Friday, 30 April 2010

Love one Another as I Have Loved You

Yep, that's the Gospel reading for Sunday. I happened upon a good lay person who was trying to get together something for a "sermon" on Sunday. My response was "Just preach what it says" "Do as yer telt!" It can't be any plainer! Start loving each other and it might just get different.

Is that so hard? It's a million miles from political propaganda and party politics at the moment. It's probably a million miles from policies too.

Poverty in our communities. Nobody is speaking about addiction and how we deal with that. Who wants these low paid jobs that the "immigrants" accept? They pay taxes no? Pay for our pensions, no? How do we motivate a youth culture that doesn't want to work? Who loves all these guys and gals? Especially the strangers who are flooding in and taking all our jobs?

Tell you what. They are not taking the banking jobs where millions of pounds of bonuses are still being paid. Very little is being said about the Robin Hood Tax which would tax bank profits at source.

Love one another? We don't seem to know how to begin to share our wealth with others. Higher taxes for the wealthy? God forbid!

Love one another? Is that why we pay billions for Trident, so we can blow our brothers and sisters to kingdom come? Deterrent? Who are we deterring? A wee suicide bomber on the London Underground? Let's nuke him, eh?

Love one another, and so the parties and the press smear fellow humans in a way that turns my stomach.

Love one another? Show me a party that is committed to eradicating world starvation. Or even one that puts it high on the agenda.

Love one another? No it's just a "me me me" election again and the selfish b*******  in this country will get what they want. Much of a muchness and other people to blame for where they are.

I'm not the only priest who has committed his life to areas of poverty and affliction. I'm not brilliant and live in a big house with a comfy stipend. That is where I am and would like to have the courage to denounce it. I certainly have the courage to accept higher taxation if that's what's needed for the NHS and areas of extreme poverty. Politically, these days, I can find nobody who shares my passion. Perhaps Christianity has died, and Our Lord still cries in the wilderness, "Love one another as I have loved you". Who will keep love on the agenda?

I have just finished reading Son of Hamas. It's amazing how love can change our world, and a pity that the Christian message has become derided by those who seek power.

What a Pic!

Thanks to Mrs Blethers for this... photographed at 6.30am today. Sunrise over The Clyde.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

One thing that has popped out this week in the Gordon Brown "Bigot" Fiasco is that if I was an immigrant in this country I would be rather afraid of the public reaction. I certainly would feel very unwelcome and victimised, especially if I was working, (probably in a very low-paid job), paying taxes, and contributing towards a pension for these "bigots".

In many ways I would have loved to see Gordon Brown stick to his guns and face the immigration arguments head on. Unfortunately it would have made him even more unelectable, but we would maybe have got to some truths, rather than propping up tired old arguments that the BNP just love to hear aired.

Voting in the Ways of Dog

From our Parish Magazine this month, I have no hesitation in recommending you read the following snippet from our "Gossip Column". To compare dogs you know with political parties, or individuals can be fun. In the parish we have five main players. This is how they fared...


As a follower of ‘Over the Rainbow’s’ quest for a new Toto it occurred to me that the political parties were missing a terrific opportunity to accumulate votes. A caninedidate would help their candidate greatly in conveying the desirable qualities of honesty, loyalty and friendliness. Just look at how well St.Auggie’s doggies would fit the bill!

The Tory candidate could be photographed with Toastie a fully pedigreed member of the Kennel Club with royal associations. Yes, the Toastie Manifesto would be read in homes throughout the land.

The Labour Party would certainly prefer Nina, the Jack Russell. Not accepted by those snobby Crufts creatures, Nina is a basic dog given to much yelling and yapping for fairness and sharing as long as her share is bigger than anyone else’s and she gets it first!

Archie, the Golden Retriever, would surely find his home with the Greens. A friend of the earth who proves it by continually rolling in its muddier sections and removing any offending picnics from the grass.

Peanut, on the other hand doesn’t care about being a doggy aristocrat and would be an ideal soul mate for Nick Clegg with her attractive and pleasing personality combined with all the charisma of a right wee chancer.

Now the SNP is looking for a champion and our attractive West Highland terrier, Keira, is just the dog for the job. Keira can start a fight with bigger dogs then run off and say it’s not her fault!

