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  • Seaside Rock?

    This time tomorrow I will be with hundreds of other Baptists in Blackpool at the Baptist Assembly in England (BUGB - BMS).  Due to structural changes at BUGB this will be the last Assembly in this format before a new approach starts next year.  I am secretly glad that that this one is in Blackpool, the nearest venue for Scotland, and also the one with the lowest priced accommodation.

    There was a time when the week running up to Assembly would see dozens of blog posts, but nowadays most of the bloggers have moved to Twitter or Facebook or Australia, or all three and not much is said.

    I am, as ever, looking forward to catching up with some friends (have got a breakfast meet with another blogger set up already :-) ) and to reconnecting with a bigger sample of Baptistness than I do on a day-to-day basis.  Lots of people to cheer (silently if necessary) as they complete their NAM period.  Some interesting seminars to attend (focuses on dis-ability, inter-generational church and human sexuality among those I have my eye on).  Hopefully space to get onto the beach or into the pool at some point.  And the meaningful moments of remembering those whose service is complete and now enjoy eternal rest in the embrace of God.

    No posting before Tuesday as I'm still too much of a ludite to buy a smart phone or tablet computer (have enough medical tablets thanks all the same!) instead I will sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

  • A Better Measure...

    Over the last few days, in my 'down time' I have been collating and formatting the tribute and condolence messages that the group to which I belong want to pass on to the family of our 'littlest hoho' (youngest member) whose funeral is today.  On the front I have added this quote, which I first came across almost a decade ago, which offers a better way of measuring a life...


    “We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents...Sometimes the 'unfinisheds' are among the most beautiful symphonies.”

    Viktor E. Frankl, The Doctor And The Soul

    Although I have not shared it in the context of the group, it is too soon and emotions too raw, I also like this poem...

    It was beautiful

    As long as it lasted

    The journey of my life.


    I have no regrets

    Whatsoever save

    The pain I’ll leave behind.


    Farewell my friends

    I smile and bid you goodbye.

    No, shed no tears,

    For I need them not.

    All I need is your smile.


    If you feel sad

    Do think of me

    For that’s what I like.

    When you live in the hearts

    Of those you love

    Remember then –

    You never die.


    Gitanjali, an Indian teenager, written shortly before her death from cancer.

    In a culture where success is measured by the quantitative 'how much' it is vital to offer the counter point that true value lies in the qualitative 'how rich'.


  • Hope and Life

    The old saying runs "while (or whilst) there's life, there's hope" (we'll not drag the grammar police in to the conversation!!); generally meaning that so long as we are still here, hope remains.  But I have found myself mulling this over in reverse, and wondering if it's more the case that "whilst there's hope, there's life."

    Let me explain!  Tomorrow I will be attending the funeral of a young friend of mine whose life ebbed away within days of being told there was no further treatment possible.  The change from being alert and fully engaged in life to very ill and ebbing away was sudden and co-terminus with the last "I'm sorry".  It is beyond dispute that her metastatic cancer was incredibly aggressive, and maybe the speed it ran its course would have been the same with or without the hope she had been given by eminent professionals, but I do wonder if when hope fades, life follows fast.  Certainly I have seen time and again how people with terminal conditions and end-stage disease defy predictions because they still have hope... Hope that they will see a loved one's birthday, wedding, graduation... hope that a friend travelling for afar will be seen one last time... hope that some last wish will find fulfilment.  Once those hopes have been fulfilled, there is no further need for life, as we know it, and the transition to the mystery of death can be amazingly swift.  It doesn't always happen - I'm not that naive, some people will die with last wishes unfulfilled - but there does seem to be a link between hope and life.

    Hope, understood properly, and especially theologically, is not mere 'wishful thinking', rather it carries a sense of expectation, of confidence that it's end is realisable.

    If hope sustains life, maybe even extends it in the case of people whose lives are drawing to a close, then the impact of hopelessness, of loss of hope or loss of dreams is especially serious.  I wonder, too, whether the same applies at a corporate level - organisations, churches and so forth.  If we run out of hope, or at least run out of things to hope for, do we inevitably find our life ebbing away?  Is it possible that we need is not more energy, not more money but more dreams?

    I don't know - this is as ever me thinking out loud, playing with ideas as they pop in to my head...  There is an oft quoted out of context verse from Proverbs that says "where there is no vision the people perish".  I am not convinced I can simply apply it here, but vision, revelation and hope all have rich theological significance and are associated with life, even abundant life, life in its fullness.

    Rightly or wrongly, I think I am persuaded that "whilst there's hope there's life", even if maybe I need to 'unpack' what I mean by 'hope' and 'life'.