Mustard Seed Sunday

The Sunday before Advent is called ‘Stir it up Sunday’, a name which comes from the Book of Common Prayer and possibly dates back to 1549. The words of the Collect that have usually been said on this day are, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. As traditions go, somewhere along the way the metaphor of stirring up the Christmas pudding or cake became a timely fit for the Sunday before Advent … [to read more, click on title]


… that touching scene in Luke of the cousins meeting – Mary and Elizabeth – both now pregnant.  Purposeful pregnancies of great and ultimate significance.  John and Jesus, second cousins – cuzzie bros – will bring joy, perplexity, tragedy and, finally, triumph to their mothers.  And for many down the centuries to now.
Elizabeth’s and Mary’s sons would both die turning the world upside down. [… for more, click on title]

Shock an’ Awe

But … to the main strike point: what about the offensive way John greeted the crowds when they came to see him?! “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance … The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down …”

Bit rough!  Did he do this with every speaking engagement?  Or just on this particular day that One News was there taking notes?  Imagine if I’d started this reflection with, “You brood of vipers”!  Even to make a point.  For dramatic effect.  You’d be shocked.  … [For more, click on the title …]

Prepare the way for the Lord

Advent is a good time to remember that the Bible we read is not a peaceful read.  It is a text borne of trauma, displacement, and loss.  The ancient writers who penned sacred scripture — and the vast majority of characters who populate its pages — were not, by and large, history’s winners.  They were the persecuted.  The dislocated.  The enslaved. The desperate.  They lived through periods of famine, war, plague, and natural disaster. They suffered starvation, violence, barrenness, captivity, exile, colonization, and genocide. They were, in countless ways, the wretched of the earth.  Brave, lonely voices, crying in the desert.