Friday, 24 December 2010
The winter wonderland is back, and it is really great to see.
I am still staying very busy and there is never a dull moment at all. The driving has been difficult at times. I am now ready for Christmas and looking forward to it too. I am sure this Christmas will be very different to last Christmas, though the house is a pain to keep warm! (in fact it is impossible!)
I took my first wedding up here last weekend and it turned out to be really great. Jamie and Stephanie were a wonderful couple to marry and we all had a lovely time.
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
I must admit I took advantage on Sunday and went sledging with friends. Wow such fun!
We had to cancel the Advent Carol service, but the Annual general meeting went as planned and it went well.
The light on the snow and in the winter clouds is just magnificent.
No doubt budget or otherwise, the guest list will be full of fine royals and the odd visiting royalty too, Presidents and other worthies! The pomp and ceremony will be ….. well good, at the very least.
We all know what happens when royals and presidents (even popes) visit. There is far more than the proverbial red carpet rolled out
And then today against all this we look to Christ as our King. but a King with a kingdom not the way earthly kings can really recognise. Pilate was certainly confused by Jesus. He had heard the accusations that he was claiming to be king, well at least some of his followers were recognising this. If it was the case then it would be an easy matter and he could be summarily executed to end the matter.
However on further examination he hears that Jesus Kingdom was not of this world. So implying that Pilate had no earthly worries of insurrection, but also recognising that Jesus was indeed a King. So Pilate wanted to let him go but was forced through political pressure to do something anyway. He washes his hands, and hand hi over but still put the sign over the head which in the end even the Jews wanted removed. But maybe this was Pilates way of saying “I told you so, but he was never really understood”
It is always hard to accept and to understand the person that stands out from the crowd. They are often people who are even ridiculed. It might appear that Jesus had always stood out from the crowd. Indeed the gospels were written to prove this point even from before his birth, and soon we shall be immersed in these stories too.
He was regarded as dangerously odd by the religious authorities. Jewish law had always taken into account the needs of the poor, and paid particular attention to widows and orphans. But Jesus took that much further than it had ever been taken before, and actually preached to poor people that the kingdom of God was for them, rather than for the rich.
This was not a kingdom that anybody recognised. Human beings recognise pomp and ceremony and wealth, with all the trappings that wealth can bring. Although we may grumble about the cost of all the pomp and ceremony and the cost of Roayl appointments, we still like to see our royals sumptuously dressed and sparkling with jewels. On the whole, we enjoy royal occasions with all the pageantry they offer.
The thought of a royal kingdom which contains only the poor doesn't sound like a particularly attractive place. It certainly wouldn't appeal to the tourist industry.
And of course, the sort of preaching that constantly affirmed poor people and outcasts was likely to inflame the passions of the ordinary people, with the danger that they might rise up and attempt to bring in "their" kingdom by force. Hence the arrest of Jesus, the leader.
It does not actually come easy to say Christ is our King, when we realise what this means for us. Christ is our king because he leads the way, we aspire to him. But few of us are able to bare the personal cost of what this may imply.
It is not often a comfortable place to be, standing beside someone who stands out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.
But if we really want to be one of the bystanders at the crib singing “what can I give him….. ?” we have to be ready and willing to be with him all the way. As last weeks gospel spelled out we must show our love utterly as he did for us. No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit.
Christ then we say is our King, not in glory but on the cross, and in the stable, and being rejected, and alongside the poor and outcast of society.
Christ stands out for all the wrong reasons can we be part of his kingdom?
Sunday, 24 October 2010
Some people have said that the problems with society today is that it has no awareness of how sinful it is, and it should be the churches place to be telling society how sinful they are and how they can make amends.
Should such a society therefore repent then things can come right again.
I meet a number of people who believe that the problems they face today are the result of them doing something wrong in times past, sometimes years past. It is thought that punishment is being meted out for past sins.
(Jeremiah touched on this syndrome in last weeks reading which it is worth pointing out comes much later on in time than this weeks reading from Jeremiah.)
Perhaps this is an age old issue on both a personal and community point of view.
Should the church therefore preach more about this sinful nature than it has, have we, to wander into the topic raised by Jeremy last week, become too attuned to our culture today and not enough counter cultural?
Jeremiah’s people really did believe that things were wrong in the nation, (they had just been invaded by the Babylonians) because they had strayed from God’s ways and not observed His laws in their land. Indeed the prophet’s role was to point this out to them. Drought was also seen as a direct punishment from God.
Jeremiah’s people had allowed their feet to wander without restraint and now they were paying the price……
Sometimes I wonder if we still live with this frame of mind of straightforward rewards and punishments, the eye for and eye and tooth for tooth mentality. I have mentioned this syndrome before in sermons about do good and be rewarded, do Bad and feel the pinch.
But is this perhaps too simple a way of reckoning things?
The Pharisee felt he had done everything right, the “I” came straight to the top, and yet did God hear his prayers?
He was always in church, he did everything he could, he gave regularly and sacrificially, he even did things he did not need to do….. and God chose to hear the cry of the other, the sinful tax collector!
Surely there is something wrong here?
