Saturday, 30 October 2010

Beware of the Ginger!

I am more than a little amused at the mess Comrade Deputy Chairperson Harrhumanoid (yer unoriginal Public School socialist wot sends her progeny to fee paying educational establishments) has got herself into over her jest about the Chief Secretary to the Treasury's auburn hair and Highland roots... It's not like her Party wasn't led to successive Electoral routs by a carrot topped Welsh peer and former Eurocrat/gravy train passenger is it?  Or that the only Blairite Cabinet member with the guts and integrity to resign rather than go through with the decision to invade Iraq was a Scottish ginger?  Or that it was a red headed Hieland alky who kept hammering their tails and costing them votes for years on the same topic? The poor wumman perhaps has reason to be cheesed off at the mighty legion of Scottish gingers - but she should have know that going for them is to invite a mighty and vicious response.  Billy Bremner of blessed memory springs to mind.  And to do it in Oban - well, look what happened to the Duke of Edinburgh when he commented on the Teuchter's drinking habits to a driving instructor!  She's obviously not going to live in No 10!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday gloomies!

Not so good news, as the delightfully funny Gerard Kelly (City Lights and many a Scottish panto) has died at the tragically early age of 51:

Still, it could be worse: we could live somewhere where "a learned judge" allows a geriatric to sue a 6 year old for running into her on her push bike with stabilisers: Here the law is plainly an ass!  To say nothing of the judge!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Holy, Holy ... the ref's blind!!

Well, it just goes to show that it's not all doom and gloom in the Holy Land! See this for a wee smile!

Monday, 25 October 2010

That's one heck of a cutback! Not!!

The Heil on Sunday is suggesting that the Diocese of Bradford (which describes as "historic" despite it being  a post WW 1 creation - in Church terms, it's a double glazed conservatory, not a historic monument!) might be merged due to cutbacks. See

So why did they start interviewing for a Bishop a month or two back?  I'm not much bothered really, as all Bradford gave the Church was the Bishop who let the cat out of the bag about Wallis Simpson and a Randy (allegedly) Dean of Lincoln. (Well, also the saintly Fr Ralph Crowe of St Chad's Manningham - one of the few saint's trained at Coates Hall ever).  I think the Heil on Sunday and it's weekday stable mate is fit only to wrap chips in - I mean remember Jan Moir's vile article on Stephen Gately.  Trust it not on Church matters!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hosting the stranger.

We have a wee Ghanaian priest staying with us just now (well, he's shorter than I am, so wee is an accurate word!) and in the absence of other community members it fell to me to do the hosting this morning.  Andrew brought him to church and I took over socialising after Mass and fed him bacon rolls at lunchtime.  Poor soul, he's rather homesick, distinctly cold and a wee bit ill at ease having been shuffled around 3 churches on placement, with no set "home" for 3 months.  This has not been desperately well planned, as we only knew he was coming on Friday night and he knows who's coming to uplift him tomorrow but not where he's going to stay.  Which adds to the uncertainty, sense of dislocation and unease.  However, we chatted over lunch and he felt rather at home at St Michael's - the churchmanship being quite what he's used to!  Interestingly, he felt he could join in the liturgy here because a) we sang bits to Martin Shaw (which is almost Merbecke) and what they have in Ghana and b) the hymns were old favourite crowd pleasers!  We talked about the challenges music and hymns have made to mission and growth in Ghana.  The old UMCA style and A&M hymns have not really protected the Anglican Church in Ghana from the rise of Pentecostalism and worship that is more culturally and ethnically "African" - they are evidently moving on a bit on this, towards a more authentically Ghanaian liturgical style.  +Frank Weston of Zanzibar had the right idea all those years ago about growing an African Church in the African idiom and not importing Victorian Englishness wholesale.

What does that mean in Scotland?  Our liturgical style is pretty "Anglican".  We have our own distinctive Scottish liturgy (is that the same as distinctively Scottish?).  I suppose I tried for a degree of ethnic authenticity in Falkirk by increasing the use of the Roxburghe setting to Scottish folk tunes (and our default setting was James Macmillan - a Scot).  But I was always wary of descending into Scottish liturgical "kitsch" - metrical psalms, bagpipes at Mass and mitres with thistles on them (the Bishop as MacLeay's beer pump look!).  I'd argue that the Scots are a mongrel nation with a tradition of welcoming cultural variety and our worship ought to reflect that.  Wonder what anyone else thinks?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Birthday Report.

