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  • Mysterious Ways... Or, Sermon Prep Brain Wanderings...

    So today, I'm getting ahead start on sermon prep for Sunday coming.  I have some ideas, and a rough trajectory in mind, but now it's time to read commentaries and start the mulling.

    Walter Brueggemann on the psalms - one of my favourites with his threefold schema of orientation, disorientation and reorientation.  Among the books I have is a pocket-sized one called 'Spirituality of the Psalms' and it's just wonderful.  I am tempted to quote a large chunk of it in Sunday's sermon because it says so eloquently more than I oculd ever say.  If I don't go with quoting, I'll almost certainly put it on a handout, it's just so good.

    The Word Biblical Commentary Volume 21 and a focus on the psalm that will form the centre of my sermon.  Not shrinking from the cursing with which the psalm closes, the writer, Leslie C Allen, quotes a novel by P D James (and as I read the citation, I recalled using this in a sermon a couple of years or so ago).  I've been looking for something new to read for a while, so have ordered, not the book mentioned, but the first in the series of which it is part.

    And then is the annoying ear-worm that goes with this psalm and having been a child/adolesecent in the 1970s... Boney M have a lot to answer for!!

    So now, into mull mode proper.  An extended quotation to scan or transcribe.  And, with God's help, a sermon will come out at the other end.

  • Trains and, erm, more trains!

    Last week was a day trip to Selly Oak by train - and I was entertained by the unicorn-shaped hole made by the train manager during a ticket inspection.  So much nicer than the scribble with a black pen that is so often the case.

    Trains continue to be a theme this week and beyond...

    Tomorrow it's a day trip to Ormskirk to meet the NAM I am mentoring for BUGB.  Whilst I will sneak a quick lunch with a friend, it is basically work all day - my laptop will accompany me and my hope is to make good use of the journey.

    Wednesday is 'quieter' only local Glasgow trains, but four meetings/appointments so quite a busy day.

    Thursday and Friday it's destination Airbles (Motherwell) for the Baptist Assembly, where, this year, I have somehow agreed to staff the stand for Operation Agri during the 'breaks'.  I am looking forward to catching up with folk, learning what the Union is up to, and celebrating God's goodness.

    Then a weekend 'at home' before I head off to Bangor next Monday for a five day silent retreat in Wales.  A retreat - not a holiday as some folk are wont to call it.  For sure, I take annual leave to do it, but it's very intentional and 'churchy'.  Inevitably there will be service prep to be done in the train, and I come back to a full on weekend of Bible study and services.

    Were that not enough, the next week is a very long day-trip to Birmingham for the BMS Catalyst Live event - a glorious miscellany of theology, spirituality and sharing.  I think given I will leave home a little after 3 a.m. that day, sleeping rather than working seems a good diea for the outbound journey.

    Don't misunderstand, I love being part of wider Baptist life, and feel that, overall, it is good for my own folk that I do so.  It's just a challenge sometimes, when everything seems to land at once, trying to fit everything in that I want - as well as need - to do. Hence, today is not fully 'off' as I've decided to spread the load a little.

    Still, if I get more unicorn stamps on my tickets, I will be one happy bunny!!


  • 'Postcards from the Land of Grief'

    Depending how things are going I may or may not catch Radio 4 'Sunday Worship' before leaving for church.  This morning I was keen to listen because I knew that it would be something a little different, and something very special.

    Richard Littledale is a Baptist minister, roughly my age, who wife died last year after living with cancer for seven years.  Courageously, Richard has shared his story of grief through social media and on 'Thought for the Day'.  Today's broadcast was tender, profound, courageous, honest and generally awesome.

    If you read this within a few weeks of me posting, you should be able to find the recording here...

    It included this poem, with the music of Enrico Moriconi's 'Gabriel's Oboe' in the background...

    Sightseers into Pilgrims    by Evangeline Paterson

    I used to think --
    loving life so greatly --
    that to die would be
    like leaving a party
    before the end.

    Now I know that the party
    is really happening
    somewhere else;
    that the light and the music --
    escaping in snatches
    to make the pulse beat
    and the tempo quicken --
    come from a long way

    And I know too
    that when I get there
    the music will never