Changed by the unchangeable

I listened quietly
To Mr Payne and Mason
Cos that’s what you did
Back then

In wooden pews and
Velvet cushions
The smell of dry rot
In the air

Ladies wore hats
But men removed caps
Etiquette over my head
I listened quietly
Cos that’s what you did
Back then

I had questions, a whole pile
But no one to ask of them
Hark there was no herald
Awakening my sleeping heart

But if someone asked me
My allegiance, after some splutter
And guffaw
I aligned myself with the math teacher
I never knew what Mason did.

And now, well today I am back again
In musty pews with black mould smell
Not quiet anymore but still listening
For that still small voice of God

A journey it has been, one far from over.
Eternity is eternity after all
And yet I find myself most at home
With ladies who used to wear hats
And men who removed their caps

United like me and Payne
And all those others I knew
United in the love of God
A friend to all
An enemy to none

Suzie Gallagher

trial separation

chainlink

Many of the words around separation are related to marriage. Is this a coincidence? No because it is relational. The opposite of separation is union along with married and attachment amongst others, again because it is about connection.

As Christians, we are first and foremost connected and in relationship with God. All other relationships spring from that, are developed and grown because of that first relationship with God. There is a movement in the relationship with God, a movement towards Him or moving away.

But in the bible kĕriythuwth is divorce (also garash) and separation is badal for the purposes of my understanding of separation as given to me today. Badal is nothing to do with marriage or relationship and synonyms for this word are about dividing and severing. This feels like the right definition.

This afternoon I began my trial badal with my home church. So I am temporarily severed from my church family. I have been preparing for this day for some time and had a trial run to this time last week. Then it felt strange and unappetising, today it feels right. It feels like the right thing to do.

There are many wonderful aspects to this walking forward:

  • Whilst I am gone, I know I am being held in prayer by my prayer posse.
  • This is a trial that hopefully, if it is God’s will, will be permanent so it is good to test it out.
  • I can use the time I usually spend on church “stuff” on home and family as well as “adopted” church
  • Although it feels uncomfortably it does feel the right thing to be doing (which makes no sense)
  • My chewing gum hating sister gave me new clothes for this episode
  • Two sisters giving me words this morning, one for now and going forward and one for two weeks time specifically.
  • New friendships made already and barriers broken down
  • An unintended sharing that I threw out as a challenge, if I am honest, but was met in understanding and love.

So already I am learning things, separation can be a good thing. I am looking to nature for inspiration and particularly spider plants and strawberry plants. But yes if you are reading this (and you know who you are) it is like severing the umbilical cord and I am still scared but very excited too, and in an arena where you cannot play this down or pass it off and will have to accept it – THANK YOU!

Kingly protection

Blend
Psalm 32:7-8

It is Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday when we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to the cries of “Hosanna!” or “Save us!”

With God in the room, the kids at Children’s Church will be exploring this passage this morning through:

THE WORK

  • reading the passage in the Bible in different translations
  • discussing what all the difficult words mean and making it simpler for the ‘smallies’ to understand
  • working out what it means for us

THE FUN

  • reading and discussing is fun for some but
  • we have paints and a huge banner to paint
  • we have cake – it’s a celebration and it is my last service in my home church for some time
  • we have balloons and a few games to play and there is chocolate (of course)

In the quiet of the dawn today before I went for my walk with the dog, I sat reflecting on the passage. The cloaks again jumped out at me, this crowd gave one of their most precious possessions for a donkey and colt to trample on. That night as they huddled under it in the cold, not quite getting the smell of donkey out of it, did they still have hearts beating aflutter at Jesus, their Messiah?

And it brought me to us, as Christians today, who have given up the world to be followers of Jesus. The crowd turned on him in a week, will we? If the tables in our temples were upturned, if we evaluated the true cost of following Jesus, would we turn on Him?

These people, the ones with the cloaks gave an expensive piece of themselves, but did they give their all? Are we willing to give our all, not just the clothes on our back, but each crevice of our mind and each dark corner of our heart to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

I’m just saying …

Standing on grace as He reigns

A number of years ago I injured my leg so badly that I was not allowed walk outside of normal moving around; so no training, no running, no walking for fitness, no jumping. I think where I got it wrong and caused the injury to linger so that even now a brisk 4km walk causes pain in my right calf is that in my job I walked 10,000 steps every day. My leg had no chance and I couldn’t afford the expensive treatment to make it heal well.

I am stuck with a leg that hurts, I am used to it so the purpose of me writing about it today is not to do a “poor me” act but to give background to what happened next…

I spent my whole life training outside of work, my kids were all involved in athletics, soccer, football and rugby. We spent our lives outside doing stuff, and I was involved in football and various sports clubs around the area from yoga to boxing. We were a fit family. Sean’s hip was coming against him for the first time so we were like a couple of doddery auld ones and we had nothing to do.

