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Saturday, 23 April 2022

Easter 2 reflection: Thomas

Thomas based on Jn 20:19-31
Not for you 
the hiding behind locked doors:
Thomas, the doer;
practical, shrewd.
Even in grief –
especially in grief –
people have to eat
and food doesn’t just
appear as if by magic, 
does it?
Do you smile at the thought,
remembering a hill,
some loaves and fishes,
an unexpected, very large picnic?

Not for you
hemming yourself in from fear:
Thomas, the daring;
pragmatic, brave.
Even when risk –
especially when risk –
is looming,
you square your shoulders
and walk with him to Jerusalem
to die.
Do you wince at the thought,
remembering a hill,
a cross of wood and nails,
an unexpected, yet expected ending?

Not for you
closing yourself away:
Thomas, the anything but doubting;
prophetic, wise.
Even when faced –
especially when faced –
with the unthinkable,
unlike the others, you worship,
for you see him as he is:
divine.
Do you laugh at the thought,
remembering the upper room,
his side, his hands,
an unexpected, yet predicted beginning?
     c.Nik Mac 2022

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Easter Sunday - Mary - from John 20:1-18

Mary...

Entirely possessed –
bedevilled.
Your steps much lighter
since he met you
where you were.
You turned your face
toward the Son
and flourished.

Possessed now by grief –
a withering.
Your steps, are heavy
as you go to
where he is.
He turned his face
toward Jerusalem
and perished.

Self-possessed –
blossoming.
He blooms with life
in all its fullness
as he meets you
where you are.
You turn again
toward the Son...
astonished.
            c.Nik Mac 2022

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Holy Week reflections - Thursday: 'The usual, unusual story'

It is the usual story, 
accompanied by the usual food.

It is the usual rabbi, 
accompanied by the usual group of disciples.

It is the usual conversation, 
accompanied by the usual jests 
and theological point-scoring.

That is, it is the usual, until the unusual happens.
Mid-meal, the usual rabbi suddenly rises 
from the table and starts disrobing.
This unusual action has got their full attention.

Dressed in just his tunic, a towel around his waist,
the usual rabbi looks unusually fragile.
Chatter stopped, they listen as the water falls into the bowl,
watch in silence as he kneels before them: as servant.

The usual meal has become unusually awkward
as the natural order of things is overturned
and feet are washed by the Master.

It is the usual way of things that Peter misunderstands
and then jumps in with both feet first.

The unusual usual rabbi teaches as he washes,
showing them the way of loving service.

All is upturned:
it is the unusual that is to become the usual.
Bread becomes body, wine becomes blood,
power is stripped of ego.

It is an unusual story, 
accompanied by unusual food.

It is an unusual rabbi, 
accompanied by an unusual group named ‘friends’, 
gathered through the ages.

It is an unusual conversation, 
accompanied by unusual love shown in word and action.

That is, it is the unusual, until it becomes the usual...
for, usually, love is a work in progress.

      I give you a new commandment, 
      that you love one another. 
      Just as I have loved you, 
      you also should love one another.
      By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, 
      if you have love for one another

  c.Nik Mac 2022

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Holy Week reflections - Tuesday: 'We would see Jesus'

We would see Jesus
based on John 12:20-36

The cheers of Sunday, faded now,
replaced by whispered plotting.
Shadows stretch and linger –
darkness strives to overtake the light.
Time moves towards the hour,
inexorable, unrelenting.
Though even now,
there those who would see Jesus.
No more space for telling stories:
urgency brings forth
stark, unvarnished truths.
To see him
will be to witness
pain and death and grief;
a raising up
and cutting down.
In this defeat
he talks of ‘glory’;
the grain of wheat
upon the ground
bears fruit.
In sacrifice and service –
love is shown
in flesh and blood and bone.
                  c.Nik Mac 2022

Monday, 11 April 2022

Holy Week reflections: Monday - Martha and Mary, revisited

Martha and Mary, revisited.

Martha,
forever the ‘practical one’:
remembers the smell of death,
remembers her brother’s grave,
the Lord’s call to take away the stone
separating the lifeless from the living.
She remembers the sounds –
rock rolling away,
the voice crying
‘Lazarus, come out’,
the stumbled shuffling
of cloth-bound feet
moving from darkness
into light.
Mary,
forever the ‘spiritual one’
feels again the hot tears
on her cheeks,
her brother’s warmth
as she holds him,
not quite daring to let go.

