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  • Christmas Joy


    Christmas Day in Glasgow was a really joyful occasion.  We shared together in worship before being joined by overseas students, lonely people and a few families for a lovely Christmas Lunch, interspersed with carols.  It was a great day, and the buzz of conversation, gales of laughter and smiling faces (and even the inevitable grumble from professional moaners!) combined to make it a real expression of love in action.





    After a day off, we met again for worship on 27th, and despite poor weather conditions and several folk being away, had a good congregation including a few visitors as we pondered the differing emphases of the Luke and Matthew birth narratives and wondered 'what happened next' for shepherds and magi (not recorded anywhere) before asking ourselves 'what next' following our own encounter with the infant Jesus.

    All in all a great few days.

    PS If any 'Gathering Place' folk want copies of these or other photos, I can put them on a disc for you.

  • David Taylor MP RIP

    daivd taylor.jpgHalf listening to the BBC news last night I caught the words 'David Taylor MP' and 'died'.  Looking up I saw a photo of my former MP who, at the age of 63, had died suddenly after a heart attack whilst out walking at a local beauty spot with his family.  It was something of a shock - this affable and accessible MP was well known through North West Leicestershire and a familiar face in Dibley and district.

    I wouldn't say I knew him, but we were on first name terms - a characteristic of his style of working - and certainly many of my former congregation knew him quite well.  Living about 6 miles from Dibley, David was a stalwart of his local parish church, I believe a church warden at one point, and he gladly came and spent an evening at our "thing in a pub" talking about faith and politics with those who would come, around a dozen of us.  That says a lot about this man, who would interrupt a busy schedule to be among his people.

    David was happy to be a back-bencher and revelled in constituency life.  Whether or not you shared his views (and he was quite often in trouble with the whip being more 'old labour' than 'new') you had to admire his conscientious hard work and genuine concern for those he represented.  Having already decided to step down at the next election, Daivd's term of office was already nearing its end, leaving a legacy of love and respect.  My thoughts are with his family and his constituents at this time of loss.  Well done, good and faithful servant.  RIP.

  • Happy Christmas!

    By the wonders of advance posting and Google search engines...


    Hope yours is truly special

  • A Glasgow Christmas Card

    glasgow botanic snow.jpg

    I would love to claim that I took this photo, but actually I stole it from the web.  The snow in the photo is far deeper, crisper and, um, evener than the stuff I attempted to photograph this morning.  The combination of my lack of photographic skill, the level of light and possibly my very basic camera meant that the lovely view I saw with my eyes never quite made it to pixel-land.  If you time it right, there is a wonderful trick of the light whereby a street light shines through the rear-most dome of the Kibble Palace giving it a golden glow piercing the darkness of an early Glasgow morning.  The former BBC building and other nearby residential blocks form stark silhouettes against a purple-gold-fuchsia sky and it is truly a sight to behold.  Then a few moments later it is gone as daylight floods the city, the traffic roars along arterial roads and work begins.

    In this part of the city we have very little snow, though side streets resemble skating rinks and last night I found myself uttering a middle-aged 'tut' at the child who was sledging down the path of the Botanics (why when there is all that grass....?).  As the nation struggles on, we are able to enjoy something that only university cities can appreciate - the stillness of the lack of students.  The city is given back to its longer term residents for a few days and we enjoy the space that results (though I suspect some of the cafes desperately miss the trade).

    As radio and television issue warning after warning of snow and chaos, and as we sort out our own contingency plans (the snow on the roof is probably about 1 to 2mm, and there is no more evidence of plaster spalling, in case anyone is worried!) it is good to take a moment to enjoy the wintry city.  Later today I will be out and about making a couple of visits, procuring the last few bits I need for upcoming events and enjoying (in a way probably only I do) the buzz of last minute shoppers desperately seeking that elusive gift.  And then, before we know where we are, it will be over again.  All the preparation concentrated into a few short hours of high intensity before life moves on.

    I will be taking a few days out from blogging and then, after conducting a wedding on Monday, a week off to visit (roads permitting) family and friends at various degrees of southness from here.  So this is my Christmas card for 2009.

    The golden glow shining through the glass dome has a kind of defiance that echoes the words of the gospel - the lights shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot defeat it.  2009 has seen a lot of changes, and for a lot of people whose paths crossed mine a lot of darkness, my prayer for all is that the indefatigable light of Christ glimpsed this Christmastime will bring courage, hope and peace for a future as yet unknown.

    Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are doing this Christmas, may God bless you.

  • Snow Choice - Let Us Pray!

    Emerging from a few totally non-serious prayer requests, and the need to confess to my own folk that actually I didn't 'hex' the snow on Sunday cos (a) I don't know how to and (b) the BU would probably excommunicate me if I did...

    Dear God, recognising that all things are possible for you, and that there is nothing you like better than answering the prayers of your children offered in faith, we humbly beseech you:

    To let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, but only at night

    And that the snow you give us might be deep, crisp and even,but confined to parks and gardens, excluding the paths, slopes and steps, so that children can play and old people pass in safety

    That you would hold back the hand of the evil spirit of 50mm-on-the-church-roof lest we should be forced to cancel our services

    That you would keep clear all roads, railways lines, airports, channel tunnels and sea lanes, or, failing that, make the drifts to part as did the red sea to allow safe passage to your children.

    That you would arrange, for all Christmas weddings, that there be a smooth, crisp covering of non-slip snow on the ground, an azure blue sky and an ambient temperature of around 18C

    Or, failing that, realising that you are not a benign genie and recognising that actually you promise to answer faithful prayers consistent with your will

    Grant us enough common sense to know when to stay indoors rather than risking life and limb to go out

    Grant us enough generosity of spirit to look out for those who may be trapped in their homes, alone and lonely, with only a radio for company

    Grant to children freedom from exploitation or abuse and the gift of innocent enjoyment and the making of memories

    Keep safe all those whose work it is maintain as best they can the transport networks of our land, giving them wisdom in their decision making and strength in their endeavours.  For emergency services, hospitals, emergency shelters and commercial enterprises, grant compassion, skill and generosity.

    For those who begin relationships we pray for life-long love and mutual trust; for those bereaved, separated or divorced, we pray for comfort and courage

    For our worship and our mission, may we remember the 'why' as well as the 'what' so that decisions to proceed or cancel are informed by your wisdom and your love extended to those who lives intersect with ours.

    Lord, in your mercy, transform our wants into your will, that we may glorify him whose name we bear, even Christ our Lord, Amen.