Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Blessings

Its always a great privelege to light the Christmas candle and share Christmas greetings with a congregation at the Watchnight service. This year, in a new place, with a new people, that sense of privelege was not diminished. Although its only been a few months, the intensity of joys and sorrows shared have forged links and created bonds that can be replicated in few other relationships. All through advent as we prepared to welcome the Christ child, that sense of  building hope and expectation has been to the fore. In many ways, today's world is not so different from the world into which Mary brought her child. Still folk want and need to believe that change is a possibility and that there really is more to life than the bleak picture painted by world economic recession. The birth of a child in such bizarre circumstances in a Bethlehem stable seemed an unlikely antidote to the oppression facing people then. Perhaps it seems just as unlikely today. But the longing for love and light and hope is not diminished. And so the Christ child is welcomed again. And we go on perpetuating the notion of change for the better.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Spreading joy, spreading hope

Yesterday and today the church was full of proud parents and friends listening to the Christmas Story told by the children. Both the Youth Church and Forehill Primary School made a splendid job of it. Anyone who didn't have a tear in their eye must have a heart of stone.
I'm very conscious that at this time of year there are those who feel "left out" in the celebrations. It was for just such folk that God sent love into the world. The children provided timely reminders of the hope that overcomes fear in every darkness that humans face. Its a pity we can't bottle that.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
St John chapter 1 v 1-5, 14

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Christina Rossetti

The words of this familiar Christmas carol might lull us into a warm fuzzy sentimental notion of Christmas. Nothing could be further from the stark reality of a crude stable in a land occupied by enemy forces. But it was that darkness that the arrival of God dispelled.
And the light of love kindled by the advent of the Christ child continues to outshine darkness.
In many ways, nothing has changed- there are still vast areas of darkness. And yet in fact, everything has changed because love came down and continues to be born in every place where change is needed. This fourth week in advent, where can love be seen beyond all the trimmings – love that lasts and transforms.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Be sure your sins will find you out...

In my last parish, I regularly indulged in what I liked to call "pub evangelism". The local here just doesn't have the same appeal. However, I found my way there last night. It was an interesting experience. I got involved in a game of Dominos (which I won!). Throughout the night I managed to keep my profession a secret despite being interrogated as to what had brought our family to this part of the world  and where, exactly, did I live. I left feeling that I'd done OK. As a friend pointed out, maybe to engage in evangelism, one has to 'fess up to being "in the business", but that's a mere technicality.
Tonight, however, on an outing with the youth church in another part of town, I ran into my domino partner who was extremely embarrassed about having "chatted up" a woman of the cloth. Clearly someone had "grassed me up" and blown my cover. Oh well... such is life. At least I can now add "domino shark" to my CV.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken hearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favour has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.
Isaiah 61 v 1-3

What would constitute good news for you today? What would bring beauty into your brokenness? Change is inevitable throughout life although we tend to be much less tolerant of change in the church. Change is not always bad as many seem to assume – like the hymn that has the line “change and decay in all around I see”. Change can, more often, be a very positive thing. But how we react to change is what matters. Those who followed that baby, grown into Christ the man, turned their world upside down in response to his challenge and call.
A challenge and a call that hasn’t altered through the course of history. A challenge and a call that is re- issued to you and me in this time and in this place.
Dare we engage with that challenge today? Dare we move from where we are to where God wants us to be – still transforming the world around us?
Look again at the baby this year and see God changing the world.
Can we risk God changing us today?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Floating in the air...

No, not The snowman but Paddy's milestone. This was the view as I headed home via the M77 on Saturday. My head was full of John the Baptist preparing the way and Isaiah's call to "fill every valley and level every mountain" in anticipation of Sunday's preaching. One of the things that makes this part of the world so spectacular is its hills and valleys and so I instinctively scream a protest at the very idea of that being changed. Does that protest go deeper? Am I resistant to other changes that need to happen before the advent of God's kingdom? I'm sure most of us, if we care to reflect on it, will find a part of ourselves that prove to be obstacles to God's brave new world. This advent may we be able to name those and to make a start on the levelling.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


3 Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! 4 Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. 5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
Isaiah 40 v 3-5

