Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Refugees

A talk given at the end of term High School Services.... 

The refugees

The militia had taken over; and there was chaos everywhere
The Emperor wanted to know how many… how many people were there; which family line did they come from; what did they do… so he ordered a census.
A tally of people
You can’t tax them, rule them, oppress them if you don’t know them.

The militia spread fear and mistrust
No one knew who to trust
No one knew who was loyal, who was a collaborator; life was lived on a knife edge.

The militia had their own pawns in the game
The local leaders were all terrified, and desperate to preserve what little power remained, what little dignity was left. So they obliged; obeyed; submitted; accommodated the interlopers.

Life was hard; people were hard and it seemed like there was no hope. Anywhere.
The faithful cried out to God
O God! How long?! How long must we wait?

And into the darkness came the spark of hope.
Angel messengers.
Strange events.
Miraculous babies.

Into the atmosphere of distrust and fear and anxiety and suspicion came a glimmer of hope. 
Mixed with doubt and confusion.
It was all risky.
The hope might pay off; but it might also end in betrayal; grief; death.
But, it also might bring joy and love and new life. 
Glorious new life!
So, they took the risk.
They followed the plan
They set out on the fearful, hazardous journey, filled with pitfalls and threats.

Eventually they got there… but there was nowhere to go
Everywhere was so full
The place teemed with weary bodies; exhaustion permeated their very being
The time came for the glimmer of hope to shine
Angel voice filled the sky
But not many heard or saw
Just a few bedraggled, coarse working men, unaccustomed to miracles and light and hope.
Yet, because they weren’t expecting it
Because they were not holy men, wise men, educated men the miracle was all the more beautiful
And in their simplicity they were able to see beyond
Beyond the dark pit of fear and squalor into the glorious brilliant hope:
A tiny baby
God made human

The light shone, and the darkness could not overcome it.

And here we are, two thousand years later
Still there are people under the power of oppression
Still there are people fleeing, undertaking risky journeys; all in the hope of new life, new beginnings and a faint hope of something better for those they love.
Still there are people dying at the hands of persecutors, bullies, tyrants and still the strong use their power to take advantage of the poor and less able.

Still there are those who respond too:
The ones who offer shelter – however meagre
The ones who witness the light – however dim
The ones who believe in a miracle birth – however unlikely
The ones who allow in the light – however reluctantly
And the light continues to shine

And the darkness will not overpower it.  

Winter sun, through the trees (c) JW 2010

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Sermon 13 December: Time for Miracles

Luke 1: 5-13, 57-80

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s Story

Time for miracles
Time for hope
Time for JOY!
It was a bleak time; Romans, the interlopers, the invaders, were everywhere; life was lived on a knife edge, with no one trusting anyone else.
There was an expectation of doom and gloom in the air; no one expected anything, especially not a visit of an angel, or a heavenly messenger
And no one expected a miraculous, unexpected, unanticipated, impossible birth.
Yet, they happened anyway.
Sometimes it is at the most difficult, most troubled and most challenging times that the most extraordinary things can happen.

At this time of year we usually hear about the other miracle baby born around the same time… but today we think instead about his cousin’s birth.
Elizabeth and Zechariah are elderly they have lived blessed and faithful lives, yet have not be blessed by the child they so longed to have. Now, before we go on I’d like to take a moment’s pause…
For those of us who have been blessed with children it is impossible to imagine the pain of not having them. The depths of despair, the yearning, the desperation that childlessness brings to some is beyond our imagining. Add to that this story – (and others, John is not the only miraculous impossible baby in the bible) and the pain is compounded: Why can’t we pray hard enough? Why won’t God bless us with a baby? What did we do wrong?
For all who yearned for babies to love and care for we pray; for those who prayed to God to help them conceive, we pray. For those who never got the opportunity to become parents, we pray.

In a society which set such great store by families and future generations, securing the family line, to be barren was viewed as a curse; a punishment even. Zechariah was a holy man, a priest; he served in the temple, his was a position of great honour and status; yet here he was, an old man, in his twilight years, with no son to pass on the family name to.
Into this scenario comes a stranger, a visitor, an unknown. We are told that when the angel appeared, Zechariah was afraid… and, as is customary, the angelic visitor tells him not to be. Hmm… easy for the angel to talk!
In today’s reading we then fast forward the whole nine months to the time for Elizabeth to have her baby.
In the verses we miss out, there is a maelstrom of happenings and strangeness. For a start, Zechariah is so utterly incredulous at the declaration of the angel he doubts and questions… and boom! He is, literally, struck dumb for the next nine months.
Meantime, the angel is kept busy, nipping up to Nazareth to visit Elizabeth’s very young cousin Mary and let her know that she too will be having a baby – but hers is different to Elizabeth’s. For she is unmarried and will not be conceiving by any known means… but that’s a story we know and will not visit again this year.

