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Showing posts from June, 2013

Invited to Follow...

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The theme of our recent Irish Methodist conference and for our new President Rev. Dr. Heather Morris was "A People Invited to Follow..." With that in mind here is a dramatised reading I put together for another conference event 9 years ago, which we are using as  a call to worship this morning: 

Reader 1:        As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  Reader 2:        "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Reader 1:        At once they left their nets and followed him. Reader 2:        As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, Reader 1:        "I will follow you wherever you go." Reader 2:        Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Reader 1:        He said to another man, …

A Swift Saturday Supplement

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Too much to do... too little time... So today's round-up of pages that have caught my eye is more rudimentary that usual... But hope your find it interesting/entertaining/challenging (delete as applicable)...
A BIBLICAL APPROACH TO WALLOPING YOUR WOMAN? The media has been filled with the very public unravelling of the relationship of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saachi, raising questions of what constitutes domestic abuse. So it was against this background that I was slightly disconcerted to find this piece in the Huffington post that purports to point to a site which advocates Christian husbands spanking their wives to maintain a Biblical marriage... So that is why Evangelical Alliance and others are advocating a "Biblical approach to marriage" in the face of marriage equality legislation!? Now I know my Bible fairly well, while I have never read any of the "Forty Shades of Grey" books, but this seems to owe more to the latter than the former. I have not actuall…

In the Presence of the Lord

This may seem like the ultimate of lazy posts... But given that I am running around like a headless chicken trying to wind up things in Dundonald before moving across the city to south Belfast, and my eldest son is going into hospital for more surgery today, it is amazing that I have the time or energy to blog at all... But having remounted my horse I thought I should keep going... 
Below I've  posted an article by John Powell practically wholesale from Christianity today which was written 5 years ago, but with me not being a regular reader of that particular tome I missed it, until I had made a snarky remark on a friend's FB where he had uploaded this video of Blind Faith performing "In the Presence of the Lord"...


I've been a Clapton fan since my early teens, despite the fact he is not regarded as particularly cool among my peers... But the following piece captured my attention given the widespread attention that U2's Bono  recent received for his overtly Chr…

Tesco Ergo Sum - I shop therefore I am...

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In response to my little rant about the Guide promise last week, one friend, and former Guide leader suggested that the quote at the top of my blog sums it up... I was just about to change that quote, and now have, so for those who (like me) had forgotten it was there, is was"You become like what you worship."Tom Wright: "Simply Christian"
It chimes well with something else I read today by Kate Muir, in the late Dennis Lennon's book "Fuelling the Fire" (which was also the source of the new quote at the head of the blog - good book, worth reading). I don't often reproduce huge chunks of text on this blog, but this struck a chord with me... It describes her experience in an Argos store... They have changed a bit since this was written, but I am sure anyone who has experienced the joys of shopping in such a store will know what she is saying:
"I was there again last week, on another errand in the hellish glare of the store, its Soviet-shortage em…

Celebrate good times...

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I was speaking from Luke 5: 33-39 yesterday morning, and referred, among other things about the image of wine as a metaphor for the Kingdom (and the new wineskins required for the new wine).
Certainly wine, and alcohol in general has a bad press here in Northern Ireland. Our drinking culture is NOT healthy and we all know of the damage it can do... This has led many Christians to make the choice of having an alcohol-free lifestyle, and that is entirely legitimate and indeed at times to be encouraged.
Sadly, some take it further and try to sanitise scripture by saying that what was being referred to was unfermented grape juice... Not so much wine as Shloer... (indeed I've heard one speaker actually substituted the word Shloer for wine when reading from any passages that contain it). But that is nonsense... It is alcoholic wine being referred to, and to deny that makes us miss why wine is used to describe the Kingdom of God.
Ask a biochemist and he’ll tell you that biochemically al…

Saturday Supplement

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It has been good to be back on the virtual horse again this week- an appropriate metaphor for a Virtual Methodist given our founder's horse-riding prowess - I suppose had he lived today he may well have read his kindle on horseback, or had a special bracket made so that he could read his iPad while behind the wheel of his car, leading to his arrest for dangerous driving... But I digress... This current seam of productivity may not last with my upcoming move and frustrations in attempting to arrange for a transition of internet provision... But, in order to keep you, my recaptured audience, entertained and informed for today, while I try to pack more boxes (and watch the Lions match), here are a few of the miscellaneous bits and bobs that have caught my eye this week, grouped in my own idiosyncratic fashion.
PEWS etc On yesterday's Methoblog site I came across this piece "In Praise of Pews". I suppose I was interested, first because I am moving from a modern (1960s) c…

Polonius joins the Guides...

