Thursday, 4 June 2020

That's the Key Poem



Behind closed walls
Contained
Restrained
Fleeting moments
Elongated in pain
To save pain

Body kept safe
Completely protected
Mind in trauma
Daily affected
Trauma repeated
Reality changes
And changes
And changes

We ran towards solitude
Impassioned to protect
Since release valve opened
We're still here
Don't forget
Don't forget
You forget
You forgot
Us lot

Can you hear us?
We're unmasked
But invisible
Forgettable
Within a vortex
Of safety
We maybe
Losing our minds
Our minds

Daily briefing
Fear we're facing
Pressure building
Mercury rising
Translucence opaquing
Anonymous crushing
Our reality fading
Fading
Fading

This is not a love poem
But a call to all
As you enjoy the sun
On us the clouds fall
Cherry blossoms crushed
Our power removed
Sands within hourglass
Stilled, unmoved

Innocent embraces
Could be our downfall
Connect imagination
Adaptation essential
Phone calls
Zoom calls
Just call
Call
Please call
Us all

Some luxuriate in time
Happily reflecting peace
As lighthouses emitting
Calm
Others climb
Daily mountains of sanity
Desperately grabbing
Hope
Which hope?
Is there hope?

Who holds the key
Is it you?
Is it me?
It is us
We must trust
Each other
To protect
Anonymous others
As we would a king
Or queen
The unknown
Unseen

Fusing honey
With moonlight
Blessings
With foresight
Together
We'll be alright
Together
Don't flee
Together
Safely
Together
Take the knee
Together
That's the key

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Pentecost Poetry

Tomorrow is Pentecost and so I'm sharing just some of the poems I've written over the years - feel free to use them if they're helpful.

Pentecost Alive

Today we relive Pentecost.

we feel the wind.
we are touched by fire.
we are reminded we can speak.

Today we are tasked anew to share.

Share the change the spirit brings
Share the heat of pure love
Share with everyone



...

An Ode to Pentecost

The twelve were alone, in the upper room again.
He was gone now forever, but with them all the same.

Promises he'd left them, although they knew not how
They would ever be enough, to before him even bow

Suddenly a wind did blow, within their locked up room
It billowed here and there, and then the noise started to boom

Languages they spoke, that they'd never even heard
And the flame flickered before them, almost like a bird.

The holy spirit had come down, on earth to be among
All people there gathered, and for ever from then on.




...

We feel the wind
We are touched by the fire
We are reminded we can speak

Today we are tasked anew to share
Share the change that wind brings
Share the heat of pure love

And most importantly
To share our faith
In the language of those we meet



...

When you need just asl
The holy spirit will come
Warm like plumes of fire

Clean to bathe within
Thread to hold safely onto
Drink to fuel you

When you are in need
Know you are never alone
No matter what!




...

Pentecost Rictameter

Spirit
Came down to Earth
Riding on wind's breath
Tongues as of fire without heat
Touching all those gathered there together
Resting, giving, filling, teaching
Tools of proclamation
For all of time
Spirit

Spirit
Invited now
Move among us today
As all those centuries ago
Be alive in our world, empowering
Give us the words we need to say
Actions that we must take
Come Spirit Come
Spirit




..

Prose Poem

As I lie by this tree in the garden
I see, feel and hear the wind.
A warm day with light clouds;
the wind strong and gusty;
the sort of day I love.

And so I sit and watch
As branches bend,
Trees sway
Leaves move and rustle.

I sit and listen as the sound of the wind
Conjures up images of breaking waves.

The wind is at work.
I see the effect of the wind.
I hear the wind in the trees.
Yet I can't see the wind itself.
Who can?

I can see and hear the effects of the wind
So it is with faith and with my calling.
I can not hear my faith itself,
Cannot see the calling specifically,
Yet I can see and hear the effect of both
On my life.

The effect of wind is visible
striking and beautiful
changing and life giving.

The effect of faith and calling are visible
striking and beautiful
changing and life giving.

Suddenly the wind of the holy spirit
means so much more
Pentecost here we come.



Monday, 18 May 2020

A recording of me speaking about Little Guy on BBC Berkshire Radio

Meditation on a Tree



With thanks to the many friends who shared their photos and videos of the natural world in order to create this video for those of us who are shielding and missing our connection with nature and finding God in the wonderful world.

Take one tree
Doesn't need to be a big tree
As long as you can comfortably
Lie down underneath

Allow the wonder of nature
To relax you completely
It's time to do your duty
And breathe..... deeply

What can you sense
In amongst the tree?
Any birds making nests?
Caterpillars eating leaves?

