Popular Posts

Monday, 31 October 2016

Christmas Cake in the Oven

Christmas cake in the oven now. And breathe.
Last day of October – that should be enough time to mature I hope. This is a tradition I didn’t grow up with but have adopted and though fruitcake is not my favourite edible over Christmas, there is something about the making of it that I love.

I think it’s because most things, including baking, are done in a hurry these days, and there is no hurrying the Christmas cake. First there is the boiling of the fruit with the liquor. Then as it cools, there is the rather tricky business of lining the pan inside and out. Normally I would be fed up doing something like that, but with the Christmas cake there is something rather pleasing about taking the time to do it right. 

Then it has to bake for hours, and finally, for nearly two months it will be regularly fed with whisky or brandy or something. Finally, just before Christmas, there will be the fun of marzipan and icing and decorating.

Maybe as we approach advent, it just reminds me that this year I don’t want to get caught up in the rush and tumble but instead, I want to be meditative and filled with the peace that passes all understanding, given to us by our Prince of Peace. Whose birthday cake it is, after all.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Sunset Song

Maybe I would love the sky anywhere, because it is kind of a window on God’s grandiose creation. 

Mhairi reported back that the Saharan sunsets were superb and that yes, indeed, African skies are magnificent. I’ve heard that about Montana skies too. And southern California coastal sunsets are breathtaking.

But there is something about the daily grandeur of a Scottish sky which fascinates me. This week the dawn and dusk of the days have been pretty awe-inspiring.

Through it all, when life is tough in the wider world and tough on the home front, I lift my eyes to the sky and, to borrow a phrase from my family’s favourite psalm, ‘from where does my help come? My help is in the name of the Lord.’ 

Yes indeed. Thank you Father for your love letter – in the sky and in the book.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Flaming Dawn

I drew the curtains to reveal a breath-taking sunrise. Hard to find a superlative that is not hackneyed and over-used. In the east, the sky flamed crimson and as the minutes ticked by, streaks of fiery red shot across the grey night-sky. 

It was God’s overture to another spectacular autumn day here in north-eastern Scotland. Yesterday the wind got up and puffed a bit in the afternoon and now a thicker carpet of yellows and oranges lies strewn on the lawn and the roads. Trees are beginning to shiver as branches are bared. 

In the beginning, God said Let there be light, and his Word brought light into being. May he say these words over your lives and situations today, and may the power of his Word flame light through your darkest valley.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Spent time with a friend who will turn 90 next Monday. A special lady, quick to smile and laugh. Mailed a card to a friend who will soon turn 30. Another special lady, gifted and talented. 

We don’t have to have a special birthday to be special. Each of us is special to God, even when we don’t feel special. Even when circumstances make us wonder where God is. 

I will never leave you, Jesus promised. That’s what makes us special.

Monday, 24 October 2016


Monday, Monday. Dawned misty, with early morning glows emanating from the trees in all their glorious autumnal attire. As I headed down the road with my neighbour, walking to keep fit, we walked towards the arc of a rainbow. Odd drops of cold rain fell on woolly hats but the air remained fresh and clean.

Overnight rain steamed from the fields as the sun’s warming rays fell. Curious cows paused in their cud-chewing to regard us with solemn stares. Occasionally a calf would find us too startling and would dash away from the barbed wire fences.

Beauty is all around. God’s masterpiece remains a masterpiece despite the suffering which is also all around. And above the suffering there still arcs the rainbow, the sign of God’s promise of fidelity and love. Today I am thinking of the suffering, but remembering that through it all there is the God who joins us in it. Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

May all who suffer today be rainbowed. May they all sense the loving presence of the Father and trust that ‘God acts on behalf of those who wait for him.’ May we look forward with hope and joy, appreciating the daily blessings which are all around.

The rainbow has been erased from the sky now but I carry it in my heart.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Overwhelmed and Grumpy

A chaotic hill of parcels tumbled towards the door of the van and as I approached, I heard the van driver breathe out in exasperation, ‘I don’t believe it!’ I thought perhaps whatever delivery we were to receive might be at the bottom of the hill but no, he quickly retrieved a small box and gave me the device for the signature.

Someone else is off work, it turns out, and this delivery man is doubling up and working long hours to get everything to the right addresses. All of our clicks on our computers keep this guy in a job, but it is a demanding and stressful role at times it seems. He was overwhelmed and grumpy.

Sometimes I can feel like others aren’t shouldering their share of the load and I can become overwhelmed and grumpy. I guess the van driver didn’t have a choice: it was his job to deliver the double load. But I usually have a choice and can elect to leave some things buried at the bottom of the hill of duties. 

Jesus invites us to walk with him and enjoy the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’. Everywhere I look I see things to be done, but they don’t all have to be done by me, today. I choose to walk in an unforced rhythm of grace with God today. The hill will still be there tomorrow.