Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Purple Campaign

Nearly two weeks in now and the hair do is still attracting attention. I am having some great conversations with lots of different people and it is a great way of speaking about Advent and Christmas. People are still donating to the cause too and I have so far raised £1600 for St Magnus' Church in Lerwick.
The Church Times have also run an article on it, which is brilliant.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

All done again.

now there it the purple challenge complete. Thank you to you all for supporting this.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Purple is done!!

Purple is done.... maybe some tweaking to do yet will keep you all postedthe camera does not show the real colour!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Sermon for St Luke

In the Church Times  it was reported that Churches could claim that healing and miracles happen at their services if the context is spiritual rather than physical. This was the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Our first reaction to this might be that clearly it is aimed at the more charismatic churches where such strange things are claimed to go on, and that though it is interesting it doesn’t really affect us here.

You could be right on one level, but it made me sit up and think a while.

In an age when effect is everything, and an age that if we buy something and find it doesn’t work we claim our money back, then we do need to look again at what we claim about Christian Faith and /or churchgoing.

Today is St. Luke’s Day and he was a physician or doctor by tradition. Our collect makes mention of the medicine of the gospel and a power to heal.

By and large in many people’s minds the science of medicine, the skills of doctors and medicines are very much part of our world, but are not usually seen as in any way associated with the gospel. But this was not the case, and we know that from the Old Testament one of the signs that the kingdom of God was near was the healing of infirmities. John the Baptist if you remember asked Jesus if he was the one they had waited for or was there another coming, and Jesus asked them to look around and see the great things happening.

Today the mission of the 72 recorded in Luke’s Gospel attests acts of healing as a clear sign that God had come close.

So should we be so surprised that even today the issues of healing are still hovering around the church. Probably not... but we do get embarrassed about it, and I am not sure we should.

Let us start where we are... a reasonable place I often find.

Why do we come to church? What is in it for us?

We may feel we need to answer that we come to worship God, as though we were doing this for God’s sake and not our own. I am not sure I could honestly always say that myself.

We may come because we have got used to it, it is an old habit of thinking and it is hard to shake off.. and anyway it feels respectable. Sometimes that is nearer to an answer 1 might give.

We may feel that we come to offer thanks. Many people come to church because of this motive. There is also the motive of suddenly feeling the need to pray for something or someone.

It may be that from time to time we might want to answer all of the above.

However I suspect that deep down if we can be still enough to find it the reason we keep coming back week in and week out is because it suits us to do it. We get something from it. Some say it makes them feel better.

Finding the presence of God here or anywhere has always and will always make us feel better. This can happen whatever state we are in. The difficulty comes for us however in finding this presence of God.

For certain church is sometimes not the place where it is found for many people. They need to find it elsewhere, at least to start with.

Nevertheless unless we are able to say the presence of God is in this place, we may as well pack up and go home, for that is the only reason I keep coming back to it.

We need to be able to hear people attesting that they found God here. This will make them feel better, it may even bring about a miracle in their lives who knows, but God has to be seen to be here.

We need to be careful, because in our pomposity sometimes we very carefully conceal God, and we present other things instead.... Should we have a Nave altar? Are we using the right words? Why is such and such happening? What happened in that last hymn?
 We offer the state of finance and our own physical needs.

I was at a clergy gathering recently and we were asked to write down one thing we wanted to achieve in our church. Strangely two of us wrote identical things... namely to offer true and real worship.

We were asked how we would know we had achieved this?

I said we would know because people would keep coming back. People would feel that there was a real connection between what they did in their day to day lives and what they did in church.

We must aim to find this for ourselves, for then we will know that God has come close to us.
The medicine of the gospel is real, it is no placebo. Those of us who have found this to be the case need to help others to find it for themselves.

We do not have to got out of our ways to find God, for he greets us on our way, and having found us and when we have recognised this we fell better.

So let us all be willing to put on the notice boards that healing and miracles may happen here, and not be ashamed to say that God makes us feel better. Let us also be honest... sometimes the church might make us feel worse!

But if God is able to heal the sores brought on by ousrelves, then all the better!

The Purple Challengs

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Old Friends!

I have had the greatest pleasure recently of catching old friends. I am grateful to the good old face book for this!!

Here are some of them,,, though sadly Jonathan Parton (known to me as "Bonce") died tragically a number of yeas ago.