So, back to Elizabeth and Zechariah.
He, being struck dumb, cannot tell her the happy tidings, she has to wait and work it out for herself. Though we must suppose he has written her notes, because she knew the chosen name for her baby.
When Elizabeth knows beyond doubt that she really was going to have a baby, she makes this declaration: “At last the Lord has helped me, he has taken way my disgrace”
And when the child is born, the local population is filled with wonder and questions – what will this child be, do? What is he a sign of for the future?
His father however is roused from his silence, to declare the boy’s name, and then praises God, and prophesies about his precious son.
 “You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God.
You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his road for him, to tell his people that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.
Our God is merciful and tender.
He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us and to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death, to guide our steps into the path of peace.”
The words of the final two verses, in a different translation, I use as the introductory verses of every funeral I conduct ‘in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn of heaven will break upon us, to shine on those who live in darkness, under the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace’. The words remind us, in our darkest hour, that God never leaves us alone, that even in darkness there is light, hope and peace.

Because, more than anything, we need light and hope.
We need to know we are not alone; that God has not abandoned the world.
Even now. Especially now, that it seems that the whole world is hell bent on self-destruction.
From the nit-picking and compromises of the World Climate Change Conference; to the proliferation of death and destruction by the abuse of guns; to the strange and scary thought that extremist views are pervading the world giving voice to hatred, racism and bigotry… the world is indeed, a dark and scary place, yet at this time of year as we reflect on the world as it was 2000 years ago, we can see that it wasn’t dissimilar. The weapons might be different; the means of communication more instantaneous, but the world was still a dark and scary place, with fear and violence pervasive and persistent.

The world needed symbols of hope
Symbols of peace
Symbols of joy… and what can be more joyous than the promise and hope of new life!

The world still needs these same symbols: we need to know that it is not all darkness; it is not all hopeless; we need to hear the good news proclaimed from the rooftops.
God is still here!
God’s word stands for all time – God is compassion and kindness
And God’s dawning light will shine on us in our darkest hour, and guide our feet into the ways of peace.

Zechariah believed God’s promises; he knew he would never see his son grow up – that is the curse of older parents – but still he believed; his son would be a prophet of God; he would have a special task, to prepare the way, to declare God’s promise of JOY and hope would be fulfilled.

In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to shine on those who live in darkness, under the shadow of death, and guide our feet into the way of peace, hope, and JOY.
And that’s a promise worth holding on to.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The time is Coming - sermon for 6th December

Prepare in the wilderness a road for the Lord!
…the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it.
 (Isa 40:3,5)

It was said that John the Baptist was the messenger who fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy; the world waited with baited breath; there was turmoil; there was war; there was civil unrest; violence lurked on every street corner.
The people were afraid; the people were oppressed; the people had had enough.
Enough – they said
Enough! God replied
Enough suffering
Enough punishment
Enough waiting…

And yet, here we are, two thousand, four thousand years later; still waiting…
Still crying out enough!
Still calling, How Long O Lord? How long?

The people of Israel were living in exile when Isaiah wrote his prophecy down; they were in the wilderness, searching, seeking, hoping for something better. They needed comfort more than anything else; a symbol of hope; a picture of something new… and Isaiah gave it to them.
But, it isn’t just given; they have to act. The voice tells them: Prepare! Clear the way! Do stuff!

Not easy stuff either! Fill in the valleys; level off the mountains… this is hard, physical, demanding work but the rewards will be great.

Over on our online discussions on this passage earlier in the week, one asked – but what if we like the view from our mountain? What if we like the shelter down in our valley?
What if we don’t want to change, but we just want the stuff to happen around us? Or we are too scared to change – fearful of the outcome?

Because… what happens if we do the work; carry the hope; believe the promises and still at the end of it we do not feel better off?
At the end of it, the world isn’t a better place?
There are still bad people out there who want to kill and maim?
There are still powerful, power-hungry people out there who think nothing of taking advantage of those who have less; those who are different; those who are vulnerable?
What do we do then?
How can we take this prophecy, today in the 21st century, when it feels like the world has gone mad…?

