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  • No-one's Debtor

    I remember it well, a medical misisonary couple visiting the church I was attending at the time, sharing their story of living by faith and realising the truth for themsleves that, 'God is no man's (sic) debtor'.

    Since following the call on my life to train for ordained ministry, my own experience has shown time and time again the truth of this assertion.

    In the year before pursuing the call, I saved hard, and then sold my house, using the proceeds to to fund rent, food, insurance, utilities etc over the next four years.  There were small-ish bursaries from which I was able to contribute to the cost of my college fees, a friend who gave me the tithe on her overtime, and my Mum who collected all the appropriate BOGOF deals and gave me the free ones.  Amazingly, when I left college, my bank balance was the same as it had been when I started, and I was able to use that money to establish myself in my new home.

    Over the years, I have received generous hospitality and practical gifts (including sacks of onions and (in the days when I ate it) back pudding!).  People quietly paid for flights, train tickets, hotel bills and car hire when my mother was critically ill and I was newly diagnosed with cancer.  There have been endless lifts, vets bills have been paid, someone gifted me money towards the bookcases for my office, others have given me 'ice-cream money' for holidays... the list goes on and on.  Just this week, two monetary gifts (one shown above) which, together, almost exactly matched the cost of my new computer.

    Anonymous benefactors, generous friends, considerate colleagues and a God who is not only no-one's debtor but is actively outrageously generous.

  • An Awesome Ecumenical Sunday

    Today has been simply awesome.

    In the morning we had our first 'summer pattern' service and looked at the story of Mary Slessor, the Hebrew midwives Shiffrah and Puah, and in passing mentioned Saffiyah Kahn and Jo Cox.  Feisty, earthy women, who challenged the status quo in non-violent and/or subversive ways.

    Then it was a very quick trip to the retirement lunch of one of my Church of Scotland colleagues.  I was only able to speak to her very fleetingly, but it was lovely to be there (and to realise that I am now one of the 'oldest' in temrs of service on this patch!)

    And then the climax of the day, a wonderful marriage ceremony at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, where I had been invited to deliver the address, and to be 'deacon' at the Communion.  The choral music was wonderful, the setting splendid, and the atmosphere joyful.

    A truly ecumenical day, and I am glad. Nothing 'lowest commmon denominator' here, rather each tradition was proudly itself, and each service authentic in its own way.

    I am tired now, and content.  Emptied yet fulfilled.  It has been a good day, a very good day, and I have been blessed by it.

    photo (c) K Fisher used with permission.

  • Saying Farewell

    Yesterday I travelled to Manchester to attend the funeral of a friend who, along with her husband, had been a huge support and encouragement to me during my ministerial training, and indeed, beyond.

    I had arranged to visit the family (who live opposite the church where the service was held) in the morning, and could not have been made my welcome, my genuine protestations that I should leave them, this was family time, being brushed aside.

    It was a lovely service, truly honouring a woman who loved, and was loved by, so many people.

    Unusually for nowadays, she had been brought home the night before the service, and her coffin lovingly place in the conservatory where she had so often sat to watch the garden birds or to admire the flowers in her garden.  It was a real privilege to be permitted to sit with her while her husband ran the final few errands for the catering (the tables had to be literally groaning under the weight of delicious food, and plastic tubs were labelled up to be filled with snacks for my journey home!).  In the stillness, cup of tea in hand, with the scent of flowers filling the air, I sat, remembered, smiled and prayed.

    The service was a pack-out and people had travelled considerable distances to be there.  Beautiful hymns, whose significance I knew, lovely readings and tender, thoughtful tributes... it was as good as funeral is going to be.

    Later, munching my packed lunch/tea on a train that was equally packed out, this time with slightly merry young women en route to a Hen Weekend in Manchester, and school girls who were chatting about how they 'CBA' to do this or that, I smiled to myself in gratitude.  Life in all its fullness, youth and age, beginnings and endings, laughter and tears... and in it all love and hope.

    Farewell A, you have given me so many happy memories, and entrusted me with so much.  May you rest in peace and rise in glory.