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So apparently Polonius has joined the guides, while poor old God has been kicked out...
Indirectly I came to faith through the Scouts. So it was with a certain amount of sadness that I saw that Scouting's sister organisation, Girlguiding UK has completed the trajectory it set out on a few years ago in first changing the promise from loving "God" to loving "my God" and now, as from September removing all reference to God. The new promise apparently reads
I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people
and
To keep the Guide law Perhaps the Queen will be the next to get the heave-ho if some campaigners have their way, although isn't it strange that God was pushed out first... 
As Richard Hall wrote, over at Connexions, strictly speaking, this has nothing to do with me. I am not and never have been a girl guide. I am currently however, the minister of a church that hosts a gui…

Joy

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A brief reflection on a number of diverse experiences that lifted my spirits in the midst of a difficult day.
Joy in music in the virtuosity of a guitarist and the emotive power of a choir
in science in the intricacy of genetics and the vast scope of cosmology
in sport in the precision of a golf putt and the raw strength of a rugby scrum
in conversation in catching up with a dear friend and a casual encounter with a stranger 
in words in a funny turn of phrase and a carefully crafted argument
in the post in a generous and unexpected gift and a heart laid bare in gratefulness
in sunshine and in shadow on the wing  or perching lightly
but if it falls within your grasp don't hold it too tight... let it fly on to brighten another's day
Shalom





Self-care for Bits of the Body...

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Following my post yesterday I had a number of colleagues and friends contact me to see if I was OK... It was very welcome, and I was able to say that I was, indeed, the fact that I felt able to post what I did spoke of me feeling somewhat less vulnerable than I have done at times over recent years...
I also have had a number of people contact me expressing similar feelings, be it the experience of feeling somewhat redundant or overlooked within the church, particularly those with interests and abilities in some aspects of the arts, but also those who for various reasons feel dislocated from the body... and indeed on the verge of complete amputation. To prevent these things can I suggest a number of self-care strategies - sadly you may have to initiate them yourself as, my experience tells me, that the institution that goes by the name church will rarely seek out those who are feeling at odds with it...  Identify ways to exercise your particular skills and interests even if it is outsi…

Part of the Body

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“Even the rectum is part of the body…” In an exercise early on in the 2013 conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland, we were looking at Paul’s image of the body of Christ, and I scribbled the statement above on the front of the notebook we had kindly been given to record our thoughts. It clearly was a redacted form of what I actually thought, but that is what I wrote down… A colleague sitting behind me later said, “Forgive me looking over your shoulder, but I saw what you wrote, and I laughed because I know what you mean…” I was glad he wasn’t shocked or appalled, but actually, I suspect he didn’t actually know what I meant… Because I wasn’t actually referring to anyone else as a “rectum” but reflecting on how I felt about my own place in the body of Christ and particularly the Methodist Church in Ireland… Frankly, there are times when I feel that I am one of those bits of the body to be treated with “special modesty” as the NIV puts it… Out of sight, out of mind… We all go to …

Inherited Traits

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Today is Fathers' Day... It also happens to be the closing day of the 2013 Methodist Conference.  As I was reflecting on the latter and remembering my own Father, or my Da as I am more comfortable calling him, I remembered that whilst he had many fine qualities, including the love of gardening that is captured in the included photo, he also had at least one unfortunate trait... Whether you had a new car, a new motorbike or a new suit, if you brought anything to my Da for approval, he would look at it and say "Its very nice... BUT..." before going on to outline one, two or two hundred short-comings in the said item... Sadly I have not inherited his green fingers, but I have inherited his diabetes and a certain element of that trait... Whether it is down to nature or nurture, I tend to see negatives quicker than positives... It doesn't mean that I am a pessimist... I'm with Pete Grieg in believing that pessimism and realism are not the same thing... But nor are gli…

Listening to the Word

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A brief reflection in the light of some happenings at the first day of the 2013 Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland...





Too many words, drowning out the incarnate Word That enters the world in silence In stillness
A background hubbub of business that just won't wait; The buzz of silenced mobiles demanding attention
Be still Be still and know Be still and know that I am Be still and know that I am God
Shhh Don't speak - listen Don't do - be
Selah