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  • A Poem...

    I saw this on social media, and thoguht it was worth sharing here...

    "God ran away when we imprisoned her
    and put her in a box named Church.
    God would have none of our labels and our limitations
    and she said,
    “I will escape and plant myself
    in a simpler, poorer soil
    where those who see, will see,
    and those who hear, will hear.
    I will become a God — believable,
    because I am free, and go where I will.
    My goodness will be found
    in my freedom and that freedom I offer to all –
    regardless of color, sex, or status,
    regardless of power or money.
    Ah, I am God
    because I am free,
    and all those who would be free will find me,
    roaming, wandering, singing.
    Come, walk with me –
    come, dance with me!
    I created you to sing — to dance – to love. . . .”
    If you cannot sing,
    nor dance, nor love,
    because they put you also in a box,
    know that your God broke free
    and ran away.
    So, send your spirit
    then, to dance with Her.
    Dance, sing with the God
    whom they cannot tame nor chain.
    Dance within, though they chain your very guts
    to the great stone walls. . . .
    Dance, beloved,
    Ah, Dance!"

    –Edwina Gateley

  • Factfulness by Hans Rosling

    I have just finished reading this book, on recommendation from the good people at smallVOICE who will be reviewing it in a few days' time.  As someone who loves statistics and who can get a tad huffy when they are misused or abused, I was eager to read this book.  The great thing is that you don't need to be any good at, or interested in, number, stats, or anything mathemetical.  The purpose of the book is to help us to identify some of our unconscious biases and to think about how we might be more 'factful' in our thinking.

    Of course it appealed to me to see myths debunked about things I have long known.  But it also chastened me to realise how many other myths I have never thoguht to question.

    It's a REALLY accessible book, with some nice graphics and helpful anecdotes.  Well worth reading... and well worth revisiting from time to time too.

    As an aside, and because of my recent reading on 'shame' I found interesting links between aspects of what we might term 'factlessness' and 'shaming behaviours' - notably generalisations and stereotypes.  Actually, this should not be a surprise - the shame culture we are alert to arises from, and is fuelled by, the myths and misconceptions that lead us define anyone as 'other' or 'lesser'.

    Thank you, smallVOICE crew for a great recommendation.

  • A Celtic Advent - Day 14

    Possibly the deepest (for me) reflection sdo far...

    Today we turn to the prologue of the fourth gospel, with a focus on the idea tha we are adopted as children of God, and so become, in some small measure divine.

    Maybe that's a concept you have fully grasped forever, but I haven't.  Yes, I believe that I am (and we are) made in the image and likeness of God. Yes, I believe, if I don't know what it, means, that we are somehow 'clothed in Christ'.  Yes, I believe that I am a 'child of God', at least by adoption (though also in some sense by ontology).  It had just never struck me that all those things mean, in some small way, I am, therefore, 'God': to be 'of God' is some sense to 'be God'.

    I cannot recall which ancient theologian spoke of the 'divine spark' in every human being but I suppose that's what's being hinted at here. I guess, too, it's something of what we mean if/when we speak of Christ being 'born in our hearts' or even 'accepting Jesus into our lives'.  Somehow, I know not how, the divine enters us and transforms us from within.

    If this is a valid understanding of what the writer (of the gospel or the Celtic Advent book) then we have incarnation not only in a particular person in a particular place and time, but, potentially at least, in every person in every place and time.

    I've always felt very content to be God's 'adopted daughter', to be part of the fmaily but without sharing the 'DNA.' I've always been comforted by the idea that in every human being we glimpse something of the likeness of God, but that doesn't make us mini gods. Now I am challenged to ponder what it might mean if God actually lives in me in some kind of ontological way... that the 'body of Christ' language is not simply metaphor but an actual reality.

    I wish I had a brain capable of processing such ideas, but I never did (I always clai that smiling at my philosophy of religion tutor and having a good grasp of English grammar got me through the course!).  Instead, I will allow myself to be awestruck by the idea that 'the WORD became flesh and dwells within us' (even if the Greek may not permit that rendering) .


    The prayer from the book:

    Christ, you stepped out of transcnedent glory and took on human form so that I might transcend my humanity and be clothed in the divine nature.  Help me to see this and to walk this path of becoming more and more like you s you transform me from one degree of glory to the next. Amen.

  • Forty Days of Photos - Day 13

    OK, so this photo was not actually taken during my walk today, but it was pretty central to it, as I had to call in the opticians to collect new glasses.

    For the first time ever I chose a pair of so-called 'designer' frames as well as one from the optician's own selection.  I was equally bemused and amused when they were brought out, one pair in a very blingy case and the other in a bog-standard Specsavers case. Amused because the price difference between the two was small, at least relative to the total bill; bemused because, at the end of the day both pairs do the exact same job. Why does one need a blingy case and the other not?

    Somewhere in all of this is something about Advent and Christmas and the tendency to dress up in bling and glitter that which actually arrived with no fancy packaging whatsoever.

    Part of me is secretly chuffed about the bling glasses case - just as part of me enjoys the sparkle and glister of the Christmas festivities.

    Part of me thinks the bling glasses case is just daft - just as part of me wonders if the parties and decorations are all a bit over the top.

    In the end, though, does it matter and why not have a bit of each... I can enjoy the golden glasses case and my blingy 'Kylie Minogue' glasses (!) and I can enjoy the frivolity of the fun festivities...  I have my plain blue glasses case and will also enjoy my turquoise edged 'Victoria' glasses, just as I will enjoy reflecting on the God who arrived as a plainly wrapped baby laid to rest in a feed trough.

    Both/and then, not either/or... Advent seems to be throwing up a lot of 'creative tensions' this year.

  • Two years further along the road...

    Social media threw up this photo for two years ago, when we closed our premises for redevelopment.  As I 'shared' it again, this is what I wrote:

    Two years! When we closed those doors we dared to hope that by now they would have been opened again, but still we wait, still we hope, still we journey onwards.

    Two years ago we could not have imagined all the wonderful things that have come our way as we've tabernacled in a borrowed room in a hotel. Births, marriages, Baptisms, Membership covenants, visitors - and yes, deaths and departures too.

    I am so, so proud of our people, all they do, and all they are... and I hope, pray and trust that, one day we will enter the 'place of promise'.


    I know that the journey is long and arduous, and often feels like two steps forward and one back (or even vice versa).  I know that some people just 'want to go home' and that others would be content to stay in the hotel long term or forvever. The wilderness meandering of the Israelites, of unknown durations, with much  uncertainty, struggle and disappointment, is a natural 'go to' story. Whilst I would never compare myself with Moses, or 'my' people with the Israelites, our journey is every bit as complex and confusing.

    I do my best.  WE do our best. We stick together and journey onwards, along this meandering road in hope, faith and trust that the God who has brought us this far will indeed lead us on.