Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Saints tide.

After a very slobbish morning (snooze until the back of 10) I headed out with the honest intention of a country walk.  Rain stopped play!  So it was off to the Co-Op for a paper, collect the memsahib's prescription and a brunch of Welsh Rarebit (allegedly "a la Fortnums" but I've had Rarebit in Fortnums and it was nothing like).  We went shopping for paint and other domestic stuff later and dined on pasta followed by choc enhanced yogurts and washed down with still lemonade.

It's the eve of All Saints Day and I always value the Feast of All Saints.  I particularly like the Commemoration and thanksgiving for the Saints in the SSF Daily Office and I particularly like the final petition: 

"For the martyrs and peacemakers of our time,who shine as lights in the darkness:
For all the unsung heroes and heroines of our faith, whose names are known to God alone:
For all those in our own lives who have revealed to us the love of God and shown to us the way of holiness."

That for me is the heart of celebrating All Saints: remembering the unremembered, celebrating the nameless who are still utterly loved and valued by God.  I hope and pray to be numbered with them in due course.  No poetry captures the glory of All Saints tide better than these words of Dom Gregory Dix:

"To those who know a little of Christian history probably the most moving of all the reflections it brings is not the thought of the great events and the well–remembered saints, but of those innumerable millions of entirely obscure faithful men and women, every one with his or her own individual hopes and fears and joys and sorrows and loves—and sins and temptations and prayers—once every whit as vivid and alive as mine are now. They have left no slightest trace in this world, not even a name, but have passed to God utterly forgotten by men. Yet each of them once believed and prayed as I believe and pray, and found it hard and grew slack and sinned and repented and fell again. Each of them worshipped at the Eucharist, and found their thoughts wandering and tried again, and felt heavy and unresponsive and yet knew—just as really and pathetically as I do these things. There is a little ill–spelled ill–carved rustic epitaph of the fourth century from Asia Minor:—‘Here sleeps the blessed Chione, who has found Jerusalem for she prayed much’. Not another word is known of Chione, some peasant woman who lived in that vanished world of Christian Anatolia. But how lovely if all that should survive after sixteen centuries were that one had prayed much, so that the neighbours who saw all one’s life were sure one must have found Jerusalem! What did the Sunday Eucharist in her village church every week for a life–time mean to the blessed Chione—and to the millions like her then, and every year since? The sheer stupendous quantity of the love of God which this ever repeated action has drawn from the obscure Christian multitudes through the centuries is in itself an overwhelming thought. (All that going with one to the altar every morning!)"


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Peace in the Church

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The ruined Church of St Simon Stylites, Aleppo, Syria.

It's been comparatively quiet on the Church front these days.  Spiky Mike's went vacant in September so my Sundays are largely booked from here into next year when we sincerely hope we will get a new Rector.  The Anglican Communion is currently not too mad due to the retirement of such famed conservative pests as Archbishops Akinola and Jensen.  Their successors are currently less noisy, one because he's very new, the other because he was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army and keeping stum about an African military career is probably not a bad idea.  In the old days of course he'd have ended up as a Dictator rather than an  mere Anglican Archbishop - watching Dan Snow on telly tonight, I discovered that the legendarily corrupt President Mobutu of the Congo/Zaire loved Gregorian chant!  Their American buddies in ACNE (or something similar sounding) seem to be quiet after losing a lot of court cases on property (apart from the Texans, but Texas law is different which is why they seem to execute a lot of rather low IQ people).  The Welsh Woozer (aka Williams of Oystermouth) has obfuscated successfully to Michael Ramsey's old Cambridge College but I think is due to lurk in Edinburgh doing the Gifford lectures soon.  Archbishop Oilwelby  seems to be getting a grip and doing a pretty decent job and the new Pope is fairly putting a new gloss on an old song to great effect.

Doubtless there is both grief and joy in the Church elsewhere (plenty enough for all in Egypt and Syria).  My own little bit and the bits I look out at is all Quiet on the Western (Rite) Front at the moment.  The prayer from the Prayer Book seems to be apt: 

"Lord Jesus Christ, Who said to Your Apostles: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you," regard not my sins but the faith of Your Church, and deign to give her peace and unity according to Your Will: Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen."

Monday, 30 September 2013

With Angels etc

I've been remiss about blogging of late - perhaps it's using Facebook more that has led to this.  But it's been fairly busy with 2 weddings, loadsa Church services as St Michael's is now vacant and hunting a new Rector and a working wife. Yes, I sometimes have to cook the  tea when I get in now!  I've also been touring the country - met up with Mum in Dunfermline and bumped into the organist from the Church I went to in Lochgelly when back in Fife.  I was also away with work in beautiful Dumfriesshire (need to explore that neck of the woods a bit more) and we had a trip to York for the OHP Tertiaries AGM (memsahib is one and I'm gently in the process of joining her) which I mostly enjoyed but bits of the AGM reminded me of why I hate Church gatherings - pedants being potty about minutiae which make b**ger all difference to anyone who isn't an insider.

Anyway a nice pikkie from a Church in Rome i visited years ago for Michaelmas seems in order and also a wee thanksgiving for the aid of the heavenly host over the years;

O glorious Prince St. Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King, and our admirable conductor, thou who dost shine with excellence and superhuman virtue, vouchsafe to deliver us from all evil, who turn to thee with confidence, and enable us by thy gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day. 
V. Pray for us, O glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Church of Jesus Christ 
R. That we may be made worthy of His promises. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Laughs at the Gallery.

The real Francie and Josie.

