Sunday, 31 July 2011

My last one?

It's the end of my pulpit supply series I have been doing while there's been no service in my home church - I've been leading worship at my "other" home church. The church was quiet busy, with some from my own home church and friends of mine up visiting their parents (who are members of this church) with their 2 month old son (who slept through the whole service, so good to know I'm engaging!!!).

It was good to have some children today. They were quiet (they are like that, it wasn't just because I am unfamiliar), but did seem to be intently listening when I was speaking to them. Should remind myself not to knee down, though. Getting up in painful. Old age, it doesn't come itself!

The theme of the service was sharing based on the feeding of the 5000. The disciples had a little, but with Jesus blessing, the little they had fed everyone with leftovers. Pretty cool. While delivering the sermon, it occurred to me how that's happened (and still happening) with me. God has taken the little I have, blessed it and sent me to share it with the world. Pretty amazing.

Evey time I have lead worship, I have been very aware just how much what I am saying is speaking to me as much as anyone else. At least I feel I am worshiping, though I am becoming all too aware the opportunities to sit in the body of the kirk and "just be" during worship are fast diminishing. But this is what God calls me to and, as I has seen, has given me the gifts to fulfill.

At the end of the service, a few of the congregation mentioned how much they'd enjoyed the service. How they hadn't though of the feeding of the 5000 as an act of sharing, but maybe it was. There were some who wished me well for beginning my studies/training and said "auch, you'll do well". From Presbyterian Scot's that's a huge complement, though I see it as "nae pressure then".

As it was my last Sunday there for the foreseeable future, I was given some of the flowers which were in church. At home, this lead to the amusing search around the Gerbil Burrow trying to find a suitable receptacle for gladioli. Eventually, we put them here...

Flowers in demijohns
Well, they are waterproof and tall. When you don't own any vases (because you don't generally like dead plants), you have to be inventive where to put flowers. The last time it was in an old pickled onion jar. Yes, the Gerbil Burrow is classy!

Friday, 29 July 2011


I spent the day in Glasgow yesterday, visiting a very good friend of mine. With so much to do in that fair city, we pretty much sat around all day drinking tea!

My closest friends are important to me. We support and sustain each other. I am "Auntie" to their children, which is a great honour (and responsibility). My life would be lesser without them in it.

Besides, I need to keep them close. The things they know about me...

And on the subject of friends...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A realisation

When I start uni in September, I will be old enough to be the mother of most of the students. Worse, I'll still be one of the youngest studying for ministry. What does that say about the Kirk (or me, for that matter?)!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Don't do deep, do shallow!

I know of churches which are like this, unfortunately...

Thanks to Rev Garibaldi McFlurry for the link.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Brings back memories

Last night, there I was flipping through radio stations to find some decent tunes (No MP3s for me even though I could listen via my phone. Just can't be bothered. So, it's still t'wireless, but DAB, naturally). I got to a 90s station and on was Jump around by House of Pain. Oh, that brought back memories. It instantly took me back to mid-90s, out clubbing in The Garage with my mates. Happy days. (For the avoidance of doubt, I'm not a fan of this song, but it was a laugh jumping around to it at the time...).

It just shows how evocative music is. I wonder how many people hear a bit of music or a song and it transports them to a time and place, as this did for me last night? I also wonder how important music might be for those in comas? I have heard hearing is suppose to be the last thing to go, but Classic FM or similar is the background music of choice on many an occasion.

Perhaps, in pastoral situations where music may be a way of "breaking the silence", finding out the person's tastes (where it can be done) rather than just using Classic FM would be better. I know a few people who'd probably wake up from their coma if you played that (as much as I like classic music, if that's all I got, I think I would too and be thinking how the devil does have the base tunes...).

