Friday, 29 February 2008

For this reason...

Ephesians 3 has been a recurrent theme for me in this setting. That beautiful passage about the love of Christ. It keeps cropping up and propping up. Especially in low moments. And this has to be one of the lowest. Why do I do it? Keep going back for more. Allow myself to be treated unfairly, blamed, misunderstood, listened to but not heard? Quite simply, because of love. Much as I'd like to right now, I simply cannot walk away. Because I love too much. And I believe that, in love, I can make a difference. I believe that love can and will change hearts and minds and that things will be different, so different. Closed minds will be opened to new opportunities. Shut down emotions will be gently coaxed from the depths. All transformed by love. So, even though it hurts like hell, I have to keep on going back for more. Not just because I am stubborn. Not just because I am proud. But because God still calls me to break through the apapthy and the resistance, break through the smugness and the comfort to challenge and stir up and heal with love. A persistent, gentle force, thawing out cold hearts, awakening them to new and better possibilities. I simply can't give up on love.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Give us a clue

Its time God did email. All these mixed messages are freaking me out. Despite hours of discernment work, the picture is still far from clear. A good clean yea or nay in black and white would help immensely. Only then I'd probably forget the question and still be swithering over what route to go. Its hard being in the thick of it but I do know that answers hard won are those most valued. So I guess I'll just have to be patient a bit longer. In the meantime, a little reorganising wouldn't go amiss. Clearing my desk might not be a bad place to start.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Long and winding road

Some interesting developments this week. Some chance encounters and unexpected conversations cause me to wonder where this road is leading. Change is in the air.

With a nod - and apologies to John Paul Young, these words are ringing in my ears, awakening my senses, pervading my days:

Change is in the air everywhere I look around Change is in the air every sight and every sound
And I don't know if I'm being foolish, don't know if I'm being wise But it's something that I must believe in and it's there when I look in your eyes
Change is in the air in the whisper of the trees Change is in the air in the thunder of the sea
And I don't know if I'm just dreaming don't know if I feel sane but you're something that I must believe in and I hear you call out my name

Change is in the air in the rising of the sun, Change is in the air when the day is nearly done
And I don't know if you're an illusion, don't know if I see it true but you're something that I must believe in. Just be there when I reach out for you

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Exorcist

Have just returned from my esteemed colleague's retiral dinner. A fun event that revealed how Bill used to be known as the Exorcist: any time he visited a home, you could be sure that it was spirit free when he left it ( especially the single malt varieties).
It was a poignant occasion, filled with laughter but charged with other emotions too. What other profession demands that after giving one's life to a community, one has to leave that community and the network of friends who have become like family and start again, in retirement, to build up a social network?
In the 29 years that Bill has served our neighbouring community, this community has gone through 6 ministers. What is that about? The hour is late to go down that line of enquiry. But I want to salute Bill, wish him well in retirement and give thanks that he won't be too far away to still be available to lend an ear and the voice of wisdom and, the proper gentleman that he is, to buy lunch!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Rocky road

I wish folk would just let me get on with my job! That seems to be a constant refrain for me just now. It seems I can't get down to "real ministry" for tripping over minutiae that I don't need to be doing. And yet, if I don't take care of these things, they'll come back and bite me. I've blogged before about how, often, ministry is to be found in the distractions of our everyday but these particular distractions are not healthy. They arise from petty complaints and niggles and from years of neglect. So its important that they don't go unresolved any longer. But they are so draining on energy and goodwill and on love. And that's quite tragic. I need other sorts of distractions, good ones, to keep me going. This morning I was reading of Jeremiah being left to fester in the well and of the friends who came and helped him out, taking care that they didn't exacerbate his pain in doing so. That's what I need - a way out that won't just make things worse. Trusting, trusting, trusting - with gritted teeth.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Presbyterian bull

OK.  I know I look silly like this but I was having fun. Sometimes you just have to forget about your image and go for it. It might bring strange looks. It might bring ridicule. But who said you couldn't mess up along the way?
Voltaire said something like: "God is a great comedian playing to an audience that doesn't laugh."
Hope you get the chance to let your hair down and enjoy faith now and again. And hear God's buoying laughter echo around you.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Sleepless in South Newton

Off to Brownie Pack holiday with my daughter this weekend. Forecast is great. Can't wait. I'm not sure who is more excited - Zara or me. Amazingly, since I'm popping back to do Sunday service, sermon is done. Could do with pressure like that every week to get me organised ahead of schedule. Hope yours is a good, busy and fruitful weekend.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Young, gifted....and female

OK - I may be dreaming about the young part.

