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Reflection on the figures of the shepherds and the wise men

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Here’s a reflection I was asked to write for an Advent vocation discernment Zoom meeting on the theme of Shepherds + Wise Men.     The Shepherds + Wise Men (Compass in Advent - 18/12/20) Each group, in its own way and in its own context, responded to a call from God. We find the story of of the Shepherds in Lk 2 and the Wise Men in Mt 2. The Shepherds (Lk 2:8-20) It was not the most trusted profession, so why are they reported as being the first to witness the birth of this Saviour?  They were considered unclean and outside the law, not the poorest of the poor, but certainly mistrusted, sometimes making use of other people’s land to graze their sheep. But, as such, they chime well with Luke’s emphasis in his Gospel, where Jesus states that he came to save outcasts and sinners, people on the peripheries, as Pope Francis would say, people who would have been relatively uneducated. And yet, God saw something in them that he could work with.  For those who may feel that God is cal

"Greater Than All My Regrets" - Tenth Avenue North

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A song and video that have been with me right through these past 9 months of turmoil (not just to do with Covid-19) from the great Tenth Avenue North.   “Hallelujah, you are right here with me, Hallelujah, you have always been there, Hallelujah, you will never stop chasing me.” ("Greater Than All My Regrets”, Tenth Avenue North)    

Indelible Grace

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I’m listening to the albums by Indelible Grace quite a bit at the moment (especially from “Indelible Grace V” onwards). They are a Christian music collective who take the words of old US hymns (or write fresh words in an old style) and add new music with guest vocalists sharing lead singing duties. This particular song is gorgeous.     

May today there be peace within - The Practice Co

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Here’s a recent devotional from Liz Milani (The Practice Co devotional app - https://www.thepracticeco.com) on the theme of inner peace and fulfilment, making use of the famous prayer by St. Teresa of Avila which is one of my favourites.   The Apostle Paul wrote to his friends and said: "Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins..."* Like me, maybe you've heard this screamed from pulpits and social media platforms like a battle cry, a condemnation, a strike on your record or on that of others. But that's not what it is at all. It's the simple reminder of what's important. Wake up. Wake up. Friend, wake up. Life is happening all around you, and while you will be asleep to some of what is going on, if you live with an open heart and open hands and open eyes, all will be revealed in time - you will wake up, and you will continue to wake up your whole life long. You will experience a million tiny revelations that will collectively and continuousl

Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol - lyrics rewritten in lockdown - Covideo Sessions No. 21)

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Here’s a rewritten recording of Chasing Cars that I did during the first lockdown back in May, altering the lyrics to refer to the lockdown situation. I did this as therapy for myself and as an encouragement to keep up our lockdown discipline for the sake of others. Images and video taken from lockdown memes on social media, news outlets and creative commons images collections.   The family dancing near the beginning is from the Family Lockdown Boogie video by Jack Buchanan + family: https://youtu.be/G-ugfNXYcDg .   Only acoustic instruments used: Woodwind - clarinet, bass clarinet, tin whistle Strings - acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukelele Percussion - seat cushion, coffee flask, calabash (African shaker), djembe   Rewritten lyrics (by me):   Verse: We'll do it all Everything In our homes And offer time To those who need A helping hand   Chorus: If we stay here If we just stay here Would you stay with me and help protect the world?   Verse: I don

Gratitude, a way forward in the dark

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  Another great devotional from Liz Milani (The Practice Co devotional app - https://www.thepracticeco.com) on the theme of gratitude in a time of trial. I made a note of this post when first reading it back in April. It's sentiments still very much apply today.         HOW TO SEE IN THE DARK - Part 7 When you feel like you can't see the way forward, or that your current experiences are murking up the water making it hard to make decisions and to know what to do, gratitude will clear the way, it will open your eyes, it will help you see in the dark. And these are dark times. Whether its COVID-19, job and income loss, a sense of hopelessness, relationship heartache, chronic pain, anger, frustration... whatever it is that is clouding your judgement, tightening your heart - sometimes the way forward is hard to see for all the mess and clamour of life. There is so much happening on so many different levels, it's natural and easy to feel overwhelmed and stunned into para

"A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood" - being Christ for others

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A while back I watched the Tom Hanks film “A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood”, based on real-life encounter between US children's TV legend Mr Rogers and a hard-bitten journalist.   I discovered Mr Rogers for myself as an 11 yr. old visiting my sister in New Orleans with my mum in 1980 but he didn’t really click with me at that point. Thanks to this film I have now very much warmed to both the TV persona of Mr Rogers and the man behind that persona, Fred Rogers. In fact, I think the two are pretty much one and the same. One thing I like about him (as portrayed by Tom Hanks) is that what you saw was what you got, whether it was on the tv show or in real life. After a bit of research, it would seem that this is a true reflection of how he was.    Given recent events in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, the below scene says so much. Apparently it did really happen. For me, it's is a taste of heaven. With the current climate surrounding abuse, the request in his sig