Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Setting down other's burdens

Part of the 'deal' doing this work experience is, in addition to Sunday worship, also offer pastoral care. I must admit, I struggle with the definition of pastoral care, but that's probably a post for another time.

Apart from 1 attempted visit, I have been welcomed into people's homes with great grace and hospitality. As time has gone on, I may not have instantly recognised the names on a piece of paper, but knew some as soon as they opened the door. It has been a good way to build up relatioships and get to know the congregations better (which is made difficult with the lack of fellowship here - e.g. no teas after the service).

I do realise that some of these visits have been very emotionally draining. Without going into details, yesterday I had an 'interesting' time. Once I returned from a couple of visits I was wore out.

Which got me thinking, and Spot and I talked about it later that evening. Where, in parishes like this could I go to discuss these matters? In a urban or semi-rural setting, there's a reasonable likelyhood there would be a minister - a colleague - nearby with whom I could have a blether and we could both (or maybe as a larger group) offer each other support. Sort of pastoral support for pastors.

Here, the neighbouring parishes are miles away and I wonder how minister here get mutual support from one another (or an I being naive, and it doesn't really go on anyway?). I suppose, what I am really saying is I need to work through how I deal with all this 'stuff' which will come my way, that it doesn't burden me down to such an extent that I burn out. Definitely something I need to think about and work out.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Not making stuff up

On Sunday I preached my ninth sermon in a row. At this stage in my training, it has been a great opportunity to get into the habit and discipline of preparing worship every week. It's also been good to do so without a supervisor 'looking over my shoulder,' so to speak. I know they are there to encourage and stretch and challenge us, but it's still nice to not have that pressure as I make preparations for Sunday and lead the act of worship.

Throughout this summer, I have tried to vary a little how I present/expound the bible passage(s). That has been both a conscious and non-conscious effort - on a couple of occasions it is only with hindsight I have realised I'd been a little different.

Now, I am not talking 'out there' different, but using different styles of sermons. Sometimes I have started with an anecdote, other times a story. Sometimes I have gone straight to the text and just teased out what it was and is saying to us. Sometimes I have begun by talking directly about the text, had an an anecdote or story in the middle and finished by going back to the text. On Sunday past I did something different from any of those.

The readings were Genesis 18:20-32 and Luke 11:1-13. This time I told a story from the prospective of the woman in the house of the man in the parable in Luke's gospel. Using that, I realised I was able to talk about culture and context - because they were integral parts of the story. I was able to bring in an explanation about seek, ask and knock, in relation to persistence. And I was able to relate the parable with Abraham's negotiation as part of the persistence. Looking back, there was a lot more teaching and theology in that story than I even realised when I was preparing the sermon.

The thing is, if I am at church and the sermon takes that style it's not exactly what you could call my preference. I've always wondered what the point is or why the minister didn't say things directly. But now I am coming to appreciate there is more than one way to cook an egg. Jesus regularly explained things in stories, so there's definitely a precedent there! Also, I am thinking of a congregation.

In any congregation, there will be a variety of learning types, background, experiences, knowledge, etc. Varying the style of sermon (even subtly) may touch different people in different ways. Though the sermon style I used on Sunday may not be one which speaks to me (if I am a bum on a pew), it does to others. How do I know it speaks to others? Because a couple of people spoke to me after the service and mentioned how it really made the lessons come alive for them. Yes, it might not work for all and I wouldn't do it often, but I will try again.

Besides, on a practical note, if I used the same style and format of sermon for my whole ministry I think I would get bored. Never mind the congregation!

Maybe, once I am back in civilisation and I hear a sermon in the style I preached the other day I will come to it with a fresh understanding, with fresh insight and the knowledge that it isn't just making stuff up, as I have thought of them in the past!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

"That'll be an ecumenical matter"

While I am training for the Church of Scotland, I realise a significant factor in that is my church upbringing being in The Kirk. If I had been brought up in the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), perhaps I would have trained for their ministry (which would mean, as a priest, making sacrifices...). At the end of the day, it's the Kirk I have been called to, but that doesn't mean I will not work with other denominations.

The other day I was talking to the local SEC priest. It was good to chat with a colleague who lives in the community. We could build up a relationship, exchange ideas and thoughts etc. I did find it reassuring that some of the 'issues' in this area I'd identified were similar to those he had (and I think he found that beneficial too). He's been here over 10 years, so was able to give me  bit more background on the parish and local was very enlightening!

