february 21st, 2021

 
 
 
 
entering in


ash wednesday 2021

 
 
 
Ash Wednesday


february 14th, 2021

 
 
 
 
Open Unto Me


february 7th, 2021

 
 
 
 
here for you


january 31st, 2021 – feeding crowds

 
 
 
feeding crowds


january 24th, 2021

 
 
 
 
do you want to be well?


january 17th, 2021

 
 
 
 
 
belief & trust
 
 
 


january 10, 2021

 
 
 
saving a wedding


january 3rd, 2021 – outside in

 
 
 
Outside In


december 27th, 2020

 
 
 
 
Christmas Week


advent – love

No manger is too rough
for the tenderness of God.
 
No threat of Herod too awful,
no poverty too dire
 
for God to come and be at risk
for sheer love of being with us.
 
God does not sigh, rolling the eyes,
“I suppose I have to come down there and save them.”
 
No, God says, “I am with you. Because
you are where my heart is.”
 
No darkness is too deep,
no banality unworthy,
 
no failure too utter for God;
God’s love is more utter.
We, the flesh of God’s Word,
can’t be without.  Even our doubt
shines from within.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Lord, prepare us for your coming – in our community.
   In the problems of our locality
     help us never to forget the supremacy of love.
 
May love motivate our care for our neighbourhoods.
   May love heal the social ills which drag us into despair.
     May love inspire our citizenship to rise beyond mediocrity.
We name in our minds the problems of which we are aware
   and pray that love, gracious and practical, will find a way.
Lord, in your mercy,
   hear our prayer.
Advent Lord, come ever nearer.
   Come to rejuvenate our faith.
     Come to fortify our social conscience.
   Come to open wide our eyes of wonder.
So that when the Saviour comes,
   he may steal into our hearts – and find them ready.
 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
 
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1:39-45
 
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:12-17

 
 
 
 
 
Reflection taken from Enuma Okoro’s “Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent.”
 
The narrative leaves out so much information concerning the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth. Perhaps we can imaginatively consider the space they shared during Mary’s three-month visit. Given their experiences, they would undoubtedly have relished the chance to ponder the holy words spoken about their miraculous pregnancies. They could share their excitement as well as their fears, possible anxieties, and insecurities of being suited for the tasks before them. Even with the level of faith they possessed, they must have experienced moments, if not days, of restlessness, worry, and anticipation. Elizabeth and Mary could strengthen one another’s hearts. Perhaps they prayed together regularly. Maybe the wisdom and trials of Elizabeth’s years provided comfort and security to a frightened though courageous Mary.
 
Advent seems as much a time to dwell in holy friendship as a time to wait on God. Ultimately, we are all called to friendship with God, and we imitate this divine call to friendship as we practice sharing ourselves and our stories with one another. In our congregations and faith communities, we laud romantic relationships and focus all our relational energies on the states of marriages or single people. Our foundation for understanding God’s covenantal love for us has become steeped in romantic and sexual ways of being together. Such spaces do provide avenues for God’s redeeming love, but Jesus was never married or romantically involved with anyone as far as we know. And when Christ speaks of his way of relating to his beloved disciples, he calls them his friends. Friendship is another way of being in covenant with God.
 
We have allowed our culture’s obsession with romance and sex to dictate how we view life-giving relationships. We have dulled friendship’s ability to illuminate the corners of our lives. We can endure very little without the support of friends. Choosing to open ourselves in friendship and to expose our vulnerabilities relieves the weight of carrying our burdens alone.
 
God’s promise not to leave us alone finds fulfillment in the people God sends to be with us. Sit quietly during this season and prayerfully reflect on the friends who remind us of who we are, who challenge us to live into who we are called to be, and who accept us at every stage of the journey. These people mirror God’s love and patience in our lives. How do we mirror God’s presence in the lives of those who call us friends?
 
Holy God, in Christ Jesus you call us friends. Equip us to be friends who offer sustenance to one another as we learn of covenantal love from our friendship with you. Amen.


december 20th, 2020 – christingles

 
 
Christingle Liturgy
 


december 13th, 2020 – joy

 
 
 
 
advent – joy


advent – joy

Rejoice!
Somebody is shouting for joy
not because they can see the joy
not because they can feel the joy
but because they believe in joy.