Well, after a very long waking night and an all too brief snooze, we headed off to a Fringe do - a comedy cafe (whatever that is) at the Portrait Gallery.  The 1st act struggled a bit - nerves, a jolt from an early audience response that wasn't malicious (i.e. not heckling - " Remember to breathe, dear." actually) but which did throw her (she was a relatively young comedienne).  No 2 was fairly amusing in a speccy Scottish geek sort of way, no 3, an Aussie with a odd looking musical instrument that looked like a cross between a kazoo and a child's keyboard connected by a hoover tube, was really quite good with a splendid repertoire of 90's hit music (not a patch on the 60's IMHO).  Phil Jupitus was again excellent (saw him last year).  A short break ensued and then a Francie and Josie tribute took the stage.  They were superb. I roared with laughter and totally forgot my sleep deprived grumpiness.  it finished off with a talking heads session between Susan Calman and Forbes Masson (who is a Falkirk Bairn much to my surprise) which was both amusing and intelligent.  My major grump was the wait for the doors opening and the fact the acts started rather later than timetabled, but otherwise it was most enjoyable.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Here beginneth the Festival(s).

File:Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.jpg

Palestrina, this week's composer.

Yes it's that time of year again in Auld Reekie!  Actually, the Film and Jazz Festival have been and gone but the Fringe is now with us and I'm already booked in to hear "Two Old Gits" a dialogue between Tony Benn and Richard Holloway which should be interesting.

It also means a change of musical gear in Church and this morning the choir will hit us with Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli.  The settings are advertised as "Experience mass setting in their original church context" in the Fringe brochure (a slight liberty, as the Palestrina's original context was the St Peter's in Rome but hey!) and the tag line is "Music, liturgy and Incense!"  It's also the current Rector's last Sunday with us as he's going to teach Latin and be Chaplain of a fee paying borstal for the middle classes somewhere in Surrey as of the beginning of September. (Oh joy, an interregnum - a year of the Vestry playing "Hunt the Vicar", whilst the retired and Non Stips run around madly trying to keep the show going).  Pray for us!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ignatius of Loyola

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Statue of St Ignatius in the Gesu Church Rome.

It's one of my favourite saints today - Ignatius of Loyola.The readings recommended for the office were particularly apt.  Isaiah 61:10 - 62:5 reflects well Ignatius's joyful proclamation of the Gospel.  Romans 8:18-27 covers so much of his life.  The suffering from his wounds at Pamplona, his struggles at Manresa, and the prayer that comes from contemplation that is beyond words using the Ignatian method.  Whilst I would describe myself as having moved on from my deeply Ignatian phase of spirituality these days, I remain grateful for his influence and the tools his approach gave me.  So today I remembered those who introduced me to his approach - Donald Nicholson and Gero Mcloughlin SJ and prayed also for the 1st Jesuit Pope, Francis.  Ignatius's courage vision and discipline remain an inspiration for all Christians and a source of blessing for many.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A horse, a horse!

Dugs frae Fife!

Well, we went to the horse show.  And it was rather fun to be honest.  I enjoyed seeing the foxhounds from the Fife Hunt (not that I knew there was was a Fife hunt until then) and herself took multiple shots of big horses jumping over fences - she was last seen editing out all the blurry ones and the multiples of a rear view of a horse... But I did quite enjoy the skill involved.  Anyway, there was music from the bandstand  if I got seriously bored (including an opera wumman doing most of the background numbers from Inspector Morse with the background of Hopetoun House which was very Inspector Morse-ish) and vintage vroom-vrooms including an E Type Jaguar!  We could have gone and shot at clay pigeons, but we decided to enjoy the sunshine instead.

Foodwise we had great fun - hog roast on a bun with apple sauce for lunch!  Proper traditional ice cream cone, pork, leek and pancetta pie for dinner another day and yummy homemade shortbread for munching with tea.  When we got back I did the cooking (yeah, I know typical male making a a song and dance about something the other half does daily) but I have to say with some pride that I do a rather decent Risotto Primavera!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sacred Concert.

File:Dunfermline Abbey Geograph.jpg

We went to an excellent concert tonight in my natal Burgh at Dunfermline Abbey as part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival -  Duke Ellington's "Sacred Concert" - one of my favourite jazz works. If you've never experienced it, then listen to this: .
Sadly, the star attraction, great jazz pianist Stan Tracey ( ) was ill and his son conducted.

Despite that it was superb, although the unexpected sound and light effects provided by the Almighty added a bit of excitement!  The heavy rain running back to the car wasn't much fun but it was a pleasant interlude.  Our next next interlude at the week-end is a horse show - a new experience for us plebs! (I blame the missus!)  We went to Dalmeny House at the week-end and saw much Napoleonic memorabilia and were given a viewing of the Sevres porcelain by the Countess who appeared from nowhere with a Sheltie in tow.  Personally, I preferred the Sheltie, but pottery really isn't my thing.  Still it was fun and culturally broadening.  Good stuff.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

St Swithun's Day.

Shrine of St Swithun, Winchester Cathedral.

I am very definitely not going to complain about the weather!  It's been very warm for the last few weeks, so this year we can claim to have had an actual summer (quite unusual in Scotland).  Now, if it holds up and medieval saintly legend are to be trusted, tomorrow being fine we should get 40 days more good weather.  For July 15th is St Swithun's Day - and it was/is alleged
St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare
Actually, there is some science to support this pious hokum.  Around the middle of July, the Jet Stream settles into a pattern which, in the majority of years, holds reasonably steady until the end of August. So I'm hoping that the saintly bishop will pull it off this year and grant us good weather for the Edinburgh Festivals.  Come on Swithun, do your stuff!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The joys of being Pisky.

St Adrian's Episcopal Church, Gullane, East Lothian.
You would think that preaching in a little country church would be a mildly unmemorable experience after 20 years of ordained ministry.  And up to a point it is.  Not being one to "dumb down" whilst still being accessible (I hope) in a sermon, on Sunday I used a simile from the autobiography of H. A. Williams, sometime Dean of Trinity College Cambridge and monk of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.  I hasten to add that I did attribute it to him as I despise plagiarism from the pulpit and it's my way of saying "I'm not very original but I am well read!".  I was more than slightly surprised when someone came up afterwards and commented "It was nice to hear Harry Williams mentioned - he taught me Greek at Cambridge"!

