Advent Reflections

I realised I’ve been kinda busy busy busy for a while and not paused to reflect so much. Managed a pause for Nos Galan Gaeaf, which was refreshing, but the computer the notes from that are on is broken, so no blogging of that lovely time. More recently a much needed (but too brief) holiday has reminded me how much I need reflective life to keep in balance… so I have collated the many opportunities for reflection I have had today:

First the, oh yeah it’s 1.12.16 now moments…

Looking forward to carol services and other traditions:

The Christmas Carol Service Bingo Game

Then came some more serious thinking:


And two videos for advent, I came across. The first from “science made simple” posting a link a day for advent:

And this from current day Bethlehem:

As if to sum it all up, a friend posted her advent candle, with this beautiful summary:


ADVENT. Pausing & Waiting & Hoping & Knowing Good Will Come Again.



I’m writing this after what feels like an emotional wringer of a week, just to try to process.

This is the news which started things off:

Pulse, Orlando, Mass Shooting.

Attack on LGBT Community

Heartbreaking texts to Mum

I’ve been looking through some of the posts that came through, and I’ve been pretty glued to social media this week. At first I think everyone was stunned. But gradually thoughts, prayers and reflections started appearing:

Dismantle Misogyny  

12 June at 20:08 ·

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, I want things to be kept in perspective:

This is a time for mourning and solidarity. Let us not turn the tragedy of homophobia into rampant Islamophobia.”

“All this narrow minded cruelty at the moment is ridiculous. How can anyone think they have the right to judge other humans?!

People are emigrating to your country? Be proud you have a country they want to live in! There are a lot of countries I would love to live in one day, and I wouldn’t want anyone telling me to go back to where I came from.

A boy fancies a boy? Good for him! They want to get married? Me too! They want to raise a child in their loving family? Well that’s just lovely.

Someone is part of a different religion to you? What a beautifully diverse world we live in! What an abundance of things we can learn from one another!

Don’t like homosexuals? Don’t like Muslims? Neither did Hitler. Don’t be like Hitler.” (HB)


Why Christians Cannot Stay Quiet

“It’s far easier for the church and state to claim ‘terrorism’ as if it came from outside. It helps to minimise the fact that these victims were both black and gay.” (NSD)

“A muslim (presumably none gay) man gives blood in Orlando in solidarity with those in need (and in the place of gay men who can not give blood there). While I see no more need for peaceloving muslims to do this than for me to make gestures against the KKK, I appreciate it and it’s a beautiful thing to do.”

donating blood

“-Yes my name is Mahmoud a proud Muslim American .

-Yes I donated blood even though I can’t eat or drink anything cause I’m fasting in our holy month Ramadan just like hundreds of other Muslims who donated today here in Orlando .
-Yes I’m angry for what happened last night and all the innocent lives we lost .
-Yes I’m sad , frustrated and mad that a crazy guy claim to be a Muslim did that shameful act.
-Yes I witnessed the greatness of this country watching thousands of people standing in 92 degree sun waiting on their turn to donate blood even after they were told that the wait time is 5-7 hours .
-Yes this is the greatest nation on earth watching people from different a ages including kids volunteering to give water , juice , food , umbrellas , sun block. Also watching our old veterans coming to donate And next to them Muslim women in hijab carrying food and water to donors standing in line .
-Yes together we will stand against hate , terrorism , extremism and racism .
-Yes our blood all look the same so get out there and donate blood cause our fellow American citizens are injured and need our blood .
Yes our community in central Florida is heart broken but let’s put our colors , religions , ethnicity , sexual orientation , political views all aside so we can UNITE against those who are trying to hurt us .

feeling determined at Oneblood Inc.”

Welsh Remembrance:

All flags at the Senedd flying at half mast. The vigil was powerful, raw, emotional and peaceful. I’m proud to be part of a community that can gather like this at such short notice. Especially powerful to hear messages of solidarity from faith leaders alongside AMs, Pride Cymru and Stonewall Cymru.” (HCB)

“My prayers are with all those hurt (physically and mentally) by the tragedy in Orlando and for LGBTQ communities around the world. Lord have mercy.” (SA)

“Love always conquers hate.” (Justin Trudeau)

“How horrifying… but a reality some parents truly believe. You’re not alone. There are plenty of organisations here in the UK that offer a sense of belonging and community. You can check out our resource page but also just name a few please like these pages Naz and Matt Foundation Birmingham South Asians LGBT – Finding A Voice British Asian LGBTI Tell Mama UK Asifa Lahore Persian LGBT Community in UK NAZ Dosti – Leicester Strength in numbers. One love and peace to all

Sohail Ahmed

A gay Muslim friend of mine just told me that his parents said that God sent Omar Mateen to kill the gays because it’s the holy month of Ramadan.