Can I have anything but dance, please? I hate dance. What about Johnny Cash? Now you're talking. That brings back memories of growing up in a house where country, Elvis, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and the Wurzels were all played. Very eclectic, but all real music. But please, please, dance music. No. Did I mention I hate it?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Crossreach fundraiser

The Elms (Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh) are hosting a Strawberry Tea this afternoon  - 23 July - from 2-4pm. So, if you're in the Edinburgh area and at a loose end, why not pop along? I'm sure the staff will give you a warm welcome. It's all in a good cause, helping support part of the Kirk's social care arm, Crossreach.

Friday, 22 July 2011

It all ends

So the posters for the last Harry Potter film said. So, having followed the boy wizard through the books and other films, I headed to see the last film on Wednesday.

Wow. The whole story comes together. The bits which seemed missed out from the Harry Potter and the half-blood Prince. (Anyone who'd not read the books seemed to enjoy this; those of us who had read the books were left thinking of all the critical plot elements which had been left out).

Why do I love Harry Potter? Because the story is about love. Love of parents which kept Harry alive when "you know who" should have killed him; love of friends who stood by Harry through think and thin; love of good, no matter the cost.

Can't wait till the box set of all 8 films comes out. Me thinks the Gerbil household will be having an epic viewing one weekend when that happens, though not back to back. Eating and sleeping will need to be fitted in!!!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Try something new

An interesting and challenging video. Maybe churches should do this?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc -

Spot found this toon and thought of me. Surveying was my first career.

Ah, the days when it was glorious sunshine. Land surveying was a great job. Unfortunately, this is Scotland, so those days are few and far between, hence me giving that life up to colour in for the Land Register.

I still get excited about finding a new benchmark, especially a bracket one. Yes, I need to get a life. We all need a hobby!!!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A weapon of war

I read an article yesterday about rape being used as a weapon of war (here). Specifically the rape of men by men.

Reading the article sent shivers down my spine, but not as much as watching the audio slide show. Male rape has been used for millennia as an especially brutal and cruel form of oppression. By perpetrators who are almost definitely not gay. No, this weapon of war has nothing to do with homosexuality, just degradation pure and simple.

The affects of this type of weapon is as devastating as female rape, but there is much less awareness and almost no support for its victims.

It sometimes feels so helpless seeing and reading of the terrible things humans do to each other, in order to dominate and humiliate their victims. I know God is angry and sad when  these things happen. I also know he is there in the midst of it all.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Something old, something new

Again, I was leading worship at my "other" home church yesterday. It's such a privilege to be asked back again. I do like leading worship there. It's not a bit congregation, but this isn't a numbers game. They are warm and friendly, with deep faith.

During the first talk (sort of children's address), I could feel my voice get all wobbly. I know it's because the words, although my own, had really struck home to me. And it wasn't helped with seeing my Mum (as I scanned the congregation) welling up. I don't know if it was pride or not, but a drink of water was needed so I could compose myself. Oh, the pressures. It's not helped with some thinking I am a "strong person" who doesn't let their emotions get the better of me, though no one commented on it, so maybe it was just obvious to me.

I also tried something new today, based on the thanksgiving and intersession prayer in the starters for Sunday for this week. Before I began, I explained I was giving something new a try and how the prayer would work. Well, it got a very favourable response. The feedback was it really allowed the congregation to focus on the various groups in the prayer. They really felt they were praying with me, rather than me leading them. Great to know and part of the reason I was confident to try something new, as I knew the congregation would give me constructive feedback, even if it hadn't gone well.

I don't think I'd lead a prayer like this all the time. But it's definitely a style to keep in mind and try once in a while.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Long black boxes

I like to know how things work. I suppose it's the scientist in me though I've always been like this, since I can remember. I also like to look at the, for me, more interesting parts - the engine, the waterwheel, the grind stones - whatever powers the mechanism and makes the machine work.

So, here I was in St Giles cathedral, killing some time while waiting to meet a friend for lunch. It's a beautiful building, with so much which can bring you closer to God. It also has toilets.

And an amazing organ. Unfortunately, it wasn't being played. Definitely worth a visit when that's letting rip. I do like organ music, so I do.

