Bloom where you’re planted

“There are times to bloom where we are planted, and times for us to be transplanted so we can bloom even better elsewhere. Just follow the Lord where he leads.”

(Danielle Bernock, from an article on


inspired by Colossians 2:6-7

Just like you receive Christ Jesus the Lord,
so go on living in him — in simple faith.
Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in —
becoming more and more sure of your faith.
If you do this,
your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.
And the mercy of God,
the love of Jesus Christ,
and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit
will surround you and uphold you
wherever you go.
Go in God’s peace.

posted on re:worship

From the blog
Quiet near a little stream
Slow learners and bright ideas
Theme: Part of creation  [prayer sheet]

Carry something beautiful


In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.


Blaise Pascal



Go forth from this place refreshed and empowered
to do the ministry to which God calls you:
Travel lightly, for you carry within you all that you need.
Notice God’s presence in simple, everyday experiences.
Whenever opportunity arises, labor for the good of all.
And the blessing and joy of God,
our Creator, Healer, and Life-Giver
go with you today and always.

~ by Rev. Heather A. Moody, posted on re:worship

From the blog
In the school of prayer with Anselm
Bright and beautiful
walk, run, soar

In the school of prayer with Tish Harrison Warren


The night time service of Compline from the Book of Common Prayer carried Tish Harrison Warren in a time of doubt and loss.

Here are some excerpts on prayer taken from her book, Prayer in the Night – including the prayer that gives shape and content to the book.



For most of my life, I didn’t know there were different kinds of prayer. Prayer meant one thing only: talking to God with words I came up with. Prayer was wordy, unscripted, self-expressive, spontaneous, and original. And I still pray this way, every day. “Free form” prayer is a good and indispensable way to pray.
      But I’ve come to believe that in order to sustain faith over a lifetime, we need to learn different ways of praying. Prayer is a vast territory, with room for silence and shouting, for creativity and repetition, for original and received prayers, for imagination and reason.  (p. 16)


I turned to Compline when I didn’t have anything else to say, when I was so bone-tired and soul-spent that I could only receive prayer as a gift. … I also leaned on other ancient ways of praying that rely less on cognitive and verbal ability.
      In particular I found refuge in prayers of silence.
      Theophan the Recluse, a nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox priest, describes the work of silent prayer: “You must descend from your head to your heart…. Whilst you are still in your head, thoughts will easily be subdued but will always be whirling about, like snow in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in the summer.”1  These clouds of mosquitoes – my anger and neurosis, my fears and doubts, my unanswerable questions and exhaustion – buzz around me. Sitting wordlessly before God allows space for the real work to begin in my heart.
      It’s not that “Help” or “Lord, I’m weary” aren’t good enough prayers. God hears and loves even prayers like these. We don’t need to experiment with the prayers of the church or ancient prayer practices to impress God. But when we are weary, it can help to throw ourselves onto what has come before us, the steady practices of prayer that the church has handed down for safe keeping, for this very moment when we come to the end of ourselves.  (p. 110)


Scripted prayers – the prayers of Compline, the Psalms, or any other received prayers – are not static.  As we pray them, we read our own lives back into the words we pray.  Our own biographies shape our understanding of these prayers as much as these prayers shape us and our own stories.  (p. 125)


We pray to endure the mystery of suffering, and the mystery of suffering teaches us to pray. And the end of all of it is the love of God.  (p. 130)


God’s love and devotion to us, not ours to him, is the source of prayer. He is the first mover in prayer, the one who has been calling to us before we could ever call to him. And he will not stop calling, no matter how dark the night becomes. Light, not darkness, is the constant.  (p. 166)

1 quoted in Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land, 2006, p. 27

A prayer

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.


Tish Harrison Warren interview (podcast)
An Order for Compline (liturgy)
Compline service (video)

A quiet act of kindness


A small but monumental gesture

There’s a vegetarian takeaway place in Brighton called Infinity, where I would eat sometimes. I went there the first time I’d gone out in public after Arthur* had died. There was a woman who worked there and I was always friendly with her, just the normal pleasantries, but I liked her. I was standing in the queue and she asked me what I wanted and it felt a little strange, because there was no acknowledgement of anything. She treated me like anyone else, matter-of-factly, professionally. She gave me my food and I gave her the money … As she gave me back my change, she squeezed my hand. Purposefully.