It is risky for a Scottish Pisky to assume that any given congregation is theologically less literate than the cleric preaching.  I can think of a housing estate church in Glasgow where the organist is the son of a deceased Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford.  He's probably very theologically literate indeed!  Equally, it is risky to assume that the congregation are as theologically literate as you are.  The finer points of Nicene soteriology are perhaps not the forte of the average Mother's Union member without careful explanation and some indication of their relevance to life in Christ today.  I count myself lucky to have been a curate in a church where my more abstruse homiletic offerings were met with the pertinent  query "And what's that got to do with the price of Spam in Govan?" from a wee Glasgow wifie in the congregation!  The obscure high falutin' of a recently qualified theology graduate was briskly earthed with the requirement to incarnate my theological theory in real life.

Scottish Episcopal congregations I find can handle theology rather well if it is clearly explained, earthed and not wrapped up in the technical lingo adored by specialists.  They can follow an argument and engage with a train of thought quite skillfully.  Their intelligence and responsiveness is one of the joys of being a Pisky priest.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Thoughts on reading the paper.

I was leafing my way through my beloved London Times snoozepaper (OK, I know it's owned by the Dirty Digger, but better that than the Pornmeister in Chief of the Daily Excess!) when I began to chew over their comments on the introduction of the Same Sex Marriage Legislation in the Holyrood Palais de Comedie. 
They first posit that Our Glorious Leader, Chairman Eck risks "infuriating the Churches" with this.  Well, he'll certainly annoy the RC hierarchy in Scotland - all 3 of them currently in office and not sick, retired very smartly at 75 or currently off praying in a monastic institution somewhere in Europe.  Aberdeen, Argyll and Glasgow are the only 3 sees operating on full power at the moment.  Given that an awful lot of laity seem to ignore Catholic teaching on contraception, I suspect most ain't too bothered about what LGBT's do re marriage.  Will he annoy the Kirk or only the 10 congregations talking of leaving out of a total of 1400?  OK, he'll really annoy the Wee Frees.  But then again, nearly everyone seems to do that.  And the Piskies? We're really difficult to annoy.  And we're playing moderate to canny in public.  Officially we seem to say that Canon law does not permit SSM's to be celebrated in Church.  Which is true.  It also glosses over the fact that it is fairly easy to change Canon Law and we could fairly quickly reposition ourselves in the event of the Civil Law changing.
The commentary by a former editor of the Scotsman slightly baffled me.  "In the modern era it has long been accepted that gay couples have the same civil rights as heterosexuals when it comes to forming partnerships".  Really?  Assuming the modern era started in 1960 (when sex was first discovered by the general public), then it was 1967 when making love ceased to be a jail sentence if you were a male aged over 21 and some 30 years later when the age of consent was finally equalised.  In Scotland, male homosexual acts (or bonking as we used to call it) even in private between consenting adults were totally illegal until 1981 (1982 in Northern Ireland).  The age of consent only equalised in 2001.  In 1990 I wrote a paper with 2 colleagues arguing for the legal recognition of Same Sex Relationships at the request of the then Convener of the Scottish Young Liberal Democrats. I was the Vice Convener (no pun intended).  Willie is now the Supreme Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems (I had a coffee with him at Holyrood a wee while ago).  One of my co-authors is now dead and the other is happily Civilly Partnered to the Chief Exec of Manchester Pride!  The fact that we were still having to argue for legal recognition of any form in 1990 - a mere 23 years ago suggests that LGBT couples have only been seen as having the same civil rights as the rest of the populace  for a very short period of time by a good many people. Civil partnerships are less than 10 years old.
The fact is we've come a very long way in a relatively short period of time.  It can feel that the current climate of relatively positive attitudes towards LGBT people has been there forever.  It hasn't.  Indeed, in may less enlightened and socially progressive corners it is still a long way off.  But I suspect the momentum that has now built up is irresistible and the opposition of the least progressive elements of the Churches will in due course be overcome.  After all, some bits of the Church were very slow to follow Wilberforce on abolishing slavery.  But we all now celebrate him as a hero.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Social Revolution and Speedy Gonzales.

Looney Tunes Image : Speedy Gonzales

This particular train of thought had an odd start - I was watching Speedy Gonzales cartoons yesterday afternoon at work (it WAS work - supporting a service user, honest guv!) and was slightly baffled for a moment by the disclaimer at the beginning of the DVD which said : "The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent the WB (Warner Brothers) view of society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim these prejudices never existed".

As I watched the cartoons I laughed heartily.  I always enjoyed Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade as a child.  But as I watched I was aware that some of the stuff I laughed at quite innocently as a kid in the late 70's/early 80's would not really be stuff anyone would find comfortably amusing today.  The assumption of what Mexicans were like apart from heroic Speedy were pretty demeaning.  As I thought about it I realised  that I've lived through quite a social revolution without really noticing it for much of the time - and certainly not while it was happening.  I was born in the year homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK and abortion was legalised.  The Race Relations and Equal Opportunities Acts were passed when I was at Primary School.  Today, I'm watching a country in which Same Sex marriage will almost certainly be made legal very shortly.

Social revolutions are a bit of a mystery in some ways.  They seem to occur when ideas gain a currency and momentum that is irresistible.  this comes certainly through campaigning, which looks and sounds lunatic fringe at the beginning but which gradually comes to be the mindset of the majority.  Which is kinda what happened with Christianity.  The dangerous, socially destabilising fringe Jewish cult that Sanhedrin and procurator alike pursued with the death penalty gradually became mainstream and then majority.  Of course, the pendulum of history is gradually swinging again (not that it's ever still) and Christianity is losing it's"establishment" and majority status in the UK.  That why the likes of the retired Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey and the like have been railing against the Same Sex marriage legislation at Westminster from the privileged perch in the Lords.  They can see Christian influence declining in the counsels of the body politic and they don't like it when the Church's opinion is ignored.  Of course, if the Established Church hadn't been so ungracious about Civil Partnerships and positively stupid about the recent Women Bishop's legislation in the last few years, the Body Politic might have been more inclined to listen to them.  it's better tuned to the nuances of social evolution then the English House of Bishops.

