Friday, 27 December 2013

Friday Five Festive Fun Edition

I am hosting Friday Five for the first time!! And as I have pondered, and enjoyed playing over the year I have also reflected what I would do. I like alliteration, so I came up with the following headings:
Family – my family has changed greatly in the past few years; my three sons are still here, but now there are two beautiful girls in tow! And in recent years, my new beloved has brought his family in too. He has two sons and two daughters, and a daughter-in-law, and this year a granddaughter arrived too! His oldest, married son, and their beautiful baby live in Boston, so our newest family tradition was Skyping with them – when we’d finished lunch, and they were getting ready for it. This year, we are doing Second Christmas, when my boys arrive today, having spent Christmas with their Dad away in Aberdeen.
Friends – when the boys were growing up Boxing Day was friends day; 26th December we would gather together with my best friend and her family and have our special gathering; Ruth now lives in Kuala Lumpur... so that doesn't happen. But on the 26th... Boxing Day, I did Skype with her!
Fun – for us this always includes games! Board games; card games, and now, competitions on the Wii!! The boys all inherited my competitive spirit, but my youngest is probably the worst (best!?) and his girl is similarly minded, so I imagine later on today we will be planning some sort of tournament for the weekend – which will include much laughter as time goes by.
Festivities – nowadays I always have two trees; when they were young I let the boys trim the tree; and then made it how I wanted later on. I never thought they knew, until middle son told me last year, but Mum, you always trimmed the tree, we knew you’d redo it after we went to bed! (me? Control freak???!!) I have kept every decoration they made; and each year something new was added, so now, all the original glossy baubles are gone, and in their place are reminders of Christmases gone by. So that even though I now trim the tree by myself, each piece I take out reminds me of them, of places I have visited and friends who added to my collection.
Food – my mother is Irish, as of course was my grandmother, and every year I make Grandma’s stuffing for the turkey. If someone new is at our table I have to explain this; it’s part of my ritual, for it is potato based, and can be a surprise if you’re not expecting it! We love the proper traditional feast: our tradition of course may not be everyone else’s too! Roast Turkey and a honey glazed ham; potato stuffing; roast potatoes and roasted parsnips; carrots, Brussels sprouts - sautéed with little shallots & bacon lardons; bread sauce; cranberry & orange relish; and rich gravy.... we do not eat traditional Christmas pudding, and the dessert varies year to year, this year it was sherry trifle – having finally worked out how to make it dairy free! (‘twas delicious!)
I do have a Christmas cake (also dairy and gluten free) but we didn’t break into that yet...  

So many things we do at Christmas are the same as for everyone else; and many things are I guess unique. But whatever we do, or did, is wrapped round with Christ. Because for me, and mine, it wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t, so joining the church family to greet the bells, and ring out the tiding of joy is very definitely part of the festivities too. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Light comes into the World - Christmas Eve sermon

Genesis 1: 1-5

John 1: 1-14
Luke 2: 8-20

“And the Word was Made Flesh” by Laurence Housman.

“Light looked down and beheld Darkness.
‘Thither will I go’, said Light.
Peace looked down and beheld War.
‘Thither will I go’, said Peace.
Love looked down and beheld Hatred.
‘Thither will I go’, said Love.
So came Light and shone.
So came Peace and gave rest.
So came Love and brought Life.”

Tonight’s message is about light; though it could also be about beginnings... in our readings we heard from the very first verses of the bible: the creation narrative in Genesis
And then from the beginning of John’s Gospel – a different creation narrative
And then from Luke’s Gospel – the nativity narrative: God’s creation in a very different way and a new beginning for the world

Each story; each explanation; each narrative is about LIGHT coming into the world

Light to dispel the darkness
Light to show the way
Light to chase fears away
Light, that leads us through life, and ultimately beyond it into the glorious Light of God’s presence.

Light is Love – God’s love, taking on flesh, for us
Light is Intimacy – God coming close enough to know everything about us
Light is Goodness – God who will not do anything other than good
Light is Hope – God’s whose actions bring only hope
Light is Trust – God in whom we all trust, for his promises are fulfilled this night
Love, Intimacy, Goodness, Hope, Trust: LIGHT

In the beginning
There was nothing
And then there was LIGHT
Light is the first thing God created, because light is needed for everything else
Without light nothing will grow; nothing will flourish; nothing will thrive
With light comes life
And with life comes everything else; the poem I quoted at the start of this message says it all:

“And the Word was Made Flesh” by Laurence Housman.

