Monday, 29 February 2016


Psalms 86:11
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

Not pulled in all directions
With a single focus
Knowing surety in purpose
Following a path
that leads to God.

God give us such devotion that we walk in your way, focussing on your truth and bringing glory to your name.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Dangerous gospel

Mark 12:1-12
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
Have you not read this scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”
When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

The gospel is always dangerous with its challenge, its radical statements and its unflinching truth. But these two passages are often (mis)appropriated to make them even more so.
The background to this passage is that it is written around the time of the destruction of the temple, under fierce Roman oppression following an uprising by those under occupation. It was a tough time to be part of the Jewish or the fledgling Christian community. A familiar pattern in times of change, when established ideas and patterns are being established is a jostling for position, creating clearer divisions and separation. Centuries old tradition is being thrown into doubt and there is the inevitable kick back reaction.
The Vineyard, an image for and of Israel, is now a symbol of dispute. A new group, known as Christians are laying claim to an inheritance. Those who first heard Mark’s gospel would have heard it very differently than we do today. Their interpretation, in their context, would have identified the religious authorities of their day, the Pharisees and Jewish religious leaders as the tenants of the Vineyard of whom Jesus spoke. For new Christians, Jesus’ parable would have confirmed, for them, that they were the new inheritors of the way of Jesus.
Today, Christians are not in that position of being a new fledgling group needing to establish rights with God at the expense of others. Instead, we might see this parable as an invitation to examine ourselves in the context of the kingdom. And to see that kingdom, not as a given right or inheritance, but, as an invitation into community, connecting and responding generously to one another.
(Previously shared as RevGalBlogPals Narrative Lectionary Post)

Saturday, 27 February 2016


Mark 11:27-28
Jesus’ Authority Is Questioned
Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?”

The question
intended to trap
intended to add
to the evidence
that was mounting up.
The question
that went unanswered
And in its place was posed
an even trickier question.
Jesus could give as good as he got
when it came to sparring
with the wise guys.
And they were too afraid
to push him any further
in the light of day.
Their revenge could wait
until it was dark
and the crowds had gone home...

God may we never use our knowledge to Lord it over others. May we use the intellect you have given us for the good of all whom we meet this day.

Friday, 26 February 2016


Mark 11:24-25
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Believing - is it really that simple?
And forgiving
That's hard work
that involves constant prayer.
Yet Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem
On his way to betrayal, arrest and death
spoke of forgiveness
of faith
of believing 
and of prayer
On his way to Calvary.

God, when we pray, may we seek forgiveness for ourselves and for others and may we be forgiving. Give us faith to know that our prayers are answered and, as we are forgiven, help us forgive.

Thursday, 25 February 2016


Mark 11:18-19
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

His fate was sealed
He played right into their hands
Like poking a bear with a stick 
He refused to back down
Refused to slouch away
But got right up into their faces
And confronted them with their shortcomings
There was no going back
No retreating into the shadows
No way out
The authorities were out to get him
And get him they would
His fate was sealed

God on those days when you call us to step up, give us courage not to take the easy way out but to confront what goes against your way of love and grace - and face the consequences with you right beside us.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

One of those days

Mark 11:12-14
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Did Mesus have off-days too?
You know, one of those days
when nothing seems to go right
and you just can't seem to shake of the angst
that's assailing your soul?
You need some kind of diffuser.
And, for Jesus, that day,
it was the fig tree.
Not carrying any figs.
Even though it was out of season,
Jesus was out of sorts
And so the fig tree took the brunt
of his frustration.
We might try and make some 
fancy theological point
out of Jesus' irrational act.
But what's wrong with just letting him
have an off day
and be done.
It happens...

God on those days when we cannot see our way out of the haze, send us a fig tree, or something equally harmless on which we can diffuse our angst and give our brothers and sisters a break.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Everlasting covenant

Psalms 111:7-10
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.

Even today
when all seems to conspire
to tell a different story
still God is faithful
and God's promise endures.

Today, O God, confront us with your promises anew that we may see your steadfast love and faithfulness in all things.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Seek peace

Psalms 34:11-14
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.

Loving God
involves speaking truth
and not evil.
Desiring life
and all that is good
is achieved 
by seeking peace.

Help us to speak only truth, truth that builds up and does not destroy, truth that leads us on paths of peace..

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The question

Mark 10:51-52
Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Do you
To do
For you?
The words of Jesus
To James and John
To Blind Bartimaeus
To us, today.
Do you
To do
For you.
Dare we ask
For what we want?

God, you encourage us to share our deepest needs and desires. You do not intrude but come, when bidden, to satisfy our longings. Help us to ask.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Keeping the faith

Jeremiah 32:6-9
Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.

Keeping faith 
when all around spells desolation
Keeping faith
against the odds
Keeping faith
in the face of ridicule
Keeping faith
And demonstrating obedience
God calls us today
To keep faith
To demonstrate our faith
in the God
who will bring justice
and peace
The God
who makes all things new
Keeping the faith

Friday, 19 February 2016

Trusting wholly

Psalms 62:5-8
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Completely dependant on the goodness of God
What might that feel like?
Trusting wholly
of deliverance and honour
Content to,share with God
all that is in our heart
Knowing acceptance
Knowing refuge
Knowing a solid rock
on which to rest.
Faith and security
writ large
in the dependable nature of God.

