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November 2020

OUT OF KILTER, AMISS AND ASKEW (As We Wait on God in A Manger)

God in manger

Almighty God
We approach you and worship you as
The Omnipresent
Omnipotent God
And yet as we wait for your arrival in this Advent season
We cannot help but be provoked by something
Out of kilter, amiss and askew
Instead of a throne in heaven
We are aware of a manger of straw
Instead of robed religious dignitaries
We are aware of cattle, sheep and shepherds
Straight from the fields
Instead of theology graduates in gowns
We are aware of mystical eastern star gazers.
And even more bizarre and disturbing
We are aware of the people of God
Who should know better
Who know enough to search the Holy Scriptures
To find the truth of such events
Using their knowledge
Not to approach you in worship
But to flood the streets of David’s city
With the blood of innocent children and babies
And sending the long awaited and yearned for Messiah
Fleeing his life to Egypt as a refugee
God as we wait for you you this Christmas
We wait for a God who emptied himself

Who willingly gave his rights
Who sacrificed his comfort
Who made himself nothing
And left himself vulnerable
God as we wait for such wonder
Such a mystery
Such an upside down view of the world
Inspire us in the waiting

To us to ask ourselves Why?
Give us a snippet of history’s greatest refrain
The greatest news to be sung to humanity
That God loved us and demonstrated his love for us in this
That while we were still sinners
He was born and lived and died and raised again to life for us
So God as we begin our waiting today
We are acutely aware of a God who gave up everything
For us
And if we lean in closely we can hear you whisper back
From the straw of the manger
From the refugee road to Egypt
From the seashore of no reputation
From the mountain of the sermon
From the journey to Calvary
From a cross of wood
Follow me... follow me... follow me...
As the Father sent me so I am sending you
You are the light of the world
The salt of the earth
God as we wait on your incarnation this Christmas
Give us the courage, the bravery
To follow you…
To give our lives
To be servants of others…
God we thank you for the wonder of the poetry and art and transforming power of Christmas
That inspired the readings and carols we will ponder as we wait...
Make these words flesh in us...
In this baby name


German advent cadle

God is about to arrive on earth. Messiah. Redeemer. Saviour. God as a baby.

But…not yet! Advent is all about the discipline of waiting. Waiting is a call on the people of God throughout the Bible. “I waited patiently on the Lord…” is just one quotation that U2 picked up on from Psalm 40.

I read a powerful line from Professor Christopher David that “God is great but God is gradual”. Wow. Like God is a red hot flame but a long slow burn. The Bible is a slow burn of a story unveiled and truth revealed. 

The gradual slow burn seems to be a characteristic of God. Therefore, there has to be something useful about waiting and patience. It needs cultivated within our own souls. 

We are not good at waiting. Especially in a world of instant gratification. Text messages. Email. Social media. Streaming music. 

When Janice lived in South Africa in 1993 a letter took a week to get there and a week to wait for her response. There were records that I used to wait until my parents took me to Edinburgh for the summer holidays to finally acquire. 

Patience, a segment of the fruit of the spirit, is not something conditioned in today’s world. So, waiting needs an intentionality. We need a spiritual retreat. The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day offers us such an opportunity.

Advent… so let us wait…


I’m thinking about Christmas

Too much for such a young girl

A big ask that God is asking

In this shuddering of our worlds

I’m thinking about Christmas

Eyes fixed on a brand new birth

I’m stumbling with the shepherds

To find that peace on earth.



For hope and peace and joy and love

All the candles are lit


For hope and peace and joy and love

We keep praying for it


I’m thinking about Christmas

That strange medical ward

The danger and vulnerability

Has me whisper “oh my Lord”

I’m thinking about Christmas

And the twinkle of a light cast

A courageous cry in the dawning

As the past at last is past.



For hope and peace and joy and love

All the candles are lit


For hope and peace and joy and love

We are praying for it


There should be 50 words for waiting

Waiting before and then until

Every time a waiting is over

There is another waiting hill

There should be 50 words for waiting

Wait, here’s another one

For the courage to wait along with

Until all the waiting is done.



For hope and peace and joy and love

All the candles are lit.


The Waiting

"The waiting is the hardest part" - Tom Petty

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" - Psalm 130:5


Waiting for the appointment

Waiting for a bed

Waiting for the test results

Waiting in my head


Waiting for the calendar 

Waiting for the plane to depart

Waiting for the arrivals’ door

Waiting in my heart


Waiting for an update

Waiting restrictions lifted

Waiting for a vaccine

Waiting in unprecedented.


