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  • End of an Era... or Two

    In the last week news has reached me of the deaths of two of the gentlest, most faithful, encouraging Christian men I will ever have the privilege to know.

    M was the 'elder' of  my sending church in Warrington, essentially a 'super deacon' chosen and appointed by the then minister on the grounds of his wisdom and experience.  A Londoner by birth, he supported Spurs (three of us in the church at that time were born in Spurs territory!) and had worked for the local council in some fairly senior position prior to retirement.  He was actively supportive of me from the moment I arrived at the church, and delighted in my journey to ordained ministry.  Sadly in recent years his health declined, his short term memory began to fail and he had to step back from some of the duties he had fulfilled with gentleness and grace, always a smile, always a word of encouragement.  Last New Year, when I visited the church (meeting in their hall while their roof was repaired... is it me?!) he was, as ever, sat at the door, handing out hymnbooks, smiling and welcoming people as they arrived.  This, week, after a long illness, he slipped away, closing  an era of service and witness.

    P was a member of our neighbouring Church of Scotland, actively involved in work with young people and a leading light in work with international students.  Educated in London (apparently, my source is not quite sure where he was born!) he was a teacher of French in Glasgow his entire adult life.  A competent pianist and a gorgeous tenor, his contributions to joint evening worship were always a delight.  Just a two weeks back he was playing for Sunday evening worship, and I, arriving early, enjoyed some good chat and banter with him.  The next day he left for a speical holiday in Turkey where he died very suddenly.  P was always smiling, he oozed gentleness and wisdom.  A great encourager and supporter of others, genuinely humble and kind.  With his death, another era ends, leaving its legacy of precious memories.

    These two wise, gentle men have touched my life more than they ever knew, have encouraged and corrected me, laughed with me, shared with me, and both will be sadly missed.

    Two things come to mind as I take a moment to give thanks for them (since for various reasons I can attend neither funeral) ...

    P once observed, wisely, in a conversation about a service that had been "interesting" that we don't come to church for what we want, or even to enjoy it, but to worship God.

    And M, in response to any account of things turning out alright in the end would say with a warm smile, and a knowing look that recognised the underlying struggle, "God's good."


    God is good - to have known M and P has been a great blessing.  May they rest in peace, good and faithful servants.


  • Not quite what I planned...

    Been a very busy couple of days doing loads of pastoral stuff... and a meeting.  Tomorrow have more pastoral stuff (bumped from today) and some service prep to do.

    It was good, just before it went dark to pause long enough to look out of the window and enjoy the colours of the trees... red maple, yellow who knows what...

    what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stop and stare...

    hopefully things will quieten down just a tad tomorrow...!

  • OWW getting weaving with praying!

    I decided to adapt the OWW resource a little bit and instead of writing prayers on post-it notes we wrote them on strips of plastic cut from 'bags for life' and wove them using looms made of cardboard boxes and gift ribbon.  One stays with each of the two churches - until such time as we're bored of them and (recycling) bin them!


    Each woven prayer unique and beautiful, intertwining our petitions and prayers for the world of which we are a tiny part


  • Preaching is...

    Yesterday I attended a kind of masterclass thingy on preaching... some top class speakers but an abyssmal turn-out meant two workshops were cancelled, including the one I wanted to attend (wish they'd done a straw poll to see which were most popular and dropped the two least rather than two people simply dropping themselves, c'est la vie).

    One of the sessions invited us to reflect on what we think preaching is - it's aim and purposes - as well as its style and content.  A useful reminder, if pretty basic stuff.

    Today I split our sermon slot into three bits, each a reflection in its own right arising from questions Jesus was asked in the days leading up to his execution... on taxes, on resurrection and on the Law.  We used some objects which people could take away, some images and quite a few words, spoken and sung.  It seemed to go OK.

    This evening I'm actively not preaching, I'm reflecting on One World Week and using some interactive stuff as a prayer/response.

    What is preaching?  I guess for me it is 'breaking the Word' as we use words to seek after the WORD.  It is open-minded, open-hearted, somehow playful engagement with ancient texts whose dynamism and vitality can inform, transform and re-from faith and life in the here and now.  It is always partial, always provisional, always of necessity a bit tentative.

    I've had some fun this week and again today... and I hope it has had some resonance for others too.

  • It'll Be Alright... Privilege and Hope

    Been a busy week, and a good one, so I don't feel too guilty sloping off this afternoon to visit a friend over in the east.  Especially since this could be the last opportunity to do so, and we have 'big stuff' to discuss.

    Last night I baked pink cupcakes for her... she loves pink, I don't, but we both love cake

    We will laugh, and we'll talk, and we may well weep.  And I will reassure her, as I reassure myself, that 'it'll be alright', that hope and love are stronger than dread and despair; that even if I have no idea what heaven looks like, it will be safe and pain free.  That 'all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well'

    We both find it funny that we found a profound connection, being so utterly different in many ways and yet so alike in others.

    I am privileged to have L as a friend, and when she leaves us, as leave she must, I will miss her.  But when the day comes, I will let her go, knowing that for her, as for me, it'll be alright.

    God bless you L xxx