Monday, 27 April 2015

There's a Woman in the Pulpit

Oh the frustration!
The Book...
 My book... the thing I worked on and wrote for, and played with and prayed over.... was at home.
And I, was  not.
So I would have to wait... four long days...
However, those four days were spent in the company of RevGals - the authors and subjects of the book. So I may have been a little impatient and frustrated, but I was in such good company, it made the waiting better - and I would simply need to be patient. Sharing in the love and sacrament of sharing and giving and loving; this was not life and death, it was life and life!

Patience... hmm, that's one of the topics
sacrament - yes that's one too
life and death - yep that too

This book contains the tears and laughter and hope and contemplations and reflections and prayers and ideas of women who are single and married and mothers and sisters and daughters and nieces and aunts and grandmothers and beautiful - so beautiful through and through.
These women all also happen to be - Revs... they call us minister, or priest, or vicar, or pastor, or Mother or Sister, or Reverend... and this is our story, our song, our spirit our joy.

Reading this book will change you; it will make you cry, and laugh out loud and think. And yes- of course I am biased. But last night and this morning as I read, the tears flowed, and my heart swelled and I was so PROUD, yes proud to be one of these RevGals, and honoured to be included in this book. Our book. My book. 
Read it
Love it
Share it
You will not regret it. 

It's available from Eden Christian Books in the UK

And on Amazon and Kindle... 

There's a woman in the pulpit and that woman is me.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Bold Pilgrim

The Bold Pilgrim 

I am going to go
To go and find it..
Something, in the noise or the silence,
In the stillness or the busyness
Something to touch and heal and feed and nourish

Where are you going?
What will you be
Who will you see
Why are you doing this?

I am going to stillness
I am going to go
That is all

Yes, but why, and what and where?
And who will take you?
And how will you fill the days?

I am going to go
Going to quiet
To wander
Without a plan
Without a goal
Simply to wander...


Just be.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


I am superwoman
Not A superwoman... 
Just superwoman
This does not give me powers, or magical things
Apart from the magic that is
The feminine
The persona of woman..

And what is woman?
She is tall and short, slim and more so
She is old and young 
She has curly hair, straight hair, blonde, brown and grey hair
She has many years experience and she is just starting out.

She has children, or never gave birth but still mothers creation,
She can do anything she sets her mind to

And if someone, tells her
"You can't do that... You're a girl..."
She does it anyway

Because she is, I am, we are

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sermon: Surprising God!

Acts 10: 1-35
(God of surprises...or what Peter did next)

A couple of weeks ago, over Easter weekend, as many of you know we had some of the family staying; during the weekend, Lara was shocked to hear raised voices coming from the kitchen, and horrified, asked Jamie if that was Alastair  and me arguing. After a moment’s reflection Jamie said, “No, that’s mum shouting at a politician on the TV!”

We have reached the season of extreme rhetoric; and I am increasingly avoiding every news programme, bulletin and current affairs programme because all it does is make my blood boil.
In my younger days I was an ardent political junky; I lapped it up; supported and enthused over one party and generally saw the world through one dimension. I was assured, confident and knew (in my own mind) what was right and what was wrong.
The older I got however, the less assured I became. For suddenly the old views seemed naive and unrealistic. I realised that in a bid for power, politicians were willing to compromise, not just the small stuff, but the big stuff too. And it became clear to me that one single truth simply did not exist.
So now I find I cannot listen to debates and interviews, because no one will answer a direct question; the presenters badger and the politicians bluster.
What, you may be thinking, has this got to do with Peter’s vision?!
Peter had, his whole life followed a very strict set of rules and instructions. He knew without doubt what was right and what was wrong; what was allowed and what was forbidden; who he could speak to, spend time with, and who was considered unclean, unacceptable.

It is hard for us today, to hear the retelling of this encounter between Peter and Cornelius and understand the enormity of it.
It is as outrageous and extreme as the idea of Ed Milliband and David Cameron entering into an agreement to work together.
It seems utterly impossible and offensive.

Peter needed to have that vision more than once because for him it really was going against everything he believed about the world. He knew the score:
Gentiles – you do not associate with; you do not visit with – they were unclean
Food – strict laws attached to what was eaten and how it was prepared
Rules & rituals – for every occasion there was a ritual attached, from how to cook, to how to prepare to eat, and what to do if you were accidentally contaminated.
For Peter this encounter with Cornelius turned everything upside down
Suddenly everything he knew and understood up to that point no longer made sense...
I wonder if he remembered Jesus words?
“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth...” not food but words.

This encounter cannot be underestimated.
Up to this point, the good news was for Jews; if non Jews wanted to become followers of Jesus then they were expected first to become Jews. For Peter a great light was suddenly shining down, Cornelius was there, waiting to hear about God’s plan, and Peter suddenly saw it all:
 “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. 35 Those who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him, no matter what race they belong to.”

Suddenly Peter realised that the Good News he and the others had been tasked with sharing was so much bigger than they had thought – when Jesus had given his final instruction to them, he really did mean ALL nations – not just the twelve tribes, but every nation, in every corner of the world... thus began the greatest mission in all history.

Peter’s revelation through his vision, is a wonderful insight for us too.

God surprises!
We have a surprising God, and God can take us to places we do not expect. If you had told the 20 year old Julie what would happen to her, where she would live; places she would visit; things she would do – well, I know for sure I would not have believed it; or I would have been appalled, outraged, horrified and dismayed.

