The Big Friendly Giant
Easy to be afraid of giants, to see them as monsters, so much bigger, so much more powerful than us. But here is one who is not like that, ultimately powerful, yet full of kindness. One with a son who has invited us to be his friends. One who is bigger and greater than anything else, yet makes himself small, and draws closer to us than breathing itself.
John 15 v 15, Psalm 103 vv 8-14
And Then There Were None
One by one the crowd disperses, leaving the small bunch of bedraggled disciples. Where have they all gone, these thousands who wanted to proclaim the carpenter their king? Suddenly it’s too much for them, and they slip away. They want free bread, but they don’t want the implications, they don’t want to hear the call to follow the Baker.
Where Eagles Dare
‘Lord, you assure us that those who wait on you shall soar like an eagle, on the winds of God. Not of our own making. Sometimes crash-landing, and taking off again. Sometimes reluctant and feeling as if we are being nudged out of the safe confines of the nest by a nurturing parent. But as we wait, trust, serve… so you promise you will make it happen. Not us but you. Help us, Lord, please.’
Isaiah 40 vv 27-31
The God of Small Things
Life has ambushed many of us, wrestled us to the ground, and we have found ourselves in the slow lane when others are speeding past. But he has come with an unusual manifesto, to spend time with those who struggle, valuing the broken, and making them unexpected channels of his grace.
Luke 6 vv 21-22, Luke 1 vv 46-55 & 78-79
Random Acts of Kindness
They may not grab headlines or win prizes. But these kinds of things shake God’s shoulder, grab his attention. We may not think we are doing much, may feel our kindness is small. But nothing is small to the maker of everything. So help us Lord to be ready, as you prepare us for the next tiny gesture of kindness…
Ephesians 4 v 32 & Ephesians 5 v 16
The Way We Live Now
‘Lord, some days it’s not easy to live with your hope in our hearts, minds, actions and speaking. Sometimes the mountain seems very steep. But thank you that you take our muddling, messy lives and turn them into something that speaks of you. Please would you do it again today. Amen.’
2 Corinthians 4 v 7, Ephesians 6 v 23
The Age of Innocence
A time of unrivalled beauty, creativity, peace and wonder. A land lost to the ravages of rebellion. Now a new promise dawns, a new Son rises on the lost land. A new age cupped in his resurrection hands. The first Adam botched it up; the second Adam brings a present and future hope, a new time, a fresh start.
Genesis 2 vv 7-8; Romans 5 vv 12-17
There is a crossroads that many come to, some through wonder, some through trouble, and some through searching. And there is a watchman who says, ‘Don’t rush on, stand there and look for the good way, the wise path, the road to life.’
Jeremiah 6 v 16
Stepping over the dead bodies he peers into the raging furnace. The heat was so great it melted the bodies of his guards as they hurled the 3 men in, yet now look. All 3, no – 4 (?) of them, strolling about as if the flames are mere sunlight on a summer’s day. Who is that 4th man – like an angel? Or even… a God?
Daniel 3 vv 19-30
The Best a Man Can Get
He’s been around the block a few times. Tried plenty of things, seen action, adventure, threat and danger. Known the taste of fear and the rush of adrenalin. But he always comes back to one thing. The bottom line. The ground zero. The One who is the start and the finish.
Psalm 20 verse 7
My Favourite Wife
Jacob’s in trouble now, after a life of wheeler-dealing and stuff-grabbing, he finds himself in love and a little out of control. And he doesn’t know it yet but he’ll wait 14 years to marry her. His heart is softening, if he’s not careful it will end up with him wrestling by a river, and being transformed forever in the struggle.
Genesis 29 vv 15-30; & 32 vv 22-32
Small Great Things
There is a temple, big and bustling, like a shopping precinct on Christmas Eve. Only these people are doing highly significant things, not merely buying socks and tinsel and crackers. They are doing the work of God. And they are busy. So busy that they actually miss God when he enters the building. He is here, a tiny child in a humble mother’s arms. And they miss him. Only a small, tuned-in couple take note. They see, they notice. They spot the God who is bigger, and smaller than we expect.
Luke 2 verses 22-38
The Return of the King
‘Brilliant! I loved the way you helped me so much, so many little things you did for me. Thank you!’ The servants look bewildered. They haven’t seen the king in a long while. What’s he mean? He smiles, says, ‘Whenever you did something for those who are ill, or in prison, or hungry, or thirsty, or in any kind of need – you did it for me!’
Matthew 25 vv 31-45
The Road Less Travelled
Though lots came for the feast, not so many stayed for the rest of the quest. As the path grew rocky, and less familiar, only a few pulled on their walking boots. But the call comes each day. Keep walking. One step at a time. John 6 vv 22-69
The wolves, hyenas and jackals
Started to cause alarm,
When flexing their so-called muscles
They tried to take over the farm.