So, forget kissing those babies and cuddle a canine. Every St. Auggie’s Doggie comes with its own WDC supply of Bio(Pooh)Bags with instructions for usage in seven different languages. Gaelic is not yet available but Alex is working on it. Get ahead - get a vote - get a hound!

Financial Realities

I'm no financial whizz-kid, but I understand how hard things can be in the current economic climate. Tonight we had a Vestry Meeting, and the hard truth is that all the parish assets are tied up in a house which we cannot sell. I'm convinced it's not because nobody wants to live there, but who is committing themselves to vast mortgages at the moment with the uncertainties surrounding our personal financial futures?

The political debate at the moment isn't helping, with so much scaremongering going on, with who will do what, and the disastrous consequences  for all. Maybe folk are waiting in the hope of a magic wand appearing after next Thursday. I predict that next Friday things are going to be much of a muchness to today.

I am glad that I head a church which is sitting on unsold property. Things are grim, but we'll survive one way or another. I feel for individuals and families that are in a similar position. The ones who were told, like us, that our property would sell quickly and the purchase of a new home was going to be advantageous in the current climate. Estate Agents who promised us ten or fifteen thousand pounds more than the old property is actually now valued at!

We have five months before the parish is totally cash-strapped, that is five months before there will be no cash to pay me, but our property portfolio is excellent, on paper! As a church we will deal with that, somehow, but if I was a parent facing the same sort of difficulties, and with a family to feed and clothe, I would be at my wits end.

I listen to the guff that is being produced by the politicians just now, and cannot for the life of me see that anyone has any solutions to our problems, or any great ideas about kick-starting a house market which is what most of us have our life savings invested in.

In all the gobbledegook, the only sensible thing I'm hearing just now is from those who realise that we certainly don't need Trident, and it's a huge expense we could do without. As for the rest.. well, take your pick. I've got to the Orwellian stage where I look at them all and I cannot tell the difference. What we have is a group of chancers who care for nothing but their own re-election, by whatever means possible.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

If you Don't have the SNP as an Option....

Don't agree with the solution... but I just loved this!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Thanks to The Rabbit!


We've had quite a weekend in the Diocese, surrounding Good Shepherd Sunday, with the Consecration of our new Bishop, Gregor Duncan. I have no doubt that +Gregor will make an excellent shepherd to his priests and people, but it must be the hardest thing in the world to be a bishop in the modern world.

However, we packed the cathedral on Friday and Sunday evening, and did the stuff we Anglicans do best! The ceremony and liturgy excellently executed, and the only little regret for me was the number of bishops present. Due to the "ash problem", a few bishops were absent, two being stranded in the States, and another in Ireland, but nobody really noticed. This was a Diocesan Day, and we look forward to a new era with some excitement!

The new Dean, quickly appointed and installed by +Gregor is just a superstar, and exactly what we need as we march on into a new and relevant future.

I had a word with the Dean of Kentucky Diocese on Sunday night. The RW and I would love to do a "Parish Swap" for 4-6 weeks next year and see a little of the USA. WE offer a beautiful parish, close to Loch Lomond, and within easy reach of all the important tourist stuff. Sunday morning duty would be required. (Oh! A Golden Retriever might be thrown in with a car too). We would be looking for an American priest who would give us the same, American style, in return. Perhaps Kentucky is not the best option. I know not, but I haven't had any offers from elsewhere, yet! Anyone know an American priest who would like a swap in summer 2011?

See? A new bishop and I'm trying to escape already!

(Photos by Gordon Smith)

Saturday, 24 April 2010


Partick Thistle Nil go to Ross County, cup-finalists, and beat them 2-1 on their own patch. First goals in six games and they score them in Dingwall! It's a bit like the Chicago Bears winning in Alaska! Few will have travelled that far!

Friday, 23 April 2010

She Has an Excuse

The Silent Assassin is also asleep. At least she has an excuse, having been out all night clubbing!

It's a Dog's Life

Peanut has a kip after an exhausting night sleeping....

Generous Indeed

Last Friday the parish had its laptop stolen from the Parish Office. This was a mini disaster for a wee parish like ours, and I was grateful that I had at least backed up some of our stuff. With the sort of security we have, it had to be an opportunist kind of theft, and laptops are easily quickly removed. I knew that we really needed a proper PC, but with parish finances in a perilous state, this was not an option for us.

