Sunday, 20 March 2016

Poem for Palm Sunday

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Jesus comes to the gate, to the synagogue,
to houses prepared for wedding parties,
to the pools where people wait to be healed,
to the temple where lambs are sold,
to gardens, beautiful in the moonlight.
He comes to the governor’s palace.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you,
to new subdivisions and trailer parks,
to penthouses and basement apartments,
to the factory, the hospital and the Cineplex,
to the big box outlet centre and to churches,
with the same old same old message,
unchanged from the beginning of time.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you
with his Good News and…
Hope erupts! Joy springs forth!
The very stones cry out,
“Hosanna in the highest,
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowds jostle and push,
they can’t get close enough!
People running alongside flinging down their coats before him!
Jesus, the parade marshal, waving, smiling.
The paparazzi elbow for room,
looking for that perfect picture for the headline,
“The Man Who Would Be King”.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you
and gets the red carpet treatment.
Children waving real palm branches from the florist,
silk palm branches from Wal-mart,
palms made from green construction paper.
Hosannas ringing in churches, chapels, cathedrals,
in monasteries, basilicas and tent-meetings.
King Jesus, honored in a thousand hymns
in Canada, Cameroon, Calcutta and Canberra.
We LOVE this great big powerful capital K King Jesus
coming in glory and splendor and majesty
and awe and power and might.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Kingly, he takes a towel and washes feet.
With majesty, he serves bread and wine.
With honour, he prays all night.
With power, he puts on chains.
Jesus, King of all creation, appears in state
in the eyes of the prisoner, the AIDS orphan, the crack addict,
asking for one cup of cold water,
one coat shared with someone who has none,
one heart, yours,
and a second mile.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Can you see him?                                                                  Carol Penner



Friday, 4 March 2016

World Day of Prayer

Together in Prayer - £2.50 each

Today is World Day of Prayer. The website tells me that ‘World Day of Prayer is a global, ecumenical movement of Christian women joined together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday of March.’ Their motto of ‘Informed Prayer & Prayerful Action’ signifies that prayer and action are inseparable. This year’s theme is ‘Receive Children. Receive Me’ and a service on this theme has been devised by women in Cuba.


A survey by Tearfund a few years ago revealed there is huge interest and involvement in prayer, even among people who don’t go to church. It found that:

  • 42% (20 million) of adults in the UK pray
  • one in three (16 million) say ‘there is a God who watches over me and answers my prayer’
  • One in five (10 million) believe that prayer ‘changes the world’.     
    If prayer is so important for so many who don’t darken church doors, then presumably it must be more important for those who do. Of course it is – but, if we’re honest, there are times when we find it difficult. Christian author Veronica Zundel, reflecting on Psalm 5, writes: ‘If you are like me, times of stress are the very times when any discipline of prayer falls apart. Harassed by circumstances, burdened by lists of tasks which never seem to get ticked off, discouraged by disaster, the last person to whom we want to turn for help is God – after all, isn’t God the one who ought to have made it all right for us?’
    A number of years ago I was talking with a Royal Navy chaplain whose ship was preparing for deployment in the Falklands. This meant that the crew, including him, got up at 5.30am, began work at 6.30am and went to bed at midnight. That was the pattern for six weeks and was designed to test how they handled stress. Imagine trying to fit daily devotions into that kind of schedule – they’re likely to be thrown overboard! Even for those of us with more time to spare than that, it can be a struggle to give time to prayer. But if we acknowledge the vital importance of prayer it should be a regular habit. As Zundel goes on to say: ‘it is only by habitually bring our desires to God that they can be shaped to God’s will.’    
    Lent is traditionally an opportunity to take stock of our spiritual lives. Maybe during this Lent we can take stock of our prayer life. That could begin by finding a World Day of Prayer service near you. I believe men are welcome too! 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Shaun's story

Shaun is electrical engineer who lost everything when his drinking spiralled out of control.

Shaun Murphy says the local Salvation Army saved his life and without its help he wouldn’t be here today.

The 59-year-old worked and travelled all over the world in places such as South Africa and Saudi but he couldn’t beat his alcohol addiction.

He said: “I was very young, just 16, when I started drinking. I was an electrician by trade and working away from home. There was a lot of encouragement for me to drink when I was working overseas. There was no permanence for me.

“I was in relationships but they broke down, because of the nature of my work and because of my drinking. It was a vicious circle.”

In his mid-20s Shaun progressed his career and gained an HND in electrical engineering and acquired positions at home and abroad but could not settle.

He said: “I had really good jobs but I couldn’t see them through.”
On a bad day he could down a bottle of whisky or vodka.

He said: “I was absolutely wasted. It had a terrible affect on me mentally, physically and spiritually. I had no hope.”

The turning point came when Shaun lost a flat he had in England and was living rough.

He sought help from a homeless unit who suggested he move to Scotland to get the help he needed. He took their advice and came up to Edinburgh in 2006 but fared no better there. Then the Salvation Army said he should try their rehab unit at Fewster House in Greenock — and at last he found recovery.

He said: “They ran a 12-step programme of complete abstinence. It saved my life.
I would have probably ended up dead if it hadn’t been for Fewster House. I needed the support and I couldn’t get it anywhere else.”

Shaun stayed at Fewster until it closed and then a floating support service helped him secure a flat in High Street.

He’s now enjoying his life of sobriety in his new home town and his mum also moved here in 2013 after his father died.

He said: “I like the friendliness of the people. I like the scenery and the walks along the Esplanade, the Clyde Estuary and the view of the Argyll hills. It’s total peace.”