As it wasn't being played, I went round the back for wee look. The second best thing about organ music is the pipes, aka long wooden boxes. I didn't expect the view behind the organ to be quite so lovely, though...

Stained glass reflecting on St Giles Organ
The light transformed long black boxes into something wonderful. Just as God's love reflected in us can turn all of us into something wonderful too. We just need to look behind the mask and into the dark places to really appreciate it, sometimes.

Friday, 15 July 2011


When I began this blog, it was as part of my reflective journal I was required to keep during my co-ordinated field assessment.It's a bit narcissistic, but knowing others might read it has helped me. I doubt I would have used it as often if I was just talking to myself.

I must admit to not really liking the idea of journaling when I began this process. I mean, who keeps a diary these days? I also didn't think it would be that constructive. How wrong could I be?

Looking back, I can see the growth as I accept who I am and struggle through all that this has thrown at me. Also, there are regular commentators who have really supported me, both through sharing of their experiences, offering advice and praying for me. To them, a sincere and heartfelt thank you.

The enquiry process, in particular, can be very isolating. It's not public knowledge who else is going through the process, so there is not really the network of support through shared experiences. I obtained that support through this blog. I know without that I may have given up during my first placement and not even taken the process to the local review stage. Then I wouldn't be here, about to embark on the training which will allow me to really follow God and become who I am.

There have been new guidelines published for journaling during the enquiry process here. So, they've got their heads around blogs, but they should be private. I know this isn't, but there are things I don't post for many reasons. Again, a private blog would not have served the same function, for me, as this has.

I am impressed with the advice for journaling, towards the end of the guidelines:

Begin with a time of silence or music or even physical exercise such as walking. Then simply put your pen in your hand and begin writing. It doesn’t have to make sense, and you don’t have to write in sentences or even sensibly. You can make lists or complain about journaling, but you must keep writing for 10 minutes without stopping, even if it means repeating the same word over and over. If you feel stuck try writing with your non-dominant hand and see what happens. Or begin with the words “I remember” and write for five minutes. Then turn to a new page and begin with the words “I don’t remember”, again write for five minutes. Here are the rules: keep your hand moving, and don’t cross out mistakes or worry about punctuation or grammar. Lose control and don’t think or be logical. If something comes out that seems scary of exposed, dive right in because it probably has a lot of energy.
Always put a date at the top of each journal entry. This may seem unnecessary at first, but it will prove important if you want to go back and remember not only the entry itself but its surrounding events. The intention of a journal is to record and save the moment. It also offers the possibility of returning and reconnecting at a future time.

When we journal, we find that there is something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and simply writing that seems to clear away the debris so that we can more clearly discern our lives and the world around us. But journaling as a spiritual practice means that we begin with the longing to come closer to God through our journaling.

Really? Well, whatever floats your boat, but that's a little weird, if you ask me!

Oh, if you were wondering, I've no intensions of stopping blogging. It fills my need to write and lets me think through things in a way I may not, if I was just holding things in my head or writing them for my own private viewing. How much and what I write depends on what's going on in my life, the world and my training and, of course, what's appropriate.

It's helped me and maybe helped others. So far, so good.

I'm in

Finally, after a year of waiting and studying, Edinburgh have confirmed my place. No need for me to scream till I'm sick anymore!

I'm looking forward to it; to finally beginning the training I need to become a minister. Me?

So, now the paperwork (or form filling, I should days, as they're mainly online) starts, or funding and bursaries etc, etc. I love paperwork, it just gives me a warm glow inside thinking about it.

So, fellow Edinburgh students, see you in September. Fellow candidates, see you at the August conference.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


It's not often I'll quote from the King James version, but it's translation of Isaiah 40:31 are most appropriate:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 In the 3 years since I finally, for want of a better phrase, said yes to God.

I had to wait from June to September to begin my first placement.

I had to wait to recover from the crash.