The church that Luke was writing to was not too dissimilar to ours today. A mix of people from various backgrounds, and with various financial resources. Last weeks story about the widows constant prayer prevailing over the unjust judge would have encouraged the poorer members and reminded the more wealthy of their need to help others in need. Yet today’s story immediately puts the self righteous in their place as the prayer that is “seen worthy” is the prayer of the person who centres themselves on the undeserved mercy of God (we call that “Grace”)
Jeremiah, like Daniel, aligns himself with the people. He is the one who has sinned. There is no getting away from that. And despite this recognition over and over again, he is able to say that,
“You O Lord are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us”
Last week Jeremy quite rightly helped us to see that Prayer is about our ongoing relationship, it is not about how frequently we ask, or about what we ask for..It has more to do with being alongside growing into each others likeness, being His people and He being our God.
It is often tempting to talk of sins as if we were able to make a list of the wrong things we have done, either corporately (though this often does not feature) or individually (and of course we can always make a longer list for someone else sometimes!) and miss the point that it is is Sin that is important not “sins”. Being sinful is the place we find ourselves in, and it is God who redeems us from this place because he is alongside us and calling us to be like him.
Perhaps perversely therefore the one who thinks they have sinned more, as well as the one who thinks they have done more right things, are both likely to have their prayers un heard.
We are seen justified only when we grow closer to God in a close and loving relationship and realise that he is indeed in our very midst and not some distant potent puppeteer that has nothing much to do with us except in a controlling omnipotent sort of way.
The Mighty fall, and the humble are lifted high.
Friday, 15 October 2010
Last week I went guizing! I joined a hen party at the other end of town and dressed up as a woman (borrowing a costume from the Amateur Dramatic Group.) Do you know, nobody turned a hair as I walked down the street! (Gusizing is quite a feature of life here at party time and of course Up Helly Aa.
Yesterday I met up again with Janette Kerr the Artist Eli and I met in the beginning of the year. She is up to continue her work and prepare for a big exhibition next year.
I will try to keep more up to date here
Imagine my surprise after hearing a young girl two beds away laughing and joking with another patient across the ward, to see her get out of bed with just one leg, the other having been amputated the week before. She was just 23.
Across from her was a lady in her late 60 who had just moved to Norfolk from the East end of London. She was coming to the conclusion of a huge long course of treatment which had involved major operations, radio therapy and Chemo therapy. It had not been an easy journey and she had had many setbacks, but she was looking forward to being back at her caravan near her Norfolk Home for her grand daughters 15th Brirthday.
It will not have been like it all the time, but the atmosphere on the ward was supportive, encouraging, and full of life and humour. They were all getting better, they were all going home, and the young girl even left while I was there to smiles and cheers from all the ward. She had to face a long ambulance journey back to home in Cornwall, but her smile and expectation of seeing her boyfriend would certainly carry her there.
Jesus healed 10 lepers in our gospel story for today, but did you notice an important comment?
Only one was made well.
Only one returned to give thanks, only one was made whole again and restored.
The skill of the surgeon or the consultant is beyond compare but they can only mend, or try to mend the broken body. They can try to remove or destroy the cancer cells that ravage the physical body. Sometimes they succeed; sometimes they do not manage it.
When they do not manage it they can only say we did all we could but it didn’t work. Believe me they feel as though they have failed. The skill of the doctor is to heal.
There is no doubting the heartache when the skill of the consultant meets its match!
Wholeness on the other hand is something slightly different. Being “made well” is a state of living, no matter how long the life may be.
I have had the privilege to know a number of people who were healed and made whole despite the skill of the surgeon meeting its match. You may have known people like this too. They make me feel so humble and full of gratitude that I have ever known them. Their life in every way becomes a source of true blessing, that goes beyond their own mortal lives. This is remarkable, and always something that causes thanks to well up in my heart.
You can go into any hospital, you can look around you wherever, and see the one out of ten people who are made well. The one out of ten that are whole again, after seeking healing.
The one out of ten who cause a blessing to fall wherever they go.
The one out of ten who have thankful hearts, which overflow and feed others.
The one out of ten who have managed to learn something of forgiveness and have met its challenge, while the rest of us may be still only at the stage of wishing we could, or hoping we might be able to.
The one out of ten who returns to find a broken relationship and makes it right again.
Our world is made a good deal better thanks to the one in ten people as we have seen.
“teach me my God and King, in all things thee to see!” (as reads the famous poem/hymn)
How wonderful to be able to reach this point. To be able to look on glass and see beyond it and not get hung up on our own reflection but to see the heavens and heavens possibilities beyond.
I know I get distracted by my own reflection all too often. The things that scare me, or the things that have scared me. The people I would like to but cannot yet forgive, and the sin that clings so closely, to use word from the letter to the Hebrews.
Our drudgery can be lifted, we in Christ can be given the spring in our step again. God reaches out to us on the road and touches us again and again
“For that which God doth touch and own Cannot for less be sold”
“Christ’s is the world in which we move and he meets us here, he moves with us, he crys with us and laughs with us. He makes a place in which we touch him and he touches us.
“Christ makes with his friends a touching place”
So we are left with the thought “what sort of friend am I?” can I be one in ten, or do I become again one of the nine others. Maybe this time we can be one in nine?
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Of course this plays straight into the modern way of thinking it could resonate with how we think and feel. We like setting standards, we thrive on targets.
Constantly been set goals and living with the same threat and promise of the child in the supermarket, …. “if you are a good boy, if you are a good girl….. then you can have……”
We have to be good enough……
When we feel and think like this it is not too far away from then saying…. They have to be good enough.
So to re read the gospel sentence maybe…. I have carried my cross so they should too.
I have sacrificed myself so they should too.
Look at what I have done….. that is good enough surely.
Do you see where this may lead?
So the scary bit comes in two places today… one might be the thought later that we should all sell our possessions and give everything to the poor…. Not the church…. The poor.
