Monday, 21 April 2014

Feeding the hungry - on Easter Sunday

So, The Mail on Sunday had an article where one of their journalists went undercover to demonstrate how easy it is to get a voucher for a Foodbank parcel. As they put it, "No ID, no checks...and vouchers for sob stories."

Well, I was going to comment that I don't think the editors perhaps realise how humiliating, degrading and embarrassing it is for those who go seeking help, because they cannot afford to feed their families. Yes,. there may be people who will abuse the system, as there are people who will abuse any system, but given the information the journalist gave the people at the foodbank, it would appear the foodbank volunteer made a judgement call based on experience of dealing with others looking for parcels and, more importantly, IMHO, compassion. Compassion - now, why would a Christian charity have that for the poor and the needy?

It's the apparent upshot of the Mail on Sunday's article I find amazing. By all accounts there was a surge of donations to the Trussel Trust's Easter appeal - £19,000 given yesterday. And the comments people who have donated as a result of the Mail's article are 'interesting.' Perhaps the Trussel Trust should be thanking The Mail on Sunday for highlighting the need for foodbanks once more, especially on Easter Sunday!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Time to say goodbye

This being Easter Sunday, not only was I leading worship where we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I was saying goodbye to Quarry Kirk. Easter, with it's hope and eternal message of God's love for the world seemed as good time as any to say goodbye. We all knew I would only be with them for a short while.

After the service I was so touched by the warmth from all in the congregation. They are genuinely very sorry to see me leave. Many more than normal stayed after the service to wish me well, over hot cross buns and cups of tea (both of which I toiled to consume, due to being in conversation so long). Some were even getting weepy as they were wishing me well and, consequently couldn't say much. Funny, sometimes people (on both sides of the equation) don't realise how much they are loved until the time for letting go comes.

I hope and pray things work out at Quarry Kirk. Like me, the path ahead is not necessarily straightforward. Such a shame, as they have so much to give, so much love and care for each other and their community. I hope, in my small way I have been able to sustain them in that journey.

Now, I go on with mine.

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