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  • Fairtrade Fortnight 2011

    Starts today.

    Watch the video here.

    Show off your label!!!

  • Illusion

    I happened across this video short whilst meandering around the web today.  It isn't an actress pretending, it's a real person who happens to work in media.  It is beautiful and poignant... and as an older 'younger woman' it resonates to a degree, though I doubt I was ever that slim and never did go in for the makeup! 

    The makers are happy for it to be shared far and wide... so feel free to pass it on.

  • Singing the Beattitudes

    Not a lot to say today, so I thought I'd post the words of a setting of the Beattitudes our choir sing from time to time...


    Blest are they, the poor in spirit,

    Theirs is the Kingdom of God.

    Blest are they, full of sorrow,

    They shall be consoled

    Rejoice and be glad!

    Blessed are you, holy are you!

    Rejoice and be glad!

    Yours is the Kingdom of God.


    Blest are they, the lowly ones,

    They shall inherit the earth.

    Blest are they, who hunger and thirst,

    They shall have thier fill



    Blest are they who show mercy,

    Mercy shall be theirs.

    Blest are they, the pure of heart,

    They shall see our God.



    Blest are they, who seek peace,

    They are the children of God.

    Blest are they, who suffer in faith,

    The glory of God is theirs.



    Blest are you who suffer hate

    All because of me.

    Rwjoice and be glad, yours is the Kingdom

    Shine for all to see.



    David Haas, (c) GIA Publications

    It isn't in many UK hymnals*, but is in HymnQuest.  It is a very restful setting to listen to, and the refrain 'soars' as it expresses hope.  Enjoy.


    * Church Hymnary Fourth Ed. if you are in Scotland; otherwise it is Laudate (Decani Music), Celebration Hymnal for Everyone (McCrimmon) or Hymns of Glory, Song of Praise (Canterbury Press)


  • The Better the Day

    When we were children, one of my Dad's favourite remarks was 'the better the day the better the deed' usually as justification for doing something or other on a Sunday.

    Today has, so far, and with no reason to end otherwise, been a great day, even if some people might frown on some of my activities!

    It is, in Glasgow, the most beautiful early spring day; there are carpets of crocuses in the parks and in any green space; the sky is blue and the sun shining; it is even warm! 

    Deciding it was too nice a day to stay in, I put on my shoes to go for a walk.  Deciding if I was well enough for a walk, I was well enough for church, off I set!

    Part of my route to church takes me past a private garden shared by a number of houses round what in another city might be termed a Square.  I have oft lamented the absence of flowers in this garden and the forbidding sign on the gates, which says something like "no running, no cycling, no ball games, no dogs", to which I am often tempted to add 'no fun.'  Today as I passed the sounds of toddlers' laughter filled the air and as I looked over a small child ran after a ball; I delighted in the double disobedience that fitted the spirit of 'the better day the better the deed.'

    With a little time to spare, and ready for a drink anyway, I nipped into the coffee shop opposite church.  I was pretty sure the owners would be there, and they were.  The last time I saw them was before Christmas and it was good to spend five minutes catching up on their news as well as purchasing a small cup of blog title.  I guess if it was OK with Jesus for his disciples to pick and chew wheat ears...

    And so on in to church where a brave guest speaker was leading an all age interactive service.  His musical choices were unknown to the regular Gatherers but the choir did a fantastic job and enough of us incomers knew at least some of the songs to help things along.  For the record, the last time I sang 'I've found a friend, oh such a friend' was in nineteen hundred and frozen to death and we sang it to the tune Tannenbaum.  I enjoyed the service, not least as it was framed around my favourite chapter of my favourite book of the Bible!  James 2: 14 - 26 in the Message paraphrase:

    Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
    For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved  and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup - where does that get you?  Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

    I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. 

    Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them?

    Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

    Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar?

    Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"?  The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action.  It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend."  Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

    The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn't her action in hiding God's spies and helping them escape - that seamless unity of believing and doing - what counted with God?  The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse.  Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

    Some good stuff was shared, and basically a two-fold message:

    • reading the stories of 'God's friends' in the Bible gives us hints about God's character... hence Jonah shows us that God rescues people from Wales (sorry, the preacher was a Scot and clearly said whales with a 'hw' sound, but I couldn't resist)
    • if we are God's friends then our lives show people something about God - or they certainly ought to.

    After an after-service cuppa, off to the park for a picnic of sandwiches snaffled from the church 'working lunch.'  Whilst there I bought an ice-cream simply because I could!  So it's Sunday... I had four months when buying 'take away' food was prohibited, I reckon I've a few month's of non-Sundays to make up for, and anyway, the better the day...

    And then a stroll through the park, along the road, through the grounds of the hospitals and home again.  All in all good fun... and the best Sunday for quite a long time.

  • Important Books?

    I have a couple of bookcases in my living room, as do many other people.  Most of the books it has to be said are rarely taken out and opened, yet they continue to have some sort of importance, as visitors always take time to see just what is there.

    Yesterday I had some visitors round and they did the usual looking task.  One of my guests noted one shelf and even took out a volume to show to another guest.  So which are these important books:




    They were my engineering text books, a relic from my past life, a set of books I've owned since the early eighties and occasionally open to remind myself that once I actually knew this stuff!

    My guest was thrilled to discover that I had studied engineering and marvelled that I was old enough to have been an engineer for 15 years before training for ministry, surely I was only in my thirties...  Like many others I've met over the years, this guest saw my 'past life' as a positive, something that contributed to, rather than detracted from, my ministry.  Every now and then people complain that there aren't enough life-long ministers, but the truth is Gods call comes when it comes and will weave all we are and have been into the ministry to which we are called.  In my case I am fairly certain my background industry serves me well as the minister of decreptic buldings and doomed roofs!

    Way back, at the end of my period as a probationary minister one of the Regional Team had to meet my deacons to discuss my suitability for transfer onto the fully accredited list of BUGB.  It was a rather surreal evening as we held Deacons' meetings in the manse, so when he arrived I had to go and sit in my study whilst my performance was discussed in my living room.  Later, as I was seeing him out, this senior minister confessed that he'd spent the entire conversation thinking 'ooh, I've got those engineering books in my house too.'

    Of course we need lots of theology stuff (almost all of mine is at church these days) but sometimes it is the 'normal' (relatively, not sure how 'normal' a text on theory of thermonculear fusion is!) that makes the connections that allows real conversations to take place.

    A quick search of Amazon showed that, to my amazement, thirty years on, the same core texts, albeit updated in some cases, are used in the education of students in engineering.  Massey, Rogers & Mayhew, Stroud.... ahh happy memories!