Tuesday, 25 January 2011


I’m starting to feel more grown-up latterly. It’s as though I am being more mature and sensible. Perhaps this is part of feeling old, but maybe it’s part of following my call. It’s very woolly and hard to put my finger on, but on Sunday I commented to a member of my home church that “I’m turning into a mature grown-up”, they replied “yes, you have calmed down a lot”. Perhaps I’d am more willing to show my feelings. I know often being cheeky and trying to make a joke of things was my way to hide. It’s quite liberating, this opening up thing, strangely. I know I have been reluctant to share my feelings and myself – on a deeply personal level – as I have been very badly wounded in the past. Now, I think, it’s time to let the old hurt go and more on. I know it is what God wants and needs me to do. I also know he will help my overcome my fears and support me.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Out of touch?

Sometimes, I wonder if the Church of Scotland is irrelevant to today's society. I'm not talking about faith and body of Christ the Kirk should be, but out of touch with the way of Christ. Where administrative burdens from government bodies (such as the Scottish Charity regulator) and 121 get in the way. And, potentially, unrestricted calls prevent growth of church communities due to lack of leadership change (I'll get back to this).

I have a couple of friends who would say this. They have had some bad experiences lately, which if they were the experiences I had had, I too would be anti-Church of Scotland.They encountered congregations and ministers who, frankly, didn't care. Who were more about intellectual faith than heart-felt faith. Who were more about being a middle-class social club than a called by God loving body of Christ's followers.

I wonder how many congregations are like this? Probably not that many. But anyones encounter with unloving churches, especially if searching for faith, will not help anyone - them, the congregation, the Kirk. Most importantly, it may stop that person ever having a personal relationship with God. That makes me very sad.

So, I wonder, does the general "unrestricted call" type tenure hinder growth in churches? I am playing a bit of devil's advocate here, but is it good for a congregation to be lead by the same minister for 30 years? It brings continuity, but is that at the detriment of growth? Possibly not. My gut instinct is it is a combination of the minister and congregation which makes the difference.

At the church I grew up in the minister was there for over 30 years. He was very well loved, not just by the congregation, but all in the parish and many in the presbytery. Why? Because he obviously had a very close relationship with God, trusted Christ and loved people deeply. I am where I am due to the grounding I had in that church, which was only possibly due to that minister's leadership.

I also know the Kirk is one of the largest providers on social care in Scotland through Crossreach. That is showing Christ's love in a very real way. But there are much, much more outreach the Kirk does which only those in the local community knows about. The Kirk doesn't brag about it. That would be very un-Scottish, un-Presbyterian. Perhaps that's why those outside those communities don't see what's going on.

For me, the Kirk - the national Church of Scotland - is my church. I know it's not perfect, but if I ever found the perfect church I'd leave as I would spoil it. I know the kirk has become overgrown and needs trimmed down. That is going on. But, like all good gardeners, God leaves and feeds the fruitful branches. He trims the bush in such a way that new shoots of His love will spring from the plant. The plant which will never be consumed.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Feeling old: part 2

Spot and I were at his Gran's yesterday. She has a photo of us on our wedding day in her living room. I looked at this and thought how young we looked. When we left, I mentioned this to Spot and asked "when did we get old?". "It was taken a long time ago." he replied (nearly 7 years - not that long) "We've aged. It happens".

I suppose my perception of how I looked age wise and how I actually look may not be the same. Only a couple of years ago I was still getting ID'd if buying alcohol. I suppose looking my age (or approaching my age) has come a little out of the blue.

Also, I bought a suit. Okay, this may not seem a radical thing to do and something many people do all the time. I'm not many people, though. The last suit (and first one) I bought was a velvet suit for my graduation ball. I know I'll need a suit once I'm in placements and doing more (hopefully) pulpit supply. Again, this makes me feel grown up and responsible. Dare I say it, a mature grown up. Nah, that'll never happen. But, there is a time and a place for jeans and suits. I'll need both and encounter all times and places in peoples lives.

30 days to go

I had a bit of an odd conversation at my home church today. At coffee, I mentioned to my Mum I've 30 working days left (devastated I am, truly devastated!). This is as I have to use my holiday entitlement before I leave under voluntary redundancy. As a result, I am having all of March off. Hence, 30 working days left.

So, the person sitting with us, somewhat indignantly went "How?". I explained I was taking voluntary redundancy. "Well, you'll get something else, won't you?". "Err, possibly not", I replied. "Taking a few months off to do my own thing is looking very appealing. This might be the last chance I get". The person then asked "so, is he [Spot] letting you".

I recalled the conversation to Spot and he was surprised and a bit taken aback. He is very supportive of me and completely understands why I would want to take some time out. It did get us talking about what I would have done if he hadn't let me. That's something that hadn't occurred to either of us. We support each other. That's the way it is. Yes, I may do some voluntary work, but it'll be on my terms. I may just take very long walks and even get back into cycling. Whatever I do, it'll be between God, Spot and I. No one else. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Feeling old

Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon meeting up with friends. We wives were at uni together and we had the realisation we'd know each other for 15 years!

One of my friends now is a Mum to an absolutely gorgeous 10 week old son. Another is pregnant. I'm really pleased for them both, though it's not for me. But, now we're all married and they are having children, I suddenly feel old. Not middle-aged old (I've a bit before that), but I have responsibilities now old. My friends are parents and that's a big deal.

The bonus about this is I now have an excuse to buy cool stuff for children I've wanted for years!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Moving Mallard

Earlier last year, the National Railway museum (NRM) moved Mallard from their main site in York to Shildon. She was towed their by Tornado, which makes the move even cooler. Tornado is the newest engine running on Britain's railways (including diesel and electric) and some said it couldn't be done. This is them leaving (NRM)

And them arriving at Shildon: