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  • Keeping Calm and Carrying on

    Today it is supposed to thaw in Glasgow, the weather forecast suggests a peak daytime temperature of 6C after last nights low of -12C.  Only in the UK can weather conditions differ so much over short distances and times.  No evidence of thaw as I walked into church this morning but hopefully it is warming up a little out there.

    The last week or two have seen lots of fun and games at church, firstly it was our gas-fired heating system, then a power cut, then an electrical fault and then another power cut.  But we've 'carried on regardless' hiring, borrowing and then buying portable heaters, wrapping up in blankets, running extension cables from the surviving electrical phases (hurrah for three phase!) and refusing to be defeated.

    Yesterday there was a burst pipe on the ground floor of my flats which meant some people had no water.  When the repair was done they turned off the water to my flat and the one above in error which meant I had no water for a few hours until they rectified things (and worked out what the problem was).  Fortunately I have lots of bottled water in the fridge for drug-days so I was OK in the meantime.

    I think one of the key characteristics of my church is this sort of defiance of problems.  So it's cold, so there're heating problems but actually it's important that we keep together, keep meeting and keep the light shining.  This isn't foolish risk taking but thoughtful calmness; we don't waste time praying our problems solved when there's a needy world for God to care for, we do trust God is with us as we use our God-given abilities to resolve things.

    This lunchtime we will hold our second Advent Reflection.  The fire is on to warm up the meeting room, the liturgy is printed, the props are ready, the CD is being played through even now.  We stay calm and we carry on our Advent journey because in it all Immanuel, God is with us.


  • Random Rubbish

    Today I'm off to the hospital in time for bloods at 9a.m. in turn in time for my oncologist appointment at 11a.m. Hence, given snow and other inevitabilities, such as late running clinics, unlikely to be around much today.  All  seems to be well on that front and hopefully he will be happy with progress again.  In which case dose 5 on Friday... already!

    When all this began it was the gorgeous sunny weather of an 'Indian summer' and now it is the treacherous ice of an early winter.  In some ways the climb up Mount Chemo so far has been less unpleasant than I feared; it has its moments when it all feels like a drag but at least the summit is now almost in sight... three weeks to go if I manage to stay well and avoid injuries between this and then.  I think I've been lucky with side effects compared to many people (though from what I gather I've been better at following the rules than a lot of people too!) and for that I am grateful.  I'm glad too that I've been able to carry on working so far - and now with just a few weeks to go hopeful of managing that right through to the end of December.

    So, time to wrap up, put on my hiking boots, grab my walking poles (advice from someone yesterday) and step gingerly on the road to health via the road to the hospital.  More news when there is some.

  • John the Joy-bringer

    Today I have been reading the passages on John the Baptiser which will inform Sunday's sermon.  What struck me as never before was the frequent use of the word 'joy' in these bits of Luke and John.

    Here is Luke 1:14, part of the message given to Zechariah, and old priest who was childless...

    You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. (NRSV)

    I think that's just a beautiful little verse, one I've read and never seen before.  It is so human, acknowledging perhaps Zechariah's secret yearnings for completion and acceptance in a society where progeny signified piety/righteousness.  Before anything else, this child will delight his parents.  I kind of like that.

    We are also using part of John 3 where Baptiser-John speaks of his own joy.  I wonder what he learned from his parents that helped him delight in another's greatness, content to be who he was?  Sure he had his moments of darkness and doubt (eg Luke 7 which we aren't using) but reading today I see not a scary doom-prophet but a bringer of joy... for me a new take on Jordanside Baptiser.

  • Taking Advent at a Sensible Pace

    Today the pavements outside my home are decidely icy, though there are bits of near virgin snow if you look for them.  Having to see my GP for some test results, I gingerly threaded my way up the hill in my wellies - definitely a sight for sore eyes.  Walking slowly, taking time to look where my feet went, keeping safe (I really do not need broken bones to add to my fun) and arriving intact at the right time... it seemed a bit like a metaphor for Advent done well.

    As I look at various Advent resources, I keep finding people running on ahead - already in Bethlehem, some already with a baby in a manger, some already singing lustily the carols that really ought to be kept in abeyance just a little longer.  Psychologically it's good to build anticipation and tension - to have people aching for the moment that Christmas begins.  Liturgically it's good to take time to travel the journey through scripture visiting prophets and prcolaimers, meeting angels and seeing how the 'big story' sweeps through time.

    At church we were given a nativity set - the usual characters and animals all waiting to be placed in a scene.  But we are moving slowly, thoughtfully, sensibly, even gingerly along the path to Christmas.  On Sunday we had just Mary and the angel; next week we will bring in Joseph... and there must be a pause, a waiting until Chiristmas for the storty to develop.  On Advent 4 we may add the ox and ass, signifiying the stable, but baby Jesus will be held back until Christmas Day.  The shepherd (there's only one) will follow, probably on Boxing Day and the wise men (three) will have to wait until nearer Epiphany (though we might start them off in a different part of the church before then).

    Advent is not a race, not a mad dash, and Christmas should be the longed-for culmination of aching waiting.  So, whilst I'll continue to enage with those resources that run on ahead, I will stroll along in my wellies, crunching the snow beneath my feet and straining to glimspe the hint of what lies just beyond the horizon.  Advent at a sensible pace.

  • Keeping Tabs on Baby Jesus

    This via BUGB e-news sweep.  Not sure whether to laugh or cry!

    The idea of tracking and tracing Jesus if he's stolen (or escapes) is just sooo bizarre.