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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.

  • Dogged Determination...!

    Today I decided to give Quorn Mince another go - I'm still not a huge fan of this stuff, but it is quick and easy to create healthy meals!

    My latest attempt was a big improvement on the past but still a long way to go on seasoning (sort of mince and tatties but not quite!).

    I guess that's a bit like faith sometimes... we persevere with the practices that we know are healthy, even when they don't 'taste' that great, even when they lack a little 'je ne sais quoi'.

    Perhaps we all benefit from tweaking the seasoning, or trying new herbs/spices from time to time... and perhaps it's no bad thing to be reminded that faith, like anything  worthwhile sometimes depends on dogged determination...


    God of all creation,

    It's easy to say that we need the feeding of scripture, prayer and worship;

    But sometimes it's all dry and dull and tasteless.

    Give us both the determination to stick at it when it seems unsatisfying

    And the willingness to try new flavours, that just might turn out to be tasty!

  • Another turn of the seasons...

    I took this photo a few weeks ago, when I first noticed the leaves starting to change colour.  In my personal calendar, this is always significant, a reminder that another year has gone by since the fateful day in 2010 that changed my world view forever.

    This photo, taken a couple of days ago, is the same leaf now a richer shade, and still holding fast to its tree with no sign of dropping for a while yet:

    autumn leaf 2.jpg

    Ever since I was a toddler, I've loved watching the leaves change colour, ending one season's growth.  As autumn progresses and the leaves fall, I enjoy waiting to see how long the final few will hang on, defying the forces upon them.  And every spring, I delight equally in looking for the first signs of new growth.

    Somewhere in all of that I find cause for joy and celebration at my own continuing life, along with a measure of 'pause' as, in my own small way, I defy 'forces' and remain in the (decreasing) good part of the statistics for another year.

    I've come a long way in the seven years since I was diagnosed with cancer on 23rd August 2010, I have much for which to be grateful, life continues to be good, and I'm still a NED.  Perhaps I will yet prove to be one of the tenacious leaves that clings on into the winter - but whatever the future holds, I believe I am truly blessed.