So it was I wanted to ask:
Thursday, 9 December 2010
So it was I wanted to ask:
Monday, 6 December 2010
We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.
And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.
O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.
posted by Craig Gardiner at 12:48 PM
Friday, 22 October 2010
My reflections with Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales this week began with the very true story of my trip up North the other week. I had to go to
Ninety minutes later I was in the queue at
Suddenly I felt sure that everyone was laughing at the fool with the odd footwear. I tried to hide my feet beneath my bag but even though my mistake seemed glaringly obvious to me no-one said anything … not even the security guard who then asked me to remove both trainers. On the way back people were too preoccupied with talking into their mobiles to notice what was wrong with me or no-one thought it was their place to mention it.
That’s an amusing story for the pub but of course it’s trivial when compared with all that goes wrong in the world, particularly the economic cuts that have been announced this week. But my escapade reminded me that as austerity begins to really bite there will be much that may go seriously wrong in the lives of those around us. And whatever the politics involved in all this, the harsh reality will be that jobs will go, bills will lie unpaid, homes may go without heat and tables will be empty of food.
And the temptation for many will be to say or do nothing. Some of us who really need the help will be too embarrassed to say anything about what has gone so wrong. We may try to cover it up even though it may be through little fault of our own. And people who are better off may be too busy with their lives to see what has gone wrong for others, or feel it’s not their place to do anything about it.
The world’s religions have always argued that we should care for the weak and the vulnerable in our midst. The Psalms speak of God as father of the fatherless, defender of the widows. Jesus spoke of bringing good news to the poor. On a day that announces so many economic difficulties we should remember that the quality of our lives in these times of austerity will be measured not by how we survive but on how we care for one another.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Friday, 8 October 2010
So while I want to live with no need of greed or hunger
With all the people sharing all the world as one
if it is to happen then I must not just dream about it
I must act and live not out of fear but in love
And maybe you will join me
Dear God help us to imagine a world
Where we do on earth
as it is done in heaven
And help us to believe
that such a world can be here today
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Another prayer from Radio 4 this week
On my desk is a cartoon of a man talking on his mobile telephone.
The caption reads:
I am just calling to make sure you got my e-mail following the letter I faxed this morning.’
For many of us calls like that will be all too familiar. Technology seems to drive our life at a pace that few people want but equally now we are communicating with such momentum that hardly anyone can resist or stop it. And amidst all this is a myriad of changing social protocols.
We wonder how long it is reasonable to wait for an email to be answered
If it is appropriate to text a partner telling them the relationship is over
And should we accept our boss’s invitation to be a friend on a social network site
In an age where we assume an eager audience is instantly interested with our status updates, where seemingly every emotional response to life is a matter of public record, and others are encouraged to add their comment, are there changing protocols on prayer?
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he began by telling them to go into their room and close the door and pray in private … for God who sees what is done in secret would then reward them. No-one else need know what they told their maker or what their Creator had said to them. Anticipating our lack of patience in such an endeavour, he quickly followed the words of the Lord’s Prayer with a parable on persistence … assuring us that if we ask, then it will be given and if we seek then we shall find.
Jesus does not confirm a timescale for heaven’s answer
Nor indeed the method by which it may be communicated
But he leaves us with the promise - that if we knock upon his door then it will be opened for us.
In this fast moving world of ours
Give us patience and persistence in our prayers
Open our hearts that we may hear you clearly speak today.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Sorry the blog has been silent for so long ... lots of interesting things have been happening, going to worship with the Pope in Westminster Abbey, Stuart Murray and Roy Searle on Celts, Anabaptists and New Monasticism, and flying to Newcastle with odd shoes on, but so often away from my computer that i've not blogged them later. Some of this will out in due course no doubt. Anyway if you are up early or like the radio 4 shipping forecast then you will have heard these prayers for the day already ... I am doing this week's prayers ... so playing catch up a bit ... here's the one from 2nd Oct.
Sorry the blog has been silent for so long ...
lots of interesting things have been happening, going to worship with the Pope in Westminster Abbey, Stuart Murray and Roy Searle on Celts, Anabaptists and New Monasticism, and flying to Newcastle with odd shoes on, but so often away from my computer that i've not blogged them later. Some of this will out in due course no doubt.
Anyway if you are up early or like the radio 4 shipping forecast then you will have heard these prayers for the day already ... I am doing this week's prayers ... so playing catch up a bit ... here's the one from 2nd Oct.