Monday, 24 June 2013


Where it all started officially - St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow.

One of the slightly odds things that has been happening this month has been anniversaries. Or rather, since they are annual events, the sudden confluence of significant ones.  The wedding (1st) was celebrated with gunfire (see the last post) and a Chinese meal out (split timing).  Then on the 11th (St Barnabas' Day) it was the 20th anniversary of being ordained deacon.  I celebrated by .. going to work and doing it.  I look on my paid job (working with adults with disabilities) as diaconate without a dalmatic or dog collar.  It seems slightly strange to reflect that I'm halfway through what I assumed would be my active/paid ordained career - ordained at 25, due to retire at 65. (Well, 67 nowadays).  Not stipendiary anymore, but still fulfilling a vocation in a way I would never have imagined then.

20 years on I'm based in a Church where I am at home worshipping (not always the case when it's a paid job rather than what in a sense is a voluntary attachment.  I'm living on the outskirts of a city I love with some one I never expected to meet and fall in  love with.  Even after 12 months we haven't managed to kill each other because we basically get along rather well and comfortably.  Oh well, it's good to have hit calm water and for that I'm thoroughly grateful to God.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Shooting through married life (or something fairly similar)!

Well, we did something different today.  After Mass, we went to Hopetoun House and shot at things!  Not cuddly bunnies or flying rats (pigeons as the zoologists call them) but clay pigeons. (Low calorie but frankly inedible)  Now I will confess to having a bit of an advantage over the Memsahib here: 30+ years ago I gained my Master at Arms badge with the Scouts using a .410 shotgun at Fordell Firs.  But I haven't been near a shotgun since!

Much to our mutual surprise, we were neither of us utterly useless: Rachel hit 4 out of 10 and I hit 5!!  So I feel unbearably smug:-).  We then dined on very local hamburgers (Aberdeen Angus reared on the Estate) which were singularly tasty.  The sun shone, the ear plugs worked and nobody bruised their shoulders due the recoil!  A great day out!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

On the Holy Eucharist.


On the subject of the Christian understanding of the Eucharist, one of the earliest references to it lies in the First Apology of St Justin Martyr He wrote the following passage around about 155 AD:

 "And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist] ... For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."

However, just to make life ambiguous (we're talking theology here - that's what it does) he also wrote  in his Dialogue with Trypho, ch 70: "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks."  From which it is entirely possible to derive a much more Reformed understanding of the Eucharist.  Read literally, Justin was both a Zwinglian and a Transubstantion support.  Which is both very unlikely and somewhat schizophrenic.

Ultimately all these theories about what happens at the Eucharist are just that.  Theories. Informed pious speculation, often combined with a sort of intellectual mission to put theology in terms acceptable and coherent with the fashionable philosphy of the day.  To most of us that's pretty irrelevant.  Our concern is much more personal and practical.  What does this mean to me and what does it do for my spiritual life?

Cardinal Newman put it nicely:

I place myself in the presence of Him, 
in whose Incarnate Presence I am before.
I place myself there.
I adore You, O my Saviour, present here as God and Man,
in Soul and Body, in true Flesh and Blood.
I acknowledge and confess that I kneel before the Sacred Humanity,
which was conceived in Mary’s womb, and lay in Mary’s bosom; 
which grew up to man’s estate, and by the Sea of Galilee called the Twelve, wrought miracles, and spoke words of wisdom and peace; 
which in due season hung on the cross, 
lay in the tomb, rose from the dead, and now reigns in heaven.
I praise and bless, and give myself wholly to Him, 
Who is the true Bread of my soul, and my everlasting joy.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The perils of Church Tourism

We took the chance yesterday to go to Church away from home and to "pew dwell" together.  I nearly wished we hadn't.  On the good side, the pews we visited were architecturally stunning and medieval and the sermon was good (if nothing much to do with the Trinity which had evidently be covered the week before).  The liturgy was well done, normal 1982.  Sadly, the visiting choir were not quite as good as I think they thought they were (which may explain why they are the "former choir of St X's RC church" - musical egos not being pandered to by the clergy perhaps?).  They were fine on the modern hymns (3 out of 4) which were done with the piano and their anthem was fairly nicely executed, but they were desperate at the Gloria and the Sanctus/Benedictus (as, it must be said, were the congregation) and their rendition of the Introit hymn "Holy, Holy Holy" by Bishop Heber was dire.  They obviously ain't used to singing classical hymnody (which IMHO Bernadette Farrell isn't) and were utterly overwhelmed by the pipe organ.  Which brings me to that painful subject.  It really wasn't so much the organ supporting the choir and congregational worship as "The Organist Entertains".  Fairground style.   Not good with hymns, choirs and congregations.  And the Postlude was just showing off. Loudly. The choice of a particularly gaudy French piece wasn't to my taste for a start. I didn't applaud afterwards.  I don't really believe in giving some folks delusions of adequacy.

I had rather hoped the post match service might have made up for it, as this particular church is a serious tourist magnet and they should be pretty slick at welcome you would think.  Nope.  The priest was - but then again he's known me for 20 years and him saying hello was no surprise.  Congregational welcome - nil. Coffee - utterly disgusting, the worst church coffee I've had in years.  The previous Sunday in Cheam was a much better experience all round, even if I struggled with the heaps of noisy kids in an Aspie sort of way. One up to the C of E I regret to say.

