Whether we realise it or not, we all live on:
The Edge of the Otherworld

Monday 3 October 2016

God isn't looking for perfection

Actually, no, hang on a minute, he is...

Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48 (NIV) And that was at the end of a whole load of teaching on being pure in thought, scrupulously honest, uncompromisingly generous and militantly forgiving. Be perfect, though? That's just ludicrous. We're messed up, warped, misled and frequently a bit rubbish. Perfection this side of Heaven is something of a big ask. We can try our best but...

Thursday 8 September 2016


A dad was making a gift for his son. It wasn't from a kit, he was making it from scratch. This meant there were no confusing instructions but it also meant some planning was involved.

"Is it done yet?" asked the son.

"I'm just getting started now," replied the dad.

"Have you got time?" called the mum from the other room.


She stuck her head round the door. "You're going to need plenty of space."

Thursday 1 September 2016

Looking and seeing

Three men walk into a bar... and realise they've wandered into an old church by mistake.

The first looks around at the funny costumes of the people in charge and the Medieval artwork, and sees only antiquated superstition. He puts out some candles and comments loudly on how he hasn't been struck by lightning yet.

The second man is genuinely bemused to see so many people of all ages in the pews but is impressed by their enthusiasm and sincerity. Ultimately, he is encouraged that they have found purpose. It isn't the kind of purpose he wants for himself but, hey, if it works for them...

The third glances towards the front and sees a wooden carving of a man upon a cross. For a moment, despite being no more broken nor afraid than the other two, he looks into the face of God. In those eyes are suffering and compassion, love and justice, freedom and sacrifice, the beginning and the end...

The moment fades but somehow everything still seems different. After a few minutes of contemplation, the man gets up and leaves, exactly the same as when he entered, yet changed forever.

The other two hang around waiting for the punchline.

Thursday 18 August 2016

The worker's prayer

God grant me the opportunity
to delegate the things I cannot do;
Time and energy to do the things I can;
And the strength to cope with
those managing me who do not know the difference...

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Truth and stories

'You've heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' and well, if you want to believe that, it's fine by me. Of course, it doesn't mean what you think it means - it's about just sentencing rather than revenge - but if your interpretation is somehow beneficial to you, I'm sure we can work round that. Correct me if I'm wrong, though, but I think we can take the teaching a little bit further. Let me float this one by you and see if it sinks: don't take revenge; give willingly to the person who wrongs you. What do you think of that? No pressure now...'

Friday 15 July 2016


Bob: If God exists, then prove it.

Sam: What sort of thing were you thinking of?

Bob: I dunno. How about a miracle?

Sam: Miracles aren't very convincing.

Bob: What do you mean?

Sam: God's done all kinds of miracles - floods, plagues, parting the sea, making the sun stand still in the sky, bringing people back to life, the works. Hasn't convinced you yet, has it?

Bob: They don't sound very likely.

Sam: That's kind of the point. Miracles tend to be out of the ordinary.

Bob: But it makes them hard to believe if you weren't there.

Sam: So you'd be more likely to believe a miracle you hadn't seen if it was a bit less, well... miraculous.

Friday 10 June 2016

The Miracle Man

The stage is set with two chairs placed next to each other between centre-stage and up-stage right. Margie, an old woman, sits on one of the chairs, her head in her hands. Jesus enters quietly from stage-left. The other cast members are at the rear of the stage with their backs to the audience. Pat sits, hunched over, in the middle of the line and the rest stand. They turn to face the audience when they are needed.

Jesus (concerned) : Margie?

Margie : Huh? Oh, it's you again. Let me be.

Jesus : Margie, what's wrong?

Margie : I said, 'Let me be.'

Jesus : I can't - you know that. Tell me what's wrong.

Margie : It's hopeless - that's what. It's all so hopeless.

Jesus : It's not hopeless - you just have to be sure of what you hope for.

Margie : I don't understand.

Jesus : Talk to me and perhaps I can explain.

Margie : Explain? I don't want explanations and excuses. It's past that. Oh, never mind. I'm too old and I'm too tired - just let me be.

Jesus : Talk to me, Margie. Tell me what's on your mind; tell me how you feel; tell me a story - anything. Just talk to me.

Margie : You want a story? Ha - there's only ever been one story.

Jesus : Then tell it. Let me hear what you have to say.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

So what are we supposed to be doing?

"And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Malachi 6:8 (NIV)
Sometimes we get caught up in what's gone before, dwelling on what might have been and wondering where a different turn would have taken us.

Sometimes we're always looking ahead, wanting to move along. To do that. To solve this. To get past here... To press on towards the goal, concentrating on the prize, without taking stock of where we are right now.

Ultimately, however, even death does not end our walk with God.