 

And so they shout to the trees
the leaves, the hills and valleys.
They shout to the mountains, 
sand and everything that sees or breathes the living air
Everything that lives,
everything that moves
or grows, or stands or lifts its hands up
in sunshine morning glory.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Not because there’s any reason
Because sometimes, it’s true, there’s not
Rejoice in the storying of hoping,
not because of any reason whatsoever,
but because of joy, because of hope
because survival must mean something more than coping
Rejoice! Rejoice! Our day of storytelling will come around again.
 
Rejoice! We must make it. Rejoice!
Pádraig Ó Tuama
 
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Mary Oliver
 
 
God of faithfulness and truth,
   you sent your servant John the Baptist
     to preach in the desert
   and summon the people to repentance.
Make us and all things new,
   that in the wilderness of our hearts
     we too may prepare a way
   over which your Son may walk.
Lord, prepare us for your Advent coming.
   In our prayers today
     we try to come to you,
   sure that you will come the rest of the way.
 
Lord prepare us for your coming – in those in need.
   Give us eyes to search the face of the stranger
     and there to see the face of the saviour.
Give us sensitivity to hear the doubt and hesitation,
   and there to share the confusion and futility.
There are those we know who are ill now,
   struggling today to handle pain.
Let us pray for them, for you to come to us in them,
   and you ask for our love.
What we have promised in love and prayer,
   let us never forget to do.
Lord, in your mercy,
   hear our prayer.
Advent Lord, come ever nearer.
   Come to rejuvenate our faith.
     Come to fortify our social conscience.
   Come to open wide our eyes of wonder.
So that when the Saviour comes,
   he may steal into our hearts – and find them ready.
 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Isaiah 40:1-5
Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.
 
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
 

 
I remember when my daughter, Elsa (named before the Disney movie Frozen), came out of her mama.
 
I was standing next to my wife when it happened… The labour was slow and long, and we visited the hospital a few times, only to be asked to go home and wait until my wife was fully dilated. We were finally admitted for the birth, Holly had been in labour for a couple of days and was completely exhausted.
 
I remember being in the delivery room. I was holding my wife’s hand and her right leg while the doctor called out to play-by-play. The head crowned. It was time for the last push. “Puuuusssshhhh!” the doctor called out, and my wife breathed through the pain.
 
Elsa came out into the hands of the doctor, and we saw her for the first time. Then we looked at each other and instantly burst into tears. I remember the action being involuntary, as if I had witnessed something that could only be expressed in the breaking of my social you confirmed demeanour. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had in my life.
 
To finally see what you have hoped for for so long is a breaking experience.
 
It’s a healing breaking. Like cracking your back. Or hearing a sad song that breaks your heart and solidarity. Or witnessing a sappy commercial that somehow tickles your emotions and then you apologize to your friends on the couch for getting teary-eyed over it. We get emotional because we are witnessing something true. Not true as in an ideological list we use to draw lines and make teams. But something true that unites us. A moment of solidarity. A connective happening that awakens us to see that we are not alone. Like when a group of strangers is unanimously filled with joy as they watch fireworks together. Or when someone shares a tasty dish with someone else and says, “You must try this. It’s so good!” Or when a newborn baby enters the room and everyone turns and looks because they know that they are witnessing the magic of someone seeing who just came from the unseen.
 
I wonder what broke in the room with Mary and Joseph. Probably tear ducts, because that happens to parents. But could it also have been the wall between ideology and incarnation? The culture they lived in was layered with centuries of prophecy and expectations regarding who the Messiah was supposed to be and what it was all supposed to look like. And yet here they were, being confronted with the real truth of that prophecy – the hope of resin restoration had moved from words to present. It wasn’t just ideas. It was real. It must have been a healing breaking to hold that child and realize that the words of restoration paled in comparison to the physical presence of restoration.
 
Isn’t that what we’re hoping for this Advent? The breaking of the wall between ideology and incarnation? From words to real? And fortunately we don’t get the newborn Christ child in the arms of Mary. But I offer you the image of it. Because that image points us to the universal truth of restoration: that the invitation is to move from words to presence.
 
Maybe it’s our presence that needs to be broken open this Advent. Instead of adding more of our words two centuries of expectations of what this is all supposed to do and be, maybe we need to reach out and hold what needs to be restored in our hands. Like people, or broken hearts, or systems, or perspectives, or beliefs, or policies, or a dashed hopes for a brighter tomorrow…
 
To finally see what you have hoped for for so long is a breaking experience. Our deepest hope is that God is truly with us in all this. But could it be that God has been with us in all this already?
 