As I am trying to use up my annual leave, I took a week off to include my birthday. So, in the Octave of the Natal Festival I watched the Blue Brazil twice (lost to the evil Lino sniffers of Kirkcaldy, drew with the bottom of the table troglodytes from Greenock, despite having our goalie sent off after 7 minutes). I ate out 3 times (Italian with Rachel, Chinese with the community and Spanish with Mater), saw one show (Spamalot), 3 art galleries (Mod Art, the Dean and the National), 1 museum (St Mungo's) and slept and ate prodigiously!  The world has not ended, the sore mouth is gone and I'm back to work on Monday.  and I'm 43 sober and alive! That'll do nicely.

Friday, 15 October 2010

On the sick (ish) list

Yes, the old gob was still sore, so I called in sick and tried to see a dentist.  Mine being on holiday, that'll be Monday then.  I really just want to check it isn't infected.  In truth, it is less painful than it was, in as much as I have ceased swallowing the Paracetamol/Codeine tabs and switched to plain paracetamol and ain't withing in agony.  Instead I nipped over with a friend to Midday Prayer and Mass at Roslin where we prayed in a holy garden shed with oodles of ikon's and bucket loads of silence.  A real discovery for me. And some interesting bits and bobs too: secondary relics of Charles De Foucauld, the blood of the Cure d'Ars in the altar.  I took a very secular offering of Potted Hough to lunch which made a nice change from the cheese!  it was nice to pray in our own Holy Hut in the evening, doing Night Prayer from the SSF Office.  Mind you, we could do with more ikon's!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

This week's days off (Contd)

All that rushing about was not such a cunning plan.  I made it to the bone cruncher via the Car Phone Warehouse (my old Nokia 5310, which has done sterling service, was not always locking, so it was a £20 trade in and a funky new X 2 in my jacket pocket!).  My nice Aussie chiropractor is heading back to Brisbane on Guy Fawkes Day, so I will have to get used to a new bone mangler - but the big Boss of the firm himself is taking over, so my spine will hopefully be in good hands!  I'm very sorry to see Scott go, but hope he will meet with well deserved success when he starts his own practice Down Under!

On return to da House, I sort of crashed and then got dead grumpy as the fang gap got rather sore.  Indeed, wur Chaplain pointed out it wasn't good form to go "zonk" in front of guests!  And just to skip out of dinner without excusing yourself!  (That's very Aspergers btw!)  Biting back a crabbit "I'm tired and in pain - sod the social niceties!" response, I nodded and took his advice ("You look really rough and in genuine pain - stop fighting it, go to bed!").  Which was OK until 2am, when the pain woke me up.  Some painkillers and a cup of Redbush Tea later, I returned to the Pit and stayed there until after breakfast.  So I caught 10 hours Zzz and feel slightly perkier.  We'll see how it goes.  My Friday/Saturday shift is a 3-11, sleep over, then a 7am-2pm stint.  If I'm not in too much pain I'll do it but if tomorrow morning I'm still swallowing analgesics, then I'll call in sick.  I haven't had a single day off on the sick since starting, so I have the days available.  And coping with our 5 service users at the time of day when I seem to flag might not be good for anyone!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

This week's days off..

..are a pain. Due mainly to a visit to the tooth puller who pulled one yesterday.  Mercifully, the bleeding stopped quickly and the painkillers are pretty efficient!  This morning saw a quick arrangement of meetings with Ma and the Chiropractor, a trip to the jewellers to get my signet ring repaired (Samuel's made a mess of it ages ago) and some shopping. This afternoon it's off to the chiropractor, a haircut and shave and book a table for my birthday outing with Rachel to Spamalot at the Playhouse.  I need a good Italian on Leith Walk - and Mum can't remember the name of the good one she goes to!  Have a wee lurk I will!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Back in one piece!

That may be a puzzling title: after all, I am a veteran of long haul flights to San Francisco and Kampala, I have braved the Ugandan and Maltese bus services.  The London Tube and the Paris Metro phase me not , I have crossed the street in Rome (and lived) and I have crossed the Sound of Iona in a motor boat with no life jaiket!  A trip to Englandshire shouldn't hassle me, should it?  No indeedy - unless, of course, it involves meeting someones Mother!!!