Today is the 60th birthday of Peanuts, the celebrated cartoon strip penned for so many years by Charles Schultz.
Charlie Brown and Snoopy may be the stars, but I love an episode that featured two other characters, Lucy and Linus.
They were talking about a baby called Sally.
She is pictured crawling slowly round the room and Lucy, frustrated at the baby’s lack of progress, asks ‘When will Sally start walking?
Linus replies,‘Let her crawl;
once you’ve started walking
you’re committed for a lifetime.’
There are not many things that people will commit to for a life time now.
We might give a year or two to this hobby or that job,
we may devote time to living in a certain city
or even to a particular religion,
but so much these days seems subject to the
possibility of moving on to something else.
We are often reluctant to dedicate ourselves like this because we fear if we do so
then we might be loosing out on something else
maybe something better.
But this is exactly what is needed if we are to make a difference in the world ...
if we are to see any real change in ourselves.
Many people liked Jesus when it was easy and exciting, but he needed disciples who would still be loyal when things got tough. When a would-be disciple asked to go and say good-bye to his family before signing up for good, Jesus told him straight: No-one who starts following me and then looks back is ready for where I am going.
Tough words, I know, But in a world of seemingly infinite choices, we need the courage to make tough decisions and know that we will remain steadfast for a life time.
Dear God, all of us are tempted to look over our shoulder
To wonder with regret at what might have been
Give us the courage today
To start walking towards the future you have prepared for us
Help us to be faithful for the life-time of that journey. Amen.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
When I was a child my dad used to let me stay up late to watch the war-time programme Secret Army. It was a lot more serious than the hilarious Dad’s Army, much more like the classic Colditz, for which I had the Action Man figures and the Board Game.
Even though it won Seven Oscars, one war movie that was not for viewing in our house was The Bridge over the River Kwai. It carried painful associations for members of our family and it was always switched off. The film tells the story of Allied Prisoners of War forced to build a bridge by their brutal (and brutalised) Japanese Guards.
Years later, when I was actually working in
I’ve been thinking of those conversations recently and of the cultural clichés we exposed and left behind, because today
Because if the first casualty in war is truth, if propaganda encourages us to see the other people as being somehow less human than we are, then the first victory of peace should be for us to see each others as equal partners in a shared and redeemed humanity.
And maybe that’s why Jesus told us to love our enemies.
I think it was a challenge even in the midst of conflict
for us to see ourselves in others,
to value in them the identical image of God that lives in every one
And so for all we humans are different,
we’re really just the same
And I hope onm VJ Day we don’t remember just the victory of some
and the defeat of others
I hope we celebrate the chance for peace to overcome in the hearts of everyone.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Her words were in my mind this week as we sat down to review our Church Constitution, looking at the standard Governing Document for BUGB churches. In the section on 'Belonging to the Church' it talks about members giving financial support to the Church and there is a footnote which says 'Although there may be encouragement to give financially this is a private matter.' Why is this a private matter? Why should a people called together under God keep this information from one another. Why should we shrink from being financially accountable to one another, to those we love adn who love us? I understand the fear of a church developing a 'richest members league table' and the jealousies that may ensue, but surely we are called to be better than that.
Surely we can be better than that.
Why is money to be kept as a private affair in today's churches?
What purpose is achieved by such secrecy?
The poet Alice Walker says:
can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the market place
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain you know,
and if your chain is gold
so much the worse for you
and sea-shaped stones are all as rare
This could be our revolution:
To love what is plentiful
as much as
This is not about the money ... but it is about the principle.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Friday, 18 June 2010
I heard this prayer many years ago, but had forgotten it until today when it was used by Rev Dr Pat Took at Momentum, the Assembly of Baptists in Wales.
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
In case you're wondering, it's by Sir Francis Drake.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Back on the radio sharing some thoughs on fathers' day I wanted to get my favourite father's quotation in there but it didn't really fit.
'A father never stands so tall
than when he bends down to help his child'
but anyway this is what was said.
In case anyone’s forgotten, this Sunday will be Fathers’ Day again, and this year it’s the hundredth anniversary. There’s no need to panic if you haven’t sent a card or bought your present, it’s only Thursday after all.
Of course like the corresponding Mother’s Day, this special anniversary brings mixed emotions into many of our lives. Some people get on well with their dad and they may be looking forward to a cheerful celebration lunch. But this happy picture isn’t true for everyone. There are many ways that the relationship between a father and his child may end up strained or even broken these days, and all the hype around a special day can just make things seem worse. And of course there will be other men who’d love to be a father, but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened for them.
