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  • Third Week in Advent: Saturday

    Yesterday I heard something on the news that really disturbed me: a seemingly sane, rational and no doubt caring man said that the only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.  Oh dear.  An eye for ann eye and we all end up blind.  When did an ancient law of proportionality become a mandate for violence?

    Yesterday I also had a conversation that equally disturbed me: someone called at church to see if they had left something behind after a meeting they had attended (not one of those I lead) and saw fit to pass comment on the character of my church.  He went on to tell me that, if certain legislative changes go ahead, God will punish this nation. Splutter, cough, what the *good-job-I'm-a-minister-and-the-only-word-I-know-to-complete-that-sentence-is-'heck'*?  Since when was any of us God's perfect spokesperson able to announce what God would do.  In any case, that kind of theology would equally indicate divine displeasure over all manner of things the person saying this would support.


    The season of goodwill to all people - so let's arm ourselves to the teeth and shoot to kill!

    The season of goodwill to all people - so let's ask God to smite those who fail to meet our standards!



    And immediately, after these things, it came to pass that the WORD became flesh:

    Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,

    Creator became creature

    And lived among us, as one of us, with us - Emmanuel

    And shared our nakedness and vulnerability

    And shared our sorrow and pain

    And shared our laughter and love

    But never



    Our self-righteous, priggish, legalistic, judgemental, sinfulness


    God loved the whole cosmos with such unquenchable love that,

    Iin order to rescue it all from the grip of self-inflicted and selfish evil,

    God entered it


    And today it is Christ who takes the bullet

    Christ who takes the insults of bigoted people

    Christ who weeps with the Rachels in a hundred thousand Ramahs

    Christ who starves to death in poverty

    Christ who is marginalised and victimised and ostracised..

    Christ who continues to say,




    "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do"


    Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen

  • Third Week of Advent: Friday

    Because of how Christmas falls this year, this is the end of the last full week of Advent.  It sees me busily preparing the last parts of the services that spread over Sunday/Monday/Tuesday and the perennial challenge of not 'peaking' too soon.

    Today I am mindful that for some people this Christmas, indeed, every Christmas, is difficult and painful.  The list is long, and risks omitting circumstances that affect my gracious readers... bereavement, illness, relationship breakdown, redundancy, loss of home, loss of status, loss of certainty, even loss of identity or loss of faith.

    I think I want to pause, before the final flurry of celebration to remember those for whom this will not be the Christmas they long for, and may never again experience.  I want to pray for them, that joy, peace, hope and love will be experienced afresh, and the future be brighter...


    Jesus said, blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted...


    It's nearly Christmas time, God of love

    When joy overflows in merriment and celebration

    When we hope plays out in wishes expressed

    When peace once more seems a goal worth pursuing


    It's nearly Christmas time, God of love

    When empty places at tables recall loved ones no longer here

    When televised jollity rings hollow in a lonely room

    When bitterness and envy creep like ivy around the hearts of the unwary

    When out of sight probably does mean out of mind


    It's nearly Christmas time, God of love

    So help me to pause

    To remember with gratitude the absent friends

    To remember with compassion those who grieve

    To remember with hope the mystery of Christ's incarnation


    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

    God's merrcies never end

    They are renewed every morning

    So great is God's faithfulness


    God of Christmas time, enfold all with your love

    And bring faith, hope, love, joy and peace

    Again and anew


  • The Psalm Project...

    ... is a Dutch (I think) enterprise setting psalms to music.  PAYG used this one this morning... I htught it was rather lovely and worth sharing:

  • Third Week of Advent: Thursday

    When I lived in Dibley I had a dear member of my church who around this time every year would observe, "oh, you've got your Christmas cold.  Ministers always seem to get colds at Christmas."  Yes, I do have my Christmas cold (or what my family would more likely term my birthday cold, since as often as not it begins on or around my birthday) and yes, it is something ministers (and school teachers) are prone to.

    There's something about this time of year when outdoors is usually wet and cold(ish) and indoors warm and bug-breeding; when shops and buses and trains are full of sniffing, sneezing, coughing people, and the activity level nears its peak.  Just one more service to prepare now (Christmas Day morning) and everything else laid out on my desk in readiness.  Just one more carol service, one more carol sing, more more child-centred service and then Christmas Day...

    Today has been one of those days when it's never really got light - rain and more rain, and now the night wraps its tendrils around the outside of the Gathering Place and the yellow glow of the light in the vestry illumines my endeavours at crafting words for a waiting world.

    Rhino-viruses and cold, dark, wet days conspire against merriment, and yet we persist.  Why?  It's something about hope and love and the light that cannot be overcome...


    God who spoke light into existence

    In this season of dark, damp, dankness

    You are a ray of inextinguishable hope


    God who spoke life into existence

    In this season of coughs, colds and catarrh

    You are the touch of indefinable healing


    God whose word was en-fleshed in a human being

    In this season of merriment, mayhem and madness

    You are the whisper of incomprehensible peace

  • First photo of new decade...


    Thank you Coffee Club people!