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

  • Sunset...

    Just beautiful.  I am very blessed to live where I do.


    Night has fallen:

    God our maker, guard us sleeping.



    Thank you for the night,
    the sign that day is done,
    that life is meant to rest
    and sleep to come.

    Thank you for the quiet
    as silence scatters sound,
    while God, in both,
    is waiting to be found.

    Thank you for the dark
    to compliment the light,
    as insight, open-eyed,
    replaces sight.

    Thank you for the word,
    which darkness can't contain,
    that life, laid down,
    is raised to life again.

    Thank you for the night,
    a measure of your care.
    In darkness, as in light,
    you, Lord, are there.

    John Bell (born 1949) and Graham Maule (born 1958) from The Courage to Say No
    © 1993 WGRG, Iona Community

  • What Next?

    This Sunday will our second "Think, Pray, Vote" service, ahead the General Election.  After that is one service intended as a follow-up, and I have been thinking long and hard how best to approach that. 

    On the recommendation of others, I am reading a book called "Those Who Show Up" by Andy Flannagan, which is an easy read and an accessible exploration of why (and how) Christians can and should get involved in politics beyond 'just' voting, sending post card or clicking online petitions.  It's not rocket science, for sure, but it is thoughtfully written.

    Certainly it is helping me begin to ponder what I might choose to say when speaking into a context the other side of the election.

  • Back into the Old Routine

    My week off was a good opportunity to do some much needed tidying up of my house, and also of my mind/soul, whatever it is that is the inner me.  Time to reflect on what is good and what is being neglected; time to to re-establish helpful practices that have been squeezed or even squeezed out in the relentless busyness of doing good, even Godly, things.

    Back to beginning my day with PAYG (expect on my day off when I am allowed a lie in instead!).  Back to ending my day with one of the oodles of Complines in the numerous psalters and prayer books I have.  Choosing to spend around an hour a day plodding through a bit more of my jigsaw (at the stage now where it is systematic working through of pieces, and a productive hour might see ten pieces put in to it, and that's alright).  Making sure that the cats get some quality play time, especially Sasha who has boundless energy, rather than just a few cuddles (though Sophie prefers that!).  Back also to the regular rhythm of church life, with lots of folk needing pastoral support, with services to prepare and meetings to attend/chair.

    Small changes, such as more intentionally making my 'down time' restful and refreshing and being more disciplined in devotional practices, undoubtedly lead to greater inner (and outer?) energy, which I hope in turn lead to 'better' ministry.  Today's PAYG was a passage from Matthew which began with 'become like a child' and ended with 'come to me and I will give you rest' - I think these are two useful messages for me to keep in mind, the need for hopeful playfulness and the need for restorative rest.  Will I achieve this long term?  No, of course not, because we are all victims of our personalities and mine is a driven, work-focussed one.  But I can keep on keeping on returning to the old routines that sustain and energise me as often as necessary in the hope that one day I really will find the balance.

  • Think, Pray Vote...

    This morning was the first of our two services using the JPIT material.  Because I've just had two Sundays off we have two weeks to explore four themes, so I chose to pair them up as 'Truth & Justice' and "Peace & Wellbeing'.  The format was deliberately chosen so that there was less of me speaking and more opportunity to listen for God's voice in scripture and in the vox pop videos offered by JPIT.  It seemed to work quite well.

    It is rare I post anything sermony that I've written, not least as it is a heck of a lot of words.  But here, for what it's worth, is the script from which I worked today.  For it to make sense you need to know that one of the Bible stories we used was the parable of the landownder who hired people to work in his vineyard at various points through the day (Matt 20: 1 - 16)


    “What is truth?” asked Pilate.  And it is a question that philosophers and theologians have pondered throughout the whole of history.


    “I am the truth,” said Jesus – but what did he mean by that?  Was he making a divine claim or an ethical one?  What did he mean when he said his purpose was to testify to the truth, or that if his followers knew the truth they would find liberation?


    Is there one ultimate, absolute truth?  Or are all truths partial and imperfect? 


    We say we want politicians and other people in power to tell us the truth, but what do we actually mean by that?  There are clearly facts that can be verified about any issue we choose to consider, but facts are never viewed in isolation, they are always part of a narrative, a story, an interpretive framework that seeks to make meaning from what is, otherwise, raw data.  Given the same information, different people conditioned by different experiences will interpret it differently; each may be truthful in their endeavour, but none is value free.  Perhaps that’s what Pilate was hinting at – the difference between verifiable fact and interpreted truth.


    And perhaps that’s why Jesus’ story about the workers is so challenging – the interpretive framework that validates the landowner’s actions challenges the established truth that a person is paid in direct proportion to the amount of hours they have worked – that an hourly rate or a piece-rate is self-evidently a fair and just way for rewarding employees.  The more you work, the more you get paid… the way of the world, an indisputable truth, or a value judgement conditioned by a context that values productivity?


    The landowner in the story chooses to break with expectations and pays everyone the same sum of money, irrespective of how many hours they worked, or how productively they filled that time.  Understandably, those who have worked long and hard question the justice of this decision: it seems unfair; it’s not the way the world works.  And those who arrived late, whose voices are not heard are almost certainly equally bewildered, delighted for sure, but conscious that this is not the way it is.  An equal hourly rate for all the workers would have seemed fair, just… an equal day’s salary irrespective of hours worked is certainly not equal by any measure with which we are familiar.


    So we are left with puzzles to ponder…


    What might justice look like if it is not exactly the same thing as equality? And if we value equality, of what, and in what, and how?  Who might be the unhired workers in the metaphorical marketplace of our society, willing and able to play their part but for whatever reason not engaged?  Who are the hard workers and what does justice or fairness look like for them?


    Whose truth do we listen to?  What values shape the narratives by which we live our lives?  If truth is linked to integrity and authenticity, how do we demonstrate that in the choices we make, the questions we ask, and the votes we cast?


    Jesus said, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ What might liberation look like, not simply for us and those like us, but for our neighbours, near and far?  How do we begin to live truthfully the hope of which we speak?

  • Spring is springing!

    This weekend it will be six years since I visited two churches in the Glasgow-ish area to see if either might be where God was calling me.  I have many abiding memories... The incredible architecture of the church to which I felt no sense of call whatsoever, and the kindliness of the folk there, gracious to the last.  The tacky tartanalia of the hotel I stayed in near the airport, and the opulence of the appartment I stayed in in Glasgow (and the honey nut cornflakes for breakfast!).  The cullen skink and great conversation in the restaurant that had once been a Bible college after it had been a church with remarkable ceiling painting.  The discovery of Torness Street, which made me smile.  The hospitality and rapidly rustled up chicken dinner with folk who are now friends.  And the azaleas in the Botanic Gardens, a riot of colour on a glorious spring weekend.  My recollection is that every spring I've been here, my "squinty anniversary" has been warm and sunny.  I'm told the forecast for Saturday is rain, so I may yet be made a liar, but there really is a sense of spring springing now.

    So much has occurred in those years, and I do seem to find myself in reflective mood much of the time.  But for today, I shall enjoy the sunshine, take my sandwiches up to the Botanics, enjoy the flowers and look out for 'my' special squirrel (with the damaged tail) who I haven't seen in a long time.