Second scary bit comes at the moment of crucifixion the moment we cannot turn back from… the moment after all the following all the effort… all the ups and downs of being a disciple
And we hear Jesus turning to someone we do not know, turning to someone we have despised perhaps, turning to an obvious bad man…. Call them what you like and hearing “Today you will be with me”
Let us all be very careful , as I have quoted before….
People do not see things as they are they see things as they are.
And this week I received in an e mail this quote worth considering:
WHEN YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THINGS,
THINGS YOU LOOK AT CHANGE
Monday, 30 August 2010
1 always shop on line using esayfundraising.com and designate St Magnus Lerwick as your target for funds. It really is easy peasy because Rachel (the treasurer)says so.
2. Telephone me and buy a rafel ticket (to be drawn on Sept 26th) it is only five pounds a book and you can give me the money when I see you!! (a bargain)
The Sermon..... for what it is worth!!!
Last week The Leader of the Synagogue was indignant, and the crowds ended up rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing.
This week we have moved on and hear a story which Jesus tells. A story we have turned into a sort of comment on society and the haves and have nots etc, though I now see this as a story about our attitude tro God not at all about our attitude on behaviour in society.
I am particularly struck by peoples unusual reactions to Jesus as I read the gospel accounts
Just a small survey:
On Monday I discovered that Legion bowed down before him, yet the crowds were afraid.
On Tuesday a woman could not bear the thought of a direct approach and so she sneaked a touch amongst a crowd of people. And then soon she felt fear.
Then we see the crowds laughing at Jesus because they just didn’t believe what he was saying.
On Wednesday I met people who were simply astounded at what Jesus had to say, but couldn’t take it in because they had seen him grow from a boy before them and they just thought “we have him taped”
Then I came across people who just couldn’t believe no matter what Jesus did so he had to use his friends to get the message across.
I was struck by all these reactions because tradition might suggest that Jesus was instantly likeable, that we would be immediately drawn to him, and that we would understand his message directly. We still today sometimes feel that if we read some words apparently spoken by Jesus we will warm to them and take them to heart.
A sort of cosy image of Jesus really goes out of the window when you read the stories…. I had just never noticed it especially before.
It is curious to ponder that Jesus could not minister to some people, so much so that he had to send disciples instead.
It has made me wonder if we honestly allow people to feel all these different reactions to Jesus today, and what would happen if we did. Do we expect everyone to react the same as ourselves? Do we recognise that even amongst us here there will be people who react differently.
Maybe there have been times we have simply been afraid of him. What is our reaction when we do not understand him? How many times have we wanted to drum him out of town?
It is also extremely interesting to think about the role his friends might have in making the message acceptable and clear. Perhaps we have seen the disciples as acting as mere assistants whereas when you read the gospel if they hadn’t gone out then the message would simply not have been sown. What does that teach us about the church today I wonder?
I have started to wonder what my reaction to Jesus might be under different circumstances. When I am feeling stressed and under a cloud I rather like to hear him saying to me “be calm”, but I know that at other times I may be fearful of what Christ might wish of me at other times. When I feel angry at what has happened I might even feel like making him the scapegoat.
One thing that is certain and that is our reaction, whether it be love or hate does not stop him loving.
Even when his friends rejected him, were fearful of being associated with him, even when they openly denied him, he was still there for them.
Perhaps you might think about your reaction too during this week, and when you hear a gospel story, notice what is happening?
The picture at the church door is of Joanne from Bongo in Ghana. She is visiting Shetland at the moment and St Magnus has recently helped support her in her education. Peter Davis is also in the picture and has set up Project Bongo (as a charity) to support this work to blossom.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
words from Hookers Ecclesiastical polity 16th Century stuff.
Shared with me by my friend Tom Shepherd when I started reading theology at Manchester and which I have had with me ever since
Thank you Tom
Monday, 23 August 2010
Is God a habit?
I continue to ponder on this question…
Do we turn to God at certain times in our lives simply out of habit and “addiction”? Are some people more preconditioned ?
This week we had someone distressed in church who lit all the candles, said prayers, smashed a few things and left. We have the place open for people to express their feelings and this person went wild,(like we all might do from time to time) we leave the place open... so we are vulnerable to abuse. Being open is exactly that.... vulnerable.
Do we have a particular image of God which suits us, which is perhaps different from another persons?
Freud wrote a book “The future of an illusion” which my friend Martin sent to me to read a while ago. I do not recommend it! He thinks basically that Religion (ie God) is fairly pointless and is explained as something to do with how we are preconditioned through our distant relationships with Father figures down the ages, and in our own lives.
I am sure we must not be afraid of such difficult and challenging questions. However such questions come to us, we must realise that God has been challenged since day one. You and I might feel rocked and pushed but personally I think there is still something to hold on to, even if we cannot so easily sometimes explain it, for good or ill.
The challenge to God is as old as the trees… well almost!
“We can eat everything except…… or we will die”
“No you will not…. God got that wrong.
The Bible has many examples where “God says one thing” and the people do another… indeed this is almost what the whole bible is about.
The New Testament opens its pages with the new “Word” and still we find the people calling out against it when it doesn’t appear that the message was what the people really wanted.
“Did you think I came to bring Peace?” Are we mature enough to be able to accept the message which God really has for the world.
I heard someone saying this week, “you can go so far but there must be limits…..” Jesus said we must forgive .
I have found it very difficult this week to say the Lords Prayer because of this question of forgiveness.
