As part of my preparation for Sunday, I'm reading, as fast as my kindle and brain will allow me to, a biography of Scottish misisonary Mary Slessor. It's a good read (albeit a bit repetitive in places) and reveals a feisty, somewhat short tempered, pioneering woman, very different from the Sunday School storybook with which I began. Not quite sure how I'll work with it yet, but it's good stuff. Just another seven biographies to find and read, then!!
This week is one of those where I am somewhere different each day, and one when there is a lot to fit in.
Yesterday, I had a lovely day-off trip to Carlisle, something I'd booked several weeks ago. I visited the castle, the cathedral the Tullie House museum and a particularly wonderful secondhand bookshop which had a whole floor devoted to theology.
Today I headed off to Stirling to attend a training session on Safeguarding, something that BUGB require me to do every three years, and that BUS happened to have a course planned. It was really well prepared and delivered, thought provoking and practical.
Tomorrow I'm basically in and around Glasgow, with a meeting in the morning and then lunch with the Coffee Club.
Thursday sees me back to Stirling for some more CMD (Continuous Ministerial Development) and a session on time management. I reckon I'm quite good at this, and have done oodles of compulsory courses on it in my time in industry, but it will be good to see what new hints and tips I can discover
Friday I am up very early to head down to Manchester to attend the funeral of the friend who died suddenly a couple of weeks ago. A long journey and one which I plan to put to good use doing some reading or writing.
Saturday will be a day given over to finishing preparations for Sunday which involves... an all age interactive service, a retirement lunch and a wedding (I may yet bunk off the evneing service!)
It's a week packed with good things - and I am really enjoying myself - but it's also a week with rather a lot of juggling, so I'm actually glad that next week will be somewhat more mundane!
One of the programmes I enjoy in television, when I get to see it, is The Last Leg which combines great humour with serious reflection. If you can handle colourful language, it's always worth a watch.
Last night was a two hour special remembering MP Jo Cox who was murdered a year ago, and celebrating diversity, recognising the truth that we have #moreincommon
The logo, choose love, combines Manchester worker bees and a heart-shaped London tube sign, honouring those affected by recent tragedies in each of these proud cities.
The programme was great, in places really funny, as it brought together politicians of most parties in good humoured exchanges (best for me was Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, which combined a gentle challenge to Scottish stereotyping and some much needed smiles).
This weekend, across the UK, many places are holding #thegreatgettogether street parties to celebrate diversity, and this is good.
Today is also Edinburgh Pride, combining celebration of the diversity that is LGBTQI+ with protest about ongoing injustices.
This morning, I went into Glasgow and, as I emerged from the railway station, heard the unmistakeable sound of an Orange Order fife band, as they marched through the city centre. The overt sectarianism represented by such an event seems to contradict the #moreincommon flavour of this weekend, but I have to concede that diversity means making space for that which troubles or offends me. I can express my disquiet, but if we claim to permit relgious and political freedom, and to promote tolerance, then it has to include those whose views I reject.
Tonight I am helping to marshall a huge charity event in Glasgow, which will see people clad in pink teeshirts (and bunny ears and tiaras and leg warmers and tutus and goodness knows what) walking 5, 10 or 20 miles around this city to raise money to support people affected by breast cancer. United by a common cause, people will encourage each other to walk to raise money, people who otherwise might have nothing in common.
In my personal utopia, there will be no need for groups who feel marginalised to take to the streets, because marginaliation will be no more. In my personal utopia, there will be no religious or political parades, because respect and peace will negate them. In my personal utopia, there will be no need to raise money for charities, whatever the cause, becuase the cuases will all be gone. But until then, I will continue to do my best to celebrate diversity, to focus on the #moreincommon and to #chooselove.
Now it's time for a catnap before the all-nighter!!
When I left Dibley, in the autumn of 2009, I put together the monetary gifts I'd been given, topped them up with some of my own and treated myself to a laptop.
