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- Page 5

  • Mourning with those who mourn

    nasimjamil.jpgA murder is always bad news.  When it happens almost on your doorstep it is very bad news.

    I never met Nasim Jamil, though it's possible I passed her in the street.  Indeed, I had never heard of her until her death hit the national headlines.

    It transpires that some of the mums from toddlers knew her or have relatives and friends who did.

    Today all that can be done is to weep with those who weep.

    This is a proud and diverse city, and as we prepare our hearts to welcome, afresh, the Prince of Peace may that peace fill this place once more.

    Eternal rest grant unto her, Oh Lord, may she rest in peace.

    (Photo from BBC Scotland website)

  • Oddities, Minorities and Foreigners

    I was half awake listening to the 6 a.m. Radio 2 news this morning and heard something about Rowan Williams being a tad irritated that politicians (I think) saw religious belief was something for 'oddities, minorities and foreigners'.  I might well not have heard properly and it was undoubtedly out of context and I am 100% certain the arch bish has no problem with any of the above people-groups, but it made me think (even in my blearly minded state!).

    Without the oddities, minorities and foreigners my church would be pretty empty on a Sunday.  Sure, I have many, many folk who are stable and able, and even a majority of White British Scots.  But actually the church (and I'm sure RW would agree wholeheartedly) chooses to embrace the odd, minor and foreign, to be a bit marginal and liminal and radical and such like.  If the powers that be dismiss that as lesser, well that's their loss... just maybe they'd do well to look back at a bit of history to discover that it was those odd/minor/foreign folk who began public education, hospitals, hospices, prison reform, credit unions, etc. etc. etc.

    As for me, well hey, a white English female Baptist minister in Scotland... that's pretty odd, foreign and minor!!


  • Of buildings and churches

    Tim has just posted a rather poignant photo of their former church and its surrounding community at their blog and if you click on the title of the post it opens up a gallery of photos.

    As a kind of solidarity among tabernaclers, here's one of mine from Dibley which is not disimilar in feel/context.


    I have other photos in some of my posts from around June and July of this year.

    As the children's song says...

    The church is not a building....

    ... we are the church: together.

  • Tis the Season to be Tabernacling

    The end of my first year as minister of Dibley saw the enforced closure of the much-loved sanctuary exactly a week before Christmas.  We were forced to make rapid phone calls to other churches to find places we could meet for our Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and then ever after services.  I trekked up (and down) the hill where the manse and church stood with a case full of candles, Bible, notes, CDs and whatever else was needed.  But the welcome was there and we discovered new insights into the "Christmas Story."

    This year some friends of mine in a little (brick as it happens) Tabernacle in East Manchester have been forced to move out into the nomadic existence I had come to know rather well.  For them, Sundays are sometimes in their front room, sometimes in borrowed buildings, sometimes as guests of others, sometimes outside.  A faithful and courageous little community camping in a city.

    And now I am once more in a city, vibrant with life and bustling with people of diverse ethnicity and social group.  Once more a church that is camping, tabernacling, albeit in it's own 'back garden', and has been for several years.  Here, as elsewhere, people gather week by week, putting out chairs, making a temporary worship space in the room we use for pretty much everything.  Once more, I am seeing new slants on an old story.

    I know quite a few 'tabernacling' churches.  Some have deliberately chosen this model, some have had it thrust upon them.  Some are doing it for a reason or a season, others by choice or circumstance will do it for life.  Some feel it is second best, others see it is a great opportunity.  As for me, I delight in the flexibility and freedom it offers, whilst recognising the constraints and challenges it brings.

    I recall, when I was a teenager, hearing a version of the prologue to John's gospel which said that God's word 'came and tabernacled among us.'  I guess there is something gospel and incarnational about being a tabernacling church, a church that is a little bit precarious, a little bit vulnerable, a little bit temporary, a little bit on the margins... a little bit like the craziness of God born as a peasant baby who grew into a wandering preacher maybe...?

    To all fellow tabernacling churches everywhere (and especially in Dibley and East Manchester)... this Christmas-tide may you find afresh the wonder of the Christ-child who shares your vulnerability and courage, and may you be blessed as your bless those around you.

  • Spiritual Fruit

    Today I am preparing my sermon on 'being joyful' ready for Advent 3 on Sunday.  Without giving the game away (as so many church folk now follow my online waffle) I will majoring on the imperative to rejoice (to be joyful) and specifically to 'rejoice in the Lord' in Philippians 4:4.  However, as I have been pondering the characteristics of joy (which is not an emotion but a part of the fruit of the spirit) I found myself drawing up a list not unlike the great hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13 (and to which I made reference in last week's sermon) and recalling how on a previous occasion when pondering characterstics of 'hope' I had been drawn to Hebrews 11 on faith.

    Today a penny dropped - which probably did for everyone else decades ago.  Of course I will find myself spotting similarities in these characterstics because they are are all part of the one fruit.  Perhaps it is because we too often slip into the idea of 'fruits' (and I have to confess I have tended to permit myself that dodginess when exploring the 'fruit' in all age contexts, my 'Galatian 5 fruit salad' approach) or because if we try to get it 'right' we have each characterstic as a segment of an orange (i.e. still distinct and identifiable) that we (or I anyway) fail to appreciate the interconnectedness and interchangeability of the words in some of the 'great passages' and how the charactertistics augment and can be similar to each other

    So, anyway, I won't be preaching on this per se on Sunday but if you fancy an 'exercise for student' why not try to list some characteristics of love or joy or peace or patience or whatever and then compare them with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 or Hebrews 11: 1-3 or any other passage that leaps to mind.