Even scars become gift in God’s hands

The children of the COVID-19 lockdown will bear scars of this time for the rest of their lives; yet even scars become gift in God’s hands. (Listen.)

This week I read an article which said that the children of the COVID-19 lockdown will bear scars of this time for the rest of their lives. I watch my own children’s social lives shrinking or moving entirely online; I watch them trying to study without the support of being in a classroom with teacher and peers; I watch my youngest dash off her learning tasks, then fall down the rabbit hole of the internet while her older sisters and parents all work. Continue reading “Even scars become gift in God’s hands”

#30: Entering another’s pain

In this story, Jesus ‘had compassion’ on the crowds. At least, that’s how it’s usually, politely, translated. A more accurate translation is that his ‘guts wrenched.’: Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38) Continue reading “#30: Entering another’s pain”

Group Reflection: Maybe it’s a good thing to be left behind

There is a popular idea that, in the end times, God will whisk the ‘righteous’ people away and those left behind will suffer. As young teens, many of us were shown terrifying movies which showed in great detail what being left behind might look like. The movies gave some of us terrible nightmares; and some of us have friends who were turned away from Jesus forever as a result. These days, there is an extemely popular series of novels which has pretty much the same effect. Continue reading “Group Reflection: Maybe it’s a good thing to be left behind”

Predatory foxes and powerless hens

Listen here.

Please be aware that this reflection includes a description of family violence.

“Where was God?” a friend once wrote to me. “Where was God when my father was on the rampage, trying to break down my bedroom door? Where was God when I was hiding under the dining room table, shaking and terrified? Why didn’t God keep me safe?” There’s an old children’s song that goes like this: “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do …” And when I think of my dear friend, who sang songs like this in religious education classes at school, and who begged God to keep her safe from her father at home, my heart breaks. Continue reading “Predatory foxes and powerless hens”

Pell-mell to the cross

It is Lent, and one of the most powerful men in the Catholic church has just been sentenced to jail for the sexual assault of two altar boys. It reminds me of a terrible story by the Jewish writer Elie Wiesel, which is based on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. Three people were sentenced to hanging for sabotage, among them a young boy. The two men died quickly, but the boy, too light, writhed and swung between life and death for over half an hour. Continue reading “Pell-mell to the cross”

Let’s Make a Splash!

Listen here.

Baptism. It’s something John offered, and something Jesus underwent, and something his disciples are told to do. It’s got something to do with water and washing and sin: but what is it, actually? What are we doing, what are we declaring, who are we becoming when we are baptised? What does it all mean? Tonight’s story offers a few clues, but to explore the depths, we’ll first need to zoom out a little. Continue reading “Let’s Make a Splash!”

Warm boulders and other blessings

So I’m back! I’ve spent the last two weeks travelling in Jordan, Israel and Palestine, and I’m full to brimming with the sights, sounds, scents, conversations and reflections I absorbed there. It was a wonderful experience, which I suspect will thrum behind much that I say and do over the next few years. There were many moving moments: sailing on a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee; seeing the hideous wall blockading Bethlehem; being shown through the Holocaust Museum by a man whose entire extended family was murdered by the Nazis; thinking about the meaning of peace for Israel and Palestine; and singing with friends in a stone tomb in Petra. I fell in love with Jerusalem, that lively, colourful, historic, contested and conflicted city; and again and again Psalm 122 came to mind; although as for how Jerusalem will find peace, like so many others I do not know. Continue reading “Warm boulders and other blessings”

The Ring Theory of Kvetching

My mother was a pastoral caregiver: the person everyone approached to talk, weep and rage through life’s crises. When she became sick, a problem emerged. People would come and pour out their strong feelings about her illness (not theirs); and she, in pain and exhausted, would quell her own feelings and comfort them as best as she was able – even as she desperately needed comforting herself. Continue reading “The Ring Theory of Kvetching”

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