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  • Glimpses of Grace

    Tomorrow we have a 'difficult' funeral here in Dibley, as we say farewell to one of our younger members (in their fifties).

    As I arrived at school today to set up, the locum caretaker, with whom we have a great relationship (along with the regular one) asked me it was possible still to believe in God when this happened.  I was able to quote a conversation I'd had with this person a few weeks back in which she'd told me how even as a young person she'd appreciated that faith in God wouldn't guarantee immunity from suffering or struggle, but would give her strength to live through it.  I went on to say that the God I believe in is not like a geni in a bottle who grants our every wish.  He thought for a moment, smiled and said, I guess if it was like that, the place would be full every week.  I'm not sure he was convinced of God, but he listened and will clearly think more - and this woman's faith continues to touch others.

    A little later the next youngest person to me (she's 6 months older!  We are the babies of the church) arrived to set out the tea things.  As we talked about tomorrow's service, she asked who I had to talk to about it all, and how did I cope.  After I'd explained about hiding behind the 'dog collar' (being in role) and how I'll clear off for an hour or two after the event to unwind, she just said, well you can come to my house if you need to.  This woman is a quiet saint, never in your face with her faith, honest with her struggles and questions, yet she gets it.

    The service went off alright, if a little subdued by events; I came home with final preparation to do for tomorrow but having glimsped something of the grace of God in an agnostic caretaker and quiet disicple.

    May God grant me the grace and courage to hold God's people in my heart tomorrow.

  • The Law of Murphy...

    Why is it, when I'd proof read the leaflet twice before commencing the 250 copy print run, I only spotted the one typographical error after I'd collated and folded all 250 copies?

    For anyone who wonders, the difference between the Law of Sod and the Law of Murphy, is that the former says 'toast always lands butterside down' (i.e. if it can go wrong, it will) the latter says 'toast always lands butter side down, unless you're trying to demonstrate this fact.'  Next time I'll assume there'll be an unspotted error and see what transpires...  In the meantime, given the import of the leaflet, I am re-printing 250 middle sections and filling my recycling bin with the error-marred (double sided) copy.

  • The Noble Art of Brianing, Revisited

    Anyone who knows my former college tutor, Revd Brian Howden will know what Brianing is - the innocent delight that accompanies the discovery of connections, especially between people.

    The last couple of weeks have had a couple of Brianing moments...

    In Bodfari, a tiny Welsh hamlet, is a pub to which all walkers retire for tea/dinner (according to where they went to school!)  - cos there isn't anywhere else.  So how's this for a coincidence worthy of Brian?  As I sat in said pub, minding my own business, someone came over to me and said 'excuse me, I know this sounds daft, but are you a minister and did you train in Manchester?'  Imagine how blessed that pub was to have a Methodist minister (walking Offa's south) and a Baptist minister (walking it north) who had indeed overlapped in their time in Manchester dining at the same time!

    In Manchester I got chatting to a minister I've never met before, who asked where my church was.  Oh, you'll never have heard of it, I said, its in Leicestershire.  She probed further - and it turned out her sister teaches at the school where we meet for worship (and they are not from the local area originally).

    As I type I can picture Brian smiling in delight as the interconnectedness of all humanity is once more illustrated.  Sure there are all the six degrees of separation myths (evidently based on something an American church minister once did) but it is always quite special to discover the world is smaller than I think, and 'Brianing' remains, as ever, a special moment.