It was such a quiet act of kindness. The simplest and most articulate of gestures, but, at the same time, it meant more than all that anybody had tried to tell me … because of the failure of language in the face of catastrophe. She wished the best for me, in that moment. There was something truly moving to me about that simple, wordless act of compassion … I’ll never forget that. In difficult times I often go back to that feeling she gave me. Human beings are remarkable, really. Such nuanced, subtle creatures.

* Nick’s son
from Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave, quoted on

The Beatitudes

(see Luke 6:20-22, Matthew 5:3-12)

The poor, and those in solidarity with them –
God is on your side.

Those who mourn and feel grief about the state of the world –
God is on your side.

The non-violent, gentle and humble –
God is on your side.

Those who hunger and thirst for the common good –
God is on your side.

The merciful and compassionate –
God is on your side.

Those characterized by sincerity, kindness and generosity –
God is on your side.

Those who work for peace and reconciliation –
God is on your side.

Those who keep seeking justice –
God is on your side.

Those who stand for justice and truth as the prophets did,
who refuse to be quiet even when slandered,
misrepresented, threatened, imprisoned or harmed –
God is on your side!

~ by Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, posted on re:worship

Settle yourself into the quiet


Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.

~ Etty Hillesum

Blessing of Rest

Curl this blessing
beneath your head
for a pillow.
Wrap it about yourself
for a blanket.
Lay it across your eyes
and for this moment
cease thinking about
what comes next,
what you will do
when you rise.

Let this blessing
gather itself to you
like the stillness
that descends
between your heartbeats,
the silence that comes
so briefly
but with a constancy
on which
your life depends.

Settle yourself
into the quiet
this blessing brings,
the hand it lays
upon your brow,
the whispered word
it breathes into
your ear
telling you
all shall be well
all shall be well
and you can rest

~ by Jan Richardson, from
Visit Jan Richardson’s 2012 blog post for the backstory to this blessing.

Making, making, making


Back story

I shared a version of this poem during the Away Day I led at the Scots Kirk, Lausanne earlier this month. It was so well received the group decided to include it in our presentation during Sunday worship the following day.

I’ve since made contact with the author, Wendy Videlock, and got permission to share it with you too. (Thanks, Erica, for giving me the idea.)

You can hear Wendy Videlock reading the poem on Emerging Form Podcast #51 (from 13:30).


On Hearing Yet Another Someone Say
they Haven’t Got a Creative Bone in their Body

And yet you’ve spent your entire life
creating — you’ve spent your life
                 making —
making dinner, making drinks,
making fire, making
the cut, making amends,
making fun,
making the team,
making money, making

of lemons, yes — we spend
our whole lives making —
making decisions,
making peace,
making war,
making mistakes,
making a call, making some
               of sense of it all —

we can’t help but spend our lives making,
       making music, making choices,
making strides, making up

for lost time,
making hay, making haste,
making promises and progress,
making love, making
history, making
predictions, making
productions, making

of the situation,

we make space,
we make friends,
we make magic, we make trouble,
we make mountains

out of molehills,

we make tea,
we make tracks,
we make use, we make do,
we make way, we make curds,
we make words, we make waves
we make meaning —
       we are born

into this world and are made

(when we’re not humans being)

for making, making, making.

~ from Wise to the West by Wendy Videlock, used with permission


How do we know?


A quote by Madeleine L’Engle to ponder:

It is a frightening thing for many people to let go, to have faith in that which they cannot completely know and control.
      But how do we know?
      We’ve lost much of the richness of that word. Nowadays, to know means to know with the intellect. But it is a much deeper word than that. Adam knew Eve. To know deeply is far more than to know consciously. In the realm of faith I know far more than I can believe with my finite mind. I know that a loving God will not abandon what he creates. I know that the human calling is cocreation with this power of love. I know that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, not things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
      But in this limited world we tend to lose this kind of knowing, and this loss has permeated our fiction as well as our prayer.

~ from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art, p. 173

Desire and transformation

Jan Richardson writes,

Loving is always risky, because we cannot enter into it without being changed. Altered. Transformed. In the face of this, we might well ask, Do I really want this? Do we really desire to be so undone?
Loving is never just about opening our heart. It is about being willing to have our heart become larger as we make room for people and stories and experiences we never imagined holding. It is about being willing to have our heart become deeper as we move beyond the surface layers of our assumptions, prejudices, and habits in order to truly see and receive what—and who—is before us. It is about being willing to have our heart continually shattered and remade as we take in not only the brokenness of the world but also the beauty of it, the astounding wonder that will not allow us to remain the same.


