Saturday, 26 February 2011

How's the beginning of the rest of my life?

That's how my sister-in-law described leaving work yesterday when she called tonight. It's great to be "out". For me to know be in a position to tell anyone who asks what I'm up to now, I can tell them I am going to be a minister, without having to keep track of what circle they revolve in and weather or not it would work its way back to work.

Perhaps I did my colleagues a disservice not telling them. Of those Spot and I are in touch with outwith work, the response has been very, very positive. That said, it only takes a couple of bad apples to ruin the whole barrel and, well the least said about that the better.

I think Spot is going to feel like he's part of the Spanish inquisition on Monday, though at least he'd be expecting it! It may be interesting to learn the questions of some of the less open-mined members of his office will be then.

So, 6 months to fill before becoming a student again. I hope I don't manage to fill my time so effectively I don't know how I'll fit in studying! God knows, I could definitely do with some decent R&R and I am going to take this opportunity that has fallen my way to take it. Exciting times ahead, of that I have no doubt!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Don't throw stools!

Over the weekend, Spot and I were in York. While there, we looked around for somewhere to worship on Sunday. A couple of years ago, we attended Sung Eucharist at York Minster. Last year, we went to St Michael le Belfrey Church and it didn't really work for us

This year, we attended sung Mattins at All Saints Pavement, York. They were very welcoming, especially as we really looked like tourists - wearing waterproofs and rucksacks on our backs. It was a very formal service - using the book of common prayer. Fortunately, Spot and I had sat at the back and we could follow those in front. To start with, we had no idea what was going on - everyone else seemed to know. We were relieved and pleased when a kind gentleman took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction!

The service itself, though, I did enjoy and I felt spiritually uplifted. That despite almost feeling like a spectator, rather than active worshiper. The sung parts from the book of common prayer I merely listened to as I didn't know the melody.

After the service, the gentleman who had helped us out told us a little about the church and its use of the book of common prayer. Being a guild church, that means the guilds attending know what's going on (I didn't have the heart to say, I find an order of service works well too!). I explained the Church of Scotland doesn't use it and stools had been thrown when it was imposed (allegedly). We also met the parish constable - a lovely man, who showed us his lead weighted truncheon from Charles I. A beautiful, yet deadly weapon. Luckily, it's a ceremonial position theses days. Just as well it was a Sunday, with a Scotsman within the York city walls.

Later in the day, following the recommendation of a local, we attended Evensong at York Minster. Again, following the book of common prayer when your not used to it is odd, but the service itself was beautiful. The sound of choir and organ intertwined as one - and the sermon wasn't too bad either! I did get confused with someone looking like black rod - same looking gown and rod in hand - processing the people who read the bible lessons in, but that's just bye-the-bye.

After the services we attended on Sunday, Church of Scotland will seem comfortable and familiar, though sometimes I think we maybe miss out on the added spiritual depths these different forms of worship can have. The way I see it, if that works for an individual - if they find God in that worship - then it's doing what it is there for. If God is the focus and is felt, does it matter how we get there?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bible in a year - been there, done that.

Back in August 2009, I bought myself a chronological bible. Over the course of 2010, I religiously (pardon the pun) read it. I did enjoy it, as I can now say I have read the entire bible. So far, so good.

Some things I found a little annoying about this method of bible study was its sheer nature. Lump all evens which happened at the same time together and is can become a bit of a repetitive dialogue. I suppose it did make it a little interesting to note how similar different books of the bible were in terms of their narrative. Generally, I enjoyed putting the events and stories into context and the achievement of reading the whole bible.

So, at the start of the new year, it seemed the most obvious thing I could do was to start at the beginning again. I've managed 1 month. I realised just how much I'd remembered (I tend to be like that with my reading - have to wait years to re-read books I enjoyed). I also realised I wasn't getting any depth to my study. I was just reading it. I wasn't getting background on events or a deeper understanding of how the people and places relate to me. Shocking as it sounds, after a month of re-reading the chronological bible, I became a bit bored with merely reading the bible.

Now, I wonder how to approach my personal bible study. I have bought Tom Wright's Matthew for everyone, so I could work through Matthew. I could use Tom Wright's "For everyone" series for the whole of the New Testament, I suppose, but what about the old testament? What do you do? I'm interested to learn others experiences and things they find helpful and useful for their own bible study.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


It's not long until my last day at work. I have, quite deliberately, kept back a large chunk of leave so I don't have to work until the wire on 31 March.

Everyday, though, I am finding it harder and harder to be someone I am not. I am a people person who cares deeply about those around me - even those who don't like me. It's hard trying to get the work done well, so my colleagues don't have to fix my mistakes. It's also so those who dislike me don't get ammunition to shot me with even once I have left.

Just before I leave, I am going to "out" myself as a trainee minister. There are some who will not be up nor down about it. There are some who will be very positive about it (and perhaps may have already put two and two together). There are some, though, who will think it's the most preposterous thing they've heard. If they read the notice with a mouthful of coffee, I think their PC screen may wear it.

For me, it will be a release. I am looking forward to being able to tell people who I am. To be who I am. Called and loved by God, just as they are if they would only let him in. Maybe even those who I think would be negative about this remember things I have done - when I have spoken to the outcast from the group, for example - and realise I was doing those things to show God's love to those others reject.