“Light looked down and beheld Darkness.
‘Thither will I go’, said Light.
Peace looked down and beheld War.
‘Thither will I go’, said Peace.
Love looked down and beheld Hatred.
‘Thither will I go’, said Love.
So came Light and shone.
So came Peace and gave rest.
So came Love and brought Life.”

Light came into the world as the Word became flesh
Light it is that calls us home – to God’s kingdom of light, where there is no darkness
John, whose beautiful words paint a vision of the Word and the Light that comes from the word, also wrote about the kingdom to come where there was no need for the sun or the moon because the glory of God lights the way, and the Lamb of God is the Light of that World, and in that place there is no night – all is light.

And all of this came about because of what we remember tonight.
A lowly stable
A courageous and willing couple, who accepted the challenge of bringing that Light into the world
And the Glory of God
Shining forth as angels filled the heavens

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us
Light has come into the world, and even in our darkest night, will shine for us; will shine for all to see.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Transfixed in Awe

Talk given at our Sheltered Housing and Nursing Homes 

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign

On Sunday we held our annual Nativity Play; each year, many churches either spend a deal of time, rehearsing the children to within an inch of tolerance. Or worry because they don’t really have enough children; or panic because the children are too young, too scared... and already have far too many other things on.
Many years ago, as a new minister, faced with just such a problem, I was approached by my then Sunday School leader, who also happened to be a Primary School teacher, with a suggestion – and thus the DIY Nativity was born!
It is a little like organised chaos – but it is also stress free for children and their parents. Invitations were sent; posters displayed and trust in God’s good providence prevailed.
We got exactly the right number of children!

Mostly boys it has to be said, but two little girls, who both arrived dressed as angels.... both in pretty, sparkly outfits and the younger is only 16 months old!

Little Aimee stole the show
When we called for angels, her daddy brought her up, and stood her beside the crib
She was utterly transfixed!
So transfixed that she didn’t notice when daddy returned to his seat
And then, as the “big boys” appeared dressed as shepherds, she looked on in awe!
And then, the Kings arrived, and she stood, mesmerised by the shiny gold cloaks...
And we were all spellbound too

Suddenly, in Aimee, there it was: the wonder and awe of Christmas in a moment: the baby in the crib, the strange, and ordinary visitors; the joy, the utter joy of the occasion, as we all saw, in her, the glory that is,

“Love Come Down at Christmas”

Monday, 16 December 2013

A Light will Shine in Heaven

She is my friend
and she is dying
And she is dying well
with dignity and love and light

She is my friend 
and she has been, in my life,
a great source of strength and light
and still she shines

Her body is giving up
but her spirit soars
she radiates love 
frail now, and looking older than she is
but, her inner beauty remains 

she is my friend
and I will miss her
but for now
we make the most of what we have

This fragile line we walk
between friend and pastor
confidante and minister
is not sharp, the edges blur

Her light is shining here
and we make the most of it
and I know, we know,
that light will continue to shine
in Heaven

Monday, 9 December 2013

on the 9th Day of Advent....

It was time to get the Christmas cups and towels out!! 
Christmas is coming, nearer and nearer
time to bring Christmas down from the loft
time to light up the darkness
share the Christmas Cup
hang up greens to counter the barren trees outside
time to bring the Christlight and let it shine!! 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sermon 8th December: Signs of Peace

Isaiah 11: 1-10
Matthew 3: 1-12 

Last week’s reading from Isaiah gave us a vision of hope
And this week, the vision he presents is one of peace...
Not just the “absence of war” sort of peace,
But peace that is absolute: peace where even the animals live without fear or mistrust
Where they no longer hunt each other, but lie together, all old enmities forgotten

Last week we reflected on a tragedy that had touched many lives in Glasgow over the weekend – yet still had signs of hope

This week, there is another sadness, not a tragedy, but sadness at the passing of one of the world’s greatest ambassadors for peace.
For Nelson Mandela – remembered in Glasgow very fondly - passed on Thursday at the great age of 95.

In his lifetime, not only did he spend many years in prison for crimes at the time considered to be terrorism, but later viewed as heroism...  but, on his release he became such a force for good; such a symbol for the oppressed nations and people of the world that he is rightly remembered –
If ever there was a modern day symbol of peace – of former antagonists living together in equality, it is the image of Nelson Mandela and F W De Klerk.