Jesus also said we must go out of our way to help people in distress, but how easy is it to hedge our response to this? (plenty of excuses not to.)
The presence of God in our midst continue to challenge us, even you and I who actually believe “Faith” and belief and Love and God are significant to us.
Perhaps we should not be so scathing on people like Richard Dawkins (who was apparently on TV again this week) and Sigmund Freud?
Am I a God near by, and not a God far off? Says the Lord. Who can hide in secret places? So asks Jeremiah in Today’s reading. The people struggled with the thought of God being still close to them when they were far from home.
In the Psalms of the exile they asked each other “how can we sing the Lords Song in a strange Land?”
The people of God had got so used to the thought that God dwelt with them in their Land that when the Land was far away they began to wonder if God was far away too.
God and the Land went together. (do we think the same with God and the Church? Or even God and the church building?)
Gradually their habit of thinking of God in these ways had to be challenged and changed.
The epistle to the Hebrews gives a brief history of how faith has changed the way of believing and living, and concludes for us that since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses we must let go of the things to which we cling and which cling to us and hold us back.
We are urged to run with perseverance.
Today we still do challenge God and God I am sure challenges us (I know he challenged me and I equally know I sometimes try to hide in my secret places)
I also believe that any relationship with God is precisely that “a relationship” and this has to be lived out in a day to day living. The witness of Faith down the ages will I believe always challenge and convert too.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
We had a chill out party at the Rectory for the survivors of the Annsbrae Fete. Not all the staff could come but it was great fun. The Fete was a huge success and over 700 pounds was raised to supplement our work. It was exhausting though!!
Here are some pictures of the gathering. I could hardly wish to work with a finer bunch of people, I feel so fortunate to be part of this brilliant team of people.
In a few weeks I am going to get my manager Muriel to speak at St magnus about our work at Annsbrae.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord….. all very aplaudable, all very well, but we must not forget something.
We hear a lot about Mary’s devotion, her assumption, her saintliness, the way which she is seen down the ages as a God bearer but what about her fear?
Yes, Mary was filled with fear, we here what are familiar words on the lips of Gabriel…. Do not be afraid.
It is a natural reaction and one perhaps we should be more willing to own up to in our faith and in our believing.
We are told in the bible not to be afraid more than any other action…. It is the most popular commandment. Some how though it seems God may recognise our humanity we sometimes do not!
The disciples were also filled with fear from time to time, not least in the accounts of both crucifixion (natural maybe) but also resurrection.
It is not unusual to be filled with a sense of real fear, a dark cloud may descend on us, a mire, a complete losing of a sense of direction, a sense of abandonment. Many things can cause this…. A change, a death, an illness, a seperation, a divorce, a disaster….. many things.
The feeling can even come about by the result of things that may on one level seem happy… a birth, an adoption, moving to a new home, getting married.
In short fear can accompany most times of living. For some it may be more significant than others. We are not all the same.
Strange also but God is sometimes the cause of this fear…which is perhaps why his messengers and even himself often say “Do not be afraid.”
We need to hear these words… do not be afraid I have not left you
Do not be afraid I am with you in your trials.
As I said even the disciples were huddled in fear after the resurrection…. Even the Day of Pentecost had the accompanying words do not be afraid.
For Mary the key to fear was belief. She was able we learn through quiet dedication to put herself into God’s hands, even though she was not sure where this would lead.
For Jesus, the key to fear was again belief… He put his trust in God into your hands I commit my spirit…. He came through the suffering.
For us too I suspect the key to our fear is again belief. Belief and faith in God who never leaves us, whether we look on the crucified or the risen
So today we hold Mary in our thoughts…. Though she proclaimed that her soul delights in God, it was not without holding on to and seeing beyond the fear. We cannot just sweep it under the carpet..
God still says to us “Do not be afraid”
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Do not be afraid little flock… it is the fathers pleasure to give you the kingdom.
George Appleton wrote Journey for a soul in 1976, here he wrote “ The Kingdom of God was the main subject of the early preaching of Jesus. He claimed that in himself the kingdom had drawn near, was in operation, and he called to men to accept this fact in faith and to change their attitudes, behaviour and world view. Many of his parable dealt with the meaning of the kingdom, as if he were wanting to ensure that those who could not at first understand would remember one vivid human story, and that one day the penny would drop.”
As you may know I am a great fan of St Francis of Assisi. A saint of some magnitude and one who is well known for all sorts of reasons.
St Francis is often described as a saint for our modern age and certainly many are moved today by his example.
Without going into long biographical detail, Francis journey to canonization began when he held on to something ultimately simple, “it is the fathers pleasure to give you the kingdom”
Francis realized that the church of his day had apparently made the kingdom a complicated thing, and had put it apparently beyond the common folks grasp unless they had peculiar access to the church via the priest. The church held the keys to the kingdom and it was not about to share them.
Francis set about living very simply to the words found in the gospels, and the “rule” that he compiled for his followers was basically a few chosen words form the gospels, and all simple words of Jesus. Poverty and simplicity being the groun rules for his method of living.
In this day and age some people still behave as if Living the Kingdom was a difficult and onerous task, and one which is heavily administered by the church (authorities)
Of course you and I know differently.
Why do you and I come to church then? Is it necessary?
Partly yes and partly no.
Some people might say that those who come to church are doing so to fill a gap in their lives. (As if having a gap was a negative thing and it was being filled with something that sounds pseudo) Well I guess the same could be true of any sort of activity, from playing bridge, playing golf, or just going to a bar and drinking with friends.) In this respect we are all of us all the time filling gaps with things.