Our country is once again attacking a foreign power
Our country is once again fighting and abusing and taking advantage 
Our country is once again split – with those who think it is the right response, and those who think it is not.
In Europe, people are still fleeing; risking everything to try to get to somewhere where they sky at night is not filed with bombs and weapons.
In Europe people are still drowning in rickety, overfilled boats… walking, walking, hundreds of miles… hoping, hoping against hope that someone, somewhere will take them in, offer them shelter…

What is going on?
What is happening in the world?

Here we are, preparing the way for Advent; getting ready to remember the story of a refugee family; living in a country that is occupied by a foreign power; travelling great distances; fleeing death and destruction…
What are we doing?
What is happening?
What can be done?

Enough of this.

Every news headline brings prayers and thoughts for the latest atrocity; the latest tragedy; the latest round of death…
We no longer know what to pray; how to pray; where to pray for.
Yet, Isaiah’s prophecy remains.
There is still a voice, crying out in the wilderness
Prepare the way
Comfort my people
Encourage them not to give up
The time is coming when the glory of God will once again be revealed.
The love of God will once again be heard in the cries of a new born child.

The world may be falling apart before us
And we may be feeling helpless in the face of such adversity
Yet, remember this – we are not alone
God has this
We may, like the grass and the flowers fade away to nothing, but God is ageless, timeless, and God’s Word lasts for ever… for all time… for all eternity.

Another prophet, a teacher, a wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun” and it is true.
Generation by generation we see war and violence and horror; it comes and goes; peace restores and is disrupted again and again

Generation by generation God says enough. 
Enough. Enough.
Generation by generation people seek God, turn to God, give their hearts to God…
Today our Second Advent candle is the symbol of PEACE.

Peace be with you
Peace be with me
Peace be with us…
Peace in your hearts
Peace in your praying
Peace in your lives…

Today, rather than finishing with just our time of quiet and prayer I have prepared a slide show… pictures of refugees interspersed with pictures of nativity scenes.
Pray for the Peace of the World

Friday, 4 December 2015

Friday Five - Distractions...

Over at Rev Gals today's Friday Five - in acknowledging the madness that is  Advent, the world and the universe just now...  3dogmom asks - what do you do for distraction?
What a great question! 

Regular readers of my blog know that I've been feeling a little low recently... (if you want to catch up see here )

So distractions have been uppermost in my mind... 

First and foremost, to lift the blue: getting outside; fresh air; daylight; some exercise; just makes all the difference.

Second: this one will come into its own on Wednesday next! The DOG!!!!! At the moment I'm visiting with her... but on Wednesday she's coming home permanently, and I can hardly wait. She will make sure #1 will happen daily... but she will also provide some much yearned for companionship through the day. 

Third: reading; when I actually make time for it, I just get lost deep in another world. Currently I am reading "Miss Carter's War" by Sheila Hancock - it begins in 1949 - and currently we have got to the 1970s. It's an intriguing and absorbing read. 

Fourth: my major distraction right now is thinking about my wedding; planning food, designing stationery, looking at pretty dresses, finding sweet gifts for the precious friends who are helping me stay sane during the uncertainty - it is the most organised wedding in the world that doesn't have a date yet!

Fifth: food - I love to bake, and cook and create in the kitchen - it both distracts and relaxes me. I have various food intolerances, so creating and finding substitutes is challenging, but ultimately very satisfying. 

Bonus: writing! Blogging, or journalling; for Advent I am using Advent in Narnia by RevGal Heidi Haverkamp... really finding nuggets of inspiration there! 

Even on a cold, misty morning it's food for the soul!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Advent - contentment

What a difference a day makes! 

Today is less grey and so is my mood... this is enhanced by the fact that I have a dog snoozing beside my chair as I work today!
Bless her!
She is Missy; and she and I have been visiting together for the past couple of weeks.
She's a rescue; not ill-treated, just neglected and not loved.
And, in a few days more she will come home permanently to live with me.

It's only when you spend time with them, that you remember why you loved having a dog so much... 

You can read about how I said goodbye to my last dog here

Missy is the same breed as Bracken was; she's a little bigger but has the same bright collie eyes and a great personality. I'm sure we will have many adventures together!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Anticipating Advent...

Oh LIFE!!!! 

Sometimes it sucks
and sometimes it does not go at all the way we anticipate... 

Those who know me well know that over the past few months I have been balancing personal issues alongside parish work. And that a few curve balls got thrown into the mix. 

Like - Sunday past was going to be my wedding day.

But it didn't happen.
Life; the legal system and some technicalities got in the way; and the day was postponed - for the third time. 