At his trial, before he went to prison he said this:
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

By the time he came out, 27 years later, into a very different world he knew this:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”

And his goal became something very different indeed:
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

He understood that to truly make peace between black and white in his country he needed to work with others; and, during his incarceration, F W De Klerk had reached the same conclusion; and recognising that the apartheid system was not just flawed, but totally unjust, he took that bold step to change; in releasing Mandela, he didn’t admit defeat, he rose to the challenge and accepted change, which in turn, eventually, brought peace and reconciliation to South Africa

Out of the ashes of apartheid – a dead stump if ever there was one, came new shoots of hope and peace

That new growth is the essence of Isaiah’s vision: that even in the most unpromising circumstances, new life, new hope, will come
That even in the midst of oppression and hopelessness there can be peace

The gospel reading brings us to the preaching of John the Baptist – his vision was of a world where people turned around; abandoned their old ways; came back to God, and giving up their former lives, chose the new path: he was the messenger
The one to come was the one who would bring about the new kingdom – the Kingdom of Peace...

Of course – the reality is that we – humanity, have not grasped this concept fully
We still fight – from petty arguments, to full blown political and religious wars

Yet – Isaiah’s vision is possible: the kingdom to come will have those exact circumstances: the lion will lie with the lamb
Children will be safe

Isaiah’s vision of peace and love and hope... was grasped by Nelson Mandela
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 

If they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love...

Imagine what the world could be like....

There is a song that paints that image too, some of it does not resonate with me, for it imagines no God, no heaven, no religions... but what it also imagines is humanity’s potential:

Imagine all the people,
Living life in peace
You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... (John Lennon)

In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela realised that having a goal and achieving it is indeed great, but it is not the end. Life throws up many opportunities, many challenges, many tasks; each of the tasks just a step on the way

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment”

Never give up
Never give up on peace
If we can imagine it

God can make it happen

Poem for 2nd Sunday in Advent

The Peace offering

He was one of those children
who had an angry stare and a runny nose
no one wanted to sit next to him, and
He was used to fighting for everything

Being at school
And being nine
and having no one to sit next to
is a lonely place to be
He was used to fighting for everything

He had been in another fight
He knee was scraped
And his jumper was dirty
And his nose...
...was running
As she came to him, he got ready to fight again
She sat down, passed him a hanky, and said
'Peace  Offering' 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Stir us up we beseech thee O Lord....

Fruits soaking in a bowl
Fruits for my Christmas Cake...
and as we stir at this time of year we pray...
Pray that those who share this feast will be blessed
Pray those we'd like to share with are blessed
Pray that those who are with us in Spirit are blessed
Pray those we remember fondly are blessed
Pray that God will stir us up as we stir up these fruits
Stir us on to love and pray and eat and share these fruits and work of my hands 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Open Door....

It is on my fridge
and there is a door for each of the first 24 days on this month
today's picture is of a girl and a golden figure... 
and the words say:
"Do not be afraid" 
how often have we opened a door, and whispered "do not be afraid"? 
doors are for all year round - not just Advent (!)
whether your door is real
or imagined
looked to
or dreaded
when you open it remember.... 

"Do not be afraid" for we are never alone 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Do Nothing.....

I have a wee advent book
with ideas and thoughts and reflections for the season
its main theme is not doing, acting or giving...
but Do Nothing...
Do nothing...

stop and simply be
immerse yourself in the moment
watch a brass band as they play familiar tunes
smile at the exuberant joy of small children
open your box of decorations and simply remember... 
because who doesn't have a few homemade things
that spark a distant memory

Take time for quiet
Take time for peace
take time for anticipation
Time for expectation.... 

Christmas is Coming
take time to do nothing...
just for a moment 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Advent Sunday Sermon - December 1st

Isaiah 2: 1-5
Matthew 24: 36-44 

To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven...

And, no, you are all right, we did not have the reading from Ecclesiastes this morning!
But, that refrain has been something of an earworm.... running through my mind the past few days, but especially Saturday as I was trying to pin down my rambling thoughts.

Advent begins the new liturgical year with signs of hope...
Now, you may be forgiven for thinking the gospel reading, with its warnings about being ready and not getting left behind,  isn’t exactly hopeful....
And, you may think after the tragic events in Glasgow on Friday night and through the day that things here aren’t hopeful either

There is a time.... for everything
And a time for hope
And there is hope
To my mind, a helicopter, crashing into a crowed pub, and people being able to walk out – is a sign of hope.
And, passersby, strangers in the street, not running away, but running in to help; to form a human chain to get the injured out – is a sign of hope.
And being part of this church family and welcoming a new member into God's family, a new child into our midst – is a sign of hope.
And, displaying for the first time a beautiful piece of embroidery that will enhance our worship space and remind us of someone we loved, who had great faith – is a sign of hope.
And hearing Jesus warn, and encourage, and reassure – is a sign of hope
And hearing Isaiah, all those thousands of years ago, speaking of hope at the end of turmoil and war; speaking of the day when love will reign, when weapons will no longer be necessary; when soldiers will become farmers and we will all walk into the light – is a sign of hope!

