Beginning or End? – Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

I hope you like the photograph. It could be sunrise, or it could be sunset.  Which is it?

Impossible to tell without more information. Where is it?  Norway25th_1221What coastline or lake is in the frame? Was it looking east or west? Who took the photo, and why? Only the photographer can tell us that (unless by some amazing chance you have been at the same place, the same time, and with the same weather conditions).

When reading the Bible we can find ourselves in a similar dilemma. What does it mean? Who was or is the target audience? What kind of literature is it from? Who wrote it, when, and where- and why. Understanding and correctly interpreting the words is a serious responsibility and a worthwhile task.

This Sunday is the pivot between two years: one we have lived, one we await. I am preaching in our church in…

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Stony Road


So close to Christmas. One more Advent theme to remember: Advent Love.

We can lose sight of Christmas in all the jollity and feasting. There’s nothing wrong with jollity, and feasting is always good to share. Advent lays the foundation for the feast by reminding us of the true cost of Christmas.

Singing sweet carols and looking at antiseptically clean manger scenes may prevent us thinking about the mess, the agony of labour, the presence of animals in the delivery room. The stony road up to Bethlehem giving sore feet and an aching back. No soft option existed for Mary, Joseph or Jesus. A new chapter was written in tears that began to wash away the sins of the world.

God prepared the Way. God paid the biggest bills. Love came down at Christmas… into a mucky confusion of noise and smells and threats. The stony road to Bethlehem foretold a stony road from Jerusalem to Golgotha. Birth and brutal execution begin and end the chapter. Love was willing to pay. Love turns Advent into Incarnation.

The steel Cross in the photograph is on a peak in the Austrian Alps, standing bold over the valley below. Walking up to the Cross is hard and stony- but the view is magnificent from the foot of the Cross. All the world is spread out below- and those who live in the valley look up and see the Cross watching over their village. God loved the world so much He gave His Son. This is Advent Love.

As the final hours of Advent slip away, walk that stony road of love. Walk with Mary & Joseph, walk with those journeying, walk with the shepherds who will shortly be summoned to take a rough road to see a Baby. Love remembers all things, and can see past the tinsel to touch a heavenly Crown. May God bless our journey, and our arising to greet the new-born Son.


Shapes Against the Sun- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Watching the Sun set over the Mediterranean Sea was spellbinding. The glowing globe grew as it approached the horizon, and the thick atmosphere screened enough of the light so we could watch the Sun without being dazzled or blinded. Distant mountains were merged into the mist, vague shadows of deeper darkness.

Then, as the Sun kissed the mountain tops, wispy clouds were etched as dark shapes against the Sun. We could make out only the outline of the drama of the eternal cycle of Day and Night- and within minutes, the Sun had vanished, leaving only the embers of a perfect day.

Sometimes our faith-journey is a story of shapes against the sun. We can make out the highlights and the drama of key moments- but we have to move on, trusting that the play has a script that God has written, and that our part may be as a…

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Raging waves- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

The last few days and seen stormy weather. Although sheltered, this part of the coast can get quite spectacular!  Alongside the mixed-up weather systems, the political shenanigans we have witnessed in Parliament have brought shame on the reputation of many politicians.

All the uncertainty and bitterness being expressed is symptomatic of a nation that has lost its way and become divided. Where is help coming from? Very few MPs inspire confidence (whatever one’s own political views may be!).

calm the seas turmoil

Ancient songs may seem an unlikely source of hope. Yet there is one collection of songs that captures the whole gamut of human emotion and experience- the Book of Psalms as found in the Old Testament.

Our question are not unique. Through the centuries people have discovered that opening our mouths in prayer and praise is amazingly health-giving. Despite the troubles and turmoil of life, the Living God stands firm in authority…

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See clearly

The Reflectionary

Advent is a season of preparation for Christians who will soon be celebrating the gift of God in the birth of Jesus.

Our precious preparation will be mostly ignored by people with little or no faith in God.

The “delight” of shopping grasped me firmly by the throat yesterday. At a big supermarket I won’t name, they were selling everything Christmassy from jumpers to hot cross buns.

Read that again. Hot cross buns? At Christmas? But they taste good and sell well all year.

Light shadow 250MedCruiseFloren2 bfly shadow

This butterfly photo came from my summer holiday. I’m putting some pics into a Photobook to remember a very special trip. This one appeals to me because of the way the sun shines through wing and leaf- except where the shadow of the butterfly blocks the light transmission.  I wonder which you saw first- light or shadow?

I fear our fellow shoppers are at risk of…

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