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  • Being Boring

    bc ribbon.jpgSorry, this is a boring post - a bit kind of niche or hobby horse or soap-boxy or some-such.

    Today is Macmillan Cancer Care coffee morning day.  The one day a year when people are invited to hold special fund-raisers for this important charity.  Tomorrow is the start of breast cancer awareness month and I have decided, for one month only, to change my blog colour scheme to pink in order to mark this.  I'm not a pink kind of a girl, I don't do "pink and fluffy" but there feels something right about turning this blog pink for four weeks just to act as an awareness kind of a thing.... just why would Catriona turn her blog pink... whether it works is another matter, but tyg, it will 'cost' me to see my blog turn pink and that's part of the point really.

    Tomorrow I am meeting up with a group of women from the Glasgow area who I 'met' online through the bcc forum for lunch.  It will good to put faces and voices to avatars and posts.  It will be good to laugh and share stories and 'be boring' if we so wish/need without having to think about the impact our boringness has on others.

    So, on the eve of bc awareness month, my perennial boring reminder.... check yourself, take the screening, report anything odd, if you're young and worried then SHOUT very loudly.  90% of problems turn out to be benign but if you are in the 10% take the treatment and choose life, whatever that looks like, however long ot short it may be.

    Soap box away for now!

  • All Will Be Well

    Lots of 'stuff' affecting lots of people just now.

    Those who knew Kerr Spiers will know he often quoted Julian of Norwich (though ascribing it to someone else, I can't recall who) that "all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well."  I find this quote, if basically comforting, rather confusing... but then mystic I'm not.  However, I do like the sentiments that, ultimately, all will be well.

    For me, these sentiments are echoed in the lovely hymn set to the Welsh tune Ar Hyd Yr Nos (All through the night) ...

    Through the love of God our Saviour
    all will be well.
    Free and changeless is his favour;
    all, all is well.
    Precious is the blood that healed us,
    perfect is the grace that sealed us,
    strong the hand stretched forth to shield us;
    all must be well.

    Though we pass through tribulation,
    all will be well.
    Ours is such a full salvation,
    all, all is well.
    Happy still in God confiding,
    fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
    holy, through the Spirit's guiding;
    all must be well.

    We expect a bright tomorrow;
    all will be well.
    Faith can sing through days of sorrow
    All, all is well.
    On our Father's love relying,
    Jesus every need supplying,
    or in living or in dying,
    all must be well.

    Mary Peters (1813-1856)

    If you're a reader affected/afflicted by 'stuff' then I do pray that you will be assured that 'all is well, and all will be well'

    Post editted to correct my error in wrongly ascribing the Julian quotation!

  • Michealmas and Rosh Hashannah

    Two festivals today, for those who keep festivals.

    Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, which heralds a ten day time of reflection ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

    Michealas, the day of St Michael and All Angels, a day that was introduced to the church calendar to 'Christianise' the pre-existing pagan rituals that surrounded the autumn equinox.

    I'm not much into angelology, and since I learned the word simply means 'messenger' and that the Bible (NT) translates the word differently in differnet contexts, I've always been extra wary.

    But these four 'arch-angels of the Lord', three of whom are named in the OT, and are probably part of a bigger group, traditionally numbering seven, who are they?

    Michael - the head honcho angel - whose name means "who is like the Lord?"

    Gabriel - the Christmas angel - whose name means something like "God is my strength" or "strong one of God"

    Raphael - no, not, so far as I am aware a teenage mutant ninja turtle angel, nor yet an artist - whose name means "God heals"

    Uriel - the one who is only named in the aprochrypha - whose name means something like "Light of God" or "Flame of God"

    Just wondering if maybe messenger and message can in some way be conflated :

    There is none like God -

    God is my strength

    God is my healer

    God is my light


    A busy day ahead, with zillions of pastoral things involved, so good to start with a few moments beign reminded of God's promises.  PAYG today centred on the encounter of Jesus with the very human Nathaniel, whose name means 'gift of God'.  I guess the thing for me to take with me into the day is, 'how can I be a gift of God (ie from God) to those I meet today?'

  • Rev T Kerr Spiers

    A few days ago I wrote of the privilege of sitting at the bedside of someone nearing the end of life - that someone was Kerr Spiers, a much loved and respected Baptist minister who had served in Scotland and Canada in a variety of ministries before retiring back to the Gathering Place, where he is one of my predecessors.

    By the time I knew Kerr, his health was already starting to decline, but his keen mind and ready humour shone brightly, and he was a great encourager in the early days of my ministry in Scotland.  Kerr trained at Rawdon - one of the fore-runners of Northern, where I trained - and we did periodically recall names of mutual acquaintnaces 'south of the border'.

    One of the most moving services I have conducted since I arrived here was the blessing of Kerr's youngest grandson, a little over a year ago.  The memory of a happy family gathering, of hope and expectation remain precious.

    Kerr suffered a major stroke on Maundy Thursday of this year, and has been in hospital since then.  Despite the limitations of his battered body, his mind was as keen as ever, and it was always a privilege to visit him.  Today, peacefully and with his family nearby, Kerr slipped through the door from here to eternity, to the fulfilment of the promises that had sustained him through a long and active life.  His death leaves an enormous gap, and he will missed enormously, but there is also a sense of release as he is freed from suffering.  Thoughts and prayers are with B, E&D+4, G&A+2.

    Rest in Peace Kerr.

  • Seasonal Preparations

    This morning, having kind of sorted this Sunday's harvest service, I am starting to move on to think about Advent.  This has to operate at three levels... what we will do at the Gathering Place in Sunday mornings, what we will do in the joint evening services and what we will do as our midweek lunchtime reflections.

    The last of these is the easiest, and I am revisiting something I used as a preaching series a few years back, and adapting it for a quiet, reflective devotional.  The women in the Matthean genealogy will form our focus, and there will be a scarlet thread running through the series.  The book Mother Roots by Helen Brush Pearson will form the basis for what we share over five weeks (an extended Advent!)

    I have a couple of other ideas; one (not sure yet which) will form the basis for our morning worship, and the other may find its way (or not) into evening worship.

    One is a variation on the Jesse Tree, and is an adaptation of a study series by David Adam called Candles in the Dark which runs through Advent and on to Epiphany as a coherent whole.  The other is consider Journeying with the Magi, adapting the ideas in the study guide by Keith Duke, which I like as something a little different, and, with its focus on the gifts, the potential for a tidy three weeker leading up to the nativity service.

    I'm meeting my C of S colleague in a couple of hours to plan the joint services, so hopefully after that the way forward will be a little clearer!

    PS if you think this is early, look out for the special new Christmas bottles of J2O called Glitterberry, in a supermarket near you now!