Isaiah was writing at a time when for the people of Israel there had been little to hope about; they had spent more time warring with other nations, and each other than anyone could remember. Life was not hopeful... yet into this time of hopelessness came Isaiah’s prophecy – a day when all God’s people would come together; would forget their differences; would be united in returning to God – gathering at God’s mountain – people from all nations, united in peace and love of the Creator.

And that unity leading to the day when all that humanity chose was to follow God’s ways.
Follow God’s teaching
Knowing that God’s way was peace
And thus giving up arms: turning swords to ploughs; spears to pruning hooks
And gathering them into the light.

Imagine how life would feel if we had even a tiny inkling of that!
Our world is full of violence and war; distrust and corruption; disease and sickness; poverty and injustice.... all things that were also prevalent all those thousands of years ago... the exact situation that Isaiah was talking into
How can we not relate?!

But how would it be – what hope would we have, if we began to trust in these prophecies?
This advent, as we think about the things we hope for; think about how we can be the change... step-by-step – little-by-little until we can realise that vision.

We may not be able to change the whole world
But we can change our part of it....
Whether we are supporting disaster relief for the people of the Philippines
Or we are praying in solidarity with the people of a tiny wee pub in the city of Glasgow
Or we are coming together, inviting others in, welcoming new people into our fellowship – we need to start somewhere...
And that is hopeful!
Hold onto the hope – and come, let us walk in the Light which God gives us!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Out with the Old ~ In with the New

Those of you who run in church circles will know that this week marks the start of Advent.
And... it also marks the turning from one year to the next in liturgical terms
from year C to year A.... 
When I started out in ministry (as in, when I was ordained and left to get on with it myself, make my own choices, and indeed my own mistakes without the comfort of a supervisor in the sidelines) I began by resisting the Lectionary all together, I wanted to do it all myself. And, at that time (2005) the Church of Scotland via a report named "Church Without Walls" was encouraging churches to take a year and walk through a gospel. So that is what I did in my first year (18 months!) of parish ministry, in my three congregations I planned all the worship around Mark's Gospel. 
If you are strict with yourself, this means every single verse.
You don't miss chunks out, like the lectionary does, and it was a good experience; I hopped in to Christmas and Easter as needed, but the rest of the year we just continued with the story of Jesus as told by Mark.
Then I started  on themes.... and I don't remember all of those - Minor Prophets was one, and  the Apostle's Creed was another (a great series over a few weeks!) 
And then I realised what hard work this was, and how much I already had to do... and how at some point in history a whole gang of older, wiser heads than mine had spent a deal of energy faithfully reading the bible and choosing texts to go together, to follow a pattern and reflect the passage of a year  to give us this Common Lectionary, a three year cycle, which if we followed it, would take us through the bible, picking up  the major characters and themes in a balanced and careful way. And sure, it doesn't include every single bit; but, it does give us a great insight. So I chose to go with the Lectionary and have been in it ever since.

So this week, as I contemplate Advent, and moving from C back to A again, I  wondered about doing something else; something new; or trying a different Lectionary to the RCL that I use.

I am thinking about it... but I don't think I will change!

It's New Year....

and a New Start
but saying farewell to Luke and hello to Matthew is about as new as I'm going to get! 

There's an old saying "Don't try to fix what ain't broke" and that goes for all sorts of things in life

When I see those phrases on my regular grocery or toiletry shopping it make my heart sink... 
and the same goes for church
in a world  of constant shifting
continuous change
there are some things that are just better left to be.... 

That doesn't mean I think the church shouldn't ever change.... because let's face it, you wouldn't be happy if your doctor was still using the same medicines and methods that were in use 100 years ago - would you?! 

Change can be necessary, but change just for the sake of it isn't helpful

The new, newness we need is pretty straightforward:

Finding new ways to tell people about the love of God
To show them that the church is there to love, not to condemn
To show them that the church is as full of sinners as it is saints - and that we don't check which category you are before we let you in

So as this year turns - throw out the old views of closed doors and hard hearts

and welcome in the new: our door is open, are hearts melt, and all who love God - Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Friend - and enemy - all are welcome here 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sermon for Remembrance Sunday

Job 19:23-27 
Reflection part one: want it, need it?

