Category Archives: Blogging

A pregnancy, a donkey, and an update


A visitThe Internet is a place full of shadows. People come and go; they visit this blog as I visit others. One or two leave a comment, which is a most welcome and tangible sign of their visit.  But most leave no more than an echo; something the system picks up to say that someone was here, visiting this page.  Who they were and how long they stayed; whether they were challenged, horrified or simply indifferent, the echo doesn’t say; they are simply shadows.

I wrote the story, “A pregnancy, a donkey, and a whole bunch of questions” for an Advent service on 28 November 2010, and I posted it here two days later.  There wasn’t much interest that year, and only 210 visitors looked at the story in the whole of 2011.  This year, 2012, must be the year of the donkey, or the journey, or whatever, because 245 people viewed the story in November alone, and another 280 in December so far.

No doubt many of those who came, left with nothing more than a quick glance.  Others perhaps stayed to read the story. What I’m interested in is whether someone out there has tried to use the story themselves somewhere else.

I used it again last Sunday at another church here in Pietermaritzburg.  The response was very good, with the general comment being, “It finished too soon. I want to hear what comes next.”

Telling storiesIt’s not often a preacher gets asked for more!  Which is why I believe that we should tell more stories.  There are risks in telling stories, which we don’t always want to take. With a sermon we lay the foundation, prepare the listeners, and then we draw them to the main point.  The message (we hope) is clear, and it can be summarised in a few words.

A story is its own message.  There is usually (as in the great stories of the Bible) an overall message of God’s grace, of God’s involvement in the world, of our struggle with God’s call, etc., but how people connect with the story is out of our hands.

In this story of Mary and Joseph’s journey, it is not the dialogue or their assumptions that matter.  The key is simply recognising that the conversation took place; that Mary and Joseph were real people like us, who would have asked the same questions we ask, with the same fears.  Yet they found a way to engage with God, and to trust him for the impossible future to which he was calling them.

When we begin to understand the people of the Bible in this way, as their experience and their encounter with God becomes more real to us (and more like ours), we can more readily engage with their story, and their story becomes our story.  We can no longer ignore the challenge that their lives present; we can no longer say “well, it was all very well for them….” It wasn’t all very well at all.  Yet as they listened and responded to God’s challenge, they began to reflect God’s glory, and their light still shines for us today.

Their story is no longer a fairy tale of otherworldly people, whose feet don’t quite touch the ground, and whose eyes are constantly raised heavenward. They are people like us. God took his chance with them, as he does with us. He loved them in their misunderstanding and lack of faith, as he loves us. He reached out to them when they were farthest away from him, as he does to us. They had the same questions we have, and God answered them as he seeks to answer us.

What has been your experience of story?  Do they help or hinder your journey?

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, Stories

Clearing the Clutter: Old Words for a New Life


Where have I been? I have been clearing clutter.

Sixteen years’ worth of accumulated notes, gems and (mostly) nonsense had to be sorted before 31 August 2012, which is when I left the safety of employment in Human Resources Management. Previously, when moving from office to office, I did not have time to sort, and simply carried the nonsense with me.  This time it had to go, and I had a free hand.

At home, before starting my new venture, I had to clear a space in which to work. What we have euphemistically called “the study” had to be reclaimed.  Usually marriages are made up of one pack rat and one neat freak.  Our happy marriage comprises two hoarders. Twenty years’ worth of notes, gems and (mostly) nonsense had to be sorted and (mostly) thrown out.  It’s a liberating experience. The picture shows the long-hidden carpet and an almost-forgotten desk.

But all of that has left little time for blogging, especially as I have also had to work on a new website, arrange business cards and start looking for business; the latter, I’m sure you will appreciate, being quite important.

Let me share with you a word from Brother Lawrence that has been an almost daily prayer of mine over many years as I start work in the morning.

“O my God, since you are with me, and I must now, in obedience to your commands, apply my mind to these outward things, please grant me the grace to continue in your presence; and to this end prosper me with your assistance, receive all my works and possess all my affections.”

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Filed under Blogging, Odds & Ends, Prayers and Meditations

Two Years Ago……….


I’m sure 13 February is a special day in the lives of many people, and far more significant than simply the second anniversary of the day I started blogging. But that’s what it means to me, and as such it’s pretty special.

My only regret is that I do not have the time to write more.  But since 13 February 2010 I have had the pleasure of meeting so many internet friends and fellow bloggers.  I had the delight of being Freshly Pressed by Word Press for a story I wrote about Harry Potter. That one brought nearly 3,000 people to my site in two days, and 140 comments.  It has been the single most read post, no let me be realistic, the single most visited post on my site. The search-engine terms used that still bring two or three people to Wondering Preacher every day are “Harry Potter”, “harry potter’s broomstick”, or just “broomstick”. I would wish for them to stay and read the stories (which I love to write), the meditations or other posts but, no, they want Harry Potter, and are probably terribly disappointed when they arrive here and discover that it’s not an HP fan site.

But there are those who came to read and enjoy and leave comments.  And there are those who receive these ramblings by email every time I post. Thank you. You are the reason I write. Your presence encourages me to write more and to strive to write well. I am immensely grateful.

My first post was a meditation on 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, which I wrote during a workshop that launched my writing, particularly the stories.  Allow me to share it again:

I am only what God is making of me.
I am all that God is making of me.
I will not be afraid of your opinion of me
But I will listen in case you  bring a word from God.

I have nothing to give you
But everything to receive.
I cannot be what you want me to be
But I can be the space where you can discover yourself.
I have no strength or wisdom of my own
Only that which Christ nurtures within me.

I have no spark of wisdom with which to enlighten your mind
Or seed of wisdom to plant within your soul.
I can only offer the space and opportunity
to nurture that which is already within you.

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Filed under Blogging, Community