SO - life is a little sucky right now. 

The wedding will happen. 
We await due process within the court system as, at last, every possible paper is signed and sealed; every arrangement in place and in due course - my beloved will be free. 

I fear I will be glad to see the end of 2015 - even though there have been some wonderful times and much fun, it is overshadowed by the death of my beloved father and the stress of trying to follow due process to enable my wedding to take place. 

December is probably the worst month in the year for me - I find the short days, the encroaching dark, the gloom and greyness to be overwhelming. I crave light. Desperate for sunshine and warmth. The grey of the sky matches my mood. 

The one bright hope of December is Advent.
When my boys were wee, there was a strict rule about not getting the tree and the lights up too early. But this year I am seeking that light right now.

So the tree and the lights will go up this weekend - and I will bring light into my darkness.
reminding myself - Light came into the world, and the darkness cannot put it out.


Shines in the Darkness

Sunday, 15 November 2015

November 15

No sermon today

A time of prayer and reflection,
 and lighting candles for whatever touches the heart...
& communion

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Prayer for Paris #NaBloPoMo

Ah Paris!
City of history and culture
maze of streets and steps
How often I walked within your bounds...

Today I weep for you
as you take stock
as you stand, bewildered by the force of terror
Oh Paris! What can we say?

Holy God - be with those who weep
and those who fear
Counsel those who react
Encourage those who help, and pray, and listen, and talk... 

Comfort those who survived against the odds
Quell feelings of guilt and wonderment
Why did I survive? How was I saved?
Walk, O Holy One with your little ones
Your broken ones
Your hurting ones
Walk and walk, until the pain eases and tomorrow comes

We pray
in words and silence


Paris - autumn 2008

Thursday, 12 November 2015

NaBloPoMo #8-12....


The world caught up with me...
I have been dealing with STUFF.... 
deep, grotty, rubbishy sort of stuff.

So the writing slid, and life just crept along. 
Saturday - the last day I blogged - was the chaotic, lovely wedding - which was lovely, but also personally painful (one day - me) 
Sunday, Remembrance Sunday, move the service early, welcome local dignitaries, uniformed organisations and all sorts who only come to church once a year. Followed by solemn procession to the village Square of the entire congregation, escorted by police cars to stop the traffic... 
Monday: Messy Church planning in the morning; banner group in the afternoon (share my unhappy news...) 
Tuesday: Funeral; Home bound communion service; visit to v frail elderly, just home from hospital - comfort daughter as he has another stroke and is readmitted... go to choir rehearsal in evening... 
Wednesday : Remembrance Day - High School - 5 Assemblies back to back; meeting over lunch; Junior School Assembly, walk with the oldest children to the War Memorial; come home - supervision meeting with student... lie down in a darkened room.... 
Thursday - today- after broken night of tossing and turning set off for Glasgow for training day; pull over into car park after 45 mins, as the pains in belly indicate IBS is imminent.

O God, grant me patience, to bear all things; to love at all times; to lean in to you in all places; and remember - you have already saved the world - I don't need to!

Oh to go to the sea and breathe!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

NaBloPoMo #7 - the greatest of these

Ahh... it's a wedding today!
Sweet couple with two little ones
the younger is two and a half - and I fully expect him to run riot this afternoon - just as he did last night at the rehearsal.... 

This is my third wedding this year - church weddings are getting fewer and fewer as more folks go for a "Package Deal" with venue providing a celebrant who will do whatever the couple want.... choice is what it's all about now; the upside of this being that generally those who choose to have a minister and a church also really want their union to be blessed - God is welcome! 
The first years I was in ministry the packages were only just beginning to come into the equation, so I got all sorts of requests, and suggestions. More weddings, but not necessarily more blessings... 

It is sad that the numbers have gone down
but good that those who come, really do seek to invite God to bless their union.

New wedding banner at Earlston

Friday, 6 November 2015

NaBloPoMo #6 - Friday random

It's Friday - so that means Friday Five over at RevGals... plus there's today's NaBloPoMo prompt, so I'm going to do a wee combo.... 

On the blog, 3dogmom asks: random Friday Five out of the hat today.

What is your “gotta go!” breakfast that you can grab and take with you in the morning when you’re in a rush?
Oh my! Breakfast is the one meal I never rush! I don't eat bread or dairy due to food allergies; so my daily breakfast is eggs and bacon with mushrooms and tomatoes and spinach - the meal I would rush or skip is lunch - easy when you have a decent breakfast. 

