Monday 30 December 2013

LECTIONARY EPIPHANY: Pilgrims (Matthew 2:1-12)


“Sons” of sorcerers,

Voyeurs and stargazers,

Occultists and esoterics,

From the East,

They came,

On the path of a night star,

This bright beacon,

Seen from afar,

Read and interpreted,

Deduced and dissected,

The meaning inscribed,

On night’s dark canvas,

Treading across borders,

And through lands with foreign names,

Seeking something beyond,

Beyond the dalliances of the everyday,






Gnostic wisdom,

All to be found,

In the foetal form of a king?

This journey undertaken,

A pilgrimage across cultures,

And through the unknown terrain,

Of alien lands,

On and to,

A steward of the people,

Racked with self-doubt,

Weighed down with the expectations,

Of the Consulate,

The Imperial coinage of Caesar,

Tumbling down beside the paper-throne,

Of Herod,

And bidding the soothsayers adieu,

Did he never wonder,

How they came to stand before him?

And what thoughts played on his heart,

That disturbed him so vehemently?

As the magi left him,

Did his stomach churn?

Did he worry for his people?

Or did he worry only for the little patch of Empire,

He had held tight in his hand?

Whatever Herod’s thoughts,

The astronomers from the east,

Had in their hearts only one way to go,

This long pilgrimage was nearing its end,

Nearing a house,

Where a child hung to his mother,

For a moment,

Sheltered from the storms,

Of a future yet to be grasped,

And whatever they felt,

As they knelt in the dust,

And laid out splendour and finery,

In the dirt,

They worshipped,

They lowered their tired eyes,

Their pilgrimage was at its end,

Their course had been travelled,

The heaven’s had been followed,

To its king,

And his mother,

And God spoke,

The Father?

The Spirit?

The Son?

The host of heaven sent on a mission?

God spoke,

And the,

“Sons” of sorcerers,

Voyeurs and stargazers,

Occultists and esoterics,

From the East,

They listened.

And then they left.



Friday 27 December 2013

LECTIONARY CHRISTMAS 1 Christ was born in (Matthew 2:13-23)

Christ Was Born In


Christ was born in Abkhazia

Christ was born in Afghanistan

Christ was born in Albania

Christ was born in Algeria

Christ was born in Andorra

Christ was born in Angola

Christ was born in Anguilla

Christ was born in Antigua and Barbuda  

Christ was born in Argentina

 Christ was born in Armenia 

Christ was born in Aruba

Christ was born in Ascension

Christ was born in Australia

Christ was born in the Australian Antarctic Territory

Christ was born in Austria

Christ was born in Azerbaijan

Christ was born in the Bahamas

Christ was born in Bahrain

Christ was born in Bangladesh

Christ was born in Barbados

Christ was born in Belarus

Christ was born in Belgium

 Christ was born in Belize

Christ was born in Benin

Christ was born in Bermuda

Christ was born in Bhutan

Christ was born in Bolivia

Christ was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Christ was born in Botswana

Christ was born on Bouvet Island

Christ was born in Brazil

Christ was born in the British Antarctic Territory

Christ was born in the British Indian Ocean Territory

Christ was born on the British Virgin Islands

Christ was born in Brunei

Christ was born in Bulgaria

Christ was born in Burkina Faso

Christ was born in Burundi

Christ was born in Cambodia

Christ was born in Cameroon

Christ was born in Canada

Christ was born in Cape Verde

Christ was born on the Cayman Islands

Christ was born in the Central African Republic

Christ was born in Chad

Christ was born in Chile

Christ was born in China

Christ was born on Christmas Island

Christ was born in Colombia

Christ was born in Comoros

Christ was born on Cocos Islands

Christ was born on the Cook Islands

Christ was born in the Coral Sea Islands Territory

Christ was born in Costa Rica

Christ was born in Côte d'Ivoire

Christ was born in Croatia

Christ was born in Cuba

Christ was born in Curaçao

Christ was born in Cyprus

Christ was born in Czech Republic

Christ was born in Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Christ was born in Denmark

Christ was born in Djibouti

Christ was born in Dominica

Christ was born in Dominican Republic

Christ was born in East Timor

Christ was born in Ecuador

Christ was born in Egypt

Christ was born in El Salvador

Christ was born in Equatorial Guinea

Christ was born in Eritrea

Christ was born in Estonia

Christ was born in Ethiopia

Christ was born in Falkland Islands

Christ was born in Faroe Islands

Christ was born in Fiji

Christ was born in Finland

Christ was born in France

Christ was born in French Polynesia

Christ was born in French Southern and Antarctic Lands

Christ was born in Gabon

Christ was born in Georgia

Christ was born in Germany

Christ was born in Ghana

Christ was born in Gibraltar

Christ was born in Greece

Christ was born in Greenland

Christ was born in Grenada

Christ was born in Guam

Christ was born in Guatemala

Christ was born in Guernsey

Christ was born in Guinea

Christ was born in Guinea-Bissau

Christ was born in Guyana

Christ was born in Haiti

Christ was born on Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Christ was born in Honduras  