My mate Jonno was not in this picture, nor was Vince, but they have also ben in my recent catch up list

Another sermon! what are we looking at?

Reflection of God

Trinity 13 2015 Lerwick
For a while now we have had the phrase “If you want to know yourself, talk to God he knows on some of our pew shelves. Some of you may well have thought about these words. Today we come to the same idea in our reading from James, thought he suggests looking to God rather than talking to him as the means of self disclosure.

In the poem “the elixir” which we more commonly know as the hymn “Teach me my God and King” George Herbert also explores the idea that living alongside God actually changes us for the better. This is his own elixir, a magical or medicinal potion which we take to change us.

In the poem there is the verse which does not appear in the hymn:

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.
This suggests to me a similar notion as I spoke about last week namely that In our own “human” strength we are only part of what God created us to be, and to be fully possessed by God, we live fully as God meant us to be.

Looking on a mirror maybe described as vanity. People often do this to see how gorgeous they are, how ready they are to be seen by others, or how successful their make up or outfit looks. In other words “How suitable we may look”.

But George Herbert wonderfully uses the reflective qualities found on glass (as in a mirror) as the example of a barrier between us and God, for the one who looks on glass  may only see the self as in a reflection, but to look beyond it to God is completion. In other words we can be distracted by our own reflection that we fail to see beyond it and through it.

For Herbert the servant who sweeps the room looking in all the nooks and crannies for God is the one who is to enjoy the elixir of life. Not that this is to come easily.

Moses exhorts the people of Israel to give heed to the statutes and ordinances of God and not to change them or to waver from them. God was not one to be bargained with, his promise was rock solid, he was sure.

On the other hand we are fickle, we like to change our minds, we like to have everything. (Syncretism again) we like to think we improve ourselves and we have a tendency to feel pleased with ourselves (vanity) when we achieve this by our own hard effort. We even bargain with ourselves and reward or even punish ourselves for doing good. (well mostly reward it needs to be said!)

If we say that God is unchanging then it is because he does not need to be wasting his time worrying about himself. God is wholly and completely available to us, he is wholly present to us, God is not insecure about himself like we are about ourselves.

It is we who pass our own insecurity on to God not God changing what he feels about us. God loves us… period… God so loves us that he sent his son… not to condemn us but to heal us..to make us strong in him.

James encourages us to imitate God in knowing what we are like. We know all too well that we may need to change, but to begin to do this we need to know ourselves fully…. Even as we are fully known… (?)

I don’t know about you, but I keep realising how superficially I know even my own self. I frequently miss the obvious causes and signs of stress, and then wonder why I get into the fix I find myself in. I am headstrong….
It is when I am able to reflect on God that things begin to be able to feel more in the right place.

Looking beyond the reflection of myself to the unchanging Love and being of God, helps me move on a little.

Bit by bit looking on God actually changes who we are, and gradually it may not take the same amount of effort to live life-changing and loving  lives.

In this we become doers and not just hearers of the Word.


As you may know I go to Tesco a lot. I shop with many people, I shop for many people. If you thought it was bad enough going for yourself… trying going for others!
Sometimes there is choice, sometimes there is no choice and often there is too much choice.
What do you choose? How do you choose it? What happens when you make the wrong choice?
Apparently the situation we find ourselves in is made all the more challenging, not because we can never make our mind up as to what to choose, but because in our  very nature we are Syncretists.
Syncretists want to have both… we want to have our cake and eat it too…We want the best of both worlds.
One person has commented
“It's only an expression. But someone who wants to have their cake and eat it, is someone who wants to take more than they already have. In life we all have choices to make and choose to live our lives a certain way. There are some people that have their cake, but still want more. Or live their lives by double standards. You can't have your cake and eat it.”
I don’t know whether you have spotted something interesting about the disciples in recent weeks according to John, but they have been doing quite a bit of complaining. They have tried to mob him, Last week they complained and this week they complain again and some simply walk off completely disgruntled.
(have disciples changed?!)
The reason for this is syncretism… we want it our way, and all our way. We find it difficult to choose because we want it all..
John puts something interesting into the words of Jesus today, when he is reported as saying “The Flesh is useless”
The greek word here is Sarx and though it is often translated, as it is here, as “Flesh” it  more particularly point to “human nature”.
Our basic humanity cause us difficulties.
[[In short, flesh generally relates to unaided human effort, i.e. decisions (actions) that originate from self or are empowered by self. This is carnal ("of the flesh") and proceeds out of the untouched (unchanged) part of us – i.e. what is not transformed by God.]]
It is not because we are created and bodily (fleshly) that is the issue it is that we have learnt that we can live if you like “without God”
When we live as God intended with him alongside rather than “in our own strength”  then we become again as in the wonderful image of God walking with us in the Garden.
Jesus tells us today that the Spirit (as opposed to the flesh alone) gives us life.
As elsewhere in Johns Gospel Jesus says he came to bring us life and life in all its fullness…. In other words life with God.
Joshua too faces the humanity of his people when he gathered them together and told them they simply could not have it all their own syncretistic way but they had to make a choice.
On balance after they reflect on what God had proved to them along the way they proclaim.
“‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.’
It is perhaps not difficult to realise that some of the disciples wanted to complain about what Jesus seemed to asking of them. After all inviting someone to carry a cross in those days was never going to be a popular choice. Many probably still wanted to serve God and Mammon too.
We too might take exception about having to forgive our enemies, or even to love and serve those we despise and hate (like the Samaritans)
But Jesus never did suggest that being his disciple or of following His way was going to be an easy choice……. However he did say it was life giving and a way of living as the people God created us to be.
The flesh may well be weak, it does not give what it seems to promise…. But we have the Spirit too to give us life, and to make us strong (er)

