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  • #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

    A few weeks ago, my train journey home was severely disrupted due to a fatality - a suicide - on the tracks near Oxenholme.  According to the train manager, this is something that happens every couple of weeks... something in danger of becoming a statistic, a cause of 'delay repay' claims (I didn't, it felt wrong), rather than a human tragedy for those who knew and loved the person whose life was so bitterly unbearable that death seemed kinder, and for the driver, witnesses and emergency services who cannot unsee what they have seen.

    Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and I found my self recalling that, for some unknown reason, the very last time I saw her, my Mum recalled and reminded me of an event that occurred when I was about 17. 

    My Dad was in hospital and, during visiting time, I nipped down to the shop to pick up a newspaper for him.  There was a young man in the bed opposite with no visitors.  On a whim, I bought him a newspaper too, and took it to him before giving my Dad his.  I thought no more about it, indeed, until my Mum recalled it, I had forgotten it ever happened, and had to dig deep to recover the memory.

    What she told me shocked me.  Seemingly the next visiting time, when she was there on her own, the young man had called her over and asked why her daughter would do such a thing (I think she said something about me being a Christian) because he felt so worthless.  In fact, he had been contemplating suicide as soon as he could leave the hospital, but now, he felt there might be hope.

    Almost forty years later, I learned this.  And I really hope that he is now a man in his fifties or sixties whose life has been more good than bad.  I hope that in his lowest and saddest moments other people were able to show him that he mattered - that he matters.  Perhaps he's been able to do the same for others.

    Today I am reminded that the way I speak to, or act towards, others, matters, not necessarily in such a significant way, but in some way.  Kind words, kind acts... these I will seek to demonstrate.

  • Songs and Prayers from the World Church

    We had fun this morning. learning new songs singing old favourites, among them this one.

    OK, so our singing wasn't as perfectly executed as this, but I think we had fun.

    Back to 'normal' now after a long summer during which folk have graciously engaged with all sorts of different stuff.  Whilst I'm ready for a couple of Sundays off, I am also looking forward to our autumn programme, beginning with a short series based on psalms.

  • Ministry Matters...

    A few short bloggages today.

    Tomorrow I am headed south to meet with a Newly Accredited Minister (NAM) who I have been asked to mentor.

    On Friday I have some assorted pastoral roles to fulfil, notably as our drop-in group for vulnerable adults recommences after the summer break.

    On Saturday it's another trip south to attend the induction service for the minister who 'preached me in' to the Gathering Place almost nine years ago and is now entering a new pastorate herself.  I am privileged to have been invited to participate in the 'laying on of hands' on behalf of the 'wider Baptist family'.

    Then it's Sunday, and weekly privilege of leading God's people in worship.  As we reach the last of our 'all age' services, it is wonderful to share with others in a 'world church' themed act of worship.

    Ministry is always varied, and sometimes a lot of special moments arrive all at once.  In this season of 'new beginnings' it is great both to have opportunities to celebrate, affirm and encourage people in new ministries, and to continue to exercise my own alongside others in the place to which I am called.

  • Pure Privilege

    Today was my monthly visit to the residential care home.  Overall it was 'quiet' with very few requests for visits.  But the visits I did have were, as always, privileged.

    I spent some time with an elderly woman looking through her precious photo album, and learning about her family.  At the end of our time together, I prayed for her family, as requested.  Then she reached out, seeking a hug, before we parted.

    To be trusted by people you know is privilege enough, to have a (virtual, I've met her once before) stranger express gratitude and love is something beyond the norm.

    I am learning (or making up as I go along) a lot about chaplaincy, and very grateful to those who allow me into their lives, however fleetingly.

  • Just for fun...

    This has done the rounds a few times, and I may have posted ithere before, but it's worth sharing ... especially to those of us whose cats keep us humble!!

    Adam and Eve said, "Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you anymore. We are lonesome here and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us."

    And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves."

    And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased.

    And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

    And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal."

    And God said, "No problem. Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG."

    And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted.
    And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

    After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well."

    And God said, "No problem! I will create for them a companion who will be with them forever and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration."

    And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

    And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat's eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings. And Adam and Eve learned humility.

    And they were greatly improved.

    And God was pleased. And Dog was happy.

    And Cat didn't care one way or the other.