I mentioned the loss on Facebook, and wow! One of my Facebook friends promised to donate a PC for us which was delivered this morning. I'm still quite gobsmacked by this gesture... so take a bow, Roddy Neilson. You are indeed a superstar!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Why Do I Do It?

At Firhill tonight to witness Partick Thistle score, eh, nil, again. This is now five games since we have hit the net. At least Raith Rovers tonight were as bad as us.

To sit in a freezing ground for two hours is utter insanity. The least they can do is allow wee clubs like us to bring back terracings where we can jump up and down and keep warm -  yes, and sing! The only person I know who sings sitting down is Val Doonican. Bring back the terraces and the sheds, I say, sell beer to the masses like they do in America, and you'll put another couple of thousand on the PTN gates. The singin' and dancin' may even encourage the players to a bit more effort! Yes! Bring back the terraces!

You know it makes sense!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Image is All Important (2)

Picked up this image from a dear friend. Now, if only this was the Real McCoy....

Image is All Important

According to Big Rab Gordon Brown still has a chance in the forthcoming debates if he changes his image. Under the heading "Britain's Got Talent" the new Gordon Brown/Boyle may yet triumph!

Have a Look - When Priest's Attack!


Lovely story about Alan Cumming in today's paper. Seemingly, he's been excommunicated by the Church of Scotland because he was reported to be an atheist. Not only this, but a gay atheist at that! Alan, I'm sure there are congregations in the Scottish Episcopal Church who will welcome you with open arms. It's just a pity you live in America now!

Quite a weekend!

Was commenting on Facebook tonight about how energised I feel at the moment.As someone who suffers badly from SAD, it is amazing how much benefit I get from a few days of sunshine. Just as well, too, as we had an action-packed weekend at St Auggie's.

It was Dumbarton Churches Together Spring Festival Weekend and we had the Clydebank Salvation Army Brass Band packing them in on Friday. The hordes returned tonight for a Spring Praise Night, and again we had a full church! This morning the main service was full of babes and the congregation has a "young" feel about it just now.

We are talking about "Saving the High Street" at the moment, and here is this beautiful, functional building in the High St which so many folk don't acknowledge, possibly because they have never been inside. The local Roman Catholic priest tonight called it the "Jewel in the High St", and so it is! I'm lucky to be here!

The fly in the ointment was getting the church computer nicked, but since I'd backed up everything, and a kind soul has offered to replace the computer, I'm not exactly about to commit hari-kari over it.

Some great ideas for mission/outreach and partnership with other bodies in the town are flowing from congregational members at the moment, and even our leaking roof looks as if it's been finally fixed!

So it's one of those Sunday nights when all is well with the world, but me, being me, is just waiting for it all to tumble down. As I try to live in the day, though, as I do, today has been very good!

Thursday, 15 April 2010


The volcanic ash that has grounded planes in the UK today has given me cause for concern. However, Glasgow Airport has been known to shut down when I empty ash-trays in the house and office. I really must do something about my smoking!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Reverend Barbie

It has come to my attention that Barbie has been ordained and may be coming to a parish near you soon! She certainly has some lovely gear for the modern priest.

 However, I'm grateful to for giving us an interesting alternative. Unfortunately, not too many good looking young women or men for that matter are offering themselves for ordination these days. Perhaps Oor Barbie can lead the way!  The alternative, which I take no responsibility for, is posted by blaghag......

Tory Manifesto

Some very scary stuff is being rolled out down south in the Conservative Party manifesto. The bit that tickles me is the pledge that every UK government department will have a minister to look after Scottish interests. This will be fun! Just who are these people going to be?

The truth is that Scotland currently has one Tory MP, and the General Election isn't going to change that much. There will be no considerable swing to David Cameron in these parts. No sir! We are far too sensible up here!

So, we'll get a whole lot of Humphreys looking out for Scottish interests who holiday here, or who have Scottish grannies. I can't wait!


The Special One has the "runs"! He's not good with human food, you see, and when the sun shines it's a nightmare. Folk leave uneaten stuff from their picnics all over our parks, and Archie is compelled to find every morsel and finish it off. Such is the nature of the beast. This morning has not been pleasant in The Rectory! Yet, the "garbage disposal unit" is still loved, he's still a big soft lump, and is extremely biddable and fun to have around.