Martha,
forever the ‘practical one’:
prepares the meal they will share,
prepares a celebration of life
for Lazarus, brought back, from tomb to home
with rejoicing and thanksgiving.
She prepares the places –
serves the meal
to hungry guests,
the Lord among them.
Smell of food
replaced by scent of nard;
its fragrance fills
the room.
Mary,
forever the ‘spiritual one’,
now, as priest, anoints then
wipes his feet
with hair unbound
as Judas scolds her
not quite daring to believe.
        c.Nik Mac 2022

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Lectionary leanings - Epiphany 3C: 'Good' news?

'Good' news?

So, he’s back,
Mary’s golden child;
carpenter’s son—
at least, he may be,
the birth details were,
shall we say,
a little... sketchy.

The local boy, done well.
He’s made a name for himself
and so, when he stands to read,
then sits to teach,
we listen;
after all, we’re not close-minded folk.

Words of comfort spill forth
from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.
A good passage, with its promises
of a happy, heavenly hereafter—
where even the ones clearly cursed by God
find welcome relief and restoration.

“The year of the Lord’s favour”
is a nice touch:
time for Jubilee
and resetting the clock,
settling old scores peaceably,
redistributing resources.

Yep, for those who didn’t lift a finger,
those who sat about and didn’t work,
it’s all going to be good news,
in the great by and by.

Of course, of course,
we all want justice,
but this side of heaven,
we do what we need
to get by,
make our mark,
give our children
a good head start,
a wee step up the ladder—
after all, God helps those who help themselves
and I’ve made very sure to help myself.

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

What, now??
I don’t think so, son,
some of us have way too much to lose.
How is this ‘good’ news?
Watch yourself:
that sort of talk will get you killed.
                        c.Nik Mac 2022

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Lectionary leanings: Epiphany 2C - 'You were ever about joy'

'You were ever about joy'

The first miracle
was turning water into wine –
you were ever hospitable.
Social embarrassment 
ironically saved
by transforming water 
for washing shame away
into heaven’s finest vintage.
No holding back,
no half-measures,
jars full to overflowing
meant for celebration.
The first miracle
was a celebration of abundance –
you were ever about joy.
In a feast
lately flowing with wine
the glory of the kingdom
danced in,
singing merrily of 
life in all its fulness.
               c.Nik Mac 2022

Thursday, 4 November 2021

I would praise you

I would praise you
but in times like these, 
praise is hard.
I would praise you
but all around, politicians lie, cronyism is rife,
and those in power care little for the least of these.
I would praise you
but worldwide, oil spills kill,
ice caps melt, temperatures rise,
and apathy and greed are killing our planet.
I would praise you
but everywhere, COVID creates fear,
the poor are still poor,
and refugees flee their homes,
looking for safe harbours to take them in.

I would praise you
for in times so hard,
 praise is all I have.
I would praise you for all around, leaders fail and fall
and only you are faithful, and reign forever.
I would praise you
for worldwide, even marred,
 creation bears your imprint
and your sheer will holds and heals it still.
I would praise you
for everywhere you watch over widows,
 strangers, orphans
and feed the hungry,
and lift the ones bowed down. 

I would praise you
because in times so hard,
times like these,
praise is both call to faith and call to action.
I would praise you
because all around mortal plans crumble into dust
and your promise lasts for all generations.
I would praise you
because worldwide, you sustain all that is
and lives, and moves, and has its being.
I would praise you
because everywhere, you champion the oppressed
and bring the light of hope into the darkest places.
I would praise you
even when, at times, the offering of praise is made
through gritted teeth.
I would praise you. 
       Nik Macdonald 2021

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Worship words for 12 Sept - P16

Ugh, life has been a little too busy!!
Must get my act together a wee bit more on this poor neglected blog.
in the meantime, some worship words for this Sunday, focusing upon the reading from James 3:1-13 and the power of words...

Sticks and stones/
The wee ditty rings out:
‘sticks and stones
may break my bones,
but names will never hurt me.’

Bravado that rings hollow.

Words matter,
words batter
and bruise the heart,
the soul.   

Words shatter –
words scatter
glassy shards
of self-image, 
diminish
those created
in God’s likeness,
‘til all that once was whole
lies broken.

