Friday, 25 May 2012

Misty morning

Friday dawns, the lovely views of last evening obscured by thick mist and what looks suspiciously like rain.
The forecast implies this will lift and the sunshine return....
Can we say the same of our church I wonder?
What can we say about the 2012 assembly?
The Bogle Assembly?
Or as he referred to it yesterday "the alleluia assembly"

Our country is in the depths of recession, and has been for the past four or five years. We could I'd say, think the same of our church.
We have argued amongst ourselves, we have fallen out and made up. Some people have felt so marginalised and undervalued they have left, others have felt the same but felt all the more determined to stay and to ensure that the church remains broad, remains constant to its commitments to share the gospel and minister to all God's people.

The Assembly is one of our constants, the third week of May sees 800 church people descend on the capital, to listen to reports of what the church is doing, and wants to do. It can be a very dry time. There are pockets of wonder, of emotion, of excitement and hope. And there are also hours of talk, talk, TALK!!

This has been a dry, subdued week. There have been moments that lift the day - more than moments, there have been times when the assembly has felt moved, lifted and encouraged. But I strongly suspect that the overall impression looking back will judge it rather dull. And I for one, am a little disappointed at that. Because (as I said a week ago) I love it!

We witnessed due process
We shared in decision making
We will send a message home that the church is looking to the future
We will send a message home that the church is "Live and Well"
We must live in the moment, not in the shadow of years and decisions to come
I love God, and I love the people he has placed in my care, time for us to look forward, in hope, in love, to 'listen for the gospel.....'

Thursday, 24 May 2012

End in sight....

The penultimate day
Exhaustion is now really setting in! In any one week I may go out a couple or even three evenings, and will work long days talking, leading, reading, but I do not ever get as tired as I do in Assembly Week.
The difference is many things. At assembly first, I am not at home, with all my own things around me, and at home, I am easily able to go walk in my garden, stretch cramped muscles, and take a breather. Not so at assembly!
I have walked more this week than normal (and still I forget to bring REALLY comfy shoes!) and sitting in the assembly hall is not comfortable for hours and hours on end.
Add into that mix the opportunity to catch up with friends, to socialise, to make connections, mean the evenings have been filled with dinners (I know hard life!!) and late nights.
So today at the sixth day, the body is really beginning to protest - and yet!

Today's the day we will feel our hearts swell and the emotions stir as we acknowledge the work done by the chaplains of HM Forces. The sight of them in the hall is in itself stirring. But hearing personal stories and knowing that these men and women have such an important supportive role moves the soul.
Time to get going then!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Taking the commission

As I sit in my hotel room looking out over the capital city this morning I am reflecting on the week so far and the days still to come.
Today we will hear from the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. He will be the guest speaker of the Ecumenical Report and I am looking forward to that. Later on we will hear the ministries report which will I suspect challenge a few of the commissioners.

But, the biggest part of my reflecting, has been about what it means to accept your commission - and use it. The last time I was a commissioner the end of the day brought a half empty hall. Not this year! The need to log in it seems has been effective. People queue up to speak, to commend, to criticise, to ask questions and to take an active part. And yet, still not everyone speaks or takes part. (this is most likely a good thing - we'd never get home!)

There is a quietness about assembly this year. Maybe it's the content. The lack of serious controversy. Maybe it's the Moderator - Albert, who is simply being himself! He is relaxed, he looks like he's having fun, I guess some folks will think he's too relaxed, but actually I think it gives the gathering a different tone, and I rather like it!

Time to get organised and go up the Mound to do today's diligence....

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


So we get to Tuesday; for me the morning began well, singing in the choir made me happy!

Then the business began! First report The Guild. Never underestimate the Guild! This amazing group of women (and men) is celebrating its 125th anniversary it has, in the past three years raised almost a million pounds for their projects - in the depths of recession no mean feat. The report was inspiring and gave a snapshot of the work, the friendships, the hopes and aspirations and it was a great tribute to teamwork and dedication...

From the Guild (at one point referred to "at your age") to the Youth Assembly. The young..... the enthusiastic ..... those who are not afraid to ask questions, not afraid to probe and, in their level of preparedness those who put many of the rest of us to shame. Their report is of the business of their own assembly which takes place in the late summer each year. It takes a similar form to the GA with debates and deliverances, and in turn informs some of the questions they ask of the council reports. To see these young adults addressing the assembly, challenging and questioning is a wonder, and an inspiration and gives us great hope for the church in the years to come.

In total contrast the rest of the day was Review & Reform and then Mission and Discipleship. Here will be plenty others to comment on that.... suffice to say I popped up and asked a couple of questions about publishing. But mostly what could have been controversial simply wasn't. Reports were received; questions asked; amendments proposed and the day passed.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Dull? Not really.....

