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- Page 4

  • Words or Stillness?

    Writing up is moving forward, and I have generated 3000 words so far this week.  This probably sounds better than it is, but I can now just about see my way clear to writing up the original research stuff.  Phew.

    One of the things that emerged quite strongly in response to some of the questions is the limitation of 'word-centred' spirituality to serve in times of major illness, especially where fatigue and/or brain-fog are involved.  Some respondents found this a problem othera allowed themselves to embrace silence/stillness and or used music as a medium for reflection, prayer, etc.

    Yesterday I realised Iwas starting with a cold, and after a disturbed night it is full-blown this morning.  Whilst I don't feel ill, I do feel rough, and the thought of sitting typing all day is unpleasant (and would probably render utter trash).  Way back when, my boss always insisted we went home if had colds, partly because he didn't want us sharing them with others, but partly because he knew rest was the best medicine

    So I will do the sensible thing... switch off the laptop, drink plenty of fluids, keep warm and rest... some gentle music may accompany my day, or it may not.  Tomorrow I can return to typing with renewed vigour and creativity.

    Do you think Jesus ever got a cold?  Or a tummy bug?  Or some other annoying minor ailment?  And if he did, how did he respond?  Hmm...

  • Time To Write Up!

    As my sabbatical enters its final weeks, and as a few bits of preparatory stuff have to be picked up ready for my return to church, the emphasis shifts from doing and visiting to writing and reflecting.  The list of things I ought to be writing is rather long, but is also positive...

    • a synopsis/proposal for a conference paper arising from my empirical research
    • a short paper to feed into someone else's research into churches whose ministers have major health issues or worse
    • a short paper (or two or three) for BUGB/BUS/BMJ* arising from my empirical research
    • a short paper for the BUS on all my sabbatical reflections as they very kindly gave me/us a £400 grant towards costs.
    • a short paper for church on the findings from my visits to Bath and London
    • a short paper for church summarising all my sabbatical work

    That's a lot of writing!  I think I have some useful 'findings' to share in various places, it's just that I have got out of the habit of sitting and writing anything very much, so I need to give myself a kick up the proverbial to get started!  And the sun is shining in the 'dear green place'...

    Well, I had better jump to it! (after I've made another pot of tea... :) )


    * for anyone medical who reads this, BMJ in this context means the Baptist Ministers' Journal, not any other publication with a similar set of initials

  • Context is Everything

    This morning I was visiting our 'grandaughter' church, or one of of them anyway: I'm not always quite sure which are the children and which the grandchildren because we seem to have supplied them with people each time they began.  So probably best not to push the parentage metaphor too far or we'll be in contravention of some obscure verse of Leviticus!

    This morning was everything I love and everything I loathe about small estate churches, or at least my experience of them.  Today was an infant blessing service, and I loved how dozens of folk from the estaste (scheme) polled up in their best clothes to celebrate with the parents of this little girl.  And I loathed the way the service started fifteen minutes late becuase one of the 'supporting adults' (God parents by any other name) had not yet arrived which, given the blessing was the final part of the service, was no reason to delay procedings.  I kind of loved the slight dampness and that place was a bit chilly (even to me!) and that the nineteen sixties padded metal bench pews has seen better days.

    I loved the blessing section of the service, lifted straight from Patterns & Prayers and using the form of words for those who cannot in good conscience make a profession of faith.  This is where estate churches excel - they welcome people and bless them with love and acceptance in hope (theological variety) that one day faith will follow.

    I admired the gentleness with which the minister told people to shut up and switch off their phones for his 'talk' (they had yabbered all through the hymns and prayers), and the way he used a very simple exposition of part of 1 Corinthians 13 to speak of God's love, which he compared to that of the mother of the child being presented.

    Alas, no-one spoke to me, I had to ask where to sit, pointing out that I was not one of the guests.  There was no-one to offer a handshake or welcome at the door on the way in or the way out and no coffee.  This saddened me.  I way yet pop back to this church another Sunday (now I know how to find it!) to see if this was a typical experience or if it was unduly skewed by the influx of folk for the blessing service.

    Context is everything... this congregation is housed in the only building in a road on the very edge of a housing scheme; beyond it is wasteland.  It needs a special kind of person to serve such a church, a person who is not fazed by starting fifteen minutes late, and who does have the ability to tell people to shut up and sit down whilst they are speaking.  I'm not that kind of person.  But I thank God that the forebears fo the Gatherers cared enough to plant a little church at the top of a hill (clue) and allow it to develop and grow in order to serve its context.

    Highlight of the service for me was a young woman singing a solo in a rich, slightly melancholic voice, and even if the words were a bit inane, it was very moving.  Shame people then applauded as it was a performance - but that's probably my west end intellectual snobbery showing through.

    Not my most pleasurable visit of the summer, but one that was good for me in unexpected ways.