Be mindful
of the certain poisoned sweetness
of the tongue.
  c.Nik Mac 2021

Blessing/
May the Word of Life
breathe love into all you say.
Speak well and speak wisely,
console and speak kindly.
Speak truth to power.
Leave space for others to speak.

In all you say—
bless and encourage,
comfort and inspire.
May your words be loving,
life-giving,
honouring the God
in whose image
all are made,
the One who spoke creation into being,
and who speaks words of blessing to us
this day and every day. 
  c.Nik Mac 2021

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Trinity Sunday - a short reflection

Beyond/                                                                              
We try,
and fail,
to describe you,
God 
beyond words,
and imagination.

We try,
and fail,
to contain you,
God
beyond space
and time.

Wholly other,
and holy other.
Immense;
God 
who cannot be 
hemmed in.

Majestic.
Mysterious.
Supremely glorious;
God 
to be worshipped
and adored.

Finite
creatures,
in your presence
we
fall down,
fall apart,
fall.

Infinite
Creator,
you 
catch us
cleanse us
call...

As seraphs
listen
in timeless eternity,
‘Yes,’
we utter,
all hushed awe.
     c.Nik Mac 2021

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Lectionary leanings for Easter 5B

 A wee reflection I wrote for a project that I'm a part of.

This, picking up the 'vine and branches' theme for Sunday's RCL 
reading of John 15:1-8...

‘I am’, you said,
‘the true vine.’
And I...
am connected:
a branch.

At times,
firm and strong,
flourishing and fruiting
with kindness and care;
peaceful, patient.
Rooted in love,
watered with grace,
tended with tenderness.

But Lord, at times,
I’m barely clinging on,
faltering and flailing,
wondering if you’re there;
rattled and restless.
Wretched, alone –
withered, joy gone,
heavy with helplessness.

In the green times
and the dry,
still, you remain
and so, connected,
help me abide.
  c.Nik Mac 11/2020

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Maundy Thursday, in a time of pandemic...

Maundy Thursday, in a time of pandemic...  

This Maundy Thursday,
there’ll be no shared meal around a table
for there’d be more
than two households who’d gather;
no washing of feet,
nor a beloved disciple coorying in;
no touching, no hugging—
and where a kiss is a betrayal
on a variety of levels.

In a time of pandemic,
when simple touch
can lead to death,
how then to show God’s love,
to do as Jesus has done for us?

Loving one another is:
a facemask worn;
the skoosh of sanitiser,
falling cool upon hands
when making entries and exits;
making space—
at least two metres.

There are other ways to practice love—
to touch hearts without touching:
be deliverers of medicines,
of food,
of news,
or, stay home—
for that, too, is an act of loving service.

Support the local food bank.
Phone a friend,
ask them how they really are—
and give the gift of listening
when, timidly, they tiptoe past ‘fine’
and move into harder honesty.

This Maundy Thursday,
we follow the command to love
by touching other’s lives...
without touching.
                    c.Nik Mac 2021

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Snakes on a [wilderness] plain: thoughts on Numbers 21:4-9

Having a conversation with some colleagues about this passage, there was talk of whingeing in the wilderness. Familiarity with a text can be both a good and a bad thing! But this time, as I began to try to walk in some wilderness shoes, I found a community of fear and grief, a community of people who were reacting in the way that some do, in circumstances where life has been so utterly changed, and the Promised Land is both an unknown quantity, and an unknown distance. A community who want to believe in the God who has liberated them from Egypt, and yet, who find it so hard in the hot searing sun of the wilderness, when each step forward saps your energy... and then, have to contend with snakes on a wilderness plain.
And so, a reflection of sorts:

A tough love, this.

A tough love, this.

Wilderness wandering,
weary wondering:
‘are we nearly there yet?’

But they do not know where ‘there’ is.

What they do know is:
blasting heat by day,
surprising cold by night;
sand and stone,
occasional bones
bleached clean;
scavengers hovering,
picking off
the ones who fall behind.

No signs of life here,
only dust and death.
Is this their promised freedom?

And some grow nostalgic,
rewrite the past
as a glorious feast
of life.

Slowly
a creeping mutiny begins
in the arid landscape
of their hearts,
and moves outwards;
insinuates itself throughout the camp,
undermines the voice,
the vision,
that led them from slavery.

Hope seeps away
like sweat in the sun
and they are undone
by toxic murmuring.
New life slithers among them,
with a sting.

