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  • Remembrance...

    I think that most clergy find Remembrance Sunday challenging - and I think that's a good thing.

    This morning I was proud of our congregation, as we met on Zoom to remember those from our church who died in the two World Wars, to hear stories about beautiful art created by prisoners of war, and to pray for peace.

    I think that I have preached eighteen of the last twenty Remembrance Sundays - some of them twice as it happens.  It gets no easier, always searching for something to say, always seeking to hold a creative tension, always risking getting it wrong.

    One little tradition of our church is to place two poppies - one red and one white - together on the cross that sits on the Communion Table.  This morning I fixed two poppies to my Welsh pew-wood cross.  This felt like an important thing to so.

    We remember all people affected by war, all animals affected by war, all creation affected by war... and we dare to dream of peace.  

  • Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego...

    This morning it was my turn for Uni Chapel prayers.  The set text was from Daniel 3, the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.  It's an old school Sunday School favourite, whereby the good, god-fearing boys emerge unscathed and without even a whiff of smoke about them.

    The book of Daniel is apocalyptic literature, full of mystery, symbol and myth.  I think this story is such.

    Because prayers are currently online, I shared pictures from children's Bibles I own - the one here is in the Children's Bible (Illustrated) that I received as a seven year old.  I loved it, full of colour pictures and enabling me, an avid reader, to get an early grasp of the sweep of scripture.

    The picture is nothing like the story as described in the Bible.  Setting aside that these are white boys, it looks almost as if they are warming themselves by a series of fireplaces.  Other story books I have have even more cutesy images, such as this one:

    shadrach et al 3.jpg

    So, what was I to say to a group of highly educated adults?  Simply that a story doesn't have to be literally true to carry truth. That perhaps sometimes life can feel a bit like we have been tied up and hurled into a terrible situation.  And that, even if we can't discern it - because we don't come out of anything unscathed - then the 'Son of Man' or the Christ, or God, or an angel of hope is there with us.

    That still has the potential to sound a bit glib, a bit too easy, but sometimes holding onto hope is all there is.

    One more cutesy image then I'm done!

    shradrach et al 2.jpg

  • Sunrise over Glasgow

    I am no photographer, and this snap, from my kitchen window, taken on a phone camera zoomed in is definitely not the finest quality.  This, to me, doesn't matter.  It was the extraordinary beauty that greeted me as I returned home from my daily 'yomp' (charity fundraiser completed, but the exercise will carry on, as it is so good for my well-being).

    The hours of daylight reduce rapidly at this time of year, and unless we are quite intentional about getting outside and enjoying even a few minutes of natural light, it can all become very dark, dingy and gloomy. And this can take its toll on our energy levels and our overall wellbeing.

    Whatever your day brings, may you find a moment that takes away your breath, just as the sunrise did mine.