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  • Good Friday

    Ecce Homo - or as someone once crudely, but profoundly, translated it: Now look at 'im !

    Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered...


    Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

  • Snap!

    HT BUGB e-news sweep.

    I read this story and wish the Revd Val Turner every blessing as she, like me, returns to lead worship on Easter Sunday following treatment for breast cancer.  Her story is not the same as mine - we are each unique - but her diagnosis must have been within days of mine.  Sounds like she's had a rough time of it.   I hope her people have been as wonderful as mine have been.

    I am very pleased that no newspapers or council websites are reporting my return to work, it has been a public enough 'journey' as it is, but it has been a privilege to receive cards, comments and emails from folk who've found my ramblings online useful.

    I will be conducting our breakfast communion at 8:30 before leading all age worship at 11.  I can't wait!

  • Thursday of Holy Week - The Man Servant

    Go into the city where you will see a man carrying a water jar... from Sunday School lessons to sermons, the incongruity of this sight is stressed.  Some suggest it was a secret code.  But surely if it was that odd a sight the powers-that-be would have spotted it too?  I wonder how the story looked from the perspective of the unnamed man, possibly, probably, a servant, who may have been a regular fetcher of water or who may have been sent back and forth just this one day wishing those who knew the code would hurry up and arrive?

    Go and fetch some water, in fact, keep going and fetching water all day long until a couple of northerners come and ask you to show them the guest room, then bring them here.  It sounds a strange command, I suppose, looking back on it, but at the time I didn't question it.  In our household there were often strange commands, and you simply got on and obeyed them.  It was a good household, the master was a gentle and fair man, we were treated well and rarely were voices rasied against us.  Yes, a good man, but an odd man - he was always hosting this or that group who wanted somewhere for a meal and a conversation.  People undoubtedly whispered about us, wondered just what was going on in a house where men fetched water, but we were content.

    It must have been the second or third trip to the well that day when they approached me.  They looked sheepish, embarrassed as they asked me to show them the guest room.  I set down the jar, and we climbed the stairs to the room.  I showed them the long, central table, the couches - how many did they need?  Thirteen?  Yes, we could do that no problem.  We dragged the furniture across the floor and exchanged pleasantries, then a few jokes.. but we'll just pass over that... pass over, Passover... oh, never mind, you had to be there.  We discussed the seating plan.  They asked where they could buy the bread and wine needed for the meal; we were supplying the roast lamb, the herbs, the bitter water.  So, with banter on their lips they set off to the market...

    Towards evening they returned to make final preparations.  The atmosphere was different now, as the light dimmed, quietly I lit the lamps on the ledges around the room.  Another servant carried in the utensils and arranged them on the table.  The men returned.  'Do you think we have enough bread?' He looked worried, not sure how much food thirteen hungry men would need for a festival supper.  'Is this wine good enough?' another wondered, 'you recall what happened a Cana!'

    Time passed, and they all arrived a few at a time: Peter and John, Thomas, Judas, Andrew... I can't recall all the names.  Somewhere in the middle of them was Jesus.  The conversation was light; they looked forward to a delicious meal, the smell of the roast already wafting up the stairs...  With my fellow servants I stepped back into the shadows, our work now complete.  I paused at the top of the stairs... something told me that even by the standards of our household, something unusual was happening.  So I waited...

    I wonder how our Easter preparations have gone?  Did we make it to the special services?  Did we remember to listen to the special online meditations?  Did it all seem very normal or was there a sense of something just a bit different?  Are we willing to do things that look daft, or attract attention, if they are required by our service of Christ?  Are we prepared to traipse back and forth to the well, carrying jar after jar of unecessary water as we wait for the code word?  Dare we creep up the stairs to the upper room and peep from the shadows?

    Maundy Thursday - the day of the mandate to mutual service.  Where in the story are we to be found?

  • Fifth, Quarter, Third... Crossing the River

    Unlike Mt Chemo or the Surgery Forest, the Stepping Stones of Nuke doen't seem to be prompting me to write much.  I think there are many reasons for this, not least that it would be VERY boring if I wrote every day about my five minutes of nuking, and also that on the whole there's not a whole lot to say.

    One of the things that always amuses me about small sample sizes is how quickly you move through different proportions... when on Tuesday (step 6, dose 5) I hit the one fifth of the way through mark, I was quite pleased.  But then Wednesday (step 7, dose 6) was almost a quarter and tomorrow (step 9, dose 8) is as close to a third as makes no real odds.  To be a third of the way across this river seems a lot further than a fifth, but is only three days.  Well it amuses me.