God has just been waiting for us to move from words to presence so we can join God there.
 
May you believe in the gift of your presence. And may you bring that gift of presence to God’s ongoing work of restoration.


december 6th, 2020 – advent – peace

 
 
 
 
Advent – Peace


advent – peace

         God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
                  and lifted up the lowly;
         God has filled the hungry with good things,
                  and sent the rich away empty.          
                           —Luke 1.52-53
 
This is no lullaby.
God doesn’t just lift the lowly.
God lowers the mighty.
This is no rising tide lifting all boats.
It’s typhoon, a redistribution of wealth.
This lovely child Mary bears,
this little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes,
will tear apart our hierarchies,
assault our structures of injustice
and upend the world.
 
This is the divine insurrectionist in the manger.
He will not comply: he will reign.
He will not be amenable to our economics,
our prisons and poverties,
or tolerant of our barbaric systems and slaveries.
Whether we like it or not
the Holy One will impose the Reign of Heaven upon us,
where there is no wealth or poverty,
no privilege, no caste.
To those with power, place and possession
the letting go will be robbery.
 
         (And your own place will crumble, your confidence
         in the world’s fairness though it favor you;
         from that throne you will be taken.)
 
They will react against equality.
Evil will defend itself from justice with violence.
They will crucify.
 
Still, Gabriel was right.
The gentle child will prevail.
 
         Let this lovely vision comfort you
         and strip you of all the fear and anger
         with which you resist it.
 
Rejoice in God your Savior,
for the Realm of Heaven is near.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
God of eternity,
   when the voice of the prophet was silent
     and the faith of your people low;
   when darkness had obscured light
and indifference displaced zeal:
   you saw that the time was right, 
     and prepared to send your Son.
Set us free from fear and faithlessness
   that we may be ready to welcome him
     who comes as Saviour and Lord.
Lord, prepare us for your Advent coming.
In our prayers today
we try to come to you,
sure that you will come the rest of the way.
 
Lord, prepare us for your coming – in the world.
   Come, drive away despair from our politics;
     revive our dreams of justice;
   restore our passion for what is good, right and true.
Establish your just and gentle rule
   where peace has been powerless
     and violent people have had their day.
Set a flame to the fuse of justice
   where arrogant people have defied your order year after year.
Guard well the news of hope
   where peace has come like a gift,
      wrapped in reconciliation and gladness. 
 
Lord, in your mercy,
   hear our prayer.
Advent Lord, come ever nearer.
   Come to rejuvenate our faith.
     Come to fortify our social conscience.
   Come to open wide our eyes of wonder.
So that when the Saviour comes,
   he may steal into our hearts – and find them ready.
 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
 
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
 

Luke 1:76-79
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.
 
Ephesians 2:14-20
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,  and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
 
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 
 
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called ellipses Prince of Peace. As the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

 

A government is a system of rule that implements the strategies and policies created to propagate healthy and holistic ways of living together. Peace in this government can be accomplished a few ways.

 

You can destroy everyone who has differing opinions about your way – eradicating all innate agency and uniqueness found in the world – and end up with a government based on the rule of compliance and the threat of shameful destruction. A kingdom of fear.

 

Or you can love the hell out of everybody by eternally offering your naked vulnerable self as a loving way that overcomes fear, selfishness, greed, and death – prizing all innate agency and uniqueness found in the world as a very cornerstones on which to build a government focussed on loving one another as one would love themselves. A kingdom of heaven.

 

The second government was illuminated on the shoulders of a naked newborn Prince. The announcement scared the power so much that they killed innocent baby boys in the hope of sniffing out this Incarnation. Later on, the power successfully killed this incarnation in the hope that this way of being in the world would never catch on.

 

Two thousand years later, the powers are still trying to kill that way of being in the world. 2000 years later the Kingdom of Heaven still lives.
May your kingdom, Jesus, be on Earth as it is in heaven.


advent – hope

 
Courage
         
          Strengthen the weak hands,
                  and make firm the feeble knees.
         Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
                  “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God,
                  who will come and save you.”
                                    —Isaiah 35.3-4
 
You who sit by the bedside,
who stay late to finish the report,
who wrestle your tireless demons,
         do not fear.
 
