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  • Back to Work

    After a very relaxed break, it is back to work, and that feels good, if a little hectic and a fair amount of tail-chasing happening as I catch up on what's been happening.

    On Sunday we have the first of two services based on the JPIT material "Love Your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote" where we will be focussing on Truth and Justice (next week Peace and Well-being).  So this afternoon I have been reflecting on the Bible readings and researching thoughts on 'truth' and 'justice' and being reminded what slippry words they are!

    This weekend it is exactly six years since I first preached in Glasgow, and every time I reach this date it gives me pause for thought.  Such a lot has happened since then, for good and ill, and I do sometimes wonder, if folk could have known what lay ahead if they'd have made the same call.  I certainly have no regrets whatsoever, and am happy to be here, doing my best.  Definitely refreshed by my time out, and knowing that there is plenty to do between now and the next break which is... um, a long way off!

  • Condolences

    My thoughts and prayers are with the people of "Dibley" Baptist Church following the death earlier today of their minister.

    Having been there a little shy of four years, arriving as a fairly mature in years NAM, he and his wife served the church with energy and enthusiasm, notably guiding them to set up a community cafe as an outreach opportunity.  He was due to have been 'handshaked' at this years Assembly and will now instead be among those whose passing it recorded.

    Rev P. L. may light perptual shine upon you; may you rest in peace and rise in glory.

  • Underneath are Everlasting Arms

    In a little over a week, it will be six years since I first met the people of The Gathering Place... the start of a very enjoyable and challenging relationship that continues to develop.  It was a time when Dibley Baptists were really struggling and I was supporting them best I could through a painful transition.  Six yeras later, they are once again in a painful place, a very different one but no less traumatic, indeed, probably more so.  An enthusiastic and creative minister who has been with them around about four years is terminally ill... my heart goes out to him and to them as they try to negotiate these weeks of letting go.

    One of the scripture 'sentences' I use at funerals is half a verse from Deuteronomy... "the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms".  It's a great promise and a tender, reassuring image.  I pray for P & C that they will know this promise in these days, and for the Dibley BC folk as they once more face upheaval and challenge.

    And, if I'm honest, it gives me pause, as I continue to be NED more than four years on from my own diagnosis with cancer.  None of knows what is round the corner - we really do need to live in the present moment and not defer to "one day" which may never come those things to which we really aspire.

  • Angels Unawares

    Yesterday I experimented with a day-trip to Northampton, which worked pretty well, though another time I'd make a few tweaks.

    True to form, almost every train ran late and there was a lot of running for connections, but, amazingly the only one I missed was the last train out from Glasgow Central to home, so I grabbed a cab.

    All was well - but only thanks to the help of a total stranger when a late running train left me with less than 90s to make a connection to a Virgin train where doors are usually locked 30s before departure...

    I was on a very late running train towards Manchester Piccadilly from Preston and had asked the conductor if I'd make the connection, which he said I might.  Fortunately for me, a man had got on the train at Bolton (I think) who turned out to be an off duty Virgin employee and who, hearing my plight said he'd try to help me catch my train but we'd have to run.... we walked down the inside of the train to be at the correct door to run straight up the escalator (he like a gazelle, me like a tortoise) over the bridge and down the stairs to where the train stood.  Amazingly I had time to walk up the inside of that train and settle into my booked seat before the train left.  I did say 'thank you' to the man who smiled and walked away - he certainly was my 'angel unawares' for that journey.

    I did spot that the name FARRELL on his Virgin work pass so there is a very outside someone chance that someone will spot this and be able to pass on my thanks... the woman in the green coat who couldn't run very fast and was headed to Northampton via Milton Keynes.


    (I have also shared this via social media - so just maybe the message will reach him)


  • "The Druids" and Memories

    Having the prospect of ten days annual leave gives me the opportunity to attempt a new jigsaw - this one which I picked up for £1.99 in a charity shop in Stirling, where I met up recently with a friend who lives in Perth.

    I absolutely love this painting - I first saw it as part of the 'Glasgow Boys' exhibition in Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in August 2010.  A stunning, vast, colourful work, it captured my imagination and drew me into itself.   So when I spotted the jigsaw in the charity shop, I couldn't resist buying it... and now I have some time off I will attempt it.

    8th August 2010, the night before I went with a friend, who was visiting me, to see this exhibition, I rolled over in bed and found the lump that catapulted me onto an unchosen journey with cancer... so it was fitting, I think, that the friend I was with when I found the jigsaw is someone I first 'met' online in a cancer support forum.  I didn't think of that at the time - I just caught sight of the box and knew I wanted to buy it!  It was only as I reflected on seeing the painting that I made the connection - that feels fairly healthy to me.  Of course I would rather not have travelled that particular journey, but it has resulted in me meeting and becoming friends with, so many great people, and I can't regret any of them. 

    And of course there is another lovely irony that mistletoe, yew and other things associated with Druidic mysticism are now valued for chemotherapy purposes.

    Reflection aside, I still love this painting, and I will enjoy very much attempting the jigsaw.