By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 3

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 42


    One in three girls in Niger are married before the age of 15, and 75% are married before the age of 18.

    Give 50p if you have attended a wedding in the last year where the bride and groom were over the age of 18.

    I think this is a single donation irrespective of how many weddings one may have attended.  But as I only went to one, it is just semantics anyway.  A couple in their late twenties or early thirties, who had been together for many years already.  Pretty typical in the UK these days, I guess.

    A number of years back I researched the history of the 'age of consent' in the UK and the variations across the western world in both in 'age of consent' and 'age for marriage'.  We have long since forgotten the debt we owe the Salvation Army who campaigned to bring an age of consent for girls/women... of twelve.  It is comparatively recently that in the west we have increased the age to 14, 15, 16 (and it varies across Europe and North America in that range to this day).  We have forgotten that for the first half of the 20th century, the school leaving age was 14 or 15, with teenagers taking on adult responsibilities sometimes before their bodies reached puberty, and as a result even if they married young, often still virgins.  Now we are about to increase the school leaving age to eighteen, effectively prolonging childhood, at a time when puberty comes earlier, bringing with it its own challenges.  All of this is a very long way of me saying I'm not sure that age is necessarily the best means of expressing the issue here.

    In parts of Africa it is still customary to pay a 'bride price' - one of our Nigerian folk at church recently went home to marry and had to fulfil this obligation, at least notionally.  In the poorest of families, marrying off your daughter will bring in much needed resources, whether cash or livestock, and it is this that motivates early marriage.  Rightly or wrongly, I'm less troubled by the idea of women being married at a young age, than the fact that they become chattels to be exchanged for money, simply to enable the rest of their families to attempt to get by.

    So I'll give my 50p gladly, but I'm not doing so 'just' o grounds of age.

    My pledge

    Today - 50p

    Total - £43.20, seven prayers, some thoughts and one e-petition signed

  • Monday of Holy Week

    Today got the week off to an excellent start with superb lunchtime reflection and evening serivce.

    A dozen people gathered for our lunchtime reflection, entitled "Who Do Your Think You Are?" and derived from Luke 21: 1 - 19 and Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees, skillfully led by one of our folk.

    About double that number (from six churches!) gathered for an evening service based around John 12: 1 - 11 - Mary anointing Jesus at Bethany.  A superb narrative from the perspective of Lazarus, followed by a thoughtful reflection on the way she flouted convention and risked all.

    It's a manic week, at the end of a ludicrous run, and I have to confess that at around 6p.m. I was flagging.  But the evening service left me energised and enthused to continue the journey of Holy Week, so thank you KSM & L Churches for a great evening.

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 41

    (Or if you choose to exclude Sundays from your liturgical count then it's Day 35)


    Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of 5 than those from wealthier families.

    Give 5p for every birthday you have celebrated.

    There was a time when I'd have read this and simply multiplied my age by five and given the money.  There may even have been a fleeting hint of disgruntlement at being 'punished' for living longer.  But then there was a time when I thought that fifty was somehow significant in a negative way, that it signalled the end of 'youth' and moved me officially into "young old age".  And then there was the moment when I questioned the likelihood of seeing 48, though it was only around three months away, and fifty seemed a near impossible dream.  I recently said to someone that my thinking about age had undergone a paradigm shift once the taken-for-granted-ness of another birthday had been shattered.  It's not that I expect anything bad to happen, just the knowledge that life is fragile.  Yesterday I read the news that Bernadette Nolan is now nearing the end of her life, as secondary breast cancer has spread throughout her body... her diagnosis, a few months earlier than mine, was not the same, and I don't draw too many comparisons, but is serves as a reminder of how precious life is, and how easily it is lost.

    Were I to die tomorrow, I would have lived longer, and enjoyed more of the earth's riches and wonder than the majority of people in the world's poorest nations - that's the thought I take from today's challenge.

    I will give 5p for every birthday to 47 - and 10p for each one since, because they are, and always will be, a bonus.