Christ was born in Iceland

Christ was born in India

Christ was born in Indonesia

Christ was born in Iran

Christ was born in Iraq

Christ was born in Ireland

Christ was born on Isle of Man

Christ was born in Israel

Christ was born in Italy

Christ was born in Jamaica

Christ was born in Jan Mayen

Christ was born in Japan

Christ was born on Jersey

Christ was born in Jordan

Christ was born in Kazakhstan

Christ was born in Kenya

Christ was born in Kiribati

Christ was born in Kosovo

Christ was born in Kurdistan

Christ was born in Kuwait

Christ was born in Kyrgyzstan

Christ was born in Laos

Christ was born in Latvia

Christ was born in Lebanon

Christ was born in Lesotho

Christ was born in Liberia

Christ was born in Libya

Christ was born in Liechtenstein

Christ was born in Lithuania

Christ was born in Luxembourg

Christ was born in Macedonia

Christ was born in Madagascar

Christ was born in Malawi

Christ was born in Malaysia

Christ was born in the Maldives

Christ was born in Mali

Christ was born in Malta

Christ was born in Marshall Islands

Christ was born in Mauritania

Christ was born in Mauritius

Christ was born in Mexico

Christ was born in Micronesia

Christ was born in Moldova

Christ was born in Monaco

Christ was born in Mongolia

Christ was born in Montenegro

Christ was born in Montserrat

Christ was born in Morocco

Christ was born in Mozambique

Christ was born in Myanmar

Christ was born in Nagorno-Karabakh

Christ was born in Namibia

Christ was born in Nauru

Christ was born in Nepal

Christ was born in the Netherlands

Christ was born in New Caledonia

Christ was born in New Zealand

Christ was born in Nicaragua

Christ was born in Niger

Christ was born in Nigeria

Christ was born in Niue

Christ was born on Norfolk Island

Christ was born in Northern Cyprus

Christ was born on Northern Mariana Islands

Christ was born in Norway

Christ was born in Oman

Christ was born in Pakistan

Christ was born in Palau

Christ was born in Palestine

Christ was born in Panama

Christ was born in Papua New Guinea

Christ was born in Paraguay

Christ was born in Peru

Christ was born on Peter I Island

Christ was born in Philippines

Christ was born on Pitcairn Islands

Christ was born in Poland

Christ was born in Portugal

Christ was born in Puerto Rico

Christ was born in Qatar

Christ was born in Queen Maud Land

Christ was born in Republic of the Congo

Christ was born in Republic of the Sudan

Christ was born in Romania

Christ was born in Russia

Christ was born in Rwanda

Christ was born in Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

Christ was born on Saint Barthélemy

Christ was born on Saint Helen

Christ was born on Saint Kitts and Nevis

Christ was born on Saint Lucia

Christ was born on Saint Maarten

Christ was born on Saint Martin

Christ was born on Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Christ was born on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Christ was born in Samoa

Christ was born in San Marino

Christ was born in São Tomé and Príncipe

Christ was born in Saudi Arabia

Christ was born in Senegal

Christ was born in Serbia

Christ was born in Seychelles

Christ was born in Sierra Leone

Christ was born in Singapore

 Christ was born in Slovakia

 Christ was born in Slovenia

Christ was born in Solomon Islands

Christ was born in Somalia

Christ was born in Somaliland

Christ was born in South Africa

Christ was born in South Korea

Christ was born in South Ossetia

Christ was born in South Sudan

Christ was born in Spain

Christ was born in Sri Lanka

Christ was born on South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Christ was born in South Sudan   

