43. When are you gonna come down? When are you going to land? I couldn’t help thinking it as I looked up and saw him fall. He seemed to hover in the air, a feather on the breeze. Then he landed, with a sickening thud. Dead. But not for long.
Acts 20 vv 7-12
44. I take up my pen in the year of grace and go back to the time when… we travelled with our God. Desperation kept us close to him. Divine pillars shone and hovered. At the time we couldn’t appreciate it, but every step we took, we took with him.
Exodus 13 vv 18-21
45. ‘Stop that crazy kid!’ Someone shouted. One of the disciples probably. But it was too late. He’d offered his meagre lunch and Andrew was showing it to Jesus. Oh dear. Embarrassing. Thousands of people fighting over a few rolls. Awkward. Oh, what’s happening now? Bread, fish, everywhere!
John 6 vv 5-12
46. People try to put us down – we are marginalised, joked about, seen as old fashioned. Pressure bears down on us to conform and compromise. But we share in the body of the one who faced trouble and temptation and absorbed its debilitating power. We persevere, and we walk on.
2 Corinthians 4 vv 8-10
47. Got to get you into my life, into my life. Into my being, into my thinking, and feeling ,and living and loving. Into my choosing and reacting and struggling and troubles. Your life, in our life. Your being in ours. A miracle. A whole new start. A life reborn.
John 3 v 16
48. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. However, he barely noticed for a couple of reasons. First, he’d just been miraculously let off a Jurassic debt, and second, he’d spotted the woman who owed him £5. However, his actions were being monitored…
Matthew 18 vv 23-34
49. In the beginning was the word… not just any word… not a put down or a critical comment. A living word, breathing, inventive, generous. A word made flesh, sweat, blood, laughter-lines, clothed with compassion. Down here, in the neighbourhood. Walking, talking, listening. Building tables… and bridges into our lives.
John 1 vv 1-5
50. The sun is shining in the sky, there’s not a cloud in sight. At least not in her mind’s eye. Nothing can rain on this parade. Not today. The unthinkable, the unimaginable, the impossible, has really, truly happened. The feelgood ending to feelgood end them all. ‘I’ve seen him!’
John 20 vv 11-18
36. I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore. I’d love to think I’m the bright light, the star headlining the show. But that would be to miss the point. Whether the headliner, or nothing special, we are clay, roughly hewn, cracked and letting the light out.
2 Corinthians 4 v 7
37. All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. The landscape is alien and nothing here warms the soul. How can we sing our songs, how can we fix on hope when gloom fills the horizon? The Babylonian rivers rage, our captors gloat, but we’ll remember our God.
38. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. The most brutal of promises, so rashly made. Uncalled for, no divine expectation. A hastily spoken vow. A father sits, head in hands. A daughter sits with friends who feel her pain and make attempts to help her bear it. Judges 11 vv 29-40
39. ‘We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, because I love you too much, baby.’ He won’t shut up, won’t let her go. David may have snapped his fingers, but Palti can’t bear it. He loves her now, and David’s history. This isn’t fair. Michal looks back, her heart cracking. 2 Samuel 14-16
40. The Universe has as many different centres as there are living beings in it. Each unique, each with its own rainbow of colours. Every centre vital, every centre different. Every centre part of the whole and needing the others, yet so easy, so tempting to dismiss, despise and disregard… 1 Corinthians 14 vv 12-17
41. Listen, do you want to know a secret? The secret God has called me to pass on? The secret set in place from the dawn of time… the secret about his compassion and hope, and the way he has revealed this to the world. Hidden treasure found in Jesus. Ephesians 3 vv 1-9
42. It started with a kiss, never thought it would come to this. Never imagined I’d be staring at the noose end of a rope. Never pictured him on trial – weak, vulnerable, facing the death penalty. I only meant to accelerate things. Got tired of hanging around waiting for change. Matthew 27 vv 3-5
29. Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you. By now you should have somehow realised what you’ve gotta do. You can board a boat Jonah, but you can’t avoid the storm. Head for Tarshish, and Ninevah will still beckon. Your God is calling.