Stunned
from their misremembered past,
they cry out to heaven,
call upon the One
who brought them to this place,
this strange new freedom.

They are not a petulant people,
but traumatised
and afraid:
there will be wobbles
on the way
to the promised land.

Until then...
a tough love, this,
that removes one poison
through another.
           c.Nik Mac 2021

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

'Ten words' - thoughts on Exodus 20:1-17

The Ten Commandments - panel at
the National Museum of Scotland
 At first, the Ten Commandments were not referred to as such, but rather as the ‘ten words’ which, later in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint, was translated as the ‘decalogue’. These ‘ten words’ were not written in order to beat people with a stick, but rather, were meant to be life enhancing. They are words that are relational—words aimed at living at peace with God, yourself, your neighbours—words that have as their prime motivation, love.

Ten words—
the Decalogue;
Love,
as I have loved you.
Love yourself.
Love others.

Ten words—
summed up in one:
Love.
Not a trap to trip you,
beat you down
or smother.

Ten words—
that show God’s heart.
Love,
that guards and guides you;
seeks the best...
and where peace prospers.
     c.Nik Mac 2021

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Transfigured

original painting by Dominic Martinelli - see:
https://www.dominicmartinelli.com/blog/the-transfiguration/
A wee reflection for this upcoming Transfiguration Sunday...

Transfigured                                              
Scrambling and scrabbling over scree, 
snaking their way along ridges 
on the barest of trails, 
they climb,
leaving earthly things behind. 
Clambering with effort around crags, 
avoiding cliff edges, 
looking up occasionally, and feeling dizzy, 
still they follow him. 
He ascends the heights 
like Moses did so long ago, 
he, who wrote the Law on stone. 

They pause awhile upon the mountaintop, 
almost, but not quite, the roof of the world, 
and suddenly, the light is blinding, 
bright, white; 
searing the scales from disciples’ eyes. 
And for a moment, here, closer to the heavens, 
they see him for who he truly is: 
magnificent and glorious, 
majestic. 
Shining amid rocky pinnacles 
the humble rabbi 
is transfigured – 
shot through with shafts of 
burning brilliant white, 
exalted, 
conversing in illustrious company. 
Moses, the Law maker, 
Elijah, the prophet, 
return to the mountaintop 
to meet with the Messiah – 
transcendent anointing. 

Senses ravished by unearthly beauty, 
desperate to stay, 
Peter babbles of pitching tents, 
unable to understand 
the mystery and glory of the moment. 
It passes. 
They slope back down from the summit, 
subdued, and told to keep the secret: 
a truth that they cannot comprehend 
when they descend 
and are more earthly-minded. 
And only after pain and grief, 
execution, 
and a resurrection 
will they truly see him for who he is once more. 
            c.Nik Mac

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

'Launching out' - a reflection on the baptism of Jesus

Launching out

They grow so fast. 

The new-born duly celebrated,
decorations are quickly packed away.
The hidden years flow by
until we see him,
a man of thirty,
standing by the River Jordan.
 
A new birth:
he will take the plunge,
immerse himself into his calling.
 
Having been the source
of good tidings so long ago,
the time has come
for spreading comfort and joy,
and speaking God’s freedom
in a time of oppression.
 
There will be upsets,
and noses put firmly out of joint.
 
The ending will be...
unexpected –
even though he’d tell his friends
to expect his imminent return.
 
But...
this first new day
must be marked.
 
He will slough off the sawdust
of a carpenter’s workshop,
follow his destiny.
 
As he stands dripping,
drenched in holy affirmation,
he trusts the One
he has followed
since before he can even remember.
 
Diving from high heaven,
a dove confirms
that all is well.
   c.Nik Mac

Thursday, 24 December 2020

'Wrapped warm in love' - a wee poem

I enjoy trying to rise to the challenge of a villanelle - the form and structure can be a little maddening, but it's fun.

Here's one I wrote for Christmas:

Wrapped warm in love
The new-born child in her embrace
Sleeps softly now this first Yuletide,
Wrapped warm in love: God’s act of grace.

Born to save the human race,
In wholly humble dwelling bides
The new-born child in her embrace.

And angel-song fills heavenly space,
And God, on earth, is glorified,
Wrapped warm in love: God’s act of grace.

Shocked shepherds leave their flocks, make haste,
To see the One long-prophesied:
The new-born child in her embrace.