Sunday, 21 June 2015


do you still follow this blog?

Holiday due... hooray

We are all going on a summer holiday...

Less than two weeks to go now and we will be in the beloved Lake District.

We are staying in a caravan at Troutbeck and Hannah and Simon are hoping to get up too. Fantastic!

Rachel is keen to bag a few more Wainrights and I will be happy to drink a few more Wainrights!!

Jack... I suspect he may be dreading more Wainrights, but having said that he did brilliantly last year and completed many miles very well indeed.

June 21st 2015

I offer this weeks sermon.!!

I know I am pretty awful at keeping up to date here... my apologies

The face of tyranny surrounds us probably on a daily basis.
We do not have to listen to the TV for very long before we see its face in some guise.
The plight of people crammed into small un-seaworthy boats escaping from what was and is supposed to be their home.
The Young men and women traveling to Syria and becoming suicide bombers, and the children that are unwittingly caught up in this.
Children and adults abused in a society which otherwise prides itself on decency and safety.
Men women and children experiencing daily privation and suffering and apparently sidelined by others who are better off.
Tyranny can indeed take on many forms, and somewhere you and I might have felt we have even experienced some shape or form of it ourselves.
We pray Almighty God you have  broken the tyranny of sin… and yet we still witness it and feel it.
What as Christians can we do or say about this… certainly to be real in our  world it is not sufficient to say or speak platitudes which bring comfort and hope to nobody.
I work alongside people suffering from poor mental health. This can be more symptomatic at some times than at other times. It can be difficult to experience, it can feel very frightening too. (on many levels). Many people who I look after feel that as well as bearing their poor health they have to bear to tyranny of being misunderstood, and of being side-lined in society, or even in their own families.
The tyranny of sin is that which seeks to keep people, whoever they are or whatever they suffer from the Grace and love of God. There are many ways of expressing or showing that somebody may not be so loved by God as someone else, and sadly the church has in the past been a perpetrator of this “measuring out of God’s grace”
When Jesus set out with his disciples across the Sea of Galilee in a small boat, possibly of a similar size that Shetland Fishermen set out with on the seas around these islands, they did not realise that they were going to experience the tyranny of bad weather and heavy seas. They literally described their experience as if they were perishing or about to at least.
The storm they faced was more than they could cope with. Fear and terror would have been very present.
Jesus we are told calmed the storm and the sense of Peace was as equally as tangible as the storm had been previously.
We can  witness the sense of peace brought about by people who reach out in love I tyrannical situations of all types. Aid workers risking their own health and well being are clear examples of this. Yet on a more daily basis I see the difference a positive response can bring to those suffering in a particular moment from poor mental health.
No matter who we are as Christians we really do have the power to bring an end to the tyranny of Sin.
We are Jesus hands and voice today, our actions are as if they were his actions. Our world can be a better place because we are in it.
We can bring peace and calm to storm tossed lives. We can be the difference for many between life and death.
May we have the grace to dedicate our freedom to love in the service of God and of each other.
May our hearts and bodies be directed and sanctified by God grace making its home and flowing in us.