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  • This week's focus - Mentoring and Selecting

    Yesterday I left home at silly o'clock to travel by train to meet with a NAM I am mentoring in the north of England.  Today I went into the centre of Glasgow to meet with a PAM I am mentoring up here. Tomorrow I will at the Board of Ministry interviewing a candidate who feels called to follow this same path. In between times there have been all the usual (and some not so usual) things to get on with also.

    I've been pondering what it is I think mentoring is about, and I think it really comes down to three things:

    • listening
    • normalising
    • encouraging

    Listening to what is written/said, and for what is not said/written

    Normalising the experiences, feelings, concerns and questions

    Encouraging the mentee by affiming what is already good and offering suggestions if help is sought/needed


    And I think that the kind of interviewing I'm doing tomorrow needs much the same facets, with underlying question 'is this person someone who, with the right nurture and support can be a good-enough minister of the gospel?' I hope the person I meet will feel they were heard, valued and encouraged by the experience.

  • Preaching on Scriptural Silences...

    Our sermons/reflections on January have focussed on three episodes in Jesus' early life as recorded by the writer of Luke (circumcision/redemption of first born; visit to the Temple around the time he became bar mitzvah; baptism at around the age of thirty) alongisde some speculation on what filled the very obvious silences... we looked at games children played one week, synaggoue eduction another, and synagogue and temple worship today.

    In a sense, we did what preachers always do when confronted by scriptural silence - we extrapolated from other sources and from old traditions, made guesses and even read-in our own thoughts shaped by our own time and place. 

    In a sense, we did what preachers always do, even when there is no obvious silence - we padded out bland descriptions with colourful details in our attmept to discover the truth hidden within.

    I've certainly enjoyed thinking about the stories, and about about the gaps, and what any of it may have to say to us. I also think that God's Spirit inspired at least some of it - especially as today's intercessory prayers had an unusually high 'hmmm' count!

  • And Relax...

    It's been a long week, and I have one task still to complete today - then it will be time to relax for a while.

    Outside the sky is blue, the air is crisp and cold, and it's good to be alive.

    Over the past few weeks we've journeyed with Jesus as he grew up, and it's been fun (for me anyway) to imagine what might have plugged the gaps of scriptural silence.  Another silence is what he did (other than pray) when he took time apart to rest and be refreshed... like him, I'm going to take some time (tomorrow is my official rest day) simply to 'be'...

    A busy, busy week, and I did more than OK, so now it's time to relax...

  • All Kinds of Everything!

    It has been one of those weeks where 'minister as chameleon' is order of the day... every day has needed me to 'mode shift' at least once, and sometimes two or three times.

    All kinds of everything along the way, from the mundane and routine to the occasional and privileged.

    The photo is part of the floor in the Hindu Mandir at La Belle Place, Glasgow, a building that I had previously entered by the back entrance and the church officer's flat, where my grandparents lived - and I was about 10 years old.  I was there for an Interfaith Burns' Supper, a curious event, where a mixture of Burns poetry and songs was interspersed with a haggis-free meal (all of which was laden with chillies and peppers, so I ended up eating boiled rice!) and an opportunity to attend/witness the nightly aarti ceremony. A real mix of stuff, great hospitality, good conversation and cultural diversity.

    I think it sums up quite well the feel of this week - which has been demanding and rewarding, with the sublime and the ridiculous and everything in between... with something of everything each and every day!

  • Saying Goodbye to a Good and Faithful Disciple

    This afternoon we gather to pay our last respects to, and celebrate the life of Miss Irene Allan aged 100. A long life, lived in faithful service of her Lord and Saviour, at great personal cost both literal and metaphorical.

    I hope the weather does not deter those who would wish to do so from attending the service, and I hope as she peeps down from heaven, which she is convinced will be open for her to allow her to observe, she is pleased with what we have created for her. (My own, since teenage, intuitive theology has been that we attend our own funerals, no matter what orthodoxy might claim, so I am sure she will be there one way or another).

    It is a privilege to conduct the services for this saint of God, and I pray that as we celebrate and commemorate her life, we find encouragement and inspiriation for our own continuing lives. (Yes, that's pretty much a paraphase of one of the standard funeral prayers I will use later today!)