For the greater part of eight years, I have been well served by my Compaq Pressario, albeit that it has worn out two power packs along the way. It has travelled to New Zealand, and occasionally into Europe. It has been to church most weeks. It has stored photos (all securely backed up) and music, powerpoints for church and private journals. It has endured much rough handling, including more than a few tumbles.
Yesterday it had one tumble too many. Initially it seemed unscathed, happily booted up (albeit slowly, it's been getting increasingly sluggish for a few months now) and did everything I asked of it. Then I folded down the lid - which went down very crookedly - and since then the screen has been kaput.
So, late evening hook up to monitor from PC, careful backup of as much as I can to my external hard drive, email key files for Sunday to church PC and hope to find a machine I can borrow for Sunday!
Annoying, but very much a first world 'problem'.
Annoying, but really, does it matter? No, I can't say it does, I don't actually need my powerpoint.
Annoying, but in the grand scheme of things?
I read yesterday that school girls who had escaped from the terrible fire in London went to school in their nightwear to sit their GCSEs... a busted laptop is mere frivolity by comparison.
My lap has served me very well, it's been a good and faithful servant, and it's reached a (more or less) natural end to its life.
I've a couple of ideas for replacements, so soon will be back to 'normal'....others will not be so fortunate as they try to rebuild their lives after tragedy.
I wrote these intercessions for last Sunday, which is why they carry clear references to God as Trinity (it was Trinity Sunday!). As events continue to unfold this week, they still seem relevant... (apologies in advance for typos!)
Triune God, divinity in community, we have reached the point in our worship together where we respond to your love for us with our prayers for others. And it’s a hard task, trying to avoid bland, banal generalities on the one hand and praying in our own opinions or desires on the other. In a week that has once again been full of highly charged news reporting, and at the end of which we are left with more questions than answers, it is difficult to know what, or how, to pray. On such occasions we gladly remind ourselves of the promises of scripture that Jesus is out great High priest who forever intercedes on our behalf, and that, when words fail, the Spirit intercedes for us with groans to articulate the inexpressible.
This week as those killed during events in Manchester and London are named and laid to rest, and many of those injured begin to be discharged from hospital, we give thanks for the work of the emergency services and NHS staff. We are also aware that this week alone, there have been similar events in Australia, France, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria and Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Turkey, most of which have not reached our news media. Too many to name, too complex to understand… what shall we pray? For peace. For healing. For reconciliation perhaps? Words fail us, ideas fall short – Jesus, son of God, victim of human violence, please intercede for us, and for all affected by violence and hatred.
This week we have had a general election for the Westminster parliament, we give thanks for the freedoms granted us by the democratic process, and for all those who have worked to count and recount votes. Whatever our own political views, and however we may feel about the result, we recognise the enormity of the tasks entrusted to these men and women as they take up office. Scripture reminds us that we should pray for those in authority, something that can be difficult at the best of times, and near impossible when disappointment, confusion or fear fill our hearts. What then, shall we pray? For wisdom. For justice. For compassion? Words fail, ideas fall short – Spirit, wisdom of God, hovering over chaos since the dawn of time, please intercede for us, and for all in positions of authority, local, national or international.
This week the complexity and diversity of everyday life has continued. The mundane daily routines punctuated, perhaps, by moments of intense pleasure or equally intense pain. For some there will have been sad news or bad news. For some it will just have been another so-so week. For some there will have been moments of wonder and delight. Praying for one another ought, we tell ourselves, to be easy, but soften it is anything but. To pray for our blessing feels improper. To pray for the blessing of others is tricky. What then, do we pray for those we love? What, then, do we pray for ourselves? For love. For hope. For faith. Words fail, ideas fall short – Triune God, community perfected, where intercession and response are perfectly expressed, take our muddled hopes and dreams, our frail faith and our battered hope, and weave of them something beautiful.
Today, we stand on the brink of a new week, a story yet untold, a journey that awaits. As we set out to discover what it will bring, grant that we may be bearers of faith and hope and love into a world where, it may seem, all are in short supply.
We offer our prayers, and ourselves in the name of Christ, Amen.