~ from the archives

A prayer

O Lord, I do not know what to ask of you. You alone know what are my true needs. You love me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs, which are concealed from me. I dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation; I can only wait on you. My heart is open to you. Come to me and help me, for your great mercy’s sake … I put all my trust in you. I have no other desire than to fulfil your will. Teach me how to prayer; pray yourself in me.

~ written by Metropolitan Theodore Philaret of Moscow (1553-1633)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #80

In the school of prayer with Terry Hinks


Here are some extracts on the topic of prayer by Terry Hinks from his introduction to Luke’s Gospel in God’s Embrace: Praying with Luke.

I’ve also included the prayer inspired by his reflections on the disciples’ request in Luke 11:1, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’.


Prayer as struggle – “It is likely that as we ‘progress in the spiritual life’, or rather think that we do, we again and again need to become beginners asking ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ …  Again and again we will need to ask the Spirit to stir us from complacency (or despair) and to return us to that persistent determined prayer that Jesus describes in his parables (Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8), that alertness and strength required for the kingdom life (Luke 21:34-6).”   (p. 25)


Prayer as celebration – “Prayer will involve struggle, repentance and lament and will require courage, persistence and humility, but it cannot rest within this sphere alone. It must open out into joyful praise of the one who has done great things, is doing great things here and now and will do great things in the time to come.”   (p. 31)


God’s embrace – “We have been trained to analyse, organise, dissect, manipulate and control the reality that we see around us. Yet these tools that are so useful in many areas of life (from scientific research to cake baking) serve us poorly in our relationships with other people, let alone to the divine mystery that created us. Treating everything as an object degrades life. If prayer is the attempt to manipulate and control an object – getting God to do what we want – it will fail. If prayer is a relationship then all kinds of possibilities develop. The aim ceases to be getting God to do something for us; the aim becomes conversation and embrace.”   (p. 35)


A pattern of prayer – “The constant pressure on us is to go for a quick fix in prayer and to fail to recognise the patience and persistence required to wait on God and to listen. Quietening our minds and stilling our bodies is an important part of preparing to pray – that going into your own room and shutting the door that Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:6). But prayer is never simply down to us. It is not some anxiety-ridden striving after the Invisible, but a conversation with One who knows our needs and our hearts …  Prayer is a meeting of human boldness – the persistence to continue to speak to God whatever we may feel – and God’s grace – the patient loving kindness of God for us all, come what may.”   (p. 38-9)


A prayer

(inspired by Luke 11:1-4)

Lord, teach us to pray
with the whole of our being,
      bodies stilled and centred,
      minds focused on your way,
      hearts warmed by your grace.

Lord, teach us to pray
with the whole of your people,
      connecting to your followers
            of every time and place,
      connecting to your Church in all its varied faces,
      connecting to the world with all its joy and agony.

Lord, teach us to pray
in the power of your Spirit,
      as children of one dear God,
      as brothers and sisters in Christ
      as sinners forgiven and forgiving.

Lord, teach us to pray
      to you,
      in you,
      this moment,
      this life,
      this eternity.

~ by Terry Hinks,
from God’s Embrace: Praying with Luke, p. 91

From the blog
In the school of prayer with Angela Ashwin
In the school of prayer with the Celtic Saints
In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew

Continually curious


A quote by poet and scientist, Lewis Thomas, to inspire us, and a call to worship to further focus our thoughts and prayers.


… the loveliest thing about being human

Reality’s ability to continually baffle us with what we don’t yet know, and our willingness to continually plumb the unknown for new truth and beauty, even as it baffles and terrifies us, is the loveliest thing about being alive. Being alive together, as members of this boundlessly inquisitive and imaginative species, is the loveliest thing about being human.



Call to Worship

We worship the God who inhabits our world
and indwells our lives.
We need not look up to find God,
we need only to look around:
      within ourselves,
      beyond ourselves,
      into the eyes of another.
We need not listen for a distant thunder to find God,
we need only listen to the music of life,
      the words of children,
      the questions of the curious,
      the rhythm of a heartbeat.
We worship the God who inhabits our world
and who indwells our lives.

~ posted on the Presbyterian Church USA website.