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  • Ministry is...

    This morning has been quite curious one way and another.

    I picked up emails, including a request to complete a questionnaire for somone's research on women in leadership in BUGB churches.  Whilst I was in the process of completing it, I was interrupted twice, once by one of our 'building users' and once by the local council delivery man with a consignment of refuse sacks for us.  Neither of these 'real life' events would have fitted anywhere in the student's research, because, as I understood it, it was 'spiritual' matters she was interested in.  But each of them is ministry, as I understand it... being here, to handle the questions/concerns of a user group, sharing in the dull routine of property matters... these are a vital part of servant leadership.

    I remember way back, in my training days, being surprised that the RC priest I worked with had to be consulted over the purchase of loo rolls.  Whilst I still think it is nuts that the cleaning team could not just buy/order them and then claim the cost back, as a symbol of servant ministry, not above the buying of loo rolls, it remains quite profound.

    So, mid-morning and not one item on my 'to do' list started.  But that's the point - as so many others have said before, the ministry is the interruptions.

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 16


    Food price rises hit the poorest hardest. Between 2011 and 2012, maize prices rose by 174% in Malawi.

    Give 10p for each tin of food in your home.

    Well today I think I can, with reasonable impunity, get off cheaply as I don't keep many tins at home!  In fact, I think I have as many, if not more, tins of cheap tuna (2) for the cat and cat food (3) as I have 'people food'.  Sainbury's long ago started selling chopped tomatoes in cartons, which was the thing I always used to have tins of.  I am at church, so can't do an accurate count, but if I have five tins of people food, that will be a geenrous estimate.  Just as well they don't ask how many packets of pasta or bags of flour...  

    My pledge:

    Today  £1 (50p for me, 50p for the cat)

    Total £20.25, three prayers and 'use your vote people!'

  • Song for Marion - Three Handkerchief Weepy!



    Yesterday afternoon I took myself off to watch the film 'Song for Marion' the latest in the growing genre of feel good movies about ordinary people in their latter years.  The critics have been quite scathing, calling it predictable (do they not understand 'feel good'?) but I found it moving, tender and actually quite honest in its portrayal of a dying woman, her crusty husband and dysfunctional family.

    At the start of the film, Marion is told her cancer has returned and is now terminal; the oncologist tells her to go home and eat "chips and ice cream, as much as you want".  Her life line is the OAPz, the community choir she sings with.  The first half (or so it felt) of the film deals with her final weeks and her death.  Having walked alongside a few dying people, I felt this was authentically and beautifully portrayed.  A moment of pure poetry and beauty is just after she has died and the son is seen showing out the certifying doctor.  The camera focuses on the bedroom door and a long, low howl of despair is heard as Arthur's reserve crumbles.  We do not see him - this is a private, implied moment - and the more powerful for it.

    Yes, theareafter the plot is predictable, Arthur gives in and joins the choir, who, after some comedic exploits, win third prize in a choir competition, and by the final credits the family has been reconciled.  Yet there is something important here - something that we all need, even if we cannot articulate it... the desire, the hope, that, in the end, all will be well.


    I'm a tough old cookie, crying is not something I do very often, and then not very much, but I shed quite a few tears watching this film - enough for them to drip off my chin!  Perhaps a film where one of the characters dies of secondary cancer is a funny thing to watch on a day you told you are still NED; and perhaps it's a very appropriate one, since there 'but of the grace of God' go any of us.

    Professionally, I have conducted funerals for too many families where unresolved tensions have been self evident... it would be good to think that this little film just might prompt one or two people to mend a few fences whilst there is yet time.


    And in the end...all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. 

    I guess the critics probably wouldn't rate Teresa of Avila (or T S Elliott) either?