For me coming to church is a time when I meet with other folk who also in some ways believe that God has a part to play in the life of the world (not a gap filler, god of the gaps stuff. And in meeting with like minded people (like joining a golf club) our game is improved, our relationship with God is improved, and our love for God and one another is also improved.
Of course the way we might to these things vary, from drinking coffee to sitting in silent prayer, to receiving Gods love through physical things like bread and wine.
We may come to church because we are used to it, it may have become a habit, but this may not be a bad thing at all.
We are here because we recognise something of God here and not just here but within ourselves and each other. This is a very liberating thing to do.
Sometimes we do not know what we are are going to discover when we come here, even when we can say the liturgy is the same often.
Understanding that Gods love actually lives inside each one of us, releases us from the thought that the church might hold the essential key, and in the end we realise like Francis that God has given us all the keys.
Having the keys ourselves means that we can duly feel quite excited about the part we play in the kingdom. Each of us are part of what we are doing here. Each of us is responsible.
The word Liturgy, as I think I have explained before means “the work of the people”. It is very important to begin to realise that indeed we all play a part not just in living Kingdom lives but also here in our weekly worship together and at any time we gather for prayer.
Often there may be a leader of the worship, who is designated sometimes president, the one who presides, but without everyone else the activity is almost worthless.. In our tradition we play our part in every way possible, in singing together, in standing and sitting together, in praying together both out loud and in silence, in listening together and in responses. We are always playing a part, even in the Eucharistic prayer which is OUR great prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Filled with the bread and wine of the kingdom, fired up with love for God and each other, we are then ready to take this Kingdom and God into the worlds in which we live, and just sometimes nobody needs to know what love fires our hearts as we know ourselves that is God we serve and whose kingdom we dwell in. (What I think I mean here is that we do not often need to make anyone feel awkward about us being Christian….)
Again coming back to Francis…. Go and preach the gospel… and only if necessary use words!
George Appleton again, “ The Kingdom is something within you which has the power of growth like a seed, something that you discover almost accidentally. Something that you are searching for, and of whose value you become more confident and excited as the search proceeds, and you discover truer and lovelier things which are constantly being surpassed.”
We had a great time after church today as a small group descended on trhe Rectory Garden to hack back overgrown undergrowth. Strimmers and mowers, saws and all sorts of stuff set about trying to tame the jungle.
The BBQ was well deserved and even Eli liked that bit! The garden is finally beggining to take some shape.
Young and old, two legged and four legged friends enjoyed a warm afternoon with no rain. A BBQ was part of the plot, and of course various stops for tea and coffee along the way too.
The little dog is called Poppy and Eli just finds her so much fun. The other black labrador is called Charlie, and Eli loves having fun and games with Charlie.
Monday, 26 July 2010
Well yes I am still here as you can see and I am now fully inducted as the Rector. Here is a pictures from the service held at St Magnus in Lerwick. Things are going really well.
I have now fully moved into the town now and live at the Rectory just behind the church, the closest I have ever lived to "the shop". The house needs ahuge amount doing to it and I suspect it is going to be cold and damp in the winter! I hope to be able to open the two fireplaces and get the chimneys dried out which could well help all sorts of things. There is a huge damp patch over my bed in the bedroom which might go once a fire is lit below. The windowes are mostly rotten and do not open so ventilation is challenging.
Eli has now survived two kennel visits and he seems to be ok with that experience which is a good thing.
Last weekend was Simon's graduation in London and I will post a picture of that in the next post.
Monday, 5 July 2010
I have also had two days of induction services and legal paraphinalia. (probably spelt wrong)
Any way everything is going pretty well really but i am tired too. Last week saw me three times on Yell.
We have had many cruise liners in to Lerwick and there are lots of holiday makers around too.
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Otherwise known I think as Kennels. Eli is about to experience the dog house for the first time, as I am leaving him here to go south to Telford and Cambridge for a few days.
We had a great birthday party for him the other day, and went out to supper too. so he had a great 5th birthday. It was just a little unfortunate that the restaurant didn't take dogs and the party he only saw the beginning of before being taken back to bed for the rest of it.... any way I had a good time on his behalf, so that counts.
I am taking an empty car down in order to bring it back full of things I left behind in November.
Needless to say I shall be away from the computer for 10 days.
Monday, 31 May 2010
I know it has been some time since I updated this but I have been pretty busy with one thing and another. A week last Friday I had another interview for part time work and I was succesful in being invited to be the rector of St Magnus in Lerwick and St Colman in Yell. These are the Episcopal churches on Shetland and the most northerly anglican churches in Great Britain. (Is this where someone says I have gone right to the top!!!?)
I am thrilled with this appointment, and pretty amazed really as it came at almost the moment I had decided they were never for me. It does mean that I will be moving into the heady bright lights of Lerwick over the next few weeks. The house on Burra will be set back to holiday and friend use as soon as I can. I will also have a spare room in Lerwick which will be nice too.
They cannot afford a full time post so I will be carrying on with the care work which I am enjoying and driving the minibus from time to time for Walter and Joan, this will give me 100% and a pension comes with the new post too.
All this comes also at the time the congregation are about to move back into the church building having been having their service in the church Hall for the past 9 months. In fact ths Sunday I will be leading them back in.
The New Bell which Simon and I watched being cast just before I left Cambridge is here as you know and tomorrow I am helping to put it into the tower of St Magnus. Also quite "coincidental".
