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”

Slow reading: 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 “Slow reading: In the vale of death’s shadow”

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 “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”

Neither death nor grief nor anything else can separate us from God’s love

We are in a time of tremendous grief and loss; yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. (Listen.)

I can’t count the losses. Sure, nobody I know has died; but I’ve seen my beloved father in the flesh only once in six months. Most of my friends I haven’t seen at all. My children’s schooling has been interrupted; activities are on hold; hanging out with their friends feels fraught. My oldest daughter is finishing high school, and nobody knows what the next year holds. Will there be work? Can she live in college? Will university lectures be face-to-face, or simply online? Continue reading “Neither death nor grief nor anything else can separate us from God’s love”

#20: Find your voice: #40ways40days

Jesus said to the crowd: ‘When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.’ (Luke 12:11-12)

It was one of those sombre drizzly grey days of winter. The large car entered the cemetery. A young couple got out of the back seat and walked over to the grave site. I quickly put on my alb and priestly stole and joined them, prayer book in hand. The funeral director opened the boot of the car and lifted out a white box, scarcely bigger than a shoe box. It was the coffin of the couple’s first child. Continue reading “#20: Find your voice: #40ways40days”

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