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  • Tidying Up

    I've spent a little bit of time tidying up this blog, removing links that I suspect no-one uses or that are 'dead', and rewording the odd bit of stuff that appears in the side bars.

    If, by some remote chance, I've deleted a link you have been using, my apologies... and hopefully you can find whatever it is somewhere else.

    No posting for a few days - I have a weekend away in Edinburgh with some friends.  Normal nonsense will be resumed shortly!

  • Treasure in Disposable Cups

    At our Deacons Meeting this evening we focused on 'treasure in throw away cups ' (2 Cor 4:7) for our devotions, and wrote little messages of encouragement to each other and popped them into throw away cups.

    I am humbled, encouraged and gently challenged by the lovely messages I received.

  • Changing Hands

    At some point on Sunday morning I lost my wrist watch... I was sure I had put it on, but when I got to church, it was missing from my wrist.  Much searching has failed to find it, so I have purchased a replacement - an inexpensive watch: I'm only interested in it telling the time not whether it looks especially attractive (it doesn't).

    Because I'm left-handed, I've always worn my watch on my right wrist - when I was given my first watch at the age of eight (my parents having decided I was sufficiently competent at telling the time, and sufficiently trustworthy neither to overwind or lose it) my Mum fastened it to my right wrist and that was that.

    It's always been a positive,, if atypical, choice - during exams I could check my watch and carry on writing, something I thought might be tricky if pen and watch were on the same side.

    However, I suspect that the reason I lost - and didn't notice I had lost - my watch was because, for the past several years, I've worn it very 'loose' to avoid adding to the lymphoedema in my right arm.  When I tried on the new watch yesterday, and did it up properly (not tight, just not really loose), I could feel the effect of the tightness - not good!

    So I've changed hands... my left wrist is now adjurting itself to the strange sensation of having a watch strapped to it.  My mind is trying to remember to 'look left' rather to to 'look right'.  No doubt in a few days it'll all feel quite normal, but for now I'm choosing to name the strangeness.

    Perhaps that's some sort of metaphor for something - it certainly is for me as I reflect on the recent changes in my own life.  Maybe by naming the strangeness rather than hiding (or denying?) it, it will resolve more healthily than otherwise.

    And if anyone happens to find a cheap 'white metal' bracelet watch lying around, let me know!

  • "Who is my mother, brothers and sisters...?" (Matthew 12: 46 - 50)

    Pray As You Go, the devotional resource, today focussed on the above passage.

    The hearer was invited to think about their mother and brothers, sisters and father, as appropriate.  It's the first time I've heard/read or reflected on those verse since my mother's death, and that made a difference to how I heard and responded to them.

    We're not a close family, not least as neither of our parents were close to their own families (something of a trait in their generation I think, based on what such cousins as I have established contact with tell me). So the death of my mother is the end of an era - the essential, central link between my siblings and myself is gone and, it's pretty much down to me to keep up the work of contact.

    The image of a close-knit family, centred on a mother, is a lovely one, but it's not even remotely my experience now...  Indeed, unlike Jesus whose family were interested in what he was doing, and actively concerned for his well-being, I can't say my siblings are interested in what I get up to (and, if I'm brutally honest, I'm not a whole lot better when it comes to their lives... the distant maiden aunt who always remembers birthdays and Christmas but that's about it).

    Jesus in this passage redefines his family as a chosen, intentional, community.  I get that.  I've preached on it, I've taught it in Sunday School.  And of course it's true.  I am far, far closer to those among whom I minister than to other people; the language of 'siblings-in-Christ' trips easily from my lips.


    But today, in a new way, with new eyes, I hear the first part of the passage from the perspective of those who do not have all, or any, of these blood relatives - close or otherwise.  The viewpoint of those whose parents or siblings have died, or are estranged, or are far away, or who never knew or never had such relatives.


    Jesus, who knew the love of a large family, even if with over-protective mother and siblings, tradition tells us your father (the human one) died early, which must have affected you and them.  You, who know the challenges of family life, who understand the mixed feelings that arise when things change, invite us to be part of your family... Thank you for that invitation, which we accept, and for that promise, in which we trust... but in the 'ouch' moments show us where we may find whatever it is we need, human or divine, to bring the renewed wholeness we need.



    My relationship with my Mum wasn't perfect. She was, among other things, over-protective, and at times interfering and annoying... but she was my mother, and I loved her.  

  • Summer Series 2018 - Questions to Ponder - Week 4 - For Such a Time (Esther)

    Questions to Ponder

    1. Esther is chosen to be queen by means of a bizarre beauty contest. As a concept, ‘beauty’ is abstract, and difficult to define.  How would you recognise or identify beauty?

    2. In the series we are following, Esther is the only woman identified, leading to the possibility that she is there as a ‘token woman’. In our endeavours to celebrate diversity, and to be inclusive, do we risk ‘tokenism’ based on gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, sexuality, etc.? Is some form of ‘box ticking’ either helpful or necessary in establishing/encouraging diversity?

    3. If you were invited to make a list of Bible characters for you own team, who would you include in order to better reflect the diversity in the people of God? Why did you choose these rather than others?


    1. Mordecai famously said to Esther, “Do not think because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.”  How do you feel when you read this?  Why is that?

    2. ‘For such a time as this’… If I/we heard that spoken to us, what is the unique opportunity we have to be God’s person or people? What is it about me/us that makes us God’s person/people for this time?

    3. “If you don’t do this, another way will be found… but…” Two very different questions to ponder here:

      1. What might I/we miss out on in opting not to fulfil God’s call at this time?
      2. Do you think that there are times when humans thwart God’s ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ is needed?  Why do you think that?