Saturday, 27 March 2010

Selection conference - the paper work

Given time is pressing on towards selection conference, I was starting to wonder when the additional information would come. This arrived yesterday.

From comments some of you have left on my blog (thank you), combined with the timetable I received when my place was confirmed, I wasn't surprised by much of the contents. The detail of the medical report was pretty surprising, though I'm not sure why. Many employers have this. Strangely, just over a year ago all the the questions asking about health issues and hospital treatment, I would have answered to the negative. Now I have to explain about my broken clavicle - joy! But that's just by the by.

I suppose I'm most concerned about which topic to choose for the group discussion I will lead. I have an idea of an item which I think is an important matter the Kirk should at least talk about, but I wonder what other peoples thoughts are. It's not I want the answers or to nick others ideas - far from it - but I want to look outwith my own "rant issues" and maybe start a dicussion on something really important. If not really important, at least a discussion I can present well and where there will be a scope for debate/discussion.

I must admit, and I'll have to be aware of it during this time, I do have a habit of playing devil's advocate a lot. It might not be my opinion, but I will put it forward to get people to think about it and challenge me. Unfortunately, in the wrong context, that can be taken the wrong way. I suppose it's positive I can be like that. As some of you have commented on here, the selectors are looking for me, not someone else.

Overall, though, I'm still pretty relaxed about it. I doubt I'll still be so relaxed on the day, but I'm farily certain neither will the other 9 people getting their head read!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

It left me cold.

My hubbie and I were away to York over the weekend. While there, we went along to St Michael le Belfrey church for Sunday worship.

It's the proper parish church right next to the minster. Not being fully knowledgeable of Church of England practices, I'm not too sure of the distinction. Anyway, we arrived shortly before 11am and the praise band were warming up. We did get a really good welcome from a member of the congregation who explained what went on etc. Unfortunately, with the praise ban warming up, it was hard to hear her at times, but fair play for making the effort.

For some reason, which I'm not too clear about, they serve refreshments mid-service. That gave my hubbie and I a good point to depart semi-discreetly.

Why, you may ask. Well, it didn't feel as though worship had started, although it had apparently been going on for 35-40 minutes by that point. The two people leading worship had introduced themselves and let everyone know the order of things (useful for visitors) and we'd sung a few songs. We'd even been invited to discuss with someone next to us something we didn't understand (my hubbie and I looked at each other and in unison said "Quantum mechanics").

Yet during those parts, members of the congregation still chatted among themselves. It just felt like we were waiting for something to happen. Like, when you were a kid and you were waiting on a visitor or a bus to take you on a trip and they were late. The teacher would get you to sing songs until they arrived to keep you occupied and entertained. It felt very like that

Or, put another way. The hymn "As the deer pants for water" has the line "I long to worship you". That's what the part of the service we endured felt like longing to worship. Well,get on with it then!!!

To there credit, the church was pretty full, but I couldn't and still can't keep thinking it felt more like a white (almost all) 30-40 something middle class club. Perhaps I'm too harsh. If that's what brings them closer to God, fair play. I felt further away.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Don't just talk to the children

The children's address today was about the prodigal son. I was at a loss for an idea until yesterday afternoon, when my hubbie suggested I started with "are you pleased to see me?". Then, I add on other statements, making the prospect of them being pleased to see me less and less appealing.

Giving the reaction of the children, the address went well. They interacted with me, answered my questions, almost laughed at my jokes and asked their own questions. All very encouraging.

After the service, the session clerk came to me, a bit worried. He hoped I wouldn't be offended by what he had to say. This had me a little concerned, as it takes a lot to offend me. Apparently, I'm speaking a little too fast during the children's address, so those with hearing issues are slightly struggling. I thanked him for letting me know. How am I going to know I'm not getting the message to all the congregation if no-one tells me?

I must remember, though I'm talking with the children, the children's address forms part of the service so it is important everyone can hear this. I will bear this feedback in mind for next time.

Friday, 12 March 2010

A random act of kindness

On my way to youth club tonight, I was stopped by a bus driver. He'd got out of him bus, which was waiting at a bus stop, to stop the traffic in order to let an elderly couple across the road.

I was having a good day anyway, but that still really brightened it.

Monday, 8 March 2010

It all came together.

Yesterday's service went really well. At the first service, there were no children, unfortunately. I tried doing the children's address with the congregation and it just wasn't working. I needed children to come up with various answers to why trees look dead in winter. A bit too obvious for adults. So, I just moved on with the rest of the service.

I feel I paced myself well. I didn't go too fast or slow and definitely felt much more relaxed, but not in a complacent way, than when I preached the sermon at my home churches three weeks ago. That's a combination of being in churches, rather than halls, so I knew where I was going to stand etc. It's not I object to worship in non-church buildings; after all, the church is the people. No, I need to get used to being that little bit more exposed. There's no lectern or pulpit to stand behind. I know it's a strange one and I need to be aware of, but moving on with yesterday's service...

At my "proper" home church, the children's address went really well. The children (about 20 varying in age from 2-12 years old) responded to me and my questions. One of the children made "a bird and the bees" type comment. I answered his comment without putting him down, if that makes sense, and moved onto another section of the children within about 5 seconds. That was a can of worms I didn't want opened! After the service my minister comments how impressed she was at me going from a picture of a tree in winter to the parable of a fig tree. Again, I felt it came together well, but it's reassuring to hear that from others, especially an experienced minister as my one is.

After the service, many people thanked me, though it was pretty much "nice service" or "well done". They are positive comments, but not very constructive, unfortunately. One comment which did stand out for me was from a member at the first service. "Thanks for that, Mrs G, your sermon really spoke to me and has left me with a lot to think about". She didn't expand and I didn't ask, but I thought perhaps God knew that one person needed to hear some of what I had to say. More likely, God directed me to say what I did in order the sermon spoke to that person the way He needed it to.

If only one person is touched that way I have helped do God's work.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Third Sunday in Lent

I am leading the whole service at my home churches today. I'm preaching on Isaiah 5:1-9 and Luke 13:1-9. Not exactly easy text; even my minister was impressed I hadn't decided to go with my own choice. But, with prayerful reflection it's all prepared and I'm pretty happy with it. That's not bad going, given my reaction when I first looked at the lectionary readings for this Sunday.

To be honest, I'm, more concerned by the children's address than anything else. After my last placement, I have got into a habit of making questions rhetorical as their children didn't answer - anyone. Also, in the time I've been away from my home church, more children have stated coming, so they don't know me.

I have my "dress rehearsal" at the linkage to my home church. I find things easier there. A bit like Jesus. He wasn't listened to in Nazareth, yet Capernium is just down the road.

I'm sure I'll be fine. If God it with me, who can be against me?