Waiting for apocalypse

Waiting for my role

Waiting for an answer

Waiting in my soul


Waiting for an update

Waiting restrictions lifted

Waiting for a vaccine

Waiting in unprecedented.


World is instant

Patience unusual

In the waiting


God is great

But God is gradual

In the waiting


DIG WITH IT - Music, Arts and Nordy Culture

Hannah Cover

I have been intrigued by Hannah Peel since she arranged the strings on Paul Weller’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall album. I heard she was from Northern Ireland. Eh? How did I not know that. There was so much I wanted to learn.

Well, this afternoon by personal delivery the third issue of Dig With It came through the door and right there on the cover - Hannah Peel. I now know that she grew up in Craigavon until the age of 8 before moving to Yorkshire. I know she now lives in Bangor and what she’s been working on this year. Paul Weller has been very good to her.

This is what I love about Dig With It. With the strap line Music, Arts & Nordy Culture this magazine launched early in 2020 throws insight across our burgeoning local arts scene. 

The brain child of our most legendary rock journalist Stuart Bailie and his designer daughter Betsy, Dig With It comes out quarterly and is crammed with great writing, interviews and reviews about those who dig with pens, guitars, brushes and cameras - a nice tribute nod to Seamus Heaney.

As well as Hannah Peel, the current edition that literally landed on my mat today has Stuart talking to Sinead O’Connor as well as a brilliant article by Anthony Toner about the late great Bap Kennedy. There is always more and all three issues have had me discover what’s absolutely new on the Nordy music scene and giving insight to what I had already discovered.

Issue 3 has me comparing my thoughts on Joshua Burnside's astonishing record Into The Depths Of Hell with Kristen Sinclair's review, off chasing a new Jealous of the Birds record, introduced me to poet Micheál McCann and excited me about Kerri ni Dochartaigh’s new novel Thin Places coming out in January.

There is loads more, far too much to share. If I haven’t convinced you can I also add that the magazine is so well produced that it is a piece of art in its very self. In this edition Lily Bailie works with Hannah Peel, Kwa Daniels, Oona Doherty and Siofra Caherty to create flags, banners and emblems that illustrate those 4 creatives' lives.

Yeh, that Bailie name again. They are like a wee arts dynasty. We should be proud to have them. Dig With It has a much wider team but there is still a sense of family cottage industry. The best of what we Nordys are inside the magazine and in its making.  

3 covers

Subscribe or give it as a gift - DIG WITH IT



Santa with masks

There has been much concern about whether Covid-19 would ruin all our Christmases. Imagine… the shops shut, no staff dinner, trips to Santa’s grotto, the family visits banned and no Carol services!?!? 

For sure, whatever Tier we geographically find ourselves, whatever lock down restrictions our devolved governments demand, even with a five day triple bubble break, this Christmas is going to be very different.

I am going to audaciously suggest that one of the silver linings of the winter cloud that is Coronavirus could be that we can have the best Christmas ever. 

Usually around the end of November I look ahead to Christmas and suggest that there are two festivals. One is a Santa Claus centred Christmas that is all about fun, family decorations and eating. There is a lot of spending and sharing of gifts and recycled wrapping paper! I call this the holiday season.

Then there is the other Christmas. This one is about remembering, re-enacting and reflecting on the most amazing story. It is the story of a God who humbled himself to be born as a baby. What an idea. God visiting earth and becoming one of us, dependent on a teenage girl and being carted off as a refugee. This baby has names - Emmanuel meaning God with us - and - Jesus meaning God saves. I call this Christmas!

I love both festivals. I so enjoy getting the family up early on Christmas morning. I love opening presents. I love the Christmas dinner, particularly my wife’s family’s tradition of spiced beef! I love the snooze in the afternoon and the left overs and sweets. It’s all warm and lovely.

I also love Christmas morning. Over recent years Fitzroy’s Christmas morning service has grown in numbers. There is nothing like O Come All Ye Faithful on Christmas morning, especially if Richard Blake happens to be home to play his trumpet. To give central importance to that baby laid in the straw. Have the children all up around our Crib and me lift the baby out and explain who he is and what his brith means. It is powerfully spiritual.

Now, for years I have heard people tell me that they find it a shame that sometimes the holiday season part of it squeezes out the importance of the spiritual bit.

