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  • Fullness of Life

    Today's PAYG was based around John 6 and Jesus as the bread of life, but it made reference to John 10:10 and life in all its fullness.  The speaker said, in a lovely Irish accent, words to the effect of "Jesus said you'd have life to the full, so do you?"

    That gave me pause for thought.

    I often wonder quite what we mean by 'fullness of life', being more convinced I know what it does not mean than what it does:


    Fullness of life does not equate to longevity

    Fullness of life does not equate to wealth

    Fullness of life does not equate to health

    Fullness of life does not equate to success

    Fullness of life does not equate to acclaim

    Fullness of life does not equate to marriage

    Fullness of life does not equate to family

    Fullness of life does not equate to happiness

    Fullness of life does not equate to busyness


    Fullness is more about quality

    Fullness is more about maturity

    Fullness is more about mystery

    Fullness is more about transformation

    Fullness is more about love

    Fullness is more about community/ies

    Fullness is more about rolling with the punches

    Fullness is more about choosing life, joy, hope, faith, laughter, friendship

    Fullness is more about never quite getting there and always finding more to discover


    I find myself reminded of the once popular prayer that ends "I asked God for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things"


    My life is pretty full - a diary bulging with meetings, events, conferences, holidays - but I hope it is also characterised by full-ness which is quite definitely a qualitative rather than quantitative measure.

  • Better Late than Never...

    Today I was working on my sermon for Sunday, it's not great so far, but somehow the first draft rarely is. Suddenly I thought of a title for the series that would have been so much better than what I came up with.  It should have been (dum dum, du du du du dum....)

    Easter Enders

    Ah well.  Maybe someone else can use that title for s sermon series on the ends of the gospels.

  • Beauty and Brokenness

    On Sunday last tragedy struck in the London marathon as a young woman collapsed and died just a few hundred yards from the end of the race.  On Sunday in Liverpool another young woman died having had to abandon her dreamed of final holiday at the airport because her illness had almost run its course.  Each is dreadfully sad.  One is in the public eye and the other, rightly, almost completely private.  Behind each story are real people who are grieving.

    The outpouring of donations on Claire Squires Justgiving page is amazing - heading towards £600k when I looked this morning.  As I watch and read, I find myself wondering what it is that has triggered this response (one which I have to confess I find infinitely preferable to the laying of flowers).  Is it because Claire's tragic death has reminded people of their own mortality, the frailty and fleeting nature of life?  Is it because she died supporting a charity we equate with helping people at their point of greatest emotional need, choosing to live rather than to die?  Is it because she represents something that many aspire to to and cannot be?  I don't know.  I do know that out of this tragedy something amazing will arise.  That won't ease the loss or pain of Claire's family, but maybe it helps make a little bit of sense.

    T was someone I knew only online and only vaguely.  She had a husband and a little boy who was a mere 8 months old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.  Sadly, younger women (under 50) tend to have worse outcomes, and although on paper her initial diagnosis was better than mine, her cancer raged through her young body.  Knowing she did not have long left, and with the consent of her doctors, she planned one last holiday.   Having had to turn back from the airport, her final post was that she was glad she hadn't been taken ill mid-flight, causing the plane to divert and ruining other people's holidays.  A kind, funny, generous and devout woman, her last online request was that 'prayers are welcome'.  In a small corner of cyberspace, tributes have been made to T.  Out of her tragedy, hope's star shines.

    And all over the world are countless other examples of the bittersweet juxtaposition of beauty and brokenness.  Families grieving personal tragedy, yet turning their pain to the good.  That doesn't make it all alright, there are still big questions people need to ask - and to which they may never find answers this side of eternity.  But perhaps it reminds us that ultimately, the attributes of love, hope, kindness, etc (Gal 5 for Bible readers) are stronger than evil or death.

    RIP Claire.  RIP T.  May God grant you peace, and bring comfort to your families.

  • Luke's Ending(s)

    This week we will be pondering the ending of Luke's gospel.  And the overlap with the start of Acts.  And the ending of Acts.  It is the last of our 'endings' series.

    It has been good for me to spend time steeping myself in these endings, rediscovering what they say, and what they don't say.  It is only since I've done this exercise that I've come to appreciate than only Luke has an account of the Ascension (unless you include longer Mark)... I kind of knew this but had never really thought about it, having always mean more aware of Luke's seeming self-contradiction between his two accounts of it.

    Anyway, your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to ask yourself why, out of four gospel writers, only one bothers to tell us an ascension story, and if it is significant that this is one of only two with a birth story.  For extra points, how do Luke's birth story and ascension story together serve the purposes of his gospel?

    A while back, someone suggested to me that they thought there might well have been a volume 3, planned but not executed or written but lost, since Acts ends leaving the way open for more to be told.  Let's just say it is this idea that prompted me to plan this little series, and I am holding that thought in mind as I prepare for the sermon.

  • For My Portuguese Readers...

    ... Happy St George's Day.

    And also to my English readers.

    The marking of St George's day in England seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon, and the adoption of the St George's cross by extremists and hooligans has left a lot of English people (or at least those I know) slightly uneasy about the use of our national flag - something I don't observe among Scots, Welsh or (most) Irish people.

    To be honest I have zero interest in marking this day but as I mentioned both St David's and St Patrick's last month I thought I probably ought to continue the practice.  Note to self - don't (dare!) forget St Andrew on 30 November.

    I guess I also ought to be wishing Shakespeare a happy birthday...