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  • Dayeinu - The Sufficiency of God

    A little You Tube clip for you...

    Today we are 'looking upwards' thinking about a 'meantime spirituality' that is helpful.  Such a spirituality, I will assert, embodies or expresses a 'dayeinu' attitude.

    The Passover song basically says 'if God had 'x' and no more, that would be have been sufficient' as it works its way through the many things God did do as part of the Passvoer and sojourn in the wilderness.  Some contemporary versions add new verses to bring it up to date.

    Question - 'if God had done 'x' and no more' - would that have been enough or would you have felt cheated?

    (Note, I am not looking at links with the sufficiency or otherwise of blood sacrifice cf the Cross, this is about OUR attitudes in the everyday, not theologies of atonement)

  • Fashion Victims?

    Possibly another GOW (Grumpy Old Woman) post.

    You may recall that last autumn I was invited to be part of a little research project being undertaken by a student of fashion journalism, whereby she was making a short documentary about some of the challenges faced by women who have had surgery to treat breast cancer as we shop on the high street.

    That there are specialist suppliers of, for example, mastectomy underwear, is well known, but not everyone has access or to, or can afford, these .  Even for the likes of me, who is happy with online shopping, it's not trivial - imagine if you can having to order on line from 3x2 cm image and not being quite sure what size you are anyway, and then discovering that the cost (even after VAT is deducted as you are exempt if it's official post-surgery underwear) is astronomical.

    That the likes of Gok Wan have done some excellent awareness raising work (he has done two 'How to Look Good Naked' with women who'd had mastectomies, one simple, one with a reconstruction the same as mine) but they are not using high street stores or supermarkets.

    Imagine you are are woman on a low income, or who has been forced to give up work... designer labels and fancy outlets are beyond your budget.  You need the high street - and the supermarkets - to stock stuff you can wear.

    Anyway, this week the little documentary has gone public via You Tube and the producer, Libby Page, a name to look out for in the future, is still knocking on doors of retailers trying to get them to take notice.

    On the basis that it's publicly available, and as most of you know what I look and sound like, I've decided to link it form here (I did debate if showing the 'vicars bras' (they aren't on me, no Gok shots!) was TMI but in the end decided well ladies, we all wear them ).  Some great shots of Glasgow city centre and of course Holly revelled in her moment of stardom!

    Thanks to Libby to Lynne and Angie, and to the SCAR Project... Oscar speeches yet to be written!

    NB The SCAR project images (some in the video) are of naked/topless women who have had mastectomies


  • Yes But, No But... Erm

    HEALTH WARNING - This is a bit of grumpy old woman post!

    This post is a vague attempt to draw together a few bits that have meandering around my brain for the last little while... stuff around Scottish independence (I'd like to knock together the heads of Cameron and Salmond), stuff around national identity over against religious identity, stuff around the nature of call, stuff around equality/egalitarianism.  This mulling arises from bits of reading I've been doing to prepare Bible studies, stuff in the news and online and, inevitably from my own experience.  I seem to find myself thinking/saying 'yes but....' or 'no but...' an awful lot...

    "English people don't understand Scotland"... yes, but do Scots really understand England?

    "I define myself as British not English"... yes, but you do so from the position of being English

    "David Cameron has an agenda in wanting the referendum early"... yes, and Alex Salmond doesn't in wanting it late?

    Etc. etc. etc.

    As I say to people in both of these parts of the UK regularly, whichever one I'm in at the time, I end up defending the other one.  Accepting that the 'status' of both Wales and Northern Ireland is different from either Scotland or England, you could readily be forgiven for thinking the UK consisted only of two equally opinionated parts.  That in itself ought to give us pause for thought.

    It always troubles me when someone says 'my country is better than your country' when what they actually mean is 'my experience of my country is better than my experience, or that of people I know, of yours.'  It troubles me, because it is partial in every sense of the word.  My experience as a white, English, female, Baptist minister in Scotland leads me appreciate some of how the two countries differ... but would I dare say one was better than the other?  Fulfilling my call was marginally easier in England, but does that mean Scotland is therefore worse or England better?  I like to think not.

