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  • Bible Study...

    Another wonderful afternoon, with five Iranian and three British adults, plus a couple of children and two cats!

    "To live is Christ, to die is gain" - always a tricky verse, but, wow, what a wonderful conversation it prompted.  As well as some exploration of who can be/is saved, we thought about what it means to live in the light of this verse and the surrounding passage, which seemed to boil down to:

    Be the you God made you to be

    Live every day as if Jesus might come back - so live the way he showed us

    What heaven is (is like), is a mystery

    There was a lot more, and some was quite taxing, and, it was really wonderful.  Thank you W and G who are working with me to deliver this, and who bring such great insights to our conversations.


  • Growing in depth...

    This afternoon I will join others to facilitate our Drop In group.  Since the start of September, numbers have been quite low, and a few folk who travel in long distances have, wisely, realised that it'stime for them to stop coming.  We are carefully thinking through what the implications are, whilst carrying on meeting week by week.

    This week I'm on the 'epilogue', which has gently been transformed since A, M and I took over responsiblity.  What I have planned for today is an exploration of differences between the gospels, using one of the few stories shared by all four - the feeding of the multitude.  Whether that's what will end up happening, I know not, but it matters less, because what we are experiencing is growth of a different sort...

    The last couple of weeks, attendances have been very small, more facilitators than participants.  However, we have had some amazing conversations that would never have arisen even a few months ago.  Last week we shared our conversion/faith stories and I was blown away by the story told by one of the participants, something he would never have shared in a bigger group.

    As winter draws on, we may need to make some tough decisions - but in the meantime, God is blessing us with deeper, more open, honest and meaningful conversations.  This, too, is growth.

  • Tea and chat...

    Yesterday I had a meeting to attend in Selly Oak, which meant catching the 05:49 ex-GLC Virgin Voyager.  By the time we reached Preston, I had studied all the papers I needed for the meeting and completed a draft for Sunday's service.  I settled down to read a novel.

    At Wigan a man got on and sat next to me, we said hello and then reverted to our private worlds.

    Then the shop-person came through the carriage taking orders, and I decided to order a  tea, handing over the correct change.  My neighbour also ordered a tea, but needed change, which would be brought back with his drink.

    A few minutes later back came the shop-person laden with brown bags full of hot drinks!

    I was handed the bag with tea and change, my neighbour the bag with just tea.  Realising the error, I swapped the bags, we smiled, and then as we supped our tea, the most wonderful conversation emerged about faith (he was a devout British-Asian Muslim originally from Wigan and now living in Manchester) and humanity, inclusion and diversity.  He told me his faith story from 'nominal muslim' to father who wanted his children to understand their heritage.  In repsonse to his asking, after I'd told him what I do/am, I told him the story of how God called me into ordained ministry, and what means for me, and how our church seeks to express its faith.

    It was the most amazing, grace-filled converasation, and I was sad when it was cut short because I had to get off the train.  As we parted, he handed me a book he had planned to read on the journey, saying it was a gift.  Not a tract.  Not an attmept at conversion.  Just something he thought I might find interesting.

    lives of man.jpg'The Lives of Man' explores Islamic understandings of life as pre-concpetion, in the world, in the grave, Resurrection, and the Garden of Fire.

    I will read for many reasons, but mostly, because it was given to me by a total stranger with a beautiful smile, an open mind and a warm heart.

    Was God in that moment? oh I think so!

    And all because of a mix up in cups of tea... or, as my travelling compantion would have assured me, it was ordained.  And maybe, in some way or other, it was.

    Will either of us convert? Highly unlikely!

    Was I blessed? Without a shadow of a doubt, yes.

  • #73Cows

    Sometimes, people ask me why I stopped eating meat and fish (a few years back now!).  I usually answer something about never eating that much meat, about no longer feeling I could kill an animal for food, and that it was being asked to sign a petition to stop people eating cats and dogs they finally convinecd me to stop being such a hypocrite.

    Ths beautiful short film traces the story of a beef farmer who followed a long journey from feeling he neededto do something to, eventually, finding a new home for his his last #73cows.  You might need a hanky.  And it might change the way you feel about your Sunday roast...

  • Canonisation of Archbishop Oscar Romero

    Every Christian tradition, in my opinion, has its own canon of saints, official of otherwise.  Maybe even individuals do - the names of those whose lives have inspired us in faith and service.

    When I was a ministerial student, one of the 'saints unofficial' celebrated by the college community was Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was remembered annually in the context of our chapel Eucharist, along with the (unnamed) nuns also slaughtered, .  We learned of the faith, work, witness and sacrifice of this able pastor and theologian.  We welcomed students from El Salvador on our Masters programme, learning with and from them what liberation theology looks like in various contexts.

    Today, the Roman Catholic Church formally canonises Archbishop Oscar Romero... it gives me a wry chuckle to think that Baptists, who don't do saints (much) got there at least two decades earlier.

    May the legacy of courage, truth, love and sacrifice continue to inspire and encourage others, whatever their tradition or faith, now and long into the future.