At first it might seem empty
Nothing going on
Look a little deeper
You'll discover quite a throng

A pigeon taking flight
Disturbs the canopy
What's that taking a wander?
A massive bumblebee

Rain showers start
The tree becomes a roof
Droplets follow paths
Ancient to the roots

Every sense engaged
A day of many pleasures
Inspired by the world's
Amazing varied creatures

As you pause for this time
Relaxing within nature
Let your mind dream
Of a world a little better

Where time in the wild
Isn't a 'sometimes' treat
But something to enjoy
Every day of every week

When we emerge again
Let's fully be connected
To each other, the world
Hope and love projected

Sermon on the Holy Spirit 17th May 2020




The readings this week sparked so many ideas in my mind.  So many options to preach on, so many messages to share.  It's not every week that preachers are so spoiled for choice.

Image of churches closed but church isn't the building

I read the reading in Acts about God not living in temples and thought I could talk about how this is telling us not to fear that our church buildings are closed because we know God is everywhere, including in our online services.

Natural world

Then I read the verses saying that God gives everything life and breath. That God is In every living thing, In every tree and flower, In every animal that swims, crawls or walks, In every single corner of the world.  I could preach for hours on finding God in the world, in each other and our need to care for everyone and creation.

Finally I came to the gospel of John where Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to the disciples.   My previous ideas were put on the back burner and will probably become reflections over the coming weeks.

Gospel on screen

So let's hear the reading from the gospel of John again

John 14:15-21
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Trinity picture

As Christians, we believe in one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Of these three, the Holy Spirit is the hardest for me to get my head around.

God picture

I have a picture of God the Father in my mind, a kindly grandfather type probably modelled on my dad's dad, with some children's Bible story pictures mashed in.  More than that I have a feeling of God which is all caring and nurturing. 

Jesus pictures

I also have lots of pictures of Jesus, God the son, in my mind.  That's quite straight forward because he came to earth as a baby, lived and died as a man.  I have all the many stories of Jesus in my mind which bring him to life for me.

Holy spirit - ice water steam???

But God the Holy Spirit, now that's really difficult to picture.  I have seen and read many different explanations, I've taught and preached about the holy spirit; but in reality none of the explanations seem to fully capture the abstract nature of the holy spirit.

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me."

But Jesus spoke to his disciples about the Holy Spirit in concrete terms, talking about what the Holy Spirit would do in their lives.  He told them not to worry because God would still be with them through the Holy Spirit.

God with us

So, who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the embodiment of God, bringing us comfort, guidance and healing. The Holy Spirit is ‘God with us’.

But actually the holy spirit is more than that.  The Holy Spirit is not the spirit of life within us, or the human spirit trying to be the best it can be, or even a divine spark empowering us. 

God in us

The Holy Spirit is the embodiment of God, actually God within us. 
Not just WITH us, but IN us.

Change, change, change

Jesus says in verse 17: “You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” The Holy Spirit is God physically within us, acting on us and causing a change in our lives.

But what changes?

Fruits of the spirit

The first is that the Holy Spirit grows the fruits of the spirit in our lives.

Paul writes in Galatians chapter 5 about the fruits of the spirit.  I was drawing word art about them just a few weeks ago not knowing I would be preaching on them. 

Here they are:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit gives us which become the principles for our lives. 

I don't know about you but as I read these words I can see quite a few where I fall short.  I am not kind all the time, I fall short on the self control front and I might be described as more energetic than gentle.

But, thanks to the Holy Spirit in my life, I can see that I'm improving over time in all these areas of my life.  I know the same is true for each of you.

Spiritual gifts

The second change that the Holy Spirit makes in our lives is helping us to offer our gifts, or charisms, to the church. 

These spiritual gifts are listed in Corinthians 12 and include:
Wisdom
Knowledge
increased faith
Healing
Miracles
Prophecy
Discernment of spirits
Speaking in tongues
Interpretation of tongues
Pioneering
Teaching
Service
Caring
Leadership

These gifts are given by the Holy spirit to build up the church.
       
The Holy spirit helps us to discover our gifts, strengthen them and use them in service for the church.

From the list do you recognise the gifts which the holy spirit has given you and is growing within you? 
I'll create a thread in our Facebook group about spiritual gifts so we can share what gifts we feel are being developed by the Holy spirit in each of us.

Blessing, transforming, growing

In these two ways the Holy Spirit is God in us here and now, blessing us, transforming us and growing us so that we can be a blessing in the world.


So what's the third way that the Holy Spirit causes changes in our lives?

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”

For this I am returning to the final verse of today's reading from the Gospel of John.

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”

Jesus is telling his disciples that if they love him they will keep his commandments. 

