They

Women.

Gays.

Black people.

Trans.

Americans.

Brits.

Young.

Europeans.

Old.

Africans.

Asians.

Football fans.

Hooligans.

‘Out’ voters.

‘In’ voters.

Liberals.

Conservatives.

Lefties.

Perpetrators.

Victims.

Men.

Abusers.

White people.

Muslims.

Fundamentalists.

Migrants.

Christians.

Terrorists.

Atheists.

Image-bearers.

Divinely created.

Sinners.

Died for.

Loved.

Called.

Beckoned.

Invited.

Offered forgiveness.

Grace receivers.

In Christ.

Saved.

Adored.

Sisters.

Brothers.

Yours.

Mine.

You.

Me.

Judge not.

So many plans …

So many plans.

Was going to take time out from everything on sabbatical. Space to read, think, pray, reflect, decide, plan.

Did that, and I came back with heart full, decisions taken and vision clear.

Was ready to work, ready to make some changes, ready to write, ready to preach.

To begin with it went well.

Diary was re-shaped, preaching was begun, ideas started to take concrete form.

As they say, though, no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Pressures mounted: home, work, family.

Then The Straw. Never thought of myself as a camel before, but that’s the only metaphor that fits.

Meltdown, illness, time off sick.

Gradual re-entry planned.

Re-entry paused by sickness of body.

Body and mind now both in plaster that can’t be seen but that still restricts, protects.

Re-entry rebooted.

Re-engagement tremulously restarted.

Things to still to write, read, plan, preach, do.

Ideas held loosely, battle still real.

Treading hopefully, moving gently.

On her birthday

It was my wife’s birthday this week, so I wrote this. 

uslondon2012Happy Birthday to Bev, my favourite human being.

42 years of fun, championing the poor, challenging others to be more, courageous honesty, beauty, fearlessness, wisdom, and changing hair colours.

She’s even better than you think she is. After all she’s still married to me despite being on the other end of the bullying, rumours, scheming against us and general nastiness that comes along with the good parts of my calling.

She supports me through Ankylosing Spondylitis, chronic depression, anxiety, PTSD, two learning disabilities and inspires me to keep going.

She always sees and expects the best of people even if they can’t see it themselves.

She dreams impossible dreams and makes them happen.

She drags the future into the present.

She defends those who won’t or can’t defend themselves.

She’s not worried about reputation or approval or being good by the standards of a broken world.

She’s always learning.

She’s a brilliant photographer.

She’s an organiser.

She’s kind and good and true.

Some seem to insist on believing the worst of her and still she keeps going and keeps being who God calls her to be.

She’s a blessing in the truest sense of the word.

If you don’t know her, or don’t believe me, it’s your loss.

Words In Lent’s second week

Wind whipped and sand secreted

Temptation touches the hungry soul.

Why not? Why shouldn’t?

Itself it is not wrong.

We live in grace

So he must forgive.

You need to eat, to look

To be known, to be seen.

These aren’t bad,

Aren’t dangerous,

Aren’t sins

So much as they are

Necessary in times of trial

And lack.

So extending a hand,

Swallowing a morsel,

Taking a moment,

Cutting some slack,

Temptation transforms

And is gone, replaced

By regret and satisfaction.

The point is we can’t,

The strength is weakness,

The grace found only

By knowing we’ll fail.

Listen and you’d

Hear heaven laugh

If the price wasn’t so steep.

After 40 days he was

Hungry, says the word.

Absurd, of course

He was. Still he resists,

Still he uses the word,

Still he knows himself

And who his father is.

He resists then, and later

To the point of shed

Blood that weakness

Might not be the

End and giving in

Not mean giving up.

So we give up

For 4o days a year

To remind and renew.

Or we take on

To be more like

Him who took

On flesh, being

In very nature

God, not considering

Equality is something

To be grasped.

 

Also in this series: 

Words at the start of Lent

Words at the start of Lent

It’s a hard thing I ask of you.

Hard, but not difficult.

I ask you to take up a cross.

Mine was, is, real and hardened, splintering and splintered.

Yours is most likely harder to see, but no less costly.

Yours is not the weight of the world, but at times it may seem so.

It’s in your nature to make nothing into something and something into nothing.

Seek not to find that trap.

 I say take up your cross.

Do not think only of laying down coffee or Facebook or chocolate.

I say take up your cross.

Do not only of more reading,

Prayers, services, projects and giving.

Crosses cost everything.

Your tendency is to the

Simple arthimatic, of adding or subtracting one.

You talk often of taking up your cross

Like you do shopping or habits or exercise.

It’s not like that. I speak from experience.

The experience of blood, sweat and tears.

There is glory to come. I see it and live in it.

It is yours; now in part, in full to come.

Cross and glory go together like

Blood, sweat and tears.

So the cross? Your cross?

Made to measure, fitting well.

What do you give up, take on?

What is enough when it demands life, soul, all?

A living sacrifice.

You, here and now.

For ever.

Everything you were, are and will be.

So for 40 days lay down or take up.

Discipline or abstain.

Facebook or chocolate.

Pray, read, worship,

Serve, give, study.

Attend, worship.

By all means.

Do so with

Full hearts and minds.

But do not think that in doing so

You have found a cross.

Those may be good, but are not all.

I ask for your life.

No more, no less.

Each day.

I take what you give gladly for I know it costs.

It costs and hurts and aches and rips.

As it did for me.

40 days, then.

To show the content of your life.

Take up your cross

As I did mine.

Words

Words seem to come from some unnamed place, an unformed sense of wandering into my consciousness like raindrops meandering down a windowpane.   Only a few at first, phrases and clauses half-formed, then more; then they’re there, still anonymous, but formed and finished, titled and unpolished, ready for reluctant display.