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  • Practice Hospitality...

    Last August, I set myself a challenge - to invite everyone in church, in groups of 8-10, round to my home for a meal.  Last night, the final group gathered, and we enjoyed food and friendship.  Everyone has now been invited, even if not everoyne has been able to attend (a quick count suggests around ten adults have not made it, though of those, most have been to the manse many times before).

    It's been fun.  I have cooked goodness knows how many chicken portions for meat eaters as part of the centrepiece 'roast dinner'. Over the months, I've got more lazy and done less scratch cooking - last night I served bought soup!  More than the food, though, it has been the coming together and the chat.  For the most part, we don't talk about church, we talk about real life.  It has been pure joy to have some 'don't do church' partners at my table knowing they would not feel excluded or be prosyletised.  It's been lovely to talk with people for longer than is feasible on a Sunday morning.

    On Saturday, our Bible study will conclude for this session with an Easter Tea, and I have plans to invite round the Bible Class and their leaders for a meal too.  After that, it's a bit of break before I start all over again in the autumn!  Might have to think of a new menu though!!

  • At Home in Lent - Day 36

    The focus for today is curtains (and a link to the 'veil' in the Temple or 'curtain' in the Tabernacle), and their use to 'keep out' prying eyes from what is private.

    I can only assume the writer hasn't walked through Glasgow in the evening, when unshuttered, uncurtained windows shine with the flickering light of televisions or glow yellowish with electric light.  I pass few homes with net curtains or voiles, and find myself unusual in that I do draw my curtains once it's dark in order to, as my Mum used to say, 'shut out the night'.

    I found myself thinking about curtains and privacy, and the 'fake' privacy afforded by curtains in medical settings... There's the nurse who pulls round a curtain while you remove articles of clothing, precisely to walk in and examine whatever is now revealed, as if somehow it is the disrobing that is private not the body part.  Or there's the four bedded bay/room in a ward where the consutlant draws round the curtain and speaks in tones not quite hushed enough of medical diagnoses and implications, whilst those in adjacent beds try not to listen in but cannot help but overhear.

    There certainly is a time and place for privacy, and certainly there are times when the swish of the curtain being drawn round a hospital bed/treatment area is a welcome sound.  But I can't help but thinking there is something worth pondering in the permeability of curtains - whether that's light coming in through a voile or net, or sound coming out from treatment area.

    Whatever we may claim about the rending of the Temple curtain/veil, there remains a 'something' between us and God, but that something is not totally opaque or sound proof.  Every now and then we catch glimspes of God's smile; every once in a while we hear heaven's laughter; perhaps sometimes we sense God's annoyance or hear God's wracking sobs...  Only when we cross the mysterious threshold of death will we finally see the curtain opened - until then it's slivers of light and whispers of eternity.  

  • Dinner Guests - Experimental Cuisine

    An experiment for this evening's dinner guests - a vegan spiral vegetable tart.  Hope is tastes good! If nothing else, it's pretty!

  • At Home in Lent - Day 35

    What does the word 'nightlight' suggest to you?  To me, it'as the forerunner of the tealight.  When I was a child, there was always a pack of Price's nightlights in the cupboard under the sink in case of a power cut (1970s, three-day week and all that).  For the writer of the book, it is something else, it is the kind of electric lights that parents leave in their baby's bedroom, or that people install in a bathroom or hallway to give a low level of light for night time use.

    The Bible story is Nicodemus visiting Jesus under cover of darkness and famous story of John 3.  With links to John 1, Jesus as light in the darkness of a disordered word is easily made.

    A Taize chant:

    Stay with us, oh Lord Jesus, Christ, night will soon fall; then stay with us, oh Lord, Jesus Christ - lighten our darkness.

    A prayer:

    “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord, and by thy great mercy, defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.”

  • At Home in Lent - Day 34

    It all feels a bit 'middle class' today because the object is a piano, and the focus is a triad chord as a metaphor for the Trinity.

    The first piano we had when I was a child was a battered Victorian upright, the intricate fretwork of which had seen better days, and the velvet backing was threadbare.  And the A two above middle C didn't work! It cost a couple of quid at an auction, including delivery, and how I loved bashing out tunes on it.  Somewhere along the line it disappeared and was eventually replaced by a modern upright bought from a notice in a shop window for £25 - and then sold at a profit to my parents after I'd left home! For a number of years I had a second hand electronic piano, but a couple of years ago I sold it for £25 to a young student desperate for something to play.  Now, when I do play, it is church pianos of various sorts and sizes, and the lack of practice is self evident!

    The trinity as a chord, mission as harmony - it's not a bad metaphor, albeit as imperfect as any other.  I quite like the idea of a God who employs beat up pianos with missing hammers to create beautiful music, of a God who turns my stumbling, bumbling attempts into harmonious melodies.

    And for those who weren't lucky enough to grow up in an era of free music lessons and cheap second-hand pianos?  Each of us adds our voice, our rhythm, our presence, to create a metaphorical symphony more beautiful than any soloist could ever play.