I had to wait to begin the extension to my co-ordinated field assessment.

I had to wait 5 months between local assessment and national assessment.

I had to wait over a year to begin university, as I hadn't applied when 121 had advised me.

Now, I'm waiting to find out if my results from Aberdeen university are sufficient for Edinburgh to confirm my place. (If they aren't I think I'll scream, and scream, and scream until I'm sick!!!)

It's all worked out really well though.

I've had two placements at two very different churches, where the ministers had very different styles. So, that's opened my eyes to how that affects how the church is perceived locally.

I've proven to myself I'm not thick. 10 years in my last place of work can do that to a person. Also, I wasn't that studious first time round. I know my results have definitely given me a confidence boast for going back full-time to uni.

I've (so far) had 4 months of chilling/doing my own thing/resting time. It's allowed me partly to concentrate on my studies (while I was undertaking them) and try/do things that I wanted done/to try. It's not often in life opportunities like this come along and once in ministry, it's going to be a long, long time before I can have 6 months off!!!

I've looked back at my placements and associated reports and seen how I've changed. Especially since last year. It's hard to articulate, but I can feel it's happened. I feel I am growing into my own skin and becoming comfortable with who I really am. After all, that's who God called because have a specific range of experiences and skills. Skills and experiences which God needs to undertake his mission for wherever I go. (A bit daunting that one, but with God with me, who can be against me?!).

Without all this waiting, I wouldn't be where I am now, psychologically as well as temporally (it's a bit Doctor Who'ish if I think about it too hard...). Since I had to begin my "main" waiting, through deferring beginning studies until this year, I have been convinced it's all happened as God has a specific place he needs me to go once I'm finished which will not become available at the right time, unless I'd waited. Quite what and where that is, God only knows. The adventure following his path to find it has been interesting, exciting and revelational (if daunting at times too), so far. It's only going to get better and better as I continue on this path. I'm sure the view's going to be amazing!

Monday, 11 July 2011

The deaf will hear

Time and time again, when I am involved in leading any aspect of worship, I am praised for the clarity of my voice. I have even had a couple of deaf people tell me they can lip read from me very well.

I've always had a voice which carries and the deaf can hear. I haven't honed it or developed it. I just naturally have it.

It used to get me into trouble. Speaking in class when I shouldn't have been. Even though others were too, it was always me who got into trouble. Oops. I related this to someone today and they just told me, "well, it's paid off now".

It's funny, all through the selection process one of the talents I could bring to ministry I always mentioned a good clear voice. My rational is it's just as important people being easily able to hear the message as the message itself. Looks like, from this early stage, I am right about this being important and being appreciated by congregations.

So, this voice is another God-given talent. I've always know I had it and now I can (and am) using it as God needs me to. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Talking to farmers

I was leading worship in my (other) home church today, as cover for my ministers. It's a rural parish, so the majority of the congregation are farmers or have a deep knowledge of farming.

So I preached on the parable of the sower! I was aware of this when writing the sermon, as I was bearing that in mind, but I was brought up a townie, so there's always the chance I've really no idea what I am talking about.

Well, I must have been saying the right things, as I was getting emphatic nodding and not "what is she talking about" stares. After the service, they all thanked me sincerely. They really do like my preaching. Must be doing something right. I try to speak from the heart and as the spirit moves me. I must admit, I really do feel the spirit's guidance when preparing a service. When I lead worship, I never cease to be amazed just how well it's all come together.

I'm leading worship at that congregation another couple of times over the summer. I hope I can still met the high standards I have set for myself and expectations that congregation has of me. I'm sure, so long as I am saying God's message, that will be the case.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Outdoor cooking

The other week, Spot and I were helping the young church children toast marshmallows. While helping them gather wood for the toasting, some of the parents were talking about this year, hopefully, being a "Barbeque summer".

I retorted "I don't see the point of barbeques. Why grill outside when I have a perfectly good grill in my kitchen?"