Today was an interesting sort of day, not that it necessarily looked like it on face value. and Society is always an interesting report and the issues surrounding poverty, debt and injustice are far from tame.... The debates were challenging - we cannot overlook the increasing burdens of debt and the resulting consequences which often lead to homelessness and violence - and yet in all of this there was, amongst all of this deep and difficult discussion a sort of weariness - as though we all know the problems, but feel often that we are utterly helpless in seeking ways to find solutions. And yet it was clear from the passioned comments and questions that all through the land there are groups of people striving to respond in a loving and pragmatic way. Not just standing on the sidelines and hand wringing but actually rolling up their sleeves and doing something....
The scope of the Council's remit is huge - from home based issues to the wide reaching response to the segregation and partiality there is in Israel/ Palestine.... Yet in all of this there was lone voice calling out for balance for an equality of approach to the undoubted problems in that region.
Anyone who has ever travelled to the Holy Land knows the issues faced by people who find themselves on the wrong side of the wall.. .. No it is never simple; it is never one side right and the other wrong, but there does need to be a voice to speak out for the voiceless and the people of Israel have a bigger and louder voice than the Palestinians ever will - at least for the foreseeable future anyway... thus ended the day, wee had sat and listened and debated for almost 9 hours (with a brief respite for lunch) was the day dull? Not at all! Long yes. Dull never!!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Love as Jesus Loves

In China there is an amazing group of people who work together under the banner of Love Never Ends...... In the Assembly Hall today we heard about real, Awesome God given, God inspired love in action...... And we debated about whether the church's vision statement should be expanded to include the phrase "Love as Jesus Loves" The motion was defeated which on the surface sounds pretty terrible.... The church doesn't want to love like Jesus?? Actually that's not what was concluded - it was more about not changing the vision statement without thinking about how it should be re-worded to include love. Love. We're not good at expressing it... We're not good at showing it.... We have this vague notion that people will know they are loved through instinct or telepathy.... But I am sure you know that telepathy is NOT one of the gifts of the Spirit!!! We love... It is in our Christian DNA but actually we need to remind ourselves and others about what love in action is really about.... Loving sacrificially, unconditionally, in a Christlike way..... That is what we are about.... I for one think it's time we stood up and said so

Pomp and Ceremony

One of the things I love about the UK is the way we can embrace things.
As I write I am watching live TV link of the arrival of the Olympic Flame at the start of the relay It's 7am and there are hundreds of people waiting to cheer it on its way
Over the next few weeks this symbol of peace (for that it its original purpose) will travel up and down the land. June 14th will see it come through our little village
And over the time 8000 different people will be flame carriers
We are good at ceremony
We are good at pageantry
We enjoy the spectacle and the opportunity to come together
In a couple hours I'll be at an entirely different but no less special ceremony
The start of the General Assembly is heralded by trumpets and brights uniforms
There are hats and medals and ribbons
It is a stirring ceremony
More than 800 voices will raise the rafters of the assembly hall as we sing hymns and psalms
It will be a good day

Friday, 18 May 2012

A week of meetings

Getting ready to go to the General Assembly: a week of debate, reports, some fascinating and stimulating, others not.
It's a week I look forward to when it is my turn.
In the past few weeks I've heard a whole range of responses to it: from it's boring and tedious, to I love it - and everything in between
And it has got me thinking - when I was ordained amongst all those vows was one to play my full part in the life of the church...
And I guess for some that one is less important than some of the others.
But actually we aren't given to choose which vows we honour and which we avoid.
One of the others should be printed out and taped up in front of every one- we promised to be cheerful friends!!!!!!!
So I am looking forward to this week.
It will be long.
It will have moments of joy and moments of despair.
There will be lots of chances to catch up with old friends, and make new ones and put faces and names together at some of the group meals we have organised between us
But most of all it will be a week when church people come together, to worship together, to sing God's praises and to seek His will for the future of our church- what's not to like?!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

the Sermon Blog

I am laughing because of the web address.... it's actually called home is where the heart is!
Today's sermon to follow; and, if I have time some archive ones

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Unexpected Blessings....

"I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and Wait for the Lord" (Ps 27: 13-14)

This morning feeling a little weary and fragile I prayed for inspiration and strength;
out of the blue came a text: did I have 10 mins to spare?
and later on, came an answer to a wee difficulty I have been tussling with:
what joy! How amazing is our God!!
Psalm 27 tells us, reminds us to seek God's face.
So often as we seek God in the 'proper' places we
 overlook that which is right in front of us.
In ministry there is a huge temptation to be all things to all people
we are burdened with the job description of all round skills
frequently we are our own worst enemies: instead of practising the art of delegation, helping others to exercise thier gifts we struggle on, trying to be "Jill of all Trades"
(for we.... substitute I....)
today - I discovered that in being honest about the things I find hard to do, God put exactly the right person in my path, at exactly the right time
Our God is an Awesome God!!