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  • Seventy times Seven

    I vaguely remember a somewhat cheesy worship song that had a refrain along the lines of  "seventy times seventy times seventy times seven..." an extension of the Biblical mandate designed to capture its intent: times without number.

    This morning we focussed our thoughts on part of the story of the apostle Peter and his stumbling, bumbling discipleship.

    As much as anything I was preaching to myself... the need to kind to oneself, to forgive oneself, to believe that God never gives up on us or runs out of forgiveness for us.

    I had some lovely positive feedback from many people that was really enouraging, and some conversations during the week had helped me think through more clearly some of the needs of others.

    Lots of fun, and very grateful to those who are involved with various aspects of making it happen.

    Tired in a good way.  Looking forward to week three and a focus on Stephen.

  • Privilege

    This afternoon I spent an hour that was pure privilege, in the company of people I'd never met before, gathered around a hospital bed.  To be allowed into the lives of people you know is privilege enough, this, then, was maybe privilege tenfold.

    To see people freed, if for a moment, from fear, dread and sadness...

    To play a tiny part in the making of memories that will last forever...

    To witness the healing of hurts and the transformation from empty ending to hopeful completion...

    To be allowed in...

    To be handed fizzy grape juice, to be kissed and thanked for - what? - being a person with two inches of white plastic at her throat...

    This goes beyond ordinary privilege

    This puts into perspective niggles and annoyances

    This is pure blessing

    And, yes, this is mine to name and to share glady.

  • Bargain!

    Much of this week I have been away, accompanying someone to deliver very precious archive material to the Angus library at Regents Park College and being treated to a couple of days enjoying the city.

    You can't go to Oxford and not vist either the OUP shop or Blackwells, so we did both.

    And I got this amazing bargain... 75% off on a book with the eye-watering cover price of £69!  But for £17.25 it was a bargain.  I first encountered Adele Reinhartz when doing my under grad essay on anti-semitism and the gospel of John (note 'and' not 'in') so I am looking forward to reading this one.

    I also bought a little book called Theologygrams which is a publication of the best of this website.  Something that can make me chuckle and make me think has got to be worth buying.  Some of the cartoons might yet find their way into church stuff...

  • All Age Worship - A Zones Approach

    Today I am very, very proud of my church.

    Today we started a seven week run of all age services using a 'zones' approach.

    We began all together with a hymn and prayer before listening to a retelling of the Bible story for the week.

    Next, whilst some music played, everyone was invted to move around, take a look at what was on offer in the zones and then choose where to spend the next twenty minutes...

    Creative zone - using carefully chosen craft activities to create an artefact relating to the theme; this week it was 'hope stones'

    Quiz zone - using themed word searches and puzzled to prompt futher thought on the topic; there were also copies of the Bible text and starter questions for private reflection and some colouring pages.

    Active zone - in an adjacent room, an opportunity to explore through play or simply let off steam!

    Contemplative zone - a guided reflection and interactive prayer - today we used candles

    After the 'moving music' was played a second time, we all came together again for the offering, a simple communion, a final hymn and a blessing.


    The feedback has been positive and encouraging.  For sure, I am tired - it was a long morning and I was VERY nervous beforehand.  But it is good tired.

    Very proud of people who stepped out of the comfort of all that is familiar and tried something new,

    Very proud of people who weren't sure it was for them but gave it go anyway.

    Very proud to be part of this wonderful, slightly crazy, community of people trying to follow Jesus.

  • Stories Interwoven...

    Recently I posted, then took down since it caused offence, some thoughts that arose from my experience of being asked to conduct a wedding blessing for someone who was terminally ill.  There was a key question underlying the problem, namely whose story it was and who could legitimately tell it.  I think that's an important question, though it really isn't so easy to answer since the experience arose from the interplay of two stories.  I remain convinced that my reflections are legitimately mine, but that may not mean they are suitable to share.

    Today I am very mindful of someone else whose life story is - or was - interwoven with mine because of some shared experiences, but am a little apprehensive to share any thoughts, lest they cause offence.

    Suffice to say, that this weekend a young woman I came to know and admire ought to have been celebrating her thirtieth birthday.  Instead, following her death from breast cancer at the age of just 27, her family and friends have organised a massive charity fundraiser in her memory.

    Thirty years ago, as L was entering this world as a baby, I had just graduated and begun work as a professional engineer.  I was then, just 22 years old.

    When I was 27, I owned my own home, was building a flourishing engineering career and life was good.  I was also 27 when my Dad died, at the comparatively young age of 65.  At 27, L faced the news of a terminal diagnosis with courage and died within a few short weeks.

    On my 30th birthday my car suffered engine failure as I drove south for a family celebration meal.  I remember that a friend of a friend's teenage daughter gave birth that day and I wondered what lay in store for her son.  I celebrated my birhtday with my mother, siblings, and such nephews and nieces as had by then arrived.  Life was good, hope was high... I dared to imagine my future.  No thirtieth birthday for L, but she will be remembered.

    Thirty years ago had anyone said I'd be a Baptist minister or that I'd live in Scotland, that I'd have visited New Zealand to speak about my cancer at conference or that I'd be a prolific blogger (whatever one of those might have been) I'd have laughed in derision.

    But here I am, thirty years on from the start of my engineering career, lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way, lots of stories that have interweave with my own.

    Today I will pause to remember L.  Her story is not my story, but part of it is permanently woven into mine.  The weaving, the reflecting - the making of meaning - this is what I try to do.  And sometimes determining how much of that can appropriately shared is a tricky call.