So, can I invite us all to a very different Christmas. 2020 has been one to forget for all of us and a lot worse than that for many. However, perhaps these strange, cautious and restrictive circumstances give us a chance in a lifetime to concentrate on the spiritual aspect. Maybe we could use the scenario we find ourselves in to make a conscious decision… 

The 2020 Christmas Retreat. A year when we do what the story of the baby means. We give up our rights and comforts and entitlements for the good of those around us. As Jesus sacrificed himself to kill the virus of human sin we will do the same to beat the virus that has killed so many and threatens to kill more.

In this Christmas Retreat we will for one year underplay the holiday festival part to give the spiritual part our best intentions and concentration. We might not be able to gather as normal BUT you will find services and other resources online to get the full impact of this world changing event. 

We might find that at the end of such an awful year we find something … like angels singing, a star shining or God lying in straw offering peace, love and hope for all human kind. Maybe as we try to forget that number 2020 we end up celebrating it. Maybe this year could give us the 2020 vision we have always longed for but found blurred with all the other stuff.


Breathing grace

“Grace is the oxygen of another world and we like breathing our own.” A friend quoted this phrase of mine on Twitter and it was one of those lines that you hear and say, "Wow. I like that. Did I really say it". Songwriters speak of being conduits of God or something beyond them. Lines like that are as close as I get!

I at least thought it was good enough to reblog. 

Jesus truth was grace. God was interrupting the way the world was with the way the world could be, God’s way. It was a scandalous truth that ultimately got Jesus crucified. The world couldn’t handle anything so subversively ridiculous.

Jesus illustrated it well in his parable of the Prodigal Son. As the religious leaders of his day listened in, Jesus painted a vivid picture of a rascal who took his father’s inheritance and squandered it on sex and drugs and rock n roll, to give it a modern twist. Finding himself destitute he heads for home.

As the story moves towards climax you can almost hear the Holywood soundtrack building the tension. Jesus says that the father sees the rogue from afar and the religious leaders are getting all excited about what judgement is going to come down... and... the father wraps his arms around him, puts a ring on his finger and throws a party. Jesus mentions the loyal, good living, brother as a comparison to the wild hedonist which makes even more acute the sense of the injustice.

Grace. It seems madness but it is our only hope. It is God’s way of love; loved as we are without merit. Did I say ridiculous?

The follower of Jesus is more than aware of the amazing grace that embraces the wretch and brings the wholeness of salvation. As Paul put it so well in Ephesians, “It is by grace you are saved through faith...”

In Philippians he spoke of this in his own life, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

For Paul this was a whole different oxygen. From attempting by his own efforts at holiness to relying on God’s interruption of grace what Jesus achieved for him in his life, death and resurrection.

Down though the history of Christianity it has been a struggle for those who, like Paul, get this theological eureka moment. Falling into the arms of God’s grace like Jacob, Moses, David, Zaccheus and Paul before us we then go back to preferring the oxygen that we grew up on.

We start to set little legalist systems and then pummel ourselves under the guilt of failing to live up to them. No matter how much we believe in the doctrine of grace we look in the mirror in the morning and would rather be better looking, thinner, more successful and more holy.

We never allow ourselves to be loved as we are, as grace informs us we are. Then as we go back to breathing that old oxygen we cut off the supply of the new oxygen that not only loves us as we are but has the transformative power to love us into who God can make us be.



With her stunning new album Growing Wild just released I spoke to Yvonne Lyon about her amazing collaborations and what inspired the record. Yvonne had fun sharing stories of the album's making, insightful about the themes within the songs and very honest about her depression and how her art is cathartic. 


STOCKMAN: This seems a work with a mission of cataloguing the maturing process? Did you set out with that in mind?

YVONNE LYON: I didn't set out with that in mind. Life has a habit of 'maturing' you. The challenge is what that looks like. I think this is a manifesto against 'maturing' in the negative sense of growing older, cynical, closed, disappointed, set in your ways, more fearful. 

It's an invitation to expand, not to contract which seems to me, as I look around, how it goes for folk a lot of the time. I could feel myself contracting and I knew it wasn't healthy. I suppose what happens is, most of us have a bit of a mid-life crisis at this stage. SO this is my mid-life crisis album.

I had suffered mild depression (probably have most of my life). About 5 years ago after enjoying the most amazing ride of opening for Eddi Reader for 10 nights I…

Something negative was going on though and I began to experience a lot of performance anxiety (again, I've probably experienced this most of my life but hid it well!) SO I went on a therapy journey...just at the right time because then I experienced a significant trauma AND my Dad had a stroke which has left him needing full time care. 

