Stripped down

A reflection as Sunday approaches…  from Roddy at Listening to the stones.

It seemed appropriate for a week which saw the resignation of an Archbishop and in which some personal priorities are being examined and reassessed.

What pads your faith?

What will draw you to worship?

What needs laid aside?


Lord Jesus

when you strip our faith down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails

all the glamour of robes
all the wealth of the church
all the comfort of cathedrals
is worth nothing

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

all the great ministers of the church
the cascade of church history
and mighty holy empires
and reformations

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

and the many theology books written
and the great universities of divinity
and the councils that fashioned creeds
and the world wide web of religion

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

Here is our corrective
our moment to lay aside
that which pads our faith
and affirm that which draws us here

for when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

May we let go
and be held instead.

Image is ‘wood and nails’ found here at

Lenten Spirit

Today one of my favourite Lenten liturgies from Roddy (once at Mucky Paws… now Listening to the stones)

Ah the Spirit
we know not where she blows
as a breath of wind
she goes wherever she wills

in the gravel of the journey she leaves her footprints

in the cross on the horizon she directs the journey

in the deepening colours of the season she moves between us

in the fading of the light she calls us into the darkness

in the word of foretelling she promises life

in the wilderness of Lent she takes us through.

The Spirit’s flux
we know not where she flows
but may she shift in us
and set our journey once more.

Picture is of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro – more wonderful images found here.

Sowing and Reaping

may we be the best seed there is to sow
may we sow our talents
and our skills
may we sow grace
and forgiveness
may we sow our dreams
and our longing
may we sow sunrises
and broken bread
may we sow stories
and adventures
may we sow the whole of our faith
and the first moments of belief
may we sow meeting places
and moment of prayer
may we sow baskets of fish
and loaves for everyone
may we sow pearls of great price
and mustard seeds too
may we sow patience
and generosity
may we sow the future
and all our tomorrows
may we sow for the long term
and live in that promise

and when the thistles creep in
may we still sow

A nice wee meditation from Mucky Paws based around the Parable of the Sower

A reminder that we should always give the best of what we are and what we have in the service of the kingdom of God.

I am very impatient by nature. I want things to happen now. I want them to change now. I want results now!

So the challenge for me in this moment is to “sow for the long term and live in that promise” despite all the thistles which cover the soil.


A prayer for Monday from Mucky Paws … this covers most eventualities for the week ahead:

May your love grasp us when we feel we are only just holding on
May your voice call us when we seek other pleasures or pain
May your story heal us when ours is too sore to tell
May your patience wait for us when we are not yet ready to hear you
May your spirit fill us when we have been emptied by life
And may all our living find its source in you.

To this I say… Amen!

Photo is: ‘touch’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

The faith of Thomas…

O that we had the faith of Thomas
to doubt
to question what too many take for granted

O that we had the faith of Thomas
that could be crushed and broken
and be reborn again
that learns to trust once more
now that everything had changed
for the world has shifted
and in some unique and mysterious way
Jesus is alive
in us
through us
between us
among us
for us
with us

O that we had the faith of Thomas
to have our eyes wide opened
and our vision set on fire again

Dare we?

A wonderful call to worship from Roddy at Mucky Paws.

I love the way it highlights the positive aspects of doubt and the need to keep on asking the difficult questions… pushing to know more… to go deeper… instead of taking at face value what other people pass on.

Thomas wanted to see for himself the truth of what he was being told and after what he had been through who can blame him? His world had changed and he was struggling to keep up – to grasp – that Jesus is alive.

What if we had the faith of Thomas: faith to confront the living Christ; to be enthused and fired up for him; faith that dares to pass on what we know?

Photo is ‘next steps’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Sunday… let the Alleluias slip in!

Our congregation put away the ‘alleluias’ for Lent and today we brought them back as one great shout of praise to our risen Lord (Many voices banner ).

