, I had a conversation with a dear friend.
He is unwell at present and I lectured him on not taking enough rest.
He assured me that I may see frenzy, but in between times he does relax.
Then he said he was just exhausted seeing the stuff I do (and of course he knew he only sees the half) and I jokingly said "oh you should have seen me a few years ago...."

So I had to ask myself:
Julie - do you really take your rest?
And just who are you serving when you get so tired you can't see?
My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

Find rest O my soul, in God alone (Ps62: 1,5)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

There's a nail in my hand
it's heavy and cold
I press its tip into my palm
I choose to hold for a second
that's enough
but you,
Oh!! You chose to go the
whole way
you chose to take the nail
you let them... let them
pierce you
hurt you
humble you
and humiliate
you did it all
you took the weight of the nail
and its cold dark cost
and you did it for me
I want to repay you
but you do not want that
you did it all
for free
for freedom
for me
and them
and us
and him
and her
for all of us
who were, and are and will be
you did it for all

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

ice ice ice

this is what I do for R & R
introduced to it a year ago after moving to the Borders
I love it!!
I am not very good...
but make up for that with enthusiasm!
Taking time out to do something purely for pleasure is so very important
Sabbath rest
not doing nothing
just doing something special
Rest.... good indeed

Monday, 19 March 2012

And a sword will pierce your heart

Sometimes words feel empty, pointless, totally inadequate.
Sometimes in the midst of noise and bustle and humour and life itself there is such pain we are numb.
A mother, and her baby.
In hopsital...
and of course it happens every day
day after day
and then one day it is one known to you
and suddenly it feels personal

Tonight I know one of those mothers and her baby
tonight - pray for all the mothers who are waiting at a bedside; watching their little one undergo treatment
praying and praying
and hoping against hope
for a miracle

Happy Mother's Day

I write on Monday morning, but take this as Sunday night! After a busy blessed day I gave in and went to bed very early!
Yesterday was Mothers' Day in the UK.
Mothers' Day is a commercial re-invention of something that had long been a Lenten Tradition, introduced in late Victorian Britain, when boys and girls, working in service were allowed home from the "Big House" on the middle Sunday of Lent, not to visit their mother, but to visit their Mother Church!
It was actually referred to as Mothering Sunday, so that each one was able to be in their home church. An additional circumstance was that they were also able to visit the family home - and Mum, and as they walked along collected spring flowers to show their love and affection.
Over the year's the emphasis on the Church has waned, and the selling of cards, gifts, flowers and chocolates has escalated into the money-making frenzy we now have.
I love my sons, and was delighted to see them yesterday, but we don't need a special day to share the love - we have that anyway
we love
we are loved
Love comes from the heart
and the depths of the soul
it is a Godgiven Gift
Praise Him!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

What kind of welcome?

“God so loved the world, he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life”

It trips off the tongue; it sounds familiar, comforting, and hopeful
But to an un-churched person; or even a churched person – what does it mean?
When we say God so loved the world – what does that mean?

If we really, truly believe in God’s amazing, eternal, unending, unconditional love for creation – how do we live that out, and let people know they are welcome?
People we don’t necessarily like
People we make us feel uncomfortable
People who are noisy, or distracting, people who live differently to us

Because if we are really talking about all God’s people – then it includes all of those too
Not just the known and loved amongst us

Friday, 16 March 2012

time out....

A snatched moment with a loved one
a precious, precious gift

Thinking of love and grace
and reminding myself that Grace is always enough

There is no end to love.
It goes on and on, and on and on and on.
It takes courage to love,
and patience,
and the grace of God.
yes, loving you is everything.
Lord, teach us to love.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The important job of time wasting....

Today has been a full and busy day
made particularly so because I took "Mum-Time"
and "Big-Sis" time
and "grocery shopping-time"
If I was being strict with my time I would have taken less of that time and rather more on the sermon-preparation; worship-preparation that I should have done.
But, this weekend is a big family event - my baby brother turns 50; and living away from his place I cannot go join the family celebrations
So this afternoon I took some time creating a personal gift for him - with some old pics from our childhood....

we are all grown up nowadays- he and I and our l'il sis
and we do not spend enough time with each other
but that doesn't mean we don't love each other

these three remain faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love

Happy birthday little brother