Couldn't have said it better myself...

"We are all made in the image of the God we choose to serve."

Blaise Pascal

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent 4: The Candle of Love

The fourth of our Advent Candle Liturgies at Belfast South... You know it's source and pattern by now...

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
I John 4: 7-10  (NIV-UK)

Love is the wick that is central to the candle.
Love is the flame that burns continually in the heart of God.
Love is the unquenchable light given by God to burn in the darkness.
Love is the light given by God to burn in our hearts.

(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your eternal and infinite love.
Through Jesus in whose name we pray. Amen.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent 3: The Candle of Joy

The third of Advent Candle Liturgies we are using this year at Belfast South Methodist, based on the work of Rev. Mary Whitson, for the Canadian Presbyterian Church's World Service & Development Department.

Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 51: 11 (NIV-UK)

Joy is the celebration of the dawning of the light of the world.
Joy is the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child.
Joy is the celebration when the angels sang
“Glory to God in the highest.”
Let us celebrate and sing and shout for joy.
Christ is coming again.
(The candle is lit.)
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your life-giving joy.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Time of No Room

In the early days of this blog, I posted an excerpt from Thomas Merton's amazing piece entitled "The Time of No Room," Over the intervening years, and the advent of austerity Britain/Ireland, it has become even more apposite, so I thought I would post it again...

We live in the time of no room, which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power and acceleration.

The primordial blessing, "increase and multiply," has suddenly become a haemorrhage of terror. We are numbered in billions, and massed together, marshalled, numbered, marched here and there, taxed, drilled, armed, worked to the point of insensibility, dazed by information, drugged by entertainment, surfeited with everything, nauseated with the human race and with ourselves, nauseated with life.

As the end approaches, there is no room for nature. The cities crowd it off the face of the earth.
As the end approaches, there is no room for quiet. There is no room for solitude. There is no room for thought. There is no room for attention, for the awareness of our state.
In the time of the ultimate end, there is no room for man...

The time of the end is the time of demons who occupy the heart (pretending to be gods) so that man himself finds no room for himself in himself. He finds no space to rest in his own heart, not because it is full, but because it is void. If only he knew that the void itself, when hovered over by the Spirit, is an abyss of creativity...yet he cannot believe it. There is no room for belief.
In the time of the end there is no longer room for the desire to go on living. The time of the end is the time when men call upon the mountains to fall upon them, because they wish they did not exist...

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it - because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it - his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent 2: The Candle of Peace

Here is the Candle Liturgy we will be using tomorrow morning in our Advent Communion Service at Belfast South Methodist. Once again it is based on the work of Rev. Mary Whitson, who produced this year's material the Canadian Presbyterian Church's World Service & Development Department.

The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, meaning: God with us.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
     and his name will be called
"Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
From Isaiah 7:14; 9:6 (RSV)

Peace is the flame given by God to be a light in the darkness.
The flame of peace is the promise of God.
Peace is the flame given by God to bring justice to the world.
The flame of peace is righteousness and equity.
Peace is the flame given by God to bring order to our lives
The flame of peace enters the world again with the coming of the Prince of Peace.
(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your everlasting peace.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Psalm for Advent Waiting

I've probably published more versions of this Psalm than any other (I actually posted another version back in July)... I suppose because it speaks so powerfully to the human condition, struggling with the here and now, and holding on to the hope of what is yet to come. Maybe one day I will take a long hard look at it and produce a definitive version... But the first time I posted one, back in 2010, it was with Advent looming... This time I'm posting this responsive version because we used it on Sunday. Again those with LOCD (see yesterday for an explanation) will be twitching at this point but hey ho...

The Lord is my light and my salvation
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil is on the upsurge and the wicked seem to hold the winning hand
I know that they will not have the last word.
Though the armies of hell seem to be attacking me,
my heart will not fear;
Though world war three break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
For in days of trouble he will keep me safe within his walls;
he will hide me within the folds of his tent.
He will set my feet firmly a rock
With my head exalted high above the enemies who surround me.
For that reason I will praise God with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful and answer me.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away.
Do not reject or forsake me, O God my Saviour.
Even though my family forsakes me, I know that the Lord will receive me.
I am confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
From Psalm  27


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wakey, Wakey (Again)

This is a little piece of doggerel I wrote for the beginning of Advent, way back in 2008. As such it was actually based on the lectionary reading from the Gospel for that week,  the parable of the Wise Bridesmaids in Matthew 25 and so for those with LOCD (liturgical obsessive compulsive disorder) it is actually over a year late... But we used it in communion this morning as we were exploring the theme of Wakeful Watching and Waiting.

Wakey, wakey
Rise and shine
It’s Advent
The season of coming to…
Him coming to us…
Us coming to him.
Getting ready for the big day.
The time of remembering what is yet to come
And preparing for what has already arrived.
Eternity breaking into time.
Watch out…
Time ticks by
to that point when it shall be no more.
Only seconds to midnight…
Trim your wicks, not just the tree,
So you might see.
Just you wait.
David A. Campton © 2008


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent 1: The Candle of Hope

I noticed from my hit counter that quite a few people have been rootling around in the VM archives to find an appropriate Candle-Lighting Liturgy for this year... Some even trying to find something for tomorrow, proving that I am not, contrary to popular opinion, the worst organised person in the western world... I haven't published anything in advance for Advent this year because I have been a bit distracted over recent months (hence the lack of posts in general), and am largely making use of someone else's hard work this year, namely Rev. Mary Whitson, who produced them for the Canadian Presbyterian Church's World Service & Development Department... You can find the original here (and leave a donation as a thankyou)... But below is the adapted version we are going to be using tomorrow morning:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:22-26 (RSV)

Hope is a light given by God at the beginning of creation.
Hope is the gift of God.
Hope is a light given by God in the teaching of the prophets.
Hope is the gift of God.
Hope is the gift of God revealed in the life of Christ.
Hope is the gift of God.
Hope is a light given by God, the Son of God, the Son of Mary.
(The candle is lit.)
Let us pray:
Source of light, shine in our lives and in your world
with your renewing hope.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.