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  • Wrapping up the TeamBuilders Theme...

    This Sunday is the last (number seven of seven) service based on the SU material.  It's been an interesting challenge to work with it.  I've enjoyed reading some fairly large chunks of scripture to enable me to compose the 'stories' of the characters we've met.  I've been stretched once or twice when themes that emerged were too similar to events in our own contemporary context, and 'reflections' had to be re-worked.  I've also given quite a lot of thought to what is - or isn't - helpful in encouraging others to engage with the stories.

    All of this with a personal backdrop of adjusting to the death of my mother (just over three months ago now) and organising a simple ceremony for the burial of her ashes (which will take place tomorrow).  As I have said, elsewhere, grief is a funny old thing, and managing my thoughts and feelings over recent weeks has been its own challenge - some of what I've explored in the Bible stories has also come quite close to home.

    I've been very blessed to have the love and friendship of the Gatherers, even, or maybe especially, when I I've been a pain in the b*m.  Being part of "Team Gathering Place" is very precious, and I am privileged indeed to continue to serve among and alongside these good folk.  Maybe that's all a bit mushy slushy, but hey ho.  Another summer series draws to its end, and the God who has brought us safe thus far will continue to lead us on.

    (Likely to be radio silence for a day or three due to travels south and meetings when I come back home)

  • Social Media at its best...

    Wow!  Between this blog post and some social media conversations, I am a bit clearer about whether or not to 'get on my bike'!

    A physio friend has directed me to some suitable exercises that I can start whilst waiting for formal treatment, and given some guidance on better/less good exercises alternatives.

    Cycling is getting mixed reviews - but at the same time I've had an offer of an exercise bike which will allow me to pedal away without worrying about traffic, hills and the like.

    Aqua-aerobics, pilates and yoga are all being recommended as alternatives... and certainly worth looking into.

    All feels very encouraging.

  • Long waits, and even longer names!... Better get on my bike then.

    Today, after a very, very long wait that would embarrass anyone keeping a record of NHS waiting times, I saw a very lovely orthopaedic surgeon who was as gentle, open and honest as his colleague, who I saw over a year ago, was not.  I knew that the chronic pain in my hips and back wasn't sinister, and I knew that the back pain was really subsidiary to the hip pain... I'd just been waiting over a year for the results of the investigations that allow a precise diagnosis to be made.

    So now I know that I have bilateral gluteal tendinopathy (and not as had been assumed trochanteric bursitis) which in plain language is mainly an aging effect (thanks) that means the tendons holding me together are caught up in a tear-repair process that will take many years to resolve itself.

    The huge positive, from my viewpoint, is that walking is not making it worse, and in fact is beneficial - hurrah!  However, other forms of exercise, notably swimming and cycling, are meant to be even better.  As swimming isn't really going to work for me (surgical redesign means one shoulder gets very sore if I swim more than a few lengths) it's looking like I need to get on a bike.

    I'm not a great cycling fan, but hey ho, if it helps... So I am now researching suitable bicycles and suitable places to start riding (you will have seen the European Championship cycle road races... Glasgow is one big hill (or several actually)).  If it helps my hips, keeps me fit and avoids me clogging up waiting lists for overstretched NHS departments, then all to the good.

  • Summer Series 2018 - Questions to Ponder - Week 6 - Paul, Barnabas, John Mark and Silas

    For anyone who is interested...

    Questions to Ponder

    1. What do we know about Paul and Barnabas before the events described in this story? How would you imagine their personalities?  

    2. We are told that the two men ‘disagreed sharply’ over the reinstatement of John Mark and parted company. Do you think one of them was ‘right’ in his view and why is that?  What do you think you might have said?


    1. John Mark clearly messed up quite badly during his travels with Barnabas and Paul. How do you think he might have felt about the possibility of another chance?  How do you feel when you mess up?  Can you think of times you have been given, or have been denied, second chances? How has that felt?


    1. Silas is invited by Paul to go with him on his next journey. What thoughts do you think he might have had as they set off?  How might you have felt knowing that you are replacing someone who seems to have messed up?  How might it feel to follow someone who was amazingly popular and successful?


    1. Both Paul and Barnabas are ‘big’ characters in the story of the early church. Sometimes when prominent people in Christian life fall out, or are deemed to fail or offend, the media and the church can be unkind or even ruthless (e.g. Steve Chalke, Vicky Beeching, recent events at Willow Creek).  What insights might we find from this story to help us (locally and as the worldwide Church) to respond more kindly?


    1. Is there someone in this story with whom you identify? Why is that?  What would you, as that person, like to say to the other characters?


    1. After Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, each taking a companion with him, far from destroying the Church, it continued to grow. Pauls’ writings suggest that, as a minimum, he respected Barnabas and John Mark, and may well have been reconciled with them.  What thoughts or questions does this raise for you?    
  • Prayers for Moss Side

    I started awake at 2:30 this morning, nothing unusual there, between nigthsweats and an overactive brain I rarely sleep through the night.  When I listened to the news later on, I learned that this was the time that Police were called to Moss Side following a multiple shooting.

    I have a soft spot for Moss Side, mainly because when I was at Vicar School I lived on its northern edge.  For a year I worked with an Anglican church serving the Alexandra Park Estate - the Alex Estate as we called it.  Here people of many nationalities, races and faiths lived alongside one another, mostly peacefully, often in poverty and with a shared history of gangs, drugs and riots, police 'stop-and-search' and more.  I wel recall driving slowly round the estate looking for a house nyumber, to disocver I was being followed by a police car whose driver assumed I was up to no good...

    For sure, it was black majority, my white face stood out like a sore thumb pretty much anyhwere I went. Yes, there were young men who carried guns or kept one under the bed. And, certainly, I attended the funeral of at least one gang-land murder.

    But it was a place where mostly people were peaceable, peace-loving and decent.

    Today my prayers are especially for the folk at St Eds and St James, the churches I knew best.  I also pray for Moss Side, for Hulme, for Lonsight and all the other neighbourhoods and communities in Manchester that, too readily, are labelled negatively due to the actions of a few.