Ruth's Ramblings;

 

A Minister's Blog

  

 

Aug 10th 2022

Phew, it's a scorcher....

Anybody who is around me at the moment will know I am not a fan of hot weather - and this is beyond comfort, by a long way! 

But I am trying (not succeeding, but trying!!) not to complain too much, as I remind myself that what we are encountering in heat waves at the moment is part of something - often much worse - that people are enduring around the world.

Climate chaos is a thing that is disrupting not just my comfort, and frankly I have enough resources to deal with that in my privileged context, but is disrupting people's lives, health, future in so many places.

So, instead of rambling on today, I want to point you towards this work - as we struggle (some of us at least) with our temperatures, it is important to remember the wider context...

Resilience and climate - Christian Aid

and this resource

Home - A Rocha International

Keep cool - and make choices that can change the world for the better!

 

 

 

Aug 3rd 2022

A big small thing....

We held a coffee morning and cake stall on Saturday; the first one we have done since before Lockdown. We were raising money for Hope Home in Chang Mai in Thailand, an orphanage for children with complex special needs run by Judy Cook, our link missionary, and for the BMS Ukraine Appeal. At the last count we had raised £600 (there is probably a little more to come in).

That is a good amount of money, and we are delighted with it. 

But more happened than just the money. We had time to be together and share food and drink - and this is no small thing post-lockdown. We have missed doing that, and it was a delight to share again.

This is a good activity, and we delighted in it.

But more happened. 

It was not just people from the congregation who were present; family members and Day Centre guests came along to support us. They had heard this was going on, and wanted to contribute, and to support - as well as enjoy time together, and take home delicious cakes, and why not!

To see people and rejoice in their company was such a good thing, that it was nothing but delight. 

And more happened. 

Some of those who came to contribute to our weekly foodbank collection saw what was going on and came in; others had spotted the poster and came in. Some just noticed it going past - and came in. They wanted to give, they wanted to see what we were doing, they wanted a cake and a coffee...

And all of that is good and delight.

It was apparently a small thing, two hours sharing coffee, eating biscuits and buying cake. 

It was no small thing, given all the preparation, care and energy that went into it. 

It was no small thing, raising money that will make a difference to people we might never meet, but for whom we care. 

It was no small thing, having time with friends and neighbours and making new friends.

It was no small thing - and I am convinced that our delight is a mirror (or is mirrored by) delight in heaven at what we did. 

And we get to do it all again in September to raise money for Leprosy Mission.

Thank you to everybody who made it happen, who came along, who gave and supported and enouraged and delighted. 

It was a big small thing. 

July 27th 2022

Shhh....

I seem to have spent the last few days speaking and writing an awful lot of words. It has been quite a successful time; I have finished a couple of projects and had several really helpful and significant conversations. 

But the number of words has been quite overwhelming. 

It is so easy to get lost in all the words, and drown in the noise and writing...

Too much talking and not enough listening is a recipe for getting in a muddle.

So, a short blog, because I am trying to find some time of quietness.....

If you want to say anything to me, now is a good time. I might have stopped talking for bit!

 

July 13th 2022

Not going as well as it could...

I've had a few days of things not going as well as they could - specifically, techy problems. Our computer and our projector would not speak to each other during the service on Sunday morning, which meant that connecting with our Zoomers was not a smooth as it usually is, and that those in the room were not immediately able to see the screen for responsive speaking and for hymns. We got round it, but it wasn't what we hoped. As the week has gone on, it has become clear that the laptop on which I do all my work is feeling tired, and that certain things that I usually do without needing to think about the means by which I do it now require a great deal of thought and patience. 

And there have been various other, minor, reminders of just how dependent I am on techy things, and how little I know what to do when things go wrong. 

There is little new in that; nor does it only apply to tech. It is a bodily truth as well - I take my physical existence for granted until it is not working as it should, and then I realise how little I know, and how powerless I can be to make it alright again. 

It is a truth about our environment - for generations we have assumed that all is well, and acted without reflection, and now that it is going wrong   , we are struggling. The difference here of course is that we do know what to do. The question is whether we have the will to do it!