The owner got so worried
He sent along his son,
They flexed their muscles and killed him,
But were fooling no one.
The owner raised his son again
The animals lost the farm.
They couldn’t see the good on offer
And ended up just doing harm.
Matthew 21 vv 33-40
Side-lined in their day, second-class citizens, yet not so little really. Mary, Joanna, Susanna and so many others. Supporters of Jesus and his work. Sacrificial givers. Generous followers. Radical disciples. Resurrection Women. Luke 8 vv 1-3, Luke 24 vv 1-11
I Am Pilgrim
Sometimes we feel at home and the world’s a perfect fit. Other times we feel a long way from comfortable and realise what a bunch of ill-placed square pegs we are, an inner whisper calling us on, not settlers, but pilgrims. Matthew 8 v 20, Ephesians 2 vv 19-22, John 14 v 1-3
A Man For All Seasons
The days and nights, the seconds, minutes, hours and years. He has lived it all. Baby, child, teenager, adult. The past, the present, the future. Those springs, summers, autumns and winters of our living. He is there. Knows the joys, the tears, and the laughter; the wonder and questions; the fears, shocks and surprises. He understands. Hebrews 4 vv 14-16, Philippians 2 vv 5-11
Crime and Punishment
He stands there, hears the sentence intended for us. It goes on for a while; we have managed to make quite a mess of things. When it is finished, he quietly steps into our shoes, picks up the burden we were carrying and sets us free. The relief is immense. Romans 5 v 6-11, Psalm 103 v 8-13, Isaiah 53 v 4-6
They take them one at a time, and unbeknown to them each step moves along the road to healing. A work in progress, but healing all the same. His friends have long since run, but they, and the enemies punishing him now, will all benefit from his work here today. Step, crack. The horror of it plays out, but all the while a new world is being born. Isaiah 53 v 5, Matthew 27 v 26, Deuteronomy 25 v 3
The day builds to an unruly crescendo, first an army officer, then Peter’s mum-in-law… and the news spreads like a river, bank-bursting. He’s tired but has time for each visitor, looking each in the eye as they mutter and jabber their hopes to him. Eventually he climbs aboard a boat and the fever of the day falls to a quiet calm. Matthew 8 vv 5-18
Woman in Black
There’s so little of her left now, she seems so empty, so fragile, she’s barely more than an apparition. Lost all those she loves, wonders if she has any future now. But he notices, sees the pain and the loss. And his heart cracks a little, feels her grief, before upending the whole deadly business.
Luke 7 vv 11-16
The Hundred-Acre Wood
Each day he came to clearings in the woods, each day choosing less travelled roads, often seeming naïve, or child-like. But knowing full well he was treading life-brimming paths that others would surely follow.
John 14 v 6, Matthew 18 vv 1-6
So now that his plans have all gone pear-shaped, he finds himself alone and with time on his hands. In his trouble he cries out for help, pours out his fears and troubles; and in this bile soaked, fish-stinking place, he finds grace and help, and a way forward and, so changes direction. It’ll be a long journey, but he’s begun.
Jonah 1 v 17 – 2 v 10
A Tale of Two Cities
From one Mary’s cry in that Bethlehem night, to a second Mary’s gasp in the first light of a Jerusalem morning, the tale plays out of one man who will give everything as he takes the place of others.
Luke 2 vv 1-20
The Theory of Everything
Paul sums it all up in a few short words pick-pocketed from a popular poem of the day. ‘In him we live, and move, and have our being.’
Acts 17 vv 27-28
The Road Less Travelled
Though lots came for the feast, not so many stayed for the rest of the quest. As the path grew rocky, and less familiar, only a few pulled on their walking boots. But the call comes each day. Keep walking. One step at a time.
John 6 vv 22-69
Their father needs help, one son readily agrees, then forgets his promise. The other doesn’t feel like helping his old man, and says so, then thinks again and does the job.
Matthew 21 vv 28-32
Bring Up the Bodies
Maths was never Pontius Pilate’s strong point but he’s fairly sure there’s a problem here. Three men executed on Friday should mean three bodies on Sunday. So where’s the third man? Why can he only see two corpses here? Perhaps he should have gone to Specsavers…
Matthew 28 vv 1-15
A Room With a View
Who knows what will see? Who knows what the place will be like? All we do know is that he has made it all possible. His dying has opened a door; his rising has meant we can follow him into a new day. This day, and every day. And one day forever.
John 14 vv 1-6
Brave New World
‘Peace on earth,’ the shepherds heard, though they were terrified at the time. The start of a new world, given birth in a cattle trough. The world rages on, as the birth pangs continue, wrestling with itself. But the promise lives on, born out in the invigorated lives of fragile followers.
