Christmas 2021

An extract from my journal 🙂
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Psalm 27

Dear Friends.

Nothing much written lately. Stormy skies are all around what with Covid threats and dire situations all around, many of which touch me and my friends directly.

Yet He – our beautiful Jesus – knows all about that. He is the man who brings Peace to storms.

My refuge at such times is Psalm 27. Within this psalm is the simple answer.

I did a talk on this recently which is found at the following link. The slides which accompany it can also be downloaded. https://beaconchurchhavant.org.uk/messages/psalm-27/

God sees you

Do not chase after fame or riches or things
that may make you feel important.

Do not fret over the moments, days or weeks
when you may feel friendless.

Do not serve motivated by the need
for recognition.

Do not stand in line to speak with leaders
Or sit in front of ‘prophetic ministries’
longing to be picked out
so that you may receive a word from God. 

And if you must name-drop
Why not drop My name into your day

I AM
King of Kings
Friend of Sinners
Lily of the Valley
Bright and Morning Star
Light of the world
Father
Comforter
Saviour
Good shepherd
Lion of Judah
Lamb that was slain
Your Prophet
Your Peace
Your friend

I AM
Emmanuel - God with you

Drop My Name into your heart and your days
Sit under My throne
Receive a word direct from My mouth
spoken by My Spirit
I will make you rich with the things that truly matter
that never perish.

And always know
I AM the God who sees you.

			

Books!!

Writing this as I listen to some beautiful music.

Ok…advert over, extra-ordinary writing will be resumed! 😉

Sentinel

Sentinel tree
How long have you stood on Clifftop?
How many wild seas have you seen?
How large their waves? Tossing their spume
like raging spit, into the air.

How many storms have you stood through?
How many branches have been ripped off?
See your arms
bent and twisted
From days you wrestled with the wind,
Until you learned to lean
into the gales, not fight them.

So you still stand in this breeze
waving a song of survival to me.
Your silent wisdom whispers:
"The strength is in the roots."

The secret of standing
proclaimed in silence
for those who have ears to hear.

Hope

A whisper in the wind
of a long forgotten word.
Hope.

A concept
Idea
That things could get better.
Tentatively we dare to ask for
Hope.

And as we hear your words of love
Of a kingdom far from here
yet at hand.
A place where tears will cease
Not ‘over the rainbow’
but covenant promise, nonetheless.
Hope

We dare to nudge each other
in the face of disasters and sickness,
wars and quakes, floods and death –
We look into each others eyes and declare it:
Hope.

And as sure as Jesus on that cross
promising the man who could do nothing to save himself
‘Today, you will be with me in Paradise’ –
the word rings true.
Resonating in trusting heart.
Hope

And now like Andrew and John
barely daring to believe, to hope
we run, full pelt to empty tomb.
A risen Christ
Still loving, still promising
Our living Hope

A strong, sure, and certain
Hope.

Why we sing

At church this week, someone asked ‘why do we sing?’

These are my thoughts:

In the beginning was the word.


The Father spoke it
And Jesus came, and shared the word
Bringing it to earth in human form,
And the Spirit set the word to music

And the everlasting song was sung:
‘Holy holy holy’ the song in heaven
‘Holy holy holy’ we sing on earth

The bride singing with the groom.

And the Father, loving the song
Said to his Servants, write down a song or two
In my everlasting script.
So they started to write
And couldn’t stop until the book of songs had 150 of them
And still new ones being sung on heaven and earth

For the song is in His heart, like His love it has no end.

We sing a new song, a song of his love
And He sings songs of deliverance over us

songs of joy, songs of everlasting love
songs of freedom, listen, and you hear our chains fall, broken to the floor.

How can we not sing?….
Come let us join heaven’s song…and sing.

Iona Nunnery

How many hands caressed these ancient stones
where now ivywort creeps?
Beauty in timeless peace.

How many hymns of praise arose
and graced this place?
Now filled with songs of birds.

Sparrows seen by You
fearlessly approach.
A reminder that You see me.

I sit midst ancient ruins
warmed by sun
sheltered by weathered walls
soaking Your presence - 
more evident here
than by golden altars 
and priestly tours.

Long worn tombs of Saints surround
the sky a roof,
yet these ruins are not dead - 
they teem with life.
flowers spill from brick's veins
and music all around.

God is here,
not mocked by missing walls,
but sits with us on grassy carpets
enjoying the song of sparrows and our hearts.

Loss

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ―Jamie Anderson
The Landscape of Loss is vast.

Some say it is desert, but in my experience it is more varied than that. It certainly has large stretches of desert, but there are also roads. Many roads, all leading in different directions. There is no one way out of this place, and many of the roads are blind alleys. There are few road signs and, honestly, if you try to follow them, you may be misled or sent around in circles.

