the lent sessions // money shop

27 03 2013

Maybe it’s the same where you live. As proper shops go, the money shops arrive. Shops that claim to be able to sell you money at a good rate. This is rarely true. This shop has a poster at the moment. Borrow £100, only pay back £125. When you are in debt and desperate, this is where you end up.SAM_1246_Snapseed

One of the ways we try to understand Easter is to talk about debt. Sin, or the “human propensity to [m]uck things up” (Spufford), puts us into an unpayable debt to God. What religions do is act a bit like a cheque shop. Lend us goodness credits, but we end up only more enslaved. What Jesus did is pay the debt in full. Redeemed the slave.

Maybe this is where only the poor can truly understand it. Only those who are truly in debt, without any capital or property or family to lean on. Maybe only they can understand what it is to be freed from that. 

Next time we pass a cheque shop, a pawnbrokers, or a betting shop, let’s think on the debt they accrue in the most vulnerable. And think how we can bring the resurrection into that reality.

Can you support Christians Against Poverty, or a Credit Union, or the CAB?  

the lent sessions // lamps

24 03 2013


Look carefully at this picture and you’ll see we are getting new lampposts in our street. They shine brighter, with a brilliant white light, not the dull orange glow from before. It’s quite a job though. Each lamppost individually replaced, with 2 men a lorry and host of tools. And the weather is bad.

If you want new light, sometimes you have to put the work in. You need to don the high-viz waterproofs, step into the freezing rain and dig the hole. Jesus saves us by faith; he can bring the kingdom how he wants; but he chooses to partner with us. We might be happy with our dull glow. But there’s new light. New life.  

Many won’t notice the lampposts being built. But they will notice the new light.  

the lent sessions // cloud

5 03 2013


They say every cloud has a silver lining. This is not true. Some do. But not all of them. Some are just dark clouds full of rain.

They say everything happens for a reason.  This is also not true. It doesn’t. Sometimes bad things just happen.

Of course, God can transform every dark cloud into much needed rain, or dissolve it into sunshine. Of course, God can turn a bad thing into a good thing. But he doesn’t always. And we don’t need to pretend he does.

He is still God. 

This is part of a mini-series during Lent using images more than words. I am not a photographer, so they won’t be the best pictures. But I want to use pictures from what I have seen and heard around me as a starting point for reflecting on God, because we don’t have to be in the countryside to see God. Previous posts include bathroom, balloon, george’s and zebra.    

the lent sessions // zebra

2 03 2013

Circle zebra crossing_SnapseedI cross this zebra crossing most days. Almost without fail, when I stop the car for a pedestrian to cross, they say thank you. This always makes me smile. Old men, old women, mums with kids and builders with sandwiches, school kids, students, everyday people. 

Our area can feel quite depressed, and a lot of people feel down about life. But they still have time to say thank you. 

They say its the small things that get you down. Maybe sometimes its the small things that should lift us up. 

the lent sessions // george’s

27 02 2013

To know an area, you need to find spaces to watch and listen. This is mine. George’s Cafe. 

George's Cafe_Snapseed

Life is here. Builders on lunch break, mums with kids, couples having a cheap treat, men who live alone and need some human contact… I reckon everyone eating here has walked here, which means they are under my pastoral care. Local.

Life is here. Community is here. Ministry can’t be done in isolation reading books in the study. Get out more.

God bless George’s.

This is part of a Lent series called The Lent Sessions, using photos of my local area and experiences. Previous posts include // bathroom and // balloon 

the lent sessions // balloon

16 02 2013
look up

look up

balloons tangled in a telegraph pole
when one persons Valentines’ blessing
becomes the blessing for the whole street

what seemed like a loss, a waste, a costly loosening of grip
maybe an unexpected gust of pneuma
or a risky climb to show love to one other

becomes beauty, shared

you just have to look up to see it

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