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  • BUGB-BMS Assembly 2017

    On Friday I boarded a train from Hyndland (centre of the universe) en route to Harrogate for the annual BUGB-BMS Assembly.  I took with me two novels (both of which I had read by the time I got home again), some tattie scones for a friend (in exchange for 'interesting cheese') and a sense of anticipation.

    I was not disappointed.  Indeed, au contraire, I had a great time and returned home encouraged and inspired to carry on being and doing what God has called and equipped me to be and to do.

    One day Assemblies have to be tightly focussed, and gone is the razzamatazz to be replaced by crisp sessions with precise content.  The reintroduction of seminars was a real gift and I thoroughly enjoyed the two I chose to attend (on the upcoming election by Phil Jump and JPIT, and on Baptist identity and mission by David Kerrigan).  Yes, I thought, this is good stuff, honest stuff, handling that faith-deeds interplay humbly, thoughtfully and with integrity.  Baptist Inclusivity has a way to go, but these sessions explored and exemplified what it might look like.

    The In Memoriam and intercessions for the world were utterly beautiful, and skilflly facilitated by Geoff Colmar and the musical worship team.  Such a shame this was a 'minor' session with so few people present.  To remember with gratitude Rev Keith Hobbs, who helped me explore my initial call to ordination, and Rev Steve Mantle, who was a supportive Regional Minister as I explored my call to Scotland, was bitter-sweet, poignant and precious.  Please, please, please put this back in the same slot as the 'handshakes', this is where it most properly belongs.

    For me, the highlight was the 'optional extra' Sunday morning service wioth Communion.  The preacher, David Kerrigan, spoke eloquently, pastorally, challengingly and encouragingly about the cross a place of forgiveness, a place of healing and a place of inclusion.  Uncharacteristically, I was moved to go forward for prayer after the Communion, where God's angel, manifest in a lovely middle-aged black woman, prayed exactly the words I needed to refresh and encourage my soul.  Thank you also to David K, who spoke words to me that I will treasure, and which were so hugely affirming.

    I loved singing in Hindi, Xhosa, Hebrew, Spanish and more.  I loved singing hymns I haven't sung since school-days and hymns that were new.  I loved the variety of prayer (especially the body-centred prayers on Sunday).  I loved the sense of welcome, generosity and down-to-earth rootedness I experienced.

    Was it perfect?  Of course not.

    Did I have a great time?  You betcha!

    Some people complain that it isn't worth travelling such a distance for a one day Assembly.  That is, of course, their privilege and right.  I feel that such a decision risks missing out on things that are life-giving and important.  Next year back to Peterborough (and already an invitiation to stay with friends)... Looking forward to it!

     

  • Wandering Aramean...

    If this is Wednesday, then it must Glasgow...

    Lots of travelling around, most of it church-related this week.

    Just back from two days in Larbert, where I had the privilege of meeting people just setting out on the path to acredited ministry, and people who have just completed their pre-acrdecited (NAM-equivalent) period.

    Two days in Glasgow to catch up on the jobs that are now urgent

    Then to Harrogate for the BUGB-BMS Assembly, catching up with friends, listening, learning, reflecting

    Then my monthly day-trip to Irthlingborough

    I relish the diversity and cherish the opportunities; at the same time I know I need to pace myself in all this frenetic busy-ness.

  • This is a Time - A Communion Liturgy

    From time to time I share bits of liturgy here.  This is what I wrote for yesterday's communion, inspired by the JPIT 'This is a Time' material.  If it's helpful, feel free to borrow or adapt it.

    Invitation

    This is a place

    Where Jesus invites his friends to remember his life

     

    This is a time

    Where Jesus’ friends recall his death

     

    This is a time, and this is a place

    Here and now

    We anticipate the heavenly banquet prepared for all

     

    The Story

    Time was running out for Jesus – the authorities had their spies everywhere, watching his every move, trying to trap him with word games and impossible questions.  Knowing this, he made plans for the Passover meal…

     

    The coded signal of a man carrying water

    The borrowed upper room, away from prying eyes

    The familiar prayers and psalms, memories and stories

     

    This was a time for him and those he loved best

    This was a place where, however fleetingly, they could be safe…

     

    This is a story for all time, for our time

    For this place, and for all places.

     

    The apostle Paul recorded it like this:

    For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

     

    The Thanksgiving

    God of all times and all places

    We give you thanks that we are able to meet openly and without fear to share together

    God of this time and this place

    We give you thanks for this bread and this wine, and all that they mean to us

    May the sharing nourish our souls and strengthen our faith,

    For we pray in Christ’s name

    Amen

     

    Sharing

    (According to local custom)

     

    Prayer Afterwards

    (Theresa of Avila, adapted)

    Christ has no body but ours,
    No hands, no feet on earth but ours,
    Ours are the eyes with which he looks
    Compassion on this world

    Ours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
    Ours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
    Ours are the hands, ours are the feet,
    Ours are the eyes, we are his body.

    Christ has no body now but ours,
    No hands, no feet on earth but ours,
    Ours are the eyes with which he looks
    compassion on this world.
    Christ has no body now on earth but ours.