O Lord, on whom we can rely for all things, draw us close and encourage us to rest in you, trusting you for all things.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


Psalms 52:8-9
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

Wrestling with injustice and oppression
the Psalmist always found a way 
back to trust
in the steadfast love of God.
Patience and resilience,
waiting out the ravages of life
voicing grief and desolation
but returning
to the One
in whom 
all things are made whole
through whom
love and justice meet.

God of wholeness, when life conspires to convince us otherwise, remind us of your love and your power. Give us patience and perseverance to wait on your time and to know that your justice prevails.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

It's personal

Deuteronomy 5:1-3
The Ten Commandments
Moses convened all Israel, and said to them:
Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

God speaks not in generalities
but in specifics
Not to a people of the past
But to us inhabitants of today
We are the ones to who God speaks
Of whom God makes demands
To whom God addresses
a universal rule for life.
Love God.
Love each other.

God your covenant is with us. Your law is for life today. Your call is to us. To love. May we hear your call and live your law in our lives today.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


   Exodus 20:8-11
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Says the Lord
Rest from working
And planning
Rest from fretting
And worrying
Rest from rushing
And hurrying
Make space
And do not fill the space
with thinking and planning
with reviewing and taking stock
Much more difficult than it sounds
Space that isn't filled
One of the Ten Commandments 

God teach us how to rest for we forget what it feels like to make space. 
God teach us how to rest for we fear what it feels like to make space.
God teach us how to rest so that there is room for you and for others.
God teach us how to rest.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Black and white

Psalms 19:7-10
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.

Oh to have such clarity
Such surety
To be able to declare unequivocally
the goodness and th rightness
of the law of the Lord.
Extolled in such clear terms
one might presume out of naivety 
and yet few were more predicated
against belief than the Psalmists.
Their faith
and their confident proclamation 
hard won at great cost.
Forged through pain and trial
Refined with grit and determination
They earned the right
to extol the virtues of God
and to call others to embrace
the wonders of faith
tried, tested,
and found to be sufficient.

God, before we mock the faith of another, teach us to stand in their shoes, to endure their trials, to wear their spectacles of faith and, in them,and in ourselves, see you constantly at work, shaping, refining, always drawing us closer to you.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Reverse order

Mark 10:28-31
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Looking for reward
Not in some future universe
Looking for reward
Now - in this age
Looking for reward
To confirm our righteousness
Looking for reward
To raise our status
Looking for reward
To confound those who mock
Looking for reward
Because it is our way
But, says Jesus
The order will be reversed
First will be last
And last will be first
So where does that leave us
who are looking for reward?

Lord sometimes it seems you give us little incentive to follow you - just a whole load of grief. Help us to look again at your promises and see that, despite our longing, the rewards you offer are not of this world. And, knowing that, keep us on the narrow way.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Do not hinder them

Mark 10:13-16
Jesus Blesses Little Children
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Putting away childish things
Seeing clearly
Seeking wisdom
Growing in faith
The responsibilities of growing in years
that seem to diminish that spirit
of joy and awe and adventure
that curb spontaneity
and unbridled joy
in the simplest of things.
God calls us back
to take pleasure in mystery
to step out in uncertainty
to trust, once more,
in miracles.
To such belongs
the Kingdom of God.

God may our age never distance us from your kingdom. May our faith be profound yet simple, passionate yet deep, joy filled yet real. Restore to us, O God, the faith we first knew, a response to your amazing love and mystery, an offering of all of life.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Accustomed to love

Mark 10:1

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

As was his custom...
Answering questions
Asked or unasked
Responding to the needs of those around
even when they didn't even recognise
their yearning.
Teaching truths
about things unimagined.
And, in it all,
witnessing to love.

God, when we are confronted with hard questions and inconvenient interruptions, may we become accustomed to responding in love, making time for all and meeting the needs of those around us, in your name.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Have salt...

Mark 9:49-50
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Salted with fire
For readiness
For purpose
For mettle
For grit
For resilience
For only the resilient
can hope to affect those around
Spreading the flavour of peace
that endures the test of fire.

God preserve us. Preserve us and strengthen us to withstand all that diminishes. And may we always find a way to be at peace with one another and to bring seasoning into all of life.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Predicting the Passion

Mark 9:30-32
Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

They were afraid to ask him...
How often have we been afraid to ask?
Because we really don't want to know the answer.
The truth, the awful truth, would be too much for us to take in.
They were afraid to ask him....
How often have we been afraid to ask?
When our imaginations conjure up fears
that are much worse than reality
and we become locked into the horror
of what might be.
They were afraid to ask him....
How often have we been afraid to ask?
Because we have forgotten
that the God whose son died and rose again
accompanies us through all of life saying:
Do not be afraid for I have redeemed you
I have called you by your name
You are mine
Isaiah 43:1

In all our fear, O God, draw near to us, breathing the warmth of your promise into the chill of our dread, reminding us that you accompany us through all of life and death, our friend and our redeemer.