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  • What Metaphor Shall I Borrow?

    This morning we concluded our short series of services based on Psalms attributed to David with one very loosely based on Psalms 23 and 131, with images of God as shepherd and as mother.  Drawing on insights from, among others, Sally McFague and Brian Wren, we focused more on the concept of metaphors (and analogies and similes) as the way that we are able to imagine and so relate to God.

    As we do now and then, this was a service in which people were offered options inclduing colouring, writing, pondering questions and sitting with paintings/images inspired by the psalms.

    The one at the top of this blog is borrowed from here and is, of the six I chose to use this morning, my favourite.  Wonderful colours, lots of hints of other scriptures and lots of symbols (such as peacocks and owls).  At its heart, two figures of equal size travel together through the darkness (though the sky is a wonderful starscape) each carrying lanterns and one of them a shepherd's crook.

    Among others things, I also shared this by Brian Wren from his book, 'What Language Shall I Borrow' (page 139)

    “Are you the friendly God, shimmering, swirling, formless,

    Nameless and ominous, Spirit of brooding might,

    Presence beyond our senses, all-embracing night,

    The hovering wings or warm and loving darkness:

    If hope will listen, love will show and tell,

    And all shall be well, all manner of things be well.”

     

    Written as a response from a workshop on language in worship, it was pretty impressive.  Our own necessarily brief excercise in sharing metaphors and images generated some interesting words - and I may yet have a go at making something of them!  So watch this space - but not too hard!!

     

  • A Hymn

    One of the hymns we used on Sunday - it seemed to scratch where people were itching...

     

    Lord Jesus, think of me

    and take away my fear;

    in my depression, may I be

    assured that you are near.

     

    Lord Jesus, think of me

    by many cares oppressed;

    in times of great anxiety

    give me your promised rest.

     

    Lord Jesus, think of me

    when darker grows the day;

    and in my sad perplexity

    show me the heavenly way.

     

    Lord Jesus, think of me

    when night's dark shadows spread;

    restore my lost serenity,

    and show me light ahead.

     

    Lord Jesus, think of me,

    that when the night is past

    I may the glorious morning see

    and share your joy at last!

     

    Jubilate Hymns version of Moneo Christe Synesius of Cyrene (c.375-430) adapted by Allen W Chatfield (1808-1896) © Jubilate Hymns Ltd

     

  • Rev Keith Hobbs, RIP

    Most people won't have heard of Keith, a Baptist minister who retired just about the same time as I was ordained.

    Keith was Superintendent in the North Western Association (NWBA) of BUGB at the time I was exploring my call to ordained ministry.  I have three stand out memories of him.

    The first was when he came to visit me at my home in Burtonwood (just down the road from the brewery) as a precursor to formally beginning the discernment process.  I baked a chocolate cake - the standard NWBA bribe in those days - and we discussed my sense of call. In the way that only a minister seasoned by many long years of the joy and sorrow, disappointment and celebration that is pastoral ministry can do, he tried gently to discourage me and to consider alternatives.  Because I was an engineer he suggested overseas mission - I don't think he realised that I was a desk bound engineer not a spanner monkey!

    Over the following months, Keith was hugely supportive as I worked through the process of being comended by a church that was, at best, ambivalent about women in ministry, going so far as to say that a simple majority of one vote would suffice (unusual) and that if they said no, I should transfer to his church, wait two years and go again.  They said 'yes' by a bit more than a simple majority, but I was very glad of Keith's support and encouragement.

    The second was one of those dates that sticks forever in my mind, 5th November 1998, at Hillcliffe Baptist Church, just outside Warrington, when I faced the Minsiterial Recognition Committee (MRC) of the NWBA.  After a long and challenging day, each candidate was called in to be told the outcome.  The layout of the premises was such that you had to go out of the church, along the path to the former manse, and enter an office.  It was a lovely sunny day, but I recall vividly walking along thinking, 'they could say no'.  As I walked into the room, a huge grin spread across Keith's face, and even before he spoke, I knew the answer was 'yes.'  He told me I had been unanimously commended for training and could now progress to interview at a college of my choice.

    The third time was at my ordination.  Keith had by now retired, and his successor, Rev Chris Haig, who had overseen my settlement process with equally strong support, was leading the service.  When it got to the bit where someone from the Association was invited to speak, Keith stood up, recalled the first meeting  'just down the road from the brewery' and affirmed their joyful commendation.

    This morning I received news that Keith died yesterday.  I know that my life is richer for having known him, and that without his steadfast support I might not have become a Baptist minister, there were so many obstacles along the way.

    Well done, good and faithful servant, may you rest in peace and rise in glory.