Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Lent Photo Diary - Part 4

Day 10: John 5: 16-47 Jesus and his Father
 "Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise."
Calling God 'Father' was pretty remarkable in Jesus' time. In fact, no one had really done it much before. He makes big claims in this passage of unity with his Father in heaven, in purpose, action and thinking.
This picture is a typical symbol of the Trinity found in churches. One shape, three points, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Day 11: John 6 Five thousand people get lunch!
"Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted."
Thirst dealt with, now John begins to talk about Jesus as the 'bread of life'. At Cana the wine overflows, at the well in Samaria the living water never runs dry, here on the mountain the bread fills the people until they are fully satisfied. What are you hungering for?
Day 12: John 7: 1-24 The teacher who never went to Uni!
"About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Judeans were astonished at it, saying, ‘How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?’"
The irony of this passage is not lost on me. Here I am studying away for a degree in Theology, surrounded by books and up to my eyes in essays all to talk about a man who is notably described as not having been taught! It good to look back on the founder of this thing, to remember that appearances can be decieving and where real wisdom and authority comes from.
Thanks for stopping by! See you in a few days!


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lent Photo Diary - Part 3

Day 7: John 4: 1-24 The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty'.

You may be noticing a theme of water here. First the water into wine and now Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman and promising her water that will leave her never thirsty again. This statue spoke of that kind of thirst to me. What are you thirsting for?
Day 8: John 4: 43 to end Jesus heals a Royal Official's son
Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’  The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’
This is the second of Jesus' miracles recorded in John's gospel. Oddly enough the fact that people believed that Jesus performed miracles is one of the most widely accepted facts in New Testament scholarship. The question isn't whether this was his reputation but rather what these incidences were all about. Was he a first century Darren Brown or was he who he said he was?
Day 9: John 5: 1-18 Jesus heals a paralyzed man
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
The man in this story is laying by a pool in Jerusalem known for its healing properties. He is described as laying under the 'porticoes'. I imagine these abandoned people laying there under this massive, grand structure and it seems like such a stark contrast.The vulnerable and the powerful and the two meeting in such an extraordinary way in this enounter.
Thanks for reading, see you in a few days!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Lent Photo Diary - Part 2

Day 4: John 2: 1-12 The Wedding at Cana

"Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with water.' And they filled them to the brim."

I love that the first miracle recorded in John's gospel is Jesus turning water into wine so a wedding party can go on into the small hours. It makes the popular view of God as a bit of a kill joy look rather daft. He fills the jugs of water to the brim, the wine is abundant.

Day 5: John 2:13-25. Jesus causes some havoc in the Temple!

"In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a cord out of whips, he drove all of them out of the temple...He told those who were selling doves, 'Take these things out of here. Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!'

Opinion is divided on what Jesus was doing here (I know, I just wrote a lengthy essay on it!) but for me it made me think of the things we grab for in the place of God. Where the temple should have been holy it was a way of people making money and gaining status. I wonder what things in my life I grab onto to give me status.
Day 6: John 3: 1-21 Jesus chats to a learned Jew Nicodemus
" Do not be astonished that I say to you 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it come from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the spirit'."

I feel a bit sorry for Nicodemus here, Jesus is seriously cryptic! But not too sorry as he gets to hear some of the most remarkable words recorded in the gospels. I love that spontaneity and freedom of the wind imagery, it blows wherever it will, and how Jesus applied this to the lives of those who follow him. What an adventure, pop up your sail and see where you end up!
Back in a few days for Part 3!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Lent Photo Diary - The Gospel of John

This Lent I have set myself a challenge. In an effort to see more of the depth in the amazing text that is John's gospel and more of the world around me I am taking a photo a day inspired by what I have read that morning in John. I'm totally shiny and new to the world of photography, really I'm just playing, but I hope this pictures might say something about the text and encourage you to get out there and see the world through a new lens too!

So here they are, the first three days!

Day 1: John 1: 1-18 In the Beginning

'In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God....'

The Greek text for ther passage is absolutely beautiful and contains way more to it than our (admittedly also beautiful) Englsh text. The word 'logos' (translated 'word'in English) is full of meaning. In Greek philosophical terms it meant reason, explaination, that which generates the universe. Big stuff!
Day 2: John 1: 19-32 John the Baptist
'I am the voice of one calling out in the desert. "Make straight the way of the Lord".'

John the Baptist was a fabulous character (he lived in the desert wearing camel hair coats and living off wild honey and locusts!) and this speech is reported to him. The gospels record him as Jesus' cousin and he came before him to prepare the people for the arrival of Jesus.

Day 3: John 1: 35-51 The calling of the first disciples

'When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

I love the sense of God knowing exactly where you are. He sees Nathaniel simply sitting there under a tree, in the ordinary everyday, and then he promises him the world.

Back in a few days time!


Monday, 11 February 2013


I'm a bit in love with Emeli Sande's song, Wonder. It's a real 'whirl around the kitchen and hope they neighbours aren't watching' tune and when I hear it I wish more than anything that we could have this kind of music in church. So I decided to play it when I led worship last week. What can I say, I'm a maverick!

The theme of wonder is very dear to my heart. Before I began training for ordination I spent some time organizing a science festival. We spent a whole lot of time talking about wonder. How to get the kids to really see, to really experience the world around them and fall in love with it, even a little bit. It seems to me that we all need to do a bit of that.

I'm a scientist by training. I don't have any qualms with evolution. I think it's quite beautiful. But I also see the hand of God in everything on this earth, in evolution itself. Every flower, every field, every mountain, most especially, every human face. I'm lucky to have some exceptionally gifted photographer friends and this video contains of some of their most beautiful photos that evoked pure wonder in me.
Doesn't in make you want to grab a camera, get out there and get snapping?

As well as belting out brilliant new tunes I also happened to be part of a team putting together a service based around creation this week and I wrote this prayer for it. So I finish with that - celebrating a God who makes bumble bees, roses, oak trees. And you and me.

Lord of all creation, 
who gathered the seas together
and raised the mountains by a single word.
Draw us together by your Holy Spirit,
by whose wisdom the foundations of the earth were set in place,
to worship you in wonder and awe,
through Jesus Christ,
the first born of the new creation.

Friday, 1 February 2013


There is something that surprises me and that is how little a fuss we make about love. Perhaps that sounds a bit weird. People certainly make a big enough fuss at their wedding. Valentines day harangues us all with its foil heart balloons and over priced roses. But I'm talking about a different kind of love. Not the flash in the pan, 'here today gone tomorrow' kind of love. I'm talking about the sacrificial kind, the devoted kind. The kind that week in week out hangs out another's socks on the washing line. The kind that loves till the last. That thinks of another before itself. The kind that wonderfully, unexpectedly, sees the true worth in another and throws its life down in response.

I'm talking about the sheer wonder that human beings commit themselves willingly for life to other human beings. That's the part of weddings that get me going. When you hear that mad set of promises they are making, seeing partners throughout the congregation look sheepishly at each other for the loving they haven't done, and yet we continue to make these outlandish promises for no other reason than because they just think the other person is absolutely wonderful and we want so badly to do it. I think that is wonderful.

I think love is an overlooked gift, that it is God's greatest gift.

My wedding was four and a half years ago now. My husband is my great love, but not the only love in my life. I make a big fuss in my heart for my friends, new and old, and my family whom I love, love, love. But the song we played at our wedding always reminds me of how wonderful, unexpected and joyous this great capacity to love and be loved is.

Here it is: