How is that almost without fail when it is one of the Baptist ministers doing Radio 2 Pause for Thought in the Sarah Kennedy show that what he (it's always a he) says resonates with what I'm due to preach on this week...? Most Baptists don't follow the lectionary (I do sometimes and not others) so it isn't simply that we have read the same Scriptures. Might it be that God is teasing me yet again? I think it might.
If, perchance, you are in the Glasgow West End tomorrow lunch time and looking for a space to 'be' to pray or to get a free (except for optional donations to Christian Aid) lunch organised by and for Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics and indeed anyone who is passing, then do drop in to my/our 'Gathering Place' at about 12:15 where you will be very welcome. Indeed, you are welcome any time but especially the next four Thursday lunctimes as we reflect on 'The Miracle of Christmas.'
I wish I could blame this particualr amnesia on a bump on the head but I can't!
I am trying to recall and retrieve a book I read when I was at college, I think broadly Biblical studies, which took a look at how the layering of tradition on top of the Biblical narratives of the nativity, and even the elision of the Matthew and Luke accounts can be read positively rather than negatively. For example, the popular portrayal of the 'three kings' as one white, one black and one oriental speaks about the inclusivity of the gospel and the 'neither Jew nor Greek'. Or, as another exmaple, the inclusion of the animals around the manger is not just Victorian kitch but can point more widely to the idea of the new creation, the lion sleeping next to the lamb. I recall at the time not being entirely convinced by the argument but intrigued by it nonetheless; now I'd quite like to revisit it.
Trouble is I can't recall what the book was called or who wrote it, only that I am fairly certain I read it in the final year I was at college - in which case Sean and Kez if you are reading this mabe you will know what I'm rambling on about. If anyone thinks they recongnise the book from this mangled recollection please let me know via the comments.
Why does the Bible have such a downer on stiff-necked people? This morning I have a stiff neck (and shoulders and a fair few bruises all over) and I find myself wondering, albeit flippantly since I know what it really means, about this source of divine displeasure.
I remember being told about some work that the theologian John Hull was doing on the pejorative use of the concept of blindness in the Bible borne out of his own experiences of losing his sight. I guess we need to be reasonably alert to the way we use metaphors, especially of goodness/badness so that we don't inadvertently either build prejudices against people who, for example, have stiff necks or make then feel as if they are somehow inferior.
Anyhow, stiff-necked or not (in either sense of the word) I am back in the land of work and today met not one soul coming in the other direction... maybe the jogger grapevine has sent out the word to beware relatively early morning walking ministers...?
Yesterday being my day off I undertook an experiment - could I visit my Mum for the day when she lives about 350 miles south of here? The answer was yes - though it was a very long and rather expensive day out. Leaving home at 5:30 and getting back at 22:30 made it tiring and the railways did their utmost to thwart me by setting fire to a train near Coventry but it was possible and it was an enjoyable, and worth repeating experiment. I would especially commend Parksafe at Glasgow airport (well near it) who were inexpensive, very helpful and completely hassle free.
By contrast today, a very different trip after a jogger hurtled round a corner knocking me off my feet and cracking my head on the pavement in the process. Spilling sassenach blood was a passtime I thought had been long abandoned... An ambulance ride was not in my plans but the crew were kind and helpful and full marks to the good people at A&E who glued me back together and send me on my way. According to the head injury card I was given side effects can include disorientation and grumpiness - but would anyone notice the difference?! On reflection I feel very sorry for the poor jogger who thought he'd at least half-killed me, but maybe next time he will look up and about as he runs... And maybe I should not try to set off to work before it is light... Am I now a dark mornings statistic?!
So now I am running a couple of hours late on my plans for the day, have some new bruises and have seen some new places I hadn't planned on and am meant to keep waking myself up all night to make sure I'm not dead... But what has been good is the kindness of strangers, albeit doing their jobs, from the woman at Parksafe who gave me a slot near the office because I'd be back late at night to the person who lent a terrified jogger their phone to call an ambulance.
Now, unlike humpty dumpty, I am glued back together and must get on with some work...