He came to us almost by accident. He was not supposed to end up living with us, but he wormed his way into our affections and was allowed to stay. However, a big dog has its disadvantages! My two King Charles Cavaliers are dead easy to keep and exercise. A bit yappy at times, but cute enough and small enough to easily find babysitters for them when we're away. Archie is a different kettle of fish. Because he's such a big strong dog, folk are rightly wary of having him ...... especially given his eating habits! Short spells are OK but it's hard to ask other people for longer term commitments.

We are looking at our summer holiday, and beginning to realise that Archie might have to go to kennels. That's a bit heartbreaking because he'll hate every minute and miss being around folk the way he is at present, and the cost of kennels is shocking! His "holiday" will cost us an arm and a leg!

Maybe we need to offer "house for duty"! Anyone fancy a house for a fortnight with a golden retriever in the vicinity of Loch Lomond? He's a fine dog, as long as you keep him away from picnics!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tory manifesto has ‘God-shaped hole’

David Cameron has been left facing an embarrassing situation today following the launch of the Conservative manifesto, which makes no reference to religion, faith, faith schools or the contribution of church or other religious groups to society.

It comes after an interview on Radio 4’s Today Programme on Saturday, when David Cameron spoke about the importance of his faith. He has also given a number of interviews to church groups and publications in the last few weeks speaking about the importance of religious groups in society. In a video interview for Christians in Politics he spoke of the important role of churches in "fixing broken Britain". In response the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia warned that the churches risked being co-opted for electoral advantage.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Wounded One

Another baptism today, and another reminder that we baptise our children into Christ rather than an "Ism". What Christ are we baptised into, though? For there are many to choose from. Today we baptised little Luca into the Wounded Christ, for it is the only Christ that makes sense to me at the moment, and makes sense of the world we live in. The wounded resurrected Christ stands in our midst, breathes his peace upon us and brings us hope. Worth going to church for!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Is it Just the Way I Look?

I had an appointment at the hospital today to have my blood checked. (My AF means I'm on warfarin at present) The young nurse called me "Darlin'", and I came out quite shocked. It seems to be happening quite a lot recently, as I've been called "pet", "dear", "petal", and other such "endearments" that I hear the inmates being called by staff in my dad's care home. I often heard these "endearments", too, in geriatric wards. Am I beginning to look my age, or worse, older than I look? Does my demeanor demand that others feel maternalistic, or feel they can patronise? I need to be told.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Social Justice Christians

Is there any other kind?

Glory to God in the High Street

We're all gearing up for a meeting on Monday evening on the topic of saving Dumbarton High Street. Some big guns are being rolled in, but I fear anger and confrontation, as some present are certainly responsible for the decline, or are at least responsible for doing nothing as the decline became more and more evident! That's politicians for you!

We'll undoubtedly revisit past sins, there will be recriminations aplenty, and it will need a strong chair to guide us away from the past to look at possibilities for the future instead. Who has the vision, or indeed the money to give this town what it needs? Perhaps we need to think out of the box a little? Some "blue sky thinking" as the RW's employer would put it.

Our building is in the High Street and we need to be part of the solution. We certainly need to be involved in the discussions and in the decision making process as much as we are allowed to be, because we are not a church which opens once every week, but are busy on a daily basis with one thing or another. Our congregation needs to be "in there" and part of the movement to bring about the changes that are needed.

Yes, we want to save the High St, but maybe change it from what it was and is, into something completely different. However, in cash-strapped times, perhaps the "blue sky thinking" will need to take a back seat, and temporary solutions, again, will be preferred.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Fag End

Idly looking through old church magazines, as is my wont, I come across the article printed when I last had a "go" at giving up cigarettes. Two years ago now, I remember it lasting about a month before I was back on again. I remember blaming stress!

The urge to quit is again rising within me, and the recent rise in cigarette prices have helped, I guess. It's about getting psyched up again, and setting a date for quitting. Watch this space!

The Grey Old Man

Quite an Easter Day in Augland! Church full to breaking point... I think we (just) managed to seat everyone, two baptisms, music group supplemented by new members (our teenagers are growing up and, hey, they're musical), almost 200 Easter eggs given away, and a tremendous joy about the place.

