Thursday, 17 April 2014

A bit like physiotherapy

As I have commented (probably a little too much) before, this has been a tough year, but I feel I have come out of it having grown in my own self-worth, self-knowledge and in my relationship with God. I have also realised in a very real, rather than intellectual way, how important peer support is for sustaining me - and how important that will be in the future. I hope I have been able to reciprocate too.

As I look back at my placements I wonder if I, at times, perhaps stretched myself too much. Expected too much of myself and set my standards and aims unrealistically high. The best way of putting it, I suppose, is training for a sport (or just generally getting fitter). I have pushed and pushed myself and either ignored or not realised I was coping with an 'injury.' Rather than resting up, I've pressed on and that's just made things worse.

So, having spiritual direction (oh, I think I am going to be a bit of an advocate for that) and an additional placement to do, it has allowed me to deal with the injury properly and fully. I suppose it's a bit like physiotherapy - specific exercises, under guidance, to encourage and ensure healing. All in, allowing me to go on following God in his calling on my life.

So, the lesson from this year? Listen to when I need rest. Listen when I need to take a step back. Take the chance to share experiences, fears, joys and the general wonder of ministry with trusted colleagues. Remember there are people praying for me (and all of us). And, always, that God has my back and calls me for his service.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Easter, without Holy Week

This being Holy Week and all that, it may be expected I am rather busy this week. Well, no actually. I 'only' have Easter Sunday worship to prepare and am not being involved in any other act of worship (except, perhaps, as a member of the congregation) during any other part of the week. Bliss. I am going to enjoy it while it lasts ! (So, that'll be till next year...).

Anyway, even if I do attend one or two Holy Week services, I may not be at all of them. I may 'miss' the crucifixion and head straight to the resurrection. Or, as I suspect may be the case with many in congregations up and down the country, I could go from Palm Sunday straight to Easter Sunday, without the pain of betrayal and the darkness of death in between. So, my plan (which is cunning and I hope works) is to have more of the week's story in each service.

On Palm Sunday, we had the triumphal entry, but also the woman anointing Jesus and Judas beginning his betrayal. On Easter Sunday, along with the triumph of Christ's resurrection, we will have his condemnation and death on the cross. It's perhaps not the 'normal' Easter Sunday pattern, but will give the congregation (especially those who haven't been able - for whatever reason - to make it to Holy Week services) an opportunity to journey through the whole story. As the resurrection could only happen because of the death. Without triumph over death, where is the joy and celebration of Easter.

That is my plan anyway. How it will actually pan out, especially on my last Sunday, I do not know. I do hope in the services (Palm and Easter Sunday) the congregations gained something about God, in some way.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Letting Go

As far as I am aware, I am fairly unique among all those training for ministry (at least at Edinburgh uni). This relates to my home (or sending) church. Basically, I have been associated with the same church (and it's pre-union versions) since I was was three.

Yet, for the last two and a half years, with placements, work experience and Quarry Kirk pulpit supply I have barely been to my home church. Actually, I don't think I have worshipped there for over a year.

It's a shame, in some ways, that I haven't been able to see the people there. Many I have known for as long as I have gone to church. Some less so, but all really care how I am (and, I suspect are really rather proud of Spot and I). My Mum does keep them up-to-date how we're getting on and they totally accept we can't be there and won't be coming back.

I know most of my peers, during their non-placement time, have returned 'home.' I can understand this, to a certain extent, as some have family who worship there or it's the church where they came to faith. Yet, (and this may be just me) I wonder if there is an unwillingness from both sides to let go. I just find it a little odd, when inevitably we candidates are going to move on. We have already been away on placement, so is constantly returning just prolonging the agony and making it harder when the time to 'really' let go comes

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A bum on a pew

Next Sunday is my last one with Quarry Kirk. It seems a long time ago since I decided Easter was a good time to finish there. It's an 'obvious' end or starting point in the church year, so seemed as good a time as any.

My reasons for leaving? Well, it was going to happen sooner or later. What better time than when we celebrate Jesus' resurrection and all that means, not just to the church, but whole world. On a more pragmatic (and selfish) note, I get a couple of months break from leading worship before beginning probation (maybe even a holiday???).

It'll be odd not having to prepare worship for a couple of months. Since starting training I think I've had 3, maybe 4 weeks in a row where I haven't had something to prepare for worship either on a Sunday or during the week. So though I know I need the break it will be odd (though good) to take the opportunity to just be a bum on a pew and 'just' worship. The question, for 2 weeks time, is where?

Friday, 11 April 2014

What to change and what to keep

Today our new BT phone book arrived. It's so small and, at least in this household, a little pointless. If I want to check a phone number I look it up online. It's more convenient, quicker and, in the main, up to date than the physical version. I am also not limited to the very small geographic range my local phone book covers.

It seems a bit of a quaint relic of pre-internet that BT has to distribute a new one to every household annually. I accept there are some who still use the physical book, but for (what I would argue) is the majority, it is a wasteful exercise. Ours is going straight into the paper recycling, no longer even good for a "God knows everyone's name" children's address (because they'd just wonder what planet you were on). In many households it may not be immediately thrown out, but might languished forgotten about and unused till next year's edition arrives.

That's progress for you. And no one really bats an eyelid. In fact, like Spot and I, many may have even forgotten there is a physical phone book which can be looked up at all. Pity church couldn't gently change, so congregations don't necessarily notice. No, we change (for some things) too slowly or manage it very badly and, when it does come it seems quick and a shock to the system. But, in a fast changing world, maybe we need that bit of consistency. Yet it is knowing what to change and what to leave the same that is hard.