I am sorry it has taken time to get around to updating this but that about brings us two speed so far. Here is Eli on Burra a couple of days ago, and an image of the new home soon to be in Lerwick..
Friday, 7 May 2010
Getting on into May now and today the sun even felt warm at times. Off to Yell on Sunday again, after last weeks cancellation due to Ferry problems. I am still keeping busy with one thing and another and time seems to shoot by.
The Sun is creeping around the horizon now before it sets and the views are often stunning. We now have a good seven hours more daylight then at the back of November.
Simon has started his finals now so it is a tense time for him. Hannah is fine and getting one well in her work. She is off mountain biking in Wales this weekend.
It was good this week going to hear Ann Cleeves in Lerwick Library. It was very full and the fiddle player Chris Stout was excellent. She read bits from each of her Shetland saga. She hinted that there may be other books set here in the future even if in a different saga.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Some of you may know that I like cheese scones. (Skon,skoon,skOne.) Wars have been fought I believe over the pronunciation of these objects, but I am informed they hail from Scotland. Today I decided that rather than just eating the Peerie Shop Cafe's all the time I would have a go at making some of my own. I sought advice from various quarters and naturally got varied and even conflicting advice. Eggs or no eggs, self raising or plain, mustrad or not, baking powder or not, butter or margarine or oil or buttermilk or yoghurt or cream.......!! Even the temperature of the oven was debatable. All in all everything to play for and all sorts of places to slip up.
I bought some weighing scales and some cutters from the delightful Harry's in Lerwick. Lerwicks version of Harrods they say.... buy at the top they say.
I set about throwing various items in the bowl and somehow it seems to have come together. The picture is the final result and they were edible too. A verdict?.... very good! I enjoyed the game very much and can certainly repeat for when I have a cheese scone party.
Perhaps the most challenging time came in the end keeping Eli off them while they were cooling.
I then went down to the beech for a celebratory walk and managed to bump into (for the first time) a blog follower... wow! (great to meet you if you read this).
On another note, the placement student from Ireland who is with me for another two weeks is getting on fine and despite the volcano which messed up the beginning he is having a good time.
It is the Folk Festival here now and tomorrow I am off to one of the concerts, and on Wednesday I am going to hear Anne Cleeves talking about her new book.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Back in November in the East End of London, this bell was cast. I had the privelage of being there to see it. Now it has arrived in Shetland and is ready to be put in its place in the tower of St Magnus church..
The previous bell sounded truly abominable! Anything Whitechapel Foundry could make could only be an improvement. Well yesterday Lerwick rang out to the beautiful sound of a new bell, even if I was ringing it in a garage. There is even a new rope to go with it for when it gets into the tower..
Sorry Sylvia... I had to give this entry an appropriate title!!
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Sunday, 11 April 2010
As well as this new start I have enjoyed showing my friends sister and her son around on Monday, while my friend was working, and we all went to a beach too one evening for a picnic... yes the weather is warming up and I am writting this with the front door wide open and the sun streaming through the windows.
I have been out for supper twice, once at the indian restaurant and once at some new friends house.
Today has been another morning in Tifanies for breakfast followed by quite a full church including two other ministers, one of whom was up here on holiday with his family.
I am going to take advantage of this glorious day now and treat Eli to a good walk. He has been very patient this week sitting a lot in the car while I am at work and out visiting.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Once again it is Easter. A time when we reflect again on how we can truly live. I went for a walk today and was thinking about what I might say tomorrow at the Easter services and I realised again that coming to life can be a lifelong process. Having said that I do believe that this is the place for it to happen for me. I am reminded of a wonderful poem by RS Thomas here it is:
The Kingdom by RS Thomas
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
Yesterday I found something quite strange on my walk with Eli, a small pine cone. Goodness knows where it had come from to get to Burra, or indeed how it got here. I guess judging by where it was that it had been washed by the seas and blown onto to coast line. It was tight shut. It will take some time for it to dry out and open irtself ready to bring its full potential... all the seeds of life.
Easter Sunday sees breakfast at the Co-op to begin with and the morning service in Lerwick. Then it is off to Yell and a large ecumenical gathering on Yell later. Monday is hopefully quiet before I begin a weeks induction at the new job with the Mental Health services as relief care worker. Yet another option for the phone to ring offering work. It is all beginning to build up and holding together.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
The reason for the trip was a meeting to discuss Lay Reader Training with someone coming up from Mainland Scotland. There was also a special service in St Olaf's church in the evening where the oils were blessed. (an early Maundy Thursday service) It was great to be able to meet the episcopal clergy on Orkney and also to meet the person from the Reader training.
Everything went well and I even had time and opportunity for som sight seeing. I went to the Italian Chapel built by prisoners of war in the second world war out of two old nissan huts and marvelously painted and kitted out. (pictures included.) I saw Scapa flow and the Churchhill barriers built by the same prisoners of war. I saw various stone circles which were amazing. A great cafe in St Margaret Hope, I saw Stromness and South Ronaldsay.
Eli was looked after by my nighbour and he had a great time too by all accounts.
I also saw St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, a sort of miniature Durham Cathedral and very well preserved and maintained.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
and I have to put up with these views. I put it here so that you can all see what I mean.
I had a good afternoon and evening on Yell again last weekend, and despite the local news telling me about unruly disturbances on Yell I do not think they were referring to St Colmans Mothering Sunday service, though we did get quite a crowd..
