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- Page 7

  • Purposeful Remembering

    This week is one of those I both relish and stress over - the privilege of preparing worship for Remembrance Sunday.  The challenge of making meaningful old rituals in a way that honours the past but is not bound by it; that allows us to name hurts and regrets and even anger or bitterness without reveling in them, and with the potential for them to be transformed. 

    I dream of the day when a German first language speaker may be permitted to read the scriptures in German in a British church on Remembrance Sunday, when a Japanese national may lead intercessions in their mother tongue - but those days are a long way off even now, almost a century after we began this ritualised remembering.  Don't get me wrong, I 'get' why my dream cannot yet be realised; I 'get' that reconciliation at national level is a world away from the heartache of having a relative who died in armed conflict with those nations.  I 'get' that it is not so easy.  But I have to dream it might one day be possible.  I have to believe that remembering is purposeful, not merely sentimental or nationalistic.

    On Sunday I will lead worship, and in my congregation will be a lovely German girl, in Glasgow to study for a term.  What will our remembering say to her about peace, about love, about hope...

    On Sunday I will lead worship and in my congregation will be older women and men who lost siblings, parents, grandparents.  What will our remembering say to them about peace, about love, about hope...

    On Sunday I will lead worship and in my congregation will be people whose relatives are currnetly serving overseas in the amrmed forces .  What will our remembering say to them about peace, about love, about hope...

    On Sunday I will lead worship and in my congregation will be those who have fled violent or oppressive regimes.  What will our remembering say to them about peace, about love, about hope...

    On Sunday I will lead worship and in my congregation will be victims of violence, hate and bigotry.  What will our remembering say to them about peace, about love, about hope...


    God forbid that I ever find Remembrance Sunday easy to prepare for. 

    God forbid that I stop dreaming... because one day it will happen, one day a German a student will read the lesson in German, a Japanese grandfather will lead intercession in Japanese, or an Afghan or Iraqi or whatever nation it may be... The lion and the lamb will lie down together, and the Prince of Peace will rule the Kingdom of Shalom.


    [apologies to anyone this post offends, but it's my authenticity...]

  • Slightly Political!

    The eagle-eyed reader will have spotted a new 'badge' on my blog - one supporting the move for the Anglican church to permit women to be appointed as bishops.  This isn't an 'ordination of women' right or wrong issue, since they have overcome that one a long time ago.  This is about the logical consquences of dicscerning that God does call women to be ordained, in a church that has a three-fold order of ministry.  Although in practice the bishop - priest - deacon thing is probably pretty hierarchical, given their ontological view of ordination (i.e. that in ordination you become this thing called 'priest') it is nonsensical theolgocially to say 'thus far and no further'... at least in my non-scaramental mind!  You either ordain women or you don't, period; the difference is about 'role' not 'headship': get over yourselves!! 

    So I am gladly displaying my support for women bishops, and would encourage those in Anglican contexts to consider carefully if you would be willing to actively engage by viisting this site and (please) voting.

  • Confirmation....

    Yesterday's "sermon" title was 'Stating the Obvious' as we looked at the very familiar words from Deuteronomy 6 and Mark 12... love the LORD you God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.  It was, I said a statement of the 'blinking obvious' (it being Sunday after all, and me not being given to swearing anyway).  Today's PAYG reading says much the same, via Deuteronomy 30: 11 - 14

    Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away.   It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?"  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?"  No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

    It's not too hard... ah but...  we delude ourselves, either that we have it all sewn up, and our love is perfect (why then do we fear that which is 'other'?), or that it is actually too hard, too demanding, not possible for us because we are, after all frail and fallible humans.

    It's not rocket science, says God, in language that predates the concept by a few millenia, it is within you if you will but pause long enough to hear it. 

    Challenging stuff.  Go figure!
  • Contrasts

    This morning's worship was the start of a short series for the season leading up to Christ the King.  The lectionary passages from Deuteronomy 6 and Mark 12 were very familiar so it was a bit of challenge to decide what to do with them, especially as under our experimental pattern, I do a 10 min reflection on Communion Sundays.  Anyway, it seemed to go OK, picking up the Roots idea of slogans and graffiti (and a brilliant moment when the person leading intercessions had independently decided to use the church logo as his jumping off point (cue spooky music)).  Once the children joined us, we thought very briefly about the Queen's jubilee and the concept of Jesus as King of Jubilee.  After setting off some party poppers, blowing up a few balloons and hurling streamers around the place, we danced in the aisles as we sang the kidides' song 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords'.  It felt as if we ended in a happy place, an upbeat place, and that is good.

    This evening I am sharing in the leading of the annual 'Grieving and Gratitude' service at a local C of S church.  This will have a very different feel, quiet, sobre, reflective.  With a theme of 'past, present, future' it offers space to recall those who have passed ahead of us into God's presence.  I have been allocated 'past' and hope the words I wrote make osme knd of sense for people.  It is good to have contrasts; good to celebrate and to to commemorate, to remember and to reflect.

  • Baa-d Puns Needed!

    Now I know we have not yet passed Remembrance, and I know saying the C*****mas word before the far end of the month causes some people to come out in hives, foam at the mouth or become inexplicably violent, but... In my world, the preparations have to start early, and yesterday I had a very exciting and sparky planning meeting to discuss aspects of our community outreach for the season, culminating in our children's watchnight on Christmas Eve.

    A Messy Nativity sheep trail leading up to a Get in the Picture afternoon will take place - we hope - in the first fortnight of December.  As I type, my very own Joshua is spying out the land, to identify shops, cafes and leisure venues who might be persuaded to adopt a sheep.  And my very own Dorcas in knitting our first sheep, ready for me to take out when I go to invite said retailers etc to 'sign up' for it.  In a week from now I will boldly go where no Scottish Baptist minister has gone before... taking sheep to shops and hoping they catch out vision and sign up!

    My hope is that people will FLOCK to the shops, boosting footfall and sales, especially in small independent outlets.  We hope the BYRES will enjoy the trail.  We certainly intend to EWES the opportunity to invite people to share in a fun retelling of the Christmas Story.  My accomplices are far better at sheepy-puns than I am but I am hoping to gather a few I can drop into conversations, posters and press releases... so any BAA-d puns gratefully received... if the comment thingy is behaving, of course.




    Comments acting up, so this from Angela by email:

    Do not RAM your puns down the throats of local tradespersons, they may try and FLEECE you or PULL THE WOOL over your eyes - or LAMBast you for awful wordplay. [If they are CROOKS that is]  Don't know WETHER to keep going. I shall shut TUP now

    And from Antonia, also by email:

    If your own Joshua is spying out the land for places to adopt a sheep, does that make him a SHEPHERD SPY? (Back to the mince again!)