I have always been grateful to be around those who are problem solvers - so often, folks with these skills have seen, diagnosed and indeed solved the problems just as I am beginning to notice that something might not be quite right. And all the things I have mentioned can be dealt with, and I am so glad there are people who can do it, and who are not only able, but willing. 

Now I am seeking, as I trust these people to get on with finding and implementing solutions, to reflect on what I might learn from these experiences of frustration, powerlessness and incapacity. Apart from going back and reshaping my life so that I learn the skills that I depend on in others, my biggest desire is that I encounter these experiences not as ones that stop me in my tracks with anger or impatience, or make me give up or try to avoid them, but that I can enter into them as moments of remembering my interconnection with others, moments that deepen my capacity for patience and empathy, especially with those who struggle to make sense of the world, and moments that remind me to laugh especially at my own pretensions to independence, self-sufficiency and competence. 

Well, I can hope....

July 6th 2022

Special Days

This is our notice sheet for this week (we put the notices up on the"coming up" page of the website each week, if you ever need to consult it!) You will see - or if it is too small, check it out elsewhere, that Gaynor, our wonderful notice-writer has included information not only about what is happening with our congregation, but various things going on as "special days" - Sunday was Plastic Bag Free day, one that matters a lot to us as we seek to live well with the rest of creation. She has also pointed out that World Population Day, World Youth Skills  and International Nelcon Mandela Day are all coming up; keep an eye out for them, and see how they might challenge or encourage you. 

On Sunday, I was talking about Dorothy Hazzard, a bit of hero of mine; among other things, she was one of those who founded one of the first Baptist churches in this country, in Bristol, in 1640. But before that, as a woman running a grocer's shop and already having very well-developed theological views, she used to open her shop on church feast days, most notably Christmas, and sit sewing in the window, so that everybody could see what she was doing. Her reasoning was that no day was more special or more holy than any other, and it was a denial of God's absolute presence with us if we treated some days as days on which God was "more" present....

I think we need Christmas - and our other feasts - as part of our Christian life. But these days are not because they are  more holy, as if God blesses these days more than others. It is because they disrupt our normal routines, shake us out of habitual ways of behaving, and remind us that our day to day life exists in a bigger context - that of that activity of God. 

The days Gaynor has listed, and so many others like them, serve the same function, albiet in a non-liturgical way; reminders, or moments to inform!, about topics, issues and causes we might otherwise forget about in the regular routines of our living. I like to think that Dorothy Hazzard might have found this argument convincing (though probably not!)

And of course she - and we - do keep Sunday in a variety of ways, as a day that has something signficant about it. In moving the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, the early believers were commiti ng themselves - and us - to the most significant regular remembrance of all; that on the first day of the week, Jesus was raised from the dead, and is present among us. And with that presence, he indeed blesses every day, and offers us opportunities to love and be loved. 

And if anybody is interested, tomorrow is World Chocolate Day.... 

June 29 2022

Where did it go....

It feels like an age since I last wrote a blog - and indeed, it is 4 weeks. For various reasons, some lovely and some hard, I have not been around much over the last few weeks. But as of this week, I am back in the normal routine again, just wondering where the last month went...

But I want to say a huge thank you to so many people who have held things together over the last weeks, and have made it possible for me to do what I needed to do. 

It is when things go wrong that we discover how resilient systems and resources are. One of the things the last few years have shown us (and where did all that time go?) is that interdependence and our reliance on all sorts of previously taken-for-granted systems really matters. 

There is a constant theme in the Christian tradition that can push us toward not being "at home" in our society, or our world; being in the world, but not of it, for example, or reamining untainted by the worldly values that seem at odds with Kingdom themes. But we are part of our world, we do live in society, and it seems appropriate at times to affirm just how good that is, and how much we depend on a functioning community. When we needed to depend on health services, on people to keep the shops open, on delivery drivers and on neighbours who went shopping, on teachers who found new ways to engage and on each other to keep us all safe. on the whole what we needed was there. And it was there before, and it is still there - it's just that we often don't notice all the support we have until we are in a crisis. 

Yes, there are many ways and many issues over which I long to see the Christian community take a different point of view, and operate in a differnt way from "the world" or our wider society. 

