Monday, 22 December 2014

Advent 3 - slaughter of innocents

Having kept Herod in Christmas, I really want all this to go away.... it is too tragic and devastating for words ..... Having read about Herod and 'The Slaughter of the Innocents' Matt. 2:17-18: That same cry in now heard in Peshawar “A voice was heard in Peshawar, weeping and loud lamentation, weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
It was a massacre of the innocents. Every report must admit this – because it’s true. But it is not the whole truth.
I'm still in the darkness of the 'slaughter of the innocents' ... trying to move on. The International Carol Service was a glimmer of hope for me, esp with Padre Rana sharing from a Pakistani perspective about Mary's humility and wisdom that led to life and the wise men's folly that led to death (through involving Herod in the story) . Today we had a prayer vigil with the Pakistani community in Jubilee square and I shared a little of standing together against violence and how this can only be done one person at a time, heart to heart - diye se diya jelao - One light lights another. In the meantime a page from my journal.....

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Advent 3 Keep Herod in Chirstmas

Week 3 Keep Herod in Christmas ....

We do not live in an ideal world. To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to face at every turn the destructive reality of violence. To be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to side with vulnerable children in defiance of the adults who see them as expendable. To walk the road with Jesus is to withhold consent & cooperation from the powerful and to invest it instead with the vulnerable. It is to refuse to bow to all the Herods and all their ruthless regimes - and to reserve our loyalty for a better King and a better Kingdom Brian McLaren p90

I found this detail from a Giovanni Painting of the slighter of the innocents on a blog 'Why Red is the Christmas colour'

Another picture was posted on another group I am part of .... It seemed relevant to our retreat, The picture is by Daniel Bonnel ... 

Mary answered the angel, 
"Behold, I am the maidservant of the Lord. 
Let it happen to me according to your word." 
And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

"Thank you for the faith of a maiden, 
in whose obedience your plan 
for the reconciliation of the whole world was begun.
I beg you, too, that you might empower me in pure simplicity. 
Teach my mouth and all my parts 
to make this simple response 
to whatever task you set before me
- this:
Let it be to me according to your word.

Walter Wangerin in Preparing for Jesus  

I was inspired by Daniel Bonnel's painting and had a go at doing one at our holy::ground meeting - 'falling into Christmas'. (without any visual clue - no wifi!) And if you remember the angel I drew became unintentionally ominous ! More of a fallen angel .... I called the picture 'Whatever!' (thinking whatever anything, something that big and frightening says, will have to be obeyed) So I reworked the one I had originally started on, in a slightly more abstract style.... I still find those words ringing in my ears 'be it unto me according to your word' I find Mary's act of submission totally insprirational .... and so now maybe I'll face the other ' dark angel' and think about evil and keeping Herod in Christmas .... after all RED is a Christmas colour .....

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

we make the road by walking ......Advent 2 Magnificent Magnificat


encountering an angel, Zachariah is struck dumb, as Elizabeth bears within he a new prophetic voice - John the Baptist - after centuries of silence 'a voice crying in the wilderness 'prepare the way of the Lord' Mary too encounters the angel and realising the impossible can happen, responds" 'be it to me according to your word' - impossible possibilities: possible impossibilities' Everything is turned on its head.. in the upside down kingdom... the weaker feminine takes the lead, the proud are silenced and the exalted are humbled and the humble are exulted. Hungry are filled with good things and the rich are sent away empty.....

my favourite quote this week (p85/86) :
That's what it means to be alive in the adventure of Jesus
We present ourselves
our bodies
our stories
our futures
our possibilities
even our limitations
'Here I am' we say with Mary
'Let it be with me according to your will'

Monday, 8 December 2014

We make the road by walking Advent 1 Prophesy

a fabulous 'prophetic' song by Sinead O'Connor (She looks great in a dog collar)

