Tuesday, 22 April 2014

For forest of the image

Leviticus 26:1

Reward for obedience

26 ‘“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.

We are lost, we are displaced. Once more god’s people have been displaced from their chosen land. This is the land of the image, the land of man, the land of here today gone tomorrow. We were unfaithful to the lord, so his hand crashed down upon us, scattering his chosen people. He has scattered his chosen people so we feel as distant from him as we were from his perfect law.

The land we now reside in is not blessed nor is it peaceful. We get no rest nor do we succour. It is a land of shifting sands. There is no God, just end endless parade of egos, the people only worship themselves. They have no sacred space just a market place, they have no holy places just the cardboard place of the latest fad. At least the lands of the pagans held false Gods close to their hearts but these people have no room in their hearts for anything but themselves, for the work of their own hands.

How can we find God in this godless land?

How can we see your glory and hear your saving word Lord?

The devout man spak thusly. Turn you people of faith, turn to the scripture; and he read in a clear and unashamed voice from Psalm 104

24 How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
29 When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works –
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.

The devout man speaks to the faithful and the faithless.

Turn your eyes away from the forest of images; stop trying to outdo the works of God, stop trying to be Gods. Did not God bring down the great tower of babel? Did not God cause the light to be and the sea and the land to form? No work of your hand can out do God; no work of your hand can emulate the one true God. For God is not here on day gone the next, he is not faithless nor does he seek to be popular, there is nothing shifting in him, there is nothing which is unfaithful in him.

Look at the sun brothers and sisters; can we create anything compared to its glory? Look at the globe; can we make a machine as perfect as she is? Is there any work of man so perfect as these works of God? We cannot even comprehend this great work? How then we comprehend the God who made them? No sisters and brothers turn from your understandable tat, forsake that which is simple and entertains only for a short time and turn to the one Lord who mystery and glory will keep all your days full of wonder and glory. 

Above all my foolish people do not try to conquer God and imprison him in your false ideas and cheap arts. You can no more conquer the sun then you can conquer the one who formed all things. Once you forsake the image, once you forsake the lust for your own brilliance, then God who knows all, created all and in whom all is kept will embrace you. He will show you a life of meaning a life build not on shifting stand but the very rock of the earth.  Embrace the lord and you dimly see his true glory. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

mediation on Noil me tangere

Opening statement: before I being this unfortunate task I feel forced to express my disquiet with it. I was brought up in a primitive Methodist tradition a tradition that stood foursquare against the idolisation of the works of man and man’s insane lust for the image. To demand that anyone act against their own conscience merely to become a lay preacher seems at best odd and at worse evil.

The postcard I have chosen is Roy De Maistre’s: “Noil me tangere”

Find you self-tired and thirsty. Your lost in the middle of New York, strangers rush past you, beggars beach you, there is danger and fear on every turning and it is stifling hot.

You’ve been abandon here, alone among million, a lost ant in the biggest ant hill; All that human indignity, all that man built grandeur gently mocking you, gently entombing you, suffocating you in its heartless embrace.

Above all, above the hellish din, there is the unremitting heat. Man’s great buildings offer no respite from it; man’s great wonders cannot aid you now. You’d give your arm now for just a drop of water, just a drop of human kindness.

Your tiredness over takes your weak body, right there in the flood of inhuman humanity you collapse on your knees.

You open your tired eyes and before you is Christ.

The heat Has left you, your exhaustion has left you

Show Roy De Maistre’s: “Noil me tangere”

He dwarfs the skyscrapers and towers of the city, all around you is silence.

 He is covered in the purest white cloths but his frail body is visible, his crucifixion scares still shine with God glory.

He is so vast and so powerful, yet so weak and so pitted by his experience

You rest your tried body against his leg

All creation is dwarfed by him, yet you feel like a child in his presence

In this timeless moment what does Christ whisper to you?

Look into his eyes – what is it he whispering to you?


