Isaiah | The heavenly banquet

ELLIOTT WRITES: Dear Alison, Mum says that God said in heaven there won’t be any sadness or crying. But I know lots of people don’t believe in heaven and don’t want to go there. Some of my friends and their families don’t want to believe in God or heaven. I think I will miss them in heaven so I will be sad – I don’t think God will make clones of them. Can you explain this to me? I would like it in an email. From Elliott. Continue reading “Isaiah | The heavenly banquet”

33 | groceries #Lent2022

The Psalmist sings, “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish … I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:3, 9)

It may seem odd to talk about what you eat at a funeral as a way of celebrating life, but at every level, that is exactly what it is. Nor do I mean a celebration in that cheery if faintly maudlin sense of giving someone a good send-off, though that is a part of it. Any food is a vital reminder that life goes on, that living is important. That isn’t brutal: it’s the greatest respect you can show to the dead … Continue reading “33 | groceries #Lent2022”

Small ghosts, and how we remember them

Small ghosts trail behind so many families, invisible to the naked eye or the quick hello.

Rena bustles around her son’s birthday party, passing food and welcoming guests. During a lull, we chat. ‘Did you ever think of having another child?’ I ask. ‘Oh, we did,’ she says, voice suddenly rough, ‘but he died. He was eight weeks old. He got an infection, it entered his heart, and he died.’ I place my hand on her shoulder; there are no words. Continue reading “Small ghosts, and how we remember them”

Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder

In response to human suffering, God offers presence and a broader perspective. (Listen.)

God, why was Elephant killed? What about J and K and all our other friends this year? Why is there a plague galloping across the earth, and so many people suffering or dead? How long must we live in fear? When can we see friends and family again? We’re good people, Lord, faithful and committed and true. We try to live ethically; we pray: why is this all happening? Continue reading “Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder”

Psalms | In the vale of death’s shadow

Yesterday there were two funerals as two beloved young people, both killed in the same car crash, were farewelled in this region. I could pile on words of comfort and assurance. I could remind you that those who grieve are blessed; I could assure you that nothing can separate us from God’s love; I could recall the peace which surpasses all understanding, and which so many of us experience precisely at these moments of extreme need. But this week, I don’t think we need more words, just the balm of an old favourite. So let us rest in Psalm 23, and let the good shepherd minister to us all. Continue reading “Psalms | In the vale of death’s shadow”

Psalms | My soul refuses to be comforted

We love the idea of a powerful God who reaches out to organise events to our satisfaction: and right now, we could really use a God like this. A God who ends world hunger, ensures justice for every situation, waves a hand to make climate change and the pandemic simply disappear, and all without us doing a thing. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this God in Scripture. Continue reading “Psalms | My soul refuses to be comforted”

2: The hills #Lent2021

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

I’m 15, and asking for my Dad to get well, and help doesn’t come. I really thought it would, up until the last second. Some people give my Dad some tapes to listen to in his Walkman. They go to a church that believes sickness is a manifestation of sin. The tapes break the Walkman and can’t be listened to. Mum buys him a Discman which means he can listen to the Beatles with a nice palliative care nurse named Shane.

Continue reading “2: The hills #Lent2021”

1: A different way #Lent2021

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the astrologers left for their own country by a different way. (Matthew 2:12)

Christmas Eve 2020. It would not be original to say, it had been an awful year. We were finally allowed to meet, our little faith community, in the car park, masked and socially distanced, to reflect on the ancient Christmas story and croak out a few carols.

Continue reading “1: A different way #Lent2021”

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