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  • Going Deeper - with Mari Jones

    Week 3, discussion starters...


    Going Deeper with Mari Jones – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss


    My Own Story

    Mari (Mary) Jones is someone whose ‘story’ consists almost entirely of how she came to buy a Welsh Bible from Reverend Charles in Bala, and how that encounter affected him.  Thereafter, she lived a very ordinary life, working as a weaver, bringing up a family and keeping bees.

    • Most of us would describe our lives as very ‘ordinary’ yet there will have been significant moments or events that shaped us. Can I identify something significant in my own story? 
    • Mari never moved more than a few miles from the tiny village where she was born, and seems to have lived a quiet life. What encouragement can I draw from that?
    • Who are the Mari Jones type people I’ve known, whose stories are unknown or untold, but whose lives have made a difference?

    An Achievable Goal

    The young Mari dreamed of learning to read and of owning her own Bible.  She worked hard to do that, attending school lessons when they became available, walking many miles to read a Bible owned by a farmer’s wife, and undertaking chores for which she was paid a penny or two.  It took a long time to save up the 3/6 (17 ½ p) to pay for her Bible, and she then undertook at 26 mile walk to Bala to buy one.

    • Whilst a challenging goal, this was one that Mari could achieve with hard work and determination. What kind of goals (if any) do I set for myself?  Are they short, medium or long term?
    • How persistent am I in pursuing my goals? What one thing might inspire me to deny other pleasures, take on extra work and save for a long time?
    • The farmer’s wife and others helped Mari by giving her paid work. How could I help a young person achieve a goal to which they aspire? 

    A Living Word?

    As Baptists, we consider the Bible to be very important in informing our beliefs and our practices as followers of Jesus.  Throughout the centuries, people have worked hard to make this book available to people in their own languages

    • What part does the Bible play in my own life? If I read it, what does that involve?  What helps me to make sense of it?
    • What timeless truths and/or ethical principles do I find in the Bible? How do I live them out?

    It’s OK to be Ordinary

    Mari’s story is simple and brief, and most of her life was very ordinary, yet it continues to inspire individuals and organisations.

    • How does affect the way I think about myself or others?
    • What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?
  • Ordinary Heroes - Mari Jones

    It was tempting to use some online translation tool to convert this post into Welsh - except I know that would result in very dodgy Welsh!

    Today we're thinking about Mari Jones - Mary Jones to most of us - a Welsh girl who has a place in the story of the Bible Societies, and who spent most of her life in obscurity, never starying more than a few miles from her birth place.  it is that ordinariness that makes her special.

    Prototype love spoon.. messed up the dots but never mind!

    Love spoons have an interesting history... Way back when, each person had their own carved wooden spoon to sup their food.  Young men who wished to court young women would carve spoons with coded (not very if they could be understood!) symbols and would pass them over at chapel.  Later, they became a popular token for weddings.  My protoype has a mix of old Welsh and made up symbols, but the meaning is fairly self evident!

  • Journeying Stories

    Last weekend was a significant one for two ordained women I know in England, both of whom are now former Baptists!  It's been interesting to ponder their journeys, such as I know of them, to compare and contrast, and to think a bit about my own ongoing journey.

    J was ordained forty years ago as a Baptist minister.  She had resigned as a Baptist minister and become a URC minister long before I knew her.  She is a highly skilled and extensively published liturgist and hymn-writer, among her published liturgies being the one she wrote for leaving Baptist ministry.  Forty years a minister - ordained when I was still at school and still working out what this Christianity thing meant for me.  J taught me pastoral theology and some stuff around liturgy and worship when I was at 'vicar school.' Forty years is a tremendous achievement and I salute her for her faith, her determination, and her willingness to make a stand over her understanding around human sexuality.

    A was a also a long term Baptist minister.  I'm not quite sure how long she served, but certainly right up to her retirement.  Last weekend she was ordained within the Anglican communion and is now serving as a curate in Derbyshire.  She is a another woman for whom I have huge respect and admiration.  She is one of the of few people who has preached a sermon that has stuck in my mind.  A resolute and determined woman with a passion for gender justice and addressing the topic of violence against women.  She was my personal tutor in my final year at college, and no-one could have had a wiser or more supportive companion.  I wish her well in this new stage in her journey.

    The two events happening simultaneously and separately for these two women I respect has given me pause for thought.  I can't imagine resigning from the list of accredited Baptist ministers.  Neither can I imagine becoming an Anglican (not even a Piskie version thereof).  But I know the danger of saying 'never'!  For me, for now, ministry is definitely Baptist, and definitely in the church I am privileged to serve in Glasgow. 

    Should I work until my anticipated retirement age, I'll clock up around 28 years, which isn't a bad innings... but more important is to keep plodding on, taking a day at a time and trusting in the promises of our faithful God.

  • When Hoarding Comes Good...

    As part of my ongoing (if currently stalled) decluttering process, I seriously considered getting rid of all my children's books.  I'm glad I didn't, becuase it meant I still have this one which, whilst dated linguistically, remains a useful resource for tracing the way the Bible has been passed on over time, at least in the UK.

    I reckon it was 15p well spent about 45 years ago!

  • Going Deeper - with David Livingstone

    Week 2 question starters...

    Going Deeper with David Livingstone – Some Questions to Ponder or Discuss


    My Own Story

    David Livingstone’s story shows that he had a questioning approach to faith, seeking to reconcile it with his interest in science and, later in the light of his African experience to reflect on his views on salvation

    • Thinking about my own life and faith, what questions have I asked? Have I struggled to integrate my faith with other aspects of my life? 
    • Have I had any experiences that have caused me to re-think my faith or theology? How did that feel?
    • Is there one question that is occupying me right now, or maybe that ought to be?

    What is Success?

    David had aspirations as an evangelist, an abolitionist and as an explorer.  It could be argued that he was unsuccessful in all of these, gaining only one (recorded) convert, failing to find the source of the River Nile, and slavery got worse before it got better.  However, he viewed all he did as part of a much bigger, eternal, perspective of God’s Kingdom.

    • How do I measure success? Is that helpful or healthy? 
    • What are the advantages or disadvantages of viewing our endeavours in the larger context of God’s eternal promises?
    • Livingstone’s achievements in exploring Africa were enormous, if not what he had imagined. Are there healthier, life-giving ways of viewing our own endeavours?


    It seems there are two main theological questions that arise from David Livingstone’s story, and they are both complex and challenging for our own discipleship.

    • Who can be ‘saved’, how does that occur, and how does that affect our views on mission and evangelism?
    • Livingstone understood his salvation not as a ‘ticket to heaven’ but as a call to action to alleviate human misery. He wasn’t (just) ‘saved from’ but he was ‘saved for’ a reason.  What practical/political/values difference does it make for me to be a follower of Jesus?

    Clay Feet

    The apostle Peter is our scriptural example of a man whose life was a blend of the admirable and unworthy.  David Livingstone was no saint, and his journals show he regretted not being a better husband/father.  Even Jesus, it might be argued, failed (from a human perspective) by getting himself executed. 

    • How does this affect the way I view myself or others?
    • What one thing will I take away from today, to encourage me in the days ahead?