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  • At Home in Lent - Days 1 & 2

    Yesterday I left home at 5 a.m. returning at 9 p.m. and worked on for a couple of hours thereafter... I think I need to give myself a talking to.  However, by chance or serendipity or some such, the going out and coming in sort of connects with the two objects identified for days 1 and 2...

    • Front door
    • Threshold

    The author of the book uses the familiar Holman Hunt image to remind the reader of the need to open from within the door to our hearts (behold I stand at the door and knock...) for the first, and the story of Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee for the second.

    Simon invites Jesus into his home, but seemingly make no arrangements for his feet to be washed. Simon is shocked and horrified when a woman washes Jesus' feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair and anoints them with precious oil.  The threshold, a transition place from out to in, and an expectation of hospitality once it has been crossed.

    Over the last several months, most of the folk from the Gathering Place has crossed the threshold of the manse (two groups still to go). I have been struck by the generosity of those who have entered, some bringing dishes to share, several bringing flowers or chocolates (or both), and all bringing themselves.  It's this last which is the key, surely - that the host opens their home and heart (and hearth if they have one!) to welcome guests and make them comfortable, allowing them to be themselves.

    Hospitality, welcoming and sharing, allowing others - and allowing Christ - to cross the threshold of our open(ned) hearts and take up space within.

    As the much-loved and often sung song says:

    Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter: all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

  • Lent Reading

    Tomorrow I start my Lent reading. becuase it seemed to work in Advent, I'm going to attempt to read two Lent books in parallel.  Some form of daily 'bloggage' will emerge as a result.  I'll also be 'Counting my Blessings' with Christian Aid, so plenty of stuff to make Lent meaningful.

  • Fra Angelico, Philippians and Food for Thought

    Yesterday's evening service centred on the life and work of Fra Angelico, and wonderful frescos to be found in the Convent of San Marco in Florence.  This famous image, often found on Christmas cards is beautiful and mysterious, drawing the viewer into the story and posing questions as it does so.

    Yesterday's morning service saw a guest preacher speaking on the theme 'the Lord is near' based on Philippians 4:4-9.  A very familiar passage, so always good to hear what someone else has drawn from it.  Gentle in delivery and clear is message, it was well re ceived, and that makes me glad.

    In between times, I was fortunate to join some others for lunch with the guest preacher, and to enjoy some interesting conversation.  Towards the end of the meal, he asked me what it is like for women in ministry in the Baptist Union of Scotland.  It was a conversation that drew in others around the table, who have lived with, and know, this story better than I do.  What struck me is the internal tension I live with day by day, of knowing absolutely this is my calling, of being loyal to 'my' Baptist Union (s) in converation with outsiders, and sometimes finding it all a bit overwhelming

    It hurts, and it will always hurt, when I am 'blanked' or excluded on the grounds of my gender, yet, here I am, I can do no other. 

    It is sometimes very lonely being a 'pioneer' trying to do what I believe God calls me to do yet fearful of fouling up the future for those who may follow, yet I can do no other.

    It is true, that I could have a much easier time as female Baptist minister if I returned to England - yet God continues to call me to Scotland, so I can do no other.

    There are moments when for two figs I'd give it all up and stack shelves in the supermarket - yet here I am, I can do no other.

    There are moments when the joy and wonder, privilege and mystery of it all overwhelm me, and in delight I recall, here I am, I can do no other.


    Mary, sat on a stool, arms cradling her middle... she offers her 'yes' to God.  A yes that says, 'here I am I can do no other, let it be to me according to your will.'

    Women who are ordained Baptist Ministers ought perhaps to be more attentive to Mary, whose heart was pierced by metaphorical swords, who experienced misunderstanding and who must have, sometimes, felt desperately alone.


    Today I am glad, truly glad, to be in the place, and among the people, to which and to whom I believe to the core of my being God calls me.  

    Rejoice in the Lord always - the Lord is always near.

  • Seek and ye shall find...

    For the past eight years, some friends of mine have diligently searched for soy-free chocolate in order to make a gift of some to me.  Finally, in Austria some was discovered that ticks all the boxes... soy-free, Fairtrade and the milk chocolate, which I've opened and sampled two squares for breakfast (alongside porridge obviously), is silky smooth and luxurious.  Even better, the dark chocolate is dairy free, so I can enjoy it during my non-dairy Lent rather than needing to save it for Easter!

    Thank you, friends... Danke. Merci. Grazi. Diolch. Obrigado. Eucharisto... and any other language that can be mustered!

  • Happy St David's Day

    Daffodils in the University of Glasgow chapel for morning prayers today.