That unspoken word is the theme of this week's
At the beginning of the first century recycling was probably only the concern of the majority poor. However, I cannot imagine the Roman military in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ execution designing individual crosses for their victims nor ordering a new one for each crucifixion. I read that the uprights – stipes – were often left in place, possibly as permanent warnings, leaving the crossbeam – patibulum – to be carried by the victim, as was the case with Jesus. No doubt even these crossbeams could be returned to stores for reuse or re-cycling. This consideration led me to think of Jesus dying on a second-hand cross …. and the following story …..
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Learning the parenthood of God
I WANT TO SEE MY DAD is about my daughter Ruth and our daughter/father relationship. For thirty-five of her forty-nine years Ruth suffered physically and mentally, waging a heroic battle with an extreme eating disorder. This is both Ruth’s and my story. Through the successes and failures of our relationship I gained insights into the parenthood of God. Here are glimpses of a life of sparkling sunshine breaking out of terrifying shadowy places. It relates incidents of an undulating way along which I was privileged to discover what it means to say God is my parent – father and mother.
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The following prayer for Autumn is a new addition to Prayers
Also on the Website are new files in
Autumn is such a beautiful time.
Trees dress for the leaving party
before their leaves fall in glorious
cascades of multiple colours.
Lord, our God, Creator, Saviour, Renewer.
Praise to you for the beauty of your natural world;
for the glory of this season.
As we enter into your presence to worship
we resemble the falling leaf;
restless in the turbulent winds of life;
feeling curled at the edges;
showing the deep etched veins of anxieties and cares;
falling short of your loving expectations for our lives.
But here among your people;
in the presence of Jesus our Saviour,
you will touch us like sunlight on falling leaves;
turning our weakness into golden glory.
Lord, give us grace and faith
to let go of ourselves;
knowing that like the leaf,
we shall fall into your prepared ground;
part of your purpose, through your Spirit,
of nourishing new life for ourselves,
and sharing your love with our own
and future generations.
Show us the glory of Jesus
amid the beauty of The Fall.
Spring reminds me that with God everything of value is renewable.
Through the last weeks I have witnessed a gradual resurrection during a 'stop-start' Spring. Here at the woodland burial ground where I come not because my love is here in precious ashes under a new oak tree, but because I share with her in the slow changing beauty of nature's resurrection, a carpet of bluebells under the trees has lasted long. Across a bank of new lush grass supporting bedraggled remnants of daffodils - their beauty safely locked away for another year - the rowan trees are struggling into their creamy-white new dresses encouraged by senior stately yews - mature with many years still to come. Young copper beech with full lives ahead, spread their arms in shady blessing over many silent graves. New life unites with old and codes of being in every decaying leaf are handed on to be renewed in barely recognised forms of beauty. Crows and magpies startle tits and blackbirds among tender chestnut leaves - busy birds even now creating another generation. There is no death here! - Only life's creative, renewing, eternal love. Only God in cross and resurrection!.
I had hoped the 'blogs' would be more frequent but that has not happened. My last entry told of the trauma of going to the far end. I did not know then that the far end would be even further along an unknown trail. Like with Ezekiel, it seems to me that God took from me my most precious possession - and the wound is still raw. However, God has once again been with us to the far end. He has not let us down and his promise of resurrection life together in Jesus is still ours, as is that promise to Ezekiel that it will all be ultimately for the glory of God.
In the past weeks I have remembered the advice -let your pain be part of The Pain- or let your cross be part of God's Cross. It was given to me many years ago by Veronica, a wonderful lady I met in a hospital side-ward in her last stages of a most painful cancer. She simply told me how she found comfort in fixing her mind on the Cross of Jesus.
I had always believed that in Jesus and the Cross God shares the pain I experience in every 'hurt' time of my life but now my faith is expanded to understand that pain-sharing is two-way. God gives me the privilege of sharing in his pain - only the twinges mind - all the hurt of the world - of living at that place where dark and light meet in a flash of glory - where hope pierces through despair - where death gives life and every cross-pain is the experience of forsakenness, of Father into your hands, and today in paradise!
A five year diary! I have often seen them and am assured how good they are for referencing this year against previous years, but my devotional diary - the only diary I keep - has become a two year diary in that it is two years since my last entry. That is not to say that nothing important has happened in my spiritual experience during that time - far from it!! It is just that events which would be entered into a normal daily-life record have crowded out time to write because those events have been so all consuming of commitment in time and energy - tragic family bereavement and a variety of serious illnesses for ourselves and other family members.
