Sunday, 31 May 2009

Catching the breeze

Lots of Pentecost fun at church this morning with the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit.

Hoping that breeze becomes a gale.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Emerging from the shadows

What angels lurk
what spirits roam
parading this sacred corridor 
of light and shadow
Witnessing moments of sadness and joy
being party to transformation
as countless feet pass this way
Some looking for reassurance
some for confirmation
some for inspiration
or comfort
or embrace
But each open to possibility
and thus finding fulfillment
Its a sacred place
with sacred intent
and that sacredness is transported 
to all corners of the world
Ancient cloisters
still playing their part in
countless journeys of hope.
Liz Crumlish May 2009

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Bad parenting

Passed John Knox's statue on the way from the Assembly Hall tonight. Our daughter thought it was Dumbledore. When we explained that it was the great Scottish reformer, our teenage son remarked dismissively: "Never heard of him". 
I blame the parents.

To boldly go - with grace

To get to the Church Without Walls event on Friday, participants entering Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh passed through doors over which were written the words "to boldly go". The whole Church Without Walls momentum has been a grace filled dynamic encompassing the width and breadth of the church. And it promises to maintain that momentum of grace.
Last night, the Assembly voted to allow an openly gay christian to take up a call to a new ministry. I'm told that debate was respectful and graceful. Of course conversations will continue. There is much more to be considered and worked through in the issues raised by this case. My prayer is that those who feel hurt by the church at this time will remain in love as, together, we continue to experience the extravagant grace of God infusing all our human encounters, enfolding us in love.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The waiting game

Trying to assemble a sermon for tomorrow that has been percolating all week, based on Matthias' election as a replacement for Judas, the betrayer. However I am totally distracted by events unfolding in the assembly hall. Over two hours into the hearing of  the referred case and still no updates. If it's affecting me in this way, how must those "at the centre" be feeling? Praying, praying praying - Thy will be done.

GA Fringe

Although I'm not a commissioner this year, I've spent loads of time at the General Assembly - mainly at Fringe events. Last night, the Church Without Walls folks held a celebration - it's 10 years since the initial report was considered by the assembly. It was good to mark how much the work of that panel has contributed to the church - locally, nationally and globally. These guys - Robin Hill and Alex Shuttleworth did an "assembly revue". It was hilarious. And extremely clever. What a welcome interlude in all the business of the week.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


At the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, we're used to protestors and street preachers greeting commissioners as they make their way to the Mound. So much so that we pass them by with barely a glance. However, a visiting friend decided to engage with this guy and entered into a lengthy dialogue. They both talked with one another and listened and exchanged views. Neither was changed by the encounter but two human beings met and shared conversation. Isn't that enough? How often we fear those who are different without even attempting to discover common ground. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Land o' Burns

This intrepid team of midnight walkers raised over £1200 pounds for Ayrshire Hospice by walking 13.1 miles on Saturday night. And most showed up on Sunday morning for church. The Hospice did a great job of organising. The stewards were cheery and encouraging, the bananas and mars bars were very welcome and the bacon rolls at the end of the walk were the best I've ever tasted.Well done to everyone!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Root command

While many colleagues were reflecting (if its possible to reflect on a future event) this morning on the forthcoming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which meets this week, we were celebrating 50 years of the 17th Ayr Castlehill Boys Brigade. The whole weekend has been one of celebration with lots of "Old Boys", including some founder members, getting together to share stories and memories and wonder where the years have gone. And, along with the still thriving company of today, look forward to the continuing work of this organisation in "advancing Christ's kingdom".
However, we still used the lectionary text for today - Jesus' command in John 15 - that we love on another. Thanks to my friend Roddy earlier in the week I had an ideal topic for a church filled, unusually, with men. I was able to poke fun at the tendency of men never to read instructions or ask directions and then to introduce the idea of a root command- a computer term for that data interface that allows the operator to get into the mechanics and change the very heart of its workings - at least that's how my female technical mind interprets it! That root command that Jesus gave - to love one another would really revolutionise things if we put it into practice. Then we'd really get to the heart of things and change the way we operated. It is my prayer that, this week, commissioners to the General Assembly will be clinging tenaciously to that root command and that the very workings of church politics and manoeuvrings will be infused and revolutionised by love.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Slaves to culture

