Be kind

Today’s picture is from The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation on Facebook. Their posts help to balance all the other awfulness. 

It’s simple stuff – aim to do something kind and selfless every day.

  

The Peace of Wild Things

flight from aboveWhen despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Wendell Berry)

There is something wonderfully comforting about this poem – despair and fear give way to peace, grace and freedom in a few short verses. Perspective is good 🙂

Picture is ‘flight from above’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

letting go…

Some prayerful thoughts for Wednesday about letting go of our most human failings:

Lord – let our memory
provide no shelter
for grievance
against another.
Lord – let our heart
provide no harbour
for hatred of another.
Lord – let our tongue
be no accomplice
in the judgement of a brother.

Amen

(Northumbrian Office)

Photo is ‘desert waterfall’ by Joshua Cripps found here. If you subscribe to this wonderful site they send you a photo every day with its story.

Moving on…

I found this picture with the CS Lewis quote here when I was blog hopping the other day. It sums up quite neatly where I am at the moment.

As regular readers will know, the future for my congregation is very uncertain. Uncertainty increased this week when I received the surveyor’s report on our halls complex with attendant costings.

The rest of the month holds meetings and discussions about the future. I have spent the past few days organising reports and paperwork, writing letters and addressing envelopes (as you do when you are off sick!!).

Please pray for us, for strength and wisdom, for patience and grace as we consider our options.

But mostly pray that we will hold on to the hope that there are indeed “far far better things ahead than any we leave behind”.

A prayer for the journey…

I was browsing Advent posts on my old blog… reminding myself where I had been and looking for some inspiration and I came across this prayer.

It is ascribed to St. Columba and it speaks about the blessedness of journey. It is essentially a prayer for protection against the unknown -the unknown places where Columba would rest his head and the unknown people he would encounter as he travelled. Some would oppose him, but others would welcome him in -offering their home as his home.

Columba’s prayer so closely mirrors my experience of the journey at the moment, having made the difficult decision to shut the church buildings (see previous posts).

I have encountered opposition (not from within my own congregation) – “poison” has poured from people who really should know better. But more importantly I have encountered great hospitality and grace from my neighbouring congregations in the parish (one Roman Catholic and the other Episcopalian) who have offered their hospitality and support to a congregation without a home… who have made sacrifices to welcome us in.

So this Advent – I hope you encounter “favourable company” on your particular journey of faith and I hope that no one’s poison reaches you

The path I walk, Christ walks it.
May the land in which I am be without sorrow.
May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Bright angels walk with me -dear presence – in every dealing.
In every dealing I pray them that no one’s poison may reach me.
The ninefold people of heaven of holy cloud,
the tenth force of the stone earth.
Favourable company, they come with me,
so that the Lord may not be angry with me.
May I arrive at every place, may I return home;
may the way in which I spend be a way without loss.
May every path before me be smooth, man, woman and child welcome me.
A truly good journey!
Well does the fair Lord show us a course, a path.

Picture is : tate stairs by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Called…

Well… the last couple of weeks have passed in a blur. Closing a church building is much easier than dealing with the ‘fallout’. As I said to one person last week – “I am just making it up as I go along”.

Now, as you would expect, some of the fallout has been good and some of it simply dreadful. But I prefer to focus on the good, particularly on our wonderful neighbours in St Peter in Chains church, who as soon as they heard about our predicament offered their hall for our Advent services (at some inconvenience to themselves). The first service was held there this morning and all went well. We will be meeting in St Peter’s hall for all the Sundays in Advent and hopefully by the time we come to 18 December we will have more permanent arrangements in place for worship.

Also of note amid the chaos was the ordination and induction of my friend Morag Garrett to Kilwinning Mansfield Trinity last Wednesday night. There was an amazing turnout for the service, the place was packed and extra chairs had to be brought into the worship space. It was fantastic to forget about building problems, presbytery planning issues and all the other stuff which has been cluttering up my mind over the past few weeks and to enjoy this wonderful service of celebration with Morag and the congregation in Kilwinning. It was also great to see so many familiar faces from churches where Morag and I both did placements.

I was preaching and giving the charges which was a challenge – both in preparation and in the preaching of words which, although written for Morag and for the occasion, were words I needed to hear again for myself.

Here is the quotation which inspired the sermon… from Albert Schweitzer’s book ‘The Quest For The Historical Jesus’:

“He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, he came to those men who did not know who he was. He says the same words, “Follow me!”, and set us to those tasks which he must fulfil in our time. He commands. And to those who harken to him, whether wise or unwise, he will reveal himself in the peace, the labours, the conflicts and the suffering that they may experience in his fellowship, and as an ineffable mystery they will learn who he is.”

I may post the sermon sometime… when I need reminded again that I am called… called to follow Christ and to fulfil the tasks he has for me … in my time.

(Picture is ‘The Beginning’ )

… how shall I be dismayed?

Wanting for nothing, how shall I be dismayed?
Grieving for no thing lost or unattained,
why would I choke on the sharp bones of regret?
I am a guest in this house, thoughtful of my manners,
Mindful of my privileges, and so filled with gratitude
that when I pray, my prayers turn to praise upon my lips

This was part of the daily thought from Inward Outward and it really hit home.

I recently experienced a personal disappointment and felt rather slighted as a result.

I spent quite a while formulating a reply expressing my feelings succinctly (I thought) on the matter.

Then I read this and realised I was grieving for the thing “lost or unattained” and probably (more to the point) “choking on the sharp bones of regret”. Yet I couldn’t think of a good reason why!!

So my carefully constructed expression of disappointment was deleted.

And then mindful of all my “privileges” – all the wonderful and positive things (and people) in my life – I moved on in gratitude …and in praise 🙂

Picture is ‘shepherd’s delight’ by Mike Lockie on Flickr