Thursday, 26 February 2009


I'm not one who usually gives up anything for Lent. I sometimes reflect on Jesus' journey to the cross. A journey He was destined to undertake at the beginning of time.

This year, Lent's a bit different. I'll be reflecting on my journey of call exploration since last June's enquirers' conference. The challenges, encouragement, love and growth I have experienced and continue to experience since then, especially since the start of my co-ordinated field assessment.

Also, I'm giving up a few things for lent:
  • riding motorbikes
  • climbing
  • washing dishes
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • carrying rucksacks
  • and, at the moment, I might as well be celibate!
To name a few. of course, all of those examples have been imposed on me, as a result of my accident.

I know lent reflects Jesus going into the wilderness for 40 days. Was it a choice, though? I've often wondered that and don't think it was. I feel Jesus did it as it was something he had to do. To fully prepare Himself for His death on the cross. Perhaps even to "see" if there was another way - did humanity really need this?

Yes, we did and we were cleansed forever by the sacrifice of God Himself on the cross, so death would no longer be the end.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

No operation today

My husband and I had our operations called off. There were no beds for us. It's a pain (in more ways than one!), but other people's needs were greater than ours. We are walking wounded. The ops have been re-scheduled for next Wednesday.

That's all. The paper work for insurance claims are starting to come in. Again, another pain, but it'll get done in due course. Most of the paperwork will be my husbands, but I'll need to claim the replacement costs of mt kit (helmet, jacket, trousers and, potentially, gloves).

On the other hand, we walked away from a car/bike crash. We've got off lightly and everything will get sorted out in due course.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The damage

Yesterday my husband and I visited the police recovery agency to collect our belongings from the Pan and inspect the damage. I think a picture tells a thousand words -

As you can see, the forks are bent, the front fairing is totally knackered, as is the side panels. We also saw the brakes are no longer functioning - believe me, they were on Saturday! - and the head stock (thing that attaches headlight, dash board etc to frame) is bent. Given this damage the frame is almost certainly bent too. The 1300 Pan European has an aluminium frame, and it's nigh on impossible to fix on of those when it's bent.

Bottom line is, we're pretty certain it's an insurance write-off. I've told my husband I do want to get on my bike and behind him, though given our injuries, that won't be for 2 or 3 months anyway. That said, if the insurance company says the Pan is repairable, I wouldn't trust it. I'd always doubt how well the frame etc had been repaired and would not have confidence in it. My husband thinks the same and would dig is heels in with the insurance company, if necessary. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that.

All in though, especially now I've seen the damage to the Pan and the car that pulled out in front of us, I firmly believe we were being looked after. We walked away. Really, bikers aren't supposed to walk away from collisions involving cars or anything bigger. Our injuries will heal and the bike's replaceable. Everything else is optional.

Perhaps, like may other things, in some weird way only God knows (and I do mean this literally) it happened for a reason. I do believe things happen for a reason, it would just be nice to know what the reason was sometimes. At the moment, though my husband and I are learning just how concerned people are for us and how much we can do with 1 pair of hands between us.

Love of each other, our friends, family and God will see us through this.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Not doing things by halves.

My husband and I rarely do anything by halves - it's all or nothing. Breaking our collar bones is no exception.

We were at the local hospital fracture clinic this morning. I only saw my X-ray and, although I'm no expert, I could see it was a bad break - the surgeon I was speaking to confirmed this! Normally, a broken collar bone only needs a sling, time and pain killers. It will knit itself together normally. The way our collar bones have broken, this won't happen. The surgeon gave us two options:
  1. Let the bone heal naturally, but loose some shoulder function - i.e. no lifting our left arms. Or,
  2. Go into hospital for day surgery and have a plate inserted to hold the collar bone together.
Well, personally I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course I want to use my left arm properly. Not only is it really painful at the moment, I can feel how lop-sided I am. Also, not being able to raise mt arm would make even getting dressed very difficult.

I have opted for the surgery, as has my husband. Yes, many people we know would say we do everything together, but even we think this is taking it too far! My husband, bless him, asked to delay the surgery so he could better help my post operation. The surgeon explained that wasn't an option as he'd have to potentially get busy with hammers and chisels (way too much information for me!).

The operations are on Wednesday. Both my husband and I hope the metal plates are slightly ferrous - then we'll be able to put fridge magnets on our clavicles!!! Yeah, perhaps we do need to get out more, but not at the moment!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


My husband and I were having a really good day yesterday until just before 6 o'clock. We'd been in Glasgow for the Scottish model railway show. Great show - brilliant layouts with amazing levels of detail. Pete Waterman was even there (yes, as in Stock, Aitken and...) doing book signing.

But, at 6pm about a mile from home, a driver pulled out in front of us from a side street without looking. We were on my husband's bike at the time.

