Monday, 11 November 2013

Moving On

It is with dread that I look at the week ahead! Apart from three funerals and a Remembrance Service for those who have died in our community as a result of addiction, a Vestry Meeting and a short listing meeting to choose who we will interview for the post of Associate Priest here, there is the Moving House Day on November 19th.

As I speak, I am surrounded by boxes, some empty bookcases and bare walls. I'm dreading, yet getting really excited, at the prospect of moving on. However, this is not really to a new parish, but to another Rectory in the forthcoming linkage of St Augustine's with St Mungo's Alexandria. Richard Holloway may have recently published his book Leaving Alexandria, and here I am Going to Alexandria!

Moving on has always been a big part of my life, and in many ways it reflects Christian Pilgrimage. We are called constantly to move on, to grow, to change, to be better and to move eventually to the heavenly home! I hope that's a move I'm not asked to make in the next wee while, though, for there is much to do and much to accomplish.

I'm not really leaving Dumbarton, though, it's just that my boundaries have become broader. My office will still be in Dumbarton, and probably most of my time will be spent in Dumbarton too. Just a physical move of goods and shackles. A new house with lots of big rooms which is going to be hell to heat and a garden which fills me with terror, but at least the dogs will be happy!

And both congregations will have to move on; move on to a new place where they will be ministered to by a team rather than an individual. Exciting times...... But I wish we could afford Pickfords who come, do the packing, and let you sit back and watch!

Now, there's another thought! How many of us, in our spiritual journey, take the Pickfords option and let other folks just get on with it as we sit and watch?

Monday, 4 November 2013

God's Revelation - Our Core Beliefs

Yikes! It's been a while since I've had so many positive comments on what was preached on a Sunday. Maybe I'd been getting a bit stale! I'd have liked it to have been recorded, in retrospect, and I cannot reproduce what I said, for it was "off-the-cuff" stuff, but much was based on what I had experienced last week on retreat.

Basically it was centred around what God thinks of us, and what God says to all of us. Let's call them God's revelation, or our Core Beliefs!

  • ·         I have been made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1)
  • ·         I have sinned but have been redeemed (Gen 3 and 2Cor 5:17)
  • ·         I am precious in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:4)
  • ·         I have been made little less than a god and crowned with glory and beauty. (Psalm 8:6)
  • ·         I am reborn of water and the Holy Spirit  (John 3:6)
  • ·         My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19)
  • ·         I am God’s work of art (Ephesians 2:10)
  • ·         I am part of the Body of Christ  (1Cor 12:27)
     This is what Scripture tells us, and to protest that we are "only human" does God a great disservice. It may even amount to heresy! Our humanity is precious and loved, a work of art, in the image of God indeed, and we have been made little less than a god and crowned with glory and beauty. How wonderful is that? 
      Yet, we are plagued by the Inner Critic. Our lives are full of dialogue, with all sorts of people who will use negative words to tell us how they perceive us, but the rest of the time we have an inner dialogue, and that is when the Inner Critic comes to life. It will tell us that bits of our body, or our whole body is ugly, or that we are useless, that we should have done better, that we are no good and bound to fail, that we are forever falling short. Ad infinitum it goes on and on, whispering lies to us, and the Core Beliefs are shoved to the side as we listen to the Inner Critic which magnifies all our shortcomings, especially if someone else has sown the seed in us! 

      In truth, we need to banish the Inner Critic and see ourselves as God sees us, worthy, loved precious, a work of art, etc etc, which are all part of God's revelation to us. The Inner Critic will destroy us if we let it. 

      We are children of God, and we need to drag that truth from the bottom of our souls and keep it at the top of our inner being, where it belongs, and refuse to let the Inner Critic bury it again!


Saturday, 2 November 2013

New Soul for All Souls

Coming off a few days at St Mary's Monastery at Kinnoull in Perth, and a wonderfully led mini-retreat by Fr Jim McManus, a priest I have greatly admired for years. These past few months my soul has been greatly troubled by a number of things, and as a result, I have been unwell at times when I'm normally quite a bouncy person. The things which troubled me are still around, OK, but I've managed this last week to put them where they belong, and they will overburden me no longer!

In fact, I'm looking forward to the days ahead, merging two congregations into a Linked Charge, which means I'll be moving house to Alexandria on the 19th November. However, even the thought of the turmoil of moving house is not flustering me in the slightest, although it may do a bit more before we get to the 19th!

On this All Souls Day, I feel as if my own soul has been renewed and revitalised, and that's going to be so important to me as I face the days ahead. There is a morbidness, along with a feeling of gratitude in my heart on every All Souls Day celebration. I grieve for many on the lists I read out, but I'm grateful for all they gave me in their lives. Some names bring a tear, and others a smile.

At the Requiem this morning, I read out a blog post which had popped into my inbox earlier, and all seemed to appreciate the words I read to them. They had moved me deeply. Written by Beth, a young medic, who happens to be a server at the Cathedral, they had me in tears, tears of empathy and understanding and I think joy, yes joy too. There is indeed a fine line between the living and the dead! Read Beth's words here.