An amazing counsellor has taken me on a very helpful journey and I knew it would come out in song at some Growing Wild is my way of going through a mid - life crisis, some pretty shitty times and choosing to distill those experiences and hopefully make something beautiful and connecting with them

Sorry for the psycho babble...but it's true! I have also gone on a journey of re connecting with who I actually am as a creative.

So.....why was I finding performing so difficult....because it's not the essence of my creativity. The essence is 6 year old me sitting at a piano making stuff up and getting lost in a world of melody, rhythm and harmony before I even knew what they were. I realised that's what brings me joy and that's what i need to tap into creatively and do more of.....So that is a strong thread running through Growing WIld. Learning how to 'play' again!


Frederick Buechner once wrote that art was opening a vein and letting it bleed over the page... that can be a help... but it must be hard?

Songwriting has always been cathartic for me. I think I am my most vulnerable on this album. Enough was a particularly tough song for me to write, to express true but not just spill all over the page. Again, that's where the distillation comes. I think pain can be transformed into beauty and that is part of the artist's journey


I want to get into the different writing processes with all those amazing co-writers BUT How do you bring various writers into one theme...

Again, not a conscious decision. But my overall feeling was...I get to know these people...I'm just going to write with them and see what happens.

INSTINCT is the big word for instinct was seriously stamped on over a few years. Growing Wild is reclaiming sending an idea to Boo TOTALLY on instinct...or getting in touch with a a complete stranger visual artist to paint ma big bonce….

I LOVED the opportunity to commission Michael Corr to paint the artwork

Again, an instinctual decision. As a frustrated visual artist myself, the artwork for each album has always been important in integrating the concepts and themes.


So, let me start with Stewart. You have been working with him for a little while. Does he ask for a theme and send you a lyric that you put music to?

It's so much fun and I had forgotten that these moments often lead to fascinating things!

Vesper Sky was a complete joy to create with Stewart and I was keen to continue that creative thread into Growing Wild. Normally it's a conversation we have that sparks something, we tend to ignite little fires of ideas in each other. He'll usually send me a broad brushstroke of a lyric and I will set it to music. 

However, I have been contributing my fair share of lyrics to Stewart's lyrics too. Nice when someone can't tell which is a Stewart lyric and which is mine. He has become a wonderful teacher and mentor and inspires me to write poetry. 

The song Growing Wild: I gave him the theme, he came back with a big splurge, we moulded it together music. 

We Accumulate The Years is very much from Stewart and was an idea he just sent to me before Growing Wild was conceived. I LOVED playing with this. This is definitely a continuation of new creative ground for me on Vesper Sky.


I imagine that it is more two in a room bashing out guitars and lyrics with Boo and Beth? Though I am not sure Boo ever bashes!

With Beth Nielson Chapman it was a real pinch me moment. We had met and worked together but I found myself at her front door in Brentwood, in the suburbs of Nashville, with my guitar for our first session about 3 years ago. 

I have been a fan since I saw her at The Fruitmarket in Glasgow when I was 18. I remember thinking - if I could write songs half as beautiful and meaningful as that I'd be happy! 

We chatted for ages and talked ourselves into the subject matter. It was interesting because the hook line came and then Beth realised that she had an album of the same name but not a song for it. We did bash away in her music room for a while and then it sat for a year or so. We came back to it again on my next trip to Nashville and then finally remotely when I started putting Growing Wild together.



Boo and I seem to spark ideas with each other a lot. We click very easily. I sent him the theme and a general splurge about A Bigger Heart. By the end of the night, he had written half the song in his dressing room, played it to his audience in the second half of his gig and emailed to tell me they wanted to buy it!

We worked remotely back and forward so were never in the same room for this one.


And our good friends Julie and Dan in Nashvile?

Julie and I have developed a lovely friendship over the years. I took the melody and chords of Winter Ground to her tiny house and she had had an idea for a migration song, she began to read the lines from her notebook and they just sung out to be matched. We worked away together on it and left it for a couple of years. 

We invited Dan Wheeler in on it when we got stuck of a middle eight. He provided the words and I set it to music. What's nice is that we introduced Dan to Julie and they are now a firm writing partnership

These are actually pretty cool's nice to be able to communicate them!


So, I am hearing Compass Hill and thinking that this is her Eddi Reader moment and then... there she is. How did that come about?

That'll be Eddi! I toured with her for 10 nights back a few years back

Sent her a wee message. At first she said no as she wasn't well but with the pandemic, by the time we got round to recording this one, I asked her again and she said yes! It was all done remotely under lockdown

Her son Sam recorded her vocal for us.