My husband had realised the car was going pretty fast approaching the junction, so backed off the throttle. Meanwhile thinking to himself "please look, please look". She didn't. We hit her car square on and the next thing I was on the road in severe pain down my left hand side.

I had to get up. I couldn't see my husband, as I had been thrown in front of him - we think he'd become a launch ramp for me! At that moment all I could think was check my husband was okay (in relative terms) then tear a strip off the driver which pulled out in front of us.

My husband was on the road too; just next to the bike. He had pain in his shoulder, but other than that was pretty much okay, that was it! I was going to rage at the driver.

That was until I looked at her. She looked absolutely terrified; she was scared of what she'd done, especially as my husband wasn't getting up. At that moment, my heart melted a little. I couldn't have anything for the lady except pity. She'd screwed-up big style, but she had so much remorse on her face.

Strangely, all I want to do when I next see her is to let her know I've forgiven her. I did as soon as I looked at her face last night.

We both have broken our left collar bones. I'm fairly sure I've cracked 1 or 2 ribs. I did last year and the pain I'm having breathing now is exactly the same as then. Oh well, these things happen. It could have been so much worse!

The motorbike's almost certainly a write-off, but it's replaceable - we're not. Mostly, though, I pray the lady with whom we collided doesn't feel too cut up.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

To recycle or not

I had a meeting with my supervisor on Tuesday, despite him still being signed off. We discussed a couple of things and I got my "homework".

My placement church are hosting the local guide district Thinking day service on Sunday morning and I'm to do the intersession prayer for that. As I used to be a guide, I have a fairly decent idea what should be in that. Sorted.

I'm also to do the sermon on 8th March. This has been arranged for a while. Now I'm wondering whether to write another sermon - to ensure Sunday's wasn't a fluke - or to recycle? Sunday's did go down really well, but it will be a totally different experience at my placement church. Also, my supervisor doesn't yet know I preached on Sunday - he knew I was helping with the worship group, but didn't specifically ask what I did during the service. Okay, perhaps I should have told him, but I wanted to leave my options open...

I've had a look at the lectionary and I'm sure I could come up with something. I may have a bash at writing another sermon. If I think it sucks or isn't coming together very well, I can use Sunday's as a fall back!

The photo was me being arty with a lectern. If you look very, very closely, you can see my reflection.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

More sermon praise

My home church records the service for those who can't attend. One of the young church leaders told me last night she wanted to hear the service, as everyone who had talked to her about it really enjoyed it - she was only in until the end of the children's talk. She also said she'd heard my sermon was excellent and really wanted to hear it. Oh no, what have I done?!

One of my minister's was telling me he was impressed how well I discussed the text, put it into the context of the time and then brought it's impact totally up-to-date. He also commented I also got the point across really well.

I am glad people enjoyed it and got something from it, but I really am not very good at accepting praise very gracefully. I'll have to get better at that. That said, I don't do any of this for my glory, but to bring glory to God. I hope others realise that.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Losing my innocence

Well, my preaching one anyway. I was going to use another word, but my husband pointed out some ISP filters may not let it through.

I didn't feel too nervous - well maybe just a little. More that people wouldn't get or appreciate what I was saying. Also, there were 2 ministers listening to my first go - linked charge, so the worship team covered both services - no pressure then!

I get away with it though. Everyone who spoke to me seemed to really enjoy it and thought (and I quote here) it was excellent. I've also just received an e-mail from the session clerk of my home church and his wife. They thought it was excellent and many people who had spoken to them thought the same.

My mother-in-law and her friend even came to hear me preach and really enjoyed the service and they don't do church. Must have been okay then.

Silly comment of the day was from one of my ministers - "Are you sure that was your first sermon?". Lets think blast, yes there was this one time at band camp... Yes, it was my first time. "Oh, it didn't sound like a first sermon - it was excellent and I really got a lot out of it." Thank goodness for that, at least I hadn't made a theological faux pas.

So, I thought I'd post it. It's based on Psalm 30 and Mark 1:40-45.

When have you ever been told something and it was too good news to keep to your self?
A friend's just told you their getting married, but doesn’t want a fuss.
Your Mum's been given the all clear from the consultant, but doesn't want the world to know as it might tempt fate and the cancer will come back.
Your son's told you your going to be a grandparent, but it's the first trimester and they don't want too many people knowing in case; just in case.

Each time, the person telling you’re their good news has a really good reason for a limited number of people to know.
Try as you might, you just can’t keep it to yourself. No, you don't want to keep it to yourself - you want to tell the world.

Shout it from the roof tops.

Yet, we hear Jesus told the man he had cured to tell no-one.
This wasn't a flippant gonae no' tell anyone - I'll cure you quietly and move on, the whole world doesn’t need to know what I did for you (well, not yet anyway).
Its just between you and me, isn't it?
No this was a strong warning.
The Greek word Mark uses is a very strong warning word and would have made it very clear to the man Jesus wanted no-one, not even the man's nearest and dearest to know.

