Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas 3

Twelve days of Christmas right?
Today is the third day
time for change over
One group of guests depart
another arrives... 

Today is the day for farewell and blessings
For greetings and welcome
A day for (more) food
and (more) gifts! 



Holy God,
you lived in a family
you welcomed visitors into your parent's home
You showed hospitality in many different homes
Friend and stranger shared a table with you

Help us to offer a welcome
worthy of you
this and every day
friend and stranger
reminding us, that in welcoming
Strangers
We may entertain angels
unaware

but, let the welcome always be genuine
and not, "Just in case" 

All Welcome at the feast

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas 2



The day after
Slow start to the day
Left overs and gift wrap
New books and games
Bracing walk on a frosty day
A day with no agenda
No lists
No tasks to set
A day to simply be
To reflect on the wonder of all that went before

Candlelight and carolling
Sharing and joy
The wonder and mystery of the nativity tale
Remembered again
Honoured again
The joy of God with us 
One of us
Come to set up his tent with us
So that we who follow
We who come after millennia
Will still know
God Loves Us!
Alleluia!
Joy to the World!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Advent 24 - Time to Wait

Watchnight Reflection: A Time to Wait



The Old Testament book of wise sayings Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything – and indeed gives us a comprehensive list of every occasion from dancing to mourning; from sowing seeds to preparing the ground – from tears to laughter, all of life is there; to live and love and to know God.

It is traditional on this Holy Night to sing certain things, to listen to particular words, to reflect as we wait for that perfect time for greeting the new day and welcoming again, the Son of God into the world and into our hearts; it is also a good time to reflect on our year and our world.

I am a little perplexed, on this Christmas Night remembering the whirlwind of activity and excitement we all experienced back in September as the country experienced something amazing: the will to exercise the right to vote; the excitement, the debate, and the impassioned voices on both sides ensured that a huge majority of the nation engaged with what was going; engaged with the future.
I am perplexed because it seems absurd that it was only three months ago – it feels much longer!

Time does that – doesn’t it?
When we are waiting it crawls along, and seems to take forever
And when we are putting off; avoiding, it seems to go far too quickly.

A time for every thing – everything.
I have mourned this year; and wept
I have also laughed and rejoiced

I have danced (but not when anyone can see me)
I have even (on a very rare occasion) done a bit in the garden!

I have been astonished at great courage and resilience;
I have looked on in admiration as remarkable and wondrous things have happened
And, sadly, I have looked on in horror at the world
And the depths that some people are prepared to go to.

I am sure you all have similar thoughts too

I have on occasion felt utter despair at the cruelty and wickedness that pervades the world. That in America white is supreme and colour is lower than low. This appals me: that in the 21st century, in the so called civilised world a country that has a black president, can allow young men to die at the hands of the defenders of the law because of the colour of their skin.

I have been utterly horrified at the plight of young people: over 200 girls in Nigeria, kidnapped, brutalised, forced to convert their religion; and still after nine months not returned to their families.
In West Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia – thousands dying from a disease that it seems cannot be halted: children orphaned; parents bereft; whole communities devastated.
And just last week, in Pakistan, the mindless slaughter of innocent lives – in a determined onslaught. No pretence of negotiation or kidnap – simply the determination to take as many young lives as is possible before each terrorist took his own life.

It beggars belief; it is both terrifying and horrifying in equal measure.

And of course, right here in Scotland – a totally unexpected, unanticipated tragedy leaving many families devastated, and others experiencing a very different Christmas from the one they had planned.

And yet.
Even in amongst all of this there is hope.

For I have been touched by the things which happen here in our community; the way people rally round; offering love and support and practical help.
The families I have got to know at our Messy Church events over the year; the pupils and students I have met and talked with at our schools this year has been a real pleasure; a real source of hope and joy.

Yes. There may be bad stuff happening out there.
It may feel like the world is in a terrible fix.
But when we look inward; when we remember the other things; the stories of selflessness and generosity which do not make good headlines we can take heart.
For there is good in the world.
There is hope.
There is love and kindness.
There are people of many different faiths who do not live by violence, but by peace; there are people who live with others with acceptance and grace and gentleness.
Those who do not judge and condemn, but who invite dialogue and relationships, to try to understand others and who yearn to accept and be accepted.