But today, I want to be grateful for all the things I take for granted because, when life is going well and all is as I need it to be, I don't notice - but which is all part of living in our world, and being part of our society. 

Sometimes, it is more "where did my thanksfulness go?"

 

 

June 1st 2022

Celebrations

     

We had a party yesterday! Day Centre celebrated the Jubilee as only Day Centre can - with food, fun and much laughter. We were entertained on the piano as we ate, we toasted the Queen and sang the national anthem, we waved flags, we ate - we ate such a lot,  - we had a quiz, and we enjoyed each other's company.

A huge thank you to everybody who made it happen, especially those who prepared all the food - and those who washed up afterwards!

May 28 2022

Missing Blogs...and Christian Aid

Friends, it may be that you have noticed that there has been a dearth of blogs recently (it may be that you haven't!!), and I apologise. Life events have intervened, and things have been rather complex, meaning I have not been online at my normal times. I hope that it will settle a bit in the next weeks.

But if you haven't noticed the lack of blogs, I hope you have noticed Christian Aid week this month. This is an important part of the fund raising for this important NGO, which does so much good around the world. If you would like to know more about its work, please look here;UK charity fighting global poverty - Christian Aid

Christian Aid is important to us as a church, and there has - and will be; the Sponsored Walk is coming up soon - lots of generous giving. Christian Aid Week is a central part of the fundraising - but the work goes on all year, and so gifts are needed all year. If you already contribute, thank you. If you would like to give, thank you. And if it is all new to you, then do check it out, and see how you might be able to support this vital work.

Thank you

May 11 2022

Hospital Visiting

Several folk from the congrgation have been (and indeed are)  in hospital over the last few days - and so on Monday, I went to visit.

It is over two years since I have been into visit in the local hospital (and the corridors have not got any easier to follow; I know, I am easily confiused, but I do get lost every time!!)

It was, as always, such a privilege to be able to catch up with folk, and to hear how they are doing. 

And it was amazing to be able to do it, after such a long time. It was, I think, the clearest sign I've experienced of things going back to normal. Yes, there are still masks, and lots of hand sanitiser, and a few restrictions - but it just felt so ordinary.

I had a moment to stop in and see the chaplain as well.

A good and godly man, who has worked through the lockdown. He was telling me that throughout the whole time, the chaplains were in the hospital every day as usual, though they were not able to go on to the wards. They worked by phone, by offering coffee and space to those who wanted to come into the chapel, and just generally "being there". As he talked, I had another glimpse of that hidden world we have all shared and yet are still having to work to find the words for; when we tried to make sense of a weirdness we had no experience for, but had to cope with anyway!

The chaplains' ministry of "being there" or "being with" seems to me more and more the most effective form of service that not just chaplains, but all of us can offer. We don't necessarily have answers, or skills or resources to offer - but we have presence and welcome. We can open our building for people to feel at home in - playing, eating, learning.... We can offer friendship to those who come in, without needing anything back... We can meet people in the car park as they come to find ways to share with others, and support folk in a particular moment of need through the foodbank.....

We can be there - because, after all, that is what our faith is in; a God is "there"; God with us, Immanuel. 

And as the world adapts to what it is now, rather than what it has been, when we don't have any more insight or skill than anybody else, we do have this; confidence in God's presence with us, which sustains our presence with and in the world we share. 

 

 

May 5th 2022

Sometimes, life just happens.

I was all set to write the blog as usual yesterday (I have quite a regular routine on a Wednesday) - but then, stuff! Sometimes, things happen that get in the way and in the words of my national poet, the "best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"; and my plans are rarely among the best-laid!

But stuff now being dealt with, there is time to do the stuff that didn't get done yesterday. Mind you, that now means that the stuff that is on the list for doing today is getting a little disrupted....hmm. 

Actually, today has been rather lovely so far. Among the highlights has been visiting Thursday Day Centre, and sharing lunch there (sausages - yum!) and then taking the dog over the visit. As always, she was a wee star, and folk make such a fuss of her. In fact, I'm thinking of resigning my post, and letting the dog take over - she's so much better, especially pastorally, than I am. 