Oh great high priest – ordained sacrificial lamb, hold your son and daughter closely
Oh scared and injured Christ hold your daughters and sons closely
Come to us, people of sin and scarlet
Come to us, lost though we are
Show us your mercy
Show us your majesty
For we kneel in your weakness, in your awesome presences
We know our failings our many
We know that we held the nails that crucified you
But do not leave us, do not forsake us.

The Lord speak
My child, all this I have endure for you
These wounds where for your salvation
This mortal frame was so we could meat
This blood is for you
All for the love of you
I shall never leave you
I shall never forsake you.

*Said responsively*
Oh mighty God, source of all salvation
Oh might Christ the grand high healer of the world
We devote ourselves to you
We will walk gladly with thee
We thank thee for they kindness

We bless thee for they mercies

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Funeral liturgy

A funeral service for a crematorium, or a cemetery, leading to committal
Introductory notes: This service is penned for a post Christian world and is intended for families who ever mainly culturally Christian or not wholly Christians.


We are gathered together to morn and weep, we are gathered together to rejoice and celebrate. For this is a day for both, it is a day to be in communion with those we love, with our farther who loves us and his son who died so that we will never die.

We are here for [Name of the deceased] to remember them, to mark their leaving and to celebrate that God will rise them to life immortal and the same God will heal our brokenness.


Blessed are those who morn, for they will be comforted. Jesus wept as we weep for Lazarus, he wept for the pain of his loved one and he rose Lazarus to life as he will raise us.
For god is our comfort, he has promised “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

In this time of pain and hurt let us come together likes chicks to our heavenly mother, let us follow our shepherd though the valley of pain and suffering follow to the promised land where we are freed from death sting.


Prayer of Pain and faithfulness
Based on Job 30

Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.

In his great power God becomes like clothing to me
He has not forsaken me – though I mourn
He has not forgotten me – though my pain is great
He weeps with me
He weeps for me

My God calls me to his side
For his healing
For my comfort
So his mercy life me up

My loved one has gone one before me
God has walked with them thought the valley of death
Though the desert of sin
And now resides in the city of Gold
God walks with him, even up to dying himself on the cross to raise us all

God be with me while I walk in pain
God be with me in my brokenness
God be with me

The Ministry of the word:


Talk to the faithful

Talk to the doubtful

It is odd for a Christian text to command preacher talk to those who don’t believe in the resurrection but they morn just as we who believe do and they deserve comfort just as we do.


Based on Psalm 34

We give thanks that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted
 and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
 but the Lord delivers him from them all;
The Lord will rescue his servants;
 No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
We give thanks that when we seek the Lord, and he answers us;
That God will delivered us from all my fears.
I am blessed for when this poor person called the Lord heard him;
God stays with us and comfort us through all our troubles.
We our blessed when we find our refuge in his mercy.

We know you walked with N in all their joys and sorrows
Just as you walk with us still
We know that you have taken N to be with you
You’ve taken N beyond the trials and sufferings of this world
You did all this though death and resurrection of your own son
You did all this because you love us
A love never perishes.

We thank you for the joy they brought us
For the happy memories we have of them
We thank you for the love they brought in to our lives.
We praise you our faithful father God
We give thanks Lord for the life of N
It was your abundant love that gives us life
It is your love that will give us life immortal


Response prayer for those who morn

Almighty God
Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort,
Deal graciously with those who morn,
That they may cast every care on you
And know the consolation of your love;
Through Jesus Christ. Amen


We commit into your keeping, O merciful God, the soul of our beloved N.
Receive them into your perfect kingdom, and take us into your arms of mercy.
Take the soul of N into the joy of everlasting peace and let them reside with you.
Take their soul and keep them safe until we see them again on the day of resurrection.
Take from us Lord all our anger or bitterness.
Take from us lord all our hate and vileness.
We beseech thee to do all of this in your power
For your glory and through the blood of your son Jesus Christ

Intro to the Lord’s Prayer:

Death always leaves much unresolved, pain left unexpressed, anger and earthly disputes lie around like snares but what good is any of this? We are dust and to dust we will all return. Let us remember that forgiveness and rebirth is at the heat of the gospel, that love is our fathers command and that Christ lived the perfect life of forgives to forgive all sin and all people. 

