Monday, 30 July 2012

away south on holiday

heading away for a few days break. All the way to Aberdeen then heading north again to Inverness. Hopefully will have some photos to post when I get back. Rachel is helping at a music festival and I am the moral support!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday 29th Sermon

St Magnus July 29th 2012

When reading the bible it is often helpful to read different versions of the passage. I have seen it happen that some of the greatest insights into a passage can be gained by sharing thoughts across different versions, and this can happen whoever you read it with.
The Jerusalem version of todays passage speaks “Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden strength to grow strong”  we get our “inner beings” being strengthened.
Rarely perhaps do people see us as we are. We reveal what we want to to others, we have a professional face, we dress according to the message we want to give off. Sometimes our hidden selves may cower in the corner even if our outward appearance seems strong..
A good example of this could be the bully in the class room or the bully at work. Evidence suggests that the bully often has a shadow side that is actually very insecure indeed.
Some of you know that I am a keen proponent of the Enneagram, this has helped me, and others, to better understand the true self. When I discovered that the person I really was a someone dominated by fear and insecurity, I found this quite scary at first. I do not often try to show this side and indeed others who know me well have been surprised to learn this about me. Having said that others who know and love me, do recognise this and I guess my mother and father recognise this most clearly of all as they have seen all my ups and downs. This is a wonderful thing to contemplate… awesome too really.
The hidden or “inner” being is that which sits just below the surface and it is part of the real person.
Being a Christian can never be “skin deep”. It is certainly easy enough to go through the motions, it is easy enough to come along on Sundays or when we choose, and think this is showing to the world that we are Christians, but is our hidden being being Strengthened?
The prayer today is that our faith, our life with God, is more than skin deep.
“that God may dwell in our hearts” is the call today, and that we are rooted and grounded in love.
Very tough words to actually live out.
The epistle also makes reference to the fact that every family has this same “Father”… Jew and Gentile, human divisions are broken down in the church, when it dwells rooted and grounded in love.
Families are not always the easiest place to grow up however. Robyn Skinner and Andrew Sachs wrote a book called “Families and how to survive them” back in the 80s.
Families are where we have some of our fiercest battles and the strong loving family is them one that recognises this pain and keeps on loving.
Needless to say our church family is also like this!
Is that something to be encouraged about or fearful!
The epistle next week continues to call us to live lives worthy of our calling. And the calling is one to unity.
The Olympics has finally begun (did you think I was not going to mention it?) and it is worth remembering why the Olympic games are so significant. The symbol of 1912 which we see as the five rings of today calls for unity and a bringing together of the world.
Athletes have been training to  extortionate levels in order to literally put themselves on the line. Thousands of hours every year have been put in just for a race that can last as little as 30 seconds. (Did some of you see the documentary about the 100 meters the other day, that race is even shorter and yet he winner is described as the fastest man on earth!
The dedication of the athlete was one which Paul even alludes to as a model for the Christian life. We ought to remember that as we watch the games.  
The gospel for today curiously jumps to John, even though Mark had a perfectly good story about the feeding of a multitude, though Marks story he only feeds four thousand people with seven loaves! We get the more familiar version of Five loaves and two fish.
For John the feeding of the five thousand represents the Eucharist. Bread and fish are for us bread and wine. John has already seen evidence of how Jesus feeds his people through this simple meal, The family meal we share together today. What is more, however it is shared it feeds the faithful, whether in a large cathedral, or small chapel, whether with thousands or with two or three… Jesus feeds us.
It is in feeding that we are nourished, it is in the family we learn to grow and be the people we truly are, it is through the family (hopefully) that our hidden and inner being is made strong.
This family gathers to the praise of the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth takes its name, and we pray together that we will be strengthened in our inner beings that we may become rooted and grounded in love, and that we can be seen to be worthy of this calling..and in this we may be filled with the fullness of God.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

What a summer?

It needs to be said that this year we have had little warmth..... even by Shetland standards! We have had some lovely bright days but often accompanied by northerly winds, and as you can imagine northerly winds are colder than southerly winds because they come to us first before being warmed up on their journey south to warm up England!!!! On similar grounds Southerly winds are warmer because of hot air brought north from below! (what this hot air is I will leave you to contemplate!)

Any way life carries on well for me here and I am getting more and more settled with my work pattern, though it is very exhausting at times! (some of my close friends here tell me I should slow down!) My work with Annsbrae now takes me right up to Unst on a regular basis. This is the most northerly island.

The puffins are here again at the moment, and they are a real delight to see.

I have an e mail from Rod Broker who is a reader of this blog, and he tells me that he is going to be visiting soon, so I look forward to meeting a reader! Rod tells me he is a "worker/priest" in the lutheran tradition.

Today I am using a Nave Altar for the first time here! (get ready for the outfall!) I am introducing this with a reading from my old friend and Spiritual counsellor Leslie Brown, who introduced the practice of facing west to the Eucharist to the Anglican tradition when he was in India in the 1940s. I am constantly indebted to Leslie for his support and friendship, and I still miss him.

The church council here (known as the Vestry) have suggested we try it out, so here goes. I a not sure we could keep it as a fixture due to the geography of the church and its inherent design, but at least we could use it from time to time maybe? Watch this space!

Today Rachel Jack and I are going to see the Seal Sanctuary up in Hillswick. It is a wet and horrible day at the moment so a journey in the car will be a welcome trip instead of walking. We recently walked to the top of a first world war lookout on Bressay and used the camping stove. Great fun for Jack even in the wind!

Eli and Leah continue to thrive, and are going into kennels again soon when Rachel Jack and I are away in Inverness on a short holiday