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  • Jesus and All Age Worship

    I had an 'interesting' conversation today about all age worship with someone who isn't keen on the idea.  All of which got me wondering how the gospels might have looked if Jesus hadn't been so keen either...

    And immediately it came to pass that, after these things, people were bringing their children to Jesus for him to bless them.  Some of the babies were hungry so they cried; some of the toddlers were tired, so they grizzled; some of the parents were at their wits' end so they snapped at their little ones.  And Jesus was much miffed at the interruption to the (three chapters long) sermon he was preaching and glowered at parents and children alike.  His voice rose in volume and pitch as he uttered 'let the little ones come unto to me for a maximum of fifteen minutes then take them away for age-appropriate entertainment so that the adults get their turn uninterrupted by grizzles and wails and, heaven forbid, breast-feeding.'  And the parents' faces spoke volumes, and the toddlers wept because they had been promised stories, and the babies sensed the atmosphere and wailed all the louder.  And it came to pass that, after these things, upon the green grass where the multitude had gathered, there were no children, and no parents and the crowd grew ever quieter and smaller - but at least Jesus could be heard by those who remained...

    Thank goodness it wasn't like that.

    I do appreciate that wails and grizzles can be distracting, that children do need to learn that worship is not play time (though hopefully it can be fun) and that some people are embarrassed by 'mothers of today' who feed in public.  But what really winds me up isn't any of the above - it's the fifty-pluses who chatter all through the service, root through their bags for their offering during the intercessions and moan about the hymn choices.  So now you know!

    Next challenge - how to explain this graciously....!

    I know this is very much a minority voice, and I do want to respond kindly, but it's not so easy when I am convinced that the way we have collectively agreed to go in this respect is so utterly right and so utterly gospel.

    OK. Rant over.

  • Mr Marlow would be pleased... maybe...

    17th century Baptists weren't much into singing; they weren't even keen on metrical psalms or, indeed, anything liturgical written after the Bible.  Benjamin Keach liked singing it seems (though what he wrote made the worst of contemporary praise songs look good) and became embroiled in a long and sophisticated theological debate with one Isaac Marlow over the legitimacy not merely of singing, but of using 'pre-printed formes'.  Mr Marlow was of the opinion that singing was an inner experience, that at most one person might be permitted to sing aloud, provided his (it must be a 'he') faith was certain and his theology sound as a pound, and he wasn't reading from a book...

    So he'd approve of this coming Sunday evening we we aren't singing at all in our service... though whether he'd approve of my other musical choices I very much doubt!  We will end with a recording of a convicts' choir singing a celtic-style blessing...

  • Better than a stick of rock...


    One of our overseas young people yesterday returned from a two week visit home with this gift for me.  I've never before seen commerical gifts for the pastor (though I've had one or two 'pastor' Christmas cards) and I was really touched by his thoughtfulness.  I think it's a intriguing comment on how 'pastors' are viewed in another country/culture.

  • The World is Small

    One of the delights of serving the church I do is that there are always visitors.  Sometimes people on holiday, sometimes people visiting relatives, sometimes people studying, sometimes people in Glasgow on business.   From time to time someone visits who connects us together in surprising ways, as was the case today when the parents of a friend of mine visited, who happen through other connections to be well known by some of our folk.

    Another delight is the diversity.  Our 'All Together' slot today was interactive finding out what our age range was (0 - >90 but not saying what!), how long people had been coming for (0 - >50 years) and who had been coming all their life (only three of the 60 or so present).  We shared our countries of birth, if beyond the UK, and lands we'd worked in other than where we born, including the UK (hence to Waleans (Welsh) could list both Scotland and England!).  It was fascinating and affirming to be reminded of who we are.

    The world is small, and beautiful, and held in God's arms.  It is lovely to meet people who we know or who know of us, it is lovely to celebrate our diversity.  In moments like this I sense just a glimpse of what heaven might be like, at least if I was allowed to design it!

  • Back to School

    Here in Scotland the schools are back from tomorrow - only a fortnight or so after the last of the English schools closed for summer.  This means my 'year' has been strangely short - starting last year's academic year in England and starting this one in Scotland.

    Special thoughts today are with S and C who will start school this week and B who transfers to secondary education.  It is also a time when Masters students complete their courses (universities use broadly the same academic years north and south of the border - just to add to the fun) so we will be saying farewell to come of our overseas folk who have completed their studies and return home, notably A and S.

    In every ending is a new beginning, in every beginning an ending.  There is a mystery in all of this; sometimes we emphasise one or the other but each is part of the other and it is good to remind myself of this.

    A busy few weeks as it is my turn to lead the joint evening services for three consecutive Sundays - something I'm really looking forward to and hope others will find enjoyable and helpful.  New year, new beginnings and same old same old... sounds good to me.