Tuesday, September 30, 2014

poem: the poet laughs (at himself!)

What with all this business about google having to take people's info offline, I thought I'd google myself and see what's out there. Not much, as it turns out! But I did come across this poem I wrote in 1999 (apparently - I don't remember it, but it is there with my name and all the right details with it to support the claim). I was writing a lot of haiku at the time (nothing changes!) and clearly I decided to poke a bit of fun at myself with this wee bit of doggerel. 

The moon is up,
the leaves are spinning,
I feel another
ku beginning.

A dog's chained up,
the cat 's in a tree;
that's worth a decent
ku or three!

A distant cloud,
a half-heard song;
why, I could write
these all day long.

But when it's really worth the words
it doesn't seem quite so absurd.

Prayer diary Tuesday 30 September 2014

The Samaritans ... did not receive him ... James and John ... said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’But he turned and rebuked them. 
Luke 9. 53-55

Force is not Christ's way. Our time in this world is given us to work out our salvation; and the decisions we make to accept or reject God in this life will be respected in the next.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Prayer diary Monday 29 September 2014 (St Michael and All Angels)

Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!' 
John 1.49

Reflection Before the miracles, before the signs, before the Resurrection, Nathanael believed. Such are the gifts of God to those who have faith in him and love him.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


a Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) press release

CSW is calling on the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior to launch an urgent and transparent investigation into raids conducted by police in Al-Minya on 23 September, in which members of the Coptic community were harassed and assaulted, their homes and property destroyed, and 12 people were detained.

The raids occurred after members of the Coptic community protested outside the police station in Samalout Town in Minya Province on 16 September, demanding police action over the abduction of a Christian woman. According to the police, some of the protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the police station, leading to the arrest of over 30 protesters.

In the early hours of the following morning, police stormed the homes and properties of local Copts, destroyed property and physically abused residents, including an elderly woman and children, referring to them as infidels. They also tied up a number of men and detained 12 people, allegedly on spurious grounds. Samalout Misdemeanour Court has since released those detained.

Egypt's Christian community has recently experienced an increase in kidnappings, intimidation, abuse and killings, particularly in Al-Minya, Assiut, Sohag and other governorates in Upper Egypt. Perpetrators, including Islamist militants, often kidnap Coptic men, women and children for ransom or in revenge for the removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, which some erroneously blame on the Coptic community. There are longstanding allegations that the authorities have failed to provide sufficient protection for the community, and the inadequate police response has engendered a climate of impunity.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, 'It is troubling to learn the Christian community was targeted by the police, even though 30 people had already been arrested in connection with violence at the protest. The new Egyptian constitution states in Article 64 that freedom of belief is absolute, and in article 9 the State undertakes to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens without discrimination. Such acts by the security forces constitute a serious breach of the constitution, as does the alleged failure of local authorities to protect Coptic communities from kidnap and extortion. An urgent and transparent investigation into the incident in Samalout is needed in order to ensure that the full facts are established and those guilty of acting inappropriately are brought to justice. We also urge the Egyptian authorities to be more proactive in ensuring that the Coptic communities which currently suffer extortion and abductions are assisted and protected.'

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

which of the two brothers are you?

 May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

We enter the picture mid-scene in our Gospel reading today, as it were. The day before, Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph, the crowds casting down their cloaks on the road before him to carpet his way, tearing branches from the trees to wave as flags and banners, chanting Hosanna, calling him the Son of David, and crying out that he came in the name of the Lord. Then he went into the temple and turned over the tables of the money-changers, and drove the dealers in animals out with a whip made from cords.

The religious authorities were indignant, but could do nothing in the face of the adulation of the crowd. Jesus left; but the next day he was back, teaching. The chief priests and the elders were waiting. They were no lovers of Jesus. Not only was he a threat to their authority, but he stirred up the people. They feared he might lead a revolt that would bring the wrath of the Romans upon them, as false Messiahs had done before. And they thought Jesus was false, of that we may be sure – why else would they, in the face of all the signs and wonders he performed, have declared that he cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub, as St Jerome points out?

But they have not been idle in the night; they have been plotting; and when he returns to the temple they have ready a trap for him, as they have so many times before. They have prepared a question which, no matter how he answers, they believe, is bound to condemn or undermine him. And so they ask him: By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?' If he claims divine authority, they will declare him a blasphemer; if he does not, they will ridicule him before the crowds.

They expect to trap God incarnate in their snare of words. But Jesus turns the tables on them, as he has done before. He says to them I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’

His accusers are thrown into confusion. They dare not admit that St John's baptism was of heaven; for they had refused it for themselves. And yet they know the people accounted the Baptist as a great prophet and they are afraid to deny him publicly. And having discussed the matter among themselves they say 'We do not know.' Their refusal to give an honest answer shows that their care is not for truth, to pursue it fearlessly wherever it may take them; but rather their concern is for the things of this world, for power and the approval of men.

But our Lord wants these men who think that they are righteous to know that they in fact are risking their own salvation. And so he tells them the parable of the two brothers. The Church Fathers – those great leaders and writers of the early Church – bishops, teachers, theologians, saints, and mystics – assure us that the first brother stands for the gentiles, those the Jews thought of us as sinners, people who had not before obeyed God's Holy Laws, but who now, with the coming of Christ, will become the New Israel; and the second stands for those who think they are righteous, but in fact are worse by far than those they reject as sinners. Because those sinners – gentiles, harlots, the tax-collectors who collaborate with the Roman invaders, and more – they will come to salvation. Because they will see and believe the evidence that these men reject – the righteousness of St John, that Jesus is the Son of God – and they will be saved; while they, in their hard-heartedness will fail to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The message for us today, I think, is not to allow ourselves to become hard-hearted like those men of long ago, not to say 'yes' with our lips to God's teaching, even as we say 'no' to it in our hearts and in the way we live our lives. There are times when we struggle with our calling to live lives in as Christ-like a way as possible; but God helps us in that struggle. As we read in our Epistle today: 'Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.' God is at work within each and every one of us, helping us to obey his Holy Laws, enabling us to hear and obey his call to be like his Son in every thought and word and deed; to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, in awe, reverence, and love; and at the last to enter his kingdom. I pray you will let his work within you bear fruit. Amen

Examin Sunday 28 September 2014

why love of neighbour impels us to live virtuously ourselves

'If you keep God's commandments you will not become a stumbling-block to others, for there will be nothing offensive or provocative in you. 'Great peace have they who love Thy law, and for them there is no stumbling-block' (Ps. 119:165). Rather they are light, salt and life, in conformity with the Lord's words, 'You are the light of the world, and the salt of the earth' ( Matt. 5:13-14). Light, because they are virtuous in life, lucid in speech, and wise in thought; salt, because they are rich in divine knowledge and strong in the wisdom of God; life, because through their words they bring to life those slain by the passions, raising them up from the pit of despair.

St Niketas Stethatos
mystic, monk, & theologian 
(c. AD 1005 - 1090)

from the Philokalia
Volume 4 
On the Practice of the Virtues: 100 texts
number 79

Saturday, September 27, 2014

prayer diary Saturday 27 September 2014

‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.' 
Luke 9.22

Christ spoke these words in prophesy of his passion. But the cause of his suffering and death was human sin. Therefore each sin we commit betrays him still. Strive with all your might to be less and less a betrayer of the one who came to save you.