What saddened me was finding out there were former ministers here who would actively ignore SEC members on the street. No, saddened wasn't my first reaction - I was angry and embarrassed that fellow followers of Christ could be treated that way. At the end of the day, IMHO, all in this parish are parishioners of The Kirk, irrespective of which, if any, church they go to.

Funnily enough, there was never any suggestion the churches would work together (all churches, not just excluding SEC). Earlier on in this work experience I asked the question about sharing resources. The answer? Well, one church might loose members or children or new people to another church.

Really? Who cares? Surely it's better to present a bit of a united front? Surely, if someone wants to go to church, people should be happy that's happened, rather than saddened because they aren't another bum on a pew in their church? Surely it might even allow more and/or better outreach to take place, due to the sharing of resources?

Is it any wonder, then, that people in this community and its neighbouring communities from outwith the church just see squabbling and bickering and want no part in it? One thing I have like about my encounters with the local Christian fellowship here is the attitude of not caring what church people go to as long as they get a relationship with God. Round here, that is quite radical and very refreshing.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Light up the Fire

The other day members of the local Christian fellowship held a barbecue and bonfire on the beach at Railway Crossing. The fire was pretty cool (yet extremely hot at the same time!), though I did get twitchy at the 50 pallets which were used to build it - they would have made a good fence or sold to be reused (at, I believe, between £10-£25 per pallet).

Why were they doing it? Mission, outreach, breaking down barriers. There was a reasonable number of people in the village went along (free food always being a good incentive!), with a good mix of ages, though mainly children. Some of the children recognised me from assemblies, so I got chatting to them, especially when helping them to toast marshmallows without toasting my own face...that was easier said than done! But I digress.

The people who started this event moved to the village a couple of years ago. They are passionate about God, about Jesus and want to share their faith with others, as do the other members of the fellowship. As I was talking to one of them, he mused about how difficult evangelism is in this place, that you mention God and people run away. We agreed that for too long the 'main stream' churches roundabout have been preaching that people are bad, bad people and are damned if they do not repent.

But what about God's love? It's not that we disagreed that everyone falls short of God's glory, but that always telling people of God being an angry, wrathful judge will not turn people towards seeking God. It will turn them off and they may never want to know, and that would be said. I wonder if God cries when he sees people reject him because of church teaching?

They, and I, believe people need to know God loves them, God loves them no matter what they have done, no matter where they are from, no matter their background. From that, people may get into a relationship with God and know that what we say (we hope and pray) is true.

Of course, with the bonfire on the beach, taking God's love to people did remind me of the hymn Colours of day. We may not have been in a park, but we were where people where or would come to, rather than expecting them to come to us. Isn't that what church should be for, sustaining people to take the gospel message into their day-to-day lives?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sowing God's love

Throughout my church life, I have been involved in things which, I suppose, could be described as "Missional." They've included Summer Mission, holiday clubs, youth groups, coffee mornings (oh yes, they are), soup lunches, student feeds, etc, etc. In all of them, I, nor none of the others involved, have pushed Christianity or religion or faith down anyone's throats. We have, we hoped, tried to let our actions speak, build up relationships and show something of the love of God in and through our actions.

Through all of those experiences, I know I have been asked some very deep and probing questions about life, the universe and everything (which, of course, the answer to is 42). I also know, especially when I helped at a youth club, there would be puzzlement that we leaders would give up our Friday nights for it. Through those conversations, I hope to have sown the seeds of God's love in the lives of those I have met. I hope I have not been careful where and how I have sown, but sown with gleeful abandon. Who, but God, will know how the seed will grow?

At the end of the day, my primary concern is people get to see God's love for them. That God is love. That God wants to show them love. That love can only be shown through the actions of flawed people like me (no wonder it sometimes goes pear-shaped). But seeds, I hope are sown. They may take weeks, months, years, even to start to grow, but who cares?

One thing I have noticed is that some places seem to have a real concern about doing 'Mission.' What's the point if there's no more bums on pews on a Sunday morning? Why go to all that effort if church attendance goes up? Co-operate with other churches doing something - but people might start going there rather than here? Frankly, I don't care where people go, so long as they get to know God loves them.