    This is just one hint as to why I have a very ambivalent attitude to the whole nationality thing, something which I have held since I began to take seriously some of the theology around the idea of Christians as 'resident aliens' (1 Peter 2:4 - 5).  Yesterday my devotional Bible reading was from Ephesians 2, in which verse 14 says that Christ has broken down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, and of course Galatians 3: 28 goes further to dismantle the whole divide of gender or status.

    When I was a student I recall reading some theology that said our faith in Christ, our unity as Christians, should transcend our race or nationality.  Although said in the context of international relations and specifically against armed conflict, I find myself keeping this in mind in the everyday, not in a pseudo-racial way that somehow Christians are a race over against everyone else, but that my Britishness or Englishness or Living-in-Scotland-ness must always be second to my Christian-ness.  This doesn't means I cannot have views on nationality or nationhood, but it will colour the way I view it.  Do I assert my 'rights' over against those of my sister Christians in Wales?  Do I desire my will to be accomplished even at the expense of my brother Christians in Mozambique (to pluck a nation out of thin air)?  If Christ has destroyed the divides, if theologically the boundaries of nations are irrelevant, what does that mean in practice?

    All of which brings me to contemplate the stuff of 'call'.  Now and then people ask me why I chose to move to Scotland.  This always confuses me.  It confuses me because I don't believe I did 'choose' to come here, I believe that God called me and sent me.  Don't misunderstand me, I love living in Scotland and am learning (very slowly) what it means to be part of this proud people.  But I didn't choose to come here.  I came here because God does not recognise national boundaries in the way we do.  I came here because God had a sneaky plan to change the situation regarding women Baptist ministers up here and (amazingly) decided I was part of that.

    So, where is this rambling going?  Probably nowhere!  I just think that maybe those of us who have the audacity to title ourselves Christians need to think carefully and prayerfully just which Kingdom demands our allegiance - that of God or of the specific part of earth we inhabit.

  • DefinIte...

    Is it just me?  Am I getting old(er) and more grumpy?  Or are more and more people spelling the word 'definitely' incorrectly?  I know there's a fashion for pronouncing it defin-ately but do we have to mis-spell it too?

    I begin to wonder when I find English teachers (as in teachers of English, not merely, or exclusively, those of South British nationality) spelling the word with an 'a' in place of the seoncd 'i'.

    Mutter, mutter, mutter

  • Inspiration by Iteration

    At some point today, I will have a third attempt at writing my sermon for Sunday. I'm sure attempt number one would have 'done' and attempt number two is 'better' but it is only now that I feel I know for sure where I ought to be going with it.

    All of which makes me ponder the iterative - at least sometimes - nature of inspiration.  I won't repeat the old joke about the preacher who was told to trust God to tell him what to say rather than spending hours preparing a sermon, but it's 'moral' that we can only get 'out' what we put 'in' is self-evident.  Sometimes I find that as I write my sermons - I am someone who thinks by writing - they take a life of their own and words flow easily.  Sometimes I find it a halting process, each paragraph dragged from my subconscious and wrestled into submission.  Sometimes I find I have written way too much.  Other times.. no, not too little... I read it back and decide it's twaddle.

    This week I knew pretty much what I wanted to work with... some feedback from last week, three Bible passages and a little book called Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting by Holly W Whitcomb (pub. Augsburg Books 2005).  Attempt number one involved a bit of expositing of one of the passages... which meant the grounding of the seven facets became clumsy and contrived.  Attempt number two, yesterday, ploughed its way systematically through the seven facets, linking obliquely to the passages, becoming long-winded and frankly rather tedious as well as lacking any real depth. Overnight my mind has mulled away (another way it works!) and I think I now know what I want to do, choosing two or three facets of what I'm calling a 'meantime spirituality' and exploring them with reference to the passages I've chosen and insights from the Hebrew concept of 'dayeinu'.  Not saying any more just now, but feeling, in retrospect, that this iterative inspriation is actually an example of meantime spirituality in and of itself.