    47 x 5p = £2.35

    3 x 10p = 30p

    Total = £2.65


    My pledge

    Today - £2.65

    Total - £42.70, seven prayers, some thoughts and one e-petition signed

  • Sixth Sunday in Lent

    Only one hymn befits Palm Sunday, at least so far as this series of postings is concerned.  I learned the original version as a child, so when I was introduced to the BPW version found it odd that it began with a verse about Jesus going to dies, rather than the 'happy' Palm Sunday verse.  However, over time I have come to cherish the alternative version which holds the tension that even in the 'happy' Palm Sunday, Christ is indeed going forth to die. For anyone who is interested, I have also added a modern rework of the concept, from The Iona Community

    Morning worship today will take us on a journey from Palm Sunday to Gethsemane, from festival to fear, delight to despair... it a serivce I love and which never fails to move me.


    Original Version

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    Hark, all the tribes hosanna cry.
    O Saviour meek, pursue thy road
    with palms and scattered garments strowed.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    In lowly pomp ride on to die:
    O Christ, thy triumphs now begin
    o'er captive death and conquered sin.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    the wingèd squadrons of the sky
    look down with sad and wondering eyes
    to see the approaching sacrifice.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    The last and fiercest strife is nigh:
    the Father on his sapphire throne
    awaits his own anointed Son.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    in lowly pomp ride on to die;
    bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
    then take, O God, thy power, and reign.

    BPW Version, Hymn 225


    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    In lowly pomp ride on to die:
    O Christ, your triumphs now begin
    to capture death and conquer sin.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    While all the tribes 'hosanna' cry,
    they cast their garments at your feet
    and wave the palms their King to greet.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    your last and fiercest strife is nigh!
    the Father on his sapphire throne
    awaits his own anointed Son.

    Ride on, ride on in majesty!
    in lowly pomp ride on to die!
    bow down your head to mortal pain,
    then take, O God, your power, and reign!

    Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868)

    Iona Community hymn

    Ride on, ride on, the time is right:
    the roadside crowds scream with delight;
    palm branches mark the pilgrim way
    where beggars squat and children play.

    Ride on, ride on your critics wait,
    intrigue and rumour circulate;
    new lies abound in word and jest
    and truth becomes a suspect guest.

    Ride on, ride on while well aware
    that those who shout and wave and stare
    are mortals, who with common breath,
    can crave for life and lust for death.

    Ride on, ride on, though blind with tears,
    though dumb to speak and deaf to jeers.
    Your path is clear, though few can tell
    their garments pave the road to Hell.

    Ride on, ride on, the room is let,
    the wine matured, the saw is whet;
    and dice your death-throes shall attend
    though faith, not fate, dictates your end.

    Ride on, ride on, God's love demands.
    Justice and peace lie in your hands.
    Evil and angel voices rhyme;
    this is the man and this, the time.

    John L Bell (born 1949) and Graham Maule (born 1958)© 1988, 1996 WGRG, Iona Community

  • Count Your Blessings: Days 39 & 40

    OK, so here's the thing...

    If you are a 'purist' Sundays in Lent are not Lenten, which means there are still fives days to go during Holy Week.  But if you are not a purist you can stop tomorrow (Sunday) or you can be extra holy and carry on anyway!


    Governments in the developing world find it difficult to monitor pesticide use. In Ghana, 7 banned pesticides are still sold. Farmers misusing pesticides risk cancer, birth defects and damage to the central nervous system.

    Give 20p for each household product you own with a warning label.



    People in richer countries like ours make up 20% of the world’s population, but we buy and use 86% of the world’s goods – almost all of them!Visit a charity shop this weekend instead of buying something new.


    Household products - do they mean cleaning products and the like?  Do they include things that say 'avoid contact with eyes' such as shampoo or skin cream?  It does seem a bit vague as to where the line ought to be drawn.

    From aerosols to washing up liquid, washing powder to disinfectant, iodine sprays for wound care and bleach and oven cleaner... I gave up counting when I got to 30, or I'd be needing a bank loan!

    30 x 20p is £6 - a dear day!


    Today we had a sale at church to help fundraise for someone going to Malawi as an educational specialist... some of our children helped staff stalls and we sent lots of goods to various charity shops at the end of the day.  So all in all we ticke a lot of blessing counting boxes!


    My pledge

    Today - £6

    Total - £40.05, seven prayers, some thoughts and one e-petition signed