God appears in many guises, and in many unexpected, unanticipated moments; yesterday, while I was at the BGH visiting, I was walking along a corridor when I was flagged down by a woman. She looked straight at me and told me her mother had just died. She then exclaimed how wonderful it was to see a minister at that moment, just when she needed one. So I turned around and went with her.
I met her two sisters, and we sat and chatted about their mum, about the wonder of me being there at just the right moment – a God moment; God was with us in that time, and as we prayed and as we comforted each other it brought to life that reality: God came to be with us, vulnerable, and weak. God came to show us love so deep that it would go to heaven and back again, so that we know for sure, that death is not the end that it is a new beginning; and even though we may be parted for a while, we will be reunited in glory – from the manger in Bethlehem, to the cross of Calvary to the empty tomb in the garden we go – together and never alone – for God is with us and all people of light.

And while good people live
God’s light will shine
Hope will prevail
Love will conquer all


Amen 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Advent 23


  
The gathering 

Making friends, 
Keeping friends,
Rediscovering friends

We gather together united by geography or employment or history or family 
And in that union there comes unity.
Maybe for a season,
Maybe for longer
And maybe, if you are really lucky, some will stick by you for a lifetime.

This is the time of year for gathering them together
Sharing memories
Making new ones


Thank God for the blessing of friends 
Praise God for the strength of shared experiences,
And most of all, give thanks for the love you receive 

In this season
And all through the year
Thanks. Be. To. God 
Amen  

Monday, 22 December 2014

Advent 22

Nearly there! 

O God of deep mystery
and deeper meaning
in all this busyness hold us
calm us
touch us
heal us
show us... 

Show us the imperfect is OK
Remind us that the world is not perfect
Has never been perfect 
That THIS is why you sent your Son



Into the imperfect world he came
arriving in times of unrest and fear
And into that same world
he will come again... 

But for now
We wait 
And, we prepare as we are able.

Holy God
Bless us in these last days of Advent
So we may be prepared - as we are
to Greet you
to allow you in
to our hearts and minds
bless and sanctify us
where we are
so we may let you enter 
and we may receive


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Advent 21

Nativity Story 

The church page today.... 

We step out in faith, hope, love, joy and anticipation.


Don't forget! Today is our DIY NATIVITY! Come along at 10.15, bring the kids, as we re tell the Christmas story in word and song.We haven't practised. We don't know who the players are. We are simply telling the story, and building up the tableau with whoever turns up! We have lots of costumes. We have our narrators and helpers, and we will have the players! Come and play! 
Celebrate the coming of the Christ Child with us.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Advent 20

Patience

Oh 20!!
Nearly there!
The days fly by so fast... wait for me to catch up - PLEASE! 

Holy God
in this season of waiting, counting days
biding time
getting ready
being prepared
help us.

Help us to stop and look
help us to wait and listen
Help us to see in others your goodness and love
And, in all the busyness
grant us patience and tolerance
peace and serenity
as these last few days approach

So that when we reach day 25
We are able to rejoice with you
God with Us
Emmanuel 

God made flesh and dwelling with us 


Friday, 19 December 2014

Advent 19


Growing

Today is the last day of term
School closes
Books put away
Alarm clocks switched off
And at last two weeks of...
Play
Sleep
Friends
Family
Food
 Leisure
No more kids!
And in all of that
Will be a time to breathe
And regroup
And refresh
Before it all starts again
And this (of course) is just the teachers!



Teachers nurture our children
Help them to grow and mature
Teach them about the world and about life

Give thanks for the teachers 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Advent 18

Wonder


Star to hang on the tree
Star to shine bright in the world
Star to follow - wherever it leads

Would you be brave enough?
To step out in blind faith?
To say yes, to the hardest task?
To trust, in the face of scandal?
To travel to a distant, foreign land, in the hope of something new?

Will you step out in faith?
Will you follow again this year?

Travel in wonder and awe, until you reach the place
where it all started...
where God's plan was fulfilled

Oh, star of wonder, star of light
Star with royal beauty bright

Take us again to worship the King 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Advent 17


Joy
was rooting around in a box of kitchen things
The box is labelled stuff
Things that were boxed up when my kitchen was being upgrade this summer
Things that have not been needed, mostly until now.
I was looking for tins for mince pies, the cake board, the pastry cutters... 
All the stuff we only need at this time of year.
In the box I also found a little green box.
Oh! How I have searched for that box!
I turned the house upside down looking!