There is no destination. Better make the most of the journey...

Thursday 5 May 2016


Picture the scene: an olive grove at night, the air still warm and filled with the scent of the trees and with the noises of little creatures. A man enters. He has a dark complexion and he seems aged beyond his years but there's little else to distinguish him. Except, somehow, he seems more real than anyone has the right to be. He glances back wearily and shakes his head. Then he begins to pray.

Jesus: They were asleep again, father. (He raises a smile). James and John were snoring away as always - Sons of Thunder even in their sleep. Not that Peter heard. He looked so peaceful, I didn't have the heart to wake them this time. And besides, they'll need all their strength in the days ahead.

I don't know how well they're going to cope on their own. They know something is about to happen but they don't understand how it has to be. If they did, they'd keep this last vigil with me. (He begins to pace). They prayed hard when the storm came and threatened to swamp our boat. Can't they see the storm approaching now? Are they really so asleep?

Monday 25 April 2016

A glimpse of eternity

PETER: I would have died for him then. It was so sudden, you see - one minute I was dozing, the next I was cold and bleary-eyed in the darkness. Before I knew what was happening, they'd surrounded us - demons in the flickering torchlight, or so it seemed. Then fear cleared my senses, and they were only human after all. Some I'd met before and spoken with, eaten with even, some I'd avoided. And then there was Judas, my friend, determined and angry as ever. He strode up to the master, as if to greet him, but a moment's indecision made him falter, his eyes darting a worried glance. But it was too late for him to stop. The frown became a smile and a kiss became a betrayal. Perhaps there were demons there. Then the mob swarmed around us and my sword was in my hand. I would have died for him then; it would have been almost easy.

SANDRA: I would have died for him then. I'd have stood my ground against an on-coming tank or spoken out against the concentration camps. I would have affirmed my beliefs whatever the cost and claimed my place amongst the martyrs. I would have done, I think, but those things never happen here, not any more. Persecution takes the form of the occasional sideways glance from a friend or pointed comment from a stranger that always makes my heart sink. I've never known what to say. I used to justify myself with babble, now I say nothing at all.

PETER: I would have died for him then. Of course I would. If he'd asked me to or I could have saved him or achieved something at least. But what good would it have done getting myself killed?

Friday 15 April 2016

Statement of Faith

I believe an awful lot of things.
But what's important? Sometimes I don't know.
That there's more to the world than meets the eye?


That God became man?


He lived to show us how to live.
He died to set us free from our own lifelessness.
His resurrection brings us hope.

What else?

Does it matter apart from:

God in all and through all.
God before and God behind,
Above, below and by our sides.
To be loved with heart and strength and mind and soul.
To be loved through love of others.
To be loved.

Sunday 10 April 2016

Upstairs at St Margaret's

What they were thinking when they built St Margaret's I'll never know. High and dingy it is, like our old school hall that used to double as a gym in the winter. It's probably about as old too and they knocked the school down years ago. Can't knock a church down, though, wouldn't be right. Wouldn't want them too, any road. Just wish they'd liven it up a bit, that's all; put up some paintings like the Catholics have, maybe. Dark wood and peeling green paint just gives me the urge to do press ups.

I always sit up in the gallery - always have. Used to be others up there with me, of course. Now I'm the only one. I still sit in the same pew, mind, two rows back from the rail and over to the side, so I can see the people downstairs but not so far forward that if I drop one of my sweets it'll hit someone on the head. Makes people laugh when I tell them that but old Mrs Arbuckle still hasn't forgiven me for those dolly mixtures and it's been thirty years I've been sitting in this seat. It feels like home now. I like to think I've worn some little hollows into, just the right shape for my own backside and nobody else's. Jack Renfrew says that's daft but I never said it were true - I just like to think it.

Any road, I had a strange experience a few weeks back. A young man came up to the gallery just as I were getting settled down. Watching out of the corner of my eye, I did feel a bit jealous. In my time, I wasn't bad looking, back when I needed a whole handful of Bryl cream rather than the quick spit I use these days. Yeah, a bit of grooming, a shirt and tie, I polished up to be a right shiny penny - only a penny, mind - but for a Saturday night at the Regalia that was enough to bring them flocking. This bloke, though, he looked like he'd been lifting weights down the gym and I don't know where he spent the winter but it weren't round our way. Must've been one of those sunny paradise places 'cos his face was what they call bronzed, his chest too, where you could see it through his robe. That were a bit strange now that I come to think of it, he weren't really dressed for St Margarets. Mr Jacobs - that's our treasurer - says we'll get the heating fixed just as soon as Miss Ramsbotham dies and we get our hands on the bequest she's always promising. I reckon, if she knows what's good for her, she'll hand over the money now and save catching her death one Sunday.