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  • Youch!

    Yesterday I met with my deacons to review the offers we'd received for sale of our building.  Secretly, I was pleased we'd had any offers at all in the current market.  We have now agreed to proceed with one of them (the highest, obviously).  The 'youch' factor was that it was 23% lower than the valuation we had in April - an average fall of almost 2% per week.  What use this sum of money (net of fees and repayment of advances from the trust company) will be remains to be seen, but at least (if it all goes through) it will allow us to close a chapter, to move on and put our energies into something else.  I hope - and pray - that church folk will see it this way when we report back on Sunday.

    Many thanks to those loyal readers who have offered practical and prayerful support during the process so far - hopefully the 'end' is now in sight...

  • Praying with Jacob

    Here is the prayer I used in Prague, inspired by the stories of Jacob at Bethel and Peniel, please feel free to use it if it is helpful:



    We have reached a certain place, a physical place, a temporal place and here, O God, we seek to glimpse your glory.

    We come to this place bringing with us all that has shaped us thus far, failure and success, fear and hope, doubt and faith, vision and dream.

    We find ourselves in the house of God, at the gate of heaven, not because this place is more sacred than another, but because you meet us here, where we are, who we are, how we are.


    We praise you for the mystery of your presence with us

    We thank you for bringing us safely this far

    And now, as we look ahead to the future

    We seek a fresh encounter with you.


    As we look heavenwards, we are aware that you reach earthwards

    Reaching out to heal and renew what sin and greed would destroy

    Offering hope and a future where fear and death abound

    Sharing the pain and sorrow, vulnerability and limitation of our lives,

    Walking among us, dying for us, defeating evil and destroying death.


    Our future is as yet unknown to us

    The challenges that will face us

    The questions that will perplex us

    The emotions that will stretch us

    Yet, as we stand on the edge of tomorrow

    We dare to seek the privilege of wrestling with God

    Discerning your mind

    Heeding your will

    Following your call

    So that we, like Israel, may limp towards eternity in the footsteps of Christ

    In whose name we pray.





  • Highs and not so highs

    Literally high of course, flying to Prague and back, but also a good experience in many ways.  It was good to meet some new people and to listen to some good (and maybe even the not so good) papers.  I guess it was good to decide mine wasn't the worst!  In fact, I am still in a fairly high level of bemusement at the warmth with which it seems to have been received.  One way or another, it is pretty likely it'll end up in print somewhere (three possibilities were mooted by different people) plus I've been asked to contribute a 500 word definition of 'practical theology' for another publication.  Very bemusing, but in a good way!

    The morning prayer session I led went remarkably well and the way people read the psalm and sang the hymn were AMAZING! If responsive psalms could always be like that I'd use them all the time. Quite a few people thanked me for the copies of the icon I supplied, and my prayer even got mentioned by one of the speakers!!

    So I flew home if not on a high, certainly well content and enjoying the experience of being in such a positive atmosphere.

    The reality - a short flight delay meant I was an hour or so late arrving at East Midlands.  When I got home there was a letter giving the outcome of the sealed bids on our building, and it doesn't look too good (can't post details but you can interpolate between the lines).  Switching on the computer to pass on this information to those who needed it reminded me that the rarified conference atmosphere was not reality, or not the bigger reality anyway (it was obviously real enough while it lasted).  A very short night's sleep, a long drive, a guest preach, and a lot to think about...

    I think that's where things are up to in my world.  When I'm a little less shattered, I will probably post some more thoughts in the conference, which was a good thing (so thanks Sean for 'making' me offer my paper).

  • Offline...

    ... for a few days as, along with countless other ministers and students of theology, I am off to a conference.  This week I have a friend learning Greek from scratch in Nottingham, most of my Manchester peers are at a summer school in Bristol and I am heading to Prague to give a conference paper which has given me more headaches than enough!  I'm trying to work out why it was never this hard work preparing to deliver to a load of engineers and scientists!  (I have some thoughts on that one but they are too dull to share) Anyway, I'm sure it'll be fun with some interesting people to meet and/or catch up with - and a little quieter in blogworld.

  • That's Annoying...!

    This afternoon I went out to dismantle the sign outside our defunct building - afterall if it sells this Friday (please...) then this needs to happen.  I'd had a look, noted the rusted state of the nuts and their varying shapes and sizes (typical chapel bodge job) so got out a nice big adjustable wrench, a hammer to whack it with, and psyched myself up for some fun.

    Adjusting my trusty wrench to fit the first nut, I decided to check how hard it was going to be to loosen it - and it was barely hand tight!  In under five minutes, with no hammering needed, I had the job done and simply had to 'walk' the offending article (which was too heavy for me to lift) along the side of the building where I abandoned it behind locked gates.  I'm glad the job proved feasible, but I'd have like the sign to put up just a little bit of resistance!  Why is it 5 minutes jobs takes several hours and those that ought to be a good challenge are trivial?

    I'm not sorry the sign is down - the weeds next door as as tall as, if not taller than, I am - not quite the image we want to give of the church...