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  • Just Everyday Stuff

    Yesterday being my 'rest day' I met up with a friend for coffee before heading off to town to the cinema.

    This was a new friend - a kind of pen-pal really who I have got to know over the last year or so as we travelled similar medical and work 'journeys' (she's a hospital chaplain).  There is always that fleeting moment of 'what if she doesn't like me in real life' (and if she didn't she was way too polite to say so) but we had a lovely hour (or I did anyway) before she and her husband headed off to the funeral which was their real purpose for being in Glasgow.  There is something about some shared experiences that seems to create connectedness... Guiders experience it, GB leaders experience it. girlie revs experience it, and people affected by (at least some) similar medical conditions experience it.  Anyway J if you read this twaddle, it was brill to meet the real you, and I hope you got home safely and not too kn*ckered.

    The film 'The Artist' has attracted rave reviews so I thought I ought to go and see it.  I enjoyed it greatly (though the final twist failed to surprise me I'm afraid) not least the shameless copying of cameos from other places, so beloved of contemporary film making.  With minimal captions, it must have been quite a challenge to create a 'silent movie' for a 21st century audience... a very different challenge from the subtitling to which we are all becoming accustomed with Scandinavian imports.  All of which is interesting... in a noisy, highly visual culture, we find pleasure in films and programmes that deny aspects of that.

    Today I have the delights of clearing my living room ready for new carpet to be fitted tomorrow... poor Holly cat, she's just about recovered from weekend visitors and now more disruption to her routine!

  • Advocacy... Three Views

    Yesterday in the sermon I used three words to explore different ways we might think of advocacy, based on the etymology of some the words used in the Bible and in everyday language to describe it.

    Advocate from Latin ad vocare, 'I speak for'... the idea of someone who speaks on behalf of another because they cannot do so themself.  Beyond the 'obvious' court room image of ancient times, or even someone with power acting for someone without power, we noted that translators and interpreters may actually undertake such a role.

    Intercessor from Latin inter ceder (or some such) 'I go between'... the idea of someone who acts as an intermediary between two parties carrying messages back-and-forth, a more obvious two-way process than the advocate.  Such practices as mediation - bringing together two parties and facilitating dialogue between them being one expression of intercession.  (And of course the prayer meaning - praying for others)

    Paraclete for Greek parakletos, 'One called alongside'... the idea of someone who, rather than going between us and the other, comes alongside us and accompanies us as we encounter them.  Rather than acting for us (advocate) or moving between us and the other (intercessor) the paraclete effectively links her arm through ours and walks with us.  Such accompaniment is not passive, allowing us to fall into ditches or to wander down blind alleys, but it is the gentle nudging, encouraging and guiding that enables us to find the way forward ourselves.  This paraclete is the 'comforter', 'helper' type of advocate.

    We touched ever so briefly on the fact that scripture refers both to Christ and to the Holy Spirit as advocates, and I fessed up to the puzzle of a tri-une God within whom one persona has to act as an intermediary to another.  I suggested that maybe, in Christ we see more of the advocate-intercessor and in the Holy Spirit more of the intercessor-paraclete, but that ultimately, part of the mystery of our God is that all three understandings are there.  I cannot claim to understand it, but I trust it is so.

    And the challenge, of course, for those of us who claim to be part of the Body of Christ, who have the audacity to assert that God's Spirit is at work in us, is to think through what it means for us to be advocates/intercessors/paracletes where we are.

  • World Leprosy Day

    (I know it's homelessness Sunday too but you can't do them all every time)

    I listened online to the radio shorts for TLM England amd Wales/TLM Scotland/TLM Northern Ireland produced by GRF Christian radio, which are very thoughtful and thought provoking... built around the sense of touch, or more precisely the ability to feel heat/cold/bites/scrathces/pain.  If we touch something very hot we instinctively draw our hand away because the nerves sense the heat and tell our brains what to do.  For the person affected by leprosy, this does not happen.

    At a head level I've laways understood this, but is only since I have been landed with some permanently numb areas following surgery, that I begin to understand, even at the most basic level, what that means on a day to day basis.  So, for example, if I am out walking in midge-ified Scotland in spring/summer I not only need the repellent and the long sleeves, I also need to check the numb bits of arm to ensure there are no bites, which could cause long term problems if they became infected...  Now that's just a nuisance, and won't lead me to fatal injuries (I hope!).  For people with leprosy every day is high risk experience.

    And of course it is all avoidable.  Leprosy can be treated and even cured if caught early enough.  Yet stigma and discrimination persist and lives are blighted by this disease.

    Today I will remember with gratitude the former TLM misisonaries linked with Dibley BC and The Gathering Place, and the TLMS trustee from the latter.  We will hear a story from Bangladesh (the country with which TLMS has specifc links) and reflect on aspects of advocacy.

    One day leprosy will be a thing of the past... until then the work of TLM International (and others) goes on.