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  • Half way through Holy Week

    Holy Week is always precious to me - and always exhausting, because it typically has anything up to half a dozen extra services/acts of worship to be offered.

    I have been very blessed this year to work with two people who are skilled liturgists and leaders as we've created reflections and services to deliver 'on line'.

    This morning I joined our Zoom Coffee Club for our weekly catch-up.  It was great to see everyone, to hear each other's voices and connect across the miles.

    This afternoon I am catching up on some Admin and resisting starting work on reflections beyond tomorrow - in order to 'feel' Holy Week I can't write it ahead of time.  Today I've already listened to things online for Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and whilst I understand why they are there now, I kind of wish I hadn't listened to them - it's disrupted the flow.  So I am glad that this evening I can realign myself with Holy Week, slow down again and get into the 'knowing unknowing' once again.

  • Monday of Holy Week - Reflection

    Oh my, the manse broadband doesn't like 7 p.m. on a Monday, it seems!  Thankfully, someone else was able to take over the Zoom controls, and it all came out in the wash, with me reading my script into a landline!  Huge thanks to A and H who saved the day!!

    So, for anyone who is interested, here it in full (WGRG sources acknowledged as appropriate)

    Opening Sentences (From ‘Eggs and Ashes’)

    Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Friend

    We tell your story

    And we follow in your footsteps

    Lead us into Holy Week


    We walk towards the city

    We wait in the garden

    Lead us onto holy ground


    We journey towards death

    We hope for resurrection

    Lead us into holy joy


    A reading from the gospel of Matthew

    (Matthew 21: 12 – 13)

    Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”; but you are making it a den of robbers.’


    Music for Reflection


    Poem ‘It was on the …’ (adapted from Wild Goose Resources Group)

    It was on the Monday
    that religion got in the way.

    An outsider might have thought
    that it was a closing down sale at Pets at Home –

    Or panic buying the night before the Covid-19 Lock Down.
    And the outsider, in some ways,
    wouldn’t have been far wrong.

    Only, it wasn’t dog food or cat litter, not even household pets,
    it was pigeons and sheep that were being purchased.
    And it wasn’t a closing down sale or the eve of Lock Down;
    it was a rip-off stall in a holy temple, bartering birds for sacrifice.

    And the price was something only the rich could afford.
    No discounts, no vouchers,

    No dedicated time for people who were older in years,

    No priority access for NHS staff or Key Workers.

    Then He…
    the holiest man on earth,
    went through the bizarre bazaar
    Scattering coins and smashing tables.

    The doves were liberated -
    and the pigeon sellers got angry.

    The officials went crazy
    and the ordinary people stood outside and clapped as one,
    because he was making a sign -
    that God was for everybody,
    not just for those who could afford him.

    He turned the tables on Monday…
    The day that religion got in the way


    Music for Reflection


    Responsive Action

    Whether it is the money changers in the Temple, the widow using her last farthing to pay her Temple taxes, the loaded question religious officials asked about state taxation, or the thirty pieces of silver judged to be the worth of a human life, stories about money occur through the Holy Week narrative as told by the gospel writers.

    Just for a few moments, we are invited to hold in our hands a coin or a bank card and allow it to inform our reflections…

    I wonder what this object represents for you, and your own relationship with money…? 

    I wonder what questions might arise as you call to mind the way that the love of money had undermined the purpose of the Jerusalem temple…?

    I wonder what questions around taxation, about poverty, or about the value of human life arise within you…?

    In this strange time, as we stay at home, as we shop online, as we use contactless payment, as we wrestle with huge questions about wealth and poverty, what might Jesus want to say to us…?  

    Closing Prayer

    Table-turning God,

    On this Monday we pray that neither religion nor money get in the way

    In this strange time, we pray for all whose work is in the retail supply chain for the essentials we need (and the treats we crave) in farms and factories, distribution centres and warehouses, who drive lorries and stack shelves, oversee queues and try to prioritise those in greatest need.

    We pray for those who find themselves excluded, marginalised or rejected because of who they are, help us tear down barriers, literal and metaphorical, that all may find their home in you.  

    Aware of our own relative wealth, and the opportunities and responsibilities that brings, show us how we may be as Christ to others at this time.


    As our journey through Holy Week continues

    As we follow in your footsteps

    From the Temple through the city,

    Into the garden and towards the cross

    Jesus, now lead on



  • Canoeing Mountains - with a Thatched Roof!

    A couple of years ago, a friend suggested I read a book called Canoeing the Mountains  which was based on the premise that the church has travelled the length of the 'river' and is now faced with 'mountains'.  The key message, as I recall, is that if ministers/leaders want their congregations to follow them 'off piste', they need first to establish good relationships and practices in the 'known.'

    Global events have brought us all to uncharted territory, whether its a mountain or other domain is not so important as whether we have the basics in place to journey together .  This isn't about being tech savvy, nor is it about slick online services, it's about the ground work we did over past years.

    Way, way, back, I reckon about forty years ago, there was a commonly cited tale used by evangelists... an old man lay dying and his three sons came to say their farewells.  Finally, one of them, a 'born again Christian' asked his father if he was 'saved'.  'Aye, he replied, I thatched the roof when the weather was good.'

    I think that we, as a church community have a pretty good thatched roof - decades of shared responsbility for pastoral care, a culture where it's OK to try something that doesn't work out, a commitment to collaborative working where possible.  We aren't perfect, but it's a pretty good roof to help us weather this storm.

    No-one knows how long this journey will take, or what twists and turns it will involve, but we shoulder our canoes as we slog up the mountain paths, and the thatched umbrellas/parasols help keep us reasonably dry as we do so!

    One day, we will turn around, and look back, awed at the journey we have travelled - but for now, it's one day at a time, one step at a time, trusting that God is with us.

  • Windows in the West End

    There is a famous piece of Glasgow art called 'Windows on the West' which features a blonde sandstone tenement. Most of the tenements I pass are red sandstone, and several have some rather beautiful original coloured glass windows.  This morning, my early permitted exercise involved much intentional 'looking up' and enjoying the diversity of windows and other decorative features on these Victorian buildings.

    Looking upwards almost always beats looking downwards, and today was no exception.

  • Palm Sunday - Window

    At the start of Lent, I hoped that a craft group would be able to meet and create something or some things for Easter worship.  Events overtook those plans, but some of the crafting got done anyway.

    Yesterday, I dismantled (tore bits of of) the poster/banner for Palm Sunday and used parts of it to make a bit of a window display - along with the rainbows I already had.

    I took it down this morning, but I reckon it worked quite well for the day it was there - now just pondering what to do for Good Friday and Easter...