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  • Trains and, erm, more trains!

    Last week was a day trip to Selly Oak by train - and I was entertained by the unicorn-shaped hole made by the train manager during a ticket inspection.  So much nicer than the scribble with a black pen that is so often the case.

    Trains continue to be a theme this week and beyond...

    Tomorrow it's a day trip to Ormskirk to meet the NAM I am mentoring for BUGB.  Whilst I will sneak a quick lunch with a friend, it is basically work all day - my laptop will accompany me and my hope is to make good use of the journey.

    Wednesday is 'quieter' only local Glasgow trains, but four meetings/appointments so quite a busy day.

    Thursday and Friday it's destination Airbles (Motherwell) for the Baptist Assembly, where, this year, I have somehow agreed to staff the stand for Operation Agri during the 'breaks'.  I am looking forward to catching up with folk, learning what the Union is up to, and celebrating God's goodness.

    Then a weekend 'at home' before I head off to Bangor next Monday for a five day silent retreat in Wales.  A retreat - not a holiday as some folk are wont to call it.  For sure, I take annual leave to do it, but it's very intentional and 'churchy'.  Inevitably there will be service prep to be done in the train, and I come back to a full on weekend of Bible study and services.

    Were that not enough, the next week is a very long day-trip to Birmingham for the BMS Catalyst Live event - a glorious miscellany of theology, spirituality and sharing.  I think given I will leave home a little after 3 a.m. that day, sleeping rather than working seems a good diea for the outbound journey.

    Don't misunderstand, I love being part of wider Baptist life, and feel that, overall, it is good for my own folk that I do so.  It's just a challenge sometimes, when everything seems to land at once, trying to fit everything in that I want - as well as need - to do. Hence, today is not fully 'off' as I've decided to spread the load a little.

    Still, if I get more unicorn stamps on my tickets, I will be one happy bunny!!

     

  • 'Postcards from the Land of Grief'

    Depending how things are going I may or may not catch Radio 4 'Sunday Worship' before leaving for church.  This morning I was keen to listen because I knew that it would be something a little different, and something very special.

    Richard Littledale is a Baptist minister, roughly my age, who wife died last year after living with cancer for seven years.  Courageously, Richard has shared his story of grief through social media and on 'Thought for the Day'.  Today's broadcast was tender, profound, courageous, honest and generally awesome.

    If you read this within a few weeks of me posting, you should be able to find the recording here...

    It included this poem, with the music of Enrico Moriconi's 'Gabriel's Oboe' in the background...

    Sightseers into Pilgrims    by Evangeline Paterson

    I used to think --
    loving life so greatly --
    that to die would be
    like leaving a party
    before the end.

    Now I know that the party
    is really happening
    somewhere else;
    that the light and the music --
    escaping in snatches
    to make the pulse beat
    and the tempo quicken --
    come from a long way
    away.

    And I know too
    that when I get there
    the music will never
    end.

  • 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.