What are your 8 good reasons to stick around? I found myself thinking of this in terms of Brian McLaren's question about prophetic hope in our everyday contemporary context and thinking about what I actually do ......... 
 My 8 good reasons include 
  • FAMILY (R T J A J), 
  • faith, 
  • health, 
  • work/ministry, 
  • network of friends/contacts; 
  •  home/house, 
  • Pounstina, 
  • Ceili&Walks... 
  • and an open fire...

and my favourite quote so far from the book....... 
'to be alive in the adventure of Jesus is to have a desire, a dream, a hope for the future. It is to translate that hope for the future into action.... in the present and to keep acting in the light of it, no matter the disappointments, no matter the setbacks and delays. (p80)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

we make the road by walking.... Advent 1

in holy::ground we are using Brian McLaren's Book as the source of our reflections during ADVENT from 30/Nov to 24/Dec.  using various resources from Brian McLaren's book 'We make the road by walking ...... You can join us in two main ways ONLINE and SUPPER conversations every Monday in Advent Details on holy::ground facebook group. You can also continue with Creative Art Journaling

Brian McLaren introduces his book here  - life is a journey and faith is an adventure and we make the road by walking....  

Brian McLaren singing his song 'we make the road by walking' 

the kindle edition of the Retreat book is available for £4.68

I tried a little creative journaling:  

After killing the white on the page with a paint wash I looked to see what I could see on the pages: 'As I looked the ancient of days took his seat. his clothing was white as snow & the hair of his head like pure wool & streams of fire came from him. the court sat .... and books were opened' (from Daniel) My ancient of days looks ever so slightly bored....

Thursday, 4 December 2014

My Travel Map

This map of places I've travelled to you is brought to you care of MatadorNetwork

Phil Simpson’s Travel Map
Phil Simpson has been to: Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestinian Territory, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Vatican. Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

I think I need to concentrate more on Africa South America and Oceania. Anyone need a consultant in any of these places... 
At least I've traveled to more places than my age ...... need to keep on moving on ....

Actually Ive just noticed I've missed off Tunisia, Kenya and Ethiopia...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Prayer of Bredan the Navigator

 I came across this prayer of St Brenden the Navigator  I've used his story before to frame my own journeying.  and on this occasion used the images and prayer on my twitter feed. I got lots of nice comments on FB about the 2 pastel pictures I did a while back. So decided to do the blog as well. The first picture is inspired by an image of the entrance to Clonfert   The second based on an image of a celtic saint praying by the sea

Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, 
I trust You to be stronger 
than each storm within me. 
I will trust in the darkness 
and know that my times, 
even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, 

ans somehow, make my obedience count for You.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Prayer from Afghanistan

I love this prayer from John Carden's book: A Procession of Prayers: Meditations and Prayers from around the world.     It's (appropriately) in the chapter on the Mystery of Christ's Epiphany to Wise Men.  (p 55)  The picture is one I painted ages ago, in Oil Pastels from a similar image I found on the web..  I suppose that for me this blog is an appropriate response to 9/11 - and a prayer for the country of Afghanistan

And so, that is why, at nightfall when my people are asleep, kneeling barefoot, close to the altar of my little chapel, I become their intercessor - like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, like Jesus. A stick of sandlewood sends forth its fragrance, the symbol of all those who today are worn out with their labours in suffering, heavy with all their hopes - all of those who today have fallen asleep thinking only to meet a Judge - to them I present him as their Saviour, and I introduce them to the eternal Nuptials. All those little children who were born this day I make children of God. All the prayers said today in the homes, the mosques, I transform into an 'Our Father'. My heart is nothing more than a melting pot, where, in the fire of Christ's love, all the dross of my people is turned into gold - and through my lips it is the whole of Afghanistan who cries that 'Abba' to the Father that the Holy Spirit inspires. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears.....