It was suggested I should consider stand-up comedy.

I simply replied "Ministry. Maybe half-way there".

Once in a lifetime?

There are some things which are special, for a variety of reasons. Weddings, graduations, baptisms are some of the more obvious ones. Then there are the things we can witness, be a part (if very significant part) of and be able to say "I was there. I saw it". Thursday was one of those days.

Spot and I were privileged to be invited to the cutting from the loom of the latest tapestry being woven as part of the "Hunt of the Unicorn" series for the palace at Stirling Castle. We were invited as we had been noticed as regular visitor to the weavers' studio by the steward who looks after the weavers. We have been watching the progress since pretty early on in the process and were so chuffed to be asked along to see the unveiling. Even the weavers only saw the whole tapestry for the first time last night!

On the Loom
All who had been involved in weaving the tapestry and the project actually coming to fruition took turns cutting the tapestry from the loom.

Cutting from the Loom

Preparing to move
Once cut off, it was carefully placed on a cloth, to move onto a table for the big reveal. This was outstanding and everyone cheered!

The Finished article
The detail in the tapestry is amazing. Knowing that was the closest I will probably ever get to see it (including noticing a pin which has probably been in it for 2 years!) was cool, very cool.

The patience, skill and dedication of the weavers is outstanding. Especially in the goldfish bowl of the weavers' studio, with the general public watching. It was great to talk with then and congratulate them on an outstanding piece of art. A piece of art which will outlive us all!

If you are in the Stirling area, go to see them. They are quite amazing (both the tapestries and the weavers!). The rest of the castle is great too (though, a bit steep at £13 entrance fee. I'm so glad I'm a member of Historic Scotland!).

Interestingly, the "Hunt of the Unicorn" is both a love allegory and and allegory about the death, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To the medieval eye, the imagery in the tapestry would have been obvious. Unfortunately, there is some of that imagery which has been lost in the 400 years since the originals on which this series are based were made. But we can still follow the main story and wonder at the skill, love and devotion weavers past and present have given to telling and re-telling this amazing story.

Friday, 8 July 2011

That's not the cup of a carpenter

Valencia Cathedral grail

A few years ago, my mother-in-law took the family to Benidorm. While there, Spot and I took a trip to Valencia and visited the cathedral.

Prior to visiting the cathedral,we we're aware they claim to own the Holy Grail, or Holy Chalice of the Lord's Supper, as they like to refer to it. Their take on the history/archeological evidence for this really being the grail can be read here.

Now, I'm a cynic. Not just with this, but with a lot of relics - if all the bits of the "true cross" or nails which were used in Jesus' crucifixion were gathered together, the Romans would have used an entire iron mine for the nails and enough wood to built at least one house! That said, from the evidence, at least the cup appears to be from the correct period (though, just to add my cynicism, it's unlikely Valencia cathedral would publish a report which contradicted the age of the artifact).

Part of me thinks it's pretty, but I'm a bit more in the Indiana Jones camp on this one. Does it really matter, though? What's important is how it item is used and perceived. If it's venerated for (allegedly) being used at the Last Supper, then maybe it's breaking the second commandment. That, for me, is my major stumbling block over any of these type of relics and artifacts, though that just as easily be the presbyterian in me coming out!

Whatever the cap was used for and who ever used it, we will probably never know. It's pretty certain it getting the Valencia and being delared the true grail may not have been done on friendly terms with the previous owners and would have been (and still is, I'd have thought) a great draw for pilgrimage. Basically, getting it would have been all about generating money, money which wasn't necessarily be used for noble causes...

Focusing on God is our most important aim, as Christians. If we loose sight of that, by venerating objects, they we loose our way. As we loose our way, the Good News is not shared. Then our duty, as Christians, is neglected. There are things other than this item which can get in the way of God. Life's issues, love of wealth and status, cliques within the church excluding people. All of those things, I'm sure, makes God sad. I know I don't get it right, but with God's grace, love and guidance, I pray I can be better and better following him.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


A few years ago now, in a fit of madness, Spot and I bought a unicycle. We never quite got round to learning, though we had good intentions.

