Thursday, 29 April 2010

Who's motto?

In this year when we celebrate 450 years of reformation, wouldn't it be good to adopt a few motifs from the Hard Rock Cafe? We could display memorabilia of the great rocker reformers and practice the loving and serving all that adorns the doorway. Or would that just be too radical a reformation?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Auld claes and purridge

Giving thanks this week for ministry... the joy of being home... missing loved ones across the pond... catching up with work... grateful for colleagues who helped out... being missed... being welcomed into people's homes... catching up with laundry and housework... all everyday things taken for granted but in which we are richly blessed.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Giving thanks

This is Natural Bridge, in Virginia a beautiful site visited on a glorious day. There were crows nesting high in its crevices and the sound of their cries echoing off the stone was quite something. It's great to be home and reliving our memories.
From the horror stories that are emerging of folk caught up in the Volcanic Ash flight chaos, we have been extremely lucky. We were only a week late getting home, we found reasonable hotel rates, got in some extra sight seeing and, when we got back to Glasgow Airport, NCP waived the extra parking charges.
And, I have some great colleagues who stood in for me. It's amazingly easy to con folks into helping out from a distance. If it wasn't for impending Higher exams, I might have been tempted to spin things out a bit longer! Folks managed fine without me.

Friday, 23 April 2010


This was probably one of my favourite sights in Virginia - a styrofoam rendition of Stonehenge. The artist, Mark Cline is a seemingly tireless wacky creator. On the road, we passed his workshop, stopped to take pics of some of his creations - dinosaurs and the like - and he invited us in. Although some of the other attractions he has created in the area were not yet open, he was very hospitable and described them to us. The signs around Foamhenge testify to his wackiness. Foamhenge is situated just a few miles away from Natural Bridge, a stunning creation of Mother Nature. But more of that later...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Home sweet home

From the mountains of Virginia to the beaches of Ayrshire. It is so good to be home. We loved our extended adventure and were blessed by the company of loving friends but it's time to get back to work and routine. British Airways were superb and we'll certainly use them again. It feels odd not to be checking the web every few minutes to see what the Icelandic volcano is doing but I know there are many folk still stranded far from home, through Volcanic ash chaos and through other sorts of chaos. May they too find rest, good company and a place to call home.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


The Washington Monument looks a bit off kilter. That sums up well where we're at. We've enjoyed seeing the sights and tried to make the most of our enforced extra few days of "holiday". But enough is enough. We just want to get home. I could have cried when I heard that tonight's Heathrow flight from Washington was cancelled. I'm sure some people did cry. However, it seems that UK airspace is open, so, hopefully, tomorrow's flight will go. It's been interesting to experience such a range of emotions at not getting home, at being restricted, at the sheer unpredictability of events. But I'm conscious, even as I reflect that, for many folk, those kind of emotions are common place, the way they are forced to live their lives. And, while we are not yet out of the woods, (or out of the States) I am grateful that this IS temporary - I hope!!!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Taking advantage

Since we are still stranded in Virginia, my friend, who is a presbyterian minister, took full advantage and, as well as getting me to bring a message for the children, she and I preached on Saul and Ananias at both services this morning. The final hymn was to the Scottish folk tune Kelvingrove - so, for good measure, I accompanied that on the fiddle. It's good to feel useful while we wait - I think!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Life is stranger than fiction

Who would have believed that a volcanic eruption in Iceland would ground flights between the UK and USA? We should be on our way right now but latest advice suggests a midweek departure at the earliest. There is something liberating about having no control over events. I'm confident that, by the time we do get home, we'll have learned a lot about being patient and making the best of circumstances.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

a home from home

Who would have thought it? You travel across the ocean and meet- heilan coos. These friendly beasts were a sight to behold way up in the mountains of Highland County. The people are very hospitable too!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


A Chocolate Festival. Sounded too good to be true. But it wasn't. Lewisburg in West Virginia staged a wonderful celebration of all things chocolate with plenty of opportunity to taste and to take away samples, from shoes to guitars. A beautiful sunny day added to the carnival atmosphere. Well worth the two hour drive to get there. Next year, it's April 9th - already marked up on the calendar!

Thursday, 8 April 2010


Our retreat finished today and I'm now officially on holiday. Just the small matter of a sermon to preach this Sunday! The picture is a rendition of the beatitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled".
It was fun trying to create our interpretations of different beatitudes using stuffed toys. We'll never see them the same way again.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Soul nourishment

Making candy, treating our feet, shooting the breeze, playing with the Spirit, wrestling theology - Just some of the elements of retreat, all happening alongside the beautiful backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley. Of course it's easy to find retreat in these surroundings with friends old and new. What will be challenging will be to discover a playful God in our busy everyday life and environment.

Monday, 5 April 2010

A place in the sun

Left Scotland this morning, where the rain was stoating and the temperature was 6 degrees C to arrive in Virginia this evening to sun and 23 degrees. I'll be involved in a pastors' retreat entitled "Playful Spirituality" for the next few days. Just what the doctor ordered post Easter.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

He is risen

A bit wet up the hill this morning but still plenty to celebrate. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Lots to look forward to in worship today - baptism, confirmation and communion - with all ages together.
And then, this evening we celebrate Easter with the Salvation Army.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Holy Saturday

I had a lovely visit this morning, sharing communion with one of our oldest members. She told me how close she feels God is to her these days. And she prayed for me. Holy Saturday indeed.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

I've just been putting the finishing touches to tonight's services - readings from the gospels and reflections from the perspective of some of those Jesus encountered on the way to the cross. I was in tears writing them. Not sure how it will be to read them. The choir will sing All on the April evening, which contains these words:
All in the April evening,
April airs were abroad;
I saw the sheep with their lambs,
And thought on the Lamb of God.
I had a similar experience this morning when I took this picture.
What an amazing love.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Easter clues

These eggs all contained clues to the easter story - nails, silver coins, a stone, perfume, a cross and one left empty - leading us to the wonder of the Christian Easter. Having just completed my third school Easter assembly of the day, I'm hoping for a holy nap before the Maundy Thursday service this evening.
I spend quite bit of time putting together technology for the Holy Week services but, on the Thursday, it's worship unplugged. A very simple telling of the gospel story with a sharing of communion, interspersed with hymns. And, often, this is the one that folk find the most meaningful.

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