Eilidh Patterson? Another wonderful writer in her own right. Did you meet her through Beth? 

EILIDH!!!!!! We have become firm friends. It was actually an agent JJ. He put us on the same bill. But Julie, Beth and Ruth Trimble had been saying 'You REALLY need to meet Eilidh!

Eilidh and I have toured together and absolutely love singing with each other. I sang on one of her albums and it is hilarious because sometimes we can't tell who is who on backing vocals There's a sibling quality to when we sing. We did a Celtic Connections gig Eilidh/Ruth and I and many folks were blown away by our voices together...complete strangers saying it was their highlight of Celtic Connections......I SO wish we could do more together.


What I love is that you have taken all these different people, added them to your whiskey blend and still made a very Yvonne Lyon record. Was keeping you identity in it all easy?

Well, I suppose the songs are always 'me' so if it's starting from there as 'the grain' then they are the sugar and spice

The biggest departure was the Boo song, stylistically. 

But the spirit of Growing Wild is experimentation anyway, so with songs like Illuminate, Insignificant and We Accumulate the Years, musically I have pushed and pulled myself too


These are great insights. Any other stories about the making of the record you'd like a chance to talk about?

Illuminate was a last minute contender. I had been reading a book by Mirabi Starr called Wild Mercy and the word Illuminate kept coming up. All I knew was that I needed to write a song with that word in the title. AND I wanted a powerful piano motif type song. It made it on by the skin of its teeth. We really experimented on the sound of this one. Sandy Jones was producing with me throughout. He introduced a fantastic sound palette which chimed with me for us to play with with samples and nuances that are heard throughout the album.

I'm hoping to get vinyl made for the first time on this one

The mixing and mastering was done by Graeme Duffin at his house but we only got a few days before lockdown prevented us. SO it was all finished remotely.

The magic and mystery that Pete Harvey on cello and Seonaid Aitken bring always astounds me but particularly on this record.

I began purposely writing towards Growing Wild in May 2019 with a gap between recording in 2019 and 2020 so this has been the longest gestation period for me....and I've loved it! Note to self for the future.


So you send it out there... people do what they will with it... what would you like listeners to get from Growing Wild?

As always its about connection and resonance. I would hope that people will hear an evolution and an expansion. I hope some of the distillation and healing that I have experienced infuses the songs.


Lennon Womack

John Lennon’s death was the first one that I really grieved. I was too young to remember my Grandfather’s death. I was sad when Elvis Presley and Marc Bolan died about a month apart in 1977 but though they were heroes Lennon was more like a companion through my late teens. Indeed, Lennon helped shaped my worldview.

In later years I would question my loyalty to Lennon. He would drift down the charts to become my third favourite Beatle (sorry Ringo!) but in 1980 he was my man. 

I remember at the time that I was most gutted by the exuberance of life that was just snuffed out. We hadn’t seen much of Lennon for 5 years but suddenly here he was enjoying New York, enjoying his wife and particularly his son Sean and he was back in the studio making music. All that energy - gone. I was heartbroken.

Kenneth Womack is the new Beatles’ historian on the block. He has written quite a number of books on the band as well as two biographies of George Martin and another on George Harrison and Eric Clapton out next summer (cannot wait!). 

I am not sure that I am a massive fan of Womack’s style. He has written for Cambridge University press but what his writing loses a little when it betrays an academic style is more than made up for in his thorough research. 

Womack’s account of the last year of Lennon’s life is set up by sketching a pretty bleak scan across the four years before it. From retiring to his apartments in the Dakota after the release of Rock N Roll in 1975 Womack suggests Lennon was a creatively scant and without much purpose. Womack does give a really good feel for life in the Dakota and how the Lennons fitted into their district of New York

1980 however saw some new focus. Helped by Paul McCartney’s Coming Up single as competitive impetus, a new hobby in sailing and a holiday in Bermuda, Lennon started dreaming of a return to the studio.

I loved the investigative thread where Womack delves through Lennon’s demos and fragments and unveils as the pages turn how the songs on Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey came together. All these years later I got a bigger vision of the project. The love story and starting over for the 60s generation. 

Most of all, this book 40 years after the event expresses my feeling about the biggest tragedy of the tragedy. Womack paints the picture of a man who was living 1980 full on. The speed of his life, vision and art was accelerating month by month and then… with the futile act of one mad man… the life, vision and art was gone. 

That will always be the sad ending of such a Lennon book but John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life has a very positive hue, until that last page!