This is it: 


She is our granddaughter, such a source of Joy!
I bought an alternative one to post last week
So, today decided it should go on my tree
So that, even though she lives across the ocean
She is here too
The tree a simple reminder of what lies in our hearts

Ellie
Sweet child
Source of Joy
Symbol of Love 


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The slaughter of innocence

Whose God is this?

O God of all nations, all people
O hope for the future
What kind of madness is this?
What pain?
What despair?
What motives can drive men to be so violent?
How can this be a holy war?
Slaughtering innocents
Killing innocence 

Those who witness watch on in horror
Minds numb, hearts stopping, voices silent.
We whisper, how can this be?

The mindless slaughter of innocent lives
In the name of any God
Cannot be countenanced
On any level
By any faith, or none.

Holy God  countless mothers and fathers,
Brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles
Friends and neighbours cry out
To their God
To our God
To any God who will listen

Hear those prayers
Hear our prayers
Take the groaning of our souls
And turn it to words of grace we pray

As innocence dies
And innocents die.
Bless those who mourn.
And give wisdom and grace to those who seek to respond

Holy God
Holy God
Holy God


Advent 16


HOPE 



Hope

I wave my boy off
Praying for safe roads
And driving 

I praise God for the blessings of cars!
To be together on a road trip
To talk about things deep and things trivial
To share dreams and hope

For even in despair there is hope
Even in weariness and grief
There is hope

Hope in love
Hope in faith
Hope in journeying together
Through whatever life will bring
There is always Hope

Endless Hope

Friday, 12 December 2014

Advent 12 - Communication


The way we send love
Letters and cards
This year in Reflection
A short line, or a long letter
a Christmas scene
or a funny cartoon
or a Family Portrait

I look forward to them dropping on the mat (or the inbox!)
seeing the pictures, reading the lines
sharing the love.

The connections of years upon years
reminders of other times and other places

what a blessing!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Advent 11

Family



The perfect family
Unmarried teenager
Homeless couple 
Outcast by the community
Yet
Special
Chosen
Blessed

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Advent 10

Peace

It is wild outside!
The winds roar
Tress bow and bend
And the jackdaws wheel and swoop on the gusts

In my house it is warm and dry
I have shelter
I am blessed

Holy God
Be with those who have no peace
Those who have no shelter
Those who fear the weather, the extremes, the unknown 

As we who are so privileged 
Trim our trees and prepare rich food
Help us to spare a thought for the others

The lost and the lonely
The sad and the weary
The outcast and stranger

And help us to be the peace bringers
In the season of peace


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Advent 9

Friends

The Christmas Tree mugs
come out each December 
Red, and snowflakes and a decorated tree
And every year memory is evoked
It was a gift
Many Christmases ago
A pair of Christmas mugs
From a friend
Our lives connected for a season
As they so often do

As you unpack Christmas
Take time, cherish the memories
Relish those connections
That come and go
For a season or a lifetime
And give thanks for
Friends


Monday, 8 December 2014

Advent 8

Sing choirs of angels
Sing in exultation 


Rejoice and know
The time is near
The days draw on
The light shines in the darkness
And the darkness will not overcome 

Celebrate the coming season
Welcome in the joy and love
Let hope be your watchword 
Wait with the angels in anticipation and expectation.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Season of Light - a Time for All

2nd Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 42: 1-9
this is more of a rework and reflection that a sermon - the words in blue are the reworking of the Isaiah passage; the purple words are the reflecting...

