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- Page 9

  • Pretty Treacherous

    Today it has looked absolutely beautiful from my window - clear blue skies and sparkly white ground.  I decided I needed some fresh air, so I donned my boots, my big coat, a warm hat and set off... on reaching the front door it was clear that underfoot was not snow but ice.  Still, I was determined to get out so I ventured the steps and onto the pavement.  It was very, very slippery and my planned walk to the public park became instead a tentative totter to the retail park and back.  My growing list of empathic experiences now includes a glimspe into the world of frail elderly people who are perforce housebound in icy weather.  I am sure it is good for me to learn all this empathy... but all at once?!

    Fortunately I have adequately stocked cupboards (not the reason for my destination!), a cauldron of soup bubbling away in the kitchen and plenty of stuff to read, watch to listen to in my cosy flat.

    I'm just glad I don't need to move my car as you could hold a curling match on the car park...

  • It's All Academic

    My challenge for next week... tidy up my MPhil submission so that I can get it formally into the 'system' before entering the 'forest' at the start of February.

    Among the reasons for this is a secret desire to be able graduate alongside my bestest minister friend who is submitting her PhD at around the same time to the same university.  It'd be quite nice for the NB(L)C Class of 2003 to have the two of us celebrating together methinks.

    I have completed one university qualification in each decade of my adult life, assuming my forties would see this reach its conclusion as I was scheduled to complete my doctorate in 2012.  Maybe now it's the MPhil in the forties with the possibilty of the PhD in my fifties...?

    Is the limiting factor perhaps how many letters can fit on the church noticeboard?!


  • Beautiful Day

    The snow has returned to Glasgow and the views from my windows with morning sun glinting on snow-crowned tenenments are a-maz-ing, as is the more distant splendour of the fells...


































    City life can be very beautiful indeed

  • Churches and Children's Charities

    Blowing_a_dandelion~large.jpgYesterday I watched a documentary about children who care for their parents and was immediately struck that one of the girls shown was sporting a 'Team Spurgeons' sweatshirt.  Surely, I mused, this must be Spurgeon's Childcare, a Baptist (at least until recently) charity and one we supported regularly when I was in Dibley (we split the offering from the united Christingle service between the three 'roughly denominational' children's charities).  A bit of googling, and I confirmed it was, albeit rebranded since I last checked it out.

    What struck me as I watched the programme was that most of the charities involved were the former denominational ones... Action for Children (formerly NCH Action for Children, formerly National Children's Homes) ex-Methodist; The Children's Society (formerly The Church of England Children's Society) ex-C of E; Spurgeons (formerly Spurgeon's Childcare) ex-Baptist.  Each of these to some degree retains its Christian ethos - Spurgeon's notably offering Lent resources, Children's Society the Christingle service - and each seeks to work with people of any or no faith.  How many viewers would have known that these, along with Barnardos, had Christian origins, or that the former denominational ones depend heavily on those denominations for financial support?

    We hear plenty on the news about churches getting it wrong with children, but here were examples of church-funded or church-supported work reaching the most vulnerable and often hidden children.

    Spurgeon's is a pretty small charity and its work in the UK is restricted to parts of England (it also does some African work, undoubtedly reflecting aspects of its Baptist roots) but its role is surely vital for those it helps, often in some of the most disadvantaged areas.

    I think by posting I am reminding myself and other Baptists (at least the ones in England!) of this vital work and our challenge to support it practically and prayerfully.  CHS was not 'just' a preacher, he knew that 'faith without deeds is dead' and we do well to remember that.

    (Photo from Spurgeon's website)

  • A Quick Plug

    Having just ordered my new version of HymnQuest I thought I'd give it a quick plug and explain why I am always happy to pay for my own copy.

    Firstly it covers hundreds of hymn and song books from, ooh, Hymns Ancient and Prehistoric via Lightbulb Changing Songs 2010 to Plainchant for Beginners - whatever your style or wherever you are going you can be pretty sure it'll be there. 

    Secondly it has loads of dead easy to use cheats for busy worship leaders - you can pick items based on keywords, themes, lectionary date, Bible chapter or book.  So if your want hymns/songs with the word 'dandelion,' the phrase 'God is spiffing,' relating to Leviticus 15:12, for Year B Sixth after Trinity or on the theme of 'deep sea fishermen' you can find them at the drop of a hat.  OK, maybe not my exact examples, but you get the idea.

    Thirdly, if you buy the copyright licence users edition (CLUE), you can export straight to projection software - and even in the basic version loads of things can be exported to word processing or projection software with a couple of clicks.

    Fourthly you can check tunes - the set ones can be heard (in part) for most things and via the metrical search you can find alternatives.  Not so easy with the latest 'irreg and refrain' but great for traditional style hymns in CM, LM, DCM and so forth.

    Fifthly it's cheap!  The CLUE version is £40 a year and the standard version (which I have) a mere £20 to upgrade from 2010 to 2011.  Given the cost of a typical song/hymn book in music edition you get your money back instantly with Hymn Quest.  It doesn't stop me buying more books - but at least I can be more confident I'm not buying yet another copy of what boils down to 'Zillions of Songs You Already Knew.'  Most of the Hymn Quest stuff appears in loads of books - and that's great as it makes it easier to find stuff that will be known in ecumenical settings and/or to find 'legal' variants of words.

    Many if not most readers will already know of HQ, but if you don't, may I suggest you consider trying it out - at £40 it's less than £1 a week for churches with CCL/Calamus and it just might lead you to some new and interesting stuff from surprising stables.