Luke 2 vv 8-20, Romans 8 vv 22-25
Portrait of a Lady
She gives her quiet yes and, in later years, unexpected life blooms within her. And when her cousin comes to stay, Elizabeth miraculously confirms what no one else knew, that Mary’s child would be the One. Together they take this extraordinary maternal trek. Luke 2 vv 39-56
I Am Pilgrim (2)
This world was only a temporary place for them, as they held lightly onto this land, their eyes on another kind of home. Another dimension, alongside this one, closer than breathing. The vision that led them to live differently… sacrificially, compassionately, gently, hopefully, courageously.
Hebrews 11 vv 32-40
A world no longer functioning properly. A sad place of corruption and cynicism, a blame-fuelled, limping dystopia. Folks encouraged to catch others out, instead of lifting one another up. But not all emulate big brother, some see the wonder, the hope, the colours, the value of friendship.
Ephesians 4 v 32
It’s that great contradiction, a riddle within an enigma. To hold onto your life means losing it, yet letting go means finding it. If she hangs on tightly it’ll slip away, if she lets go and looks up, another kind of life will appear. Matthew 16 v 25
He could take the faith of Abraham, the dedication of Mary, the talents of David and the courage of Esther, and build a super-christian. But it’s not his way. You and I. That’s his way. 1 Corinthians 1 vv 26-28
The mysterious, unexplainable takes place. One man stands in the shoes of the world, and offers every last part of him for every last inch of the universe. And beside him, an unlikely friend turns and sees him for who he is, a caring king, with an everlasting kingdom. Luke 23 vv 32-43, Colossians 1 vv 19-22
About a Boy
He holds out his lunch as his stomach rumbles, curious to see what will become of the fish and bread. It’s not long before this man from Nazareth has turned it into a feast for all. John 6 vv 1-13
‘Don’t give up,’ he says, ‘in spite of the troubles and pressure. This travelling was never going to be straightforward or the road easy. But it’s worth every step. Every ounce of energy. God is with you. Keep going.’ 2 Corinthians 4 vv 8-18
Three Men in a Boat
Luke, Silas and Paul take to the sea and head for Macedonia. At the same time a woman sits in Philippi, her mind full of purple cloth. She has a hungry heart and wonders about life, and its purpose. It won’t be long before she finds a new beginning. Acts 16 vv 11-15
Never afraid to look foolish, he disarms the pompous and powerful. Not concerned with ‘cool’ or celebrity, but with kindness and reality. Never puts on a front and bucks the latest trends. Embodies the kind of foolishness that changes lives for good. Isaiah 53 v 3
As we offer those waiting moments, standing quietly with God, we trust that waiting will refresh our weariness, renew our strength, and prepare us for another day. Isaiah 40 v 31
Much Ado About Nothing
Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. Not one thing. Zilch. Zero. Zip. Nothing whatsoever can keep us from God’s love; nothing can separate us from his great and eternal kindness. Romans 8 vv 35-39
The Big Sleep
Somehow, while they all panic like terrified sheep, he is asleep. Perhaps tired from helping so many others. Is he not bothered about the danger? Can’t he do something about it? If the storm doesn’t wake him soon, then Peter will. Mark 4 vv 35-41
War and Peace
He has been wrestling all his days. Battling with his family, grabbing at life, building a wall. Now he is wrestling with his God. And peace comes with the new dawn. Genesis 32 vv 22-32 & Genesis 33 vv 8-10
The Ragamuffin Gospel
He just doesn’t look very religious. He’s hanging out with the wrong people. Going to raucous parties. Embracing the ‘untouchables’, investing in those who are not upwardly mobile. Doesn’t seem to care about his reputation at all. Matthew 9 vv 10-13
Man and Boy
He has heard the stories, now he has come to see. Can this travelling man with the strong smile and kind eyes make a difference for his son? Will he help? His plea tumbles from his taught lips. The teacher before him nods, speaks. And miles away a boy stirs, sits up and smiles. John 4 vv 46-53
From Here to Eternity
John stands and sees the future, His feet in the present, but his mind, spirit and soul in another place entirely. Revelation 21 vv 1-4
The Call of the Wild
Not a tidy message, but one with room enough for stragglers and strays, misfits and muddlers. A wild man on the edge of things, calling people to a fresh start. Matthew 11 vv 7-15
On the Road
Paul pushes his face into the dirt, his road trip interrupted by a light in the sky. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to begin a different journey, taking millions of others with him. Acts 9 vv 1-19
Pride & Prejudice
Can’t see what’s so obvious, so concerned with their own agenda they miss the point entirely. One man’s life transformed. Theirs is clearly crumbling. John 9 v 13-25
We may get knocked down, be overlooked, be embarrassed, or pushed aside. But we take another step, asking for his strength, looking for his kindness. Corinthians 4 vv 7-10
Empire of the Sun
The sun of righteousness brings a new dawn, a new kingdom, a way to start over. A resurrection morning. Malachi 4 v 2-3