Hopes, Fears and Human Rights

Human Rights DAY‘The hopes and fears of all the years’

The hopes and fears of all the years are met today, the tenth day of Advent, in Human Rights Day. With the fears of what humanity could do to each other all too fresh in the human imagination, the first Human Rights Day in 1948 set out a shared vision and enlivened the hope of how we could be, how humanity could flourish together.

This year the theme for Human Rights Day is freedom! Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Human Rights Day is a day to pause and put your finger on the pulse of humanity and to hope, pray and take action for change.

Take a moment to read through a national paper or news website and identify where freedom is flourishing or being denied.

Pray for our world and the freedom of all.

Luke 1 v 38¾

New verse in LukeFar be it from me to correct Holy Scripture, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a verse missing in Luke’s rendition of the Annunciation.

Almost right from the off, we’re taken on a roller-coaster ride of church services, angel visits and unexpected pregnancies. The first 37 verses are chock-full of comings and goings and talking: a lot of serious talking.

Then almost exactly half-way through the chapter in verse 38, Mary says “I am the servant of the Lord”. And the angel departed.

And there, right there, there should be another verse. In a heartbeat, the second half of the chapter will begin, and we’ll rush headlong into more pronouncements and the birth of John, just before the birth of Jesus and the start of one man’s adventure that changed the course of history.

But at that point - let’s call it verse 38¾ - there is a moment of suspended silence.

On my calmer days I like to think that Mary is staring into the middle distance, pondering serenely what’s about to unfold. On hectic days, I imagine her leaning her head on the table, breathing deeply and counting to ten.

Today, look out for the unscripted moment and stop.

Use the breathing space of Luke 1 verse 38¾ to gaze serenely - or count slowly through gritted teeth - before you set off at a gallop again.

Considering Advent on International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with DisabilityMorag Balfour encourages us to walk, hobble or wheel through the darkness into light this Advent.

Some of us are born disabled, some of us become disabled, and some of us have disability thrust upon us.

We are less likely to be in work than our able-bodied counterparts, and when we are, we are paid less. We are no less less human because of our disabilites. We are happy, silly, brilliant, miserable, creative in much the same way as everyone else.

Remembering the Skating Minister... and abolitionist?

Rev Robert WalkerRev Dr Russell Barr considers International Day for the Abolition of Slavery in the light of Advent.


Which famous Church of Scotland minister is the ‘poster boy’ for the National Gallery of Scotland?


The Reverend Robert Walker otherwise known as the Skating Minister.

World Aids Day - Advent 1

Sangklaburi AIDS project

I’m not sure who chose 1st December as the date for World AIDS Day, but the beginning of the countdown to Christmas Day somehow seems appropriate.

The whole season of Advent is about waiting for the light to break through the darkness, bringing with it an end to despair and a true and meaningful hope for the future.


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