The holy in the commonplace –
The Word with humans now resides
Wrapped warm in love: God’s act of grace.

All gathered, look upon the face;
Enfleshed, God’s love is signified -
The new-born child in her embrace,
Wrapped warm in love: God’s act of grace.
   [c.Nik Mac]

Thursday, 17 December 2020

'Have yourself an edgy little Christmas': a memory

Remembering a Christmas from long ago...  

She had wanted to be edgy, a wee bit trendy;
to deconstruct tired Christmas tree traditions.
Day by day, she walked the beach
eyes scanning shells and sand,
dismissing plastic bottles with peeling, faded labels,
ignoring soft pink jellyfish splayed out in hot summer sun.
Among the seaweed hummocks
she found what she was looking for,
felt the smoothness of sea-washed wood in her hand.
She nodded, pleased, gave a ‘this will do nicely’ smile.
Once dried and cleaned,
rustic natural charm was replaced –
overlaid by spray of glossy white paint.
Slung between two wall lamps by fishing line,
hung with assorted baubles, shining red,
driftwood that had once been part of something bigger
seemed to make the season strangely small.
There were presents, wrapped and stacked against the wall
but firm: ‘no room for a tree this year.’
It seemed oddly fitting:
in this deconstructed Christmas
there was little room for Jesus.

When the child grew up
and made her own way in the world,
she reconstructed what felt to her like Christmas.
No matter where she lived, 
how big or small her home,
there was always a tree to lay wrapped presents under –
room enough to remind her of that other gift:
of the babe wrapped in bands of cloth and laid within the manger.
   [c.Nik Mac]

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

'This year of cancelled things...' - Advent 1, yrB

Based on Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37
'This year of cancelled things...'

Watching and waiting,
wary,
and weary with it.
Even so:
'Keep awake!'
comes the prophet's cry,
ringing out 
this year of cancelled things:
concerts and carnivals,
chit-chat and dreams crushed;
losses, collected like unwanted trophies.
Time, suspended,
turns hours into eternities
of fretful forgetfulness;
blue regret
paints our days.
'Stay alert,'
the prophet whispers,
as if we were not already in a state of hyper-vigilance.
Yet, beneath the whispered warning,
something else:
a sliver of light,
a shiver of encouragement 
in one small, wondered 'why?'
To keep awake,
to stay alert 
means
that there is more.
These are watchwords of hopefulness.
Dawn follows dark.
All will fade, and all will be made new.
In starlight's glimmer we glimpse
a pathway to a stable
full of promise
and hear, in the near,
footsteps
pregnant with possibility.
     c.Nik Mac 11/2020

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Labels

Noodling about with the idea of identity in this week's reading from the RCL:
Matt 16:13-20, I was reminded of an old sketch by Rikki Fulton, in his persona of the 
Rev. I. M. Jolly, commenting on a baptism and forgetting the child's name.
'Spindonna Jaiket' comes the reply from the father.
The Rev. is bemused by these strange new names that people feel the need to come up with...
he begins the baptism 'I baptise thee, Spindonna, in the name of...'
and is interrupted hastily by same parent, pointing to the label on the wee one's gown upon
which the child's name has been pinned -
'No you fool, there! There! Spindonna jaiket!'
[which in a good Weegie accent = It's pinned on her jacket]
From that ridiculously silly sketch, I began thinking about labels and identity and the questions 
Jesus poses to his disciples -
'Who do people say I am?'
and
'Who do you say I am?'

Anyway, from my noodling and silly dialect sketches came the following:

Labels/
Labels: 
John, the baptiser;
Elijah, ravens’ friend
(and occasional flame thrower);
weeping Jeremiah, perhaps,
in an echoing well?
A prophet –
just a random
one for any occasion?
The expectations of the people
are pinned on Jesus’ jacket
but cannot
pin him down.

Another label:
the One,
the Son
not just any old son...
this One
is of the Living God.
Not wood,
not stone
but flesh and blood
and bone.

Somehow,
in the mystery,
God has put skin on
trying on ‘human’
for size:
becoming
a waymarker
pointing us
to life
less wooden,
to hearts
less stony;
showing,
in who He is,
whose we are
and what it means
to fully live.
Our expectations of the Promised Messiah
are pinned on Jesus' jacket...
while we
are pinned as Jesus’ own.

c.Nik Mac 2020