About Ruth

Children's and Families' Minister at All Saints, High Wycombe. Wondering, learning, exploring, and fortunate to be doing so with a fabulous bunch of children, who teach me far more than I teach them. Godly Play enthusiast, contemplative pray-er, avid reader, occasional knitter. Would always rather be by the sea.

#adventbookclub Day 14: Watching and waiting: the visitation

One of the most striking things about this scene, this pivotal moment in scripture, is that it is a scene between women. It is a moment not intended primarily for the male gaze. It is a rare example of women’s encounter with God and with one another, neither mediated through nor set in comparison with the experience of men. It is one of the very few episodes in the biblical narrative which would pass the Bechdel Test.

It is perhaps hard for us to understand the extent to which, until really very recently, women’s spiritual experience was dismissed as inferior and unreliable while men’s understanding of God (and only men’s) was seen as normative and authoritative. Or perhaps it is not so hard – perhaps we have not really moved as far as we might hope.

In the Visitation, God is doing an extraordinary thing. God places into the mouths of two women – two of the most unlikely women, at that – the words which announce God’s own presence in the world. At this turning point in the history of the universe, God overturns the unquestioned normativity of male experience. It is one of the ways in which God announces the great overturning of assumptions and prejudices which will characterise Jesus’ ministry and herald the coming of the Kingdom.

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#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we are using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.

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#adventbookclub Day 13: Watching and waiting: the angels

“Any setting, anywhere, is appropriate to the worship of God.”

And yet… And yet we so often want to do things our way, in our settings, in the places we feel comfortable.

But what if we let ourselves get outside our comfort zone, both literally and metaphorically? What if we go looking for God in places that aren’t ‘ours’, that we can’t control, which we enter as guest rather than host, to listen rather than speak? What if we go beyond that, and try to remain prepared to see God in the places we don’t even think to go looking, attuned to the music of the angels in the middle of the most unlikely discord?

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bust afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

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#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we are using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.

#adventbookclub Day 12: The Christ Child

I wonder how we can prepare for freedom, the freedom that is found in Christ? Certainly not just by trying a bit harder, or doing things a bit differently. Perhaps the key to finding our freedom is to work for the liberation of our neighbour – all our neighbours – without thinking too much about ourselves.

In Christ, we are drawn together into one body. My liberation is intimately linked to the liberation of my neighbour, my enemy, the stranger, the outcast… Liberation is worth nothing, and is certainly not any reflection of the perfect freedom found in Christ, unless it is liberation for all.

Christ, the light of the world, who came into the world to bring freedom from every form of bondage and oppression, shines as a light on all alike. All of us are the people who walk in darkness, and on all of us the light of the new dawn will break. As we await the coming of the light, let us learn to walk together in solidarity in the dark.


#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we are using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation. 

#adventbookclub Day 11: The Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you,
Pray for me when I doubt
that he is with me too.

Hail Mary, full of courage,
Pray for me when my resolve fails,
and I hesitate in my ‘yes’.

Hail Mary, full of patience,
Pray for me when I am quick to anger,
impatient with others.

Hail Mary, full of mercy,
Pray for me when I do not want to forgive,
and when I want to but cannot.

Hail Mary, full of love,
Pray for me when I fail to love
the people God has placed before me.

Hail Mary, full of compassion,
Pray for me when I suffer
and have no-one to share the load.

Hail Mary, full of faith,
Pray for me when I cannot pray for myself.


#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we are using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation. 

#adventbookclub Day 10: Joseph

Thinking about Joseph, I am reminded of all those whose calling is to support those whose ministry is more public.

As I reach the end of my first term at theological college training to be a priest I am acutely aware, from conversations with my peers and from my own experience, of the contribution made to our current formation and future ministry by partners and children, family and friends. Very often that vital work of support goes unacknowledged or under-appreciated, or else the family of those in public ministry find themselves on the receiving end of other people’s unhelpful projections.

I am reminded too of those faithful people in our congregations and beyond whose ministry is one of encouragement or enabling. The encouragers who always make the effort to say “well done”, “I enjoyed that”, “that was a courageous decision, thank you”, “you’re doing a great job” (especially when it doesn’t feel like it).

Then there are the enablers, who never take centre stage, but are the ones who get things done: sending out the reminder emails, stacking and unstacking chairs, washing the tea towels, remembering to order loo rolls, and felt pens, and communion wine… Too often these ministries of consistent care are belittled or ignored. But without them, the church (and the world) would cease to function. And in them, God’s endless care for every detail – every hair on our heads, every grain of sand – finds embodiment.

So, as we keep Advent as a time of preparation, who are the Josephs among us? Those who encourage and support, without looking for the limelight? Whose gifts, efforts and vocation go unnoticed? Thank God for them all!

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#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.

#adventbookclub Day 9: John the Baptist

John the Baptist is among my very favourite biblical characters. His wildness, his uncompromising faithfulness to the message he has been given, his joyfully incredulity at the task with which he has been entrusted, his unpretentious humility…

This is my first Advent in a new church, and I am delighted to find that we start our services during Advent by singing together “prepare ye the way of the Lord” (using the tune from “Godspell”!). Over and over again we sing it – “prepare ye the way of the Lord” – as our focus is drawn back to the longed-for Christ – “prepare ye the way of the Lord” – as we wait for the coming Light to dawn upon us – “prepare ye the way of the Lord” – even as we walk in darkness.

John the Baptist’s whole life echoes that cry. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” rings out in his every word and teaching and action. I wonder what in our lives helps us to prepare the for the coming Christ? I wonder what in our lives calls out to others “prepare ye the way of the Lord”?

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#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.

#adventbookclub Day 8: The Prophets

We are perhaps inclined to think of prophets as having a flare for the dramatic. Fire and brimstone, proclaiming repentance, judgement, the coming of the kingdom…

But in truth, the work of a prophet has far less to do with sudden flashes of inspiration, and far more to do with steadfast faithfulness. Proclaiming God’s word, in season and out. Standing by what we hear from God, in the face doubts – internal and external.

And I wonder how that reframes the question of who we regard as prophets in our own time? When we look for prophets in our midst, do we look for the loud voices, the original ideas, the next big thing? Or do we look for unstinting steadfastness, faithfulness day in and day out, enduring courage to speak truth to power?

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#adventbookclub runs from 1st December until Epiphany. This year we using “The Art of Advent” by Jane Williams, and raising some money for Mercy UK, a mental health charity over at the JustGiving page here. Search #adventbookclub on Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation.