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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • All Age Worship - A Zones Approach

    Today I am very, very proud of my church.

    Today we started a seven week run of all age services using a 'zones' approach.

    We began all together with a hymn and prayer before listening to a retelling of the Bible story for the week.

    Next, whilst some music played, everyone was invted to move around, take a look at what was on offer in the zones and then choose where to spend the next twenty minutes...

    Creative zone - using carefully chosen craft activities to create an artefact relating to the theme; this week it was 'hope stones'

    Quiz zone - using themed word searches and puzzled to prompt futher thought on the topic; there were also copies of the Bible text and starter questions for private reflection and some colouring pages.

    Active zone - in an adjacent room, an opportunity to explore through play or simply let off steam!

    Contemplative zone - a guided reflection and interactive prayer - today we used candles

    After the 'moving music' was played a second time, we all came together again for the offering, a simple communion, a final hymn and a blessing.

     

    The feedback has been positive and encouraging.  For sure, I am tired - it was a long morning and I was VERY nervous beforehand.  But it is good tired.

    Very proud of people who stepped out of the comfort of all that is familiar and tried something new,

    Very proud of people who weren't sure it was for them but gave it go anyway.

    Very proud to be part of this wonderful, slightly crazy, community of people trying to follow Jesus.

  • Stories Interwoven...

    Recently I posted, then took down since it caused offence, some thoughts that arose from my experience of being asked to conduct a wedding blessing for someone who was terminally ill.  There was a key question underlying the problem, namely whose story it was and who could legitimately tell it.  I think that's an important question, though it really isn't so easy to answer since the experience arose from the interplay of two stories.  I remain convinced that my reflections are legitimately mine, but that may not mean they are suitable to share.

    Today I am very mindful of someone else whose life story is - or was - interwoven with mine because of some shared experiences, but am a little apprehensive to share any thoughts, lest they cause offence.

    Suffice to say, that this weekend a young woman I came to know and admire ought to have been celebrating her thirtieth birthday.  Instead, following her death from breast cancer at the age of just 27, her family and friends have organised a massive charity fundraiser in her memory.

    Thirty years ago, as L was entering this world as a baby, I had just graduated and begun work as a professional engineer.  I was then, just 22 years old.

    When I was 27, I owned my own home, was building a flourishing engineering career and life was good.  I was also 27 when my Dad died, at the comparatively young age of 65.  At 27, L faced the news of a terminal diagnosis with courage and died within a few short weeks.

    On my 30th birthday my car suffered engine failure as I drove south for a family celebration meal.  I remember that a friend of a friend's teenage daughter gave birth that day and I wondered what lay in store for her son.  I celebrated my birhtday with my mother, siblings, and such nephews and nieces as had by then arrived.  Life was good, hope was high... I dared to imagine my future.  No thirtieth birthday for L, but she will be remembered.

    Thirty years ago had anyone said I'd be a Baptist minister or that I'd live in Scotland, that I'd have visited New Zealand to speak about my cancer at conference or that I'd be a prolific blogger (whatever one of those might have been) I'd have laughed in derision.

    But here I am, thirty years on from the start of my engineering career, lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way, lots of stories that have interweave with my own.

    Today I will pause to remember L.  Her story is not my story, but part of it is permanently woven into mine.  The weaving, the reflecting - the making of meaning - this is what I try to do.  And sometimes determining how much of that can appropriately shared is a tricky call.

  • Not Celebrating, Being Thankful

    This post is a fairly shameless plug for my latest charity fund-raising effort.

    On 23rd August 2010, in the whitewashed room of Victorian hospital, now in the process of being closed, I was looked in the eye by a surgeon who uttered the words, "I'm sorry it's cancer."

    Back then, I was terrifed that I would not see Christmas, despite his assurance that "we'll talk about this infive years time."  Suffice to say, I have long since learned to trust my surgeon.

    Then I thought, well, if I get to five years, that'll be cause for celebration.

    Then I grew up. 

    Perhaps that a little harsh. 

    Since then I have come to appreciate what a vile, unpredictable set of diseases cancer is, destroying hope, gobbling confidence, tearing families apart, leaving a trail of pain and sorrow.  To celebrate my good fortune, when friends whose initial prognoses were so much better than mine are no longer here, seems crass and inappropriate.

    But I do want to mark the date, a paradigm shift in my experience and understanding.  And I do want to express my gratitude to the many, many people who have shared those five years.

    So I am creating a 'thankfulness' playlist.  In exchange for a donation of £5 to CRUK, donors can choose a song/hymn/piece of music which I will download, add to the list and play on the afternoon on 23rd August 2015 (between church services!!)

    I chose CRUK after a lot of thought... I have been supported by folk in all parts of the UK, so it felt appropriate to choose a UK-wide charity.  For all the vital work done by support charities, in the end it comes down to research.  And because I have friends affected by many types of cancer, it needed to be general.  So CRUK was the best fit.

    The link is here and I look forward to finding which songs etc are chosen.