Chaplain’s Blog

Welcome to the Environmental Chaplain’s blog – a new page where Rev’d David Coleman shares his thoughts and reflections.

  • Trouble the waters
    Lighting you only get for about a minute after sunrise.

    156 Trouble the waters

    (Tune: Blessed Assurance  99 99 and refrain)

    Use with John 5, making sure you use versions which include the ancient, though not universally transmitted words about the angel who ‘troubled’ the waters, leading to healing.  If it’s too long a sing, omit verse 2.

    1) Trouble the waters  when they are tame:

    Send out the angels: hot-foot the lame! 

    Turn all the tables, wake up the Church:

    Ears to the ground, and minds to research.


    Soaring with stories, feet on the ground

    Mystic, realistic, God’s flesh and bone:

    Christ for  all creatures, eager to heal;

    Urgent, inclusive,  with us, and real.


    [2) Crisis, our homeland?, faith shines our way!

    Christ is our wild one: loves come what may

    Preaching of hope, though disaster may loom

    Never denying danger of doom.]


    3) Business as usual’s killing the earth.

    Jesus transforms: gives alternative worth:

    Life and compassion, creatures diverse

    Joy love and hope healing apathy’s curse.


    4) Trouble the waters, set the Earth free:

    Damage is done to the air and the sea

    Yesterday’s deadline silently passed:

    Light in the dark days : this is our task!

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  • Be still….

    A few ‘stilling videos’ to begin worship or parts of worship, either online of in person.

    *Running time 2 mins 20s or less.

    Come back to this page to see further additions throughout the summer and beyond

    Please do download to use.

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  • Preaching to the (partly) Converted: A talk and a closing worship script for the Annual Gathering

    (Please note: these were live events, with support from slides)

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  • Grand index of video resources from the EcoChaplain, for devotional use.

    NOTE –  Vimeo files are straightforwardly downloadable , COP Clips will be posted elsewhere . You will in most cases have to copy the link into a browser to use, as I can’t embed 100+ videos on a page.


    Quick Clips

    21 years of EcoCongregation Scotland

    Preparing for Palm Sunday  1 min 19

    Pentecost Turbine  2 mins 19

    Rotten Halloween  1 min 44

    Extinction bell, National Museum of Scotland  1 min 9 

    Prayer of Hope ( coming down a mountain) 1 min 36 

    The cost of coming down ( less than 2 mins)

    A revelation 

    Introduction to Bible reading project with actor Jo Clifford

    What is EcoChaplaincy?  1 min 30 

    Everything that has breath  1 min 17 

    Pentecost Projection art on Colonsay (also for BIAPT)

    Jesus with the wildlife  1 min

    Location is the language

    Just one minute – Climate Rally

    Climate Strike, March 2022

    Lockdown learnings prayer

    The mountain:  not getting there, but getting there

    You have been my refuge

    Epilogue – the valley of the shadow

    Longer, general 

    The mystery Bible character (for the URC General Assembly) 12 mins 37   many locations  and 

    Royal Presence: Bees! 9 mins 50   ( a visit to a beekeeper at work)

    Heart Wood – walking round an area of ancient woodland, Music, no commentary 8min 27

    The Great Wee Hill  ( Hill of the Angels Iona)   6 mins 45 

    The Bad judge ( sketch based on James 2)  5 mins 30 

    Mungo: Forest in the Temple:14 mins 46  (  Glasgow Cathedral at the tomb of Mungo, and many other locations: looking to COP and being inspired by the stories of Glasgow’s patron saint)

    Talks for gatherings :

    The mystery Bible character (for the URC General Assembly) 12 mins 37   many locations

    Address for National Synod of Scotland  23 mins 

    Interview on ‘Reflections at the Quay’ 

    If not, why on Earth not?  13min 05

    Climate emergency  How to respond : For Aberdeen churches:

    The Happy Apocalyptic ( for Wildlife week, Iona)

    Malvern Progressive Christian Network   18 mins 

    Festival Green talk

    Refuel Festival talk 

    Faith and Environment ( Stirling Climate Festival) Zoom recording 39 mins)  : 

    Creative Considerations  7 mins 10  ( conversation with artists and others involved on creative reflection on climate etc) 

    Retreat for a church group in Shetland :  