“How I wish that someone would remember my words and record them in a book!”
Job, all those thousands of years ago made a plea that resonates through the ages.
We want to be known
We want to be remembered
We want to make a difference in the world – however small or insignificant that may be, we want to matter, to someone.
 Sometimes though, what we want, and what we need, are two totally different things.
And they are not at all exclusive to each other.
 Job, made that plea to be remembered, to leave something eternal, but that was not the end of it. For he also said, “I know there is someone in heaven who will come at last to my defence”. Job recognised the eternal truth; that even if here on earth nothing is right, nothing is going our way, nothing really matters, still, it matters to God.
 Today, as we gather to reflect and remember, the things, the times, the places and most of all, the people we remember who could also have made that same plea – remember my words, record them in a book... carve my words in stone... so they last forever.
We remember them – their names are carved in stone and on brass – their names live on in countless churches and war memorials all over our country, and in countless other countries, other memorials.
We remember them
Because if we forget what we need, rather than what we want – then their names will be lost
 We need to be loved
We need to feel safe
We need to be at peace
We need to remember the paradox: peace is costly for it often comes at the expense of others

"remember my words, record them in a book... carve my words in stone... so they last forever".(Job 19:23,24)

 Luke 20: 27-38  
Reflection Part Two: Living God: Living People

For those who study the bible and biblical times, today’s reading should provoke a wry smile.
In New Testament 101 at university one of the first things I learned was the difference between all the different sects that we come across in reading the gospels in particular, but the bible as a whole.
And I particularly remember my professor teaching us how to remember what the Sadducees believed: they were sad you see... for they did not believe in life after death. It was all for now, and nothing for eternity.
So, for these Sadducees to come and ask Jesus about husbands and wives in eternity is something of a nonsense. For them, when you’re dead, you’re dead, so the answer was fairly academic.
Jesus’ answer to them therefore is a correction of their belies: he states very clearly Moses’ teaching to prove that the dead do rise to life; that there is life after death. And his words are a strong reminder for us too.
Our God is “the God of the living, not the dead, for to (God) all are alive”
To God, all are alive.
All those whom we remember today
Countless numbers who gave their lives, willingly or not; all those saints who have gone before us – all live.

There is no grey area in what Jesus says
There is no vagueness
“Men and women who are worthy to rise from death and live in the age to come ... will be like angels and cannot die. They are the children of God, because they have risen from death. (Luke 20: 35,36)
What an awesome promise!!!
What a truly comforting thought
People who are worthy
Not all the good people
Not all the religious people
Not all the powerful, or clever, or rich, or influential... but simply, those who are worthy.
These are the ones who will be like angels who cannot die.
They have the eternal promise
We... yes WE too have the eternal promise; it is ours; it is for us to claim
As Job knew,
“there is someone in heaven
    who will come at last to my defence.
 Even after my skin is eaten by disease,
    while still in this body I will see God.
I will see him with my own eyes,
    and he will not be a stranger...” (Job 19:25-27)

God knows us by name
Just as through every age, God has known the faithful by name
And what’s more – when the time comes he will not be a stranger
Just think for a moment what that means
If someone is not a stranger it means they are known, we know each other
We know God
For God, is the God of the living
And all people
Through all ages
However they lived or died
Have that promise to hold onto: the children of God rise from death to life, and to God we are all alive – for all eternity.
As we remember those who loved God and country today, we have that eternal hope:
God knows and loves and lives and we and they have a place with him


As I once again prepare for this season of Remembrance, I have been thinking about a couple of things. First, the "what" of remembering and second the "why". 
The sermon (well, two part short talks this week...) I will post tomorrow, but meantime the season began yesterday with an assembly for the Primary School children, followed by an Act of Remembrance with the Primary 6 & 7s. Doing something meaningful that will work for a whole school, from the little 5 yr olds for whom this all just a bit much, to the Primary 7s - top year of the school and feeling so grown up and ready for more is a challenge.
Yet, somehow, they made it!
They sat quietly and listened.
They responded - stirring for me that age old truth, that shows that in our deepest being the act of remembering, honouring and respecting is as much nature as it is nurture. 
They may not know why they need to respect - but they know that they must. 
They may not know exactly what they are honouring - but they know it is important. 

Tomorrow, we will gather for worship
Tomorrow there will be ceremony and solemnity and ritual.
Tomorrow, people of all backgrounds will gather together, at the church, and at the War Memorial, and together we will remember:
What? Those  who fell, those who gave of themselves, those who survived, those who mourned, those who lost, those who fought - for and against, and those who seek peace that will last.
Why? Because we must not forget the real cost of peace; we must not forget the true price of victory; we must not glory in death, but celebrate that freedom is possible through the sacrifice of others.
Jesus told us, greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends  

"we will remember them"

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sermon Sunday 20th October: Pester Power

Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Luke 18: 1-8

If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again.... as I discovered with the children, generally when we are learning; and when we are preparing; and when something is really worth it – it takes time.

In our grown up world, this is a lesson we have learned – and one that advertisers and merchandisers know all too well: if you repeat it often enough, then eventually people will remember your slogan; your product; your promise.

 Pester power works – and today’s parable shows that pester power is timeless! Not a new invention at all.

There is Pester Power in both of today’s readings; similar but different:

In the Old Testament – it is God who persists, continuing to love, continuing to honour the covenant, even though many would say the people didn’t deserve it.

Yet God remains faithful.
God’s love is eternal, never-ending: Perfectly Persistent. 
What a contrast with the Grumpy Old Man in Jesus’ parable!
Here is a man of power and influence: the judge; who nevertheless is not a very nice man.
He’s not only grumpy; he isn’t fair either.
He respects no one; he has no regard for God, or God’s Law.
And, even in the face of a cut & dried case, he won’t act for this widow.

She however is made of strong stuff!
She doesn’t take no for an answer! She knows she is in the right, so she persists.
She understands the timeless truth of Pester Power!
I imagine she began in hope; returning every few weeks. But as time went by she became more resolute: so she stepped it up... to weekly perhaps.
By now I can also imagine those around her were beginning to tell her to give it up; to admit defeat.
But she is stronger than that. She has right on her side.
So she steps it up again – daily.
Waiting outside the court; following him to dinner; waking early so as to greet him leaving his house.

He may have been disrespectful and unfair and partial in his judgement; but he also knew when he was beat!
He gave in, just to get some peace.

Pester Power… not nagging but the persistence of Godly love, which nags at us, and enables us to grow, to move, to forgive, to speak the truth in love. Contrast that with the Grumpy-Old-Man judge, who gave in, not out of love, but exasperation.

When Jesus tells the parable of the widow persevering in her demands for justice in the face of the opposition of an uncaring judge, He is offering His listeners (including us!) a memorable image of what persevering in prayer means.

I am sure we all have times when we feel that prayer is getting us nowhere - that it is all a waste of time - and been tempted to lose heart and give up.

Jesus knew this would happen - in fact, He had probably met people who had felt their prayers weren’t answered - and many who had lost heart.

It is a fact of prayer that there will be times when we won’t get what we ask for - however fervently we pray.

Others may “reassure” us and say that we are not praying for the right thing. They are probably right - but it isn’t much of a consolation.

Sometimes, our prayer isn’t asking for anything - and we still feel that God isn’t listening - even to our words and prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

There is no easy explanation for this. It simply is the way it is!

It is our challenge; our task to continue, because when the time comes and we are able to look back – suddenly we can see answered prayers; we can see solutions and responses

The easiest option when facing any challenge - in all aspects of our life - may seem to be to give it all up as a bad job! In the short-term, this may even seem to have been the right thing to do.

 But somewhere inside, there usually remains a niggle - what if I had...?

We may see people who faced the same challenge as us and who did see it through - and we see their growth as people.

Witnessing that, we realise what might have been; what can be possible – if we just keep trying.

Jesus is trying to encourage His disciples to see beyond the short-term and the supposed non-response from God.

Because, if, in the end, even the unjust judge caves in and gives justice - how much more can we trust that the God of Justice will see justice done for us.

Jesus concludes - rather sadly it seems - by asking “Will He find any faith on earth?” 

Jeremiah reminds us that God’s perfect persistence in loving us is unending;

Jesus reminds us that persistence pays off

Pester Power doesn’t need to be a negative wearing down and giving in

It can be; it should be – a beautiful, powerful, relational conversation between us and the Creator: because God is not the Grumpy-Old-Man judge who gives in just to regain his peace

God is our loving parent: who forgives us; listens to us and Perfectly, Persistently Loves

If we can hold that – then the answer to Jesus’ question, “Will the Son of Man find faith on earth?” is yes!! Yes! Yes!