The Aspie bit brings me to the worst bit of the whole service.  The intercessions. Too long for a start, with too much in them. Mate, God knows what's going on, he doesn't need your take on "What the Papers Say". But the utter disorganisation of the petitions was a nightmare.  I gave up by the 2nd section.  I also nearly blew a fuse when prayers were offered for the "mentally ill and those with autism".  I have Aspergers, I'm on the Autistic Spectrum and I am not mentally ill.  And I get steamed up when some idiot in a tweed jacket suggests otherwise in intercessions.  Maybe that wasn't the intention but you would think that some thought might have been given during training of intercessors to phrasing things in a way that doesn't gratuitously offend visitors because you have no idea what's going on in the lives of the visiting tourist and this is a church that gets a lot of those thanks to Dan Brown.

Sorry to be so critical of my fellow Christians but sometimes you gotta let off steam and sometimes unless stuff gets said places just poddle on with delusions of adequacy.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Aldersgate experiences.


Statue of John Wesley, Melbourne, Australia.

Today is Aldersgate Day.  Eh?? Why commemorate a Tube Station?  Try a conversion experience: 
"Aldersgate Day is a holiday celebrated by Methodists on 24 May to commemorate the day in 1738 when John Wesley 'experienced confirmation of his salvation by the grace of God.' in a meeting room in Aldersgate Street, London.
According to his journal, Wesley found that his enthusiastic gospel message had been rejected by his Anglican brothers. Heavy-hearted, he went to an evening society meeting on Aldersgate Street "very unwillingly." It was there, while someone was reading from Martin Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, that he felt that his heart was "strangely warmed." He describes it as: I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
 In the United Kingdom, Wesley's Aldersgate experience is celebrated on the Sunday preceding 24 May if that day is not a Sunday and the occasion is referred to as Aldersgate Sunday."  Thanks Wikipedia for reminding me.
Wesley's "conversion", his experience of "sola gratia" was to be of deep significance for the mission of the Church, both in the UK and abroad.  Sadly, Wesley's dynamic revivalism could not be contained within the Anglican Ecclessiolgy of the day.  Ages ago (well, the 1920-30's) Bishop Henson of durham lamented that  the Methodists could have been contained within the C of E in the same way the Jesuits had been held within the Roman Catholic fold.  Today they might have earned themselves a Personal Ordinariate!  Luckily, Anglicanism has learned from its errors and failings and has managed to contain both Charismatic Renewal and the Alpha Course within its ranks in the last half century.

Methodism has made and continues to make significant contributions to the life of the World wide Church.  I was lucky enough to be taught at University by 2 very fine Methodist scholars - the evangelical New Testament scholar Howard Marshall (known irreverently as "Sooty" on account of his diminutive stature behind a lectern but one of the best lecturers I ever had.) and the rather more sacramentalist Peter Stephens who actually managed to interest us in his pet subject of Zwingli.  The Anglican Church hasn't always been good to Methodists - witness the failure of the unity Scheme in the 1970's in England which so infuriated Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

Remembering their contribution and being thankful for it moves me contemplate their Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

Yes indeed. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Some local wanderings.

File:Dalmeny Kirk.jpg

Dalmeny Kirk, South Queensferry.

Having moved ourselves up to the Ferry in the winter and having been working, we haven't had (or made) much time to explore our local area.  So this afternoon, we took ourselves up the road to have a wee peek at Dalmeny Kirk.   ( ).  Of course it was shut, but it certainly looks as if it is interesting and historic.  From thence, we ducked under the Rail Bridge so Rachel could run amok with her camera and then headed for a garden centre where we scoffed scones, bought lawn feed/weedkiller mix and noticed a chance to go clay pigeon shooting - an activity I've always fancied trying.  Watch this space to see what happens!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Oh to be in England!

File:Flag of England.svg

It was off to Englandshire last week.  Mon-Fri was spent in Cumbria, taking one of our service users away for a break to Centre Parcs.  Quite good, other than the joys of hay fever and a twice daily dose of Benadryl to keep it at bay.  Then it was a drive back to Embra, before a haircut and scooting down to Waverly for the 5 o'clock to King's Cross.  1st class was quite good - with the free food and drink (OK re-heated aeroplane style but acceptable enough) although the irritation factor rose as the journey wore on, due to being plonked next to the staff base where the staff chattered loudly despite it being next to the Quiet Carriage.  More testing was the smell of wine from my next door neighbour's free drink.  She only had 2 glasses but they were there for a couple of hours and the smell drove me nuts, especially with the temptation to order a free drink.  Still, we resisted and stayed sober!

The reason for the journey south was to go to Rachel's niece's wedding in darkest Surrey.  Which was pleasant enough, although the male choir members were robed in kit that made them look like polyester Red Friars (Trinitarians to the uninitiated).  The do afterwards was in a pub owned by the former Stig, so that added a pleasant twist to the buffet!

Because we were lodging with the Sister in law, we trundled off to the local parish church in Cheam on Sunday morning.  High Mass, westward facing but no incense.  Good sermon, positively friendly greeting from the regular pew dwellers. It was packed with rather noisy kids (it's that time of year when the families drag the brats along to ensure they get the necessary ticks to improve their hopes of getting into the Church school), but I can live with that.  At least they have kids in the Church!

Then it was back to Scotland and 2 weeks of annual leave!  Long lies beckon!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Have Dog-Collar, will travel

It's that time of year again when those of us whose ministry is non-stipendiary and who are willing to blip about the countryside with our cassock-albs disappear of our usual local ecclesiastical hangouts and hit the road to cover clergy summer holidays.  Both a joy and a pest as I like being of service, but I miss the familiar people and occasionally wonder "Who the 'eck designed this liturgy?"

This year I've been a wandering early: I've already done the last Sunday of the Vacancy at St Cuthbert's Colinton .  My next jaunt is up to St Fillan's Fairmilehead on Sunday  and I am booked to cover Gullane and North Berwick in June, with a possible pop-up at Eyemouth TBA.

I actually enjoy this jaunting about and seeing something of the diversity of the Church.  It may be my last bit of wandering for a while as St Mike's is going into vacancy as of August (the "new" Rector is going off to be chaplain to a Independent school in Surrey founded in the dim and distant past by the very Protestant Bishop Ridley of London).  So I'll enjoy it while I can.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Who ticks your box?