Gaza may be small   – something like 50km by 10 km – its c  360Km2 about the size of the Isle of Wight !   But being small and living cheek by jowl is no excuse for Hamas (alegedly) using human shields or firing rockets from hospitals or schools – although there are a lot of myths about this and I’m not sure I believe the propaganda …

And I suppose its a matter of perspective – resistance fighters in WW2 are seen as heroes – and ‘collaborators’ as traitors.  But it really does depend which side you’re on....

And peace is the only side to be on in the Israel-Gaza conflict. 

It’s not black and white. There are no goodies and baddies.  But I have enormous sympathy for the citizens of Gaza who were being strangled by the blockade, before the rockets and the bombings. And for Israelis and their desire to live in safety, but…….  

a friend of mine Tanas Al Qassis  A Palestinian Christian who works for CMS wrote some wise words:
'If I were part of the Israeli government, I would invest in the Palestinian economy, make people flourish, be sure they have enough food, medicine and schools. This way, I will ensure that Israel will be safe.'
I have been watching far too many images from Gaza and Iraq  and am lost in the horror of what is going on …. 

All I / we can do is pray (and silence is so much better than words) and somehow hold on to hope …
a friend of mine posted the following quote:  “The world is a messy place. Particularly in the context of the digital age where the noise of data can feels tsunami-like. Your job …. is to translate the noise of living into sounds that people can hear. De-cluttered writing is the art of bringing the noise level down”.  Ravi Koli

I have turned to song as a way of translating the noise into sound that people can hear…..  And this one does it for me ….Sinead O’Connor – If You Had A Vineyard   from the album Theology  – ’

'O that my eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep for my poor people’

Friday, 8 August 2014

Eyeless in Gaza


Banksy-gaza.jpg Painting of Hope in the Gaza Strip Barrier Wall On June 2002 in the Occupied territories a concrete barrier walls were being erected.

I have read Malanie Phillip's  Times article about not getting the real truth about Gaza  and still think the Israeli response is disproportionate ....

I am no supporter of Hamas and their tactics, but Israeli bombing of Gaza is inhumane  - the casuality figures speak from themselves.  I think the same about Hirohima and Nagasaki (which we remember this weekend) and also allied 'smart' bombing in Afghanistan.  

The 'Muddle East' is very complicated and evades any attempts to make it clear distinctions between goodies and baddies. And once the dogs of war are released everything gets even messier. But the killing of so many civilians is not a proper response.  
In all of this dreadful conflict, I have found Colin Chapman’s article below most helpful….  Trying to make sense of Gaz   It's on the Fulcrum website  Just one quotation from the article:
If some Palestinians have not been supporters of Hamas and blamed it for the escalation of the fighting in the last two weeks, the ferocity of Israeli attacks on Gaza has probably had the effect of rallying widespread support for Hamas and its demands. One of the lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process was that there was no significant breakthrough until all parties – including those regarded as being extreme – were brought into the political process. …
Also BBC today had an article on life in Gaza  (Here is a more up to date trip from May 2014  of Mosaic conference)  It brought back memories ....

I visited there as part of a delegation  (Feb 2002) when I was Regional Director for CMS and have seen the situation first hand (I know it was many years back) but it helps to identify and imagine what people are going through. Re-reading the report of the visitI realise, of course, nothing ever changes ....  The endless cycle of violence keeps repeating itself. 

 The reference to Samson as possibly the first suicide 'bomber (below) made me think of the play I'd studied at school: 'Eyeless in Gaza' (hence the title of this blog)   O that we would have eyes to see ..... and know how to pray  ...
‘Pray not for the Jew or Muslim or Christian, Israeli or Palestinian or Arab; pray rather for ourselves, that we might not separate them in our minds but instead join them in our prayers.’

