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Everyday Discipleship

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Reading again the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho in preparation for our current Bible Study on "Whole Life Worship" and I am struck again by the difficulty, and importance, of connecting such stories with the everyday experience of people... and indeed myself. Years ago a friend wrote a poem that said "Oh to be in shining armour at the photocopier..." More that a quarter of a century later those words still resonate with me...
Ask me clearly  To do the impossible  And I will happily attempt it.
Separate waters  With a walking stick To escape pursuing foes.
Blow my trumpet  To demolish the impregnable Despite mocking from the ramparts.
Face a fearsome giant With a few pebbles, faith And not so youthful arrogance.
Sit amongst lions Rather than desert you, Anticipating our enemies’ demise.
Let me be a hero Striding across scripture Your words in my ears and mouth.
Yes Lord, please Deliver me, not from evil But the undifferentiated mundane;
The daily demands  That require faithfuln…

The Shaping of Peace

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Today is the International Day of Peace 2020. This year the theme is "Shaping Peace Together" and we are encouraged to mark it by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, standing together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. It chimes well with a number of initiatives I have been involved with over the years, not least the 4 Corners Festival, and a number of my colleagues involved in that will be blogging and taking part in various events today. This being Monday it is my "day off" but in the shaping of peace together I suppose there should be no "days off". In thinking about today my mind was filled not only withe this year's theme, but also 4 Corners Festival themes past and future and especially the words of Oscar Romero that I have quoted previously: "Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of viole…

Camels and Cables

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It's typical. you wait around for ages for a camel and then two come along at once. It's enough to give you the hump...
It's OK I'll stop now...
Today's ramble is prompted by tomorrow's lectionary reading from the gospel and the tendency by many a preacher and commentator to "explain away" Jesus' proverbial camel/eye of the needle conjunction in not entirely convincing ways, including the idea the "eye of the needle" was a small gate in the wall of Jerusalem (which has no historic or archaeological substance I am told) or that the word Greek word for "camel" is a misreading of the Greek for "cable", which makes literary sense, and makes the image more understandable if less memorable... But then some of the more memorable things I have said and done are "mistakes..."

Camels, cables… Always on the lookout  For a loophole  Through which we can thread  An entire caravan  Of distractions  To Christ’s call  To discipleshi…

The Straw

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Too many people I know are at this point at present. Let's try to be or provide "oases" for each other. #BeKind. (ps. The attached photo is by George Steinmetz. It is actually an overhead view of shadows cast by camels in the desert.)

It’s not really that single stalk  of desiccated grass That brings a dromedary down, But what went before: Maintaining the mirage; Majestically sailing across The shifting, searing sands  Of a dry and dusty desert Devoid of oases.
Shalom


How the Light Gets in...

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A piece that is prompted by the title of the upcoming festival of ideas partly hosted by the Hay on Wye Festival team (in turn stolen from Leonard Cohen), and the oft told, doubtless apocryphal, tale of a parent explaining what the different parts of a church are for or mean, including the stained glass, with that child in their RE class at school subsequently defining a saint as "someone that the light shines through..."
Stained glass saints  Let the light in Telling the story To those who have Not yet encountered  The Word.
But even stained glass Gets stained with  The accumulated grime Of everyday existence  Obscuring the light  Of life.
No building can ever Effectively contain All the glory of creation  Never mind the Creator  Who speaks the story To be.
No sanctified sinner Can effectively express All the grace and mercy Extended to them And through them To all. Selah

Again and Again and Again?

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OK I've posted this dialogue numerous times... the last one last year when the theme for the 4 Corners Festival was "Scandalous Forgiveness" and as before I note that it owes its form and substance to John L. Bell and the late, great and gracious, Graham Maule, a soupcon of Riding Lights but mostly the Gospels and specifically Jesus, with his seemingly frustrating obsession with the subject of forgiveness... I'm posting this today because it chimes with tomorrow's gospel reading in the lectionary, so if anyone wants to use is feel free...
Peter:        Eh... Jesus...? Jesus:       Yes, Peter? Peter:        How many times did you say I should forgive my brother? Jesus:       Have you and Andrew been fighting again, Peter? Peter:        Oh, you know what he’s like... I know you want us to forgive each other, but I really am ready to deck him... And I can’t remember, are we supposed to forgive others 77 times or is it 70 times 7? Jesus:       Who’s counting? Peter:        …

Community?

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One of our lockdown finds has been the US sitcom "Community" which has been around for years now but as usual we were late to the party. It's about a highly diverse if not disparate and at times desperate group of students at a community college who form an unlikely study/support group. It has a really catchy, earworm (even if the lyrics are indecipherable) and it has been the soundtrack to my mid-night musings of recent  days, together with the Charles Wesley hymn I allude to below. One of my problems with the word community as it is applied to church, and its relation to other people, is not only the fact that it isn't an explicitly Biblical term or metaphor, but also, as it is used in Northern Ireland it is largely an exclusionary term. We talk glibly of "2 communities" (or more) here, with those communities defined by who is not part of them. I am loathe to include that mindset within the lexicon of the church... I find it difficult enough within the con…