Couldn't have said it better myself...

"We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are."

Anais Nin

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Day: The Christ Candle

Our concluding candle liturgy for this year...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God –  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1: 1-14

God came into the world so that none would live in darkness.
Glory to God in the highest!
The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness cannot overcome it.
This is the good news for all people:
to us is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
The world has been irreversibly transformed.
It is made new with hope, peace, joy and love
In Jesus Christ our Lord
(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your transforming power
Through Jesus Christ the Word made flesh we pray. Amen.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent 4: The Candle of Love

The fourth of our Advent Candle Liturgies at Belfast South... You know it's source and pattern by now...

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I John 4: 7-10  (NIV-UK)

Love is the wick that is central to the candle.
Love is the flame that burns continually in the heart of God.
Love is the unquenchable light given by God to burn in the darkness.
Love is the light given by God to burn in our hearts.

(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your eternal and infinite love.
Through Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent 3: The Candle of Joy

The third of Advent Candle Liturgies we are using this year at Belfast South Methodist, based on the work of Rev. Mary Whitson, for the Canadian Presbyterian Church's World Service & Development Department.

Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 51: 11 (NIV-UK)

Joy is the celebration of the dawning of the light of the world.
Joy is the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child.
Joy is the celebration when the angels sang
“Glory to God in the highest.”
Let us celebrate and sing and shout for joy.
Christ is coming again.
(The candle is lit.)
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your life-giving joy.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Time of No Room

In the early days of this blog, I posted an excerpt from Thomas Merton's amazing piece entitled "The Time of No Room," Over the intervening years, and the advent of austerity Britain/Ireland, it has become even more apposite, so I thought I would post it again...

We live in the time of no room, which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power and acceleration.

The primordial blessing, "increase and multiply," has suddenly become a haemorrhage of terror. We are numbered in billions, and massed together, marshalled, numbered, marched here and there, taxed, drilled, armed, worked to the point of insensibility, dazed by information, drugged by entertainment, surfeited with everything, nauseated with the human race and with ourselves, nauseated with life.

As the end approaches, there is no room for nature. The cities crowd it off the face of the earth.
As the end approaches, there is no room for quiet. There is no room for solitude. There is no room for thought. There is no room for attention, for the awareness of our state.
In the time of the ultimate end, there is no room for man...

The time of the end is the time of demons who occupy the heart (pretending to be gods) so that man himself finds no room for himself in himself. He finds no space to rest in his own heart, not because it is full, but because it is void. If only he knew that the void itself, when hovered over by the Spirit, is an abyss of creativity...yet he cannot believe it. There is no room for belief.
In the time of the end there is no longer room for the desire to go on living. The time of the end is the time when men call upon the mountains to fall upon them, because they wish they did not exist...

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it - because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it - his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent 2: The Candle of Peace

Here is the Candle Liturgy we will be using tomorrow morning in our Advent Communion Service at Belfast South Methodist. Once again it is based on the work of Rev. Mary Whitson, who produced this year's material the Canadian Presbyterian Church's World Service & Development Department.

The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, meaning: God with us.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
     and his name will be called
"Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
From Isaiah 7:14; 9:6 (RSV)

Peace is the flame given by God to be a light in the darkness.
The flame of peace is the promise of God.
Peace is the flame given by God to bring justice to the world.
The flame of peace is righteousness and equity.
Peace is the flame given by God to bring order to our lives
The flame of peace enters the world again with the coming of the Prince of Peace.
(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your everlasting peace.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Psalm for Advent Waiting

I've probably published more versions of this Psalm than any other (I actually posted another version back in July)... I suppose because it speaks so powerfully to the human condition, struggling with the here and now, and holding on to the hope of what is yet to come. Maybe one day I will take a long hard look at it and produce a definitive version... But the first time I posted one, back in 2010, it was with Advent looming... This time I'm posting this responsive version because we used it on Sunday. Again those with LOCD (see yesterday for an explanation) will be twitching at this point but hey ho...

The Lord is my light and my salvation
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil is on the upsurge and the wicked seem to hold the winning hand
I know that they will not have the last word.
Though the armies of hell seem to be attacking me,
my heart will not fear;
Though world war three break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
For in days of trouble he will keep me safe within his walls;
he will hide me within the folds of his tent.
He will set my feet firmly a rock
With my head exalted high above the enemies who surround me.
For that reason I will praise God with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful and answer me.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away.
Do not reject or forsake me, O God my Saviour.
Even though my family forsakes me, I know that the Lord will receive me.
I am confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
From Psalm  27