“Always winter and never Christmas” .So it was in the magical land of Narnia under the spell of the Witch, until, with the help of four children, her spell was broken.
The CS Lewis classics The Chronicles of Narnia are appealing to a whole new audience of youngsters thanks to Disney making movies of the books.
For the children in the story, it all starts when they discover, behind the fur coats at the back of an old wardrobe, a door that leads to a whole new world. Their entry to this new world is not welcomed by the witch who lives there who can see that her reign is threatened by their arrival.
Christmas, penetrating the darkness of our winter is not always welcomed either by those who would want to see folk left in darkness. For Christmas brings the hope of a new beginning, the warmth of love and the possibility of change. The church’s Christmas message mirrors the themes of Narnia – finding hope in unlikely places, triumphing over the odds and restoration of peace and goodwill. In a world in need of hope, love and peace, the baby born at Christmas grows up to fulfil our dreams and calls us to do the same.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Old wives tale

It was clear on Sunday that I was incubating some horrid throat bug. Never mind, a few folk told me - the cold will kill it off. Since we're experiencing some beautiful bright frosty weather, I believed them. So much so that I headed off to the beach early Monday morning and tried to "blow the cobwebs away". By Monday night I was experiencing classic flu like symptoms - joint pains, high temp, bones I didn't know existed making their presence felt. So this week has been puncuated by various remedies - and definitely no beach. First Sunday in advent and I fell for a myth. Now isn't that an ancient theme. God's incarnation was surrounded by myths and old wives tales. The beauty though is that the light that shone in the darkness has never been put out. Just hoping this bug moves on so that I can proclaim some advent hope.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
They lived in a land of shadows but now light is shining on them. Isaiah 9 v 2

This first week in advent we ponder the liberation of folk who have known only oppression for such a long time.
And, immediately, we see how the advent message pierces today’s world. There are so many suffering people in our world and in our community for whom it seems there is no respite. Injustice prevails and expectations hit an all time low. To be touched by the hope of advent and to begin to imagine a vestige of light at the end of the tunnel would be miracle enough. As we remember those who know no justice or freedom and look into the dark places in our own lives, may we experience hope – for ourselves and for our world.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Advent Reflections

A few years ago, I organized a retreat for clergy right at the beginning of advent.
I explained to colleagues that it was important to take time out to prepare for the season before all hell broke loose in the headlong rush into Christmas. A colleague very gently reminded me that, rather than all hell breaking loose, what we were preparing for was all heaven breaking loose. How true. We celebrate God coming into the world in human form. It takes time to grasp the enormity of that.
Most years, the approach of Christmas is relentless. It is upon us before we know it, ready or not.
And yet the church calendar has set aside a season before Christmas to allow us to prepare.
Often we’re so busy rushing ahead to Christmas to appreciate the beauty of Advent.
This year, I've written some short reflections for my congregation, one for each week of Advent. It is hoped that these short reflections will help to restore just a little of the balance and allow us to pause for a time – and then to welcome all heaven breaking loose in our lives.
My prayer is that these brief meditations will become a part of our Christmas preparations and that, together, we will be able to welcome the Christ child with peace and hope in our hearts.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Life's a beach

Even on gray, blustery days, the beach is a place of refreshment. A place of space and solitude where concerns are carried on the wind and anxieties melt into the sand. The waves surge, the tide turns and so it goes on. Footprints left are soon erased and detritus is swept up and carried away. Spending time on the beach allows the laying down of accumulated junk that invades the everyday and breathing in lungfuls of fresh, salt-filled air clears the way for a new start. There can never be too much beach in one's life. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remember, remember

Standing sentinel
hunched against the cold
as were many today
observing armistice
respecting sacrifice
knowing that our momentary discomfort
is nothing compared with their relentless giving
The cold wet horror of trenches
the torture of seeing comrades perish in the war to end all wars
But shouldn't our observation of silence make more of a difference?
Shouldn't our sophisticated knowledge of the horror of war prevent us from allowing others to be sacrificed?
All our respect counts for nothing
if we cannot eradicate the acceptability of sacrifice that prevails in the face of perceived threat.
There is no war that can end all wars.
The price of peace has to be raised by other means.
Then our silence can honour the past and insure the future.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

New dawn

Went for a walk early this morning to try and shake off some of the sadness that's kind of settled in on me. The news of Obama's victory at the polls certainly helped to clear some clouds. I was tempted to skip through these leaves sending them flying but I settled for just crunching through them. I walked and walked until I came to the beach and there, the freshness and sheer beauty helped to shake some things into place. Loss is hard enough. Compounded by insensitivity, its so much harder. This morning, I gave thanks for life and for ministry in such a beautiful place with folk who know how to show their love. That beach is going to be my friend.