Doubtless there is many a fella out there who has faced this trial by ordeal (anticipated) before me and who will recognise the nervousness and worry (Do I take a bunch of flowers - consultation suggested After Eights instead!).  The big question of course being: "Will she like me?".  I really would rather jump out of an aeroplane with a parachute again I thought.  However, we seemed to get on, no blood was shed (well, I am house trained!) and she didn't bite!  So I think that qualifies as a successful jaunt to Sub Tweedian Mater - there still remains Mater Supra Forth!  That'll be next week - if she's in the flipping country that is!

We lurked off to Church this morning.  There was a degree of negotiation involved.  Someone felt they maybe ought to go to their local Parish Church to fit into the community.  I am disinclined to endure Presbyterian worship voluntarily unless it's in the line of duty and/or I'm being paid to do it!  I really feel that English Anglicans resident this side of the Border should (where practical) beat a path to the altars of their Scottish fellow Anglicans and not join the Kirk just because it is the National Church.  So it was 5 miles up the road to Eyemouth and an enjoyable Eucharist with hymns (well belted out to a CD of organ music), a good sermon (hat tip to Jennifer - btw Elisha the Prophet was also in Samaria, not just the Leper) and just the right friendliness of welcome without gushing.  It was very good to see a small rural congregation with limited resources doing as good a job as they did on the worship.  What they did, they did well.  No overstrain with the music, clear audible reading, well constructed competent Lay led intercessions and a decent dignity of ritual without fussiness.  First class!  And I AM a noted critic of worship done badly!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Days of "Oh crap!"

Yesterday the front door at work was broken and I had to enter the building by climbing in the front window.  I was greeted by a service user asking when he'd be getting an MP3 player.  My reply was crisp  - "I've just climbed in the window - how am I supposed to know?" "Was that a stupid question?" "Yes".  Not a good start. So to today.  Having lost a filling a day or two back, it was off to the dentist who banged in a temporary one, but suggested that it might not be re-fillable and might require extraction:-(.  I returned home to find my assistant had left the soup on a high heat and it was somewhat burnt.  It's one of those bits of life that slightly try us.

My Rector is to be the next Bishop of Argyll and all Sheepdom.  Which he will be good at and will bring a disciplined, clear headed and ruthless ability to reflect on the way ahead to the task.  Romantic Celtic-ness is not always the strength a Bishop needs.  Nor indeed a diocese with no money and damn few clergy.  I wonder what joys and challenges an interregnum will bring?  It's been a long time since I've been part of a congregation that is going through one.  I've caused them and filled them but this is a new experience for me!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A Sermon for Trinity 18 year C

Sermon for 2nd October 2010 Good Shepherd Murrayfield.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” 2 Tim 1:6 (New American Bible)

Once upon a time (I trust this is a suitable beginning for a sermon!) not so very long ago, this text would have been preached on in both the RC and the Episcopal Churches as either (or both) an affirmation or a defence of the 3-fold Apostolic ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon – and ya, boo, sucks to the Presbyterians!  It would also have been cited as being written by the apostle Paul himself.  I intend to do neither of those things.  Firstly, there are more New Testament scholars than not who think this is at the very best written by Paul’s post martyrdom disciples in the spirit of and in tribute to the Apostle. The phrasing’s all wrong and the language too different for it to be by the man himself.  Some would say that the references to Church order and structure mean it is really written in the early 2nd century AD.  Paul died in 67 AD; but that the 2nd letter to Timothy contains a number of bits and pieces from his actual writings and from very early Christian liturgies (v10 might be a quote from an early Eucharistic Prayer).

But why am I telling you all this?  What, in the immortal words of a wee Glasgow woman who went to St Ninian’s Pollokshields when I was a Curate there, has this got to do with the price of Spam in Govan?  I’m illustrating what the point of this Epistle is: using the gifts God has given us.  God gave me a brain and I can use it when I read the Bible and study the Scriptures.  Just because I believe in God and go to Church, I am not by pious custom or divine commandment required to check my mind in at the West Door! And neither are you!  I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I get really narked by the assumption both within the wider Church and in the non-God Bothering world that if you believe you have to be a credulous half wit who thinks that God dictated every word in the Bible by some form of ancient Dictaphone to the people who are named as the authors of the assorted bits of ancient literature that make up the Christian Holy Book. (The “I confess” by the way was an example of the sort of liturgical quoting that might have happened in verse 10!).