And then I can get on with the bits of stuff that keep getting pushed out by life. 

Seriously, it is one of the delights of the kind of work that I do that plans do often get derailed by "stuff", often to do with people; indeed, not just a delight, but a privilege. 

I hope I will always be preserved from prioritising tasks over people, and ticking things off on a list over listening and being with whoever is around. That is an honour to be treasured. 

Thank you for being the people I get to be with....

 

April 27 2022

Be careful what you ask for....

We have been short of leaders for our youth groups, and so one of our current leaders has creatively and - it turns out - effectively advertised on social media. The appeal was for leaders. The result has been more children - each group is now bigger than it was! This is not a bad thing; some of the groups were getting very small.

But more children present is  - while clearly a blessing - also a challenge. This is not what we were expecting, nor indeed, what we planned for. 

Which has its own questions that we will need to address in due course.

But it does also raise the interesting issue about what happens in our lives of faith when we are clear about what we need and want, and bring it with all faithfulness in prayer - only to find that the answer is not at all what we expect.....!

It is a very Easter theme. The two mourners walking to Emmaus knew exactly what they wanted and needed; "we had hoped that..." - and then the stranger, whom they didn't recognise, opened the story to them, and they discovered that while it was not what they were expecting or wanting, it was exactly right, as Jesus broke bread and they recognised him.

I would still really like some more leaders...but I am seeking the grace to see what we have been given, and to receive it as the gift it is!

 

April 13 2022

A chaotic Holy Week

I may not be the world's greatest planner, but even for me, Easter planning is running a bit late; the strike of a lurgy that laid me low for nearly two weeks has been evident in the time I have had to get things ready.

So, I am taking comfort in two reflections; if this week feels chaotic, so did the week that we are commemorating....there were arguments in the Temple, near riots in the street and quarrels among friends - and Jesus went through it all. So nothing in my disorgansation is anywhere near that.

And, as somebody wisely remarked a couple of years ago at this time, when all our plans were thrown into confusion; whatever I or we do or don;t do, Easter will still happen and Jesus is still risen.

In the end (or even, in the beginning!) it doesn't depend on me and my efforts. This is God's doing.

And it is wonderful in our eyes.

 

April 6 2022

On not sounding banal...

In the face of what is happening in Ukraine, and of the stories coming out about mass killings, and in the face of the amazing efforts being made to help those who are fleeing, it is hard to find words that are not trivial and trite.

And so, since prayer is always a refuge, today I simply want to repeat the prayer

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy, Lord have mercy!

Because it is a prayer that can never be said too often. 

 

March 30 2022

The weather...

It was so lovely last week, to be able to lay aside some of the heavier jackets, and enjoy the sunshine and the bright skies and the warmth....

And today, it as, as my native language would put it, gey driech! (Which being interpreted is "very grey, damp and miserable")

 

I know that no single weather event can be put down to the climate crisis that we are facing, but the extremes that are happening are reflected in such changes that we have seen these past few days. More significantly, there are crisis floods in Australia, droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, rising sea levels in the Pacific mean that some of the Solomon Islands have disappeared and people have lost their homes....

And recently we have had the news that temperatures at both the North and the South Poles are rising rapidly.

This is not something we can ignore, nor is it just a matter for the kind of conversation that Brits have always had about the weather.

If you want to know more about the issues and about how to get involved, you can see our Cheadle Climate Action website here

CheadleClimateAction.org and there are many other places that give advice and ways to connect - for example A Rocha UK – Caring for God's Earth and  Friends of the Earth | Home and many others....

If you would like to be personally invovled, come and join our CCA group - our next meeting is on this coming Saturday. Wew are meeting on zoom, and I can let you have details.

Whatever you decide to do, thank you for taking care of our world.....

 

March 16 2022

Stories that encourage...

Tonight, we are welcoming our link BMS missionary, Judy Cook. She is based in Chiang Mai, and involved in caring for young people with complex needs. It is always a moment of encouragement to hear from her (she is amazingly faithful in keeping us all up to date with what is going on), and when we feel that the world is a harsh place without hope or change, hearing her stories - which are not prettied up - and realising the changes that can be made by constant, faithful presence and attention to what is in front of us...