Sitting in the midst of this, unable to take it all in, unable to cope with it all, sits a bent, yet compelling, figure. He is old now and confused, his complexion as grey as his hair. Memories of happy Easter Days roll around his mind, when his beloved wife was alive, when he had energy, when he could think clearly. The days before dementia and the Care Home. He is confused at Communion time. He will not, or cannot get up to the communion rail to receive the Risen Christ in the Sacrament, for he is unsure of what is going on. Then his son, for it is my father we're talking of here, brings the Bread to his seat. "The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven", I say, and place it into tired hands. He grips my hand like a vice, wordlessly making contact, trying to articulate this unbreakable bond, between father and son, between Jesus and himself. And in this man, who is in the Good Friday of his life, I hear Jesus Himself, crying out for resurrection.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Cross for Today

I wondered, when the Sunday School work went up on our notice board.

What insight from the child who drew Jesus with a Partick Thistle Nil jersey on!

We suffer on!

Maundy Thursday

Another moving Maundy Thursday evening with our brothers and sisters from the reformed churches in our town. A simple seder, with beautiful lamb, followed the washing of hands, (we wash hands here!), then on to the Eucharist, altar of repose, and the stripping of the sanctuary.The watch until midnight is faithfully carried by St Auggie's folk.

I don't know how we manage to feed around 80 folk, but we do. Physically and spiritually.

Stolen from Elsewhere....

Thursday, 1 April 2010

From Inspires Online

It has been announced that the Scottish Episcopal Church will begin moving over to the new method for calculating the date of Easter from April 2012. After this time, the date will be calculated according to a new algorithm which is aligned with modern astronomical measurements rather than the older means  of calculation which has become out of date.

Concerns had been expressed that the new method would mean that the Scottish Episcopal Church would always keep Easter on a different date to the Church of England. This has been resolved by using the New Revised Algorithm which will mean that Easter will be kept on the same day as the Church of England on alternate years. On other years, the date of Easter will be aligned with the Episcopal Church in the USA.
It is expected that some congregations will remain with the old method of calculation for a few years. The College of Bishops has indicated that it will issue a moratorium against the use of the old algorithm and the old calendar on 1 April 2020.

See more HERE.

From The Episcopal Cafe

In a letter to church bodies worldwide, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, announced a major international ecumenical agreement that the Feast of All Fool's will be celebrated on May 2nd starting in 2010.

2010 seemed like a good time to make this important change since this year's traditional observance coincides with a major Christian feast, Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus' Last Supper and marks the beginning of the Great Three Days.

Noting the inherent conflict of the two feasts falling on the same day, pastoral care professionals wondered at the appropriateness of traditional pranks such as putting sugar in the salt shaker or salt in the sugar bowl on such a solemn day. Others expressed fears that acolytes might super glue superfrontals to altars thus disrupting traditional "stripping of the altar" ceremonies.

The principal reason for this shift is historicity. The preponderance of the historic evidence is on the side of the later date.

Utilizing an extensive slide presentation, the Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright, St. Mark's in the Bowery Professor of Ecclesiastical History at General Theological Seminary in New York spoke to reporters saying "It appears that the earliest texts place the observance squarely on May 2nd."

Wright will also appear in a new History Channel documentary "The Truth About April Fool's Day" scheduled to premier Thursday evening. (Check your local listings).

"The first mention of the feast is in 1392," Wright continues, "when Chaucer wrote The Nun's Priest's Tale, where the phrase 'Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two' appears." This translates as '32 days after March.'

"In the past, most people assumed that Chaucer meant that this meant 32 days after the beginning of March or April 1st. But closer examination points to 32 days after the end of March, or May 2nd."

Other scholars who have examined the data agree. "Based on the best available evidence May 2nd would appear to be the correct day for April Fool's Day," said Dr. Joan R. Gunderson who holds a PhD in American history from the University of Notre Dame.

Still, Gunderson doubts that many people will want to make the change. "The legal ramifications that arise between churches that do make the change and those who do not are monumental."
Many religious leaders seem to be aware that changing a cultural fixture like April Fool's Day would be difficult.

"Personally, I don't see it," commented Brian Reid of the Society of Archbishop Justus. "I mean, can you imagine Google actually changing their yearly prank just because it was the right thing to do? Hah!"