Wake up call

Friends just called from Indiana. They are having a party! Obama has secured enough to win the presidential election. I assured them that we in the UK are just as excited. Although its only 4am, I can't possibly sleep now. History is being made!I will go and give my bumper sticker an extra polish. YIPPEEEEE!!!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Too soon

Janice - Missing you already. Cheers!

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Its been a week of highs and lows. I don't feel ready to blog about the lows yet - I need to process things a bit more. But one of the highs in the week was the election of Rev Bill Hewitt as moderator designate of the General assembly of the Church of Scotland. A well deserved honour. I've never been this excited about the moderator's election before. It makes all the difference when you actually know someone personally. Now isn't there a parallel to that in faith? Relationship makes a world of a difference.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Enjoying the fit

Its been a curious day. As usual, trying to juggle lots of things at once, it seemed as though nothing had been achieved. But tonight, after taking time to catch up on a good friendship, I was in reflective mood as I drove home. And I realised how much has shifted recently. How my skin seems to fit better than it has for a long, long time. I'm almost frightened to say it but I think I'm becoming comfortable with me. Its a long time since I felt that, if ever. Its not been a day without conflict. Its not been a day free from criticism. Its not been a day where great things were achieved. But its been a day when I felt - its OK to be me. Whatever next? One never knows I might even be able to give myself some time off for good behaviour. Or is that just a step too far? Steady....

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

What a difference a day makes ... or two

48 hours ago, enjoying the sun setting in Corfu:

5 minutes ago: Watching incredulously as hailstones cover the lawn.

Did I mention its good to be back?


Its a shock to the system to be back to our Scottish winter after a week of wall to wall sunshine. However, I spent a pleasant morning with a colleague at Scotts in Troon Marina. It was a cosy coffee (and cream scones) stop with a beautiful outlook. It also evoked pleasant memories of lots of time spent there a few years back when Idris and I were "courting". He was running a yacht charter business and the only way I could spend time with him at weekends, busy with turnarounds, was to help out cleaning the boats, getting them ready for the next party. Happy days. Who would have envisaged that nearly 30 years later we'd both be living nearby? Life is a wonderful mix of providence and Godincidence.
In spite of the wind and rain, its good to be back to continue with the adventure that is ministry in Castlehill.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Go Bill!!!

Even over here in sunny Corfu, news has reached us that nominees for moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland have just been announced. And I know one of them. I've worked with him in different ways through the years and, uncannily, he was a former assistant in my current charge. So, I'd just like to say: GO BILL!!!

Sleepy Sunday

The hotel we stopped in overnight enroute to Greece was having a sleepy Sunday - breakfast served until 12 noon and no need to check out until 2pm. With our flight not leaving till around 5pm, this was ideal. A great way to start what is shaping up to be a very relaxing holiday. I wonder if sleepy Sundays would catch on in Ayr? When would be a good time to "do church"?

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Safety net

The crows seemed really noisy this morning. We soon found out why. This young bird of prey, which I think, based on its colouring and long legs might be a juvenile sparrow hawk, had landed on the trampoline in our garden and couldn't seem to work out how to escape. Can't figure out why it didn't just fly up and out of the top. We eventually managed to dismantle enough of the safety net so that it could get out. The crows were disappointed, anticipating a feast but, we spotted what looked like an adult hawk on a nearby rooftop, so hopefully our little casualty made it back to safety. The pleasure of seeing this creature close up was taken away by observing how panicked it was as it flew around the enclosure and hung upside down on the net. I hope its none the worse for its adventure.

Monday, 29 September 2008

If the cap fits...

I was accused, this week, of being a maverick. I say accused because it certainly wasn't meant as a compliment. However, I stand guilty as charged. Mavericks think independently. Mavericks don't always follow the rules. That means that mavericks can be human and compassionate. So, maybe not the first term I would use to describe myself but, hey, I'm proud to be a maverick and no amount of name calling or Pharisaic judgmentalism will persuade me to change.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Still waters run deep

Had loads to catch up on today, having been out of the parish. But, having been cooped up indoors for two days I managed to escape into the sunshine of today. There's lots in my head that needed to be worked through, not least the tragic death of a teenager I know. The calm waters, reflecting the beautiful autumn colours helped to slightly ease that hard lump that's caught in my throat. A little oasis of calm before I head back into the fray.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Management consultancy speak

