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  • Why I'm not a Comedian :-)

    I very rarely tell jokes in services/sermons.  There are many reasons for this, but basically I'm not good at telling jokes, and rarely does anyone laugh, so best not to.

    Today we had two "funny stories" which weren't all that funny, at least as I told them, but people were kind and a few chuckled politely.  And they did provoke a bit of comment after the service, so I know people were good enough to listen to them.

    But it's eminently clear that my calling is not as a comedian... so that's as well to know!

    Been an interesting and different couple of weeks... I've certainly enjoyed the challenge of engaging with some very different passages.  No more jokes for a while though, much to everyone's relief :-) .

  • Songs of Life...

    Poets and musicians are people who use these media to eplxore ideas and reflect on life.  I knew that.  But I was still taken aback to discover that someone had written song based on her epxerience of LD-flap reconstructive surgery.  It's a beautiful song, a story different from, yet connected with, my own, and I like the metaphor.

    I'm proud to fly with one 'broken wing'

    Read more ...

  • Well Intentioned but...

    Today I was in our local Christian bookshop to pick up a few bits and bobs, including some cards.  I chose to spend almost £2 to buy this one which I think is well-intentioned but somewhat unhelpful.

    The quote is from 1 Peter 2 (KJV) rather than more familar, at least to me, Isaiah 53, which is present tense, so that threw me slightly.  Either way, its referent is not physical healing, at least not as I read it.  Creative idea, but not really a 'get well' message.

    To top it all off, what drew me to the card was the section it was filed under, which was labelled 'coping with cancer' where it was the only option. (It also appeared in the general 'get well' section too).

    I was left puzzled as to why we needed a special "coping with cancer cards" section in the first place (there was also one for depression, but no other specific condition or disease).  It seemed like one of those well-intentioned but not everso helpful ideas.

    Unfortunately the only 'coping with cancer' cards I've seen that seemed to hit the mark would not be suitable to cite on the nice polite blog of a Baptist minister (unless I already did ages ago and have forgotten!)

  • Ultimate Subversion...

    This little quotation from a commentary on Ephesians gave me the way in to last Sunday's sermon:

    “The whole armour of God who won his pacific victory over the powers through the cross [...] is nothing less than the naked, defencelessness of the crucified Christ”

    John Muddiman The Epistle to the Ephesians London,. Continuum, 2001 page 283


    Go ponder, it's worth it!

  • Five Years On

    Monday 23rd August 2010 was a lovely bright, sunny day.  Even though Monday is usually my 'day off' I had agreed to a morning meeting with someone at church to discuss some financial matters (probably taxation, I can't remember).

    I picked an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a bottle of water in the Tesco round the corner from church for my lunch and wended my way the whole five minute walk to hospital where I would spend the afternoon.

    Five years on, I can still recall the smells, sounds, tastes and sensations of that afternoon... in fact about the only thing I can't recall is what I was wearing!

    That day, my Mum was undergoing pioneering life-saving surgery far away in Oxford, and I was waiting for news about that at the same time as I sat in pale blue faux-leather chair in the waiting area of a Victorian building.

    I still recall the first words spoken to me by the man who I now trust as 'my' breast surgeon, introducing himself by name, checking if I had come alone (I had) before taking my history and carrying out the initial examination.  I can still see his face as he said "I'm sorry it's cancer" just as I can still recall how 'my' breast care nurse gently took my hand in hers whilst the biopsies were taken.  Those first impressions matter, and this team, consumately professional whilst utterly humane, got it just right for me.

    In the one, maybe two, second(s) it took to say the words, a paradigm shift took place.

    Fearful I would not see Christmas, let alone a five year anniversary, I took very much to heart the parting words of my surgeon who said, "we'll talk about this in five years".  I wasn't convinced, but the words gave me just a shred of hope.

    And now those years have passed by.  The Victorian hospital has all but closed (a month until the breast out patient clinic moves to its temporary home en route to a final relocation).  I have continued to live with long term effects of treatment and to reflect on my experiences, much, but not all, of it via this blog.  I have met and made friends with many wonderful people, have laughed and cried, and said farewell to far too many whose journey with this cruel disease was much shorter.  I've travelled to New Zealand, spoken at a conference, supported other ministersaffected by cancer, shared parts of my story with students and ministers and trained as a peer support volunteer.  And always in the background, just there, quiet and supportive have been the people who were there at the start... my medical team, friends, family and The Gatherers.

    Sunday 23rd August 2015 - preaching on Ephesians 6, being and doing what I believe I am called to be and do, in the place I feel I am called to be and do it.  It feels like a very good way to mark the transit of five years, to give thanks to God for all that has been, and to step forward into the future with all that these years have shown me.