And as we seek to find our own way through the anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion, to say nothing of a sense of powerlessness, hearing such stories give us courage - and stimulate our imagination about what we might do.

 

 

 

March 9th 2022

Lord, have mercy

As we watch the horrors, marvel at the care shown by strangers, feel frustration at our own government's apparent inability to match action to rhetoric and wonder what we can do, we cry out Lord. have mercy.

And if you want to give to offer care to those who have lost everything, here are links 

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal | Disasters Emergency Committee (dec.org.uk)

 

BMS Ukraine appeal - BMS World Mission

 

March 2nd 2022

Ash Wednesday

 

 It's not a day we traditionally make much of, as Baptists. The practice of attending a service and having a cross marked on our foreheads with a smudge of ash has, on the whole, passed us by. And there are good historical, and maybe even theological, reasons for that.

But all the same, there are also good historical and theological reasons for attending to this tradition; a service once a year, at the beginning of Lent, which takes as its theme the importance of self-examination in the light of mortality (as the cross is marked on, using the words; "from dust you came, to dust you will return").

The emphasis, the reminder, is that if we are taking our self-examination seriously, if we are deeply and thoroughly reflecting on the meaning of our lives and the depth, integrity and faithfulness with which we are living, then recognising that our lives here are limited and constrained - by death, but also by other realities - is a way of helping us to be realistic both about our intentions and our achievements.

In a social context in which all so often we are told that limits to not apply, this is both a hard, and an important message to hear. Our young people are encouraged to believe that they can achieve anything - and there is wonder and freedom in that, for it removes artificial constraint (of gender, of ethnicity, of age, of social expectation).

But there can also be pressure - no matter how hard I try, or how much I believe I can, I was never going to be able to play rugby for my country. I do not have the ability. I cannot achieve it. Fortunately, it was not something I (really!) wanted to do...and so discovering I couldn't did not destroy a dream or shatter my self-worth. And in this I was greatly aided by sports teachers who were very realistic about my limitations! 

The truth is, we cannot do everything, be everything, succeed in everything....there are limitations. 

But that need not be a grief or a reason for giving up. For it is the boundary that gives an identity and a shape to something - including a life. If I have no boundaries, I have no sense of "self" and "other" - and so there is no possibilty of relationship, with all the joy that that can bring, there is no possibility of growth, discovery and delight that there are people who are not the same as me, and therefore I can learn about the world from their experience which is so different from mine.

To be aware of our boundaries, the limits of our selves - and that includes our mortality - heightens and enlivens the joy and delight of being alive as our own selves with our own story, which is not somebody else's. It also calls us (and this is important in Lent) to take seriously the privilege of our life, and explore what it means to live it well and fully and with our own calling, not shaped and determined by a second-hand vision. 

From dust you have come, and to dust you will return - the dust of star and earth, shaped by and for love, and held for ever in a love that is absolute. So - in the words of Mary Oliver's poem "what will you do with your one wild and precious life?"

 

Feb 16 2022

The unseen delights of being a woman in ministry...

I have long hair. I usually wear it loose, and simply pinned back behind my ears. I do wear it up on occasions - at times when I need to appear particularly authoritative, and when I have not had time to wash it!

I wore it up on Sunday morning - because finding time to wash (and more to the point, dry!) it had proved beyond me this last week. 

The delight has been that, although nobody has commented on the service, quite a lot of people have commented (favourably, thank goodness!) on my hair. This delights me - though, I must confess there would have been a time when I would have been irritated about it; why are such comments not made to the men?!? Now, I recognise it as a delightful comment recognising that my ministry is rooted in my humanity.

And that seems to me to be very important; not for my ministry in particular, but all our life in Christ, our lives as disciples. We are followers of Jesus as the people we are, not as some kind of disembodied spirits, nor as needing to conform to some kind of "ideal" humanity. We are each of us who we are, with our own identity, physical and emotional reality, our own strengths, weaknesses, delights and struggles - and all of these, all that we are is the way that we follow Jesus, discover what it means to be the image of God and explore being loved. 

