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  • Emphases?

    'You should be wise as serpents and innocent as doves'

    OK, so what does that really mean?  Is it actually possible to be trully savvy, astute, intuitive, thoughtful and wise whilst at the same time being gentle, vulnerable, open-hearted, positive thinking and innocent?

    Which is our more natural leaning, and why?

    Does 'wisdom' have the potential to slide into cynicism and mistrust, the erection of barriers, of a seige mentality that refuses to take risks?

    Does 'innocence' have the potential to slide into gullibility, foolhardiness, abdication of critical faculties, of an attitude that risks all in a foolish way?

    How do we respond when our tendency to one or other proves unhelpful?

    I wonder, gentle readers, which is your greater tendency - suspicion or gullibility, defensiveness or openness, self-protection or vulnerability?

    This post is not a response to one 'event' or 'issue' just me wondering 'out loud' where and when I lean too far to one or other extreme, and why.

    Wise AND innocent... that's a tough call!

  • Mischievous Juxtaposition

    Archdruid Eileen links this song and wonders about it.  It is, after all, written by a man and takes the 'Jesus is my boyfriend' motif to a whole new level, imo

    Carl Beech reflects on his unepxected evening in a gay bar - unexpected as he hadn't realised it was - and asks 'what is good news for a gay person'.  Inevitably, like all of us, he has presuppositions and ideas what that means, and it's hardly a new question, but it is a valid one.

    Just wonder what might have happened had he offered them the song, which comes from the Vineyard expression of Christianity...

    Sorry, just feeling far too michievous this morning.  (save me a seat near the fire...)

  • Assembly - First Thoughts

    Sniffle, snuffle, sneeze, splutter... I have a 'post Assembly cold' the product of the outrageous generosity of those who attended whilst suffering from colds, the outrageous generosity of a warm hot venue, the inevitable consequences of people gathered together in close proximity given each of the above, and the fact that, like it or not, my resistance to infection is still compromised.

    Setting that aside, cos it's not really what it was all about, what are my first thoughts?

    Baptist Assembly in Scotland is very male.  This observation was made to me by guest speakers who had travelled from England.  Although some laudable efforts were made to have male and female speakers, and a small attempt was made at moving beyond all Caucasian leaders, the reality is it is a very male event - even with half the delegates being female.  I could - and inwardly do - harumph that the on-screen biblical texts were in NIVi (good) but the readers all used the NIV'e' (bad). I could  - and inwardly do - bemoan the poverty of prayer language where God was exclusively described as Father - scripturally justified, but woefully inadequate.  I could become a moaning Minnie, but it doesn't achieve much.  Instead I will endeavour to model better practice, and encourage others to do likewise.

    Baptist Assembly in Scotland is less brash than its southern counterpart.  This observation was made by a friend who'd travelled up to take part in closing worship.  That's true.  By its very nature, it is smaller, more homely, and becomes almost a hybrid between what English/Welsh readers would know as an Association Day and an Assembly.  One southern friend observed that it felt more relaxed, less highly scripted, but I am not entirely sure that's so, I think they happened to present in a session where a couple of mavericks were at play.  Another southern friend, after an opening session that was explicitly theological rather than specifically motivational, observed that you wouldn't get that much theology in an 'English' Assembly.  That may be true, but I think it was a new departure in a Scottish one too.

    Baptist Assembly in Scotland is very like Baptist Assembly in England.  Despite differences of size and culture, there is an awful lot that is the same.  There are opportunities to catch up with folk we haven't seen for yonks, and to meet new people who may become friends.  There are inspiring and challenging speakers.  There is opportunity for worship and learning.  There are 'business' matters to be attended to - from approval of reports and accounts, to debate and decisions on diverse issues.

    Last night a couple of my C of S colleagues said wryly, 'so, how was Assembly' assuming that their experiences of their Assembly would be echoed.  I can honestly say that overall it was a very good Assembly, I was inspired and I was challenged.  There were parts that disappointed, in different ways, and I'm really not convinced that when the time came for the rubber to hit the road on showing 'outrageous generosity' we managed.  However, generosity demands that we do not dwell on the negatives but celebrate the positives, and work to do and be Good News.

    Some of my southern readers will be surprised to find no comments yet on hymnody.  It seems that 'that song' has finally been consigned to its rightful place in the dustbin of Assembly repertoire (at least for now).  There was a pretty good blend of traditional hymns (even if the musical arrangements left a bit to be desired sometimes) and newer worship songs.  I say newer, since many took me back to my student days thirty years ago!  If I have a criticism, it was what my college essay markers used to term an 'over-dependence' on Matt Redmann (c) 2011 material.  Some of Matt's material is fabulous, I'm not so sure this was his best, just his latest.

    Still trying to process all the stuff - and have decided to make a change to the advertised programme for next Sunday in order that I can share some reflections with my congregation.  So our revised title will be Outrageous Generosity?

    Sniffle, snuffle, clear throat....

  • Curious!

    I decided to check out the winners of the Jerusalem Awards (Christian media production) as some of my lovely Gatherers in their guise as part of GRF had been nominated in some categories.  They didn't win, though got some sort of runner-up awards.  What was curious, though, was that in one category I realised I kind of knew the person who beat them, from Talking Donkey, as he is a member of D+6 (in old parlance) and that sometimes the son of my bestest minister friend who is an ac-tor does bits of work for him.

    Now I know no-one is is fascinated by that, but I am!

  • Outrageous Generosity - First Thoughts

    This is not a reflection on the Assembly - that will come - but a couple of Bible passages that have come to mind as I seek to be 'outrageously generous' in real life (and for those who try reading between lines, on this occasion you are probably wrong).

    Jesus said, if someone strikes on the right cheek, offer them the left also (Matt 5:39).  One, valid, reading of this is that the offer of the other cheek confounds the aggressor, since under the honour codes of the time, the slap would be administered using the back of the right hand - it would be rather tricky to do this to the left cheek.  But today, my thought is more metaphorical, if someone slaps you in the face, does outrageous generosity mean that you 'turn the other cheek'?  I think it might.

    Jesus also said, in response to a question from Peter, that forgiveness should be offered 'seventy times seven' (or seven times seven, or seventy times), suggesting it should be free, full and never ending, even if the person keeps on doing the self same thing  (Matt 18:22).  When someone wrongs us - or we perceive them to wrong us - is it outrageously generous that we go on forgiving them?  I think it might be.

    So then, the challenge when the rubber hits the road (or the proverbial the fan) will I turn the other cheek to the person(s) who have hurt/damaged/offended me?  But, what when they have hurt/damaged.offended others about whom I care or who have no voice?  Can I forgive, unstintingly without condoning?

    Today my readers will include people who have been hurt in all manner of circumstances; what is the outrageous generosity in those situations?  They will also include people who have hurt others, deliberately or otherwise; what is outrageous generosity there?

    There is so much to process from what I have heard on this theme, so much that can become empty rhetoric masking old understandings if we aren't careful.  To reiterate, this post is not a veiled response to anything that was said or done at the Assembly, just my attempts to begin to think what lived outrageous generosity might look like.