Here we are in the season of Advent – waiting, watching, hoping, seeking once more the promise of the dark season, which brings light to overcome the dark; light to dispel the shadows; light to show the way; light for hope and for each one of us. In this season of anticipation we have signs and wonders to pave the way:

The prophet speaks: listen now to God’s word as it has come to me.
“I’ve chosen someone special; someone good and kind; I made him strong and courageous, and he pleases me with all he is.Because he is special – the world will become fair and gracious, something with in him spreads joy like contagion – and the weak and outcast will find their rightful place.His voice is calm and measured, there is no need to raise his voice with shouts and rhetoric -Everything has its place, its time, everything has a chance and all things will be as they will be.When the world embraces his ways, then justice and mercy will prevail and all will be equal and valued.Even when the world is spinning uncontrollably, and all seems lost – he will stand firm. And because of him, the earth will be the place it should be, the place it could be – for all time.Throughout every land, eager ears are waiting; eager hearts and minds, ready to learn, ready to take the message out into every corner.”The prophet speaks: This world we live in is designed, not an accidental crashing of molecules but the imagination, and dreams of the one who creates all – God’s dreams, images, patterns and textures – God’s love, God’s breath, God’s joy, God’s hope.... all here because  God saw it, and God called it Good.God speaks: he sends the special One, with a mission, with a task, with a goal – that all who know the One, will also know God; that the One will bring to all on earth, hope for the future.  To the special One, God sends the power; and with that power, the One fulfils God’s promise: here is Light. Here is Hope. This Light is for you little ones; you frightened ones; you outcast ones; you strange and different ones... you who feel rejected by the world, know this: God’s Promise is for you. Especially for you.The special one seeks out those in darkness; those held captive; the One finds them, lifts them up; gives them hope:All you who hear this – use your ears! Remember this – God and God alone is the One; the special One – is God as well. Follow, worship, thank, praise, love God and only God.All that God promises comes to be; all that God does is right; God chooses voices for the world: voices to stand up, to shout loud; to share the promises and to remind the people – God is Good!When you hear of God’s words, trust them; know them; believe them – it will come to be; God has promised this: God’s word is true.

How glorious it is to know God’s light is in the world!
Here we are in the season of Advent – waiting, watching, hoping, seeking once more the promise of the dark season, which brings light to overcome the dark; light to dispel the shadows; light to show the way; light for hope and for each one of us.

What a wondrous promise we have heard!
What a wondrous promise we receive!
The One who was sent; the One who came – a poor and humble child; weak and vulnerable, has overcome the darkness to bring light to those who wait in hope.

And we are they!
We are the ones who wait; the ones who hope; the ones who believe the promise
We prepare for his coming; we prepare to share light and love and hope and joy and the news that the One who comes, comes for all.

This is our hope!
This is no exclusive restrictive club!
This is not a place where doors are barred and the humble rejected.
Indeed, this is not a place for hopes to be dashed
It is a place for all hope to be fulfilled.

All people to be invited in
All people to be welcomed
All people to be valued
All people to be heard

This is the hope of our season:
God so loved the world, he chose the One
God so loved the world, he sent him in – anonymously, quietly, without fanfare or fuss
God so loved the world, he gave him great power, to be used with great love

God so loved the world
God so loved the people of the world
God so loved you...
Yes!!
You!
And you, and you and you – each and every one of you

And not only did he send the One then out of love for those who were waiting; he sent the One for all who had been, and all who were yet to come
God loved, loves, will continue to love

What a wondrous promise we have heard!
What a wondrous promise we receive! 






Advent 5

This is really Advent 6... But since I missed day five, today will get morning and evening, five and six!
I was on the road most of yesterday.
My annual trip to meet up with my sister
We shared news, and tears, and stories, and love. And it was perfect! 

I love my sister! 



Thursday, 4 December 2014

Advent 4


To be content....


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent 3

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty winds made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone....

The view from here this morning
First real frost of the season
Praise God!

God of all
Thank you for the joy of knowing seasons
For the reality of sharp frosts and misty mornings
Thank you for the beauty of the earth

Lord our God, to you we raise
This our sacrifice of praise


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Advent 2

The travellers stop where they can
Making camp
Seeking safety
We in our warm homes
With our comfy beds
And secure doors 
Cannot imagine life
for those who have none of that.


The rough sleepers
Those who struggle to choose
Between food and heat
Those who wonder if there will be a knock at the door

Pray for those who fear
Those who have no security
Asa they make this journey
To the stable
Bare 
Cold
Unlovely
Yet wondrous too

What can you bring?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Advent Calendar One

Advent One...
Read Luke 2:1-7 

The journey begins
As we walk, remember this:
The world calls it cyber Monday
Shop till you drop
Spend more than you have....

