Sunday, 30 September 2012

And so it starts again

Today saw the beginning of my third placement, this time at Caledonia Kirk. I specifically chose there for this placement as I knew its worship style was very different from any I have experienced thus far in my training and they are trying to be a missional church (their words, not mine!).

It was communion today, but the table was squeezed off to one side to give the praise band space. I was once at a conference where we were invited to think of a church we were familiar with and imagine what a visitor would see first as they entered. That, the speaker argued, was what the church thought of as being most important. Personally, I do not think the table of the Lord should be pushed to the side in favour of the praise band.

And the invitation to the table was...not there, as far as I recall. That's definitely something to ponder.

The people seemed friendly enough and it wasn't just because I was introduced to them - Spot sat separate from me and people did say hello and welcomed him, so that's not too bad. I did find it a bit odd being given a round of applause just for getting to the lectern, which I found very odd (and did make a bit of a jokey comment about).

Throughout the service, the praise band dominated, but didn't really lead worship. It was never clear if they were playing to encourage reflection/meditation of the word or the congregation were to join in. It wasn't clear when the congregation were to stand to sing or sit and join in if they wanted and I don't think the congregation knew either, as there were a couple of times where some stood and others didn't (for no apparent reason). And there was no point were there was no noise. Either someone was talking (leading prayers, readings, the sermon) or the band played. Is there a fear of silence here, as it is in the silence God speaks. There just wasn't space at all to just be with God in the service today, for me at least. But I have to remember, it's not about me (I just know Spot will not be there very often!!!)

I'm trying desperately to think positively about the service and remember there are various ways to come to God. It wasn't for me, but must be for those gathered (I hope so, or are they going out of habit?). I was surprised how few people were gathered for worship today. From the things I had heard about Caledonia Kirk I really thought it would be very busy with mainly the 'missing generation' and young people. There was a reasonable number of youth (though no more than Highland Cathedral and I was there over the summer when numbers naturally drop) and some parents of those. Interestingly, Spot did comment that it looked as thought they were mainly single Mums, though that had occurred to me, but most wore wedding rings. So, where are all the Dads?

Theologically, my initial reaction is this is different from my perspective, but it is early days and I need to get to know where they are coming from (and want to go) before I can draw definite conclusions. It will make preaching a sermon there (dramatic pause) interesting. I think there will be interesting discussions at my supervision sessions too!

It was a reasonable cuppa after the service and I did have a good chat with a member and a couple who are new to that church and the area.

So, another stage in the path following God. Not sure where this will lead, and I suspect this may be the most challenging placement yet, but it will be worth the effort in the end.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The same, but different

While trying to visit other churches before beginning my third placements, I have been struck by the variety, yet sameness of the worship. I hope that's a good thing, though I wonder if the way the 'usual' church service in the Kirk lends itself to allowing all to get closer to and know God in ways they couldn't?

Yet a few of the churches I have visited have been full, with members and regular attendance increasing, rather than decreasing, so they must be doing something wrong. And it's not possible to have a one size fits all model for worship, yet the services did have that feel to them, but didn't at the same time..which is an interesting paradox.

Just thoughts at the moment. Nothing more.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The knees have it

I've only been to one ordination, but I suspect in quite a short time they will be a little like weddings, where seemingly everyone I know is getting done!

Which brings me to the physicalities and practicalities of it - specifically where the ordinand kneels. Kneeling is not a good thing for me if you'd like me to get up again in any vaguely dignified way. More than a few seconds and my knees really don't appreciate it. A few minutes and I'm walking like I've wet myself for the next hour or so.

So do we have to kneel? If so, can I get a pair of gel knee pads to wear when the time comes?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What do you want?

So a friend who reads this blog commented the other day that my personality doesn't really come across here, though they did appreciate that's because it's main purpose is to reflect on my experience of all aspects of my ministry training (as far as can be made public).

Or to put it another way, she felt my readership needed more. But what of? The random thoughts which fill my head can sometimes be that - random. So random that only those who know me well have half a clue what I'm on about and sometimes that's only half the time!

Then there's the time factor. I'm now back at uni (and doing honours courses - how scary is that?!) and will be beginning placement very shortly. Though I enjoy blogging there are more important things I could be doing with my time. Yet I know there are some people who read this who get help from seeing it's not just them who are struggling with call, themselves, uni, training or anything else. I suppose if this helps one person (you know who you are) , when it's worth it!

If there's anything you'd like me to write on, please let me know. I can't say I'd necessarily be able to (or want to, for that matter), but I'll try anything once!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A hard life

Watching as the bike was washed by some firefighters...a hard life, but someone's got to do it!

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Yesterday, after 23 years the families of the victims and the survivors of the Hillsborough Disaster finally got the report they had been fighting for. The full details of which can read here. It's shocking to read of the systematic cover up of the failings of the authorities. I'll leave it to others to work out what to do with this information.

Today the report made front page news on almost every paper I saw and was the lead story online this morning. Everywhere but one paper - The Sun. I found that...interesting, very interesting.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Take up your sofa and walk

Yesterday was my annual review, to see if I can still proceed with my training. It was a great chat and I felt really encouraged and valued.

One thing we touched on was my dealing with authority. It had come as a shock how quickly I was perceived as 'a minister' at Eagleside, especially by people who had been figures of authority for me in my childhood. I told the panel I'd dealt with that through being true to myself and focusing on letting people know I was part of the team - all are part of Christ's body and all have different gifts and calls to bring, mine just happens to be to ministry.

Well, I wish what I had to do today had happened before yesterday's meeting. How to keep yourself humble - walk (and I do mean this literally) two sofas to the local cowp (a Scottish refuse site) as they wouldn't fit into the back of the car. Well, it wasn't far, they weren't heavy and it was cheaper than hiring a van.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ice Cream

So there I was, sitting watching the world go by in Princes Street Gardens. A couple of ladies were looking for a seat and I gestured they could share mine. As it was a lovely day, one of them went to get ice cream (should have asked where mine was when she came back!).

As they were eating their ice creams it was not a good moment to recall the conversation my flatmates and I had when at uni the first time round - that the way a person eats their ice cream is an indication  of the way they kiss...I really did not need that thought. Ever.

I think I'll just go and invent some brain bleach for moments such as these!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Drive out hate with love

[Spoiler alert: contains references to last night's Doctor Who]

In the episode, Amy Pond lost her wrist band which protected her from the Daleks in the asylum. Over time, the nanoparticles would remove all love in her for hate. Substitute love for hate. In Skaro, the Daleks tell The Doctor it is hate which feeds them (in a round about way). Hate drives out love.

There's just so many parallels with life, with society, with the church and why Jesus came. Hate of 'the other' what ever 'the other' may have been (the woman with bleeding, the Samaritan, the daemon possessed man across the lake) had driven people away from God; had removed people from God's community of his chosen people; was preventing the chosen people being the light in the darkness for the whole world. All because hate had replaced love.

So God sent love to the world, in Jesus. Love was shown to those that had been denied love; those who had treated with contempt and hate, he brought love. Because love is a light which drives out hate.

I wonder if the church manages this? It's not prefect, but I pray wherever I serve love is the greatest.

And Amy showed Rory, at last, that she did love him as much as he loves her. And hate was driven out.