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  • Animal, Vegetable & Mineral - Theistic Evolution and other stories!

    It's nearly midday on Thursday, and not one word written for Sunday's sermon.  Well, that's note quite true, I have lots of notes and a couple of workable ideas, but I still have a decent chunk of this book unread (and probably now won't get it read at this point in time).

    This book is not a quick read, and I did get a bit bogged down in the biology stuff near the beginning (probably because it was detailed and I was wanting more overview on that part) but it repays careful reading.  Like all theological/spiritual works it's imperfect and, here and there, gaps or elisions in the author's argument are evident.

    At around £11 it's a relatively inexpensive purchase (I got my copy free from BMS many years ago now - should have read it back then after all) and a useful addition to the library of anyone who has a reasonable grasp of science.  If you never did science at school, I suspect it's pretty incomprehensible in places.

    PS The titular question is (obviously) rhetorical

  • Being and Doing... a Reflection of Sorts

    Yesterday we used some DIY jigsaws as a visual expression of our prayers - symbolising interconnectedness.

    After I'd re-jigged the pieces to make two 'more complete' jigsaws rather than four fairly sparse ones (not that that mattered, it's just my collating nature!) I had a spare unused one, and decided to use it as a sort of reflection on where the series had taken me, and to some degree, maybe us.

    I added the names of the eight 'heroes' as it was their stories that had allowed me to make connections to my own, and our own, story.  Then I added some of the many congregations, organisations and charities that, directly or indirectly, now or in the past, we have connections with.

    Lastly I added four phrases that I think summed up the message - of encouragement and challenge - that emerged from the series.  A mix of being and doing, phrases that can be paired in different ways or taken on their own...

    • Trying to follow Jesus (doing) surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (being)
    • Trying to follow Jesus (doing) attempting great things for God (doing)
    • Trying to follow Jesus (doing) being something beautiful for God (being)
    • Being something beautiful for God (being) surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (bring)
    • Being something beautiful for God (being) attempting great things for God (doing)
    • Attempting great things for God (doing) surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (being)

    Of course, each of these six pairs can be reversed, the emphasis changes, the meaning is subtly altered and new insights may be discovered/discerned.

    For me, at least, there is plenty to continue to ponder as I consider how to 'be and do' what this series has inspired within me.


  • Heroes of Faith - Drawing the Threads Together

    No 'Going Deeper' this time - cos I just never got round to doing it!  Instead, today is about making connections, drawing together the threads.

    By serendipity, our last hero, Brother Andrew, of Open Doors fame, turned out to be a great choice (in my not so humble opinion) as his story allowed all sorts of interesting connections to be made. I recalled the importance of Girls' Brigade in my faith story, and of how at a Young Leader's training weekend I'd bought the book 'God's Smuggler' which inspired me to support Open Doors for many years.

    As it happens, we have someone in church who grew up inside the USSR and experienced its break up first hand; someone whose family were among the recipients of smuggled Bibles, tracts and greetings.  It made a wonderful illustrative link.

    This series has allowed all sorts and sizes of links to be made, here are just a few I made...

    From my GB church to College St Baptist Church to William Carey

    From one of my GB leaders a direct link back to the chapel Mari Jones attended in Wales

    From Mari Jones, via the Bible Society, to Elizabeth Fry, Eric Liddell and Brother Andrew.

    From Eric Liddell to one of my predecessors at the Gathering Place.

    Indirectly at least from William Carey to David Livingston and Mary Slessor, and possibly (through the India link) to Mother Teresa

    And so on and so forth.

    A few folk have shared with me links and connections that have been meaningful for them, to this or that person, place, time, interest, and that's been lovely.

    I've had so much fun reading and learing about these people, making new discoveries and being reminded of others.  Today, I've loved setting it all in the context of the vision of Revelation 7:9-11 and the 'cloud of witnesses' of Hebrews 11 and 12. 

    As summer ends, I am, in the best possible way, really tired; this series has needed a huge amount of work.  It has been so worthwhile though, and I have material I can use in other contexts in the months ahead.

    I planned the series on a bit of a whim, because I thought there were stories worth telling, and these were the eight people I came up with.  Somehow, that whim has translated into something of which I have the audacity to feel quite proud, and through which I - and I think it's fair to say, we - have been blessed.