Jonah 1 vv 1-8
30. I returned from the city about 3 o’clock on that May afternoon, pretty well disgusted with life. I was intent on taking murder to Damascus, and so packed quickly. I was having some success quashing the Christian sect, but I got no pleasure from it. So I was conflicted.
Acts 9 vv 1-2
31. Bless my cotton socks I’m in the news! Everybody’s talking about me, or rather, about the man who brought me back. Made a gravestone move and a body walk. Opinions are divided, lots of supporters, lots of new fans. But enemies too. Some want me back in that grave.
John 11 38-44, John 12 vv 9-11
32. We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels cross the floor. It was the only reasonable response. Our prayers had become reality. The words we’d sent towards heaven had turned into a free man on our doorstep. Now all we had to do was calm down and let him in.
Acts 12 vv 6-17
33. I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now. I’ve tried so many things to quell the pain, the dull ache of having everything and appreciating nothing. Wine, women, work. Labour, love, licentiousness. Nothing works. What’s the point? Where does meaning live?
Ecclesiastes 2 vv 1-3
34. I can’t get no satisfaction. I lie down to sleep and find myself dreaming of fat cows and thin cows and have no idea what it all means. I summon wise men and seers and prophets and they know nothing. Can nobody tell me what this is all about?
Genesis 41 vv 1-8
35. ‘Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near… ‘ She finds herself humming this as she thinks of him. Before long there won’t just be birds, the whole village will be there. Celebrating. Feasting. Sealing their wedding… then oh!.. a voice. A light. A request for her ‘yes’.
Luke 1 vv 26-38
22. ‘Begin at the beginning, go the end, and there stop.’ Which is difficult because there is no end, or not one I have experienced. I have travelled and listened and scribbled and these are my findings. It begins with a Jewish priest and ends… well, it doesn’t. Hasn’t yet.
Luke 1 vv 1-3, Acts 1 vv 1-3
23. The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload. That murderous, cankerous prophet has brought death on her own seers. He must pay. He can run, but he can’t hide. She’s disposed of rebels before and will do it again. Meanwhile, he’s in a desert cave, hearing whispers.
1 Kings 19 vv 1-9
24. ‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now I need a place to hide away,’ he mutters to himself as he runs, his clothes hanging from the hands of a frustrated soldier far behind. He’s not alone, there’s a rush of troubled men fleeing, their hopes scattered and torn.
Mark 14 vv 50-52
25. Time and again I tell myself I’ll stay clean tonight. But I cannot do it. I say I’ll button my lip, keep my mouth from causing harm. But I cannot. I make those promises and break them all. So what can I do, where can I take these useless vows?
Psalm 39 vv 1-3, Romans 7 v 21
26. ‘I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it.’ The problem is with those stars. He does love her, no doubts, but he has a vision too. And every time he looks at those stars his eyes light up.
Genesis 15 vv 5-6, Genesis 18 vv 10-15
27. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. All I know is that I dream, and those dreams have fierce grip. Heroic happenings, where others bow down and worship me.
Genesis 37 vv 1-8
28. ‘This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child,’ his grandmother said, frowning. ‘In fact he was a just baby, and he very nearly did not survive. Two mothers claimed him as their own, and only the wisdom of Solomon could save him.’
1 Kings 3 vv 16-28
15. ‘Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.’ Job lays his aching body down, the grizzled, ridged rock serving as a pillow. He used to lay down in satin sheets, hope on his mind. Now darkness is his companion. Darkness, trouble and loss. He cries.
Job 3 vv 1-9
16. If you went too near the edge of the chalk-pit the ground would give way. He’d been told that as a child. Now he finds himself drawn to another chalk-pit, another precipice in danger of collapse. What to do? Step ever closer to the edge? Or resist the danger? Genesis 4 vv 6-7, Romans 7 vv 15 & 25
17. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets and across the water. The boat writhed, death seemed near. Then we glimpsed him, walking on those waves…
Mark 6 vv 47-51
18. Don’t know much about history, don’t know much about biology, but I do know that I know you, and I can boast in that knowledge. Some have their storehouses of wisdom, wealth and strength, but I have you O Lord. You are just, righteous and you delight in us.