I went to an evening service tonight at Ayr Baptist church to hear Elaine Storkey, president of Tear Fund speak. Her address was awesome. Using the story of the woman at the well, she spoke about cultural "norms" and how Jesus cut across those. She then spoke of her work with Tear Fund and the shocking cultural norms that she had encountered, particularly in terms of gender. In many countries and regions, women really have little value and violence against women is considered acceptable. She did, however also bring stories of hope, of christian men being challenged by the Holy Spirit to break free from their culture and bring change and of women experiencing compassion and being empowered to bring life to their communities. I need some more time to reflect further on her message. However, it did get me thinking about cultural norms that we tolerate in our western developed society. How easy it is to become enslaved to a culture perhaps simply because we have known nothing else. The same Jesus who met the Samaritan woman at the well and seemingly casually demolished a whole way of life by showing grace and compassion would have his work cut out in our culture today exposing those prejudices that we don't even know we have. A whole host of barriers would come crashing down under the weight of his acceptance. We are all slaves to culture. The good news is that, in Christ, all are loved, valued and accepted. How can we make that a cultural norm?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The end of the church as we know it?

I've always been proud to belong to a "broad church". Having grown up in the church heavily influenced by conservative evangelical teaching, for which I shall always be grateful, it came as something of a relief that, when I "outgrew" that, when I realised that discerning God's word for today isn't something all bound up and neatly packaged but, rather, an ongoing discipline that taxes God's people at every turn, I was afraid that I would no longer fit in - or be welcome. To date, that has not been my experience except on a few occasions. Of course there are places where my "youth" and femininity are met with disdain but, nevertheless there has still been room enough if not to find a comfortable slot then at least to rub alongside. A few conversations these past weeks, however, have got me wondering if all that is about to change. The Church of Scotland is going to return to the issue of sexuality, this time because of an ongoing dispute in the Presbytery of Aberdeen. Journalists are having a field day with some choice phraseology and are being given plenty of fuel by the more vitriolic opposers of homosexuality. There is a rather more balanced discussion and an interview with the minister concerned here. Of course we've grappled with this issue and skirted around it on other occasions in General Assembly and in other forums. This time, it seems as though allowing individuals to act as their conscience directs or as they faithfully discern the will of God in different situations to be, will no longer suffice. We are being called to decide and then to conform or to desert. There are people who are much more eloquent than me in outlining the biblical and theological arguments (these are not the same). But, if I may sum up my position simply: The God who walks with me every day, whose hand I discern at work in all of flawed creation, is a God of immense and extravagant love. And Jesus Christ whom I call Lord and in whom I trust for my salvation came to simplify that love, calling all, turning away none who had even the faintest glimmer of faith. That is why I believe the Church of Scotland, an earthly institution has to remain broad and has to embrace all regardless of faith or sexual orientation or even theology! That applies to all members of the Christian community and we should not demand of leaders what we would not demand of others. I am more than happy to make room for those whose opinion differs from mine. The question is: Will they be happy to accommodate me?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

glimpsing eternity

Its not been a great week ministry wise. Nothing momentous - just the usual crap that seems to adorn church work and distracts from our real purpose. You know that trivia that we all have to deal with, those hoops that we have to jump through just to keep the wheels on the track.
I react to such stress in one of two ways. I either want to don my T-shirt that is emblazoned with: "Ask me if I care", or I go into a hyper self critical meltdown. 
However, in the midst of all this, I was blessed with the beauty of God's smile. The details are not important but, suffice to say, it was all the assurance I needed to help me refocus my energy and emerge affirmed by the incredible love of God. Even when we think we're hiding our feelings well, God always knows, and, in the mud, provides a glimpse of the stars.

Friday, 1 May 2009


The sun setting over Arran this evening reminded me of a hymn often sung at funerals: The day thou gavest Lord has ended. One verse begins - The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren 'neath the restless skies/ and hour by hour fresh lips are making thy wondrous doings heard on high.

Its easy, especially in the cosy confines of the church to get caught up in our own small world and to give things more importance than they merit while forgetting that other parts of creation, maybe even on our doorsteps, struggle with all manner of tragedies - poverty and hunger and swine flu and terminal illness. The God, who is God of all creation cares about all of these things and asks us to "get real" too.

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed