Catching up… Easter

I have finally decided to sit down and get this blog up to date…
So what has been happening since I last posted apart from the whole of Easter?!

As a Candidate and University student, it was very difficult to get too ‘involved’ with the plethora of events that take place in the run up to and the week preceding Easter Day. This year, it was an entirely different ball game and I feel very privileged to have been part of such a wonderful series of events.

During the month of March, I had the pleasure of working with the Calderside Learning Community Chaplaincy Team to bring the message of Easter to over 300 P7 pupils across schools in Hamilton and Blantyre. From the devouring of Creme Eggs to reflecting upon the Crucifixion of Christ, The Easter Code, takes its participants on a journey through the events of Easter.

Beginning at the point where Bubblegum ‘n’ Fluff ends, we acted out a ten minute Gospel, which stops at the point where Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem. The journey then continued with the young people moving around different stations, some of which were set up inside the famous Calderside Chaplaincy Team gazebos! (The one shown here is the tent where we show the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane using the video The Miracle Maker.

I got a terrific opportunity to lead the different stations and experience what message they had to offer. I learned an incredible amount about Pesach, the Jewish Passover meal, with its variety of symbols, signs, scents and savourings!

I really enjoyed hosting the Gethsemane tent however as it was great to speak with the young people about the fact that the right thing to do is not always the easiest. In the video clip, we see Jesus asking if there is any other way. From there the attention turns to temptation as a road out of the garden appears and the chance to bail. But Jesus knew that he had to go through with this for it was not his will but his Father’s. We compared it to school life where sometimes when people are picking on others, it is all too easy to join in or walk away and pretend that it is not happening instead of telling someone who might be in a position to stop it. I could see the cogs turning in the heads of some of those present by the way they were engaging in our conversations, which was great!

Through different media and discussions, five topics were covered in the course of this journey: Sharing, Seeking, Serving, Struggling and Sacrifice, which allowed the young people present to see what Easter is really about.

Having been involved in both of the chaplaincy team’s programmes and now thinking towards where I hope to begin my ministry, I hope that I will be able to take these ideas with me to wherever I end up and share them with the young people I get the honour of serving in the days ahead.

After recovering from the repeated building and taking down of the equipment required for The Easter Code, it was time to think about the events of Holy Week. This year, Karen (my supervisor) and I worked on the theme of …holding the story of love…, which you may have followed at the blog published especially for that week.

That week was special. To have been able to help put such a creative and thought-provoking series was something that I have been desperate to be able to do since doing ‘bits n bobs’ throughout my candidacy.

The process of weaving together a tapestry of words, textures, symbols and songs in a way that transports us through the events of Holy Week in a way that people with some understanding of the events or none at all can feel included and challenged by what Easter means to us in the twenty-first century.

On Easter Sunday, we moved from holding to letting go – letting go of our grief andgrievances, just as Mary had to let go of Jesus. Each of the congregation were given a small token with a crown of thorns – the same as the one on the back of our Holy Week bookmarks. Towards the end of the service, the congregation were invited to come up and put these tokens at the foot of the cross as a symbol of leaving our burdens behind and picking up a daffodil, a symbol of new life, new hope and new beginnings…

Holy Week 2012 – …holding the story of love…

Hi everyone!
Sorry for the lack of posts of late… I will get something posted as soon as time allows.

For the duration of Holy Week, I have created a separate blog if you want to read some reflections.

May God be with you throughout your journey through Holy Week and beyond…


Agnus Dei

This song popped into my head last week so I decided to record it and share it.
Still not 100% sure on the lyrics, but they’ll do for now!

Excuse the piano playing – shouldn’t record first thing in the morning!

Click here for the MP3

Here are the lyrics so far:

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God (x3)
O Lord have mercy
Lamb of God (x3)
O Lord have mercy on me

1. In flesh you came
To dwell with us all
To teach love and acceptance
You touched and you healed
New hope you revealed
We thank you for your presence.

Lamb of God…

2. In bread and wine,
Broken and poured
Your blood and body given.
Betrayed, crucified,
Your suffered and died,
And yet you, Lord, were risen!

Lamb of God…



As some of you may already know, I grew up over in Milngavie.  In the last couple years of my time there, I worked in our family business and, as much as I still talk about it and am grateful for the time I spent there for the life experience it gave me, it was not fun.
It was tiring.
It was upsetting.
Every week, customers with whom you thought you had built up a good relationship ditched you for a couple of quid, which had just been added on to another product by the competitor.
Every month, restaurants would delay paying while suppliers put holds on our supplies until they were paid.
It was not fun.
My father was ill, which was why I was there, and my mother was, like me, stressed out of her skull. Often I needed to get out of the house and go for a drive or a walk to simply clear my head – to try and think of another way to help keep things going for another week –to try and do my bit to help keep a dozen people in a job – to try and do my bit to help keep the bills getting paid.

More often than not, I ended up in the same place, which became my thinking spot – it was at the top of a hill overlooking Mugdock Reservoir, the town of Milngavie and out towards Glasgow.