The gifts given us by the imposition of hands does not and cannot in the Church today refer exclusively to the ordained.  In our modern baptismal liturgies, hands are laid on, the baby or adult is anointed and the gift of the spirit is prayed for and given.  The comments attributed to Paul are properly addressed not just to the young leader of a young Church (Timothy) or even to Church leaders in general in every age – they are properly addressed to every single baptised Christian called by grace and the Holy Spirit.  In other words, to each and every person here today.

And they are challenging words indeed: we are reminded that we are not called to be cowering, timorous Church mice.  Because we have within each one of us the actual presence of Christ himself with whom we were joined in a spiritual and mystical union when we were baptised.  That gift may have lain dormant, it may never have expressed itself in anything other than quiet unostentatious faith and steadfast Christian loyalty, but it is a gift each one of us has.  Often we forget that.  We forget that Christ is part of us, especially when the  spiritual going underfoot is soggy to bloody difficult.  We forget to draw on his resurrection power, his grace and strength.  We need to hear that message today, so that we may truly live and serve – or rather, that Christ may really go on living and redeeming the world through us.

We are also challenged to follow the examples of the Great ones of God – like Paul, like John Henry Newman, like St Francis, whose Feast Day is tomorrow.  We can do worse than study the lives of God’s saints and draw inspiration from them.  Different ones will inspire different people. Some will not inspire us at all.  Personally, I cannot abide St Jerome!  The Scottish Prayer Book has a very apposite collect that sums this up nicely: it begins “O God the King of saints” and it has the neat phrase “inspired by their example and aided by their prayers” to sum up the usefulness of God’s saints for us today.

We are also encouraged to trust in the Grace of God: ”I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (v12).  Never mind Richard Dawkins and company, trust in God and Grace to win out in the end. The reference in verse 5 to Timothy’s mother and grandmother is significant here.  They were both Jewish born (you are Jewish if you mother is Jewish), yet must have been Christians (converts in others words).  Timothy is a Greek name so his mother probably married a Gentile.  Both would have been ostracised from their birth community of faith for apostasy and his mother doubly abhorred for marrying out with the accepted cultural norms of the day.    Yet they trusted and in due course they triumphed because the Grace of God surrounded them.  We too like them can learn to trust and to triumph.

The final challenge is for us to trust in the truth and power of the Gospel as it comes to us through the words of Holy Scripture.  “Take as your norm the sound words you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v13).  At a profound level, it is quite irrelevant when or by whom this epistle is written.  They are sound words expressing the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus and have been recognised as such within the Christian Community over the ages.  That is what matters.  They have spoken and continue to speak through the action of the Holy Spirit to faithful souls in every age and culture.  That is what makes them Scripture, not who wrote them or when or what bits were added on later by well intentioned editors or fans.  It is their power to speak to us and to inform us, guide us and even change our actions and our thinking that make them the Scriptures of God.  And it is their ability to draw us nearer to God and to make us more Christ like through Grace that makes them Holy.  May the holy and life-giving Word of God, the Christ himself, stir into flame the gifts that lie within each one of us, so that his will may be done and the Day of Glory may arrive.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A Late Extra!

I also came across this well written piece in the Guardian (I know well written and Guardian haven't always been linked since CP Snow retired but..). it's worth a shuftie on the Inclusivity of the C of E.

Mind you, when he mentions Communion tokens he's missed one thing.  Yes, we Piskies used them as did the Presbies.  But for us they were not about exclusion.  Being an illegal and penalised Church, they were a security measure to prevent Government spies from infiltrating Mattins and Ante-Communion during which we might be plotting the return of the King over the Water.  They were to keep us out of jail, not to keep us pure and undefiled!

Just sayin'!

One more day....

Not an entirely lousy day really.  I got further with one client today than the rest of the team has for a week. Well, I got him properly shaved (his sprouting 'tash was giving him the most uncanny resemblance to the late Freddie Mercury!) and he didn't create a riot on his return from shopping.  Mind you, we'd been telling the management for weeks we needed to take him out in the minibus not walk to the shops with all the traffic.  Finally, management did a couple of shifts with him and learnt the hard way that the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) weren't wrong.  We were cleared to bus him within 24 hours!  My Uncle the Sa'rant Major always said there was only one thing more dangerous than an Officer without a map - an Officer with one!

Back home I soaked in the bath, ate dinner and wrote a sermon.  It shall appear tomorrow.  Well, if you want to hear it you'll have to come to Murrayfield and I'm Press embargo-ing it until it has been preached!  The Mass is at 10am.  Time for bed said Zebedee!