Report:  Across the lines (CMS, Feb 2002) DAY 8   Gaza   Suhaila Tarazi, Al Ahli Hospital, Gaza City
“Today began ominously. There had been several Israelis killed over the last few days, and Israel was in the mood for retaliation.
We went down to Gaza this morning, passed through the Eretz checkpoint where you choose either to be a VIP, diplomat, or international organisation/tourist. Palestinians are filtered off to enter what looks like a cross between a long tunnel and cattle grid, but of course there weren't any Palestinians today. Gaza has been closed for a long time. Most of its citizens are effectively prisioners. Over 100,000 Palestinian people used to work in Israel. Now they can't, and unemployment is at 60%.
The oppression of a people is nowhere more tangible than by taking the dusty road across Israel down to this strip of land - a mere 25 miles (along the coast), by 5 miles. Disconnected from the heartlands of Judea and Samaria (modern day West Bank), Gaza contains over 1 million people. Blown about by desert sand, Gaza City is more akin to Egypt or Pakistan than any town in Israel or even the West Bank….”
Katharine Maycock

“We made our way to the Al Ahli Hospital, founded by CMS in the 19th century and now run by the Anglican diocese: the only Christian hospital in Gaza where 3000 Christians live alongside 1 million Moslems! The hospital is quite simply a beacon of light in a desperately dark place.
We met the hospital administrator, Suhaila Tarazi. Suhaila is a saint. She is smart, vivacious, friendly and generous in her explanation of middle-eastern politics and the sufferings of the Gazans. She spoke about the desperation of the current situation and how desperate people do desperate things! She spoke of the desperation of Samson when he killed himself as well as his Philistine captors. Was he the first suicide bomber? The hospital feels poor and run down. There were memorials on the wall commemorating Welsh and Scottish soldiers who fell at the battle of Gaza in 1917. Gaza has seen too many battles.

We made our way to the chapel for a eucharist. The service there was simple but moving. The first sound of shelling left me unmoved: surely a sonic boom or the local quarry? But then more consistent sounds and this time it did seem like bombs. In fact it was Israeli F16 bombers. They were bombing a PLO prison in the centre of Gaza city, only about half a kilometer from where we were!! We shared the peace to the sound of war: a moment we will never forget. After the service we went up on the roof of the building to see the smoke pouring from the site: a bit scary and a bit unreal! Then comes the post-mortem. Where? When ? Why? How many? Is it safe to move yet? Just another day in Gaza! My God its crazy!”
Rev Daniel Burton

“Everyday, life is full of blood. Every day there is a new victim.”  Suhaila Tarazi, the Palestinian Director of Al Ahli hospital told us. “We are all children of Abraham – we are all brothers, but because of politics, ‘blood’ brothers.”


Saturday, 5 July 2014

#LoveFast Thank God for Taxis

as part of the #Mahabba  #LoveFast Campaign  - #30days of Prayer&ACTION  during #Ramadan - we received the following story from Alan in Aylesbury (NB the names of individuals have been changed) 


When I first moved to Aylesbury five years ago I asked God to show me the key to making friends with Muslim men in the town.  They and their families number about 6,000 or 10% of the population and mainly come from Pakistan. 

God showed me that using taxis would be the key.   As we seldom use taxis I couldn’t see how this would happen.  But about three years ago, after leading a severely disabled man to the Lord in a local residential home, we’ve been taking him to church every Sunday – by taxi! Including loading and unloading the wheel chair and journey time, I reckon we have about 20-30 minutes every week talking with various drivers.     

I discovered that one regular driver, Ahmed, a devout Muslim, had several daughters but only one son in his thirties, who was severely disabled.  I first met Hassan when he was seriously ill in hospital and have since visited him regularly, watching cricket and telling some of the great OT stories. Family members are always present to join the conversation as Hassan needs continuous help.

Hassan recently suffered a stroke which robbed him of his speech.  I cried when I heard that this young man had now become almost completely disabled.  I asked his father if I could pray to Isa-al-Masih for his speech to be recovered and praise God there has been a slight improvement.  I am now a regular visitor to this three-generational family home and am becoming a trusted friend.  I never thought I’d thank God for taxis!    