You who gaze at the x-ray,
who face another meeting at the school,
who care for the aging parent,
         have courage.
 
You who lament our cruelty and greed,
who write letters about the climate,
who stand in silence outside the prison,
         stay firm.
 
God is not far, nor careless, nor scornful.
God is here, here to accompany,
here to love, here to save.
         Keep faith.
 
When you are weary God will strengthen you;
when you are afraid God will sustain you;
when you cannot go on, rest your head:
         God will carry on.
 
In your weak hands, in your feeble knees
the Beloved is present, full of grace:
not the outcome but the presence, always.
         Take courage.
 
Steve Garnaas-Holmes      
 
Lord Jesus Christ
     your world awaits you.
In the longing of the persecuted for justice;
   in the longing of the poor for prosperity;
     in the longing of the privileged
   for riches greater than wealth;
in the longing of our hearts for a better life;
   and in the song of your Church,
     expectation is ever present.


O come, Lord, desire behind our greatest needs.
   O come, Lord, Liberator of humanity.
     O come, Lord, O come, Immanuel.

Lord, prepare us for your Advent coming.
In our prayers today
   we try to come to you,
     sure that you will come the rest of the way.
 
Lord, prepare us for your coming – in the church.
Clean out the unnecessary clutter of our church life,
   the piles of dead habits,
     the cupboards of prejudice,
  the cobwebs of compromise
and the sad rotas of forgotten dreams.
 
Open your church to the free flow of your refreshing Spirit.
     Give to this church a new vision and hope.
 
Lord, in your mercy,
     hear our prayer.
Advent Lord, come ever nearer.
   Come to rejuvenate our faith.
     Come to fortify our social conscience.
   Come to open wide our eyes of wonder.
 
So that when the Saviour comes,
   he may steal into our hearts – and find them ready.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Baptist Union of Great Britain 
 
Psalm 36:9
For you are the fountain of life,
     the light by which we see.
 
John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
 
 

Advent, meaning “the coming,” is a time when we wait expectantly. Christians began to celebrate it as a season during the fourth and fifth centuries. Like Mary, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child, what God has already done. And we wait in expectation of the full coming of God’s reign on earth and for the return of Christ, what God will yet do. But this waiting is not a passive waiting. It is an active waiting. As any expectant mother knows, this waiting also involves preparation, exercise, nutrition, care, prayer, work; and birth involves pain, blood, tears, joy, release, community. It is called labor for a reason. Likewise, we are in a world pregnant with hope, and we live in the expectation of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. As we wait, we also work, cry, pray, ache; we are the midwives of another world…
 
Advent isn’t a holiday party. It doesn’t pressure us to conjure up a hopeful face, ring bells, and dismiss the foulest realities we face. Advent isn’t about our best world, it’s about our worst world.
 
…We do the Light a disservice when we underestimate the darkness. Jesus entered a world plagued not only by the darkness of individual pain and sin, but also by the darkness of systemic oppression. Jesus’ people, the Hebrews, were a subjugated people living as exiles in their own land; among other things, they were silenced, (targets of brutality by the empire), and exploitatively taxed. They were a people so beaten down by society that only a remnant – most notably Anna and Simeon  – continued to believe that the Messianic prophecies would one day come to pass. For many, the darkness of long-standing oppression had extinguished any hope for liberation.
 
It was into this “worst world” that the Light-in-which-We-See-Light was born, liberating the people from the terror of darkness. So it is in the midst of our worst world that we, too, can most clearly see the Light, for light shines more brightly against a backdrop of true darkness.
 


advent 2020 – hope

 
 
 
 
 
 
Advent – Hope


november 22nd, 2020 – loving our way forward pt. 8

 
 
 
 
what to do, what to do
 


november 15th, 2020 – loving our way forward pt. 7

 
 
 
 
the last, first…


november 8th, 2020 – loving our way forward pt. 6

 
 
 
 
Loving (as) Ourselves


november 1st – loving our way forward pt. 5

 
 
 
 
Neighbourliness


october 25th, 2020 – loving our way forward pt. 4

 
 
 
 
Walls & Bridges


october 18th, 2020 – loving our way forward pt. 3

 
 
 
 
Navigating Disagreement
 
 
 
 


october 11th, 2020 – gratitude

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


october 4th, 2020 – loving our way forward part 2

 

Belonging