As ever, the after-conference - that setting the church to rights and catching up with long lost and newly found colleagues - proved more stimulating than the conference.
Today, we are promised, involves designing a straw man, or an inclusive alternative. That straw man could become a wood man, then a tin man (Not from Oz apparently) and then an iron man. And then his fate most likely will be a melt down by the fickle church meeting in General Assembly in 2010. However by that time much effort and expense will be invested in this fragile creature. Is tinkering with the structure really going to make sufficient difference to how we take the good news into our communities? Surely there are much more fundamental changes to be made before we can start to be effective in our commission to "go into all the world". I suspect a straw man doesn't even begin to effect the kind of change needed for us to engage with the needs on our doorstep and hang out in the places and with the people in whom Jesus invested time. Or is that just my cynicism creeping in?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The church catholic

I'm spending 36 hours at a National Church conference debating the review and reform of Presbyteries. The morning did not get off to a good start when I arrived to find two huge male (of course) colleagues blocking the coffee dispenser by having a gossip right in front of it. When I finally managed to edge my way in and found it was empty, they were quite indignant at my asking them whether they knew if there was more on the way. Ahh.. the church at its best. I finally did manage to track down some fresh coffee and the day proceeded much better than it might otherwise have done. Gatherings like this always make me a bit edgy to be a part of this national institution - even if I am being consulted about its reformation. Sometimes I wonder if it can really be saved. And then I remember my calling to serve a God who delivers the impossible and my mission to be Christ to all, one person at a time. But only after coffee!

Friday, 19 September 2008

No way back

Over the last 24 hours, I have been retracing steps and visiting some old haunts. I was struck by how different things seem. Not because those all too familiar places have changed, though a few things are altered. But because I have changed. And, from my altered state I view things with a different perspective. Even if I wanted to, there's no going back. Things have moved on. I have moved on. That's very liberating. Moving forward is the only option.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Kindling the flame

Ministry, like many other professions, is full of distractions that take us away from the essentials. Being in a new place, largely unknown and away from many of those important but nonetheless distracting tasks is allowing me to rediscover ministry in all its fulness. And the confidence that comes from a wide and varied experience means that that fulness is not daunting but a welcome challenge. The journey has taught me that ministry is about one encounter at a time, forging each relationship and then discerning whether that should be kindled or allowed to die. Rediscovering the diversity and sometimes fleeting nature of ministry serves to focus the importance of each encounter - a moment to savour fully before being drawn onto something else. And then processing all this becomes a vital task but one that can be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. Perhaps the most important discovery is the knowledge that there are others who can nurture and protect the delicate flames as well as kindling new ones. Each encounter is what it is and shall be what it shall be.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A kind of sabbath

I haven't actually managed to schedule a day off in my new charge yet. And some folk would say that you have to start as you mean to go on. But, settling into a new routine, fitting into others' schedules, negotiating access to school chaplaincies, meeting key people and the like have contributed to kind of topsy turvy weeks. So I felt that, at this stage, I should wait and see. And there is a pattern emerging. Soon I will be able to work out what day is best. Meantime, I managed to escape for a couple of hours to enjoy part of the Ayr River Walk. This, apparently covers 44 miles in total. I managed about 6 and can't wait to discover more. Walking alongside water has always helped me to process things. So I count it a priority, essential for my health and wholeness to make this a regular feature of my ministry, come rain, come shine. We all need our sabbath.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A brief interlude

This sunburst over the Arran hills stopped me in my tracks tonight. For once I wasn't in so much of a rush that I couldn't stop and marvel.
On the mainland shore it was very still, perfect for affording a moment of calm.
Any other time I may well have sped past. But tonight, I was able to stop and breathe in the beauty. Nourishment for the onward (and inward) journey.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Another first

We celebrated communion in my new parish yesterday. It felt good. Everyone playing their part. We only do this 4 times a year, so its a big deal for folks.
Yesterday, being the first time for me in this parish, I was very conscious of that great unseen cloud of witnesses who are part of this feast, wherever we celebrate, however elaborate or simple.
It seemed to me that the saints whose ghosts I have met in this feast are now joined by other pioneers in the faith, all part of of a wonderful tradition that spans the ages.
Even in the newness there is a comforting familiarity to rest in along with a whole new body to embrace.
Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Call for orders

Well, I survived my first meeting of my new Presbytery last night. It wasn't really as bad as I had feared. Its early days! Most presbytery meetings are pretty grim - the fellowship for which they were created gets submerged by business and politics. This is not a judgement, simply a fact.

