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?

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