Christ was born in Suriname

Christ was born in Swaziland

Christ was born in Sweden

Christ was born in Switzerland

Christ was born in Syria

Christ was born in Taiwan

Christ was born in Tajikistan

Christ was born in Tanzania

Christ was born in Thailand

Christ was born in The Gambia

Christ was born in The Syrian National Coalition

Christ was born in Togo

Christ was born in Tokelau

Christ was born in Tonga

Christ was born in Transnistria

Christ was born in Trinidad and Tobago

Christ was born on Tristan da Cunha

Christ was born in Tunisia

Christ was born in Turkey

Christ was born in Turkmenistan

Christ was born in Turks and Caicos Islands

Christ was born in Tuvalu

Christ was born in Uganda

Christ was born in Ukraine

Christ was born in United Arab Emirates

Christ was born in United Kingdom

Christ was born in United States of America

Christ was born in Uruguay

Christ was born in U.S. Virgin Islands

Christ was born in Uzbekistan

Christ was born in Vanuatu

Christ was born in Vatican City

Christ was born in Vietnam

Christ was born in Wallis and Futuna

Christ was born in Yemen

Christ was born in Zambia

Christ was born in Zimbabwe






First, originally the idea was to only mention countries where mass movements of people had taken place, to recognise the place that refugees have in the history of individual nations. As I thought through the process I realised that every “nation” will have had (or will in the near future) people (on a grand or minor scale) displaced in some way because of violence, the threat of violence, oppression, disaster, financial bankruptcy. I thus widened my scope from the notion of “refugees.” This is a list of places Kisa Gotami would have appreciated after her long walk in search of mustard seeds.

Second, I am indebted to Wikipedia for their list of sovereign states, . I am aware that many states have changed names and ownership throughout human history. I’m also aware that many states today are contested states. I have included Wikipedia’s list of “Other States” for this reason (you will note that they are interspersed through the main list via alphabetical order). I have not traced the history of nation states, and I have not included a list of nation states present at the time of Christ’s actual birth. I am also aware that those who reside in contested states may have their own affiliations with parent states. I am also aware that it could be seen that the alphabetisation in this list has removed certain states from relationship with their sovereign affiliated states. No offence is caused in any of these cases. If it is helpful, please read the list as merely a list of place names, this list doesn’t necessarily have to relate to a list of states. You may also question the use of the words “on” and “in” - the way I have written it has been done at my discretion (no political statement is meant by the use of “in” or “on” though I recognise that it might be possible to see it that way!) The same can be said about the use of the word “the”, too.

Third, you may dispute my decisions to include and / or omit certain names, you may also question my naming strategy, you may also question the inferences (intentional or unintentional) that specific inclusions or exclusions make, you may also question the system of alphabetisation that I have used. You may do all or some or none of these things. But in a spirit of openness and mutual journeying,  you may (not that you need permission !) So please note, this is not a comprehensive list of anything. - In fact, the complexity of such a list’s formation is (if anything) a reinforcement of the point of its existence.

Friday 20 December 2013

LECTIONARY ADVENT 4: of fathers,. Fathers and Sons (Matthew 1:18-25)

There it is,

Before he says anything,

He is marked out by sin,

In the world’s eyes,

He is subject to innuendo,

Aspersions whispered about his origins,

And his family background,

The one who will stand up for the outcast,

Is cast out by the standards of the sneering,

When he reads those words in Nazareth,

Some thirty years later,

He’ll know their power,

This Son of the Father,

Adopted by a would-be,

First-time father,

A father who acts with grace,

And dignity,

And decorum,

A father who will not let personal, emotional ruin,

Ruin the one he loves,

Instead Joseph becomes an embodied metaphor,

For the eternal father,

Joseph bears on his shoulders the weight of the sin

His fiancé “should” face,

To be left in disgrace,

Left out,

Left behind,

Left alone with her illegitimate child,

Yet Joseph’s heart’s resolve is pure,

His intentions worthy of monumental mentions,

And only then,

When his conscience and spirit sing out in one accord,

The matter settled in his heart,

Does the angel of the Lord descend,

Bearing news of glad tidings.


And so it was that God with us was born,

God as child,

The gap closed,

The angel’s words confirmed in truth,

Joseph holding in his hands, this youth,

The father holds the Son,

The Son of the Father in the hands of his father, adopted,

Adopted and chosen,

Adopted and accepted,

Accepted at birth,

Accepted to be forsaken,

Accepted to be denied,

Accepted to be tried,

Accepted to one day die,

This adopted son of a father,

Who would not let the world’s order destroy,

His love.

Saturday 14 December 2013

LECTIONARY ADVENT 3: There is news that is good (A poem in two parts). (Matthew 11:2-11)


"See what has happened!"

"See the course of events that have led to the coming of the word that you heard whispered through the prison bars."

"See what others have seen. Some for the first time."

"See through the eyes of your correspondents, witness what they witnessed."

"Through your people you ask a question, and I will not answer you in the way you might expect."

"Some say I speak in riddles and parables."

"And so it is. I speak to whom I want when I want and with what I want."

