Monday, 28 September 2009


In the rather splendid setting of the Court Room at Tuliallan, Howard, all 6 feet 7 of him, towers over this poor wee duck, exhorting it to produce the goods while David pretends he's not with these mad people. Just one of the scenes as some wonderful worship was created.
Instead of the more usual creation of worship around a theme, we did it back to front - came up with strange objects and created worship around them. And all the groups did really well, creating worship that was by turns hilarious, moving, poignant, sometimes all at once. If your church has a probationer this year - look out. Don't leave any strange objects lying around or, before you know it.....:) God in our everyday - in a whole new dimension.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Hot wheels

I've just returned from one of the most exhausting yet most exhilarating weekends I've ever experienced. Spent in the company of Church of Scotland probationers and slightly crazy colleagues, the last three days have been filled with laughter, tears and sheer grace. I even got to zoom across the new Kincardine Bridge with my top off - all in an effort to procure some communion wine! (The bridge wasn't exactly en-route to the nearest supermarket but it was such a pretty day and we needed some fresh air). It's good to share gifts and be inspired by the gifts and talents of others. And it's great to be reassured that, alongside all that we so easily find wrong with the church, there is also much for which to give thanks and from which we can glean hope for the future. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

When is a :) not a :)?

I've just noticed that, to the end of my dinosaur post, I attached a :). That's OK then. I can be as derogatory as I like about the institution in which I minister. :) makes everything alright. :) is the new "with all due respect". I used to eagerly await those words emerging in meetings. As soon as someone said: "with all due respect", you knew an insult was coming. In text speak, the :) serves the same purpose. It makes insults OK.
I have, on occasion, been told that my smile gets me out of all sorts of hot water. But don't you know folk whose smiles hide shark's teeth?
So it is with the :). Merely masking the venom. I really must monitor my usage more carefully. :)

Monday, 21 September 2009

International Day of Peace

In the midst of all the signs to the contrary, is it possible, even for one day, to let go of our cynicism and believe in 10 impossible things before breakfast - like the queen in Alice in Wonderland?
Sadly, I'm not convinced.
However, walking the length of this beautiful beach on the Island of Arran certainly goes a long way to restoring the soul and making the impossible seem ever so slightly achievable.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Beyond church

In the previous post I expressed frustration at folk who, in a task oriented meeting wanted simply to tell stories rather than get on with the work in hand. I've been trying to process why I felt so impatient with that. Let me say that I love stories. It's one of the great privileges of ministry that we get to hear and to cherish other folk's stories. But, unless we are prepared, as well as valuing stories, to analyse anecdotal evidence, examine the underlying themes and determine what makes them important, what makes events special and memorable, we won't learn from those stories. If our desire is to see the church move forward, to reach into communities appropriately and relevantly, then we have to understand the stories that are important to that community. There is a time and a place for listening to and telling stories. There is also a time to move beyond the stories, taking what is valued with us.
As a church, we proclaim a good news story but it is important that the good news is made real in people's lives and that the story is embraced and lived out and not just repeated without a context.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fish out of water

I really need to stop attending ecclesiastical meetings. They are bad for my health. Why can't folk stay on task? And ministers are the worst. There's always a story to be told and simple answers to be elaborated and made unnecessarily complex.
I suppose part of it comes from being involved in a profession that deals in stories - listening and telling. But when there's a task to be performed it would be helpful to find another modus operandi.
Wondering tonight whether I should be frustrated at feeling like an alien at such gatherings - or relieved. I think I'll go with the relief and cherish being different. There are times when its just not good to fit.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


Not just a rocky outcrop overlooking the shore at Dunure but a dinosaur in the eyes of a ten year old child.
Is that what comes of over exposure to the Church of Scotland? :)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The living and the dead

Sometimes I am overwhelmed - in a good sort of a way - by the mystery of communion.
And, despite the fact that in the Church of Scotland we regiment it and formalise it and generally sanitise it - even before swine flu - yet the Holy Spirit still manages to get in there and make communion glorious and tantalising - a glimpse of things to come.
Today we made a giant paper chain, symbolising our connectedness, not just with one another but, in communion linked to saints throughout the world in heaven and on earth.
Mystery, joy and thanksgiving.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Streaks ahead

When I bought the convertible at the beginning of summer, my colleague assured me that it would be a good stress buster. And it has. But stress was also alleviated today by the belly laugh I caused when I announced to the boys in the local Coop funeral directors that, after the service, I was going to take my top off and go for a run.
For the avoidance of doubt and, because churches are getting increasingly litigious, I was of course referring to the car.

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