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  • An old joke... and a bit of commonsense!

    Q: why was the patient's cough better in the morning?

    A: they'd been up all night practising!


    Monday evening's sniffle turned into a full blown yucky cold, complete with high temperature, coughs, sneezes and general bleughness... so I took yesterday off and cancelled today's appointments.

    After last night's coughing rehearsal, even though I feel much better and the temperature is only a bit above normal, I am taking another day off and have cancelled the rest of this week's appointments (well, apart from one on Friday afternoon that would be disastrous).

    One of the dangers of ministerial life is the sense that we are somehow indispensible - that we have to keep going even when our bodies cry 'stop', because, afterall, there's always Sunday to prepare for.

    However, for once in a way, and because there are importnat things I want to be well enough to do next week, I'm going to be sensible and take today off too.

    In the meantime, I guess its warm drinks and day time TV for me!!

  • Eve of Referendum Prayer... and other things

    I know that this blog is read by people around the world, because every now and then someone is kind enough to contact me by email or social media in response to something I've written.

    In the last couple of days some of those same people have made mention on the upcoming referendum and how it is being reported globally - sometimes it would seem to the detriment of their own, local, and equally importnat, issues.

    I have resisted making too many comments on my opinions which have, as any good Scot might express it, swithered and, despite at times having thought I had decided (both ways) I am still in one final swither (using my English habit of transforming verbs to nouns and vice versa).

    Tomorrow Scotland decides and then we - all of us, Scotland, currently-constituted-UK, world - begin to work out the 'what next'.

    Into that context where hope and fear, dread and excitement, rhetoric and vitriol abound, I offer two things, a quote from today's Financial Times (borrowed from a friend and unverified by me, the words are wise even though economics is only one part of the considerations) and a prayer from the Church of Scotland.

    I'm afraid social media has shown me too many Christians, let alone others, being less than gracious in their comments and observations (and I know I've been grumpy and stroppy in real life) so I am not allowing comments on this post.  It will be what it will be, what matters is how we bring Gospel into whatever it is.


    John Kay in the Financial Times:

    "Stop the scaremongering - Scotland can prosper, Yes or No!!!!!

    The present debate is demeaned by posturing and scaremongering on both sides. Scotland has prospered as part of a United Kingdom and could prosper as an independent country. Which course is more appropriate is a question of identity and values, not economics. And whatever outcome is declared on Friday morning, sensible people will work together to ensure that outcome produces the best possible economic result".


    When you made me Lord,
    you gave me the capacity to choose.
    I live in a country, at a time in history
    when I am given a vote.
    Thank you for these privileges.
    But sometimes I find choosing difficult.
    To say ‘yes’ to one option,
    means saying ‘no’ to the other.
    It’s a huge responsibility,
    and this one seems biggest of them all.
    What if I change my mind?
    What if I make a mistake?
    The agony of indecision!
    I feel like a flag in the wind.
    I blow one way, then the other.
    I ask for wisdom and direction.
    Help me to choose well,
    not just for me and my own
    but for the whole nation.

    Rev Neil Dougall
    Convener, Ministries Council

  • So that's that, then

    Today I've made arrangements for Saxo to be taken away and scrapped and, being worth her weight in pounds sterling, to be donated to BMS World Mission.  I assume that prior to squishing, she will be stripped of all saleable parts, being an automotive organ donor.

    I've also signed up to membership of City Car Club so will be able to hire a smart new car that isn't necessarily small and dark blue whenever I need one.

    Definitely the end of an era - I've owned four cars in my life, three of which have been dark blue super-minis.  I hope this change in the equilibrium of the universe is not catastrophic!



    Farewell Saxo... if folk religion can be applied to cars, then Corrie, Molly and Annie will be waiting for you at the rainbow petrol pump!!

  • If it's Monday, then this must be...

    Life is very full at the moment.  Lots of interesting and important things in my diary, lots of doors opening, lots of things to think about.

    Today I am doing some catching up, arranging to scrap my car via 'Give a Car', tidying up my submission for the NZ conference proceedings, realising I still have a very thick book to read and review, preparing a seminar/workshop and a 'news item' for next weeks conference.... or at least making a start on all of the above!

    And I woke up with a sore throat, sniffles, sneezes and shivers... the tell-tale signs for my annual alliterative ague, or common cold, that regularly strikes somewhere during September...

    This is an historic week in which historic events take place, and the forecast for unseasonably warm weather reflects the metaphorically rising political/social temperature (complete with fear, hope, anxiety, excitement, vitriol, tenderness, wisdom and foolishness, in any combination or permutation).  Not the easiest week to be a true pastor, a kenotic, servant leader - thank goodness for the studies I'm doing in Philippians which offer a different way of thinking!

    If praying be your thing, please pray for those of us in Scotland charged with making this decision which, irrespective of outcome, will shape the history, not just of these islands but beyond.  Maybe this prayer, which we used yesterday, is a good start...



    God be in our minds, and in our reflecting;

    God be in our vision, and in our imagining;

    God be in our gathering, and in our listening;

    God be in our relationships, and in our discussing;

    God be in our nation, and in our deciding.


    Rev Alison McDonald Convener, Ecumenical Relations Committee, Church of Scotland


  • All Quiet...


    That's my over-riding reflection on my visit to Finland, it was quiet... no loud voices, no strident exclamations, just softly spoken people who quietly went about their daily lives in a seemingly unhurried way.  It wasn't that no-one spoke or chatted, they did, and now and then a baby cried or a dog barked, even a cat mewed on the coach back from Tampere to Helsinki, but overall it was quiet.

    Over recent months I've heard a lot about nordic idylls, and certainly there are aspects of nordic life that are appealing, but you don't have to look very hard to find that all is not rosy... beggars on the streets, Big Issue (or equivalent) vendors, and the proverbial Finnish drunks swaying from side to side and mumbling incoherently (even they were quiet!).  The per capita GDP may be high but there are still plenty of signs of poverty just beneath the veneer of success.

    One thing that wasn't quiet was the Civil Defence alarm which was tested as we walked through woodland, unable to take the necessary actions had it been a 'for real' alert.  We only found out retrospectively it was a routine test - the holiday centre brochure failed to mention this vital information.  The proximity of (conventional oil or peat fired) power plant meant potential for noxious fumes; the nearness to countries with a less than perfect safety record for hazardous industries in general take it all a level further... the quiet could so easily be destroyed.

    I had a lovely time.  Finland is a beautiful country and Finns seem to be lovely, friendly people, eager to use their English language skills (though we were reguarly assumed to be Finns and had to fess up to not understanding what was being shared with us by shop keepers and passers by!)

    The break from TV, radio, phone and internet did me good, allowed me to clear my head, unwind and relax. Already the busyness of life encroaches and the quietness is disturbed by the clack of computer keys, routine and responsibility return apace.  Which is as it should be... a wonderful break, some fresh perspectives (some of which I am saving for future use), and then home: what more couyld I wish for?