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  • Quizzes - and Ministerial Fallibility!

    For this morning's service I had prepared a Bible Quiz on the theme of 'journeys'... and promptly began with a question to which I had got the wrong answer!  Much gentle hilarity followed, and all was well.  Sharing this on a social media site created more hilarity among - and confessions from - other ministers and teachers, with some amusing anecdotes.

    This afternoon I began the Christian Aid Music Quiz which was given out at church this morning, and had only two questions left to do by the time I went to church this evening - within ten minutes of coming home, the answers had popped into my head and it was complete.

    Who knew I was better on pop music than Bible knowledge?!  Not really, but it certainly made me chuckle.

  • 3 x 8 = 4 x 6 - A Hymn in it's Original Form!!

    One of the hymns we used this morning, in its orginal form, has three eight-line verses.  By the wonder of modern technology, it managed to morph itself into four six-line verses.  The tune selected fitted the mood perfectly, but slightly altered the sense of the hymn.  Whilst I quite liked the carry over from verse to verse, the original is easier to follow...


    Such enchantment, sudden strangeness,

    Power and love, by God, distilled;

    Then they recognise his presence,

    By his words their fears are stilled.

    'Peace be with you', Simon Peter,

    John, you need not be afraid;

    'Peace be with you', doubting Thomas,

    Don't be anxious or dismayed.


    In the garden he saw Mary,

    Talked with her, unrecognised;

    Naming her drew back the curtain,

    Opened tear-stained, blinded eyes.

    Others walking to Emmaus

    Talked, depressed, their sadness showed,

    Till at last, their journey ended,

    Broken bread their Lord disclosed.


    Fishing, from a boat, some saw him,

    They had trawled, had felt forlorn;

    Recognition added savour

    To their breakfast at the dawn.

    As we go about our business

    Bring enchantment to our lives;

    Open eyes that we might know the

    Love from which our peace derives.


    Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2000 Stainer & Bell Ltd

  • Christianity - Participation in The Body of Christ

    Later today I am due to have a conversation with someone who wants to learn more about church membership.  This is exiciting!

    By pure fluke  - or by Holy Spirit timing - or whatever, I came across this blogpost a few minutes age, which stresses the community/corporate nature of 'being a Christian'.  Drawing on Pauline body imagery, it rightly recognises the absurdity - and impossibility - of any body part living in splendid isolation.  The writer is not saying that there a 'personal response' is unecessary, what he is saying, I think, is that this not enough and, in fact, that the natural (and necessary) consequence is to connect in to a local expression of the Body of Christ... something Baptists have traditionally done by Baptism, and continue to do by both Baptisms and Profession of Faith membership.

    Worth a read, whether or not you agree!

  • Reflections on TCAT Conference

    Monday was a very busy day, and, for me anyway, one that was both fun and educational.

    The conference organisers had arranged for a professional cartoonist to be present and to capture some of the phrases/ideas expressed along the way.  Not caricatures of the speakers, just generic male/female characters with words from participants.  The one above was based on some of my opening remarks at the start of the conference.

    The conference was a clever blend of academic research presented by Professor Robert Fergusson from Pittsburgh, with inspiring patient stories and reports on the project itself.  The delegates included oncologists, psychologists, clinical nurse specialists, third sector representatives, patients and their families/friends, all of whom were equal participants.

    It was a great day, in which I gained a deeper understanding of the condition known as 'chemobrain' and was affirmed as being someone who, like most patients, is 'high functioning' so that other people are largely unaware of the issue.  I learned that, by default, I've done everything 'right' to mitigate and manage the condition - healthy diet, regular exercise, working at using my brain - and that whilst these are beneficial they are neither preventive or curative (Prof Fergusson mentioned having marathon runners among his patients). 

    The key messages that came across were that this is effect is widespread and even 'normal' among people treated for cancer.  Naming it for what it is demystifies it and takes away fear or embarassment.  Small group programmes which combine input on the condition, strategies for coping and peer support are hugely beneficial in promoting well-being.

    It was nice to have my experience officially validated, it was encouraging to hear about the research, and it was a privilege to listen to people's stories.  I'd never in a million years imagined that I'd be present at a medical conference, let alone chairing it - just another unexpected positive consequence of this whole journey.

    As part of the conference this video was shared, with stories from two amazing people:

  • Mellow Monster!

    (Image borrowed from the www)

    Back in February I shared something of my experience as a 'Menopausal Monster' and my decision to seek medical help, which in turn led to me being prescribed low dose antidepressants.  I thought maybe it was time for a bit of an update.

    Drug 'A' was not a good experience.  Once I'd got past the nausea of the first few days, it turned me into a bit of a twitchy, tooth-grinding zombie, devoid of emotion... life was mere existence, I reached the point where I would have preferred to be the angry monster (even if the drugged stupour was undoubtedly better for everyone else)

    Drug 'B' is going well, even though it means I am making a 'quality over quantity' choice as it is less 'safe' for me in terms of its effect on my anti-cancer drugs (it's not a dangerous drug, it's one that's in the fuzzy middle ground).  Although I continue to have some side effects, dry mouth, tooth grinding and (mostly nocturnal) muscle twitching (which evidently suggest I have a mild form of a condition that can be triggered by this class of drug.  Only me!)  this drug seems to suit me much better, even leaving in me feeling everso slightly 'high'.  I've now been on this one for a couple of months, and am continuing for a while at least.

    For all this, I am aware of underlying mood swings (almost certainly caused by cyclic hormonal changes) that, if unchecked, would make me back into a monster.  It's just that now I am a mellow monster, aware of an internal change but one that is so damped down it can never erupt. 

    I think being a mellow monster is OK, and most of the time life is good, if everso slightly 'technicolour'. When I was younger, I used to wonder how menopause might be - now I know that, for me at least, it's no fun whatsoever, but at least I am here to experience that!