Friday, 27 March 2009


I've just been looking up some of the blogs I posted last year through Lent. As well as sharing Lenten reflections, I was journalling a lot of pain and angst about ministry and discernment. In  spite of, or maybe because of, the difficulties I was experiencing, my reflections seemed to have more depth than any of my recent offerings. There's something in that. In the midst of suffering, comes understanding. Light is born out of darkness. I'm not complaining that I'm not struggling with some of the soul destroying nonsense I was dealing with then but the insights gained were very helpful. 
I'm also thankful that, from this perspective the hand of God is all too evident in guiding me through all that struggle and continues to point the way forward. Perhaps I should take as much time to reflect on light as I did on darkness.


This has been a school's week. Every morning has started off at one of my secondary school chaplaincies and today was spent in three different schools in the parish. Its always hard to judge how school input is received. Its not cool for teenagers to offer feedback. And, while a few members of staff were appreciative, that's not really any indication of how young folk are influenced. Like so much in ministry, we just have to give of our best and hope that the Holy Spirit has our back and that seeds are being sown that will be nourished in the fulness of time.
Now it's time to start working on next week's end of term assemblies. Another schools week beckons. Isn't this the best job?

Thursday, 26 March 2009

School Jannies

This post has been brewing for some time but I can suppress it no longer: South Ayrshire Council seems to adhere to a strict policy for employing school jannies in their secondary establishments. They have to be the grumpiest, most awkward old men ever conceived.  In the two secondary schools in which I am chaplain I have had the most awful encounters with janitorial staff. In one school, they are employed by Mitie and, if anything, that makes them even worse! And there's nothing quite like a slanging match with a jumped up caretaker to get the day off to a terrible start. Anyway, now that I've got that off my chest, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I'm feeling a bit stifled this week because I'm in one of the secondary schools first thing every morning. Not that I don't enjoy that but it means I don't get my usual walk - and if I don't get it in first thing its rarely possible later in the day. Walking gives me space to reflect and process - and even take pictures - like this one I got last week along the river bank. I love the reflection here - in more ways than one. Walking allows me the space for creativity and that's important to me. And with so many services looming for Holy Week and Easter, I want to be creative. Easter is one of those festivals that we're almost too familiar with and I'd like to encourage folk, in worship, to reflect on it perhaps from a different angle. Same great story but maybe a new perspective would help us grasp a fresh wonder and a new awareness of an amazing love.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Seeing clearly again?

There's been lots of mist and fog around this week. But the good news is that it has burnt off to reveal some beautiful days. Days for getting out and about, enjoying nature and shedding some of the detritus of ministry.
With some of that fog gone, things can look beautiful again.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Nice work

I've just spent a delightful morning at Ayr Town Hall, listening to primary school choirs in the Ayrshire Music Festival. The two pieces sung by each choir were written by Mark and Helen Johnston who are producing lots of good music for use in churches and schools - Out of the Ark Music. Each choir interpreted the songs very differently and, together, provided a great morning's entertainment. The fact that the school I was there to support -Kincaidston Primary - were awarded a distinction and first place was just the icing on the cake! Well done to all those involved.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Pause for thought

I'm on local radio this week (WestSound 1035AM) trying to redeem Lent.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Spring in the air?

A walk along the river today revealed signs of spring. But also traces of winter hanging on in the patches of snow that refuse to melt. The catkins that were like cotton buds a few weeks ago are now green in bud. Gardens have splashes of colour in crocuses. All encouraging signs. And although the Daylight Savings Clock change isn't for another few weeks yet, its still possible to drive home before it gets dark. In our new garden we are waiting to see what will emerge. And, in the same way, we are waiting to see what will emerge in the church as we journey on through Lent towards Easter. May it be a time of awakening, a time of budding and a time for growth.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Too big to play?

Went to a presbytery meeting on a damp dreich night tonight.
Halfway through the meeting I felt as though something had changed. Oh my colleagues were still droning on but there was something different in the air. Then I realised - it was snowing - heavily. Through the blinds I could just see that kind of silent, mesmerising snow falling.I began to wonder if we'd all get home. Had no one noticed? Or did they just not care - business came first?
Anyway, eventually the meeting rumbled to a conclusion and we left, slipping and sliding to cars.
We all had to clear the snow from our windows yet no one even attempted to start a snowball fight. How sad is that?
Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.
I think we missed an opportunity tonight!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Adding temptation

Even though its the first Sunday in Lent, we celebrated with a chocolate fountain this morning as a way of illustrating for the young folks that the communion we were also celebrating is  a feast at which all are welcome. Whether young or old, God's love overflows into our lives and draws us all in to party - even in Lent. Because if we make our Lent a time of renewed awareness of God all around us, there's lots on which to feast.

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