    Side effects?  Well, yes, Robyn for sure, not scarlet but has been getting steadily more erythema since dose 1, no great surprise given the doses involved. I can see a change in skin texture and also some tiny blisters starting to appear.  For the first few days I experienced a bit of acid reflux, but that has now settled down again.  I tend to find that as I finish being zapped I feel slightly queasy, again no great surprise given the doses involved, a bit like mild motion sickness, and have a slightly odd taste in my mouth.  It passes in a couple of hours; drinking plenty of water (great tip from Perpetua) and the odd ginger biscuit works wonders.  Carbonated water seems to work especially well, I'm not sure why.  So far I haven't noticed any loss of energy - though I have ensured I get plenty of exercise which is meant to help overcome it, but I am yawning more than usual!!

    As for scar/skin case it's a case of serving two masters, with my lovely artiste of a plastic surgeon insisting I keep my scars glooped with moisturiser and covered with tape whilst the nukers insist on only 'simple' soap and aqueous cream at a push.  So, a new regimen of pleasing the nukers then returning home to jollop on the aqueous gloop and add tapes which are removed and the whole area 'simplified' before the next nuking.  It seems just about possible to please both masters, but a bit of a bind.

    The nuking centre waiting room seems a less anxious place than the chemo one, I think because people are there day in, day out, and get to know each other, at least on 'nodding' terms, and that for most people this is just the last little bit before 'freedom'.  The staff are good fun and you can have a joke with them, which helps create a lighter atmosphere.  It probably helps that this is one aspect where I have probably forgotten more of the physics than some of the technicians ever knew.

    Anyway, the water is clear (a lovely blue cerenkov glow maybe ;-) ), the steps seem stable and I am walking steadily and purposefully to the far bank.

  • Wednesday of Holy Week: A Member of the Council

    The Sanhedrin, the Council, the 'them' of the story.  All fine and dandy, allowing us to vilify that which is 'other' but many of us are, or have been members of a Council at some point in our lives - The PCC, The Kirk Session, The Diaconate, The Eldership, The Church Council, The Property Team, The Mission Strategy Group, The [insert name]...? Ever notice they all take the definite article and many capitalise it; interesting.  Anyway, today's character is a fictional, unnamed member of the Council.  Again no exegetical basis and no real idea of how the Council worked.

    To be part of it - the Council - wow!  Me?  I had long wondered what went on in those meetings, had revered the men with their long beards and measured tones.  Now I was part of it.  It was exciting and nerve-wracking.  A privilege for sure, a responsibility undoubtedly, but an opportunity.  I was, relatively speaking, young.  And I noticed how when I spoke people would smile knowingly and shake their heads in a slightly dismissive way that said, 'we were once young too; you'll learn.'  There was so much the Council could influence, could make better, more vibrant, more Godly... but meetings seemed dry and turgid as often as not.  The biggest concern seemed to be keeping the peace with Rome, every now and then some upstart looked like causing trouble and he would be quietly - or not so quietly - dealt with.

    They are good people on the Council, men who have helped me to settle in, to learn how things work.  They are not all the same, opinions vary and a few speak out against the status quo.  I have found two good friends here - in a Council of 70 (71) it takes time to get to know people.  Nic[odemus] is a worrier, often doesn't sleep at nights, so he tells me.  He worries and wonders about getting right, turns over ideas in his mind.  He's been known to go out under cover of darkness to talk with northern rabbis about philosophical ideas.  He's a good man, a thinking man, and a friend to me.  And Joe [Joseph of Arimathea]: never says much, just seems to listen intently and weigh up what is said.  A kindly man with deep, gentle eyes and a soft voice.  A friend who looks out for me, a mentor if you like, someone who stands with me as I learn the ropes of this responsible, confusing, powerful role.

    Discussion recently has centred on one of the northern rabbis, one who is gathering an enormous following, and who is attracting too much attention with his talk of a Kingdom.  What should be done?  Various reports were brought by members who'd been out to see what he was up to - healing on Shabbat, declaring sins forgiven, consorting with women, meeting Roman centurions, touching lepers... the list was endless.  Discussion flew back and forth; a decision must be made.  It came to a vote - to exterminate him or not, 'better one man die than a nation perish'.  So how should I vote?  Nic was clear in his mind - no way was he voting for this.  Joe quietly joined the 'no' vote. 

    What should I do?  I had waited a long time to be part of this council, I wanted to make a difference, yet I wanted to be accepted.  I trusted the judgement of my new found friends but there were more and more people voting 'yes'...

    I wonder how it is for us?  How much does acceptance and/or recognition outweigh our desire for justice or truth?  How easily are we 'processed' by organisations, simply becoming one more proponent of the status quo?  How readily do we suppress contradictory opinions or seek to shape others in our image: 'this is the way we do things around here'?

    If we are honest, truly honest, would we follow Nic and Joe through the 'no' lobby, or would we, like sheep, trail through the 'yes' door, condemning Jesus to death?