There are dangerous pitfalls and mine-shafts with concealed openings. Do not fear these, though - others have fallen down them before you and created tunnels to travel through. You will not be trapped there, with no way out. And you may find treasure in the darkness.

There are sinking sands of self-pity. Stay still too long and you may become trapped here. Though there is always a Rescuer who will come if you call and take His hand.

There are other dangers. Traffic that seemingly comes out of nowhere. You are blindsided. Hit-and-runs that leave you wounded and hurting. Strange forests of memory which may hinder or help you.

Oceans of grief to cross, when all that is supplied is a small one-person boat to cross them in.

It seems like the more losses you have, the larger this land becomes. Losses have a way of multiplying. If you lose health, soon you are losing abilities, strength, independence, hobbies. If you lose a job, soon your lifestyle suffers losses. If you lose your mind, you may lose friends. If you lose fertility, you lose your hopes and dreams. If you lose people … well, you may only lose one, but memories become lost, conversations lost, and casualties do have a way of mounting up.

You find yourself, therefore, in this Landscape of Loss, whatever it may look like for you (and it looks different to everyone). You may have gradually ventured into it, but most people find themselves knocked sideways by some enormous blow, and wake up to find themselves unceremoniously dumped in the middle of this place. 

It can take days and weeks just to get over the numbing shock. To simply get up and start moving can be a huge effort when the thought of curling into a ball, hiding and sleeping can feel so much safer. But you hear the Rescuer’s voice urging you to ‘arise, my love’. It is irresistible, for you long to be rescued.

A word of warning: though other people walk this land, and there are day-trippers who may venture in to try and help, none of these people can rescue you. If you try to grab their hand to pull you out of a pit, you may both fall in. Yes, there are some who are permitted, like guides, to walk alongside you for a while, offering food and refreshment. But do not look to them to rescue you - that is not their role. 

There are others like you, walking through this landscape, but each has their own path, and whilst some paths may cross, they are only wide enough to accommodate one person.

I am afraid that loneliness ‘goes with the territory’, as they say.

There is but one Rescuer. It is not likely that He will just lift you out of the landscape (though just occasionally He might) but He will always walk alongside you, even when you cannot see Him. Only He knows your way through this place. Only He constantly speaks of the destination of Hope-and-Joy that you will eventually reach. He is the one with healing ointment for your sore feet, comfort for your aching heart. Not only a Rescuer, but a Healer, a Comforter, a Guide and a Friend.

There is an enemy too, one who has many names - Accuser, Thief, Liar, Destroyer - and he is the prince of Despair. Don’t listen to him, for that empowers him. His power is limited, and ultimately he is already defeated, for how can Despair thrive when Hope-and-Joy is by your side and within you.

There is Refreshment here, though it is elusive. It feels almost impossible to continue to love and give to others on the outside, when inside you are trudging through this place of desolation. It is possible, though. When you manage it, it will be like a drink of fresh water to your parched soul. Refreshment can be nurtured. It is nurtured by practising gratitude, by learning to appreciate the small kindnesses that come your way, by giving. It is nurtured by Patience. Even patience through Pain.

More refreshment comes through Beauty. There’s not a whole lot of that here, but there is some, if you have eyes to see. Flowers do grow amidst the rubble, and there is a whole lot of Beauty that you can create. In your mind, in your hands, in your heart. Beauty is essential to your survival. 

I cannot finish without mentioning Pain. Pain is a constant here, be it physical, mental or emotional. Pain can be a huge mountain, and there is no way around it. It hurts. I have no secret answer here, no short cut, no bandage big enough to cover it. Pain has to be faced. Endured as a sacrifice of Love to the Rescuer who knew Pain more intimately that you or I ever will. 

‘No pain, no gain’ so they say. A nifty phrase invented, I suspect, by those whose pain was temporary, though there may be truth in it. The atmosphere in this place is laced with pain. You breathe it in with every laboured breath. I cannot tell you how to survive it. I can only point you to the Rescuer. I suspect He knows the answer, for He was the first one to blaze a path through it to the Kingdom of Hope-and-Joy.

Jesus wept.

He knows the Landscape of Loss.

What was left?

You left so little behind.
No stuff.
Just garments 
To be won or lost in a gamble.
A broken body
To be anointed
And buried.

And vast, empty chasms
In our hearts.
Silence in that place
Where once your words and laughter dropped like hopeful seeds.

No stuff
You left yourself behind.
And soon that broken body
Could no more be dead and hid.
Rumbles shook earth -
The dawn of resurrection life
And dead bursting from their graves.

Those seeds flourishing and growing
Where now your words of rebuild temples
Made so much sense.

And when you left
Your spirit left behind.

No stuff
But life spirit pulsing within
Whispering your words in our hearts
Wrapping us now in your garments of righteousness.

No stuff.
Just you .
Forever.