And as a church, as a congregation, significant to who we are and what we do is the intention and the practice of welcoming each and every one of us as we are, ways in which God is imaged to the world. (Even when we have't washed our hair!)

Feb 9 2022

Paying bills from a manse has a particular delight to it...in whose name is the account registered? Who is actually paying? And who is the householder?

We have just been trying to sort out one of our utility accounts (all safely done now) and trying to explain the set-up ...no, we don't own the house, no we  don't rent the house, no, we are not living with parents....is manageable, but depends on good will on both sides of the conversation. 

It is a helpful reminder that what we, within the manse, take for granted is not necessarily so obvious to others who don't live in a manse.

And a wider reminder for those of us within the church, that what we take for granted is not necessarily so obvious to those who are not part of the community.

In our reflection group today, at one point, we shared a story of somebody who had come to a service for the first time - and several times during the service asked questions, not quietly of a neighbour, but out loud of the person leading the service.

Good for her!

But how comfortable would we be if it happened among us?

And, even more significantly, what are the assumptions, practices and presuppositions that we take for granted, but which can sound just as weird to those who are not with us on a regular basis as do my attempts to explain what it means to live in a manse.

We can assume that everybody understands.

But maybe we shouldn't...

 

 

Feb 2 2022

Nobody knows what goes on inside.....

Well, those of us who go to things inside do, of course. But - does anybody else....?

I mean - it doesn't look much like a church, does it. And even if it did, and somebody doesn't regularly go to services, would they have any idea what they might face when they come in?

And do people have any notion of all the other stuff that goes on...building towers out of wooden skewers and marshmallows (this week's 615ers youth club!), eating wonderful fish pie (Day Centre), climbing up the slide and coming down head first (Toddlers' Group),  enjoying Out of Africa (film night) or having a spirited discussion about The Hidden Beach (book group). Or what about sorting out donations for Wood St Mission (this morning's activity) or trying to find the space to dry a tent (after many many foodbank collection sessions in a rainy car park.

And then there's the meals (Harvest Supper, social evenings), the music (concerts, rehearsals), the meetings (challenging climate change, discussing the church's life, planning events, hearing about work in Thailand....and many others I've forgotten about!), the plotting and planning to make the tech work (thanks to those who spend hours in the building doing that), the ongoing minatenance of the bulding and the grounds (thank you to those who take care of that), the sorting out of finance and admin (thank you to all who do that).....and I am pretty sure I have forgotten some other stuff.....

And at the centre of it all - relationships, with one another, and through one another with the Centre of it all...

We have a great building and smashing grouds. We have wonderful things going on. 

How can we let people know; for surely, if people knew, there would be those who would like to join in....

Answers on a postcard please. :) 

 

 

Jan 25th 2022  

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is just ending. Since 1908, the churches around the world have prayed for the unity of the Church.

And it does have to be said that during the 20thc and on into the 21st, there have been significant moves, in many countries, and across many national borders, towards a more common life. We could (but won't - this is not an academic piece of writing!) trace the various landmarks on the way during the last 120 years

But even without going into that level of detail, one thing that is worth noting is that for the last 30 or so years, in the UK at least, ecumenism has not exactly been a sexy topic. There is almost a sense that we've done well enough, we get along well, we do things togethere and recognise each other's integrity, and frankly, finding a way to survive in an increasing uninterested context takes our energy, and spending time discussing differences (that can seem very angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-pins-ish!) is a waste of time, energy and resources - and takes attention away from the stuff that really matters; serving our communties, and discerning a way forward in a world that doesn't seem to need us. There are discussions and publications at a level of theologians and of church leaders, but for those of us whose involvement is mainly in the local congregation, this is not top of our agenda.

I have a lot of sympathy with that view.

But...but, there is something about the vision of a church that is healed of its divisions that won't quite let me go; it is not simply that, together, we are better at what we do than when we try to do it separately. It is not simply that the communal use of resources has got to be better than us each doing our own thing with fewer resources. It is not even that in the face of declining numbers, it makes sense to work together.

Or rather, it is all of those things and something more - Jesus' words; "By this, eveyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another" haunt me. 

