An imperative, "you - shine like stars" or a nominative, "you shine like stars"? I'm going with nominative, and not checking the Greek for the verse in Philippians.
Today we talked about stars, how God knows and names them, how God ensures not one is missing, and how we are likewise loved and cherished. And we learned of a star named for our church, in the 'Arrow' constellation, which shines in the night sky, even if we cannot see it.
You shine - it's a fact, a thing, a truth... even if sometimes the light is dimmed or hidden, it's still there. God sees it and God knows it.
As I strolled round the supermarket, every few minutes a recorded voice would remind me, 'only buy what you need...'
Anyone who really knows me, knows that part of my unique perosnality is that I am hardwired to do as I'm told. So, 'only buy what you need' means only buy what you need...
For the first few weeks of lockdown I did just that, scurrying round the shop as fast as I could, one bottle of milk, one bottle of juice, one carrot, one pack of veggie sausages... Buying an Easter egg (it was before Easter, remember!) was a definite 'no no'. At that time, there were media reports of heavy handed police officers in Northampton (where I grew up) checking people's shopping bags for contraband 'non-essential items'... maye that's where I learned this behaviour!!
Buy what you need can mean, and at it's simplest reading does mean, stick to the basics, and only buy the amount you will use between now and the next permitted shop (in seven days time).
But, as my Mum used to say, and she was right, 'a little of what you fancy does you good.'
One of the things I really have to work hard at is self-care, to recognises that sometimes what I need is not wholemeal bread but chocolate cake, and so on.
Today I treated myself to something that can no way be called 'essential' - as seen in the photo being checked out by Sophie cat, a plastic picnic 'charger' with a cheery nautical scene. It's not essential or useful, I didn't 'need' it, but I did need the joy it brought me just to buy it, and will bring me as I look at it from time to time.
Some things money can buy, some things it cannot; 'only buy what you need' isn't just about bread and milk either.
A good friend who is a minster told me that I look very frightening wearing a plain black mask, so if my photo scared you, I'm sorry. Wearing masks is mandatory in some settings at the moment, and strongly encouraged in others, subject to defined exceptions. The science is unclear, and experts offer conflicting advice about efficacy and safety. Be all that as it may, I'm a rule follower by nature, and have taken time to check out what I think is the 'least worst' approach to mask use.
So off I trotted to the supermarket, where there was no queue to get in and two jolly men at the door (unmasked) greeted me with cheery smiles. I smiled back, under my mask, and said 'hello'.
As I made my way round the store and engaged in the inevitable pas-de-deux of socially distanced shopping, I was struck by the phenomena of 'eye smiles'. We've always known that true smiles reach the eyes, but today it was the only evidence - and ht eonly evidence needed - that people were smiling.
And people were speaking... the odd 'hello' to a stranger (it is Glasgow after all, second only to Liverpool and Manchester for such things!), an 'excuse me,' an 'after you'... even the odd laugh at the crazy dances we executed.
The last few months have seen a lot of stressy shopping, of hoarding and panic buying, of empty shelves and restrictions, of furtive glances and dodgy attempts at homemade PPE. That hasn't all gone away, but today, in this shop, there was chat and banter, laughter and 'eye smiles' - and it felt good.
This morning, I am sitting in my kitchen after a rare 'social Zoom call' with those friends with whom I have been in regular contact the longest.
As I do so, I am remembering another Saturday 20th June, eleven years ago, when I sat in my office and wondered what was happening in a church in Glasgow where a Special Church Meeting was going to vote on whether or not to call me as their minister.
I remember the nervous, anxious wait, and I remember the unbridaled joy when the phone came through to say 'yes'.
Eleven years on, what a lot has changed! And what a lot has stayed the same.
As I sit in my kitchen and reflect, I give thanks to the faithful God who called me, and who has stayed with me.
As I look back, I give thanks for those who have called me out when I have been wrong or out of line.
As I look back, I am give thanks for wonderful opportunities I have had, which I'd never have imagined possible.
And as I look forward, I commend myself and all the Gatherers to God's safe-keeping.