Why do I do it? Let myself be undermined time and again by guys whom I know I could run rings round? I may be all but invisible to them (obviously visible enough for them to feel threatened) but, thankfully, I am not invisible to God. God who created my inward parts, who fashioned me together in my mothers womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139)God who has given me gifts to use, gifts that complement my gender, not deny it.

Today's church needs a diversity of gifts, from male and female, working alongside each other, respecting the others wholeness and integrity, creating space for growth and sharing. Such was God's intention. Too bad that some men feel they know better than God!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Fish out of water

Do you ever feel like you simply don't fit?
Spent today at two meetings with colleagues.The first meeting, for ministers supervising students for ministry was well organised and had a good structure. But, as is often the case at such gatherings, I left with the feeling of not being heard, far less listened to. I love having a student and I'm learning so much through the experience but there seemed a definite reluctance today to acknowledge that as part of the payback, if you like, for the time invested in helping the student develop. And another curious thing that I often experience is the acceptance of a point of view when made by one of my male colleagues, even when I have made the very same point just minutes earlier. Hey ho - You'd think I would be used to it by now - but I keep hoping for better.
The other meeting was Presbytery. Need I say more? Soul destroying stuff.
So tonight I'm feeling unloved and undervalued - but not beaten! Curiously enough, days like today just make me want to hang on in there and fight to change things. Will I never learn?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sacred space

Our Lenten Labyrinth this year posed a peculiar problem. We had the tiniest space in which to set up. However, its incredible what can be done. During Lent,  folks will have all sorts of opportunity to discard some of the baggage that we carry with us through different spiritual exercises. As we journey towards Easter its good to be able to take some time in the week to focus on our own spiritual journey and, daily, to tune in to the presence of God in our everyday. Sometimes size doesn't matter - and neither does time. Lent is an opportune time to examine quality of relationship.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Snowdrops in the desert

I'm off this weekend and really looking forward to it. Because yet again, it seems, everyone wants a piece of me and there's not enough to go around. So I'll escape for a couple of days and try to recharge.

During Lent, snowdrops, which abound in this part of the world, always speak to me of tenacity and of hope. I'm hoping to hang on in there like those precious buds, signalling fragility and victory. Lent has begun ferociously. Hopefully that will be tamed as it progresses so that there will be time to find direction in the wilderness and gain strength for the journey and thus emerge, like the snowdrop, trumpeting the good news of life against all the odds.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Lenten thoughts

Into the dark world
a snowdrop comes,
a blessing of hope and peace
carrying within it a green heart:
symbol of God’s renewing love.
Come to inhabit our darkness, Lord Christ,
for dark and light are alike to you.
May nature’s white candles of hope
remind us of your birth
and lighten our journey
through Lent and beyond.

Kate McIlhagga

Early morning light

Its early morning and I'm still up. It will soon be getting light - the days are definitely getting longer - and I haven't even been to bed. Too much going around in my head. Ash Wednesday already and I'm not ready. But then, when are we ever ready for the changing liturgical seasons? They creep up on us or arrive fired up like steam trains and catch us unawares. Lent, of all the holy seasons, though, demands time out, requires reflection. Its not a case of giving up but of stepping up. Stepping up a gear in our devotion and in our setting aside time to walk with and to listen to God in our everyday. Maybe a sleepless night is as good a way as any to start.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Simply Divine

A first for me today, I conducted a Divine Service for Lodge Ardgowan 1425. I'm not quite sure what I expected but, first off, entering the sanctuary and being confronted with an almost entirely male congregation in various bits of regalia was, to say the least, daunting. But as soon as the service got underway the sound of 70 male voices raised in worship just blew me away. As the service progressed it was reassuring to feel God's presence and even hear God's laughter echoing around, enlivening our worship.
And I enjoyed the fellowship after the service over the obligatory tea and buns.
Today's experience reminded me how God always has the ability to surprise us in worship and create for us ever new encounters and reminders of divine presence.
In churches, where we are used to women being in the majority, what a refreshing change and privelege to share with and minister to men. Divine indeed!

Saturday, 2 February 2008


I have always been scarred by carrying the curious distinction of failing one of my Bible Exams while studying divinity.
Obviously things have improved greatly. Try this!

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

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