Lord’s prayer



Since the earthly life of N has come to an end, we commit their body to the elements.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life
In the sure and certain hope of your mercy God
In the sure and certain hoe that you will make them shine with your glory
We commit ourselves to your spirit of forgiveness
In the sure an certain hope you will heal our wounds
In the sure and certain knowledge that you weep and rejoice with us.
Through our saviour Jesus Christ;
To whom be glory for ever and ever.

Prayer for the living

We stand separated from those who have gone to glory before us, until our labours on earth are done.
Lord be with me in my mourning, Lord weep with me and you wept for Lazarus
Lord cry out in despair with me as you cried upon the cross
Lord embrace me as your embraced Thomas when he saw your resurrected glory

When my earthly labour our done lord bring me home Lord
Where I shall be free from the darkness of this world,
Where I shall be freed from the dazzling of this world.
In your house there is no more fear nor struggle.
When I shall pass with you though the valley of death
You will make me whole once more
Your power shall heal the wounds of this life
Like the blind beggar I will receive new site
Through Christ I shall live anew
In the communion of your love
With all who have walked with you and dwell with you
I will follow faithful just as N has gone before me
Just as Christ when before them, to prepare the way
Glory to God for now and forever




God grant the living times and places to morn
God grant the living the spirit of forgiveness and to lay down any anger
To the departed, grant rest, healing and resurrection;
To the world grant, peace lover and healing
And to all the blessing of God,
The Father, the son and the holy Spirit,
Be with us now in our morning
Be with us in our joys
Be with us forever

Let us go now weeping and rejoice
Believing and doubting
Let us go into a hurting world and bring forth Gods mercy
Let us go to live as N would have called us to
As God calls us to
A Christ did and does still
Let us go in communion with each other
All those who suffer or suffered
And in unity and love
Through the power of Christ,
In the company of the Holy Spirit
And to do Gods will.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Seeking a gospel for the end of the world:

I have just finished watching “finding a friend for the end of the world”; a film where a lonely man finds, by accident, his true love. It also asks what would you do if the end of the world was coming. My answer is easy: I would be singing hymns and giving thanks in Caversham Heights Methodist church. I would not be here seeking to appease God in order that I may be spared but awaiting for him.
Many of you probably don’t even remember the 1950’s remake of world of wars, I doubt fewer felt the call of God when watching it. The film is set during the Martian invasion of earth; it features early on a minister who walks stoically to his death and a woman who runs to a church.

Both made an impact on me; the first was the brave minister who quite literally walked into the valley of death armed with nothing more than Holy Scripture and the amour of faith. To a pacifist, often beaten for this faith, it spoke to me of the victory of faith over all the violence and all the horrors of this world. Here was a true hero, not like the army with its tanks and planes; he had no protection but the guarantee of God.

The women story made an even greater impact; she had once been lost and in her fear run into a church, where her parents had found her. Her faith was less clear then that of the minister but the call of God was just as clear. So when much later the mob had separated her and her earthly protector she was once more in the church. Not for physical protections for the stone and brick offered none against the Martians war machines but for the feeling of safety and love only the father of fathers can offer.

Now the cynic watching this film would say both the minister dies and many who seek the refuge of other churches. Indeed just before the Martians are struck low they destroy a church very near by the women so where is God then? If it where only so simple. God was in the community and the call to be together, he is and was there holding each hand of all who sought him.

I am reminded of a line from another film the inn of the seventh happiness, the missionary is asked if she not frightened and she answers that God will protect her soul not her body. You see if we seek God only in tangible grand miracles we fail to see his glory. It was clear to me then and it still is now that God is there when the coward is made brave by the spirit, or the scared women made safe by his mercy. He was found in the rubble and suffering, he is there for all who turn to him.

So though I am knocked around and chipped and unworthy of him, if the end where to come God has made room in his house for me, he has made a cleft in his heart for me and though my flesh may perish I am assured that my soul is safe within. He has promised when the end of days or just my days come he will be with me and so in his house I pray to be