Friday, April 27, 2007


Your mercy pierces me, O amazing God
Lightning flash, through my ego’s last defences,
Silent thunder of my tears.

I drown in the torrents
Of a love I cannot understand
Learning a new breathing.

You wash away
The feeble excuses,
The crippling words of blame,
The barren years
When promises were stopped.

Now in the clouds
I see the rainbow of your constant care
Your covenant of wonder wraps me round
In glory I do not yet understand.

And my parched heart opens
Thirsty .. drinking ..
Nourishing your planting:
You, in me.

Emmaus and communion

I started writing this just after Easter as a few thoughts on the Emmaus story. I left it half-written and came back to it today. Somehow, in the interim, it transmuted into some thoughts on how we, too, know Him in the breaking of the bread (a part of the story we sometimes don't quite know what to do with)


You are known in the breaking of the bread.
You are known in the breaking of my heart.
In the breaking of the morning,
And the falling of the night
I will praise your name.

Two walked slowly, mired with grief
And the road that left Jerusalem was now their sorrowed way
For the daylight turns to darkness when deep hope is crucified
And black pain danced around them, but its mocking voice
Fell on dead ears, the soul-reft are too numb.

With downcast eyes, they never saw the stranger
Till He fell in by the way, making conversation
Almost too hard to speak.
Is there no release,
From the whirligig of pressure, the requirement to respond?
How could it be
That their whole world had crumbled right away
While this man walked in steadfast ignorance?

Lord that I might know you
In the place where every understanding shatters,
In the death of hope, in the tears of silence,
Here let me still believe you understand ..
You took the cup that we might take the cup
And drink the sweetness of transfigured gall

How do you tell
The breaking of a life, hope’s slaughterhouse,
That hideous hell: redemption gone awry?
How do you speak
In civil tones the rank unspeakable?

Such a strange man!
Into raw pain He spoke theology
(Having first made them speak their pain to Him)
He told them of the scriptures as they walked
Weaving a different pattern with His words,
Salvation that was not as they supposed
A saviour who must suffer to redeem
A dying that was planned before all life ..

Lord, that I might see Your resurrection
In each day’s dying, never let mere words
Blind me to the transcendent Son of God
Here, by my side, with scars upon His hands,
Offering still Himself in place of me .

With numb politeness, yet with burning hearts,
Bleeding, confused, yet strangely satisfied,
They hung on words that washed right over them
And then at journey’s end, they asked Him in:
Their journey was begun.

In the breaking of the bread, he broke their hearts
With wonder.
He gave thanks, and filled despair
With bright thanksgiving.
To their opened eyes
He vanished from their sight, but is not gone
Nor ever, ever shall be gone again
In whom dominion rests forever more.

In this place of appointing give the broken bread
To broken hearts, to broken lives, today.
And lift us into thanks, who are your own
By holiness made whole,
To learn to love,
And sing the resurrection laughter song.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


O Christ, the Saviour of the world!
O Christ our life, o Christ our light!
The word of truth on which we rest,
The Father shown to our sight!

You are the light by which we steer.
You are the life in which we grow;
The whole of knowledge, truth complete,
Through Whom, alone, our God we know.

Grant us to see, Grant us to live.
Grant us to know You, show our need,
That we might rest on you alone,
The Saviour of the world, indeed.

The messy heirs to the kingdom

Below is an illustration I did use in my last sermon. The passage I was preaching on was Mark 3:31-35 on Who is Jesus'family. I started by explaining that when Jesus defined who was in and who was out of His family He was actually saying who was in and out of His kingdom. Flesh and blood, lineage from Abraham, doesn't do it. You must be reborn "from above" (John 3) and adopted into His family. I used ben hur as a type of Roman adoption. Then we looked at some verses from Romans8 and Ephesians 1 on the benefits of being His adopted child. Then I brought in this illustration:

Watchman Nee tells about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. "No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I'm losing my salvation." Nee said, "Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christ's heir because it is for you that He died." We are Christ's heirs, not through our perfection but by means of His grace.

From there i finished by talking about how, if we are members of His family, we should be demonstrating the family likeness, ie love. Love is an action. Love is servanthood. if we are loving we will be involved in the messy work of digging up and weeding while Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit in us. Or we can stay clean and comfortable and just be plastic flowers!