Well, I'm trying to loose a wee bit of weight and get fit. We have a decent rowing machine and exercise bike, which I've been using a fair bit. What with those and all the walking I've been doing, the weight's definitely coming off. I'm also feeling fitter and, with my families heart history, that's no bad thing.

So, last week, after my session on the rowing machine (I prefer it to the bike - a better work-out I feel), I didn't want to move onto the bike. It gets a bit boring after a while. Then I remembered the unicycle (quite how I could forget it, I don't know, as it was between the two aforesaid items of exercise equipment). Using one of those must be great exercise and will be a bit of fun. Who knows, I could start going to the shops on it. Pity I don't still go to school.

Now, I have decided to master the unicycle once and for all. Good exercise, a bit of fun and something a bit different in my repertoire. Besides, with that and my plate spinning ability, if ministry suddenly goes pear-shaped (somehow, I don't think God will allow that), I could diversify into street entertainment!!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Year of Living Biblically

I heard about this book, by AJ Jacobs a while back, so I couldn't resist giving it a read when I came across it in Stirling's Oxfam bookshop.

[I love charity bookshops. All those bargains. All those out-of-print books. All those obscure books you'd never find in a main stream bookshop. Oh, and did I mention the books?]

In this book, Jacobs attempts to live according to the rules of the bible as literally as possible. Some are easy and obvious (like the 10 commandments), others illegal (like stoning adulterers and animal sacrifice) and some obscure (like no mixed fibres). It's not an easy task, as there is much disagreement within both Judaism and Christianity (and between those faiths, too, it has to be said) as to which rules still apply. To Jews, some where only applicable when the temple in Jerusalem was still standing. To Christians, many where over-ruled (sorry, can;t think of a better phrase) by the new covenant God made with his people in the death and resurrection of Jesus. All very complicated. Jacobs did his best, though.

Jacobs described himself as a secular Jew, with no real belief in God. By the end of the year, although not implicit in black and white, it is pretty clear his views seem to have changed.

Jacobs approached this experiment with a certain amount of open-minded cynicism (if you can be both). He also tried to find ways to adhere to the rules in New York. At one point he acquired some pebbles, asked a man if he was an adulterer and sort of threw the stones at the guy's chest. Well, adulterers are to be stoned. As you can imagine, that didn't go down well and the man threw them back at Jacobs!

The book is a very astute, yet funny, take on the rules in the bible. There's a lot of humour and irony in this book, though I'd imagine you would need a lot of humour it get through a year of living by these rules when you don't really know them, haven't been brought up with them and you're wife doesn't take too kindly to you refusing to sit on a seat she's sat on. (So much so, she sat on all the seats in their flat while he was out, leaving his 2 year old son's chair - she missed that one!).

I'd definitely recommend this book. It's funny, astute and well written. Some of Jacobs adventures are hysterical. Some are very moving. All may change how you view the bible.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Becoming Human: Book Review

I reviewed this book a while ago, as part of my Introduction to Pastoral Care course with Aberdeen uni. I thought I'd publish it now, as others may find it useful.

Becoming Human is based on a series of lectures Jean Vanier delivered on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1998. Vanier founded L'Arc, an intentional group of centres which care for people with intellectual disabilities. Much of what is written in this book comes from his experience working in this field. Through the book, Vanier attempts to persuade the reader that in order to become fully human they must open up to their vulnerabilities, reach out to those out with their normal spheres of reference and accept themselves for who they really are.

Vanier argues that opening up to our inner-selves, our true-selves, is necessary in order to become wholly who we really are. He states by holding onto past hurts, excluding people we do not normally relate to and hiding behind power restricts this.