I See You

To be seen. I have been amazed recently at how many times a simple text, social media message or phone call has been received with a "thank you for seeing me". Coronavirus times have isolated us. We have felt a little alienated from our communities. To be seen has become something special. 

Hagar was the focus of a sermon Rev Lesley- Ann Wilson preached in Fitzroy on International Women’s Day just a week before our world went into lockdown. Having just returned from a trip to the Wilderness in the Holy Land, Lesley had some rich content for the sermon.

I was very drawn to the story. It resonated with me as the Biblical outworking of a Martyn Joseph song and a great truth that all of us can take into our lives.

Hagar was like an invisible woman. A slave to begin with she is then given by Sarah to Abram to give them a child. Sarah then became jealous of her and mistreated her. She heads out into the dessert to escape.

Then this invisible woman becomes the first person in Scripture to be visited by an angel. After God blessed Hagar the text tells us:


She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to : “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. (Genesis 16:13-14)


I love this. God sees Hagar. She knows it and calls God, “the God who sees me”and the well “The well of the one who sees me”.

In a life that seemed invisible, where nobody cared and everyone seemed to be abusing her she is seen by God. Wow!

I was immediately drawn to on elf my favourite Martyn Joseph songs, I See You.

From his first Sony album Being There released in 1992 Martyn himself described the song at the time:


“A simple statement of my personal belief, that no one will, or does, get any eternally with anything.”


That fascinates me. Martyn’s focus in writing seems to have been those who carried out evil acts. God sees them. They won’t get away with it.

I have always heard the song as being about the victims. God sees the victims. He sees the the impact of evil.

To know that God sees us will change our sense of self worth and hope. Whatever we are struggling through. Whatever is going against us. God sees us as he did Hagar. Wow. I’ll take that encouragement:


“I see the playgrounds with drugs

Children’s cloths in the mud



What about salvation

I see you, nothing escapes my attention”


God sees you. It is good to be seen. It is good to see others too.

FITZROY IS NOT CLOSED!!! (Surmising Yesterday's Restrictions)

Sounds Good

Can I declare a few things. Fitzroy is not closed… Jesus ascension has not been rescinded… The Holy Spirit is where he always has been, creating over the void and dark depths.

The news yesterday that church buildings would be closed to gatherings for a fortnight created a reaction. I understand some of it. The vast  majority of churches have been working extremely hard on keeping to the safety guidelines on restrictions, social distancing, masks, no loud singing, no coffee after the service etc.

It has worked in most places but sadly not in all places. A few churches have made the news. I am aware of people having to isolate after someone at a service tested positive the day after and I know ministers who have had to isolate and indeed tested positive too. Even with the strictest of regimes this virus can impact.

So I understand the Executives decision. I am aware some colleagues might not and that is ok. We can disagree. I am aware that for other churches it is probably more essential to meet than it is for us in Fitzroy. We are blessed with a good team to do church on-line and a congregation able to access it. 

Whatever our initial reactions though I would call my brother and sisters in church leadership to move forward with a positive attitude. We come into a season when the most amazing story will be told Sunday after Sunday. We will hear of a God who sacrificed all his rights because a virus of the soul was killing the whole of humanity. Let us follow that God and see it is a privilege to sacrifice our rights as a witness to the baby born and laid in straw.

Let us also declare that the buildings might be closed but the Churches certainly are not. Fitzroy’s Zoom Prayer Meeting this week was one of the most inspirational prayer meetings that I have have ever been at. It is fake news to suggest that we cannot connect with each other and God in the virtual world. I am aware too of home groups flourishing on Zoom. Baby and Toddler, children and youth ministry and more continue even if we cannot meet.

Fitzroy’s on-line service has us reaching across the world with regular “attenders” in western Canada, mid west America, across the UK and Europe and all the way to Bangladesh and Australia. We have had hundreds more at our services online than regularly attend Fitzroy on a Sunday morning.

That on-line potential so excites me as a minister coming into Advent. Fitzroy are viewing this particular Christmas as a month of Mission. Has there ever been a Christmas where the world needs light and love and hope and peace more than in 2020? We are seeking out imaginative ways to reach into people’s lives as individual members. We are also imagining how we can use virtual resources to share the glorious story of Emmanuel right across the entire world. Emmanuel means God With Us and there is no better news for a world in isolation and socially distancing than to know that God has broken every distance to move in among us.

Oh no! Fitzroy is not closed. Jesus ascension has not been rescinded and the Holy Spirit really is creating above the seeming dark void.