One of those meme things

Getting To Know You...
35 questions about me

• What is your occupation? Housewife/ theology student.
• What color are your socks right now? Right now I’m barefoot. I only wear socks in winter.
• What are you listening to right now? The blessed sound of rain – our garden is getting soaked. Unfortunately not much of this rain is falling in the catchment areas for the dams. Australia’s drought is a major crisis.
• What was the last thing that you ate? Chocolate.
• Can you drive a manual car? I learned on one, and never knew what gear I was supposed to be in. haven’t driven one for nearly 30 years
• If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Deep violet.
• Last person you spoke to on the phone? One of the guys from our church who rang up wanting to speak to my husband.
• How old are you today? 52, but who’s counting?.
• Favorite drink? Mostly I drink water (the stuff that comes out the tap) But I love a small port or something like Bailey’s occasionally in the evenings
• What is your favorite sport to watch? I loathe sport apart from stuff like the Olympics and the occasional cricket match
• Have you ever dyed your hair? Yep, since I started to go grey in my early thirties. I still think of myself as a brunette
• Pets? Only goldfish
• Favorite food? Probably Italian if I had to name a category. But for a single dish, our local Indian restaurant makes a butter chicken that totally satisfies my tastebuds.
• What was the last movie you watched? Umm .. it’s been a while .. probably the last James Bond one (with my husband of course)
• What was the last book you read? Ruth Park’s 2 volume autobiography: Fence Around the Cuckoo + Fishing in the Styx
• What do you do to vent anger? Cry. Write poetry. I’m not good at getting in touch with anger. It was a forbidden emotion in my childhood
• What was your favourite toy as a child? I spent all my time reading. But Baby Sam, a black rubber doll (fearfully non-PC!!!) was the friend I took to bed and couldn’t live without.
• What is your favourite, fall or spring? I love them both. The only bad thing about autumn is that it means winter’s coming
• Hugs or kisses? I’m a hugger, it means a lot to me. But nothing's wrong with kissing either!
• Cherries or blueberries? Cherries are up there with mangoes
• Living arrangements? A house on a quarter acre block, with just my husband now the kids are all grown up
• When was the last time you cried? yesterday
• What's on the floor of your closet? Clothes that fell off their hangers
• Who is the friend you have had the longest? I have nobody from waaay back. Why is a long story, largely circumstantial
• What did you do last night? Washed my hair. Computer stuff. husband was out.
• Favorite smells? Cinnamon, fresh bread. flowers
• What inspires you? Courage. Compassion. Most of all, Jesus
• What are you afraid of? A wasted life. Boredom. rejection
• Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Not a burger person
• Favorite dog breed? Not a dog person, always nervous around dogs
• Number of keys on your key ring? four
• Number of years at current job? Housewife? 29 years since I quit the paid workforce
• Favourite day of the week? No particular day. I don’t live a sufficiently routine life for that to apply!
• How many states/countries have you lived in? I’ve lived in the one area of Sydney all my life, in 2 different suburbs.
• Favorite holidays? Christmas and Easter. They’re the ones that mean something to me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Free will or predestination?

Came across this story while preparing my next sermon (yes, I know, it's my essay on Rev 4 I should be working on, but sermons are much more fun!) This one doesn't fit my sermon, but it's too good to pass by:

The story is told of a group of theologians who were discussing the tension between predestination and free will. Things became so heated that the group broke up into two opposing factions. But one man, not knowing which to join, stood for a moment trying to decide. At last he joined the predestination group. “Who sent you here?” they asked. “No one sent me,” he replied. “I came of my own free will.” “Free will!” they exclaimed. “You can’t join us! You belong with the other group!” So he followed their orders and went to the other clique. There someone asked, “When did you decide to join us?” The young man replied, “Well, I didn’t really decide–I was sent here.” “Sent here!” they shouted. “You can’t join us unless you have decided by your own free will!”

Monday, April 16, 2007

Solace by stars.

I am starting a new occasional series. These are random autobiographical chapters (random in time sequence). I have named the whole series Chapters from a Life.

Solace by stars

The stars were precious to me in early adolescence. They taught me about God. Grey at heart with inarticulate hurt and frustration, I would wander around the back yard at night. Tears are invisible in the dark. My parents would make silly jokes about my “communing with nature”, thankfully they were never interested enough to ask what I was really doing/thinking/feeling. So long as I jumped through the assigned hoops of being a “good girl” (doing well at school, being seen but not heard, asking for nothing) they took very little notice of the rest of what I was or did. I am glad they never knew the truth. They would have found a way to use it against me.

The dark garden, lit just enough by distant streetlights to be safe to walk in, was a sanctuary. I was safe inside our six foot paling fences, I was alone. I would look up at the stars and silently cry out all the longings of my heart for meaning and value. Most of my outer life was so meaningless; I yearned with my whole being to find something that would give me significance. The correct empty lives of my parents seemed so pointless. I have always been more afraid of boredom than of pain. I would lift up my eyes unto the stars (in suburbia there are no hills) and find peace and encouragement.

They were city stars that I gazed at, pale, high and remote. Since then I have seen country stars, sharp, fiery and close, and, while their beauty may be even greater, they are too intimate, almost intrusive, to speak the language I was hearing at fourteen or fifteen. These stars spoke a silver tongue. High, remote and lofty, they told me of a beauty that could not be sullied by the failures of this earth, a transcendent loveliness beyond my reach. But though I could not attain, I must strive towards them with everything that I was, and the very striving would be transformational. This was not the language of salvation, but it was the language that teaches the need of salvation. Though I did not know it at the time, I had fallen in love with holiness.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Handkerchief

Isn't this just like what God does with our hurts and disappointments?