When was the last time you had a fun evening out, and what did you do?
Wednesday was my birthday, and my beloved took me out for a lovely meal in a very special restaurant, very fine fare, and we had a sweet time. 
Last real 'fun' night was with good friends, eating, playing silly games and laughing lots. 

Favorite poet or poem?
Oh - a tie between George Herbert and Christina Rossetti: GH - Come my way - simply wondrous; Rossetti - Remember me when I am gone away - sublime. 

Who makes you laugh?
Lots of people! My boys; my sweetheart; Peter Kaye; Michael Macintyre... I don't like the ones who do swearing or bad taste - there is so much funny out there without resorting to that.

Where do you like to go for some “time apart,” in the way that Jesus took time apart?
The sea!! Oh yes the sea, or if I can't get to the sea then a river or a loch will do 

And Julia asked us for today's prompt - when you were about 8 what did you want to be when you grew up?
For the longest time I wanted to be a scientist - I can't remember when I first got the notion, but my whole senior school choices were geared to me working in a lab, doing research - I wanted to find a cure, or discover a new treatment - I never wanted to be a doctor - just the scientist in the background. 
It all fell apart, when after school I applied to work for ICI - passed the interview failed the medical - too many allergies which would bar me from laboratory work. 
But for those childhood years, I'd wear my little white coat (one of Dad's old shirts!), and play experiments with bottles and jars, water and plants from the garden... 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

NaBloPoMo #5

Over at RevGals today's prompt questions what have we done that's not in the job description?
Which gave me reason to smile, as I'm not sure I ever saw a job description for Church of Scotland minister...

Today I've been thinking about time, years and their passing.
Yesterday I turned 56 (I KNOW! AMAZING! RIGHT!?)

Today would have been my grandma's birthday... She was born in 1904 so she's been gone awhile, but I still think of her, and our shared days.  We did stuff together. She lived close by us after my grandpa died, so from the age of around 7 until her death in 1986 when I was 27 she was a constant part of my life.

She was as Irish as she could be, and was wise and kind, but with an honest, sharp wit!
She was also a devout Roman Catholic her rosary was never far from reach and her simple faith was expressed in all sorts of "grandma-isms" PG, GW, TBTG, sweet Mary pray for us....

She lived life
She loved life and she did whatever she could for us, for as long as she was able

She showed what real ministry is. Faithful prayer, compassion and kindness, holding your hair back when you were sick, a cool cloth when you were hot, a full bodied laugh when you were taking yourself too seriously, and sympathetic tears when life did not go as you had hoped and prayed.

I often wonder what she'd have thought about how my life turned out.
Would she be proud? Happy? Shocked?
I know one thing for sure - she wouldn't have been worried about telling me!

Happy birthday Grandma, I hope you're having cake and tea!

This is me, my mum, my grandma and the first two of my three boys, summer 1986

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

NaBloPoMo #4 - picture spot

"NaBloPoMo Day 4: Photo post time!! Take a picture of something you see all the time- the simpler, the better. Write a little about what the thing means, symbolizes, reminds you of... Give us a little glimpse into your world."

 So, every morning as I come down the stairs I see this wall. This wall - or at least, everything on this wall, has moved into every home I have lived in, over the years it has grown, been added to; but in essence this wall is me, my life, my love. Here are my beloved boys growing up; my parents in various stages of their lives; my grandparents; my nieces and nephews, siblings - the people in the world who are the most important to me. 

Every morning, as I come down the stairs, I pause - I look at them, I pray for them - my loved ones.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 3: randoms....

Julia asks: NaBloPoMo Day 3: What's your random obsession? 

Cups, china, especially beautiful delicate impractical ones.... 
I've always loved delicate china; and in recent years I've begun collecting.
Now I have two very special sets both of which came from my parents.

One is a gorgeous, harlequin coloured set of tea cups, saucers and plates, and the other a pretty floral set of tiny coffee cups... 
The tea set was an engagement present my parents received in 1956

The coffee set was presented to Dad when he retired 

I've lots of others - tiny Chinese ones
big chunky ones
a pretty creamware set.... 

Most of them I bring out & use - tenderly hand-washing after each time
Dad's coffee cups are now especially special - as I think of him, looking down from heaven as I sip away! 

Monday, 2 November 2015

It's here again!

what a great month!
I will celebrate turning another year...
and as I did last year I am accepting the NaBloPoMo challenge... 

And - if all goes to plan, prayers are answered and the court system gets into gear - I will be married!
Quite a month to choose to keep writing!

