Laughter in the Last Days of Lent...

We're in the last few days of Lent, that seriously solemn season, with Holy Week its sombre culmination... Sadly, all too often for clerics the last few days before Easter is a frantic time of services, vigils and pastoral visits, including a few home communion services (or whatever the equivalent term is in different traditions). And sometimes that can transform something solemn into
something wearisome... So that the "Hallelujah!" of Easter day is in part, a thanksgiving that that's all over for another year! This week however, I have shared in a couple of liturgical events that punctured the politeness that often attends Holy Week happenings, and brought a touch of joy into the midst of the solemnity... The first was in a communion being shared with a lady who has dementia in a care home, together with another member of the congregation... I have previously said that home communions with small hygienic glasses of non-alcoholic wine and a tiny circle of bread on a …

Getting Angry with Jesus

Last week I shouted at Jesus...
It wasn't some sort of pious lament or in a dramatic "Two Cathedrals" way (if you don't understand I can't explain)...
I simply, in a moment of exasperation, blew my top at Jesus in one of his "distressing disguises" to use one of Mother Teresa's phrases...
I have all sorts of excuses... I was beyond busy... I was tired... My blood sugars were all over the place... I was concerned about the "big things" in society, and was trying to organise a meeting to play a small part in addressing them... On the way into work I had taken a phone call about a serious pastoral issue concerning a member of the congregation. I had just come out of speaking at a meeting after dealing with a difficult staff issue that had been building up for months... And I still had to prepare for another potentially problematic meeting that night...
And then someone whom I and others have been trying to help for some time, came to me wit…

An Epistle To Our Elected Leaders

Dear DUP and Sinn Fein, 

My friend Stocki has already sent you, and our other political leaders, an open letter, and social media suggests that many agree with what he says (including myself), but I was already writing this when I saw his, and whilst it covers similar ground, and fewer may read this, I want to add my tuppence (especially since it takes a lot to get me writing these days!) And at the heart of it is this, I recognise that you both have a legitimate electoral mandate. The big question is what you do with it. Both of you have made great play of the fact that people voted for you on the basis of your statements before the election. Now I have no desire to get into the legitimacy of those positions. You campaigned on them and you each were elected on those platforms. Both of you grew your vote in a highly polarised election, and whilst the DUP lost a significant number of seats they are still the largest party. So you both have a mandate. And so far in the negotiations you …

"Isaiah’s Mountain" or the "House on the Hill"

More bad poetry, "inspired" in part by Isaiah 2 and 11 and a few local happenings... It may seem cynical and snide, but in comparison with the cynical behaviour of our political leaders at present it is a work of cheery optimism. And I DO look to scripture and particularly to the prophets for a vision of a different way of doing things; where the least and the lowest are lifted up and people on all sides work not for themselves and their voters/backers alone but for the common good.  That day cannot come soon enough.

Come, let us go up to house on the hill
The place of peace that we were promised.
The place where laws are laid down
Where people come from all the nations
To see how peace is made.
Where guns and minds have been decommissioned
Now that the war is over.

Where the terrorist sits
with those who refused to be terrorised
Where the innocent victim sits
With those who know that no-one is innocent
The fearful with the fear-filled
The gracious with the grace…

The Not So Good News for 2016

I originally posted this on Christmas Eve... Now on New Year's Eve I've done a slight re-edit, as it seems an appropriate epitaph to an inauspicious old year, and a rallying cry for the new. It is also a year where I have blogged even less than before, not because it has become unfashionable (though it clearly has - supplanted by the 140 character tweet as the means of conveying opinion - not a format I was ever likely to excel in) but because I'm not sure I had much to say in the face of the momentous events of the last year - it seemed too much like Lear shouting at the storm on the heath... and I suppose there is a degree of that in this post... But I'm simply putting down a marker of how I feel, and at the end of the day that is what this blog has largely been about...  
I'm making no promises about blogging in the new year, but thank you to those who pay attention when I do... 

A year of untruth And dis-grace. A year of grieving for the famous And a year of infamy, …

Light Breaks into the Dungeon of Doubt

A monologue delivered in place of a sermon this morning in the Agape Centre inspired by today's Lectionary reading of  Matthew 11: 2-19. 
(John huddled in a blanket... coughing) The voice of one calling in the wilderness – prepare the way for the Lord… Never were there more ironic words in scripture… They shaped my life… my ministry… I was ready to bring down the high and mighty to make the foundations for that highway in the wilderness… preparing the way for God’s chosen one… But honestly, I wasn’t really prepared myself… And to tell the truth I have felt more like I was in the wilderness over recent weeks and months than all those years in the howling wastes of desert around the Dead Sea… Was I right? Was he the one? Or was all I had done wasted? I’ve had too much time to think… You would think I would be used to that given that I had spent years alone in the desert in prayerful preparation… meditating on God’s promises in scripture… But that was before, with something to aim fo…

Recycled Earth Ball

In keeping with our ecological theme for our Harvest weekend at Belfast South Methodist, including a very successful mini-conference/conversation yesterday entitled "Enough is Plenty" organised in association with South Belfast Friends Meeting, I have "recycled" a piece I posted some years ago, a screen shot of an animation based on Olaf Skarsholt's prose-poem “Earth Ball.”