So, I want to work with my colleagues of every flavour, be they the Kirk, the Free Kirk, the SPC, the Catholic, the independents, etc. If we can do stuff together, it might, just might, make a greater impact on parish that 3 or 4 different churches almost working like supermarkets, touting for business. And, if once we've done stuff people want to go to church, but don't come to the Kirk, fine. So long as people can get to know God's love, I really don't care.

With all this in mind, I'm increasingly seeing that attitude as being important to me. How I get a congregation who don't already, generally, have that mindset over to it, I don't know. I do know I will want them to, one way or another, have it.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Doing things differently

Sunday was a funny day. Firstly, I was leading worship somewhere I had not even been to before. Then, the pressure of a friend and peer being in the congregation (who had not previously heard me preach). Add to that a church building where the pulpit is in a corner, with the congregation in the 'arms' of the church (and one of the 3 balconies!). I think I may have thrown the congregation somewhat.

It started with me asking the Session Clerk, who'd already told me they would led me into the church, if it was them doing the welcome and intimations. This resulted in a startled look and a reply of "the minister usually does them." Taking a deep breath, and being as diplomatic as possible, I explained I didn't feel it was appropriate for me, as a guest and visitor, to welcome the congregation. And I wouldn't know what intimations needed to be announced/emphasised, against those which are there to be read. This resulted in someone else in the congregation leading me in. I'm glad I asked, or I would have walked in at the back of the Session Clerk and sat down in expectation!

Then, I did not use the pulpit for most of the service, only heading there for the sermon. I genuinely cannot remember a time when I have seen a minister take the whole service ('normal, bog-standard' Sunday service) in its entirety from the pulpit. I think that caused a bit of confusion, but it is the 'norm' most places and no one thought to advise me that was the custom and practise there!

Other than that, everything seemed to go reasonably smoothly. As usual, especially in an unfamiliar place, I managed to give off a calm, relaxed persona. The person who did the welcome etc even commented before we went in on it. Oh, if only he knew! I even, when delivering the sermon, manage to talk around the church, which, given its layout, really is no mean feat.

The congregation, generally, seemed pleased. I suspect, like many churches, some prefer their 'own' minister. My friend's children told me I have a praying voice. Oh dear, no ones pointed that out before. Must try harder to sound like me - but still have decent pace and diction and tone etc. I did tell them nerves don't help and I go into very formal when they really kick in.

So, a new and different experience for all concerned. All good and useful. It does also remind me of how much I don't know, but as a friend used to say "wisest is she who knows what she does not know." I'm just pleased God's got my back, 'cause I definitely couldn't do this without him.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Like riding a motorbike

It's been a busy weekend. Spot left on Friday lunchtime, as I had a friend visiting for the weekend, with her husband and (lovely - really lovely) children. Frankly, I was running out of beds!

It was brilliant seeing them, catching up with them, getting to know their other half and children better. It's a shame they had to leave this afternoon - but work necessitated the return to civilisation!

While they were off panning for gold and hunting for fossils, another friend, again with spouse and children, popped in for a brew before heading south. It was a flying visit, but I was touched they made the effort to look in on their way home from holiday.

(I don't know, though, you wait ages for people to visit you on work experience and they all seem to turn up at once. A bit like buses, I suppose.)

As both friends are training for ministry, I could mull over challenges and joys without having to fill in everything, as we come from an 'understanding,' so o speak. But over the course of the weekend, things happened which freaked varying parties out.

The friend who was here for the weekend invited me to her ordination. The idea that a friend, who began her training and degree at the same time as I did is getting ordained (admittedly next year, but still) is terrifying. It shows just how close and quickly this is all coming in. In so many ways, even with the placements and this work experience; even with the knowledge I will be keeping my hand in for the next academic year and have probation to come, I still go out there into the unknown, all too aware of my own shortcomings, things I haven't done etc, etc, etc. So, someone getting ordained IN LESS THAN 12 MONTHS TIME somewhat focusses the mind.

The flip hand is she and her family came to worship where I was leading worship today. It was strange leading worship where I was any way, as I was swapping pulpits with the interim moderator for 'my' parish, so I was a visitor in that church too. But, my friend was freaked out by me leading a whole service. Not because it was bad (or at least I hope that was the case), but because one of her friends and peers was (as she put it) in charge for the whole thing.

