Ola Gjeilo… excerpts from the Sunrise Mass

I am struck again by the spiritual music of Ola Gjeilo. This young Norwegian brings spirituality , musicality and contextuality together. This is a wonderful expression of how God fills every molecule of creation.


A summer Christmas

sand nativity

Had a wonderful service this week … the theme was …a summer Christmas !.

Let me explain …we hear the Christmas story in December , and how God came to dwell with us , God Immanuel , God and the Incarnation , however I think during the year, we need reminding about the fact that God IS STILL and ALWAYS with us .

So on a hot summer Sunday morning, in the church service, we heard  the Christmas stories , the Angels and the young Mum , the journey from Bethlehem to Beacon Hill, and the travellers, visitors and gifts.( with slight amendments )

I always marvel how God uses many people to bring this Christmas story to life.

We heard about the’ angel ‘and the young Mum , which as particularly poignant as we have a nursery based in our church ; we then heard about the journey that people take to get their destination, and it was great surprise to have one of our young people back .. if only for a week , to tell us about his experiences , before he goes on his gap year, the people he met , the friends he made , and also the modern day ‘Herods’ that is the people to avoid !!

Then we focused on gifts, the gift of ourselves to other people, and my grandson , who I have mentioned before on here, performed a front roll down the centre of the church. We all smiled, and cheered …. And as we did this….we sensed the delight around the congregation, delight that God is present , delight that even in the messy world we live in , there are glimpses of the Spirit lifting our tensions and burdens .

In summer, children gather to build sandcastles ….. let’s celebrate a summer Christmas , and build a nativity in the sand,( the above picture is  a sand sculpture in Jesolo) let children come and tell the story of when God came on earth to dwell… and let us as parents and fellow’ travellers’ remind them, that he is STILL AND ALWAYS will be here.


God who breaks through the Christmas stories,

In the summer sunshine

help us recognise the voice of an angel

help us to give and receive the gift of friendship with those we meet

Help us to ‘gossip the gospel’

So all may know you as ‘God Immanuel ‘

God who lives and dwells with us … not just on a cold winters night ,

But in the sunshine of a summer day


‘God-centered’ Families

the beauty of sand

Family trees…… more to the point tracing family trees. Who has traced their family tree?. There are even books and leaflets you can get on how to do it properly. The TV schedules have really gone to town on this; many celebrities have traced their families. The newsreader Moira Stuart, and David Tenant otherwise known as Dr who, Deidre Barlow from Coronation street to name but three… and we also have Long Lost Families, where individuals attempt to find long lost relatives.

My cousin traced my grandma’s family back about 4 generations, and found out we came from Gloucester.We put such importance on our names. It gives us our identity, our heritage, our individuality, or uniqueness.Another example is …..family doctors . How is it that some families have a series of doctors, vicars, or plumbers  in past generations?

Having an identity, a base, a family is vitally important.

But in our society  there are people who are struggling with identity; with where they come from and …who is their family

  • Homelessness where many thousands of people whom roam the pavements and seek to find shelter from the harsh realities of our world .
  • Leprosy where who have been alienated from society, rejected by family members because of a skin disease and the effects of that disease of their bodies
  • Refugees and asylum seekers where those speaking out against injustice, conflict and people who have been displaced particularly those is war-torn countries who have lost their family roots.

Families and particular ‘identity’ is important to us, for they tell us and those around us who we are.

Many people use a wonderful image to describe our ‘church family’… a dysfunctional family !… We have many relationships to consider, some positive and affirming, others can be very challenging and destructive.

Like the sand in the picture above, each particle of sand is unique and beautiful , yet different and distinctive. It can be risky living next to a particle of sand that has very sharp edges !!

We may speak the words of a Christian, but do we really open up and live a risky Christian life, where our words and actions are spoken in love… knowing that in doing so, our reputation will be judged and opinions formed for we are adhering the sacredness of God.

Living our lives in love… is risky; it means that we can never said we have got it right.

It means that love is source of strength and our life…or as a wise woman said to me a long time ago, love is the currency of eternity.

Love is the essential ingredient of our behaviour, but as I mentioned earlier it has a cost. The cost is that we must be vulnerable, exposed , not allowing the abrasive elements of our characteristics come to the fore but to allow God to speak for us

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’ Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’

We may feel that we are not mature enough to speak for God, by the very nature of plucking, building and planting it means challenge and change, but God recognizes our fear and promises us to be with us as we step out in faith to obey.

Family trees…..whatever your surname, …..however you trace back your family, …remember that  we are all in the family of God, and being part of that family means that we live our lives in tension with the secular and the sacred world.

Next time you speak, next time you utter any words, ask yourself are they the sacred words of love from God.


Lord like the grain of sand that is washed repeatedly on the shore .

Wash me in the waters of Love ,

That I may seek to do your will

That I may strive to walk the extra mile

That I may speak words of love as the ‘currency’ of a Christian.