"I won't be cajoled into giving answers that I don't want to give."

"Even unto death."

"You ask if I am the one who is to come or if you must wait for another."

"Let the truthful witness of the lives I've touched speak to you."

"The blind see."

"The lame walk."

"The lepers are cleansed."

"The deaf hear."

"The dead live."

"And the poor hear Good News."

"This is the witness I give. This is my testimony. Told through the eyes and lives of those I've held and made whole."


Wandering towards the desert,
Helplessly hoping for a saviour,
For something,
For the soul's succour,
Reaching for an answer that will live on,
And give lived-meaning,
This answer so stirring,
That life might have a fresh leaning,
That captives might feel their chains fall,
That the land would be healed and would be whole.

"What did you expect in the wilderness? A reed shaken by the wind?"

Not this prophet for whom no place feels like home,
Not for this wandering hope-giver dressed in camel hair,
He wears no soft robes and he speaks no soft words,
The sentiments that slip from his lips slice reality in two,
In to two segments, a before and an after the before,
His aim and his role,
His life's work and his goal,
Predestined before time began,
To point from sin to a whole-life race to be ran,
For God's glory,
Lives telling the saviour's story,
Echoing down the ages,
Spoken of by sages,
Part of an eternity,
And called into never-ending fraternity, without a worldly answer.

"What did you expect in the wilderness? A reed shaken by the wind?"

Sunday 8 December 2013

LECTIONARY ADVENT 2: John (Matthew 3:1-12)

From before the moment you kicked and turned somersaults inside your mother's guts,
Your soul's sojourn was set,
Born to be the bearer of news the world would never forget,

From the desert you arrived camel hair covering your sides,
Tied around your waist with a belt of leather made,
And these characteristics, along with your penchant for honey and locust,
Are, at first glance, the headline grabbers.

But what really stood you out from the crowds who followed you,
To Jordan's shores and into the waters themselves,
What really stood you apart from the crowds were the words spoken,

From your lips into eternity you alone bore into the present the prophets past,
You alone called the people from wayward ways to the task,
No simple street preacher, you lived the words you spoke,

Stuck your neck out, ready to be beheaded,
For the sake of the king who would come,
The one you felt when inside your mothers tum, deep inside, your heart pounded,

But all that is history, and yet you,
You among the few still capture hearts and imaginations,
You still stew sensations inside so many,

Like a modern day prophet shouting down apartheid,
Calling down capitalism's more vociferous sins,
Tearing down walls that people's lives are built within,

You were the attention taker,
The sole role-model,
For so many,
And today you tear through lectionaries and liturgies,

Your call to turn back,
Echoing down through the vast tunnel of time,
From where it all began to where it will all end,

And we're grateful for your word,
That we've so easily ignored,
And we're thankful for your faithfulness,
And your challenge sharp as any sword,

Turn back, for the kingdom is coming,
And it's time to turn towards the Lord.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

A "sermon" for tomorrow.

Most of the time, in fact nearly all of the time I preach at my parish church I do so in a more traditional fashion. Yet I'm a poet at heart, I love the immediacy of language, I love rhyme and repetition, I love alliteration and I love pictures that unfurl as they are spoken.

When I read the readings for tomorrow I couldn't face the prospect of preaching a typical sermon: of discussing how this was not the first feeding miracle in Matthew's gospel. Or of speaking about how this feeding imagery will be interwoven throughout the gospels until that fateful meal in the upper room and beyond.

And nor could I face the idea of exegetical gymnastics with the reading from Isaiah. Such a fantastic and startlingly graphic and beautiful reading.

So I've decided to do something a bit different, to my usual delivery. I must admit, I'm on a bit of a journey with preaching at the moment. I'm revaluating its purpose and my role within the preaching ministry. I'm wondering about its effectiveness and I'm wondering about how I should go about my preaching.

I'm also wondering about my preaching voice. Not my tone and style of delivery, but the voice I bring to bear on the texts I am called to interpret afresh to each new generation, in and out of season. I'm not sure where the journey is leading in the long-term. (Probably in a big circle - like the pastoral cycle!)

I'm aware that scripture is potent and powerful. I'm aware of the responsibility of preaching. But I'm also aware more and more of the need to use the voice that I have been given to preach in the context in which I am planted. I'm also not sure where this goes missiologically, but I do pray that I'll be open to the Holy Spirit's leading with every fresh reading I am called to speak about.


Here are the NIV versions of the readings for tomorrow:

Isaiah 25:6-10

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
    let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
10 The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain;
    but Moab will be trampled in their land as straw is trampled down in the manure.