I was flipping through the old Church Crimes on the train home and I read a wee article reminding us that this year it's the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Honest to God".  It reminded me that Bishop John Robinson was much influenced in his thinking by Tillich, Bultmann and Bonhoeffer, the cutting edge theologians of the days of his formation in Cambridge.  My theology was formed by being introduced to Karl Barth at University.  However, equally significant was my encounter with C S Lewis and my discovery of a variety of different "spiritual writers" - St John of the Cross, Ignatian writers, Martin Thornton and the Rule of St Benedict.  Perhaps my temperament naturally inclines to a more structured and dogmatic outlook, although the encounter with darkness and a profound sense than mystery rather than logical system are central.  But I think part of the attraction was a willingness to engage with the world.  Barth was anti-Nazi, Lewis experience both the horror of the trenches and the pain of bereavement.  John of the Cross was imprisoned for his views, Ignatius suffered a disabling injury at Pampalona.  Perhaps what made me engage with a thinker was their engagement with reality, even as I sometimes ran away from that.

Engaging with reality requires a level of honesty that I always find impressive.  Even if the person has human flaws, that is always a quality I find impressive.  Of course some use honesty as an excuse for being plain blasted rude.  Spiritual honesty is a gift I value.  Who floats your boat in terms of theology and spirituality?  And why?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher

In the passing of Margaret Thatcher, we have witnessed the end of an era.  Love her or loathe her, she was without doubt one of the most significant political figures in Britain in the 20th century.  Only Clement Attlee compares as a peacetime Prime Minister.  Having grown up in a mining district during the Miner's Strike of 1984, I can admit unashamedly to having absolutely no taste or liking for her policies or their effect.  I would not go so far as to say I hated her - I never knew her and cannot summon up the energy to "hate" a person I did not know.  Nor will I laud her unreservedly as her acolytes would - I happen to choose less divisive figures as my heroes.  Some of spleen vented is singularly unpleasant - but I do understand it.

The simple fact is she was a major figure and held a great office, that of Prime Minister.  Therefore it is perfectly appropriate that she be given a Public Funeral (technically she's getting a Ceremonial funeral like the Queen Mother and Princess Diana).  I detested her policies and I wouldn't say a requiem for her - I'd leave it at a prayer during the intercessions, commending her to the mercy and love of God who will judge us all.

Monday, 25 March 2013

At the Coffee House!


Hogarth's depiction of Tom King's Coffee House.

There is a difficulty about having a gap in your day between work and Mass in Holy Week.  As I'm in my post pub years, it means I go all 18th century.  I take myself off to a coffee house, plonk myself down with a couple of large flat White's and work my way through the Daily Universal Register, the Manchester Guardian and the North British Gazette. (The Times, Guardian and Scotsman for the incorrigible modernist)

There is only so much caffeine a body can absorb, so a tea referred to as a "mint humbug" finished the session off.  The only thing missing other than my periwig, tricorne hat and snuff box (nasty stuff - makes a horrid mess of your hanky!) was some chops!  The Costa brothers appear to have overlooked this splendid Georgian option in their coffee house bill of fare.  Shame really - I greatly enjoyed discovering the details of Georgian literary life & culture when studying the works of Jonathan Swift in 6th year Studies English.  

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Examples of Grace

Sheikh Amed Magghabri (left) and Rev Isaac Poobalan at St John's Episcopal Church. Picture: Hemedia

Splendid examples of grace and charity are not always in great supply.  The new Pope's decision to do the Maundy liturgy in a Young Offenders Institution  is one such sign today.  Another was in the news a few days ago about the Congregation of St John's Crown Terrace Aberdeen hosting their Islamic neighbours.  This has led to some nasty abuse directed at the Rector, Canon Issac Poobalan and the Church  

I'll declare an interest here: Issac and and I were students at Edinburgh Theological College at the same time. He was Curate of the Church I did a 12 month placement at and I preached for him when he was parish priest at St Clement's Mastrick in Aberdeen.  He is a very nice guy and a thoroughly gracious and deeply prayerful Christian gentleman.  The abuse directed by "trolls" is both vile and unchristian.  Most of these so-called "commentators" hide their identity behind assumed identities whilst displaying their prejudices and ignorance in spectacular and blatant diatribes, often badly spelled and grammatically embarrassing.  However, I have every confidence that my gracious friend Issac will rise above their poisonous spleen and will continue to build bridges and the Kingdom.  And, incidentally, I was the 1st cleric in Falkirk to invite a Muslim to preach at a service rather than address a meeting after Church in the Church hall - so I'm doubtless as "unchristian"  as Issac.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Intelligent leisure

Well, there's been a certain amount of intelligent leisure in Dougal land in the last 7 days.  We went to a Friends do at the National Gallery.  And enjoyed the on loan Rodin sculpture "The Kiss" (see above).  I didn't know there were 3 of them - one in Paris, one in Copenhagen and one in the Tate (in Edinburgh now for a while) which was left by a rich eccentric collector of (mainly homo-erotic art) to that douce Sussex burgh of Lewes.  The cooncil covered its naughty bits with a tarpaulin for many years.  I'm sure Bishop Benn would have approved.

Then we actually had some time off when we didn't have to do any family duties so took ourselves off to sunny Durham to mooch around some of Rachel's old haunts, walk on the riverbank and go to Evensong in the Cathedral.  Beautiful psalms to austere plainchant, polyphonic canticles in Latin (Vittoria in part) and decently constructed intercessions including one of my favourite prayers for the Church by Archbishop William Laud:

 "Gracious Father, I humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church, fill it will all truth, in all truth with peace.  Where it is corrupt purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where any thing is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it; O thou Holy One of Israel.  Amen."

And so it's back to work but feeling refreshed and strengthened.