Love one another

What does that mean?
Well it isn't just an emotion of love is it? It is an instruction to act.  And what is the greatest of the commandments God gave us?  It is the command to love one another.

So Jesus is telling us that if we love him then we must love one another unconditionally, indiscriminately, selflessly, completely. 

That's a big ask isn't it.
It feels a bigger ask than anything I can do on my own.

And that's where we rely on the Holy Spirit in our lives, to change us and grow us, enable us and empower us, to draw us closer to God and rely on his guidance and strength.

Picture of ways we can love one another

What does this mean practically? 
For some of us that might be in care for creation, for others it might be telephoning a friend who is lonely.  Some might be volunteering at foodbanks or volunteer projects during the pandemic.  Some might be loving the immediate family with care and education and food. Some might be working on the front line or in the supermarkets.  It is different for everyone, we are each led by Jesus to love in our own individual ways.

And if you're listening to this and doubting yourself then please stop.  Every phone call you make is an act of love.  Every time you pray for someone, that's an act of love.  Every time you stay home when you wish you could meet friends, that's an act of love.  God is in every part of the world, in every breath, in every thought and in every act of love and he loves you completely.  Your very life is a living out of God's love.

Holy spirit is with us and in us always

So, to conclude. 
The Holy spirit is with us and in us always. 
The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts to use in the ministry of God.
The Holy Spirit grows the fruit of the spirit in us to help us become the best people we can be.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to love the world and everything in it.

The Lord is here.
His Spirit is with us.
Amen

     

Readings:

Acts 17:22-31

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”



John 14:15-21
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”





Saturday, 9 May 2020

Worshipping with Creation



Worshipping with Creation 

Explore seasons 
Explore interactions 
Springing 
Blooming 
Withering 
Hibernating 


Restore connection
Restore stillness 
Quivering 
Wondering 
Exploring 
Reflecting


Experience change 
Experience growth 
Yearning
Journeying   
Learning 
Living


Caring for creation



Poem written by Emma Major
Photos taken by people around the UK who love nature, find God in creation, are part of forest church or just find peace connecting with nature.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Little Guy book is available now

You can buy Little Guy as
an ebook right now



Join the Little Guy Facebook Page to chat with other readers, see new Little Guy drawings and leave your reviews.

Reviews also welcome on GoodReads

Grief poetry



Two hours awake
Thinking about two friends
Grief poetry.....

Pushing through long days
Whilst time is running out for
Death is cynosure

I am breathless
Planning for memorials 
When we crash land

O Lord, be with us
We are not prepared for this
Metamorphosis

Tears fall too free
Streams become rivers until
We are grief islands

Wails behind walls
Silently sung with millions
Stolen by windstorm

Is anyone there?
Alone in the wilderness
No one to soothe me

Cherished connections
Cut to pieces the flowers
Love embroidered

Why must I walk
This lonely path alone?
Is this the cliff edge?

Sleep promises peace
Yet dreams lie and pain awakes
Again each morning 

Light brings more darkness
Lily of the valley scent
Fills empty rooms

Earth to earth
Yet we cannot walk
Hand in hand

A bird without wings
My grief has clipped my spirit
But I hear you say

"Try again
To find strength to carry on
On that I insist"

I will wake each day
Engage my senses to you
Sparkling on spring dew

Your hope floats free
That carries me like a leaf
On rainbow breezes

.
.
.

Two friends have died this week, 
two members of our church community, 
two families grieving alone because no one can gather, 
two cut down funerals,
two amongst thousands in the UK,
two amongst hundreds of thousands across the globe.

This poem has been a cathartic write and I hope it might help others who are grieving.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Adam and Eve: my reading

What do you think the Adam and Eve story is telling us.  This is my thinking.

Abstract representation of an Apple


I've always thought of it as a coming of age tale.  As children we are (hopefully) safe and closeted, fed and watered, loved and nurtured.  At some point though we have to start thinking for ourselves and being responsible for our own actions.  Making the decision to eat the apple was that point when we realise we can make our own way in the world.  And God set them free to go their own way, knowing that they would suffer because he could no longer protect them.  I've always seen Eve as courageous for taking the risk and striking out independently, that's the way to new opportunities.  But of course I was taught the story knowing that God was always with us, so I didn't have fear about being banished so much as released.


I would love to read what you think the Adam and Eve story is saying to you.

Decode Fear

Be careful to read
Only those you KNOW you trust
Decode the fear

Don't listen to lies
Of xenophobic black holes
Emergency dreams

Thought extinction
Saved by lighting shadows
Find truth edition

Check every fact
Protect precious sanity
Trust reality