However, what was disappointing was that there was no "apres-court" - at least not one to which I was invited. I was left to find my own way home and mull over all that had happened. And everyone knows that that is an exercise best undertaken in company and with glass in hand. There is obviously a role for me here!!!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Too soon

A walk in the park yesterday revealed something I don't want to face just yet. Just look at this tree. The season is changing. And I'm not ready. Where did summer go? But dark mornings and evenings remind me that we've moved on quite a bit and there's no going back.
I have a choice. I can be filled with thoughts of what might have been. Or I can embrace this new season and all that it brings. Each season has a magic of its own. We can dress appropriately and make the most of them or live in the past and waste time wishing that things could have been different. I choose to embrace the present, dig out walking boots and and warm clothes and enjoy tramping through discarded leaves. What about you?

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Continuing a theme

A good friend presented me with this recently. Spooky, since it has been a recurring theme for me. Female colleagues in this part of the world are very thin on the ground. But, as they say, its not about quantity - its about quality.
Time to shake things up and show a new way.
No mimicking, no competing - just doing what comes naturally - being human- and female.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Perfekt - or very near it

Feet of clay
Who me?
Certainly not.
I need to get it right
first time
every time
might not get a second chance
folk have expectations
can't go letting them down
giving them a chance
to affirm their doubts
and write off this great institution that I serve
Yet Lord, you did not come to found an institution
you came to call men and women
whose weakness you already knew
And you were willing to take the risk
of letting them carry on the work you began
the work of caring and sharing and learning and growing
Knowing that sometimes they'd get it wrong
and sometimes they'd mess things up
but loving enough to let them carry on
to pick them up time after time
and affirm them in your cause
even with their feet of clay.
So thank you Lord for loving enough to let us grow.
may we keep on loving enough - loving ourselves, loving others
to grow together.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sunny Sundays

After a fairly stormy night - I was up until 2am sermon writing - I thought that today might be my first rainy Sunday in Ayr.  Not so.  Once again, the sun greeted the morning. So, not the customary post preaching nap. Can't possibly go wasting all that lovely sunshine. I read a book in the garden, accompanied by this little fellow. I could get used to this. Now I need to discover some good walks nearby so that, when the weather does change I don't go back to my sedentary Sunday afternoon ways.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Spoke too soon

Well, its finally kicked in. I'm back at the grindstone. I was right to enjoy the quiet while I could because things are hotting up. Within an hour today, I spoke with 4 funeral directors and it looks like a big portion of next week will be spent at various crematoria. I had difficulty getting to a meeting tonight because I just couldn't get off the phone long enough to set off. However, when I finally did, the walk gave me time to reflect on how it felt to be back in harness. You know what? It feels great. I function better when I'm under pressure. But the other thing I was very conscious of is that this is a welcome kind of pressure, not the kind of oppressive cloud that I've been living under for quite some time. God and me - we're in this together.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

This is the life!

Last Sunday, after my "preaching in" we went to the beach. As I walked along barefoot on the warm sand, I thought: "Life doesn't get much better". However, this Sunday, my first "solo" service - thankfully accompanied by the ever present Holy Spirit - some friends came to worship, stayed for lunch and then we all spent the afternoon in the garden. We had all manner of garden games - hopscotch, connect four, the space hopper, bubbles and these floaty shapes. All the big kids played well together. Such a fun Sunday afternoon - well worth sacrificing the usual post preaching nap for. I wonder when it will feel like I'm not on holiday in this new parish. When will all the responsibilty kick in and the pace step up? I'm sure it can't be far off but, meantime, I'm going to enjoy these summer days and this holiday feel and rest in this God given and much needed respite. Love it.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A sight for sore eyes - and feet

Well, the inevitable happened. I got lost out walking my parish. I was seduced by a cemetery and decided to explore. Only, I couldn't find an exit and, before I knew it, I was a couple of miles off track. Thankfully it was a dry, clear night, so I just kept looking for the Castlehill cross. Was I thankful when it eventually hove into view and I could find my way home. I'm sure that's just the first adventure of many in this strange land! But, with the landmark that the church is, I'll never be lost for too long.