Imagine how it must feel like being gay and hearing your own parents say that to you.

To all LGBT people suffering from discrimination and abuse, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. x”

Liverpool Rainbow:

Liverpool Rainbow

Belfast Rainbow:

Belfast Rainbow


 “Inclusive Mosque Initiative

My prayers, sorrow and hope for peace go out to all those affected by what happened in Orlando. Especially the families and friends who have lost loved ones and those who are still fighting for their lives.

Recently reported accounts believe the killer had mental health needs and he’d been under surveillance by the authorities. Instead of curbing gun licensing or offering mental health support, the US health system and gun lobby are now complicit in this incident and will continue to be as they seek profit over lives.

The majority of Muslims, diverse as we are in our sexuality and other multiple elements of our identities, reject the violence being perpetrated in the name of religion. We will continue to resist the violence being imposed on every ordinary person by nation states through fear, division and the pursuit of profit at the cost of our lives and dignity.

Let’s remember that LGBT+ communities are systematically victimised everyday. To truly protect LGBT+ people you can’t simply see us as victims of one major attack carried out by one person. We are put through micro attacks all the time: poor healthcare systems that fail transgender people, poor financial systems that exclude LGBT+ family structures, erasure from sex education in schools which puts thousands of LGBT+ youth at risk everyday. Showing solidarity at a time like this means opening your eyes to all these attacks on the existence of LGBT+ people.

Inclusive Mosque Initiative seeks pro-action in unity and peace.

Tamsila Tauqir MBE
Inclusive Mosque Initiative trustee”


looking for love.

I’ve been struggling to know how to respond to the horrific and tragic events in Orlando, made worse by insensitive and ignorant commentaries I’ve read and seen online. The horror of this attack alone is enough to break my heart, but add to that a backdrop of hate that seems to be so prevalent in our world at the moment, and I feel overwhelmed.

Only prejudice and disdain for “the other” could fuel such violence. Not just in an unthinkable homophobic massacre but also in the current clashes between football hooligans in France. In a world where the likes of Trump can be a presidential candidate and Brexit is a very real threat, I find myself asking with genuine concern and fear “what on earth is going on and where will this all end?”

It is tempting to finish this post there but it would be remiss to do so. In a bleak world that feels particularly dark at present I cling to this truth: “…these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Hate will not have the last word because ‪#‎LoveWins‬  ”  (SA)

Fowl Language: Scarey World




Having to do a lot of thinking about what community means lately… politically of course there’s the European Referendum coming up… work means I see quite a lot of how connected/ not some people can be… there’s always my own immediate neighbours of course… and starting a new venture, has meant stepping back a little from another to make time…

There’s lot’s to think about… What is it that holds us together? Where are the challenges for us (individually and corporately)? How do we deal with them?

I’ve found a few interesting blogs that seem related today:

Unintentional Community

To be a social justice warrior

Preaching Eucharistwards

That last one starts steering things to a helpful centering point for me.

Sex, Money, and Power

This blog post started with a mindfulness practice… being aware and observing my thoughts. In the main, I have been aware that the “news” filling my facebook feed in the last day or so has led not to laughter, but unease, sadness, and a heavy heart. Given that I’m really not a fan (understatement) of the current UK government, I kept watching myself to explore this reaction more. Then I did a bit more thinking about things and some reading on the internet. This is me now trying to process it all (with the help of lots of copying and pasting!).

The first reason is that whichever “slant” you give on this story (and I did find a few that were attempting to approach it more seriously) it paints a very ugly picture of the behaviour of human beings. What follows are a few of the examples of analysis of the story that don’t involve tenuosly linking puns with sentences:

[Edit – few more appeared in news feed this evening: ]

From Facebook:

Rubberbandits (Yesterday at 10:20)
I’m waiting for a journalist to talk about the real reason David Cameron stuck his mickey in a pigs mouth. Here’s why.
To facilitate corruption. He did it in the Bullingdon club in Oxford. A club full of rich boys who end up ruling British politics. They do mad shit like that to strengthen fraternity and most importantly, so everyone in the club has dirt on each other. Protecting them all from whistleblowers when they become corrupt bastard politicians. No different to what the Hells Angels do to keep undercover police away.

