Saturday, 25 June 2016

Path or Rollercoaster?

Matthew 10:1
Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives.

A year ago today, I was offered the post of Path of Renewal Coordinator in the Church of Scotland, a pilot project that is being undertaken as just one of the experiments happening around the edges of the institution, attempting to discover how to be church in today's ever changing landscape and culture.
From the moment I said Yes, I embarked on the most exciting, fearful, spine tingling, heart-plummeting, soaring, diving, explosive adventure in faith.
I knew it would be vastly different from parish ministry but I totally underestimated the impact of demission from a charge which was the only route available to take up the appointment. On top of the act of demission, there was also the separation from a community I had grown to know and to love and the moving out of that space to make way for another: leaving home, leaving neighbourhood, leaving church. I struggled with my sense of identity until, through the Easter season, I was reminded of my identity in Christ - a reminder to which I've often had cause to return when I have succumbed to allowing others to define who I am.
The work itself terrifies and enthrals, stretches me from any comfort zone I have ever inhabited, brings out my insecurity and fear of messing up, but also provides a generous affirmation of call and a tremendous knowledge of the grace and the presence of God.
This has been a year filled with the hard work of transition but also filled with inspiring colleagues, lighting the way ahead, colleagues who have been open and vulnerable, encouraging and affirming - and fun, so much fun.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Something in the air

Last week, I spent a few days away at a conference. When I returned, as soon as I stepped out of the car, I could smell the sea and knew I was home. The next few days proved busy with little time to process all that had taken place at Going for Growth, the conference I attended. And so, tonight, it was to the smell of the sea that I returned, to walk the beach, to listen to waves lapping on the shore and gulls crying overhead and to allow my jumbled thoughts to find a measure of order.
And I find myself more able to begin to name some of the blessings that I experienced in community with others who are exploring together how to be part of God's Missional communities in our neighbourhoods today.
One of those blessings was that I was surrounded by folk who don't have all the answers but who, together, are asking important questions.
I was surrounded by folk who don't have it all sorted but who, in their brokenness are seeking healing and renewal of spirit.
I was surrounded by folk who didn't take themselves too seriously but who, with humour are facing hard truths.
I was surrounded by folk with the courage to say: "This isn't working", but who are discovering resilience to try other ways and walk unfamiliar paths.
I was surrounded by folk willing to share their stories, willing to share their vulnerability, willing to listen, willing to recognise and commit to the journey we make together.   
And I am encouraged that God is doing a new thing and invites us to take part.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Daily examen

I was called out today
Called out for being a peacemaker
Called out for owning a wrong 
that wasn't mine to own
in order to make someone else feel better
And I would do it again in a heartbeat
for the sake of the kingdom.

I was enabled to grow today
To push beyond the barrier 
I wouldn't normally cross
To step up from default mode
to push and learn and grow

In many ways, 
it is easy to be a peacemaker
The cost can be painlessly borne
But growth takes energy
Stepping up
calls for courage
and for risk.
It feels good to reach a new edge
But the effort required
leaves weariness and elation
in equal measure.

It's been a good day
learning and growing in God.

Monday, 6 June 2016


Jesus asked them: What were you speaking of as you walked along....?
(Luke 24:17)
On the train this morning, I was doing my usual - catching up on emails, facebooking, tweeting...
The guy opposite propositioned me: Do you fancy... (I wondered what was coming next.)
He said: "Do you fancy putting down your tablet and having a conversation?"
I immediately complied - because I've been well brought up 😇.
And so ensued a fascinating conversation.
He is Nepalese, married to a Scot, living in Edinburgh while his son finishes school, when he hopes to return to Nepal and help to rebuild community there.
He is a dancer - and, having noticed that I placed my violin on the overhead rack, we had a wonderful conversation about music and movement and rhythm.

I was sharing this encounter with friends, one of whom asked: "So, what happened when he discovered that you're a minister?" I was almost embarrassed to confess that we didn't get to that. It simply didn't arise.
We talked about the Spirituality of music, how it offers wholeness and healing. He told me of his work using dance to aid expression in children with special needs, among other projects. I shared with him the experience of playing sacred music with an orchestra in a cathedral last night. He shared the hope that a few short term contracts in Scotland would help to resource his longing to heal his community back in Nepal.
It felt like an intense encounter with someone whom I'm unlikely to meet again.
So, did I miss an opportunity to share faith?
Or is it enough to listen and affirm. Enough to put down my tablet and engage?

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