    Part 1: 9 mins 

    Part 2: 9 mins 

    Part 3:  3 mins

    Part 4: 8 mins 

    Part 5: 13 mins 

    Part 6  6 mins 

    Shorter, general, & Bible readings

    Whitelee : Power Station Music, no commentary : Looking around this site of industrial/agricultural/conservation/recreation signficance, on a dark January morning 

    Genesis 2 18 to 22: Pastoral environmental interpretation 

    Exodus 3: 1-10 reading  Burning bush. ( in a snowy location)  

    Joshua 5: 9-12   the stone circle of Gilgal 

    Psalm 1: (Up a mountain ) 


    Psalm 8 as a pilgrimage

    Psalm 8 under the stars

    Psalm 19 ( up a mountain) 

    Psalm 23 Pentlands 

    Psalm 25 (highland location)

    Psalm 36 and thoughts on denial, by a mountain stream

    Psalm 54: (Up a mountain )  AND

    Psalm 80  (highland location) 

    Psalm 95 with strangers 

    Psalm 116 ( up a mountain)

    Psalm 121 as a pilgrimage:

    Psalm 121 Sgurr Alastair

    Psalm 125 ( up a mountain)

    Psalm 139 as a pilgrimage

    Psalm 146 ( Up a mountain)

    Isaiah 12:2-6   (highland location) 

    Isaiah 43  ( Snowy location )

    2 Peter 3  on the Pentland Hills ( a day like a thousand years) 

    Mark 1: 9-12 Baptism of Christ – Greendykes Bing 

    Mark 7 24-37  – read by actor Jo Clifford

    Mark 9 39-50  – read by actor Jo Clifford

    Mark 8 27-32   – read by actor Jo Clifford

    Mark 10: 13-16  – read by actor Jo Clifford

    Luke 9: Transfiguration  ( from Ben A’an)

    Luke 13: 1-9 reading ( in a snowy location)

    Luke 15 ( prodigal Son) (Tree background)

    John 12: ( snowy location) 

    John 14: a reading 1 min 36

    Great Commmission Matthew 28

    Acts 17

    Revelation 21 and John 5  – Real life and just fantasy 

    Our Father on a mountain-top  – interpreted on location .  

    1 min 24


    The Litany of the Earth: 

    (Gathering 2019) at St Andrews, with live congregation

    Aaronic Blessing (prepared for Glasgow Churches Together  

    55 sec

    Benedictus on location:

    Magnificat ( Highland location) 

    Energy Prayer

    Friends prayer 

    COP prayer

    Live clips

    Snake/Dove  1 min 5

    A fixed camera record , at Castlemilk, of the neglected  question about Matthew 10:16

    Times & Seasons

    Season of Creation year A

    Week 2 

    Week 3

    Week 4 

    Season of Creation year B: 

    Week 1 The Earth, including Us 

    Week 2 Creation Speaks God’s language 

    Week 3 The tree and their fruit 

    Week 4  The Obstacle Course

    Week 5  the gift of the Name 

    Mark 13, for Advent 1B :

    Ash Wednesday from a heap of Ash

    Lent 1 C ‘A land possessed ( Location:  Five sisters Bing (industrial waste tip)

    Lent 2C as transfiguration 

    Lent 3 C: ‘Blazing’ ( Location: Cadzow ancient oaks)  AND

    Lent 4C circle of justice

    Lent 5C  Divesting from despair Ben Lomond

    Lent 1B Complete service 

    Lent 1B from Greendykes Bing

    Lent 2B  Standing up to the devil’s Advocate

    Lent 3B  Zeal for your house

    Lent 5B  John 12:20-33 The Tipping point

    Mothering Sunday: Flowers for Mother Earth  13 mins 07

    Having worked towards a church visit on Lent 4/Mothering Sunday, the UK went into semi-emergency mode. The reflections in preparation come together in this video. This is also presented in three parts, as sermons cover a lot of ground. Taking cue from Laudato Si

    Good Friday : Dream of the Rood: for devotional use on Good Friday: 15 min 20  Aa reading and consideration of the Anglo-Saxon Poem quoted on the Ruthwell Cross.

    Palm Sunday –  from Edinburgh Episcopal Cathedral

    Palm Sunday  -From a deserted Edinburgh City Centre 

    11 min 8

    Palm Sunday: Pavestones Gravestones: the stones shout aloud!  Luke 19:40   3 mins 11

    Maundy Thursday:  John 13  Footwashing reflection, for Annual Gathering, with introduction   6 min 16: 

    also   without introduction  4 min 08

    Easter Sunday 2020 – no holds barred Easter Sermon  13 mins  25

    Easter Sunday 2021  The Inclusive Commission 

    Easter Sunday 2022 Risen High, Risen Low ( St Margaret’s Chapel and St Filan’s Cave)

    Ascension reflection 2020

    Trinity Sunday  11min 08  (2020 Lectionary)

    Pentecost 2020 10 mins 26

    Pentecost Projection art on Colonsay (also for BIAPT)

    Pentecost Turbine

    Late Harvest : reflections on a “plentiful” – or a daunting – harvest 6 min 53

    Emmaus-  Luke 24:  a sermon on wheels  -riding the distance walked in that wonderful conversation.   The walk to Emmaus, against the background of lockdown in the city of Edinburgh. One outing per day permitted for mental and physical health….  but what about spiritual wellbeing? – And could this be a pligrimage?  8 mins 02   

    Lockdown Gospel – if the disciples had used Zoom whilst waiting for the resurrection.

     (-Gospel of John version of gift of Spirit)  

    8 min 44

    Ezekiel 37  : Indecent Hope   11min 57

    Words and pictures and more, for the final week of Lent, and the scariest story of the Old Testament


    Sermons by Gospel content

    Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30 and Zechariah 9:9-12  Weeping and Dancing  12 mins 41

    Matthew 25: Recycling the sheep and the goats

    Mark 1: 14-20 – Discipleship

    Mark 1:21-28 1` Cor 8:1-13  Knowing enough to get on with it

    Mark 4:26-34   Holy Habitats ( Cedar and Mustard Bush, Ezekiel Ezekiel 17:22-24 Mark 4:26-34

    Mark 5: 21: Mess and miracle 

    Mark 10:  Proper 24 yr B:  Job 38, No fire without smoke 

    Mark 13, for Advent 1B :

    Luke 13: 6-9  with Isaiah 55:6-13 “Manure for fruitful trees”.

    John 10:10  – led, not force-fed :8 min 57

    Reflection for EcoChaplaincy on John 10:10: a highly provocative ‘cuddly story’.

    Acts 17: Capital Games Thoughts on Acts 17, for an online retreat with a local church.  9 min 59

    Acts 10 1 Kings 4  More wisdom than you can shake a stick at ( Solomon and Jesus)

    Genesis 22 Cross that bridge where we come to it: a bike ride across the Forth Road Bridge whilst reflecting on Abraham and Isaac  9 mins 53

    Matthew 9:35-10:23 and Romans 5:1-8  No holds Ba’ad – fear and Christian Character  10 mins 53

    Romans 8 : Groaning Creation: getting out of our Depth  9 min

    Matthew 20: workers in the vineyard : Beyond Harvest   Sermon for Costorphine, delivered on location.  15 min 17


    O the life of the world 

    What will change your life’s direction

    From the waters’ fond embrace 

    Now Christ lives here

    ( to ‘Courage, brother)

    Our legacy is dire 

    One day I said sorry out loud to the Earth 

    Deep our longing  ( Westminster Abbey)

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  • A very simple Sanctus for Easter Sunday

    For those traditions where there is scope for text variation in the Communion prayers:

    -Taking note of the great Commission of Mark 16, and the multiple rebukes given by the Risen Christ, which authenticate, in character, that the Risen one shares the identity of Jesus of Nazareth who was killed and buried. Known in the breaking of bread – and in the love with which Christ speaks out!

    iGreen shoots after wildfire – Used by Permission: Murray Lowe

    Downloadable PDF

    Text only Use ‘Now the green blade rises’ ( Noel Nouvelet).

    Holy, holy, holy,

    All-embracing God!

    All Creation praises

    action, life and word:

    Hosanna highly, Hosanna below!

    Flesh and blood, our Jesus

    in whom, God we know.

    Holy, holy, holy,

    All-transforming power!

    Praise from every Creature

    All shall rise, none cower:

    Hosanna highly, Hosanna below!

    Christ in love rebukes us;

    Christ, the friend we know.

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  • Holy Week message: Doing a Luther

    Downloadable PDF Version

    Online text version

    An environmental chaplain treads a tightrope. On the face of it I seem to work with enviable  freedom: I can take or leave the various invitations which trickle in. 

    For some, my presence would be merely ornamental.  Or just filling a gap.   (They don’t get priority.  – or if  I do go along, they’re liable to get a green wolf  in sheep’s clothing ).

    Some genuinely wish to listen, and some like to think they do.  I take this at face value. Both of those score higher on allocating diary slots.  There are things I wish to say and those I might aspire to wish to.  And plenty I need to hear, too. Over and above the terrifying news I hear each day about the state of health of the Earth.  Stories of local congregations’ green initiatives bring a healing balance.

    But as to what I can bring: my hands are tied by global circumstance.  By the searing experience of COP at close quarters, and by the repeatedly alarming announcements from the UN.  I can’t make these things unsaid, unhappened.  And the knowledge that the Ukraine war, blotting out climate concerns, is both a symptom of ‘our addiction to fossil fuels’ [Admiral McGann, US Navy] and a cause of even greater damage and danger to the environment.  The climate crisis gets worse, not better, when we look away.  And though I may be somewhat less in danger of being hung drawn and quartered for saying what I have to say,  nonetheless. “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.” [said Martin Luther, reputedly, on trial for heresy, 501 years ago ].

    I hope I’m lacking Luther’s obsession with his own guilt and unworthiness, but I know enough to know that  I’m a long way from being a great example of a life lived green. But as with others,  doing what I can is a start.  And that means, as far as possible, ‘zero waste’ of the resource that the chaplaincy has become for the churches of Scotland. My time is not my own, in that sense.

    Few invited visitors to a church will ever have been bearers of such terrifying news, which has, over the time I’ve been in post, become progressively more terrifying,  with the authority of 99% of peer-reviewed climate science and the notoriously  cautious and diplomatic United Nations to back up that sense of  urgency so counter-cultural  to the churches I’ve grown up with.  Where ‘slow us down, Lord’  takes precedence over ‘Hosanna’ (God, HELP!) or ‘Lord, come quickly!’.

    Colleagues have told me they couldn’t dare put it that clearly, or bluntly, and with twenty plus years of the extreme pressures to which local Christian leaders are subjected  by those who also support and encourage their ministry, I have understanding.  I have very great sympathy.

    Could or would I have said as a local pastor,  with Mr or Ms X in the congregation, what I feel compelled to say as a visitor?  For I’m  at least notionally in conflict with something very different from opposition to Christianity as such:  rather with the culture of unrecycled wisdom and faithfulness to which love,  loyalty  and respect is quite reasonably due. 

     And there is conscientious expertise, hard-won by those into whose specialisms I might at most have dipped a toe.  How to run the money.   What hymns are The Hymns of The Faith.  What a host may impose own their guests (as in Fair trade and recycling, for instance).  What is too holy to be green?  (-nothing, actually-)  What constitutes well-run church grounds: is it a tidy monoculture, or a bee-welcoming mini-meadow?  What Scriptures  go with which situation: which are to be dutifully  read and ignored ( because, perhaps, they’re too wild and scary) and which,  shorn of their grounding in the Earth,  are being  marshalled  to prop up a status quo with might well seem all we have left after two centuries or so of decline. 

    And yet even the quietly and comfortingly accepted narrative of the church’s eventual fading away is threatened.  We’re neither dead nor useless:  we are custodians of treasure, even if we keep it in glass cases, or overlaid  by well-meaning habits of translation and performance.

    Resurrection is the ultimate recycling and repurposing;  sweeping us along too, with a Saviour who is recognised not just in the breaking of bread, but in the ‘Get on with it’ rebukes of the Risen Christ, acting in character with all the warnings. The Good News that we are warned. The Good News that we can change. The Good News -for all Creation-  that, with Christ, despair is not a story to live by.  

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  • Holy Week with the EcoChaplain

    4 downloadable items. A blessed Holy Week and Easter to all.

    Palm Sunday

    Maundy Thursday

    Good Friday

    The ancient poem The Dream of the Rood’

    Easter Sunday

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  • Lockdown Learnings

    Thoughts two years on from the first Lockdown

    Text version

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  • Additional Lent 3 Sermon: for Old St Paul’s Edinburgh: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9 AND Beatitude: “Blessed are the Merciful”
  • Some Readings On Location During Lent

    to support the five Video Reflections; the readings which accompany them

    Lent 1

    LENT 2 , taken as Transfiguration

    Lent 3

    Lent 4

    Lent 5

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