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  • Thank Yous(e)

    First Deacons-by-Any-Other-Name meeting of the new session last night, but also the last but one before our AGM.  Lots of annual reports in preparation.  People reaching ends of periods of service.  People considering standing for election to the same or other posts.  People in various parts of church life deducing now is the time to step down or to take a break.

    Churches are funny things, we make a lot of fuss of our ministers, and there are some roles which are deemed worthy of public thanks, bouquets and gift tokens, whilst others, which may be as, if not more, important, barely get mentioned.

    So, to my D-by-AON thank you all (so that's youse then, in my bestest Scouse-or-is-it-Glaswegian ;-) ) for another year of loyal service, putting up with my odd ideas and general bossyness.  As we begin a new session, I hpoe, and I pray, that it will be a good one for all of us.

  • Year End/Beginning

    This is my last week of work for this academic year, on the calendars of any part of the UK.  It is one of those oddities of being an English minister working in Scotland that my natural inclination is to take time off at the end of August (when my friends down south are free) just as the schools here return.  Next week is annual leave; a friend is coming up to stay and we have some chillaxing (stupid word) planned.

    The timing works quite well, though, if only because our church AGM is early in September, and all our midweek activities restart then too.  Of course the church AGM means I have to write my annual report - I have a draft but am still mulling ot over - so I have been looking back and reflecting on the year that's done.

    One change will be a shift of my 'day off' which has arisen because we are starting up an exciting new rolling programme of Monday evening activities, building on our successful "First Monday" theological reflection group, by adding a monthly Bible Study & Discussion Group (aimed at those who can't make the day time ones or who prefer a more exploratory approach), a monthly service of Prayers for Healing and Wholeness, and a monthly 'Monday Funday' social event.  If there happen to five Mondays, we will offer baby-sitting to the parents of young children to allow them to socialise together.

    Finding a new 'day off' is not easy when there is something worthy happening every day of the week, so in the end it has been a case of picking a day and making some necessary adjustments to 'moveable feasts'.  All of which means this is the last Tuesday I will be working for a very long time as that is the day I have opted for as the 'least disruptive'! 

    Now I just have to make sure I get the time off - new year, new opportunity to cultivate new habits!

  • Team GB & NI Letting Their Hair Down


  • Imagine...

    So the Olympic closing ceremony gave us somehting that one of the commentators described as "like being inside a giant disco" - hardly a profound observation but a fair one.  After the stunning, meaningful, spiritual, political opening ceremony, the closing event, which is, when all is said and done, really the competitors 'after party', had an impossible ask.  I'm glad I watched it, though I found some of the singing pretty cringe-worthy... However, there were a few moments that moved deeper.

    I wonder who, other than me who has a chiming clock, noticed that the flame died on the stroke of midnight?  The reshaping of the cauldron into a 'burning bush' and the gentle extinquishing of the light was a profound and beautiful moment.

    I loved the Welsh male voice choir singing the Olympic hymn, and all due respect to the LSO who played stalwartly throughout, drowned out as they were by what (to me) was often a cacophony.

    The technical aspects were amazing - lighting, camera work, sound, direction, and of course still the volunteers smiled and fulfilled thier roles.

    Perhaps for me the most striking element was the montage of photos to the backdrop of John Lennon's "Imagine".  The deep, bitter-sweet irony of imagining a world at one at the end of an event that blatantly celebrates nationalism.  The Lennon Utopian dream of a world with no religion at an event where people of so many religions had competed respectfully - and of course the Saudi women who competed at great personal cost because of their religious devotion.  Imagine a world where everything in the garden is roses... a Utopian dream.  Whilst that is not how I understand the Olympics, or even the Commonwealth Games, which come a tad closer imo, and whilst I my utopia would be different from Lennon's, there is something quite significant about celebrating the sporting achievement of so many of the worlds nations, of people of all races and faiths enjoying themselves together. 

    You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,

    Perhaps one day you'll join us, and the world will live as one. 



    Is this not the hope of of the new creation, the new heaven and earth, the telos of history?


  • Oven Cleaning...

    Yesterday I undertook a housework marathon - it was long overdue and, much as I dislike housework, I was pleased with my gleaming oven and abnormally tidy surfaces.  It was a beautiful sunny day, but I was happy to spend it indoors, doing the things I had planned to do.

    When I mentioned this to someone they said, 'do you really think you'll get to the end of your life and think 'I wish I cleaned my oven more often?'"

    The answer of course, is 'no,' but then I don't spend much time oven cleaning anyway (too embarrassing to admit exactly how long it's been since I cleaned an oven; let's just say it coincides with the last time I moved house...).

    This conversation reminded me of a conversation a very long time ago with my then next-door neighbour.  They had arranged to meet up with a friend who had cancelled on the grounds that they were - cleaning their oven.   I was shocked and dismayed then, and somewhere I my mind oven-cleaning became the ultimate example of a terrible excuse not see someone.  Probably my former neighbour has long forgotten this incident...

    As I pondered all this, I deduced that I would have abandoned my oven cleaning had someone wanted or needed my time, and would certainly not have employed it as an activity to avoid something/someone.  I cannoy imagine I will ever say 'I wish I'd spent more time cleaning my oven," but I don't ever want to be in the situation of saying "if only I had cleaned my oven..."  and I will never, ever, ever use oven cleaning as an excuse to avoid someone!