What does it mean?
NationalBlogPostMonth a blog post a day.... I just about managed it last year, the posts spread between my two blogs...
and I managed to get one in yesterday anyway as it was Sunday and I posted my sermon! 

Today is the 2nd of the month
And the wait for the process continues.... meantime, I've lodged our papers as required by law; I've paid deposit for a marquee and booked the catering equipement.... 

This year's NaBloPoMo theme is mostly going to be willshe/won'tshe.... 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sermon for November 1st - A Promise for all God's People

Acts 2:38-39
Mark 10:13-16

Promises, promises – some promises we can trust; others we are not so sure about. What about those promises we have heard today?
From our readings:
“God's promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away”
“The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
And from the baptismal liturgy:
“All this he did for you, Rachel though you do not know it yet”
The phrases that stand out for me here are
You and your children
All who are far away
And, though you do not know it yet….

The promises of God are not tied to knowledge or understanding – they are there anyway
The promises of God are not reliant on us doing anything, or being anyone – they are for all the people, all the time.
Making a family; joining a fellowship; being part of something, belonging… all of these things are elements of the Christian Church; and reading the stories and memories recorded in the New Testament writing reminds us of the real meaning of following Jesus, of being the church – because, in the words of the hymn: the church is not a building or a steeple, the church is the people!

And ALL the people: children and adults; teens and the elderly; all are needed, all are welcome, all are part of what makes the church.

How does this work today, in the 21st Century, when society is busy; work happens 7 days a week; sport is considered more important than worshipping God; and world religions seem to be adopting extreme behaviours? How does all of that fit together with being church?
How can we live well; love our families; do the best for them and somehow honour that sense of otherness? That vague inclination that there must be something else, there must be more purpose to life that simply live until you die and that’s the end?
It will not have escaped your notice that yesterday was Hallowe’en and today is November 1st… do you also know what this day is called? It is All Saints Day. The tradition of Hallowe’en is ancient, and is actually not about witches and ghosts and ghouls, but about preparing for the Holy Day that follows.
All Saints used to be called All Hallows – All Holy; and Hallowe’en, is Hallowed Eve (like Christmas Eve?!)  Hallowe'en was traditionally a time when people chased away all the evil spirits so that the next day - All Saints - dawns bright and clear and hopeful.
It was a holy day, a day to go to church and remember the saints; November became a month to remember all those who have gone before: the cloud of witnesses who died in faith and were gathered into heaven… and there we have it! Heaven!
Historically the majority of people believed utterly that this life was just one chapter; that there was more; that we would ultimately be reunited with our loved ones in heaven. Nowadays, people are not so sure; there are those who believe it absolutely and those who deny it equally vehemently and then there are all the others who simply do not know.
Truth is, we do not much think about death and dying until we have to: We do not think about what we want, by way of expressing end of life wishes… or what we wish for our loved ones, or how we want to say goodbye… but, sure as we are born, one day we will have to address these things
Now – before you begin to think this joyful occasion has turned into a depressing exercise in thinking about death and dying let’s go back to those promises…
“God's promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away”
“The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
And from the baptismal liturgy:
“All this he did for you, Rachel though you do not know it yet”

What is God’s promise?
That we will receive the Holy Spirit in our lives
That God will prepare a place for those who love him
That God’s kingdom is for everyone – those close by and those far away.
That gives me hope!
God’s kingdom is for everyone
Not some elitist place for the chosen few, but for everyone.
All God’s People
If we can manage to trust this promise, even if we do not have all the answers or understanding to carry it right through, we can have hope.
You may not have an active faith; you may only come to church for holidays and special occasions; you may even have more questions than you dare to ask – but that’s ok.

That is OK!
One of the greatest mysteries of faith and life and living is trying to understand God.
To know God.
Jesus told the people who were trying very hard to be proper and grown up and exclusive, to stop!
Let the children come, he said, let the children come.
Receive the Kingdom of God like a child, or you’ll never get there.
I love that!
Receive the Kingdom of God like child… it’s not complicated; it’s not a trick; you don’t have to be clever, or rich, or powerful, or understand it all – you just have to be like a child
The Kingdom belongs to such as these: the ones who can enjoy life and live it; the ones who offer friendship and love, and can equally accept it too.

God wants us to know God
If you want to come to church – great!
If you find God in the countryside, or through caring behaviours – wonderful!
If you haven’t yet found God, but you are still looking – keep it up!
This is all God asks of us: to seek, to be kind and compassionate and to listen because God will be heard and seen and found in the most unlikely places

If we just allow it to happen….  

Big Sister