How will better relationships between denominations and congregations mean that others know we are followers of Jesus...?

I wonder if it has to do with living counter-culturally? In a world, a society which feels at the moment to be ever more divided and angry, what would love across, or in spite of difference look like? And what impact might it have? To be known as followers of Jesus is not neccesarily to convince people to join us....but it is to be identified with who Jesus is. And who Jesus is is the one who - because he insisted on loving across boundaries, including the outsider, breaking down barriers and challenging power strutures that were invested in protecting the status quo, was executed.

Loving one another, in order that who Jesus is might be seen may not be a pathway to increasing our impact, or convincing people to join us. It may be the path to death...

And I wonder if somewhere, our energy for ecumenism diminishes when we see, however dimly, that that might be where learning to love across the boundaries -really love, the way Jesus does - will lead us?

Dare we pray for such a way forward?

 

Jan 12 2022 

A guest blog

Hello - I am Maizie, the Church Dog, and I wanted to tell you about things we have been doing. Here you can see me in front of the Christmas tree that we had up in the building - it's down now, and things look much less sparkly - which is sad - but there are not so many electrickery leads for me to avoid, which is good. 

I like going into our church building because there is always something going on in there and it usually involves people - which I like - though sometimes it involves noise and the words "Maizie don't do that" which I don't like. 

Sometimes, the people are sitting still and listening to one of my humans (and often other humns too) as they stand at the front and talk - which I like, because then I can see my human. But I have to sit still too, and can't run up and give kissylicks - which I don't like and is sad. I think that giving kissylicks to people who want them should be allowed all the time. But usually after the sitting-still time, I get to walk around and give lost of kissylicks and get lots of cuddles and I like that very much. 

Sometimes, the people are sitting at tables and eating, and then I get to go in and give cuddles and get cuddles back, which I like a lot. Some of the people who come to eat find it hard to walk or to see, or sometimes to do anything, and that makes me sad - so I give very gentle cuddles, and that is a happy thing. 

Sometimes the people in the building are running around and making lots of noise - these are usually little people, (the big people don'[t run around so very much! Though they do sometimes make a lot of noise) and they can get very excited when I go on; I don't to it too often because I'm not good at lots of noise - actually, that's not true; I am very good at making a lot of noise, but I don't like lots of noise around me. 

The thing I like best in our building is that when I go in, people are pleased to see me, and make a fuss of me. I thought this was because I am special (which of course it is....), but as I have paid closer attention, I have discovered that being pleased to see those who come into the building is kind of what the building is for - seeing people who come in to sit and listen to my human, and other humans speak, being pleased to see the people who come in to eat, being pleased to see the people who come in to run around and make a noise - and being very very pleased to see the people who come in and make all this happen. 

It is a building in which people are pleased to see each other. 

That makes me happy.

It also makes me wonder why? So, I am going to keep going, and see if I can discover why everybody does the being-pleased-to-see people thing. I will do my discovering in between giving my own kind of welcome with kissylicks and tail wiggles. 

If you're very lucky, I may report back again in a few months!

 

Jan 5 2022

Do they know it's still Christmas....

In some of the (online) circles in which I move, this is the time of year when there is heated and sometimes irritable debate about whether it is still Christmas, or whether the decorations should be taken down, the candles put out and the crib scene packed away. In liturgical terms, the answer is no, they shouldn't be - Christmas as a season in the church year continues until Epiphany, which is tomorrow. In some traditions, indeed, the liturgical season continues until Candlemas - the day that celebrates Jesus presentation in the Temple - which is February 2nd. In the rest of society, Christmas appears to be over - there is no more Christmas music on the radio, the decorations are being taken down, and the TV schedules are into a new pattern.....

But then there is this statement by Howard Thurman, an African American philospher, theologian and writer.

This seems to me to be of much more importance than the dates and calendar. Because whatever Christmas is about, it is not about finding an end of it, but living the meaning of it. 

So, I am printing this out and it will appear on our notice boards outside the church from tomorrow - as a hat-tip to the end of the Christmas season - and even more, as a statement of what the Kingdom that we pray for is about, and our desire to be part of it.