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Showing posts from June, 2019

Jonah's Story, Jonah's God

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I've been lecturing on the story of Jonah for the past two weeks and the importance of story in scripture for shaping our stories, and this is a short poetic distillation of some of it. (Note: this is now a revised version one week further on with 2 extra verses and a few other amendments.)

The Word of the LORD came to Jonah
The capital L.O.R.D. Lord
The God who is
Rather than the God we might prefer

The Word which commanded light to be
Begins this story and all stories
That ever were
And all that are still to be written.

But will we respond to this command
Or will we just like Jonah resist?
No way Yahweh!
My story is never going there.

Is God prompting us to cross borders
And the boundaries between us and them?
Love the other
Whosoever that other might be.

Does God need to catch our attention
With sea monsters and swift growing vines
To turn us round
And reset our stories back on track?

Are we ready to change direction?
Not just to confess all our failings
But change our ways
And minds, knowing that God…

Ready for the Off

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Well this is my last day at work before I disappear off on sabbatical. I begin by heading off to Holden Village, a Lutheran Retreat Centre in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State in the USA, where I will be offering some reflections on Jonah and Simon Peter under the title of "Preposterous Readings of Preposterous Stories", using monologue and art to cast fresh light on these perhaps over-familiar tales.
I have described these first two weeks as "altitude training" in preparation for a 3 day sponsored walk later in my sabbatical to mark the 130th Anniversary of BCM. It will be over slightly less mountainous terrain, 10am on 22nd August from the site of the former BCM Castlerocklands Residential Home in Carrickfergus, and ending at the new Copelands Dementia Nursing and Residential Facility in Millisle, via a few BCM projects and supporting churches en route. If you would like to sponsor me there will be the opportunity to do so via https://www.justgiving.com/fu…

Down in the Depths...

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I'm heading off on sabbatical to Holden Village in Washington State at the end of this week, where I am speaking about Jonah among other things. I was asked to preach at vespers there this coming Sunday. Foolishly I said I would do a responsive version of the set Psalm for that Sunday Psalm 42 or 43, which seemed appropriate in that Jonah found himself literally "down in the depths..." Unfortunately I now don't have time to prepare that together with everything else I have to do, so I slightly reworked this paraphrase of Psalm 42 and 42 that I wrote some time ago when I was in a particularly bad place. Thankfully I am no longer in that place and part of the means of escaping there was this discipline of lament and rehearsing the goodness of God. Today I have been with others who are in a bad place, and there will be many others there too... I hope these words help:

As a wanderer in the desert gasps for water, so my soul is gasping for you, O God, My heart thirsts for Go…

Prophet Poets

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Some words prompted by the sermon of my friend and President of the Methodist Church in Great Britain Michaela Youngson at today's Ordination Service in Cork.


With words shaped by the Living Word
Prophet poets become
Incarnate poems
Offering new possibilities
Metaphors of the metaphysical
Windows into the eternal
Enabling others
To become more
Than they had ever imagined
But everything they have always been. Selah