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  • In the meantime...

    At the NAM conference (see yesterday's post for overview) Karen Smith took as her theme 'ministry in the meantime' and spoke on two threads: waiting with Christ and walking with Christ.  The meantime - the space between now and what we dream of and, maybe (my thoughts here) between the resurrection and the eschaton.  The now and not yet.  She spoke of Eugene Peterson's concept of the 'ministry of small talk' and I found myself reminded of a phrase I have used about 'the God of small things.'  It isn't all about zillions of conversions and streams of baptisms, it's about the little things we do 'in the meantime' about the everyday actions, words, thoughts; about the things we get right and the things we struggle with.

    She used the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4, just before the mustard seed) and that while the person gets on with everyday life (sleeping and rising) the seed grows, they know not how, but grow it does.  Back in the days when I was a Sunday School teacher we spoke of planting seeds, alluding to the parable of the sower/soils and the epistular (is there such a word?) allusion to Paul planting the seed, Apollos watering it but God making it grow.  But this week I was taken in a new direction with it all - the seed of a smile, a gentle word, an hour at a bedside; the everyday cycle of getting on with the job...

    There is much waiting going on here in Dibley, folk on hospital waiting lists, folk waiting for their children's weddings and new babies, folk waiting for the final breathe... but in the meantime...


    God of the meantime

    Who shares with us the waiting

    And the walking

    And the wondering

    Grant us patience

    Grant us courage

    Grant us hope


  • Blessing and Honour

    Just got back from the NAM conference at Hothorpe where I acted as a group facilitator.  I have had a great time - though I'm now pretty tired and still have a service to prepare from scratch...

    My memories of my own NAM conference are that it was hard work and to a high degree a round of negativity - don't have sex with your church organist (as if....), don't help yourself to the collection, don't abuse your position, don't send texts to under 18's and don't have any fun in church.  It was important stuff to be told, don't get me wrong, but it was all extremely heavy.  The one blessing was that I made one or two new friends in my the small group of which I was part (Hi guys!) and the closing communion service remains as a moment of deep meaning.

    So, it was with some trepidation that I set off on Monday.  The heavy stuff was still there, but the experience was, for me anyway, very different.  In Ian Coffey and Karen Smith we had too very different and very interesting speakers, and I was blessed with a lovely group of NAMs to work with.

    My secret to a happy small group?  A bottle of wine (or some orange juice) in the evening session and spending the final, morning session sitting out on the lawn as we prayed with and for each other.  My group members were a diverse lot - different ages, colleges, theologies and churches - but each one was a special gift to the group: one brought humour, another vulnerability, still another quiet contemplation and yet another clear insights.  We talked, we laughed, we prayed, we communed (over wine and crisps...!) and we shared in the few set tasks we'd been given.

    At the end of the final communion service we were invited to metaphorically place the special thing God had given us into our 'non-writing' hand and hold it tight as something to take away with us.  My special blessing, the thing I take away?  The honour and privilege of sharing with these eight NAMs in particular and the other 50 or so in general.

    They may go home as I did and moan about the 'don't do this' language but I hope that just maybe they, too made a few new friends, found something to hold onto and went away blessed.

  • Busy

    Been and being very busy at the moment so not much blogging happening.

    Had a good weekend away, returning home with sun-burned and midge-bitten arms and a generally warm glow.  BMI-baby plane names fascinate me... Pudsey baby....?!

    Tomorrow off to a funeral in the morning and then off to be a facilitator at the BUGB Newly Acredited Ministers' conference for four days - along with a few other Baptist bloggers - and not a thing packed yet.

    Somewhere in there I need to write a sermon and review an essay ready for submission because the next week I'm off to be trained in Racial Justice myself.

    So plenty to blog about but no opportunities to blog.

    Back soon and will catch up then.

  • Keep It or Dumpt It?

    The main item for discussion at tonight's Church Meeting was the stuff that is stored in various sheds, spare rooms along with the shcool hall and the manse, notably what should be retained and what dumped.  The list wasn't exactly ruthlessly culled, but we made some progress and identified more items to review again in six months...

    The dreaded minister's throne will be sold whilst the battered old communion table will be bonfired (Good job we're Baptists!)

    The green Baptist hymnbooks will be given to anyone willing to collect them, and the spare BPW music books passed on to folk who can use them.

    Some crockery will be passed to a project at a neighbouring church who are housing recovering addicts, some will go to charity shops, the water jugs will be offered to the cafe where our lunch club meets; the bulk will be kept as we still use some of it sometimes...

    We formally agreed transfer of the plaques from my drive to the graveyard and two people are coming on Saturday to move them (and as I'll be out, leave me a note so I know it's them not burglars!)

    Quite why we are keeping some of the stuff is beyond me, but it is a massive step in the right direction.

    Should anyone want a green Baptist hymnbook let me know!!!

  • Monumental Stonemasonry...

    More extra miles being walked by our demolishers - well not ours exactly - as they delivered all the plaques that had once graced the chapel walls to my driveway to await transfer to our graveyard where they will form some sort of lasting memorial to, er, the building!  The sale contract requires them to salvage and return to us four inscribed foundation stones from the front of the building (which will come down quite soon now) but we had accepted that the plaques would have to go with the building.

    So now my drive looks like the yard at the undertakers - littered with monumental stonemasonry - and reversing onto it is 'interesting' as fit my Saxo into a smaller space than usual avoiding damage to the plaques and protecting them from vandals and thieves.

    Just in case burglar Bill passed by I have photographed them all, and the one below recalls the first ever minister of this church... from Orton to Gorton in two centuries!

    IMG_0317.JPGSome how I can't see a plaque to my memory ever being erected in a church - for which I am extremely grateful - nor will I serve a congregation for 50 or more years as this chap evidently did!

    PS If the image makes you wonder about the manse wall maybe I should point out that the plaque is on its end so the photo has been rotated (hence the rather strange perspective effect) - Dibley may have its quirks but building houses by laying bricks on their ends isn't one of them!