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  • Making Peace

    peace dove.JPG

    Tomorrow is World Peace Day, and we Gatherers will be using the World Peace Prayer to close our worship.

    A few weeks ago, I facilitated an evening reflection as part of which we looked at the strange set of sayings that form both Matthew's and Luke's beattitudes.  After we'd played around a little with the makarios as 'happy' or 'blessed' one of the folk in my small group responded to the 'blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted' by observing the importance of the grief process in personal well-being... it is only through griving that we can find comfort and the strength to move forward.  Wow!  What an amazing insight.

    So what then of "blessed are peacemakers, they shall inherit the earth"?  For the earth is not exactly a peaceful place.  What if the inheritance of the earth by people of peace is not a 'reward' but a 'calling'?  What if it is the opportunity to be the change we long to see?  To be agents of grace, hope, fulfilment?

    What does it mean to be a peacemaker, a person of peace here in Scotlnad?  In the UK?  In Europe?  In the world?


    Blessed are the peacemakers - to these I entrust my good creation


    What a responsibilty!

    What an honour!

    What faith God has in we frial, failing, finite, fearful folk



    Lead us from Death to Life
           from Falsehood to Truth
    Lead us from Despair to Hope
           from Fear to Trust
    Lead us from Hate to Love
           from War to Peace
    Let Peace fill our Heart
           our World, our Universe
    Peace   Peace   Peace



  • Weep Strongly

    Romans 12:15 'rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with thsoe who weep' - I dread to think how many times that has glibly slipped off my tongue (or my fingers) on this blog, because it has been applied to two different sets of people experiencing very different circumstances simultaneously.

    But today it can't be glib, because it's the same set of people, and to rejoice with one part is to add insult to the injury of the other; to weep with one is deny the joy of the other.  Perhaps then, the challenge is to weep joyfully, by which I don't mean happy tears, I mean sadness transformed by hope, gladness tempered by humility or something like that.

    I can't be happy today because however momentous the decision, and however good the process, and however many positives I can find, there is still plenty wrong in the state of Denmark... or in this case Scotland and the UK.  There are still endless wrongs to be named and addressed, still trust to be created, still hurts to be healed.

    Four years ago, I felt the rug had been pulled from under my feet, I was utterly terrified and wondered if I had a future, never mind what it held.  Back then, friends came alongside and simply 'were'.  I think there's a need for 'simply being' with those who today feel their dreams are shattered, hopes destroyed, fears realised.  And maybe a need, too, to come alongside those who are relieved and reassured as a calm companion, maybe able to lend a little perspective.


    As I walked to church and pondered this whole weeping and rejoicing tension, I called to mind a poem I posted way back in 2008, having been given it by a friend at time of huge personal disappointment in 2003.  I found it , and reproduce it again here...


    Even as we seem to be dying

    in weakness

    in fear

    overwhelmed by all the forces against us,

    there are moments when we know

    that we will never be determined

    by any of that.


    There is a God

    who says to us

    weep strongly,

    be strongly afraid,

    care strongly,

    choose life strongly in faith

    and I will live strongly

    in all of that.


     There is a God

     Who moves from hill to mountain top,

     who stands high in the depths of the pit,

     who gasps free of the waters of drowning

     and plants the cross-shaped tree

     on the very shaking ground on which we stand

     as though our trembling earth is like a rock.


     There is a God

     who steps free

     of the binding chains around our souls

     and calls us in a voice

     which always knows our name,

     who always feels our pain,

     who lifts our feet

     as though our life

     stands cupped in a saving hand

     and cherished forever in a life-filled place.


    from Dorothy McRae-Mcmahon, Liturgies for the Journey of life, p124

  • Historic - Irrespective of Outcome

    This is the first time I've ever stayed up to watch election results, the first time it has mattered enough, and the first time I've actually been excited to watch the results unfold, especially at the point where it  was neck-and-neck.

    Today around half of the people in Scotland who I know and love are going to be devastated.  The half who are pleased, relieved or whatever need to be gracious and generous.  Above all we need to work together to build a brighter future for Scotland and, indeed, for the rest of the UK.

    This was the most significant vote I ever took part in - and I knew that neither result was going to make me feel happy, that neither had guarantees, that whichever way it went huge numbers of people would be made very unhappy.  Above all I knew this was not about what I wanted but about what the people of Scotland felt.

    There can be no celebrations (though many will wish to) and I hope there will be no reprisals to or from either part of the electorate or indeed from elsewhere in these islands.

    You will understand, gentle readers, if this is a 'no comments allowed' post.


    From mid-afternoon yesterday my social media profiles have borne a 'One' Scotland badge - and that's what we need to commit to. 

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.
    Love your neighbour as you love yourself

  • Sermon

    There are some sermons, or some Sundays perhaps, where you have exactly one chance to get it right, and if you don't well oh...my...word.

    It feels that this coming Sunday is one such.  I am happy with the readings the lectionary skewed by a week to fit our special services in October has given me.  And this morning I have written a first draft of my sermon - kind of into a black hole but then that's also kind of deliberate, as it's important to me to 'bring a word' that is true whatever the outcome of the referendum.

    I aniticipate that come Sunday I will have a congregation of folk split roughly 50-50 on how they voted because we are sufficiently diverse to be strangely normal, as churches go.  Even if the percentages are way out, some will be pleased and some won't, some will be fearful and others excited.  And in God's infinite wisdom, I am the one who has to speak to them 'a word in season' not to 'tickle their ears' but to bring 'good news' to a complex and historic moment.

    Most of my readers 'do praying' so please pray for all religious leaders in Scotland, and indeed in the whole of the UK-as-currently-constituted, of all faiths, as we endeavour to set aside our own preferences, prejudices and feelings to speak peace to those we are entrusted to serve.

  • "Done"

    It isn't very often there's a queue at a polling station at 7 a.m., I have had to do so before today but not often; it was encouraging to see people hastening to cast their votes early.

    At the same time it all felt a bit strange and strained... no-one made eye contact with anyone, and when the person behind me spoke it drew disapproving glances. This is serious stuff, no place for banter, no risk of giving away our intentions, just eyes down, concentrate and do whatever you believe to be correct.  It's good that people are very serious about this, it's history changing stuff either way.  Maybe I'm just to flip, but a smile and a good morning never hurt anyone.

    Then the walk to church and the collection of bemused voters outside the school that closed two years ago... so I directed them to where it is now.  This happened at the European elections too... worrying that people don't read what is printed on the polling card.

    So that's it, after reading, viewing, listening, reflecting, praying (a little bit - isn't all of life potentially a prayer?), reflecting, tossing and turning, losing sleep and worrying far too much about this or that unintended consequence of this or that outcome, I finally made a choice, cast a vote and now wait to see what everyone else thinks.

    A lot has been posted on websites, blogs and social media that has been, in my opinion, intemperate, ill-judged or unhelpful.  I know there have been moments when I have reacted unhelpfully to other people's views - so I apologise for those.  When I wake up tomorrow, unless endless recounts have proved necessary the result will be known - and one thing I am sure of, whatever it is I will my best to continue to do my best to serve the church I love in this part of God's Kingdom, which ultimately is the only allegiance that matters imo.

    One last thought - Jesus said "love your enighbour as you love yourself" (as did many other spiritual leaders).  Whatever tomorrow brings, may love be our guiding principle.