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  • Palm Sunday

    For as long as I can remember, I have used Palm Sunday as an opportuity to re-tell the story of Holy Week up as far as the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane.  Most years, it's done in a very light hearted way, with lots of sensory activities, such as a procession round the room, hurling plastic coins across the room (always popular with children), anointing and, of course, a re-enacted Last Supper.

    This year, a slight variation was more 'lessons and carols' style via Zoom, and telling chunks of the Mark narrative (it is Year B of the RCL after all).

    Palm Sunday is a day of high energy and high drama - but it is a day that triggers a week of extreme emotions and painful rememberings.

    The palm cross, connects the exuberance of 'hosanna' with the agony of 'eloi eloi lama sabacthani' and so draws into the complexity of the week about to unfold.

    And of course, in our church, Palm Sunday wouldn't be Palm Sunday without this piece of music


  • Wonder, Love and Praise

    Yesterday was a very long day, and a very good one.

    I was up at 04:30 to ensure that I was 'dressed and in my right mind' to begin the first full day of an online course, notionally running in Australia, at 06:00.  It was a good day, an introduction to training as a Pastoral Supervisor, which involved meeting people from across the UK and Australia, and playfully engaging with a model based on three statements...

    • I notice
    • I wonder
    • I realise

    There is quite a strong emphasis on creativity as well, or instead of, words, and recognition that some people think more effectively if they are doing or moving or hearing.  It was good fun, and I felt that I kept up well enough (which had been one of my big concerns).

    Then at 14:00 I Zoomed into Manchester to pick up my new role as chair of the interview panel for my old Alma Mater.  It was a gentle introduction with no difficult or unpleasant decisions to me made.  Indeed, it was light, happy and entirely positive.  

    In the evening I wrote my assignment for the course (the deadline is Good Friday and next week is strangely quite full already!), which is what the photo above shows - the invitation was to express creatively or in words (max 500) a response to the first day of the course.  Mine was a bit of both... having been schooled in the 'if you use images or poems you have to provide a commentary' school of creative expression, I added around 400 words to sit alongside (not interpret) my photo.

    Today I woke at silly o'clock to a lovely email from one of the participants in Australia, which was really encouraging and kind.

    So, although I am physcially tired, and a bit 'jet lagged', I think that 'I notice, I wonder, I realise' leads me to 'wonder, love and praise'! 

  • Reflection and Remembrance

    Yesterday, it being my 'Day off', or 'Rest Day', I took a properly long walk for the first time since restrictions were increased on Boxing Day - all within the city boundary, all on my own, and, apart from buying a takeaway coffee and a muffin, no interaction with anyone.   What a strange 'normal' we now inhabit!

    In Pollok Park, I happened across this memorial, which will be officially unveiled today:

    pollok 3.jpg

    I love the simplicity of the design, at what will become a remembrance garden (I have to assume there will be some planting done today, as the reported cost is not insignificant.  'Sponsored' by the Herald newspaper and funded by donations, it is a place to pause to reflect and remember, a place to seek healing and hope.

    When we entered lockdown a year ago - initially for just a few weeks - we had no idea what the future would hold.  However well or badly any government or nation has done in controlling the pandemic, the reality is that most people, in most places, have done all that was asked of them, to the best of their ability.  Had that not been the case, things would have been even worse than they undoubtedly have been.  That the numbers are coming down, that vaccine uptake is high, all this is due to people doing their little bit.  For that, I am very grateful.

    This evening, along with countless others, I will light a candle and pause to remember and reflect.

    And in time to come, when the memorial is settled and established, I will visit it again, to be reminded of the year we have all been through.

    God who journeys with us,

    In darkness and light,

    Over moutains and through valleys,

    As we pause to look back,

    Help us also to look around, aware of those we have travelled with

    And then to look forward, to where you are leading us in hope and love




  • 52 Weeks (and counting)

    This morning was out 52nd Zurch - Zoom Church - and we took time to reflect on the past year, mostly privately, in conversation with some verses of scripture from the RCL readings for Lent 4 this year.

    We could never have imagined a year ago that we would still be meeting virtually, and that, for us at least, the prospect of 'in person church' is still some way off.

    Music, images, songs, prayers, meditation and a few words... if was, as someone said, 'a different kind of service' without a sermon type thing.

    There are sermons and prayers, but they will be forgotten

    There is music and singing, but it will cease,

    What remains is greater than all these - what remains is love.

    I didn't say that in the service, it came to me now as I'm typing, but 52 weeks on, love certainly remains.


  • "So delighted we reached this point..."

    These were the parting words of my breast surgeon as he discharged me this morning at the end of ten years post-surgery follow-up.

    The team who have looked after me so well, for so long, are pretty amazing.  It's not every surgeon who would recognise one of their patients out of context, or even wave at them across the waiting room, but this one has done so.  It's not every team that would give you as much time as you need at every appointment, but this team do.  It's not every team that tell you that discharge is not a closed door, but instead that you need the contact numbers to come straight to them if you have any concerns going forward. 

    The parting words told me what I'd always known, that I was in the 'poor prognosis' group, that this day might not have come, and that it was indeed so great to have arrived here.

    I could not have asked for, or even paid for, better care, and it was all free at the point of delivery.  The NHS is a wonderful thing, and today, once again, I am reminded just how wonderful.