Thursday, 26 June 2014

#LoveFast during #30days of #Ramadan

I am currently running a social networking campaign called #LoveFast  as part of #Mahabba #30days of prayer&action during #Ramadan
Join us for 30 days of Christian prayer and action during Ramadan (similar to Stewardship’s #40Acts Generosity campaign during Lent). 

This will run alongside the #30Days of Prayer for the Muslim World campaign.>  

There is a Twitter feed; Facebook page; information on MahabbaonTheCity & MahabbaNetwork website.

And there is an opportunity for you to interact with your blogs, responses,  ideas, pictures, stories. We want you to be able to get involved with prayer and action during the Muslim month of Ramadan….

Come and join us…     

Twitter feed @MahabbaNetwork  
Facebook page  MahabbaNetwork ;
Mahabba Network website
The 4 page leaflet/brochure - full of links to youtube etc to get started - can be downloaded via Drop Box 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Christo Redentor

CRISTO REDENTOR (Lisa Gerrard - Devotion) 

I came across this song on YouTube sung by Lisa Gerrard, who sang the hauntingly beautiful songs in Gladiator

You, oh Christ, are the Kingdom of Heaven
by Symeon the New Theologian
English version by George A. Maloney, S.J.
Original Language Greek

You, oh Christ, are the Kingdom of Heaven;
You, the land promised to the gentle;
You the grazing lands of paradise;
You, the hall of the celestial banquet;
You, the ineffable marriage chamber;
You the table set for all,
You the bread of life;
You, the unheard of drink;
You, both the urn for the water  and the life-giving water;
You, moreover, the inextinguishable lamp for each one of the saints;
You, the garment and the crown and the one who distributes crowns;
You, the joy and the rest;
You, the delight and glory;
You the gaiety;
You, the mirth;
and Your grace, grace of the Spirit of all sanctity,
will shine like the sun in all the saints;
 and You, inaccessible sun,
 will shine in their midst and all will shine brightly,
to the degree of their faith, their asceticism,
their hope and their love,
their purification and their illumination by Your Spirit...

Monday, 9 June 2014

the little bird and the big fire

I attended an interfaith meeting at Willow Grange - the Bishop of Guildford's residence. Only about a dozen of us. We were thinking about how we remain faithful in such troubled time ... with so many stories of conflict around the world, and so much pressure on interfaith relations in Britain

Dr Naqvi, the Imam of the Shia Mosque in Woking,  told a story about a little bird that tried to put out a fire with a  drop of water.  It became a metaphor of the small efforts we make on the local level to try and change the global picture. In the face of some many difficulties and so many negative stories, how do we maintain hope ?  by contributing our little drops in an ocean. As Mother Theresa once responded:  The Ocean is made of many drops ...... 

I later looked up the story of the little bird on the internet and found this version: 

Once there was a little bird (Ababeel) that lived during the times of Prophet Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim AS). When Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was thrown into fire by the enemy of faith, King Nimrod, a little bird saw what happen and decide to put out the fire to help Prophet Abraham (pbuh). The little bird starts scooping up few drops of water in her tiny beak from the nearby river. The larger birds in the vicinity watched and laughed at the little bird and they said, "Where are you carrying the water?"
The little bird said, "To put out the fire around Prophet Abraham (pbuh)." The larger birds continue laughing. "How could you put out such a huge fire with such a small amount of water? It is pointless and useless."
Do you know what the little bird replied? "I am sure Allah (SWT) will not asked me whether I manage to put out the fire or not. But Allah (SWT) will ask what I have done to stop the fire."
Hearing the answer, all the larger birds are silenced.

We often think that our effort is the one responsible for our success. This is wrong way of thinking because Allah (SWT) is the One. If he says we succeeded, we will succeed. Our effort is just a sacrifice that we are willing to make. Similarly little bird knows that with few drops of water, fire will not extinguished but it is his responsibility to contribute whatever it can in anyway with his capability.