I have been asked to go into Walter and Joan Gray home tomorrow and I have Crossroads work on Friday so this wek will end up not being so bad really. I had a another Crossroads client yesterday and we went swimming again. I enjoy this as you feel you are really making a difference.
Today I am going over to Bressay again to visit a couple of folk.
No news yet about my boots but I had to get a new inner soul (sic!) the other day for my wellington boots because I ended up getting so soaked when I tried and failed to get a huge trunk of wood out of the water. It was fun trying and Eli just watched. So all in all you could say my soul(s) is being refreshed.
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
I am taking another funeral on Friday and services in a care home up north tomorrow. This week is certainly hectic. Off to Yell on Saturday for a meeting and for lunch, Eli will come too of course.
I took some photos yesterday and today. The skies can be very dramatic no matter what the weather. The lone fisherman tending his creels had a radio palying which was co clear over the calm water. Eli is seen watching on too. The evening light today was very calming.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Today was supposed to be a little better but the opposite is the case. The wind has picked up and the snow that was lying has drifted big time and now it is a white out outside with more snow falling too.
Fortunately I did get into tesco yesterday when the roads were better and get food for both me and Eli so we will not starve.
The already delayed Burns night supper I was going to on Friday night has been postponed again
I now have yet another "disclosure" ("CRB check" in english) so my application to be added to the teacher supply bank and additional supports bank can be processed now, this may open up another avenue for income. If not at least I have wallpaper!
Once I have got over the fact that there is no going out, and convinced Eli of the same too, it is fine here with the warm glow of the fire and some good books and poems to indulge in. so here we go....
Monday, 22 February 2010
Well is is Hannah's birthday today and all the plans to chat on line to her this morning and wish her a Happy Birthday went out of the window when we had a power cut. Eevn the mobile phone was unable to pick up a signal outside in all the usual places so I can only suppose that te power to the mobile phone masts was also affected. Well any way later in the morning I did manage to get her on the mobile so greetings were sent!
It has been a little while since I last wrote on the blog, I am sorry about this it is not really because I had nithing to say, more the point that I had little time to get down and write it.
The induction days at the Walter and Joan Gray home have gone well, and I even managed to meet some of the people in between reading countless policies and Health and Safety guff. I have some more induction days this week too.
Ash Wednesday went well and we were able to go outside for the bonfire. I had thought maybe the weather would close in on us, but it held off just at the right moment. Funeral preparations went well and the funeral itself on Friday went well, though not without incident! The sun shone wonderfully however despite being blizzards for some in the morning.
We have been plagued with passing snow showers which seem to hit some places but not others. Yesterday I had to quickly evacuate from Yell when the snow came in very quickly and 2 inches fell in half an hour. It was tricky getting back to the ferry but I had a laugh too as the sheep looked like mobile snow balls.
Today it has been pretty poor weather, I did manage a walk in the snow with Eli this afternoon and discovered that my "art creation" (inspired by environment and society) was even better once the good man had dusted it. So I took a picture for you.
I am tempted to do some more of this on my walks, but they do take some time.
I had an interview on Saturday, and I have just heard that they woukd like me to be on their relief list of carers. (another relief list!) Once all the paperwork is completed and yet another disclosure has been completed I am to attend a weeks induction. (This is beginning to sound familiar!) I did enjoy the interview though and it went well. I am however pretty busy with one thing or another and juggling all the little pieces can be tricky. I have already had to try and swap one thing with another to fit two things in. It would seem I will just have to put up with juggling things for a few month more yet
Next week I start on the residential homes circuit... Each church takes a turn to lead a service and needless to say the "pisckies" play their part. Strangley in a few weeks I am down for one at the Walter and Joan, so that will be strange.
Well I will go and catch my tea now!
Saturday, 13 February 2010
It would seem that I have my first Shetland funeral to look forward too. Someone I have known for a while actually so that is nice to be able to help in this way for the family. He died peacefully at home this morning. Mind you with the church out of action for some months yet owing to the discovery of major work needed in addition to the already major restoration completed (you know how these projects have a habit of throwing up the unexpected?)I wonder where the funeral might actually take place. We shall see.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
I spent today working on Bressay the island opposite Lerwick. It was a lovely day and Eli and I went for a walk along the east coast.
The cliff scenery is stunning there but I forgot to take the camera out of the car so you can only see later pitures.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I took the camera out this morning on our morning walk. If you see the video clip I am sorry about the background noise I could not do anything about it at all! Something to do with the way the waves were moving over the nearby rocks. Any way here are some still pictures too for you to enjoy. I will try to add more of Eli on his page too.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Last Tuesday I started my "Moving and Handling" training and after the demonstration and talk through I was asked to pick up the box.... I was suddenly aware that I did not know how to do it! There followed two days of briefing and demonstrating and lots of practice on how to move people safely from one place to another. I am sure I cannot remember it, but I am told that at first I will be with someone anyway to refresh my memories.
Tomorrow I have my first "official" Crossroads visit.
Yesterday was a Yell Day again, and I have begun working with the "Readers in training" there. This should proove interesting and I will look forward to helping them in their two year training course as a local tutor. At least I get paid a little for this work.
Today I have been asked to go to Orkney for a day meeting (expenses paid) so that is nice. A trip to somewhere I have wanted to visit. I get to stay in a hotel too!!! What is more I have also been asked if I will go over to the "Skerries" to lead worship in the church there (Church of Scotland). That will be very interesting if it comes off. It seems not many people are too keen to go over there to lead a service. I may find out why!