Monday, 4 March 2013


We have a Sunday afternoon free, shall we go to an art gallery?  No, instead we go to an exhibition on Vikings at the National Museum in Chambers Street.  Oh weel, she used to live on Lindisfarne, where the 1st Viking raid on what is now the UK was recorded  and I spent time on one of their favourite targets Iona, so there is a vague connection and interest there.  Fascinatingly, Vikings were NOT the people - it was the name given in Norse to the trading/raiding journeys.  The Scandinavians went on vikings, they were not Vikings!  And they never wore horny helmets - Richard Wagner's to blame for that idea. (Which I picked up as a child reading Marvel Comics about Thor).  It was however a good and interesting exhibition and well worth a gander if you're in Edinburgh before 12th May. Sadly we missed the screening of "The Vikings" film with Kirk douglas and Tony Curtis which was running while we were there. Next time we go,  it'll be the David Livingstone exhibition -which is finishing in early April.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wrongs don't make a right.

Almost a year ago I blogged on Cardinal O' Brien and his stance on LGBT issues (see "A Right Rammy" 5th March 2012).  I noted the offensive nature of his language and wondered why someone I knew to have previously been fairly sympathetic to the LGBT community had suddenly turned so nasty.  I even preached against his position  a few months ago from an Edinburgh pulpit (go to - see the sermon for Trinity 13 if you are interested). Events of the last few days have suggested obvious reasons of closeted self hatred to plenty of people.  As Kenny Dalgleish so famously commented "Maybes aye, maybes no".  However, I have been quite uncomfortable reading some reactions from a variety of Facebook friends and others.  "Intemperate" is being polite. "Splenetic triumphalism" is a more accurate description.  At one level I fully understand this.  As I said at the time, the Cardinal was singularly intemperate in his language and "as ye sow so shall you reap" and all that.But even allowing for that I am not too keen on  the responses I have seen.  If nothing else, you sink to his level of vitriol and lower yourself to his stunted stature. Imitating an oppressor is not liberation, it is a continuation of oppression in a mirror form.  By insulting as you have been insulted, you proclaim not the reality of your freedom from oppression but your continuing enthralment to a cycle of spleen and anger that diminishes your God given and God loved humanity.   Not taking resentments about others attitudes to you and using them to fuel your internalised self-loathing in a destructive way is a key part of any 12 step Recovery programme and really has to be applied to every part of your life, including your online conversations and reactions.
I also have a level of human sympathy for the man.  Having struggled with celibacy, loneliness and drink myself for over a decade before getting sober, 12 stepping and meeting Rachel, I can in all honesty and with deep feeling say "There but for the grace of God go I".  I dislike his attitudes deeply, I do not excuse any wrong that may be proved to have been done (although at the moment they are allegations under investigation, not proven facts - which some are prone to forget whilst crowing) and would hope that if the allegations are substantiated appropriate disciplinary sanctions would be applied by the RC Church's authorities without regard either to the rank involved or to the howls of the mob.  At the moment, as far as I am aware, only 5 people in the World know the full truth about what really happened - the 4 complainants and the Cardinal.  All 5 need our prayers and I will be praying for all involved in this grim situation - and also for the many ordinary Scottish Catholics who will be hurt and distressed by the events of the past few days.  May they all know the presence of the God who is greater than any Church and whose love breached the gates of death to bring freedom and life to all who knew fear and pain in any form.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Stations of Revelation


We went over to see friends on Holy island today.  Lunch and gossip, which is always good.  With a bit of time to spare between tides, we dropped into see an exhibition there ( ) based on the Stations of the Cross.  The images (photo's) were only of hands.  Now, I have seen something similar before - painted stations of the cross in Holy Trinity & St Barnabas' Paisley.  But the texts accompanying them made the difference.  The one that struck me were uplifted hands, reflecting on the Jesus meeting the women of Jerusalem (Station VIII).  The text (which I will paraphrase somewhat) was "The women were wailing.  It's always the women who wail.  For their men, their children".

A terrible truth that.  When war or hunger strikes, it's the women who wail.  In Mali, Syria or Afghanistan.  Wherever.  But the text concluded each of the Stations by turning the agony on its head and reminding us that in Christ, even the most desperate agony and tragedy is transformed by his suffering love into Love. That is a Christian belief and truth. A terrible mystery, a wonderful if bizarre paradox to be sure.  But it also lies at the very heart of the Lenten journey - we pass through contemplating horrors which all too often are not mysterious but easily explicable phenomena to any student of human nature and history.  The mystery, the hope is the transforming love of the suffering, self offering God we encounter in the person of Jesus Christ.  Who we draw closer to in this Holy Season as we approach the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Misery is the spur???

Parson Woodforde, who would have been a blogger!

I was thinking as I made the morning tea and coffee that I blog less these days and I also (IMHO) write somewhat less interesting stuff ( a point of view easily supported by the shrinking number of comments - I delete anything that looks as if it comes from a machine from a shoe company, which thins things out).  Why, I mused groggily?  Then it slightly dawned  on me that it may be because I'm basically happy these days.

Misery and/or discontent can be a creative spur artistically or spiritually. The grit in the oyster that produces the Pearl of Great Price. It can also be purely destructive and happy people can be creative and have insights.  Possibly my musings and reflections were of greater interest to others  when they wrestled with some of the stuff that made me miserable because some of it was stuff that had made them miserable too.  Happiness on the other hand is less exciting or engaging - it enters into the realms of which Bridget Jones of the Diary described as being those of the "smug marrieds".

Actually, the blog for me is more like a diary of old.  Kilvert, Woodforde and other parsons recorded their doings and years later their jottings provided insight, interest and even inspiration for others.  In that sense, blogging isn't just a present moment thing, it's a posterity project.  So I'll carry on musing, not essentially for the great general public but for myself.  Which is why I think I started.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lent... again.