And it was beautiful…
Whether it was rainwater bouncing on the reservoir or the twinkling sodium stars that glistened across the town and city in the distance at night, I could shut off at the same time as my ignition. I was physically above everything – the office, the customers, the suppliers, a home filled with stress and anxiety over health or work…

But that was not reality…

I never wanted to leave when I got there, but I always knew that I had to. I had to switch back on. I had to move again. I had to go back down the windy roads towards home. And when I got home, I had to take a deep breath and step back in through the front door. I had a job to do and I was not going to give up…

It would have been so much easier if the transfigured Jesus had stayed on that mountaintop in the company of Moses, Elijah, and his three disciples…

It would have been much closer to the state of glory that Jesus deserved than what was to come.

And yet he comes back down…


Down into the mundane reality of everyday life.
Down into the communities tearing themselves apart with petty squabbles or bitter rivalry. Down into a world burdened with pain, persecution and poverty.


Jesus came down.

Mark’s Gospel is the Gospel of Action.
There is no time to spare, be it in the comfort of our home, on the mountaintop, on the street… What are we going to do with this time as individuals, as a community…as a Church? Are we going to look out at all that is good and stay there?

Or are we going to climb back down the mountaintop to what lies outside these doors, outside the doors of our homes, outside the doors of the car or the bus – to continue to reach out in prayer and in presence to the brokenness, fear, disappointment, and loss that surrounds us all?

Calvin – Day Three

Friday was busy!
In the beginning was the Word…
Anne Zaki preached on Psalm 113 with music being led by John Bell and The Psalms Project. Click here to view this marvellous service in which Anne presents us with the unpredictability of life within which we can encounter a God who ‘stoops down’. She makes the very valid observation that we never see a statue of a stooping God and yet this is the God that many want to praise – not a God who just sits on high…

Soon afterwards, I had the pleasure of sitting through a plenary by Walter Brueggemann entitled ‘Performing a Counter World: the Alternative Reality Offered by the Psalms for the Worlds We Inhabit.’ Speaking at a rapid rate, Brueggemann covered an astonishing amount in just 60 minutes. One thing I will share from that plenary is this:

“The dominant world given to us by our culture is not the real world and we need not inhabit it. In a world without God there are only idols. The Psalms mediate to us the covenant-making God of Israel.”

After this 60 minute intellectual overload (I mean this in a positive way!), I attended a seminar entitled ‘Intentionally Inclusive Worship’, which discussed how we can and should make our churches inclusive. This was in the context of including with disabilities. We are called to reach out to all of God’s people in the inclusive Kingdom of God and should be seeking the giftedness of every person as per the inclusive nature of Jesus Christ.

Following lunch, I went to hear Gilliam Grannum discuss ‘The Holiness of Jazz’, which, as a musician, I found particularly interesting. We come to know each other and God through story. Jazz can be seen a means of collective story telling with a starting point and all of the individual players and instruments becoming part of the story telling process. It is always different with a wide range of variation. The composer sets the plots and gives the details, but it is the instruments that make the story with each individual character and action details in note, rhythm and texture. We can therefore see Jazz through the lens of Scripture as much as we can see Scripture through the lens of Jazz.

Gillian Grannum continues with four ‘God is…’ terms, which she paired up with four ‘Jazz is’ terms, which really opened my eyes and ears to what Jazz can unlock in our walk through the Word:

  • Where God is Creator, Jazz is Improvisation as discussed above in terms of putting the story together and crafting the characters, dialogue and actions uniquely each time.
  • Where God is Faithful, Jazz is Groove – God is dependable, reliable and consistent. Groove relies on experience – it is establishes and sometimes feels like it is disappearing from us when things build up/intensify, but we can be comfortable with gaps and deviations as we can rely on us getting back in the Groove in our own time and back into motion.
  • Where God is Redeemer, God is Accepting – Imperfection is required… Community is where mistakes are redeemable. We are accepted as we are with out gifts and our brokenness. Even with faults, flaws and failings, the coming-together of the entire community makes it beautiful. A wrong note is when you give up on a note. We can take the time to make a note right with the wrong notes quickly forgotten and forgiven as the next stave that is life begins…
  • Where God is Triune, Jazz is Community – There are specific roles amongst the musicians with interdependence. Part of that role is leaving space for others. Each community has a different way of working in a particular context.

Here is a question…
What three words come to mind when you think of God?
Feel free to write them in the comments of my blog.
If I get enough responses, we can try something out!

Before dinner, I attended a Taizé Vespers Service, which was absolutely beautiful. The synergy of song and silence under the canopy of candlelight was the perfect way to reflect and to give thanks to God for being all of the things that I have listed above and much more.

The evening concluded with A Festival of Singing to mark the launch of a brand new Psalter called Psalms for all Seasons, which I would highly recommend. It contains music to all 150 Psalms as well as the Psalms themselves and various worship elements such as Calls to Worship and Benedictions. A video of the concert can be seen here

As I listened to this festival of song today and tried to sing along or accompany on the Piano, I could only think of the words of Psalm 150, with which I will close as my prayer for us all to do:

Praise him with each note and word…