Brahminy’s prayer, and tips for welcoming children

Do you know the child who spends every service lolling on the floor, or chatting quietly to herself at the dolls house, or snipping paper into a thousand little triangles? The child who rarely speaks, never sings and shakes her head violently when invited to participate? The child whose back is to the congregation and who seems oblivious to everything that goes on around her? Continue reading “Brahminy’s prayer, and tips for welcoming children”

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#34: Pester, Persist: #40ways40days

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:1-8) 

I have a seven-year-old granddaughter by marriage named Madeline. She is blond, skinny, and tall for her age. When she comes to visit, we cook together. Our most successful dishes to date have been mashed sweet potatoes with lots of butter and crescent dinner rolls made from scratch. From the day Madeline was born, we have been able to look each other straight in the eye with no sentimentality whatsoever. The tartness of our love for one another continues to surprise me. It is easy to forget she is seven years old. Continue reading “#34: Pester, Persist: #40ways40days”

The scent of gratitude

Listen here.

What would you spend a year’s wages on? A house deposit? A fancy car? A university education? How about some fabulously expensive perfume for a man about to die? In tonight’s reading, that’s exactly what Mary does. Jesus is visiting Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus, whom he had recently raised from the dead. While the men are reclining at the table, Mary brings in an eye-wateringly expensive jar of perfume and uses it to anoint Jesus. And then, in the gospel according to John, she wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. Continue reading “The scent of gratitude”

Many doubts and scattered stones

Sitting in the dirty police cell we discussed what we would say. “Don’t admit anything,” the team leader said. “They can’t prove anything.” Three of us had been making our way north from Guangzhou to Xi’an distributing bible tracts that connected readers with the underground church. We would go out at night dressed in dark clothes and leave them all around rural villages and towns before moving on the next day. If travelling by bus, we would also drop the occasional tract out of the rear window since many people travelled on foot along the roads. This was how we were caught. Continue reading “Many doubts and scattered stones”

Holy Gossip

Listen here.

Tonight’s passage from the Epistle of James scares the living daylights out of me. Apparently, my tongue is a deadly fire. It stains the whole body. It is a restless evil, full of poison. And as one who speaks to the gathered community, I will be judged with greater strictness for my speech. Even worse, this passage is often used to preach against gossip: that form of talking about people which is so often done by women. I should be quaking in my boots — and believe me, I am! For I am a woman who regularly chats with people about people. And yet, while there is no doubt in my mind that careless and malicious words can be incredibly destructive, I’d like to step back, and take a good look at gossip. Continue reading “Holy Gossip”

State of the Union

This coming Sunday, we will re-form our congregation. After the Apostles Creed, those who are willing will be invited to stand and make a commitment to one another to journey together for the next twelve months. All are welcome: young or old, recent arrival or long-term participant, baptised or unbaptised, strong in faith or full of doubt. For we gather around Jesus Christ’s own table, and he invites everybody: no distinctions, no exceptions, no qualifying requirements. All you need to throw in your lot with us is a willingness to travel with us, and a readiness to give the elements of the commitment a red hot go, as we seek to live into God’s future together.  Continue reading “State of the Union”

Strong in faith, free of doubt? Yeah, right!

Every week in common time, we end communion by singing “Halleluya! We sing your praises”, in which we claim that we are “strong in faith, free of doubt“. “And yet,” someone said to me recently, “I’m not free of doubt!” This came hard on the heels of a conversation I had with someone else, a deeply committed and faithful Christian who attends church most weeks, and who nevertheless has always struggled with any sense of a personal faith.  Continue reading “Strong in faith, free of doubt? Yeah, right!”

Loneliness, Mess and Abundance

Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd of hungry people: the disciples don’t know how to feed them. But there’s a boy with five loaves and two fish. Jesus has all the people sit down on the grass. He blesses the food, and shares it: and there’s so much that everyone there has more than enough to eat, with leftovers. How does this story speak into one person’s life? Here’s Lucy’s response. Continue reading “Loneliness, Mess and Abundance”

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