Lent is not a revelation to most of us.  Rather, it's all too familiar - an old acquaintance we encounter periodically.  Sometimes it's a joy, sometimes a trial, mostly it's just part of the familiar annual routine.  We think about our spiritual routine and seek to revitalise it.  That can be a sad sort of "New Year's Resolution" experience - we mean well, but it really won't last very long once normality kicks in.

To be honest, that's where I am. My best intentions have been gangin' aft agley with boring speed since Wednesday.  I hope to pray as I have intended.  I am reading the Parish Lent book (and enjoying it - it's called "Joy" by Peter Waddell).  We are eating a lot less meat (none on Wednesdays or Fridays).  And I will go to confession before Easter.  Hopefully a little growth and insight will ensue.  In God we trust  - and in the grace that is always more ready to hear than we are to pray.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Our Lady of Lourdes, 11th February.

 An act of consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate, you appeared 18 times to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes to remind Christians of what the truths in the Gospel require of them. You call them to prayer, penance, the Eucharist and the life of the church. To answer your call more fully, I dedicate myself, through you, to your Son Jesus. Make me willing to accept what he said. By the fervour of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world. All this I ask, confident that you, Our Lady, will fully answer my prayer. Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us.

Devotion to Our Lady and her Incarnate Son apart, it is the call to work with the sick (which as a support worker with autistic adults I could be said to do) and the call to reconcilliation that makes this act of consecration so appealing to me.  Perhaps a good discipline for Lent, n'est pas?

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Mothering Thursday

 File:Firmin Baes - Doux rêves.jpg
Yes, a little early one might think, but it was the congruence of a trip to the Mother in Law (depositing the Christmas hamper as a pre Lent treat!) and my mum's whatever the heck it is birthday (74 not out) that prompted this.  Between visits that required an appallingly early rise for a day off and phone calls, it was a wee bit of gallop!  Still, both of the mater's seem happy and that's always good
Mothers make us.  Both biologically and emotionally, they from us into the people we are.  Sometimes that's good, at other times it's less so.  Just look at the difference between Jesus and Oedipus!  However, as I get older I see more of my parents in me.  Partly it's physical look, more subtly it's psychological out look on life.  I'm as grumpy as my Dad - but equally I realise I also seem to have something of his resilience in the face of adversity.  So it is with a sense of gratitude that I recognise the importance of parental influence in my life - and thank God I'm not a parent, as I'd muck up the poor brats dreadfully!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A holiday Sunday


It was time for some leisure after all the shifting of house malarkey of the last 2 weeks.  After a perfectly enjoyable service (Phillip the organist's last) with the wonderful Howells Collegium Regale as a Mass setting, it was off to the pictures to see "Quartet".  OK, the Filmhouse was awash with the middle-aged (ourselves included) but it was a good film about aged musicians in a Home for the crumbling artiste.  No one delivers a waspish put down like Dame Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly nicks scenes like billy-o as a randy old tenor, Pauline Collins is sweet and touching as an old dear in the early stages of going ga-ga - and I completely forgotten how good Tom Courtney was as an actor.  Plus Jim from the Dibley PCC turns up and sings!  Worth an afternoon out of the cold.
Then home to cook a nice beef stroganoff and find the heating's on the blink.  Life resumes on Tuesday with a return to work.  Poo!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Unity and Harmony

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Unity at Taize.

Here's a thought for the modern age from the pre-modern age:

From a Discourse Against the Pagans by Saint Athanasius.
The Word creates a divine harmony in creation.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. In these words John the theologian teaches that nothing exists or remains in being except in and through the Word.
Think of a musician tuning his lyre. By his skill he adjusts high notes to low and intermediate notes to the rest, and produces a series of harmonies. So too the wisdom of God holds the world like a lyre and joins things in the air to those on earth, and things in heaven to those in the air, and brings each part into harmony with the whole. By his decree and will he regulates them all to produce the beauty and harmony of a single, well-ordered universe. While remaining unchanged with his Father, he moves all creation by his unchanging nature, according to the Father’s will. To everything he gives existence and life in accordance with its nature, and so creates a wonderful and truly divine harmony.
To illustrate this profound mystery, let us take the example of a choir of many singers. A choir is composed of a variety of men, women and children, of both old and young. Under the direction of one conductor, each sings in the way that is natural for him: men with men’s voices, boys with boys’ voices, old people with old voices, young people with young voices. Yet all of them produce a single harmony. Or consider the example of our soul. It moves our senses according to their several functions so that in the presence of a single object they all act simultaneously: the eye sees, the ear hears, the hand touches, the nose smells, the tongue tastes, and often the other parts of the body act as well as, for example, the feet may walk.
Although this is only a poor comparison, it gives some idea of how the whole universe is governed. The Word of God has but to give a gesture of command and everything falls into place; each creature performs its own proper function, and all together constitute one single harmonious order."
The sense of divine harmony - the choir of creation - strikes me as being far from incompatible with modern science.  From what little I understand of quantum physics, it seems perfectly reasonable to synthesise the two.  Richard Dawkins might see it as unnecessary, but frankly that doesn't bother me.
Harmony is what lies at the heart of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which we are in at the moment.  The harmony of different insights and emphases that makes the true and full unity of the Body of Christ.  May that harmony be our aim and goal this week.  Not just for this week, but for the ongoing life of the Church.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Moving on up!

Well, up to the Forth at any rate.  Today we got the keys for a flat we've bought in South Queensferry which will be much handier for work etc.  So the next few weeks (on annual leave from Tuesday) will be busy shifting, painting and generally being domesticated! (Yikes!).

I must say that I've always liked South Queensferry as both pretty and historic with it's links to St Margaret, the pilgrim route to St Andrews and its views of Fife.  The local Pisky Church is a 15th century Carmelite Priory which is rather wasted on the Evangelical congregation - projectors and screens in a medieval gem isn't much to my taste - so we will retain our links to St Michael's in Tollcross.

Anyway, with the move afoot, much blogging seems unlikely in the near future. I might get some more regular blogging done afterwards.  Meanwhile pray us a s we cope with the great flit!