He also argues, by opening up to other people - those who have hurt us or we feel are superior (or inferior) to us - leads to growth in us as individuals. Holding onto hurts creates negative relationships which degrade individuals' dignity and lead, in time, to a degrading of their self-worth. As we open up to others, as we let them into out lives and learn to forgive past hurts, relationships grow, communities grow and individuals become more human.

Opening up to others is a painful and dangerous activity, Vanier acknowledges. People who we have hurt or who have hurt us may not accept us. They may not accept our forgiveness. Also, when others have hurt us, it may be very difficult to forgive them. Only through learning to forgive others can we fully let go of the hurt, Vanier argues, and move on with our lives.

Overall, this book deals with love. Love of self, love of others and love of God. Only through accepting ourselves as we are can we be who we are. When we know who we are and love ourselves, we can take the risks involved in loving and caring for others, even in (especially in, Vanier would say) risky situations. Also, if we love others, we accept them for who they are, individuals who deserve respect, love and support, no matter their background or intellectual ability. Through this love, we can build a better society which nurtures and cares for the supposed weakest and worthless.

Vanier's style is an easy one to read and his arguments are robust, especially as the reader is aware they are based on his own experiences. Upon reading the book, I felt life-affirmed and uplifted. I agreed with, and could personally relate to, many of Vanier's arguments, especially where he talked about forgiveness setting one free and dealing with past hurts.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone struggling with who they were. I would also recommend it to those undertaking pastoral care, as they must take the risk with the weakest in society to help them grow. This can only be achieved once the pastoral carer has opened up and examined their inner self.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Knowing me

I have a tendency of being a but of a stirrer. Sometimes I just won't sit quietly and accept a position. I just have to say something. Sometimes, I know, it comes across like I'm a bit of a know-it-all or I don't really know what I'm talking about. Sometimes, I can sound as though I'm not really listening to what I'm being told.

I'm much more mellow in my approach these days and am getting better at not jumping in with both feet. As I say, getting better. I'm not perfect, but have realised if I put my views across more reasonably and at try to show I am taking the other person's views on board, I will be listened to more favourably, rather than my opinions being dismissed out of hand.

I have to admit, though, sometimes it's not my views I'm expressing. Sometimes I know I am doing it to challenge the other person's views; playing devil's advocate I suppose. I think I like to know the person has thought through options they don't want to consider before they really dismiss them. I suppose, too, I sometimes just enjoy good debate. I do, it has to be said, need to be aware the person, time and place where this is okay. Again, this is something I am aware of and an getting better at.

At least I know I am like this. I know who I am and, generally, am aware how this can impact on others. So long as I keep practicing what I preach, I know with God's grace I will use this part of me for the good of individuals and the church. But only if I use it wisely. So, I pray for wisdom.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Presbytery obersvations

Yesterday, I was invited to Presbytery. It's the first time I've been since last year. There were two things which especially struck me. Firstly, I was the youngest there by 8 years. I know this probably the next youngest were my ministers and I know they are 8 years older than me. Looking at the average age, though, I felt really young and out of place.

Okay, so presbytery is a court of the church. I would have thought that should be represent the whole church. If the age (average around 70) was anything to go by, I find that really disturbing.

Another thing which struck me was the slight absurdity of the process. Such as the moderator bowing to the presbytery. What's that all about? Oh, tradition no doubt. Just look plain daft to me, especially when presbytery bowed back.Then, it was brought up that a church has had an offer for a piece of land it owns. The General Trustees are happy with the offer, as is that church's Kirk Session. Presbytery still had to okay it. Now, that fair enough, but if that had missed this months meeting (and it was a very close thing by all accounts), that agreement could not have been made until September and the sale may have fallen through.

Oh, I know any organisation needs its processes and procedures in place, especially when it is a charity. I know I will, once in ministry, have to attend. I also know I'm not a fan of silly bureaucracy (says a former civil servant) or meetings. And I will have a lot to deal with. I just pray I can stay focused when in those meetings on God's call and not allow the admin to get in the way.