By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 2

  • Posturing and Preaching?

    Last Sunday, when I was away in Devon, we had a young woman student to preach at church, who took as her theme the story of the woman caught in adultery taken from John 8.  It is a story I have preached on many times, and have heard preached on many times.  It is a story that has been approached from countless angles, and easy to think that there is little new to explore.  I have just listened online to the service.

    In a wide ranging sermon, the thing that struck me - which would have made a brilliant sermon in itself, and would have stood more exploration - was her exploration of the postures, or, in her words, 'body language', of Jesus.  The kneeling and writing, the looking deep into the eyes, the looking around and so on.  To think about how our physicality expresses our hearts, how our gestures and postures speak of love or truth or grace (or, less positively, of more ugly attributes) is certainly worth pondering in some depth. I would have valued more time spent developing those ideas.  The sermon reminded me of some of my own early endeavours, when my college tutors would gently remind me that I had too many ideas.  It takes experience and confidence to realise that we do not need to include every idea we have or cover all bases in every sermon.

    I had a teeny chuckly to myself that some of the hymns were the same as those that had been chosen by the person I was Baptising so far away, one of those Holy Spirit connections that never cease to amaze and amuse (in a good way).

    It must be very nerve wracking for someone so young coming into a church known for its intellect, and I did detect some hints of nerves in the recording, but all credit to C, she delivered a carefully crafted sermon with some fresh insights, and gave those present something worthwile to mull over in the days ahead.  I hope that as she grows in confidence she will be given the opportunities to exercise her ministry more widely.

  • When Stuart Townend Met St Patrick (Maybe)

    Over the weekend I was introduced to this song/hymn by Stuart Townend and Simon Brading.  I don't know the story of how it came to be written, but it reminds me of St Patrick's breastplate, and serves a similar purpose for a 21st century musicality...

    Christ be in my waking,
    As the sun is rising,
    In my day of working,
    With me every hour.
    Christ be in my resting,
    As the day is ending,
    Calming and refreshing,
    Watching through the night.
    Christ be in my thinking,
    And my understanding,
    Guarding me from evil,
    Walking in the light.
    Christ be in my speaking,
    Every word a blessing,
    Pure and not deceiving,
    Grace to all who hear.
    Jesus, this is my devotion,
    All my life to know You,
    Every day to walk with You.  
    Saviour, You’re my deepest longing,
    You’re the One I live for,
    Teach me, Lord, to walk with You.

    Christ be in my gladness
    For the joy of living,  
    Thankful for the goodness
    Of the Father's hand.
    Christ be in my sorrow,
    In my day of darkness,
    Knowing that I follow
    In the steps He trod.

    Christ when hope has faded,
    Nothing left to cling to,
    Every pleasure jaded,
    Every well is dry.
    Christ the loving Shepherd
    Draws me with His kindness,
    Leads me from the desert
    To the streams of life.

    Stuart Townend & Simon Brading (c) Thankyou Music

    You can listen to it here Not a great rendition in my view, but gives you a clue of this gentle, flowing song, which I rather like; ditch the drums and fancy effects and just sing it with a piano (and not one plonking out chords as here) ... it has the makings of a lasting hymn if sung well.

  • The Wanderer Returns!

    OK, so my time away ended up being a little longer than planned, due to times of tides and trains failing to align, but finally a vestige of normality is returning!

    Whilst at Hothorpe Hall where I was a small group leader/facilitator I photographed some of the signs around the place, including this one, which made me chuckle...


    Lee Abbey in Devon is a mighty long way from Glasgow, but one of my people requested to be Baptised in the sea there.  It was a great privilege - if logistically complicated - and a very special moment for all who participated.  So here I am, with my two 'glamorous assistants' in the process of doing the 'dunking'


    God bless you D as you continue in the way of Jesus.

  • How would you respond?

    The church of a friend of mine is participating in their local Community Day, giving away loads of free stuff and offering various 'pause points' (my phrase) for people brave enough to cross the threshold into their building.  Among these is a space to complete this sentence:


    Before I die I want to...


    I suppose it could be seen as a bit ghoulish or even tempting of providence, if your mind works that way, but I wonder how would you complete the sentence?


    My response was:

    ...live life in its fullness, love extravagantly and laugh til my sides split


    Feel free to add your own ideas via comments!


    (I'll be back online in about a week and a half from now!)

  • Reflections on a Conference.

    For three days I listened to Dr Don Carson speaking on aspects of the letter to the Ephesians.  Unlike some of my colleagues, I enjoyed it (sorry folks!).  It was well prepared, thoroughly researched and prompted me to think.  These for me are important attributes of a conference speaker.  We were told he was preaching.  He wasn't, he was teaching.  I did not agree with everything he said, though the vast majority was totally uncontentious.  I had expected a brash north American, instead I got a softly spoken man with deep convictions, some I share, some I don't.

    One thing he said in the final Q&A session that I totally agree with is that we cannot 'not talk' about things just because they are contentious or thorny.  If we say 'topic x' is off limits for discussion, then we set ourselves up for explosions and fissions and schisms.  As I heard it, he even acknowledged that what some term 'heresy' has a vital role in forcing the church to think about topics and issues.

    He also said that we need to avoid selectivity in our use of the Bible.  We should not skip past the bits that disquiet or disturb us, but should wrestle with them.  Whilst he and I would come to to some very different conclusions, we share a passion for taking the whole Bible seriously.

    So, good stuff.  Not rocket science.  Not new.  But good to hear it said.


    There has to be a 'however' or a 'but' or two.

    Firstly, in common with many people he spoke of the supreme authority of Scripture, which is contra Baptist (at least British Baptist) principles.  The supreme authority for us is 'our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ'.  As revealed in scripture for sure, but it is the incarnate WORD, not the written Word where we locate authority.  Some will say that is semantics, but its not.  Our supreme authority is none other than the infinite God, not the finite records of inspired writers.

    And this leads me on to my second 'but'.  In the final session, focusing on the list of roles in Ephesians 4 - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers - he said that these were all 'ministries of the word'.  I am not sure I agree with this, are not pastors primarily carers?  But suppose I accept the premise, then actually I'm thrown back to the beautiful Johannine phrases that 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us' along with good old Karl Barth's WORD. Word, word scheme.  Actually, these roles are not (just) about the word, the human speech of those who fulfil them, albeit inspired by God's Spirit.  No, they are about incarnating the Word (the message of the scriptures) and, mysteriously and mind-blowingly, the WORD (the Christ, of which the church is the visible body).  If I was mischievous, I would amend Barth's scheme to WORD, Word, works.  But then you'd need to understand the whole Hebrews thing about Abraham and the intimate relationship of faith and work.  Yes, I am called to 'preach the word' and I am a word-person.  But, dare I say, I - and we - are also called to incarnate the word, to live the gospel not just pronounce upon it?

    Another minister made a profound and pertinent comment on this concept of 'word' ministries.  Where does this leave the person who has not learned to read?  Who has dyslexia?  Who is blind?  Who has learning disabilities?  Is s/he excluded from this set of roles?  I think of the intuitive pastoring gifts of many with Downs syndrome; of the simple proclamations of faith by the person with severe learning difficulties; of the willingness to go to tough places of the person with few advantages in life.  These people incarnate the Word, incarnate the WORD.  For Dr Carson to be correct in his conclusion on this we need a broader, deeper, more theologically sophisticated understanding of what we mean by the word 'word'.... Or is that just semantics too? :-))

    Good to be given something to chew on.