So, as we all head along the road God has called us to, there are things we are encountering which remind us of who we are, where we're from and where we are heading. It's a bit like the first ride on a motorbike, terrifying and exciting all rolled together (*said while waving at friend Nik).

Thursday, 18 July 2013

First time out of the way

It's been a busy week this week. Since Saturday I've done 2 pre-funeral visits, written a draft service for Sunday, done some prep for a community event service, also on Sunday and lead all or part of 2 funerals. So much for a rural backwater!

Yesterday I led the opening prayer and reading. That much I have done while on placement. But, did you detect there was one coming - the tradition in the Highlands is to also comment on the bible reading. So, to prevent it becoming a mini-sermon, I tried to address the family and give them reassurance that their loved one was in a better place and they would see them again, in the context of the passage, of course. I felt it was appropriate and hit the right tone, judging by the family's body language and reaction after. One son was initially reluctant for me to be involved in the service at all and I was respectful of their wishes, but their mind had been changed (not by me, I hasten to add). They came to me and thanked me for my part and the word of reassurance I had given them. It was a relief I had struck the right balance and gained their trust and respect.

Today was a bit more of a big deal, as I led the whole act of worship. This was the first time I had done so in any funeral context and was feeling very nervous. It was a smaller funeral than yesterday, but not too small. It did bother me that the non-immediate family were miles away from the family. That made talking to the congregation more difficult.

The tradition here, along with a comment on the bible passage used, is that the family gather in the vestry. If I'm being honest, I could have done with the head space, but I was there to serve them, not the other way around. I hope I gave an appropriate listening ear. Perhaps just the presence is the right thing to do?

I did get a wee bit freaked out when the very small vestry was filled and I was crowded into the corner. Really, is there any need for all who were related to the deceased to wait in the vestry? Traditions can be changed (after all, I was a woman at a graveside!). But that's just a bye the bye and something I had no control over. Fortunately, it wasn't for long.

As I headed into the church, I suddenly realised I hadn't miked up! So, I sat down while the organist finished their piece and slipped it on. Anyone else would have thought I was gathering my thoughts before the service started!

I felt the service went reasonably well. The family seemed to be with me, judging by their body language etc. They even laughed at a couple of anecdotes I recounted. It wasn't my intention to be humorous, but it did lighten the mood a little.

I stood at the communion table for the whole service. With the family to my side, that was maybe a poor choice of position. Next time, if there is a next time here, I will use the lectern. Then, I would face the family, which I think would be more appropriate.

I'm glad to have go that out of the way. Not in a bad way, but now I have an experience of leading a whole funeral service, and one in a very different context to outwith the Highlands. I think it must have gone well as the church officer only found out that was my first one at the end of the service and was a little surprised. Oh, looks like I am managing to prefect the swan - calm on top, paddling for dear life underneath!

I hope I have the opportunity to visit the deceased's closest family as a post-funeral visit. Not to polish my ego, but in order that the church serves their needs, rather than casts them adrift once the formalities are out of the way. And, if I am able, I pray to take God's presence with me.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A coming first

Throughout my varying placements there has been one type of experience I have really wanted to gain. A skill I know I will need to develop, as I will need it wherever I serve. I did gain a little experience of this while at Highland Cathedral, but was not 'in the driving seat' so to speak. My supervisor had done the hard work and I was just involved.

What is this I speak of? Funerals. As a parish minister, it will be my role (though I do not see it as a burden) to serve the whole parish. That includes funerals of those in the parish, if they want.

At Highland Cathedral, I lead prayers and bible readings. Both there and at Eagleside I sat in to observe a funeral visit. So, I have not visited a bereaved family alone, written a tribute or led a whole funeral service as yet.

That is, until now. There has been quite a few deaths in Railway Crossing's parish in the last few months. Over the last 2 weeks, there has been 3. I know that seems very small by many other parishes standards, but it is high in proportion to the population. I have been asked to led one of the funerals.

So, I have now done my first independent pre-funeral visit and written my first (draft) tribute. The funeral itself is later in the week. In the meantime I have to bring together the rest of the service. Thank goodness my Highland Cathedral supervisor got me to draw up my own funeral order last summer, though it may need a tweak or two for the setting.

