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

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

no excuses....

Tonight, at our Lenten Reflections we considered the reasoning offered by four of those who had been involved directly in Jesus' trial: Annas, Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate
Each had their own reasoning - but all were excuses
each thought they were making a decision for the best
each thought they were in control, that they had the power...
here is Caiaphas & Pilate

He had to die, don’t you see?
There was no other way
It wasn’t personal you know
But he was dangerous
He threatened our security – and that was fragile enough
The Romans barely put up with us as it is
If we’d let him carry on...
Well, if we’d let him carry on they’d have been down on all of us you see.
And he knew that really
But what were we to do?
All this talk of the Messiah
It wasn’t fair to let them think they had a chance
Best to get rid of him and let it all quieten down
I wasn’t happy of course, but...
We had to put it right
People need protecting
So, yes, he had it coming, no choice
It was the only way
He had to die

He was different
I admit that
He was different
Not at all what I expected
The stories had even penetrated to my palace
So I looked at him
This teacher, miracle worker – this Messiah
I thought he’d break in no time
I had him flogged
I questioned him
Shouted, cajoled, did everything I could think of, nothing
Well, I couldn’t let it stand could I?
He seemed not to care
And if I’m really honest he unnerved me a bit
The way he stood there, as if he had the power not me
He was different – innocent
I went out to the Jews, but they wanted him dead!
Oh they wanted him dead alright!
So I washed my hands
It’s not my fault
He had his chance
So, yes, he had it coming, no choice
It was the only way
He had to die

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

walking in my shoes....

my shoes are pretty
you'll like my shoes
walk in my shoes
why don't you?

Walk in your shoes?
But your shoes are ill-fitting
they leak
they are old
the do not support or protect
no - you walk in mine...
I'll help you

Oh! Let me be on my terms
do not push me too far
I will welcome you on my terms

OH! really?
not my terms then?

You want me, Lord
to walk in your shoes?
on your path?
path to love

Monday, 12 March 2012


Feeding the birds through winter and spring is a rewarding experience
This winter in particular my feeder has been a centre of activity,though a couple times I have found myself rushing out to scare birds away !
The crows and some very fat pigeons also like to have a go...
I was biased - I wanted the pretty birds: chaffinches, bullfinches, greenfinches
the great tits, blue tits, coal tits, sparrows and blackbirds all very welcome, but the bigger birds I viewed as pests, I didn't want them.
Today as I looked out at them - big and small
I realised just like the tares in the wheat
they need to be together-
my trying to scare away the bigger birds just scatters them all

So my table is open
we all need feeding one way or another
and so too, our other table is open to all who love the Lord
for our souls also need nourishment

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Embrace

It hangs in my study.

when I looked at the picture I was confused by the reflection:
the window is next to the picture, not opposite
The reflected window was on another picture on the opposite wall thus the tiny window's reflection is passed back and forth
Sometimes we need to pass things back and forth
the embrace is such a thing
we all need contact, affirmation, love
Embracing - hugging
beautiful, generous, unconditional affection is nourishing to our souls
Embrace it forward - go offer a hug!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Tear it down....

Tear it down & Build it up
He made a whip you know!
he scattered the money
He freed the birds
What a mess!
What a glorious mess!

He yelled and shouted
Quoted scripture at the scripture sellers
Called them abusers of God
Oh!! If only you could have seen them!!

He turned it all
Upside down
Then he turned us
Upside down
They asked for a miracle:
Tear it down
He said
Tear it down and I will build it back up again
In just
Three days
Just three days
If only we’d known then what we know now
We wouldn’t have thought it so absurd

They tore him apart
And God built him up again
But that’s another story

Friday, 9 March 2012


I took this picture about 10 days ago
Like a snowdrift they were
and now, like a 10 day old snowdrift
they are less bright
less white
more brown
and dying
in thier place comes bright yellow:

the daffodils are coming!

We are constantly reminded of the cycles of life and death
it seems no time at all since we marked the moment when the Word became flesh and now we prepare to acknowledge that the world rejected the word

The Word came
the Word lived
The Word wept
the Word cried out
the Word betrayed
the Word abandoned
the Word....

The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us
and we have seen his glory
in the spring snowdrifts
in the triumphant return of yellow crowns
in every breath we take

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

distant memories

Yesterday was an old friend's birthday; now, that in itself is not unusual, but he does not disclose this on FaceBook... and I didn't have it written down at all either. It just popped into my head!!
Sometimes this happens: we remember a person, or we see a date and it triggers a distant memory.
I remember throwing him a surprise 21st birthday party - 1996
He remembers the Pingu birthday cake!!
Suddenly rediscovered memories: friends; events; special occasions...
little glimpses that remind us that we are not alone; we do not live in isolation - we are all part of God's big, amazing and wondrous family!!
Praise be!

Monday, 5 March 2012

oh dear what can the matter be......

This morning I took a regular trip up to Edinburgh for a couple of meetings; this trip takes 40 mins to park & ride & a 40 min bus run. It's relatively hassle free.... but instead of leaving in good time I decided to do a little multi-tasking: post office/ emails/ phone calls...
not until I was ready to leave did I factor in frost on car and the fact that tank was running empty! Unfortunately my leave time was already 10 minutes later than planned - oh dear

On arriving at P & R I was delighted & relieved to see the reception/ toilet still open (it closes after rush hour) so nipped in to the Ladies....

on departing Ladies to my horror I witnessed the shutters descending slowly..... and the old nursery rhyme came to mind
"Oh dear what can the matter be
two old ladies stuck in the Lavatory" -
mercifully there was a man pushing buttons to operate said shutters - and to release me - just as my bus pulled in to the stand

there's cutting it fine and there's plain silliness
I'll leave you to decide!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

4 seasons in one day

Today started bright,
turned to rain,
changed to snow,
came clear,
weak wintry sunshine followed,
and the walk by the river showed the wind to be icy....
Quite a day!

In addition to this we worshipped well
and enjoyed community and fellowship as around 30 people descended on the manse to share soup, bread and cake.
Can't go wrong really!!

they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42)

Friday, 2 March 2012

the importance of family

Today being Friday it is my 'day off'
Today being Friday I washed clothes, made beds, cleaned house and shopped for food
Today being Friday - I did not rest but worked differently
Today being Friday is always a good day - I see my beloved as he returns after a week working away
and tomorrow I see no.2 son, who is bringing his girlfriend home
Good things
Family things
My fiance; my sons; my siblings and my parents; my nieces and nephews
my neghbours, friends, colleagues
all the different people I interact with, have connections with, are part of the network that is the extended family: not just those related by blood - but everyone whose path crosses, has crossed, will cross with mine
the cross: the connector

in the nick of time....

23.59 is very definitely the nick of time
and by the time I actually post this it will be 00.00+ so technically a day late hmmm.....

a wise friend told me, as I was first going into ministry to keep a pretty bag or box in which to store happy things: cards, letters photos of appreciation and thanks. She told me: "these are good to go back to on days when everything gets you down, when you feel low or alone"
She was right!
Everyone needs affirmation
We need to know that people appreciate us: and we need to tell others that we appreciate them too!
It's never too late- 11th hour or not, to tell someone you love them, value them, to thank them.
go on - your friends are worth it!!