Sunday, 31 January 2010
Any way here is the address I presented this morning at St Magnus
Here we are
The end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.
The feast of the presentation brings to a conclusion the Christmas season in which we have traced the revelation and manifestation of God and His love in the person of Jesus.
From his birth narratives, the worship of the shepherds the glory of the humble manger bed, through the manifestation to the world in the persons of the magi who brought their three mysterious and meaningful gifts which were signs of things to come, to the baptism which set the seal of the kingdom on him and sent him to his ministry among Gods people, through the signs and wonders which further highlighted the glory of God in Jesus, and now back to the child being presented to the Lord at the Temple according to Jewish customs.
It has all be set before us, we too have been presented with the person.
But the conclusion of Christmas is but the beginning of Lent and so another cycle in the church year begins and our faith stories are woven into it all.
Like the Roman God Janus from whom this month of January gets its name, we look back and forth. Over the old and into the new at the same time.
The gift …. The ability to see both directions at once, the before and after, forward and backwards. Is one of the things which marks us in humanity. Perhaps it makes us special.
Simeon sees the beginning when Mary and Joseph bring the baby to the Temple. It is something he has been waiting and longing for… the redemption of Gods people. And in Christ he sees the beginning of this moment, and in so doing he is made ready for his own end.
In seeing Christ the redeemer he is filled with Peace and ready for his journey to continue.
The presentation is the hinge point and from the manger bed we look to the grave beside Calvary. The manger turns to the cross and yet in all the squalor of both stable and Golgotha we see God and recognise his presence.
It is now the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This place has become the focus of that most dreadful of events seen in modern Europe this last century. It is impossible to recognise what must have happened, what must have been endured there and in other such places. Yet even here in the lives of the survivors and their stories we can recognise the face of God, the glorious face which beats down oppression with divine love shining through.
Three weeks since the earthquake in Haiti
There is nothing which Gods love cannot reach into and redeem.
The film directed by Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ” controversial when it was released but non the less fascinating. Those of you who have seen it will recognise the way Mary travelled all the way to the cross alongside her son. It was one of the most moving aspects of the film. In all the horror unfolding there was that simple and wonderful witness of love, “near the cross stood Mary”
The moment the spear pierced Christ was also the time Mary felt the pain of birth all over again, birth brought life, and yet his death also brought life again. The events of the Garden of Eden, in traditional understanding, have been undone in Christ, we enter again the garden which God has planted, and from which we were banished, through the death of Jesus.
Mary becomes the link of continuity between the beginning and the end. She holds it all and presents it to us.
Christ is presented to us. We too who have been waiting for the signs of God’s love. We too, ho have been waiting for that moment of recognition, are presented with the sign of hope. We come to recognise God’s promise of healing and wholeness, that for which we all deep down yearn for.
And so we stand at the junction again, The beginning lies behind, the future lies in front, we see both ways and are blessed in the middle.
Standing in the middle may at time be a bit bewildering, like wondering which way is really up? We may feel disorientated and we might wonder which direction is best.
But we can actually only go forward. God may have blessed the past with signs of his glory but it is to the future he leads us now. We cannot and must not live in the past.
But the future is again uncertain, pain and passion lie ahead for sure. But all this with God.
Of course we do look back, often it was good. Like the grieving husband or wife looking back on great memories and all that has brought them and carried them. The past may indeed carry us and inform us. We may even God willing learn from past mistakes.
But we go forward there is to be found our further healing, the moments we are once again made whole in Christ.
Eventually we come with Simeon to our own moment of presentation and we pray that with him we too can say “ now let your servant go in peace for mine eyes have seen the salvation of God”
God bless us as we walk the way to Jerusalem, the way the death and life.
It made me wonder something. If I had been waiting for many years for a revelation from God, and then one day I believed without doubt that I had experienced it, … what would I do?
What might I expect to happen next?
How might I feel?
Should I tell anyone?
The gospel of Luke deliberately puts the story into the birth stories, which have been emphasising the action of God breaking into the world. It wasn’t just Anna and Simeon who drifted back into obscurity… what about the Shepherds too at least.?
And Luke continues his revelation of Jesus Christ with the story of Jesus again in the Temple when he was 12 and then jumps to John also recognising him before he begins his unmistakable public ministry.
Luke unfolds time and time again how God is at work in Christ both in teaching and miracles (signs that the Kingdom of God had indeed come) He shows the death and resurrection as the way in which God’s Glory is shown in Christ and how his power is displayed.
We become witnesses to all this by virtue of reading his account. Luke has intended that we too are moved to realise what we have seen or heard about in our midst. And then comes his finale, and looking at his gospel again this week I felt particularly moved to realise that it was not until the end of the gospel that Luke seems to assume that the disciples are now going to be the witnesses to all this (as he has unfolded it) The final discourses that Luke puts between the risen Lord and the disciples are all about recognising Jesus again in their midst, (just like the birth stories) the breaking of bread in Emmaus the women at the tomb, and then the time of Ascension when Jesus leaves them specifically as witnesses to all this.
Their response was to spend all their time in the Temple praising God…. and so Luke puts his pen down….
that is until he picks it up again and documents something of this witness in the Acts of the Apostles. It was as if he had written “The Story” on volume one and, “the consequences” on volume two.
So the fact that we hear nothing more of Shepherds and Anna and Simeon doesn’t matter so much. What matters is what the story means to us, for we are now the witnesses of it. It is little use blaming the witnesses of the past, we must recognise God in our midst for ourselves and then become witnesses to even that.