How do I feel. I am thrilled. Not. No, the idea of 'going solo' on the funeral front absolutely terrifies me. There's no more that can go wrong in a funeral than any other act of worship where emotions are heightened, but less scope for error, which is understandable on the part of the bereaved. I know as I prepare for the service, it is in the knowledge I could not do what I am called to do without God having my back and the prayers and support of those who know me.

I pray this funeral helps the family in their grief and is a fitting tribute to their loved one. And that I don't mess up.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ministering to their needs

Between Railway Crossing and First Stop, there are 3 services each Sunday. During my time here, I have been involved in all 3 services on 3 Sundays - and they were mainly during the first couple of weeks. Generally, the services have been divided between myself and the axillary attached.

I have found even doing a little in all 3 services is very tiring. In all, it's about 5 hours 'on' in the day. This Sunday, I am leading worship on all 3 occasions. So, I've have to prepare 2 orders of service, select 9 hymns (5 for the morning; 4 for the evening), write several prayers and 2 sermons. All this while entertaining visitors and juggling my pastoral duties!

Now, I know this is only a part-time gig, and I am not having to deal with the hustle and bustle of a 'normal' parish minister's work, but it's a lot of work. I suspect there are people who don't appreciate the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare a service. Nor how tiring it is doing so.

One thing I am reassured by is the time I am taking physically writing material is reducing from when I wrote my first sermon. That must have taken me 3-4 hours and I remember thinking how could I sustain that for a whole ministry. The funny thing is I know I am doing as much (if not more) thinking about what I am going to say. Maybe that's why the actual writing doesn't take as long now (maybe an hour for a sermon), as once I come to write it I already have a pretty good idea what I am going to say and where it is going to go.

One thing I am really enjoying and seeing the benefits of, while I am here, is leading worship Sunday after Sunday in the communities I am ministering too. I have go to know the people's concerns, hopes, fears. I an learning what's important to them and, perhaps, the gentle reminders needed to support and encourage them, especially during an extended vacancy. I can see how the services are linking together, even in an implicit way (both churches receive a number of visitors, so I do not like to refer too much to previous material, so as not to loose them).

Word is even seemingly travelling around the presbytery about me - and it's good. Now I don't think I do anything especially outstanding. What I do I do knowing God's got my back, If he didn't I'd be scunnered! But I seem to be getting complements from strange paths. It's heartening to know that trusting God is allowing me to minister to the people in this place in the way they need.

Friday, 5 July 2013

At the picnic site

I came across this cross a couple of weeks back. It's not broken, nor has it fallen. It is exactly where it is supposed to be. And it's not in a church or religious setting, but in a park near a bridge. A place where people stop for picnics or as a place to park, while they explore the area.

It's made from local stone; created by a local stone masons. It may go unnoticed, due to being on the ground, or may form part of a children's game.

But it's there, where people are. No in lofty churches or cathedrals, but in the midst of the people. A symbol of what God has done for the world, though many may not understand it.

As I prepare for Sunday, this cross came to mind. One of the readings I have selected is Luke 10:1-10, the sending of the 72. They went without possessions, to heal the sick and declare the kingdom of God is near. They went where the people were - to their homes and villages, not to their synagogues.

Church buildings are useful for a whole range of activities, but if the expectation is that people go to church, who will they hear God's message? Church attendance is low, so the church needs - in fact, I believe, is called - to go beyond its walls and meet with the people where they are, not where we would like them to be.

To be like this cross - in the areas wherepeople picnic, stop to take in the wonder of God's world and get on with the realities of life.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


I've now been in the "Frozen wastes of the north" (as a friend put it, they know who they are!) for 5 weeks. So, it's half way through my work experience and I can't believe how quickly the time has flown in.

The concerning thing is there is a number of the congregation who seem to want me as their minister. Now, while that's a huge complement, they've only heard me preach 3 times (though I am aware that's more often than the average congregation hears a sole nominee) and theologically I suspect I may be miles away from those who would make that decision.

Besides, I really don't feel called here. Before I headed north, I wondered if this experience may point me towards a calling as a 'proper' rural minister - Spot told me I'd be on my own, as what would he have to do, both work wise and as someone called to OLM. After all, there is already an auxiliary attached to the congregations.

And, me being me, I've seen too many things I'd want to change - with the knowledge there is a strong resistance to change and a limited pool of people in the congregation who could help.

