The Government Upon His Shoulder…”

Today I was remembering a walk in a beach a long time ago now, when I believe I saw supernatural in-breaking of the Kingdom of God accompanying the meeting of  the very human need and desire of a small child ,who had been through a time of strain, to walk and play  on the beach. I won’t go into the whole story as many of you will have heard it before anyway. But the result of that day is that ever since I have carried a vision of God’s Kingdom that has a more human need based face than I had before. Oh there was always a human need aspect to what I thought of when I thought of God’s Kingdom breaking in: men, women and children would find their deepest need for repentance and reconciliation with God met. For me there is no greater need than that, but in a sense my vision up until that walk on the beach was a bit limited.

This is the season when we will remember that a child is born to us a Son is given to us… and the Government shall be upon his shoulders, a government that will increase and know no end.

What does your vision of the Kingdom of God breaking in and becoming real look like.

Today I made some rough notes as I was reading some of Henri Nouwen’s writings and also some bits and pieces from Brennan Manning. Here are some half-quotes and the attendant thoughts scribbled in my notebook. Allow me to share them with you with slight alterations to make them remotely sensible to you and not just to me:

Sparked off by H. Nouwen: “When I think about The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, is there room in my  vision for some of the phrases and thoughts awakened by verses about God’s Kingdom in Scripture that H.N.  uses in his writings?

… a peaceable kingdom in which all violence has been overcome and (in which) all men, women and children (are) living in loving unity with nature….

…every time we forgive….make a child smile…. show compassion…. arrange a bouquet of flowers….offer care to tame or wild animals…..prevent pollution….create beauty in our homes and gardens….work for peace and justice…..we are making the vision come true…’

I feel thanksgiving arising for Flower Festivals in Churches (never thought that day would come in time or eternity, I have to say!) and Donkey Sanctuaries….Love it!” I wonder if a Pentecostal has ever written a book called, “God’s KIngdom: In praise of Flower Festivals and Doneky Sanctuaries.” Mmm…maybe….

Sparked off by B. Manning: “What does the Government that was placed upon Christ’s shoulders look like. I guess it is the mantle of the cross and its outworking as it grows on the earth is cross shaped too:

B.Manning: ‘accepted suffering is not just a good way of doing things, or an ideal to be carried out when convenient – it’s the only way to overcome evil. The only way. This goes cross grain to every molecule in me, Father. Yet, I pray not my will but yours this day.’

Jesus’s Kingdom will grow on earth through me this day, when I conquer evil in the ways it seeks to destroy the will of God in me or in others I meet this day in my life or theirs, my circumstances or theirs, in the continuing story of God in me or in them. It cannot be reduced to programmes or movements. The weapons at times look inferior, less forceful than the weapons evil uses, but Jesus showed they worked: the cross could be mocked, but the weakness of God (astonishing phrase) was the power of God. Violence, injustice, betrayal seem so hideously strong, but if the government is upon Christ’s shoulder it means despite all appearances, mercy, non retaliation, love, prayer, weakness yielded to God are more powerful still.”

Further thoughts over night:

The cross, the government laid upon His shoulders:

What a comfortable place the uncomfortable Kingdom of God is to live in when you spiritualise it all… the Word, adhere to principles without doing the deeds, turn an altar of comnsuming blazing fire into smoke machine smoochy ballads, remove the life long debt of gratitude from the debt cancelling cross.

I hope my jottings bless you. If not, well they blessed me anyway when first jotted them!

God Bless


Mulled wine recipe….

A couple of thoughts to spark off your own thinking. No need to post your thoughts unless you want to!

Many churches think about John the Baptist at some point in Advent:

Firstly: John the Baptist, according to Jesus, was greater than anyone else born of women, including all the prophets, yet he performed no miracles unlike Elijah in whose spirit and power he had appeared and lived and ministered. There was something about him more important than miracles ( as indeed there was about Elijah) that merited honouring from Christ. What was it?

Secondly: John was greater than anyone born of woman but, according to Jesus, the very least in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, is greater than he. What is that greater greatness? Again it cant be anything to do with miracles as John was considered greater than any of the miracle working prophets, or those who had taken remarkable steps of faith in the Old Testament. So what is the greater greatness of the children of the Kingdom?

…maybe a 3rd. question, just for free!

Thirdly: According to Jesus, his disciples (and their successors) would do “greater works” than the disciples had seen him do up until the moment he made that prediction? What are the greater works? “Greater” is an interesting word in John’s Gospel. Maybe you will find clues in your thoughts about question 1 and 2. I have also thrown in a clue in the way I have framed question 3.

Happy Advent Mulling and Christmas Cogitating!


God Bess


Holler or Heal? That is the question.

Was challenged by a phrase in a book of Advent Readings by Thomas Merton. When we meet or discern error in a church setting can we confront that without being “rebellious or indiscreet” ? Perhaps as evangelicals our zeal for truth sometimes results in our being too ready to shout out about the errors of whatever church, denomination etc. we belong to. That may bring us a certain admiration in the small pond in which we are considered to be a big champion type of fish but doesn’t do much beyond that small pond of preening and mutual admiration.

If we see a wound in a church setting, let’s ask God what we can do to heal it in His grace and by His wisdom.

God bless


Shrug off the snake’s slivering insinuation, Man of God, Woman of God!

Over my years as a parish minister, people often spoke with good will into my situation who were not in my situation or in the place of my calling. (Incidentally I had not usually asked them to speak into my situation. Occasionally I had the courage to calmly and politely tell them so, which shocked  and unnerved them!) Sometimes their thoughts truly helped me, often they were pretty useless and unhelpful. When they were unhelpful, it was usually because they were programmatic and glib as though the recipe for “success” being offered was fail safe and unquestionably true for every situation.

These thoughts were awakend this morning, by a book of daily readings I have turned back to many times over the years by E. Stanely Jones. His thoughts for this day were based on Luke Chapter 4 and on two verses which are a mere ten verses apart. In verse 4 of that chapter we read of Jesus being full of the power of the Spirit. In verse 24 we read of this same Jesus announcing a truth that a prophet (himself) was not always welcome in his own country.

The soil matters. I hope that encourages those of you who are maybe in church settings that you know the Lord has called you to, but there is not much fruit to show. You have maybe felt condemned by the implications of some people that there must be something wrong with you, your spirituality, that you are lacking in the Spirit’s fullness or whatever.

The soil matters. It does not all depend on you, man of God, woman of God, tested in the wilderness and full of the Spirit. Don’t allow a charge to rest upon you that is unjustified. May God assure you this weekend that you are in the place you are meant to be and even  in the condition you are meant to be in.

God Bless


Are you living in the kindness of God toward you?

I have no idea who Kevin O’Shea is but I read something he said and I like it. It helps me be honest about whether or not I am living in “the wisdom of accepted tenderness,” (Brennan Manning).

Here is the quote:

“One rejoices in being unfrightened to be open to the healing presence, no matter what one might be or what one might have done.”

Today, may the God whose kindness and love appeared in the world in Christ to save us (Titus 3:4) help you, whoever you are, to be able to replace with conviction “One” with “I” in the quote. May the church fellowship to which you belong be able to replace “One” with “We.”

God bless