Yet here I am; 35 years on from 20 year old me.
Living in a different place
Part of a different denomination
Doing a job I would have considered was totally beyond my capabilities
Viewing the world in a totally different way
And living in a way I would never have believed possible.

We are blessed to follow a surprising God
Who has plans for us we will never know about – until the time is exactly right
And then, when the penny drops, the lights turn on
Life will never be the same again

What a blessing!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Sermon 2nd Sunday of Easter

The Only Thing to Do
 Matthew 28: 16-20
It’s the week after Easter
Jesus is risen, and the disciples are still in hiding
They are exhausted – and so is every minister across the land
From Palm Sunday to Easter there is a lot that goes on
Extra services, in church, for schools... sharing the events, leading the people through that week, when the world changed forever
And here we are at last – Easter is upon us. Yes, Easter is upon us- it’s far more than just one day – it is a season of 50 days, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, a season for celebrating new life in Christ.

Today’s reading comes up every three years in the lectionary, and usually is given for Trinity – the week after Pentecost. I checked back – I have NEVER preached on this passage! Usually I focus on what we mean by God as Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and not at all on Jesus’ Great Commission:
“Go, make disciples, baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and remember I am with you to the end of time.”

I find it hard to believe that in 15 years of preaching I’ve never preached on this, Jesus parting instruction to his disciples. The reading is in a different place in this new lectionary we are following... So here I go!

The first thing that strikes me in these final four verses of Matthew’s gospel is the phrase, “they worshipped him, but some doubted”. What a fabulous statement!!

They were still able to worship
They were still included in the great commission
They were still invited in
Even with their doubts
Even with their hesitation and insecurities
Jesus still took them, chose them, led them, blessed them.

So even with our uncertainties
Our doubting
Our fragile will and tentative loyalty
Jesus chooses us
We do not have to be sure
We do not have to know all the answers
Jesus takes us as we are, where we are, who we are – Jesus doesn’t exclude those who are not perfect – he embraces them!

So, today, as we hear that charge we know that it doesn’t matter if  we feel less than able, less than ready – because God goes before us, caring, encouraging, leading ever forward – Jesus promised we’d never be alone, and the Spirit blesses our encounters and our journeying, whether we realise it or not.

What a perfect day then, to be welcoming a little one into God’s family
What a perfect day to encourage new parents with their own doubts and insecurities; with their own feelings of disbelief and uncertainty. It’s OK!

Jesus takes everyone
Those who know
And those who do not
Those who are sure and those who are not

Jesus enables amazing and wondrous things to happen
For Grace is ever present
We bring our children
We make promises we hope in, knowing as we do that we are frail and imperfect. That our determination will always be subject to challenge every step of the way.

Yet, even in this we have this reassurance
Jesus knows us, and blesses us anyway

So, as we remember our own baptismal vows today, as we have witnessed this family make their promises, we remember also, that we do not do it alone; we do not rely on our own strengths – we rely on God’s amazing and wondrous grace to lift us and guide us every day

Jesus called his disciples to go, share, and tell
Before they were able for it
While they still doubted

And we know they managed it
Because here we are
Hearing it
Sharing it
Telling it

Because really it is the only thing to do!


Saturday, 4 April 2015


It's the day between
Yesterday it was finished
Tomorrow a new start 
But today...
Today is a nothing, a gap, a pause...
What to do?
Too soon for fun and joy and celebrating
Too soon to shout the news
Too soon...

Today is the time for waiting
Holding the peace
Comforting the lost
Studying the quiet mood
How do we feel today?
What does this wait do?

Question for a moment what happened...
The friends were scattered
Running and fearful
Did they regroup?
How quickly were they able to gather
Did they do a head count...
Have you seen Thomas?
Where is Nathaniel?
Has anyone found the women, the children?
Are we all here...
What do we do now?

Peter, John you were closest - tell us what to do...
What did he mean when he told us those things?
He told us to wait, what are we waiting for?

Is this it?
Is this all there is?
Where shall we go?
Do we just go back to our ordinary lives?

O Holy God
show us how to live in this inbetween time
and all the other inbetween times we experience
waiting for news
waiting for hope
waiting for courage and restoration

May the Spirit's breath touch and fill us
give us courage, make us bold
Stregthen our resolve and show us how to be..
to simply be
in all the inbetween times

Friday, 3 April 2015

Today the day

This day
The day
One day
That changed the world 

Earthquake and darkness 
herald the event
Strong, impassive soldiers
who have seen everything
are stunned into belief...

The dead will walk
The living will fall into
stunned, disbelief 
questioning everything
doubting their certainty
and wondering...
"What did we do...?" 

The faithful will hide
watching from afar
Fearful, bereft, inconsolable
lost and lonely - so very alone. 

God will act
Seeming fury, rents the earth
Heaven itself protests
Earthquake and darkness
Shake the very foundations 

This event, 
This day
The day


Thursday, 2 April 2015

the Fragrance of Jesus

"May the fragrance of Jesus fill this place"

The mid point in Holy Week, 
a time of silence and reflection
stimulated by some visual reminders

a purple cloth
thirty pieces of silver
broken bread
a bowl of water
a jug of rich red wine
a small hand held cross
an old, heavy hammer and long, sharp nails
and a large, dark, brooding cross, bedecked with a fragment of cloth and a twisted wire crown
in a small bowl burned frankincense... pungent resin
the smoke lifted and curled
moving back and forth as people moved quietly round the church
station to station
moment to moment

The mid point in Holy Week
a time to reflect
a time to be still, quiet, close
the fragrance filled our senses
the reminders touched our souls