But, at the end of the day there isn't that spark, that certain something which I don't know what it would be, but I am fairly sure that when I am called I will feel it. Besides, the congregations have been vacant for pushing 3 years. I have over 2 years (at least) until I am finished training. That would be a real shame for the congregations and the communities they serve.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Serving changing population

There are a few places in Scotland, like Railway Crossing, which do not have a 'normal' population profile. There is not the usual mix of old, middle aged, young and children. In some areas of St Andrews, for example, the residents are mainly students.

How the church serves these sort of areas will differ from a more diverse population profile. People come and go - perhaps staying for as little as a few days or as much as a few months. That makes developing relationships with the community different. I say different, as all parishes have their own challenges, this is just another one.

In some ways, it might concentrate the mind, as there is a limited time to engage with people. It also, perhaps, make the church less concerned with bums on seats and more with sowing seeds of God's love. After all, with transient populations it is unlikely they will come to full Christian maturity in a matter of days or weeks. I'm still working on that one!

That way of doing church in those communities needs to be held in tension with serving the needs of the permanent residents. At the end of the day, those are the people who are most likely to be members of the church, its office bearers etc.

I've no idea how this would work. Really, Railway Crossing is the first place I've been during my ministry formation process (oh, how I hate that phrase, but can't currently think of a better one!) that I have witnessed this. I do know to serve a community like this could possible be more work than a 'normal' (whatever normal is) parish. The danger people I have spoken to here have identified is that is would be easy for a minister to serve the congregation and not the parish.

On thing is pretty sure, this long term test drive I am currently on has not led me to feel I would be called to a parish such as this.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

No body lives here

A couple of weeks ago, Spot talked about the lack of cats around the vicinity of the manse. This seems to extend throughout most of the town. As he said, it can be a sign of a lack of permanent residents.

With that thought at the back of my mind, I started to notice something even more strange about this place. There is no butchers or green grocers. There is a bakers, but it seems to be more popular with visitors for its ice cream than bread. The owners of the hardware store are retiring, so it's on the market - and has been for a couple of years, by all accounts.

Now, in the area of the country I come from, that is not unusual (though the town I live in has 3 butchers). With ready access to other towns, supermarkets etc, there is less need. The nearest supermarket (apart from the co-op) is over 20 miles away. In addition, the 2 closest towns have butchers and bakers. One has a thriving hardware store (in 3 premises) and a fish mongers. But both of those towns are, at least 15 minute drive away. I dread to think how irregular the public transport links are.

So, if 2 similarly small towns can sustain these businesses, what's different here. A lack of permanent residents. In the block in which the manse is situated - which extends approximately the size of 2 football pitches - there are 3 permanent homes. At the moment, that includes the manse! There's about a dozen properties, but most are holiday homes. That, from what I can see, is pretty indicative of vast tracts of the town.

When on holiday, people tend to eat out more, going to pubs and cafes for meals. The might even get a supermarket delivery sent to their holiday address. All in, the wee shops which sustain a community are not really used by most holiday makers.

Which does raise the question of how a church serves the needs of such a community. Of the visitors and the residents. As I have no experience of this at all, it's a question to ponder as I realise the church here may not notice things I do.

Monday, 1 July 2013

A lesson Learned

Yesterday's services were quite a mix. Though the content was, predominantly the same for both Railway Crossing and First Stop, the contexts were not.

I arrived at Railway Crossing to be told a member of the congregation had died. So, that involved me dealing with a grieving congregation, which included family and friends of the deceased. I took a deep breath, checked the custom and practise there about announcing deaths in the notices and offered a quick, but heartfelt prayer for assistance.

It went well. I comforted the congregation as best I could. I realised, as I went through my service notes how little things could relate to loss of a loved one. After, the reaction as positive.

Then, the service at First Stop. It all seemed to familiar and started off reasonably well. That was until I started the sermon before the bible readings. Oops. Spot, realising I'd now got myself in a tizz stepped up to do the readings - the star that he is. The congregation was very gracious about it and laughed about it. One things for sure, I will never do that again!

I do think I've been so relieved that the service at Railway Crossing went well, under the circumstances, that I have lost focus. It's a good lesson for me, for many reasons. God will give strength when you don't think you have any. But don't loose focus on the job.