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  • Pastoral Privilege

    Being a minister is always a privilege... you are granted access to some of the most private and vulnerable parts of people's lives.  If I may be permitted to emulate the style of a social media status updates, then I want to say:


    But for the grace of God this week could have been so very different:

    Today has been privileged;

    That is all.


  • Whistling in the Dark, or Singing in the Wilderness?

    At last night's service, one of the questions posed was along the lines of 'what is the difference between "whistling in the dark" and "singing in the wilderness"?'

    It's a really good question.  In the small group I was part of, we tried to define 'whistling in the dark,' an expression with which not all were familiar.  Opinions ranged from the very literal, recalling how in times of literal darkness as a child singing or whistling had been a means of generating courage ("whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle a happy tune, so no-one will suspect I'm afraid...") via a kind of fake or baseless confidence, to a sense of futility ('whistling in the dark' not so different from 'whistling in the wind').  However we understood it, there was a sense that it most probably did not, or could not, really inspire courage or hope or whatever it was we felt we needed.

    Singing in the wilderness, by contrast is motivated by hope, by a sense that this is not all there is, that we will, eventually, reach the other side.  It has a quality of defiance, determination and tenacity.  Rather than singing to drive out fear, we sing to bolster courage.  In instead of evading despair, we foster hope.

    I think that there is probably another difference.  Whistling in the dark tends to be a solo enterprise, something we do when we are on our own (or feel we are).  Singing in the wilderness can, and often does, have a corporate edge to it.  Yomping songs, campfire songs... these are shared with others.

    Whether it is private whistling or corporate singing, I guess there is a choice about what it is we express, and how or why that is.


    I know a few people who have found themselves cast into wilderness places recently, and it is no small undertaking to sing in the wilderness - far easier to succumb to despair or bitterness, anger or fear, hopelessness or even aggression.   But the songs of the wilderness, so often in the minor key, and aching in their honesty are beautiful and hope-filled, if only we have the courage to join in and the ears to hear.

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 27

    This week the focus shifts to ecological issues...


    The world’s poorest people are on the frontline of our changing climate – and they’re suffering first
    and hardest.

    Give 50p for each light turned on unnecessarily in your home and 20p for every electrical appliance left on standby.


    When we were growing up there two things my Dad was very strict on - keepng doors closed, and swtiching off lights when you left a room.  The motivation wasn't ecological but a blend of practical (to keep the warmth in) and financial (to keep costs down).  Unplugging the television at night was also one of his 'things', a safety conern that seems to have long since disappeared.  So the prospect of leaving a light on 'unecessarily' is one I find hard to relate to; I am more likely to sit I the half dark than the opposite.  And the only thing I could leave on 'standby' is my televsion, which I don't.

    In good conscience, I can give myself a 'cheap' day.

    Oh, and in the words of my dad, "were you you born in a field?  Shut the door! We're not heating the whole of [town/village/city] you know"


    My pledge

    Today - zero, just some memories

    Total - Total - £23.85, five prayers, one rant, one memory and one e-petition signed

  • Let the Countdown Begin...

    500 days to the Glasgow Commonwealth games...  it's hard to believe it's 12 years since the equivalent countdown to Manchester 2002.  I hope I enjoy this one as much - I'm sure I will.

  • Fourth Sunday in Lent

    Laetere Sunday, Rose Sunday, Mothering Sunday, Mothers' Day... one Sunday, many names.  And so my challenge to choose a hymn from BPW to share.

    On the grounds that this Sunday is the 'day off' from Lent I have extended my scope to include the subject index in the back of the hymnbook, and even to the small selection for Mothering Sunday.  In the end I opted for this one (BPW 500) which seems the most fitting...


    Lord of the home, your only Son

    Received a mother's tender love;

    And from an earthly father won

    His vision of your home above.


    Help us, O Lord, our homes to make

    Your Holy Spirt's dwelling place;

    Our hands and hearts' devotion tell,

    May faithful lives your glory show.


    Pray we that all who with us dwell,

    Your love and joy and peace may know;

    And while our lips your praises tell,

    May faithful lives your glory show.


    Teach us to keep our homes so fair,

    That were our Lord a child once more,

    He might be glad our hearth to share,

    And find a welcome at our door.


    Lord, may your Spirirt sanctify

    Each household duty we fulfil,

    May we our Master glorify

    In glad obedience to your will.

    Albert F Bayly (c) OUP


    I like the image of our homes being a place where the child-Christ, the boy Jesus, would  be glad to live - I likee it, and it challenges me.