By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 2

  • An Upper Room, Made Ready...

    This morning I am excited at the prospect of leading worship in a hotel conference room, into which a few folk went yesterday evening so that all is ready (bar projection stuff which is my responsibility) for when we arrive.

    Loads of careful planning, preparing, thinking and praying has gone into this.  People with skills in event and programme production, audio, music etc. have all worked hard to ensure that every 'i' is dotted and every 't' crossed.  Not one jot or tittle has been missed!  I am truly grateful to these folk whose work makes all this possible.

    For my part, I have thought and re-thought what I will say, have adjusted length and refined content to fit around those things over which I (rightly) have no control.  I have tried to step into the shoes of the person who might be anxious about the whole endeavour, and to do everything I can to help make it a positive experience.

    I am excited about the experiment.  I am totally relaxed about the experiment.  Yet I know fine well that with just a few minutes to go the nerves will kick in as they always do - sometimes the weight of responsibility of preaching fleetingly becomes almost unbearable, until I stand up, speak the first words and all is well...

    If you happen to be a Gatherer reading this before you leave home this morning, my prayers are with you.  If you happen to be someone else reading this before 11 a.m. today, maybe spares us a quick prayer or thought.  If you are reading it any other time, look out for reports back!

  • God is (not)...

    Yesterday afternoon I was the "speaker" at a small friendship group we run at church.  I chose to centre on the hymn to love in 1 Corinthians, with the reminder that we also understand that "God is Love".  When it came to the prayers, I worked my way through the attributes of love, substituting the word "God".  It's not original by any means, but it certainly made me think...

    God is patient;
    God is is kind;
    God is not envious
    God is not boastful
    God is not arrogant
    God is not rude.
    God does not insist on Gods own way;
    God is not irritable
    God is not resentful;
    God does not rejoice in wrongdoing,
    God rejoices in the truth. 
    God bears all things,
    God believes all things,
    God hopes all things,
    God endures all things.

    God never ends...

    Some profound and challenging ideas there... especially the one that seems to express 'free will' (God does not insist on God's own way).

    I wonder if any of them speak to you?

  • A Whole New World...

    Last night I organised a repayment to DWP of an overpayment on my Mum's benefits whilst she was in hospital; it was remarkably easy and hassle free, and their demands seemed totally reasonable.

    This morning I spoke to the care home to check some details on the paperwork, and to ensure that any necessary financial tweaks are in place.  Again it could not have been easier, or the person I spoke to more pleasant.

    Each of these makes me feel very grateful, as we, as a family, enter what for us is a whole new world where we don't know the rules or expectations, where, if not scary, everything is unfamiliar and a bit bewildering.

    It suits my admin/science brain to sort all paperwork and to co-ordinate the practical matters.  At the same time it is a huge learning curve and makes me very grateful that I am young enough and clear enough of mind/thought to process information and research options.

    It is also time-consuming and energy-demanding... I am so fortunate/blessed to have a life that allows me to make calls during office hours, to work away for a few days when needed, and so on.  And I am fortunate/blessed to have good enough health to cope with the physical demands (around three thousand miles travelled in the last month, mostly overnight!).

    It serves as a strong reminder that so many other people live like this all the time - travelling, working away, supporting elderly parents at huge distances... It's a whole new world, and at the moment quite an intense one.

    Lots to ponder, and hopefully learning things that will make me a better pastor in future... until now I never understood what this world was really like.

  • Flames of Prayer

    At the end of the Baptist Assembly #bap16 we were each invited to take home a randomly allocated 'flame of prayer' so that we could pray for each other's churches.  Most flames were completely anonymous, so I am posting a photo of this one that made it as far as Glasgow!!

    I wonder who got ours, and will be praying for us.

  • ♫ I would go 400 miles and I would go 400 more... ♫ (#bap16)

    I am sitting on a train that I suspect once bore an InterCity logo, travelling north up the East Coast main line towards Edinburgh on my way back from a weekend spent in Watford and Oxford.

    I has been a really good weekend, meeting old and new friends, catching up on Baptist life in England and Wales, being inspired and indignant in appropriate proportions, and feeling that it was time very well spent.

    The extended reflection on the Refugee situation in Syria, in Calais, in parts of Africa and elsewhere, with first hand reports by Baptists in Essex/Kent was one of those rare sessions where you could hear a pin drop.  Challenging and inspiring, without inducing guilt and without twee answers to complicated questions.

    The all too short address by Didi Oprenov was gentle, moving and encouraging.  All too rare for me to wish a speaker at Assembly had been given more time, but on this occasion I absolutely do.

    The packed lunch was especially high quality this year, which was as well as I stood in a queue for over 30 minutes to collect it!  One danger of one day Assemblies is that the centres never quite get up to speed with logistics.

    A very special mention has to go to Rev Stephen Keyworth for his gracious and honest update on responses to the recent statement from BUGB Council on SSM that had caused widespread disquiet.  I loved his phrase that it is "blatantly obvious" that we do not all agree on this matter and that we have a long way to go in learning to live together as the reconciled diversity (my words) we are called to be.  It was amazing to see people wearing elephant badges, bringing elephant flames and saying "we are not afraid to talk about this" - whatever our views for or against (the herd is a reconciled diversity in its own right).  I hope this was a step forward in Baptistness.

    I loved the return of the 'proper' In Memoriam, and it was humbling and beautiful to say the name of former missionary from The Gathering Place appear on the screen.  I am fairly sure it was David Kerrigan who read it out (I was too busy taking an illegal - and out of focus - photo of it to be sure) which was fitting.  The handshaking was OK, still felt a little less than I'd have hoped, but maybe I'm getting old... The commissioning liturgy was lovely.

    The irritations were the usual ones, and doubly annoying because I felt we had moved on... a racist joke (hopefully a careless ad lib) from the front, and a return to exclusive language in hymns/songs.  On a much more positive note, my one contribution to church language where we invite (rather than tell) people to "stand if they are able" finally found full expression... which proves that good practice does eventually rub off!

    This morning I preached at a small church in Watford, home of a minister friend.  It was lovely to see her in context, to observe her flourishing in ministry and clearly loved by her people. It was a privilege to bring a message for Pentecost Sunday and I hope it was a little bit encouraging.  Above all it was a visible expression of the 'tie that binds' Baptists of diverse preferences in our shared commitment to speak and be Good News where we are

    Now I am on my way back home, tired and happy - which has to be good.  Thank you to everyone behind the scenes at the BUGB/BMS Assembly, it has been good to be there, and well worth the 800 miles round trip for one day :-)