Now, this man was a reject of society. With his skin disease, which may not necessarily have been leprosy, as some translations have it, he was deemed unclean by his society.
Anyone coming into contact with him would also have been unclean according to the Moses' law.
Because of this, this man would have known almost everyone would turn the other way when they encountered him. They won't have wanted to have anything at all to do with him.
And here he is, going to Jesus.
Asking for healing.
If Jesus wanted to.
Perhaps he'd heard Jesus didn't turn people away, even those the unclean.
But he was taking a huge risk he would be rejected.
Everyone else had, why wouldn't this Galilean?
But Jesus not only didn't turn the other way, he healed the man.
Because he wanted to.
He felt sorry for him.
He had compassion for him.
Although the passage doesn't reveal much about this encounter, perhaps Jesus was angry at the way society had treated this man:
Making him an outcast,
good for nothing.
Perhaps that's part of the reason Jesus didn't want the man telling anyone what he had done for him.
How would society have reacted - a carpenter from Galilee curing a leper?
Not being worried about making himself unclean, potentially excluding him too from society for helping one of the unclean.
Challenging the norms of society.
Although Jesus was doing this throughout his ministry, he often told his disciples not to tell others, as the time was not right. Maybe that was the case here?
But, who can blame the man for wanting to tell the world?
Presumably, as Jesus told him, he visited the local priest to be deemed to be clean. This was necessary in order to begin re-integration with society.
The priest may well have known the man well, may even have declared him unclean in the first place.
And he, no doubt, would have wanted to know how this healing happened.
Right, so that was probably the first person the man told about his healing, but realistically, would he have able to keep this healing to himself.
Place yourself in his sandals. A position of uncleanliness and rejection from society.
Then, suddenly cured, wouldn't you want to tell the world?
You are no longer a reject.
People want to talk to you.
You are loved again.
You can have a relationship with God.
According to the Jewish tradition, the man's skin disease meant he couldn't have had a relationship with God. Not a direct one.
He wouldn't have been able to enter the temple and get the High priest to make offerings to God on his behalf.
No entering the temple, no offerings, no relationship with God.
Yet, Mark tells us Jesus took pity on him and healed him.
There and then, although the man may not have know it, he had a direct relationship with God the son.
A relationship he may not have had for years and wouldn't have thought he would have again.
No doubt, as a result of this encounter, the man's entire life, both physically and spiritually was irretrievably transformed.
Just like the psalmist, he just wanted to sing God's praises of what Jesus, God's son, had done for him.
No longer was God hiding his face from him.
He had seen God through Jesus and wanted to proclaim that to everyone he met.

He had been healed!

So, what can we, as church, take from this?

Who in our society is unclean?
The teenage mother
The repeat offender.
The gang member.
All shunned by society and, too often, by the very people who should be reaching out to them.
Us, God's church.

Look at what they've done.
They don't deserve another chance.
They can't sit beside us.

We, as a society often throw their wrongdoing and past back at them.
We don't always treat the unclean gracefully, with compassion.
We're watch them, looking for them to make mistakes that we feel will justify our shunning of them.

Probably the same mistakes we sometimes make, but we're clean, we can make mistakes!

Sometimes, the very people our society deems unclean feel the need to approach God for healing.
This must be extremely difficult for them.
Imagine, plucking up the courage to come to church, to approach God, as something inside you is drawing you to it.
You may feel unworthy.
That the people in the pews will turn up their noses at you
They will turn their back on you.
Just as Jesus' society turned away from their unclean.
Just as every society turns away from their unclean.
But we're not like that, are we?
Because, just as Jesus healed and transformed lives so we, as his church, can offer our act of love to the world.
To heal and transform lives.
Not within these walls, but out there.
Helping the homeless,
Giving a safe place for young people to hang out with their friends
Loving those others reject.
But we do all of this not only because it is the right thing to do, but because we are followers of Jesus and he showed us the way.
He had pity on the man with the skin disease.
He healed him and showed his compassion for the man.
When those society rejects call for help, we do have compassion for them.
We offer our healing to them.
And why do we do this?
To show God's love.
God's love which will heal them.
God's love which healed us too, as we were all unclean in God's eyes until he gave up his son, Jesus, God incarnate, on the cross to cleanse us all.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Quick update

I've not had a lot to say for myself of late and I was away in York last weekend - I'll post about that over the weekend.

My supervisor is still off sick and I've finished the tasks we'd agreed I'd undertake at our last meeting, so I'm a bit in limbo. My presbytery rep's been helpful, but as she's not been trained to do the CFA, she can't take over from my supervisor. which is fair enough. I've contacted 121, but the person dealing with the CFA is on leave and no-one else seems able to help. I'm not too worried, as I've said before, everything happens for a reason.