But not for us 
Instead  
Make this quiet Monday 
time for reflecting 
 for anticipating the road ahead 
As we look at the advent calendar today 
Focus on those who were journeying:

 Mary and Joseph, going to be counted
Struggling to come to terms with all that was happening 
in their lives
 Traveling slowly, carefully, protecting the child of mystery
Reluctant, confused, accepting, curious, 
Go with them as you prepare
Seek the Spirit's wisdom as you consider again that journey. 




Saturday, 29 November 2014

Habakkuk and the great lament

Sermon for 30th November
Habakkuk 1: 1-4,2: 2-4,3: 17-19  

Black Friday
Ferguson
Plebgate
13 thousand Slaves (living) in Britain
Political suicide: in a cab and in court
7000 dead from Ebola

What is fair?
What is right?
What is just and seemly and following God's path?

This week in our scripture for Sunday we investigate the prophet Habakkuk. Our readings take us from the start, to the middle to the end in three quick excerpts.
The three short readings could be summarised thus:
  • ·       Habakkuk, laments the state of the world, and asks God why things are so?
  • ·       God replies, reminding Habakkuk not to worry: God is acting and God is always there even when not visible.
  • ·       Habakkuk responds: ok God, even when I can't see you, or sense you, or know you; even when it makes no logical sense at all:  I'm still going to praise you.


Who knew?!
The lectionary is put together with no knowledge of what will be happening in the world when each set of readings comes round.
Yet here we are, in a week where injustice and inequality and perversion of facts and violent responses and hopelessness abound.
A week when we look at the world and ask WHY???
Why is the world like this?
Why do people do stupid things?
Say uncaring, terrible things to each other?
Why do people trust, or not trust another human by the colour of their skin rather than the honour of their behaviour?
And why is it that we lament and moan and complain – but don’t actually DO anything?

And then we read a lament and realise we are not alone
We are not the only ones
It is not only our generation that sees this world thus
It is not only our generation that complains and laments

And then: then we read an assurance that even in the worst of times:
God. Is. There.

God is there

God is always there
Even when, especially when, we cannot sense God's presence:
God is there

Now.
I read these words
I write these words
I hear these words
I try, very, very hard to live these words
Know these words
Believe these words
But I do not always manage it
Because sometimes the world seems just too far gone

I read in the news of politicians in London who expect that they have a right to be heard; a right to be exempt from common decency – and I sigh, and shake my head, shrug my shoulders – but I cannot bring myself to do anything more, because I cannot believe that I can make it any different
I read in the news of rioting and violent protest across the Atlantic; it’s a long way away; it’s not here; it doesn’t affect me – so what do I do? What can I do?
I read that this terrible disease that is killing in another distant land; this disease which is devastating families continues rampant: now claiming over 7000 souls. And I feel helpless.
Then on Saturday the radio tells me that “they” estimate there are around 13,000 slaves in Britain.
13,000 slaves: people, held, worked, unpaid, uncared for – treated as less than human – and it is so hard I cannot fit it into my head. And then when I look at the global figures.... 36 million!
How can this be?
How can this be in our world in 2014 – that humans treat each other so badly?
How can it be?

I join my voice to that of Habakkuk, and countless others over the years, and ask WHY????

And I try to listen...
I seek the voice...
Are you still there God?
Are you looking at this world and reeling too?

I wish I were a prophet like those of old
That I too could hear God’s voice loud and clear giving me some reassurance.
God. Is. Here.
God cares
God weeps with us
God rails too at the injustice of it all

Yet still it is happening
The world is corrupt and unfair
People make mistakes
People are cruel and harsh
And, somewhere in a distant land, a journey begins
From dark to light
From despair to hope
We are waiting....
Waiting....
For the time to be right
To share the vision
To live the hope
To grasp the dream:

To join my voice with Habakkuk saying, “even if the world is lost, spinning out of control, even when everything is dying around me, Yes, Even then
When my heart is lamenting
I will praise God”
I. Will. Praise......

Because, what else can I do?
What else can we do?
We will praise God
“I will still be joyful and glad, because the Lord God is my saviour. The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains.” (Hab 3:18-19)

Now that’s an image to conjure with!
 
Deer in winter 2008 (JMW)