Jeremiah 9 vv 23-24
19. Don’t start me talking, I could talk all night. Tell you of wonders and miracles. All the nights in eternity couldn’t give me the time I need. All the books, all the scrolls, all the hard drives on earth, couldn’t hold the meaning, the love, we found in him. John 21 vv 24-25, John 1 v 14
20. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This one was dogged by the fear of madness. Not in the brothers and sisters, four of one and two of the other, but in the firstborn, the exceptional young man. The one people adored.
Mark 3 vv 20-21
21. This is the end, beautiful friend. And yet it’s also the beginning. The end of sinning. No more hurt, no more pain, no more spin or lies or fear. This is the end… of endings. From now on there is only the present, and that is a good moment.
Revelation 21 vv 1-5
8. ‘Don’t go breaking my heart,’ Michal sang, as she leant from the window, the sounds of soldiers pounding on the stairs outside the bedroom. ‘Keep in touch, stay safe and come back to me.’ He would come back, but with other lovers in tow, and he would break her heart.
1 Samuel 19 vv 11-14, 2 Samuel 6 v 16
9. Last night I dreamt I was back at Galilee. The shadows falling as we sat in that crowd, our stomachs rumbling but no one wanting to leave or start cooking. The words hanging like fresh fruit in the air, new hope stirring, his stories overturning the soil of our hearts.
Mark 6 v 34, Luke 8 vv 4-8
10. ‘Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, flowing into the night.’ The words bump like streaming litter in his mind as he stares at the dark water below. Does he really have to plunge into this mire? Can’t he get clean another way? Does that prophet Elijah really speak truth?
2 Kings 5 vv 9-12
11. ‘Tonight, I’m gonna have myself a real good time,’ he claimed as he snapped his fingers with the usual level of irritation. The servants never moved fast enough, never met his every need with enough enthusiasm. He would be dead by morning. But had no idea of that right then.
Luke 12 vv 16-21
12. When the night has come, the land is dark, and the moon is the only light we’ll see. I won’t be afraid, no, I won’t be afraid – just as long as You stand by me. In the dark valleys, and lurking evil, You are there, our shepherd, guide and protector. Psalm 23 vv 3-4
13. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. The water was rising too quickly. Lifting the great craft off its stays. The thing that everyone, even Noah, had wondered would ever happen, was happening. The rains were coming and the people were first startled, then drowning. Wet apocalypse.
Genesis 7 vv 11-12
14. ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,’ Naomi groans at her daughters-in-law. ‘So go back home. Find a life. My hope is dead along with my sons. I can only pine for that foreign land.’ One daughter nods sadly, the other has steel in her eyes. Ruth 1 vv 8-14
1. And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. I’ve run the race, I’ve fought the good fight, I’ve kept the faith. And I’m ready for the prize. My life poured out, like perfume anointing the saviour. I hope, I pray, I did it his way.
2 Timothy 4 vv 6-8
2. ‘Mama, just killed a man. Took a shovel to his head. Hit him hard and now he’s dead. Mama, I wanted to change the world, and now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.’ Moses puts down his pen, looks at the sheep, sighs. Shepherding in the desert. Who knew?
Exodus 2 vv 13-17
3. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Three years of miracles and adventure. But the thunderclouds were brewing, and every time the goodness of God touched our lives, our enemies would pile in and cause trouble. Now he’s gone. I just feel bitter and confused.
John 18 vv 25-27
4. If a picture paints a thousand words, then this big screen portrait conveys a million. An epic canvass of another world, the artist’s hand nothing less than divine. Broad strokes, fine detail, hues and shades that startle and wake the viewer. Nothing simple here, colour on colour, truth exploding.
Revelation 4 vv 1-3
5. I heard the news today, oh boy. A man washed up on the beach, vomited from a huge creature, and began accosting everyone who would listen. He reeked and was bleached from head to foot by whale gas. But that wasn’t the most startling thing. ‘Your city’s history,’ he announced.
Jonah 3 vv 3-5
6. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. And when she walked to that well, Abraham’s servant knew. That inner voice whispered to him as he stood praying. This was the woman for Isaac.
Genesis 24 vv 12-19
7. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, seek his will, and he will show you the steps to take. Shun evil, and make wisdom your touchstone.
Proverbs 3 vv 1-6