Monday, May 25, 2009

This is my body...

[A worm's eye view of grass?]

The photograph above has absolutely nothing whatever to do with this piece but I share it with you anyway. I took it thinking it might come in useful some time as a powerpoint background.

The other thing I want to share is prompted by recent debates in the Church of Scotland General Assembly. I don't want to say anything about the debates themselves but it reminded me of a short poem I wrote many, many years ago when I was a teenager.

This is my body

This is my body
That you break in two
By ignoring the one
In the neighbouring pew

This is my blood
That you spill down the drain
When you fight with each other
For personal gain

And each point of doctrine
You score here and now
Was a nail in my palm
Or a thorn in my brow

Each argument won
Is a brother lost 
So the principle’s saved
No matter the cost

This is my body
My hands and my feet
If only you’d bend
Perhaps they would meet

© Iain D. Cunningham

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Light in the darkness

[Under African Skies - Masai Mara 2002]

I think I am going to have to start carrying my old compact digital camera in my car at all times. Several times in the last couple of weeks I have seen some spectacular photographs- well, they might have become spectacular photographs If I'd had a camera with me to capture what I could see. Now these scenes remain only in my memory, which is about the least secure place in the Universe!
A few evenings ago, for example, I was returning from the Induction service for the new minister of the Douglas Valley Church. Approaching Hyndford Bridge,* which crosses the River Clyde just outside Lanark, I looked over to my left at the rolling landscape which at this time of year is painted in shades of brilliant green.
The sun was getting quite low in the sky and casting interesting shadows, then it disappeared behind a fairly large bank of clouds. Not such an interesting picture. Then suddenly, through a large gap in the clouds, the rays of the lowering sun broke through producing a pool of warm light on just part of the landscape, like some sort of cosmic spotlight. Hills and trees suddenly became translucent with a fragile kind of beauty, like a delicate watercolour.
And I had no camera...!!
We could do with a little bit of light in these dark days of economic recession, the scandal over MPs expenses, and the upcoming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which opens today, faced with some very divisive issues.
There are always plenty of reasons, and excuses, for feeling depressed, but I like to remember that Landscape Photography is really about photographing the light and capturing those moments when the light transforms a place. In a similar way, we can never deny or escape the darkness all around us, but rather than focusing exclusively on it, it is often worth waiting for and looking for the transforming light.

*Hyndford Bridge was built in 1766.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Vine

I haven't had much time to blog of late and certainly no time to take any new photographs, but one thing I did last week was to write a new hymn.
Necessity, as ever, was the motivation. I simply couldn't find a suitable hymn to fit in with the sermon for this morning's worship- based on John 15: 1-17, so I ended up writing one of my own.
We sang it to the tune Garelochside but I suppose any suitable "Short Metre" tune would do.
Here are the words for anyone who might like to use them.
They are in the form of a prayer to Christ:

O Lord, you are the Vine.
In you we live and move.
Your Spirit nourishes our hearts
and fills us with your love.

As we remain in you
the life of grace takes root;
in caring service in your Name
our lives will bear much fruit.

In you our lives belong
as branches of the Vine;
through sharing faith and trust and hope,
Lord Jesus, make us one.

So others then may see
in this and every place
the glory of your Father shown
in reconciling grace.

© Iain D. Cunningham, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Open Doors?

[North Korea - from a border post in South Korea]

Christians in this part of the world may think it is not always easy for them to live out their faith in a society that for the most part doesn't care about what we believe, but we should spare a thought and - a lot of prayer - for our sisters and brothers in North Korea, and other parts of the world, where just to be a Christian is considered as a crime against the state.