Matthew 15:29-37

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the
here And here is the response/sermon/poem (after a large build-up - this could have been two blog posts!)

11AM Spoken Traditional Language Eucharist. Wednesday 4th December 2013. St. Mary’s Nantwich.

Isaiah 25:6-10 + Matthew 15:29-37

May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.


Come to the banquet!

Come to the feast!

Bring the sick!

Bring those who have no hope!

Bring those who are broke!

Bring those who are broken!

Bring those without a dream!

Bring those without a reason to go on!

Bring the lost and the never known!

Bring the homeless and the wanderer!

Bring the bereft of options and the blessed of lack!

Bring the heavy hearted and the thin-waisted!

Bring the poor!

Bring the sick!

Bring the hurting and the helpless!

Bring the cursed and the blinded!

Bring the ones who carry shattered dreams!

Bring the ones who’ve never taken a step in their lives!

Bring those whose lives are yet to truly begin!

Bring the shrieking and the shattered!

Bring the frozen with fear!

Bring the excluded and the un-honourable!

Bring the tired who suffer from a tiredness most people will never know!

Bring the un-cleanable!

Bring the unredeemed!

Bring the peace-less and the placeless!

Bring the failed and the faint!

Bring life’s folly’s!

Bring those familiar with false hopes!

Bring the jaded and germ-bearer!

Bring the pestilence’s fodder!

Bring the diseased!

Bring them all!

Gather them in!

Bring them to a feast!

Bring them to a banquet!

Bring them to a feast of heaven!

Bring them to a meal that is a miracle!

Bring the world weary to this most amazing of matinee meals!

Bring them on mats!

Bring them on crutches!

Bring them on heavy laden backs!

Bring them because....!

Bring them because they have no other hope!

Bring them because they will appreciate the opportunity!

Bring them to the one who speaks of living water!

Bring them to God’s Son!

Bring them to the Divine!

Bring them to the man who is acquainted with sorrows!

Bring them to the one who can bear their burdens!

Bring them to the feast!

The feast of the king!

The feast of the friend!

The feast for the faithful and faithless!

Bring the lame!

Bring the blind!

Bring the crippled!

Bring the mute!

Bring them to his feet!

Bring them before the day is done!

Bring them to the saviour son!

Bring them for they have nowhere else to go!

Bring them because no one else wants to know!

Bring them to the Father’s heart!

Bring them to the mountain!

Bring them to the fountain that flows with water that never ends!

Bring them into the saviour’s presence!

Bring them and bring yourselves!

Bring all that you bear!

Bring your fears and your anxieties!

Bring the dreams you’ve let go of!

Bring the hurts only you hold!

Bring the loved ones whose grip you long for!

Bring the cherished memories!

Bring your hopes that are beyond hope!

Bring your need of miracles!

Bring your lives of potential!

Bring your woes and weary words!

Bring your mouths filled with petitions that scratch your throat!

Bring your visions and your dreams!

Bring yourselves and your weaknesses!

Bring your joys and delights!

Bring your world weary wants!

Bring your fading passions and desires for peace!

Bring your anger and your guilt!

Bring your frustration and your faith!

Bring your delight in autumn and your despair at winter!

Bring your shattered reasons and your battered aspirations!

Bring your loved ones in your heart!

Bring the poor!

Bring the sick!

Bring the dying!

Bring the accusers!

Bring the shattered!

Bring the beaten and the bruised!

Bring the beater and the bruiser!

Bring everyone and everything up to the mountain!

Bring them all up to the mountain!

Bring them to the feet of the Lord!

Bring them to a banquet of loaves and fish!

Bring them to a banquet of aged wines and the best meats!

Bring them to the mountain where the shroud of death will be destroyed!

Bring them to the mountain where the Lord will wipe away all tears!

Bring them to the mountain where the Lord will clear away the world’s disgrace!

Bring them to the mountain of the Lord!

Bring them to the mountain of the Lord where the saviour gathers around him the crowds!

Bring them to the mountain where the people gather!

Bring it all!

Bring them all!


Bring them to the mountain of the Lord!


Bring them to the feet of the Lord!


Bring them to the table of the Lord!


Bring those we have loved and those we have lost!

Bring the joys and the despairs!

Bring the forgotten and the failed memories!

Bring them to the table of the Lord!

Bring them before the bread and wine!

Bring them before this cup of his blood!

Bring them before this plate of his flesh!

Bring them and bring yourselves!

Bring everything before the Lord!

Bring it to the mountain!

Bring it to the saviour’s feet!

Bring it to the table!

Bring yourselves and receive!