Showing posts from November, 2014

Advent: what are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?
Much of life is spent waiting:

Waiting in a check-out or check-in queue. Waiting for a delivery. Waiting for a response to a call, email or text.Waiting for a bus or train.Waiting for the car to be fixed.Waiting for someone to do what they promised.Waiting for someone to leave or someone to arrive.Waiting for justice.Waiting for pain to end, sickness to pass.Waiting for a war to be over.Waiting for an expected birth or death...You can go on.
I won't.

What are you waiting for?

Waiting is a recurring theme in Advent, the four weeks of preparation before Christmas.

Advent waiting is a particular sort of waiting.
It may be silent or noisy, calm or exciting, but never passive. It isn't waiting for Christmas. It's more like looking forward and preparing for a guest. This guest has promised to come but doesn't say when.

This Guest is so much more than an ordinary guest.
This Guest comes in ordinary ways:

just one among many newborn babiesquietly in the heartin…

Advent preparation

Advent begins next Sunday. What? Already? where did the last year go?

The trouble with Advent is that it rushes at me and by me too quickly. It can be hard to make best use of it in a 'watching' and 'waiting' sort of way. Perhaps it is the same for you?

I've found that planning ahead can help. It seems odd to think about preparing for Advent, when Advent itself is a preparation season. On the other hand when I don't plan to prepare I don't prepare well.

If you are wondering how to take a few regular quiet moments for prayer or reflection during Advent, here are a few suggestions to choose from:

Dreaming of a "White Christmas"? Why not dream of a green one instead? Better still - do something about it. A Rocha has an online Advent Calendar 2014 with daily "life-altering tips and ideas for a greener Christmas and beyond". Jon Kuhrt has a simple Advent Challenge to use between 1st and 24th December. The idea is to set aside 10 minutes a day for…

Where is God?

Where is God?
People sometimes ask that question when bad things happen. The underlying question is 'why doesn't God do something to stop it?' I think that's a question that never has a fully satisfactory answer. I tried and failed in 'Bird-watcher sets cat among pigeons' among other posts about suffering. The best I can do is to find ways to live with the question,with all its accompanying tensions and paradoxes. This post is about 'where is God?' That's also a hard question to answer, unless your god is one you have managed to neatly package to fit in your pocket. In which case, to use John Bertram Phillips' term, 'Your God is too small'.

Where is God?
At its simplest, that question may be posed by a child or someone expecting a literalistic answer, as if God is only located in a particular place, like 'in heaven'.

When one of our children was about 4 he wondered about the idea of God being everywhere and wanted to check it out. &#…

Christ the King; a reflection

Hidden King when did we see you? We saw no King, only a scrounger begging on the street.
Hidden King, when did we refuse you food, drink and clothes? We could have given our best if we had seen you.
Hidden King, when did we refuse you care when you were sick? We could have cared for you if we had seen you.
Hidden King, when did we ignore you when you were imprisoned? We could have helped if we had seen you.
Hidden King where is your throne? We saw no throne, only a dead tree and a man hanging there.
Hidden King where is your crown? We saw no crown, only a brutal wreath of piercing thorns.
Hidden King, why did you come naked, with no royal regalia? We could have bowed if we had seen you.
Hidden King, is it our fault that we neglected you because we did not see you?

Inspired by Matthew 25: 31 - 46
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For some much better posts for Christ the King Sunday see: Malcolm Guite's The Feast of Christ the King; a sonnetThe Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley's Another Kind of ThroneSheep, Goats and Ext…

Church of England Bishops and the Amending of Canons

It doesn't sound very exciting - that 2nd item on the agenda this morning for the Church of England's General Synod -'Amending Canon 33'.  And part of me wants to say, why should it be? Today is just the rubber stamping (or so I hope and trust) on a process that goes back decades.

Amending Canon C2 in the way I assume will happen today has been a long time coming. The legislation has gone through General Synod, through both Houses of Parliament and has received the Royal Assent.  Today's business dots the 'I's and crosses the 'T's and should go through without a problem. There will be no additional discussion, just a vote, which is almost certain to gain the required majority. After today we will have these new words at the start of Canon C2:

1. Canon C 2 (Of the consecration of bishops) is amended as follows –(a) The following paragraph is inserted at the beginning –“1. A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop.”;Simple!
You can read…

Armistice Day 2014

Ironmongery from WW1 is now arranged artfully in the garden at Hooge Crater and the deep craters themselves turned into lakes in a hotel garden.

I took these photos during a visit earlier this year to the Flanders battlefields of World War 1 around the Ypres Salient.

There is nothing like being in a place to help understand past events. My overwhelming impressions were twofold:

what a waste of resources and liveshow young were those men of many nations who died in Flanders fields

2 minutes silence is observed in many parts of the world today to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the guns fell silent at the end of the 'Great War', bringing peace of a sort but certainly not an end to war or the situations and attitudes that lead to war. Sometimes the only appropriate response to such horrors is silence, then prayer, then action for peace. But first - the silence - introduced in this video with the Last Post. (Pity about the spelling of Remembrance!)


Remembrance Sunday 2014

A universal prayer for Remembrance Sunday or any time:

Our globe is nothing but a little star in the great universe.
It is our duty to turn this globe into a planet
whose creatures are not tormented by wars,
nor tortured by hunger and fear,
nor torn apart in senseless divisions
according to race, colour or creed.
Give us the courage and foresight,
to begin this work even today,
so that our children and grandchildren
may one day take pride
in being called human.
Stephen Vincent Benet, from 'Prayers Encircling the World', SPCK 1998
This is the prayer of the United Nations.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Previous Posts for Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day: Remembrance Sunday Remembrance Sunday 2013 Remembrance Day 2013

Please to remember the 5th of November

"Please to remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot!"So begins the rhyme I used to chant as a child around this time of year as excitement grew in preparation for 'Bonfire Night' or 'Guy Fawkes Day' or 'Fireworks Day' - take your pick as to what you call it.

The bonfire pile was built, a 'guy' created out of old sacking stuffed with straw, fireworks bought and stored in a tin box. In my childhood, it was usually a family fun night in our garden or a neighbour's garden. Rockets were precariously balanced in empty milk bottles, ready to be fired into the night sky, providing the bottle didn't fall over. Catherine wheels were pinned to a fence, ready for their fiery rotation. I liked Roman Candles best - beautiful changing colours without too much scary noise. Bangers I found terrifying - and still do. We children were allowed to hold sparklers, but only while wearing gloves. The dog was shut up in the kitchen, where, once …