The first entry for two years notes those happenings very briefly giving place to relate the deep lessons in faith and hope and love which we have gained from them. That, of course, is the purpose of a devotional diary. I love that country expression "going to the far end". It often means travelling to the end of a no-through road terminating in the hills at the last farmstead for many miles. Personally and as a family we have been to the far end of life experiences these past two years year - and there we have found God in deeper and richer experiences of him. We have grappled with unanswerable questions, fears and personal weaknesses learning all the time how we can trust God with both the great and minute details of our lives and again and again being amazed at his gracious care and provision as well as his right-to-the second timing. We have discovered more of what it means to live close to him in Jesus - to live in the Spirit - to live by faith - to live on God's timetable. We have proved how resurrections do not come without crosses and how crosses always have the promise of resurrections! The diary entry is one of thanks and of praise. It is a testimony to all we have been through and the fact that our Lord has never let us down.
Scenes of Glory
It was a glorious outward journey. Early evening sunshine flooded the dale. From a pure azure sky pocked with a few mackerel cloud patches, vibrant, penetrating sunlight highlighted white boulders in the stone walls enfolding contented sheep in verdant emerald pastures. The leaves of oak and alder turned to gold at the touch of a million rays of light as my heart echoed the psalmist's song of praise, The heavens declare the glory of God. His gracious love was in every caress of sunshine.
My return journey was so different. Those same bright skies were fast disappearing, captured by creeping darkness. A half moon skipped between windswept clouds painting them with halos, just for passing moments. Quickly now the sky darkened as an army of little clouds merged to expunge the moon's light. As I drove up a steep hill, facing the southern fells, a huge black mass of storm cloud rose ahead of me - a great power of darkness towering over me. The heavens enveloped me in an awesome, ominous cloud of fear. Under an alarming shadow of dread I had no option but to drive on towards the unknown mystery until at a junction in the road my way turned west toward an horizon fringe of light while torrents of rain flooded about me.
Reflecting on the experience I was convinced that the same skies, light and dark, were both expressing the glory of God. The one causing my heart to sing with his pleasure, the other making me tremble before his majesty. I remembered that day when darkness covered the land as God, the Saviour Son died. Then the greatest experience of Divine Glory was hidden in a fearful gloom. I prayed, Lord, keep me looking at your skies where I may learn to love and the fear your glory.
The announcement of Jesus' birth to Mary and her response of ultimate, bold, courageous faith is told with such simplicity that we sometimes miss the wonder of God's incarnation. Just as we miss the immensity of so much of our Christian life and faith.
I need to feel the greatness of God and the littleness of me; his power and my inadequacy; his mercy and my unworthiness. He is everything while I am almost nothing in the total scheme of things.
But I also need a sense of wonder - that this great divide between us is the very thing which draws Him to me - which he crosses to invite me into his friendship - friendship with God the creator and sustainer of everything! And the greatest wonder - his love! His love is the vehicle of our meeting and of our growing friendship!
So hearing again of Gabriel's visit to Mary's and her response to God brings together for me the greatness of the Divine and the beautiful simplicity of his grace, and how the God/human divide is bridged by love - his love and our self giving devotion which accepts him, however challenging and impossible his ways may seem from our side!
I was asked to provide a reading for the Advent Service ........
Three Knocks for Trinity
Three knocks for trinity!
How courteous was God's coming!
After long, long years of wondering;
visions of power and glory
of political dominion!
of triumphant, splendid orchestras of heaven
accompanying choirs in mystic melody
as the whole world, high and low
bows down to worship
And that is how he will still come ...
But then and now he comes so graciously.
Three knocks for trinity;
Three knocks on a young women's open door -
in the quiet hour of a working day ..
Three knocks for Mary.
A messenger from God ..
He calls her 'chosen'
pure and graceful
in the knowledge of her Lord's own
mighty, humbling, suffering love!
Inspiring deep and trembling love in her,
which eagerly responds - 'Come in!'
Three knocks for Trinity ..
on my door ..
Three knocks echoing through my life ..
At the door, brighter than streaming sunshine,
A dazzling insight into glories beyond time and space
Christ Jesus - Father Son and Spirit !
Three knocks for trinity
and all he asks is invitation to my life .. 'Come in!'
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