Monday, 11 August 2008

The apple never falls far from the tree

"The apple never falls far from the tree" or, as we say in Scotland: "Well, they don't lick it aff the grun' " A good friend and colleague "preached me in" to my new charge yesterday. He talked about how folk would bring their sick friends to line the streets wherever the apostle Peter was so that, as he passed, his shadow might fall upon them and bring healing.
It can be daunting to think of the shadow that we cast, of the influence we have on others. But it can also be exhilirating to remember that, even without knowing it, we affect people. And so, on all those days when we feel discouraged. when we struggle to think of any good that we have achieved, we take comfort in the hope that we have made a positive contribution simply by being ourselves. I certainly hope that my shadow is one that brings a healing love in this new beginning in Ayr: Castlehill.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Out of the comfort zone

I've never lived or worked in a locality with which I am not familiar. So this move down the coast presents something of a challenge. Even a trip to the grocery store requires the help (or hindrance) of sat nav. Its the weirdest feeling, one minute wildly exciting and the next, really scary.
Tonight, the Presbytery of Ayr will induct me to my new charge - and then the challenge really begins.
Working with a whole team of folk who speak, not a different language, hopefully, but certainly a different dialect!
Getting to know each other and forging a way forward together.
I know that the Holy Spirit has nudged me to journey this far, how can I imagine that she will abandon me now?
Even the blind alleys and wrong turns have their purpose, especially in a strange landscape. There is the opportunity to explore and encounter something new and wonderful and all the better for being unexpected.
And so today I entrust myself and my family, not to the guiding voice of Darth Vadar who provides the instructions on my sat nav, but to the whisper of a God who knew me as I was being formed in my mother's womb, who loves me unconditionally and who calls me now to trust and follow where God leads.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still calls people out of their comfort zones, sends us on journeys and walks beside us all the way.
Exciting or what?

Monday, 28 July 2008

So arrived!

The bug is in the driveway, there is washing on the line and a football on the lawn. We have so arrived! 
We unpack dozens of boxes by day but I'm sure, at night, they are breeding. Its fun finding places for all our treasures in this loved and cared for home. And the garden is delightful, providing just the right kind of refuge from the chaos reigning indoors.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

We've arrived

We made it. Two days packing and one day's unloading. And a great bunch of guys from Inverclyde Removals . The sun shone and the day got hotter and hotter, the guys must have lost pounds with all their exertion but they were so good natured and everything was safely deposited. 
It was pretty scary being left in a nearly empty house, all our worldly goods entrusted to the removal firm. But it all arrived at our new home on schedule. And now we can't move for boxes. Its been fun unpacking and finding the right place for things. Rooms are gradually taking shape. But I'm glad that I don't have to start the new job for a couple of weeks. By then I might have located my desk diary and my book of common order that I couldn't find today for a wedding left over from my last parish. Meantime, I'd better get back to the boxes.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Service interruption

We move house tomorrow. New home, new area, new church, new job, new schools. Its all change. So there might be a slight lull in the blogging. But then again...

Watch this space.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Fickle summer

These mysterious looking clouds last night were storing up a sky full of rain. Today, the view was of an unrelenting mist. However, I spent some time with Irish visitors who were marvelling at how pretty even the mist was. Sometimes it takes strangers to lend a different perspective.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Bats in the belfry

I got a panic call to go to the church today. The cleaner had found something small and furry in the Laird's loft. When I investigated, at first I thought it was a tiny field mouse that was injured, so not scurrying. But, on closer investigation, I discovered that it was a baby bat. Since they are protected, I decided to leave well alone. I went back tonight to check that it was OK - and discovered 4 bats - maw, paw and the two weans. (The mother is pictured - baby is sooo tiny) I just hope they will sleep through the organ playing on Sunday and not terrorise the congregation.
So I think I can now add a new string to my bow - that of protector of bats! My role here has been well varied - everything, absolutely everything, is the minister's job - the buck stops here. That seems to be a recurrent theme in the clergy blogging community just now - the expectations on solo pastors to fulfill all manner of roles. After all, we're paid to do it, aren't we? There's just no rest for the wicked.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Fading fast

I took my leave of the congregation I've served for the last 7 years at the weekend. After the service I felt totally wrung out.
But there's little breathing space before its time to move house and start a whole new ministry with new folks in a new community.
No such luxury as one thing at a time, everything changes at once.
It was hard to look forward until an ending had been accomplished. But now its time to hit the ground running. Crazy or what?

Friday, 11 July 2008

Playing hookie

Today, a colleague called unexpectedly and asked for a meet. It so happened that I had a couple of hours to spare, so we whiled away some time up to no good. That felt quite liberating. He kept saying it was good to be playing hookie, skiving off, ignoring the pile of work that awaited us.
Another colleague helpfully pointed out that it was all time to which we were more than entitled given the hours we put in. But that rather spoiled things. It was delicious to feel we were being delinquent. We obviously need much more practice!

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