I sometimes wonder if these special days with their over-commercialized sentimentality don’t cause more hassle than they’re worth, but then I am reminded that behind this one anyway lies a century of people expressing their love for dads.
It all began when a young woman called Sonora Smart-Dodd heard a Mother's Day sermon in her local church. Her own mother had died many years before when
She’d hoped to organise the celebrations to coincide with her dad's birthday, on 5th June, but there wasn’t enough time to get everything ready and so that first Father’s Day took place on the third Sunday of the month in 1910. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength, winning the approval of US presidents and spreading from
I don’t know what bible text the preacher chose to speak about on the day that
And maybe no-one does that more
Than our Father who is in heaven
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
The BUGB resolution will say:
Recognising the continuing threat to peace posed by the existence and development of nuclear weapons, and the potential significance of the May 2010 conference to review the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), this Assembly:
· affirms its commitment to uphold the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
· calls upon the UK Government to join with others in taking courageous steps to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and build a secure future for all.
· calls upon churches to give support to the ‘Now is the time’ campaign.
Monday, 12 April 2010
Forty years ago today the ill-fated Apollo Thirteen space-craft took off for the moon. Two days later the world heard those famous words: ‘Houston we have a problem.’ An explosion left the crew stranded with limited reserves of power, water and oxygen. Back on earth NASA began a rescue mission: teams of workers improvised scenarios for survival and helped as best they could with the preparations to sling-shot the rocket round the moon and bring it safely back to earth. That was an audacious plan and it seemed like the whole world held its breath to see if it would work.
Recently I watched the movie that recreated the events. I was impressed at the efforts NASA made to get the astronauts home. No expense was spared. All their resources focused on just three men. And the whole world sighed with relief when they splashed down safely in the ocean.
Time and again in the face of trouble the human race proves itself able to overcome what seem like impossible odds. But sadly, just as often, we appear unable or unwilling to put the same effort and resources into events that may be less dramatic, but are no less tragic.
Maybe it’s because we do not recognise the face the one child who dies from hunger every five seconds in our world, perhaps it’s because we haven’t met the families struggling in extreme poverty, it could be that climate change hasn’t threatened the life of those we love just yet, and so these people and the seemingly inevitable catastrophes they face do not receive the urgency of care that we might extend to beleaguered astronauts.
Jesus told his followers, that where ever their treasure was found, that’s where their heart would be. Our hearts once went out to just three men facing an almost certain death in space. How audacious would it be if today we could treasure the millions of people facing a preventable death here on earth?
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Thursday, 25 March 2010
.. er ... umm ... well actually no.
Nicest thing I've heard for a while was last week when one of the children who is part of our church told her mum that she'd been feeling 'church sick.' By this she meant that in the same way as people may get home sick, the family had been away for two weeks and now she was missing being in church: she was therrefore church sick!
Makes perfect sense to me ...
wish it did to more people
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Monday, 8 March 2010
Monday, 1 March 2010
In such a moment 'homes' often become no more than 'houses.'
but I cannot bear the imagining of Rima Robert and Alison being without a home ... left only with a house. The foundations of hospitality go too deep in them in their place of belonging for 'home' to be lost.
As I prayed for them all today it felt to me as if a robber had posted a calling card through their front door and said 'I might be back anytime soon.' This may be an unfair image for the UK Border Agency or the Home Secretary but it is what came to me. And it came on the day when Wales celebrates its patron Saint, David. It seemed significant that Robert and Alison live as a Columban Home ... offering sanctuary ... as part of their commitment to the Rule of the Iona Community and it seems to me that whether it was Columba or David no-one I know is more in need of the protection of the saints, the angels, and all the host of heaven than this family. If St David could make the ground grow beneath him so better to speak to his congregation ... perhaps another miracle today ... that the words and prayers of those who have written and petitioned and spoken out would be raised high so that those in power and authority could hear better and respond well by doing what is right...
So today I did in private what I managed to avoid twice in the pulpit yesterday ... I wept for them. Psalm 121, the text for yesterday evening, promises that God will watch over us ... not that no bad thing will happen, but that God who made both heaven and earth is present even in the apparent absence ... in the darkness ... in the silence ... and so I bowed and knelt and offered my hopes and fears but as RS Thomas once said: for one who knelt no word came.
Except perhaps the word to keep on kneeling
and believing that goodness remains stronger than evil