We thought you were dead.
We thought the cross was the end.
We thought that when the stone rolled over the tomb,
that was it.
But this is it:

the dead are living;
the cross is empty;
the stone is rolled,
and one word describes it all:
Jesus is risen!

We thought you had said your final word.
We thought those with the power had won.
We thought that when you cried out,
that was it.
But this is it:

the word breathes;
the powers are defeated;
the final cry was only the beginning,
and one word says it all:
Jesus is risen!

We thought the story was finished.
We thought the hope had ended.
We thought that when the tomb was sealed,
that was it.
But this is it:

the story has just begun;
the hope is newly born;
the tomb is empty,
and one word says it all:
Jesus is risen!

This is the news:
Jesus is risen!

This is the moment
Jesus is alive!

This is the gospel
Jesus is with us!

We thought that when they crucified you,
death had defeated life,
and that was it.
But this is it:

Love is stronger than death,
and one word says it all:


Jesus is risen!

from: Mucky Paws

Wednesday… taken to the cross.

Another meditation for Lent from Mucky Paws. But just as appropriate for this Holy Week as we travel ever nearer to Friday:

a place of birth
of dying
of renewal
of transforming

a time of losing
of seeking
of questioning
of relearning

a way of revelation
of discernment
of faith-ing
of perception

such is Lent

where all things of faith
are taken to the cross
left there
and allowed to die

but those that speak of love
are redeemed through death
and, transformed,
they break into life once more

Monday… as the hosannas fade

Found this on Roddy’s blog …a reflection for Monday…after the palm branches are discarded and the hosannas fade:

Something has changed in the air

There is some noise
that is normally there

A city scape of sound:
people living,
stalls selling,
children calling,
deals being done.
But in the noise,
silence has broken out.

It’s like something in the city is holding its breath
like the heartbeat at the centre
pausing for a moment,

The Temple!

…and then all hell breaks loose:
the noise rushing to fill the vacuum of silence
with the crumple of a table
snagged in a glance of anger,
the snap of a doves wings
as she makes her escape from shadow into light,
the roar of coins across the old slabs
uncaught be scrabbling hands.

But this disturbance
isn’t the kingdom moment.

That was in the silence before,
when the heartbeat paused,
something has just changed.

Picture is ‘threshold’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Dust and broken alleluias…

A meditation from Mucky Paws …for the day we enter Jerusalem.

The story is told
in dust and broken alleluias
of the saviour Jesus moving towards Jerusalem
and a hill with a cross

Such a journey is always long
lent stretches too far sometimes
each footstep heavy with memory
each breath caught by hesitation

but on the way
we have broken bread
and poured wine
and we will bless with water

My friends
this journey will pass, the darkness and the suffering too,
but these signs will not
for they proclaim the order of God

that which will always be:
the heavens are full of the glory of God
Love can never be defeated by that which passes away
even as we find God amid dust and broken alleluias.

Quiet Advent

It is a time of whispers
of rumours and echoes
angels are unfurling their wings
stars are dancing new steps
and the universe is drawing breath
for now we live in the waiting time
Let the darkness gather
let the seasons change
let the nights draw in
to their darkest moment
the light is on it’s way
so come now
be a blessing to the frantic and worried world
come now
and find space
for God is slipping into skin
and restless in the womb
It is advent …

A wonderful Advent liturgy from Mucky Paws which I first posted back in 2008. I used it this morning at the end of the service.

I love the imagery – rumours of angels and stars… God slipping into skin… coming again to a frantic and worried world.

The title (Quiet Advent) is a little ironic for me as my voice is vanishing fast – not good in a week with a wedding (tomorrow) and recording my radio slots (Tuesday)… hey ho!

I slipped a copy of this liturgy into the back of my folder for the service in the hope that I would have enough voice left to read it before the benediction! (I did – just).

I am now tucked up at home trying not to talk too much – the radio recordings can be postponed… the wedding – well not really!! I am coming to the conclusion that (at this time of year particularly) every minister needs an understudy!!