Scarily, I'm preaching in my home church on Sunday. My minister's father is visiting, so he asked the worship team to do the service, so he can spend more time with his Dad. My husband landed me in it with the sermon! I'll get him back later, but revenge is a dish best served cold!!!

I've now written the sermon and the worship group are supposed to be having a run through tonight. I'm not wanting to let anyone hear my sermon until Sunday. It's been snowing most of the day, so that might give me the excuse I need not to head out tonight!

Fingers crossed it goes down okay. I'm a sermon virgin. My home church will be gentle, I'm sure!!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Amazing Grace!

One of the books my supervisor recommended I read was "What's so amazing about Grace?" by Phillip Yancey. What with him being off sick, I thought I'd get it read.

The basic tenet of the book is what grace is and why only Christians can dispense it. Well, having now read this book, I think I already know what grace is, but Yancey, I feel, didn't really answer why only Christians can dispense it.

There were a lot of examples from his own experience of what grace looks like and "ungrace" as he termed it. That said, the examples weren't ones I could easily relate to. Either they were too specific experiences, such as his white southern American upbringing, or I didn't agree with his take on events, such as his gay friend and how Yancey dealt with it. Personally, the ultimate conclusion of the events around his relationship with his friend made me wonder just how graceful Yancey had been.

I found the book laboured many points, basically saying the same thing over and over, with little extra detail. I also felt it was very political, despite Yancey saying, in effect, that religion and politics shouldn't mix. Many of the examples of how the "world" perceives Christians and the church looked to me not the world's view, by America. Again, this took the message into areas I have no experience or, really, any knowledge of.

Yancey takes about loving the sinner, not the sin and I applaud that. But everytime Jesus forgave someone - showing his grace - he also told them to go and sin no more. Yancey's definition of grace did not mention that. I think that was too simplistic a view.

Having read the book, I don't know any more about grace than I did before. In fact, if that was my introduction and I wasn't as sure of what grace means to me, I would have felt really inadequate. Also, I didn't feel challenged at all reading it. All the other books I've read so far during the CFA have challenged me to a greater or lesser extent. This washed over me.

I know many people love this book but, frankly, the hours I've spent reading it I will never get back!!!

Monday, 2 February 2009


As I mentioned in an earlier post (here, as part of my CFA I am to visit 3 or 4 churches and write a review on them.

Yesterday my husband and I went to Buckhaven Parish church. It's an older church (mid 1800s), with some re-modelling looking to have been done in the 1970s. It is part of a linked charge with East Wemyss, so that will pose an other set of challenges for the minister.

The welcome was really positive. All on the door said good morning and ensured we got orders of service and hymn books. They still use CH4 and Songs of God's People, but Buckhaven is a fairly deprived town and there almost certainly won't be money to replace them. Nothing wrong with that, though.

At the start and end of the service, the bible is brought in and taken out from the church. During those times the congregation stands. The order of service did note this, so we weren't in the dark as to what was going on. Personally, I don't mind if the bible stays in the church all the time or is brought in and out to mark the service, but I do think there should be some ceremony to it. My home church leaves it in and my placement church take it in and out, but with no ceremony, so it you were visiting you probably wouldn't notice.

Unfortunately, there were no children or young people in the congregation. My husband and I were the youngest. I'd guess, apart from the minister and deacon, the congregation were 60+. It was predominately female and there were about 70 people at the service.

The minister and deacon shared the service, with the minister doing the readings and prayers and the deacon the sermon. The service is the same as at East Wemyss, except for there is a children's address there, I later established.

At the beginning of the service, the minister welcomed everyone to the service and invited us all to say good morning to those around us. At that point, everyone shook hands etc. This despite they had all already greeted each other. It was a little unexpected, but I thought it said a lot about the church. Very friendly - we were not left out. My husband did feel it a little out of his comfort zone, but he's a little stuffy when it comes to those things!!!

The general style of the service was very much like a "standard" Church of Scotland service (if there is such a thing). The theme of the service was us all having a unique part to play in the kingdom of God. Mmmh - some of what the deacon said sounded like the sermon was for me as much as the congregation. I've had that a couple of times since I've been to the enquirers' conference!!!

Immediately after the service, the lady sitting in front of me turned round and told me what a lovely voice I have. I was somewhat taken aback by that as I can't hold a tune in a bucket!!! I'm also not very graceful in accepting complements, though I did thank her profusely (admittedly in a slightly shocked state). My husband commented later on I should have told her digital hearing aids are available from the NHS (cheeky man)!!!

After the service there were teas and coffees. Not many people stay for coffees as the service finishes at 12:15 at least and many people want to get home for lunch. In saying that, they feel it is important to offer them. I found that added to my impression of the friendliness of the church.

No balance, if I had moved to Buckhaven and was looking for a new church, I would certainly visit Buckhaven Parish Church again.