All the things that filled my time were gone and there was a void, there was no timetable, no rushing hither and thither fulfilling obligations and the rushes of adrenaline and endorphins. I began life as a sedentary person and looked to my past, to pursuits I had long discarded and began to write again.

Around the same time I began attending local church services, not to fill the void left by no sport but to fill a bigger void that had been present for a long, long time. I scuttled into church and out. I wasn’t part of the clique of church members and just went to soak in God’s presence for an hour of my life. I had no massive theological knowledge, I knew there was a far off God who came and met me for an hour on a Sunday and if he hung around during the week it was in a Orwellian “Big Brother” style of watching me, I didn’t like to think too much about that.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was part of the church membership, I was involved in this and that and then got more and more involved in the “doing” of church. Also during that time I was transformed by the grace of God, and I, myself got more into the “being” of church and “being” of God and having it in the right order. So the doing was in response to the relationship not some superficial otherwise round.

The closer today came the more uncertain I became. My faith is intact, but I have doubts in my ability to let go of the known and step into the unknown. I am preaching on Thomas in a few weeks and I totally get where he was at. He had faith, he knew Jesus, up close and personal but he had doubts. There is a song called “faith on shifting sands” and I used that as a sermon illustration last year. I have tried to think badly of those I will be leaving in Kerry and it has not worked because I love them to bits. I love their warts, their prickly bits, their downright ugly bits and I love their good character traits also. I love the way they welcomed me, knowing nothing about me, I love the assumptions made about my past (my favourite being – were you a prossie?) I love the way they are still doing that with every stranger and oddity (like me) that walks in, I love the way some of them grow in spurts, others more steadily, others barely at all.

Temporarily I am leaving them, but in the long run I could be leaving them altogether so for me, this is a trial. Can I let go of the apron strings? It is not about whether they can let go of me but if I can let go of them. When I injured my leg I had to give up all training and it hurt, the pain of not being part of the football team absolutely cut me in two. The discipline needed to not run, was a tough lesson and the breaking of rule (and I do) causes such immediate excruciating pain that to not foolow the discipline is not good.

For me not to continue testing this call, would not be a good decision, for me not to give it my all, would not be a good decision, for me not to embrace whatever and wherever the Lord is planning for me, would not be a good decision. I must move from comfortable to uncomfortable, it is what is needed.


You are my hiding place from every storm of life; you even keep me from getting into trouble! You surround me with songs of victory. I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress. Psalm 32:7-8

 

Faith vs. Doubt

Doubt sees the obstacles.
Faith sees the way.
Doubt sees the darkest night.
Faith sees the day.
Doubt dreads to take a step.
Faith soars on high.
Doubt questions “Who believes”?
Faith answers “I”.

William Jett

 

Faith on Shifting Sands – Caedmon’s Call

Sometimes I believe all the lies
So I can do the things I should despise
And every day I am swayed
By whatever is on my mind

I hear, it all depends on my faith
So I’m feeling precarious
The only problem I have with these mysteries
Is they’re so mysterious

And like a consumer I’ve been thinking
If I could just get a bit more
More than my 15 minutes of faith
Then I’d be secure

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace, stand on grace

I’ve begged you for some proof
For my Thomas eyes to see
Slithering staff, a leprous hand
And lions resting lazily

A glimpse of your back-side glory
And this soaked altar going ablaze
But you know I’ve seen so much
I explained it away

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

Waters rose as my doubts reigned
My sand-castle faith, it slipped away
Found myself standing on your grace
It’d been there all the time

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace, stand on grace

A quickie

I heard blogs being called personal rants this week and it at first just plain irked me but then it made me think about this blog, its purpose and all that writer stuff.
It is good to have a think, set out some clear objectives but for this blog that clarity isn’t needed. It is a record of the process of an unChristian writer becoming Christian and continuing to write. It has my entire back catalogue of fiction bar one or two short stories that were corrupted on a disc and bar the ones I won prizes for as a tot.
It is about the struggle to grow with the many distractions in my life and it is about this part of the journey and the absolute lack of writing about it because it is too closely held by my heart. It is about a word, or a phrase that makes me think, a comment that makes me cry or an aside that makes me laugh, it is about my reaction to what is going on in this pocket of the world but most of all, first and foremost it is my acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord in my life. Everything even writing “a rant” is for His glory not my own. Yearning for row three by the radiator, but driven by a deeper motivation, the root of me, deocentric and it makes sense