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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • Jesus of Hollywood

    On Sunday our summer series moves on from 'The Jesus of History' (which focused on the Quest for the Historical Jesus) to 'Jesus of Hollywood' and portrayals in films of many genres.  Next week it'll be 'Jesus in the Visual Arts'.

    The still above comes from a South African film we'll be visiting this Sunday.  I love how Mary's nimbus (halo) is formed from an electric  fan.  It's always the little details that are so very striking.

    I wonder what others might notice on Sunday... will have to wait and see!

  • Beauty and Blessings

    This past week has been quite 'full on', largely because I said 'yes' to a number of things that all landed rather close together.

    It has been a good week, characterised by beauty and blessedness, even in the midst of the mundane.

    I had two church out-of-doors meets with people I last saw in the flesh in March 2020! The picnic lunch in a garden, and the Danish pastry outside a cafe were lovely - but more so that conversations that flowed quite naturally and soon moved beyond the superficial.

    Several months ago, I was asked to lead a CMD session on sustaining spirituality in ministry, and after a late night finish on Wednesday, I delivered it on Thursday.  It seemed to scratch where people were itching and I received lots of encouraging feedback.

    Friday was mostly devoted to the 'big' assignment for the first module of my Pastoral Supervision course.  This was the sixth and seventh 'reflective learning notes' along with some practice logs and reports received from others.  It was good - if demanding, and leading to another late finish. Hard to believe I am so far through the course already.

    Much of Saturday and a chunk of Sunday were devoted to reading, and collating information from, a whole mound of virtual paperwork relating to people seeking to train as ministers, and whose interview panel I now chair (for one of the English Baptist Colleges).  It is demanding, and responsible, stuff.  It is also interesting and inspiring to 'meet' in some measure women and men exploring their callings.

    Sunday morning was a shared Zurch, which went well, with feedback from people saying they'd love to do it again... if the pandemic has done nothing else, it has allowed us to discover new (and probably greener) ways of connecting different congregations.

    In between have been lots of little moments of joy, and more than a few surprises... roses from a garden, a beautiful bouquet, the gift of a nice-to-hold ballpoint pen, online chats, 'Magic Bags' to share with others, and the discovery that if you gently defrost and warm up a frozen jam doughnut in the microwave, then pour over some single cream it tastes divine!! 

    A good week, and a blessed week.

  • Reverent Disposal?

    In times past, the various published rubrics for communion services used in 'Memorialist' traditions stated that leftovers should be disposed of reverently, for example, scattering for the birds of air.  This morning, unusually, I used actual bread rather than crackers for Zurch.  Sophie was straight in the moment the Zoom call ended to help dispose of the bread. Whether it was reverent or not, I leave you to decide!

    More seriously, we had a great joint service with a most excellent sermon from our guest preacher.

  • Wedded Bliss!

    It's been a while since I posted anything, partly because I have been otherwise occupied, partly because other platforms seem to be more urgent these days.

    Anyway, last Friday afternoon was one of pure joy as I had the privilege of conducting the marriage of a young couple in the Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow.

    Covid restrictions resulted in relatively small numbers attending, and social distancing meant the place felt quite full, as everyone was so well spread out.  There were no hymns and no solo singers, just some lovely organ music, beautiful poetry and a couple pledging their lifelong loyalty and love.

    It was a once strange and totally normal to be in a place with fifty people (the last time I did so was March 2020) and the atmosphere was just one of love, hope, joy and grace.  The chapel staff were really accommodating, and the photographer and videographer so inconspicuous.  The sun shone, the bride was both radiant and beautiful, the groom handsome.  It really was an afternoon of bliss.

  • The Kingdom of God is like...

    Today's Lectionary invited us to set alongside each other two images - the tall, beautiful, strong cedar tree (35-40m tall, evergreen, wood and oil much prized) and the small, ugly, not so strong mustard plant (1-1.5m tall, often seen almost as a weed).

    In each image (Ezekiel and Mark) the tree becomes a safe refuge for birds (and other species).

    Jesus seems to be saying, that the Kingdom is like a pernicious weed, that is almost impossible to get rid of, and that seeds in amongst other plants (in contravention of Leviticus 19:19) destroying purity.

    So what are we to make of this?

    The Kingdom of God is low-level, spread widely at grass roots level, transforms all it interacts with and, eventually will take over.  Here, in this unlikely, untidy, organic, powerless muddle, is peace, reconiliation and hope to be found.

    I wonder, if it's a valid reading, what we do with that?