Grant Sharkey (Yesterday at 11:07 · Edited ·)
Ok, here’s the play.
Ashcroft was snubbed by Cameron.
Cameron/pig story comes from revenge for not giving Ashcroft a lovely job in return for £8m.
Ashcroft now supports Boris Johnson leadership bid.
Ashcroft book written with Times journalist. Times owned by Murdoch.
Book published by BiteBack Publishing – run by Iain Dale. Right Wing blogger and establishment think tank witch.
This whole thing is a Tory coup to install BoJo for leader/PM.
Boris, the bumbling wiff waff, probably fucked that pig too. JUST SAYING.

Whether the things described in Ashcroft’s book are based in fact or fiction doesn’t change a huge amount about this story. There is sexual perversity (with a big ick! factor)… whether the specific incident described occurred in history, or only in the mind of a multimillionaire, a few journalists, and more than a few of the British public… the entire concept is utterly reprehensible. There’s the “power by blackmail” aspect… whether it’s ashcroft’s “donations” to the Tory party, or the possible existence of a photograph being kept from uni days as blackmail… and of course money, everywhere… follow the money, figure out who’s pulling the puppet strings… etc. etc. etc. In short, it’s a horrible spectacle, whatever way you look at it.

The moment I realised that this was what was bothering me though, was actually when I saw this:

never wrestle chimney sweep tony benn

Everything about the story is so contaminated and horrible, that first instinct is to run away from it altogether.

But a little scrolling on through my news feed highlighted that it’s not really the biggest or most important of stories that link this little trio, perverted sex, money, and power. There was this story from the New York Times:

In this instance, covering up the paedophilia in order to hold on to power… not so far from other allegations surfacing left right and centre in previous years , and these much closer to home. A little reading of an example of historical and cultural embedding of child abuse can be found here:

and another:

And another story of insatiable hunger for power and money.

The link between unfettered power (often in war, but not always so), sexual abuse, and pillaging/theft/greed is hardly new, a quick search found easy examples:

So the sordid little trio of money, sexual perversion and power have been around the block a bit… this is just another little outing. Or to paraphrase:

Horrible History

So it’s horrible. And my inclincation is to run away from the horribleness and pretend it’s not there. And not being particularly rich or powerful, and single and celibate, why should I be affected by this story at all? That’s where this little cartoon comes in:

raising a politician

Because there’s a reason that sexual perversion and power and money have linked together in the various scenarios described, and it has more to do with general human fallibility than anything else.
Because whatever the rules a society abides by, there are also unwritten ones that persist on too.
Because the difference between public shame, and a private guilty heart, leads to a different way of being.

Because the basic model of shame is that it leads to a reaction of denial/hiding and avoiding facing reality. Because it makes us vulnerable, because our image of ourselves is based on hiding this reality. Because trying to hide something bad often leads to something else bad. And those are experiences we all have, some about things we could describe as morally bad, and some where we feel we have exposed a weakness that we didn’t want to face. I’m just gonna go ahead and post a couple of youtube videos here that go into this way better:

I think also the exact opposite of this denial and shame are actually two things which sometime get confused with it, guilt/confession and forgiveness. For both of these to really happen, you have to allow yourself to face the ugly reality, painful though that may be, and choose not to let that define your own being. Funnily enough it’s that ability to face the ugly reality then then gives the solid foundation for real change.

And on that note, a collection of “better words”:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.


This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.



The difference between power and importance

A little phrase on the radio jarred me for attention yesterday. It was describing the gathering of NATO leaders, and said that the “most important people in the world” were gathering in Cardiff that evening. It just didn’t sit right to hear them described that way. Working life has helped put the image into stark contrast.

Over two days I had the privilege of a small role in caring for someone who was dying, ensuring their passing was comfortable and peaceful. Family members from far and wide were sent for and gathered around. A conversation with the dying person enabled fears to be addressed and spiritual support was also sent for, as well as various medical and social forms of assistance. The family was capable and loving and the patient’s last days were spent surrounded in care and love.

Comparing the two gatherings described, I would say that the former, with members of NATO, is one of those with power and control, largely military and financial. But the gathering of the most important people in Cardiff? That happened in a house like many others, away from the spotlight, where a human being breathed their last in the presence of embodied love.



You can probably tell I’ve been chewing over Jesus’ ideas from Matthew chapter 20 and Mark chapter 10.