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  • Godly Humour

    This morning I am researching Jewish dietary laws as part of my preparation for Sunday's sermon on Acts 11.  As part of this, I took down my very fat Hebrew interlinear "Old Testament" to check a few words, in order to avoid too much translational hermeneutics.

    Just as I was putting it back on the shelf a HUGE spider crawled out from the top of my Greek interlinear "New Testament" which resulted in me laughing at the divine humour at play there.  Perhaps as well I am not an arachnophobe... Anyway, Charlotte, or whatever her name was, scuttled off as soon as she saw me - but who knows maybe a message will appear on a web across the entrance to the Gathering Place?!

  • Learning from the Early Church

    This morning's PAYG focused on the opening words of Acts 13:

    Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

    The reflection noted that the list of names is short (it chose to overlook anything about the ethnic diversity implied in the names) and wondered what the size of the fellowship there actually was.  The listener was asked to ponder who it might be, in their own church, that wold be listed as those actively involved in the work of the gospel in that context.   I found that a telling and strangely reassuring exercise - as it is now, so, seemingly, it has ever been...

    I wonder what others think?

  • Ruth 1:16

    my flowers.jpg

    (Photo courtesy KF)

    This is my flower arrangement from last night.  The thing that prompted me to do it was the statement from the Muslim-Christian Forum I linked yesterday.

    I struggle a lot with the whole national identity thing - I tend to self-define, if I must, as British.  Living for over three years in Scotland I have come to understand how often ''England" and "English" are used when "Britain" and "British" are intended.  Whilst I don't think England can be blamed for the linguistic choices of the USA, Australasia or even Europe, it is rightly annoying, and sometimes antagonistic, to the other three parts of the UK to be defined as what they aren't; especially when these are often people with a far stronger sense of nationality.

    To be proud of one's national (or regional) identity, and to enjoy its unique traditions, myths, culture and cuisine is good; to define 'us' over against 'them' is not.  England is probably unique in the UK in that its lack of botheredness with its national identity and symbols (saint, flag etc) has allowed dangerous extremists to appropriate them.  Being the biggest by population part of the UK has maybe led to a kind of complacency that is now reaping an ugly harvest.  Because of this, I applaud the statement put out yesterday, though do understand that for some Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people it may read far less positively.

    All of which is a very long way from flowers - or is it?  There is something about being a minority that stirs national identity (why else do immigrants and expats gather in close proximity?).  I actually feel more English now I live in Scotland - which is a theological nightmare as I consider allegiance to Christ must override any geographical or socio-politcal identity.  Perhaps then, in a way my flower arrangement holds this tension...?

    Roses - associated with England.  Red for love (and the English rose), white for purity, pink for grace, yellow for friendship, red & white together for unity (not a party political statement, honest!).

    Heather - generously donated by someone who'd brought it along (I had failed to find heather, bluebells or thistles!) associated with Scotland.  Apparently as well as 'luck', white heather symbolises protection.

    So, roses and heather, entwined with tartan paper 'ribbon' (I failed miserably to find any tartan ribbon on sale near the church; perversely could think of oodles of places in England I could have got it!).  Not just any old tartan though; this was the Baptist Union of Scotland tartan (did you know they had one?) printed from an online image!!  It is in covenant with the BUS that we are united.

    And a little red tartan animal - a wee dug?  a wee coo?  or a little lamb?  No idea!  It was the one tartan thing I found on sale, so I bought it.


    Your people will be my people, and your God my God... it cuts both ways, as I embrace the people and culture of the place in which God calls me to serve, they too embrace me and what I carry with me of mine.

    I don't think flower arranging will ever become my forte, but it was a fun evening and I enjoyed researching the symbolism to weave in to my attempt.

  • Biblical Flower Arrangments...

    A fun evening for the few who came along as we endeavoured to create flower arrangements with a theme of 'my favourite Bible story'.  Well mine wasn't my favourite, but it seemed appropriate: I took the line from Ruth "your people will be my people, and your God my God" combining assorted roses, some bits of tartan, a sprig of heather and a 'wee tartan scottie dug' or was it 'wee tartan coo'?  Anyway, here is one of the photos taken of our endeavours...

    flower night.jpg

    (c) Ken Fisher

  • Timely

    Tomorrow is St George's Day (and, for that matter Shakespeare's birthday).  In recent times I have made mention of St David's Day and St Patrick's Day on this blog, but felt very uneasy at mentioning St George's Day.  Partly because I am an English person living in Scotland, and it could be seen as inflammatory, but more because like most English people I am embarrasses, ashamed at the way he, and more significantly the St George flag, has been appropriated by extremist organisations, some of whom have the audacity to call themselves Christian.  So I was thrilled to see this to which BUGB are a signatory, from the Christian-Muslim forum.  And how about this for a stunning photo...  (Oh, and I'm taking it as sign of divine approval for my flower arrangment theme tonight, if any church folk are reading!!)