(1952) A woman friend of John Ruskin once received as a gift a beautiful
handkerchief which she highly prized. One day as she was writing, a drop of
ink fell on it, and it was apparently ruined. Sometime later the great
artist-writer was a guest in her home. Having heard of his hostess's
accident, he asked first to see the handkerchief; then, to take it home with
him. A few days later it was sent back, more beautiful than it was at first.
What had he done? With his own deft hands he had painted on the cloth an
exquisite picture, using the blot as a basis for it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Morning

Written a few years ago, trying to get inside the experience of those women coming to the tomb

Here, in the grey-wracked morning, turning slowly
Into benighted day, liftless as a stone;
Numbed automata, with tears too dry for falling,
Down their own sorrowed way, unto death they come.

Lift, petals, lift! No, even dew seems heavy.
Down to the down of things, where the dead hopes lie.
Surely no birds? The sun for them still darkened.
Love is their lodestar, dim in a silent sky.

All Gentleness touches the hills with morning.
There is no lightening here, at the empty end.
All Tenderness touches the earth with springtime;
Whilst, into final winter they descend.

When every trust's betrayed, you may doubt your senses,
Strained beyond all surprise, too much pain to think.
So they stand blankly there, where the rock was shifted;
So they stand blankly there, on fulfilment's brink.

Gone the last talisman, stretched to utter nothing.
Nothing of angels speaks to the loss within.
Where is the key to life? In the darkness fumbling,
They cannot see, who witness everything.

Nothing compels, nothing but Joy Incarnate!
How long can Life Triumphant hold back glee?
One small-breathed name, the universe is sundered!
One word of His sets every prisoner free!

Joy, full-winged Joy, lights on the downcast shoulders!
Never such dawn, never such day begun!
The long-held secret, shouted through creation!
Drink, deeply drink, the joy of victory won!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Strange Love

No one else has ever loved me the way Jesus did ..
So strangely, o beloved
You show Your love to me
You did not put on beauty
To win my loyalty
You did not show Your power
To dazzle my dim sight
You dressed You as a beggar
And drew men’s scorn and spite.

Ah yes, You came to woo me
For my sake you did fight
Against the fiends of darkness
You were my faithful knight
My wretchedness to ransom,
You, Lord, were wounded sore
Your very life surrendered
In that strange silent war.

O public was Your shame Lord
But quiet Your victory
In silent dawnswept morning
From depths of mystery
You triumphed there, Beloved,
You overwhelmed the grave
And, gift beyond my dreaming
Your own life to me gave


We have a tradition in our church on Good Friday. As we go into church, each person is given a red rose. A large wooden cross is put in the centre at the front of the church. At the end of the service there is silence. People are left to go up and kneel before the cross in silent prayer, as they are ready, and at the conclusion of their prayers, throw their rose at the foot of the cross as an act of rededication.


They lie there, on the floor,
Red as my trampled heart.
Yet each one, perfect in beauty,
Offering back it’s fragrance to its Maker:
Can a yielded heart be fragrant too?

He lies there, in the empty coffin
He who emptied the tomb
And will fill my empty heart.
He has left His beauty now,
The last part lies scattered,
No beauty, no majesty to draw our eyes.

And I lie here, inwardly,
Acknowledging my brokenness,
Feeling betrayal, scorn,
And the refting of my tattered heart.
How shall I hold Him
When my self is full of holes?

No offering is wasted.
Each one is gathered up
Precious and lovely.
He can count all His bones.
There is water for the thirsty
Peace for the broken
Hands that will gather and hold
And a gate is swung wide open to the Father’s heart.

His coffin
Not mine.
Because he claimed it
And in doing so, claimed me.

It's been a while ..

But I'm back. Life got a bit busy .. with college .. with having my house unshipped for new carpet .. with preaching in church for 5 weeks straight .. and with having a lot on my mind. But I'm here, and I thought I'd include a couple of stories i've recently come across. The first I plan to use as a sermon illustration in a couple of weeks (on the passage about 'who is my mother and my brother?' what it means to be in Jesus' family) The second one I used a week ago, on discipleship, as an illustration of what it means to die to self. Hope you are as touched by these stories as I was .

It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all.

As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me."

Chrysostom was the patriarch of Constantinople in the fourth century. One of the stories surrounding this faithful witness concerns the occasion when the Roman emperor had him arrested and charged with being a Christian. If Chrysostom did not renounce Christ, then the emperor would have this Christian leader banished from the kingdom. Chrysostom responded to the threat by saying that the emperor could not do so, “because the whole world is my Father’s kingdom.” “Then,” replied the emperor, “I will take away your life.” To which Chrysostom said, “You cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God.” Next threatened with the loss of his treasure, this saint replied, “You cannot, for my treasure is in heaven where my heart is.” The emperor made one last effort: “Then I will drive you away from here and you shall have no friend left.” But again Chrysostom responded, “You cannot, for I have one Friend from whom you can never separate me. I defy you for you can do me no harm.”