Hard Drive Wipeout

February 26, 2009

Dear Friends, pity me.  I came home from a meeting on Tuesday night to find my screen saver frozen.  I did what I usually do on these occasions – I pulled the plug on the PC.  Result – total wipe out of everything.  And no back-up of course.  I have had to have a new hard drive installed.  Nightmare.  However, I’m looking at this a new start.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  (But it is sad). 

There is a text appropriate for the occasion – Job 19:23,24

O that my words were written down.  O that they were inscribed in a book.  O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever. 

There will be more about the trip to London when I’ve nothing more important to do.


John Mason MP

February 24, 2009

John Mason MP is a Christian, a member of Easterhouse Baptist Church.  I’ve been acquainted with John for over 20 years.  He succeeded me as Scott Kirkland’s flat-mate at Ruthven St when I left for Kinross to begin my legal traineeship.  At that time John was an accountant for a large care organisation.  Over the years I may have bumped into John on a handful of occasions, or heard about him from Scott, for example, that he had become an SNP (Scottish National Party, advocating independence for Scotland) counsellor on Glasgow Council. 

Then last summer he was in the media spot-light.  He was the SNP candidate in the Glasgow East bye-election.  The amazing co-incidence is that not having seen for years, we attended the same evening service at Bargeddie Church during the campaign (when the sermon, from Daniel, was about one’s integrity in public life).  John kindly added me to his list of those praying for him.  He was elected and I have been praying for him as promised.  He now speaks for the SNP on welfare issues.

I stayed at his flat in Lambeth this past weekend.  If his fellow MPs discover how Spartan his accommodation is they’d hound him out of the Commons.  With MPs’ expenses being scrutinised as never before, John demonstrates how simply one can live if one is disciplined.  His is a one-bedroomed flat in a small complex occupied by ordinary Londoners.  There is no giant plasma screen TV; there’s no TV at all.  No dish-washer; not even a toaster.  John Lewis’ haven’t seen or heard from this guy. 

Before getting all self-righteous about our MPs, I have to examine my own life.  John is a single man and has made a life-choice.  How he lives in London is consistent with how he lives in Glasgow.  He is a rebuke to all of us who have allowed the consumer society to dictate the level of our needs.  It seems to me that John epitomises the truth of the old Shaker song: It’s a gift to be simple. 

Not the Wedding Day

February 23, 2009

Eddie and Jo’s big day was not a wedding service.  As readers of this blog are aware they were married on Inauguration Day.  Otherwise Jo would have had to return to the USA due to visa restrictions.  Fortunately this has all been sorted out.  So strictly speaking Saturday was not their wedding day.  But it was really!  

Guests arrived in their finery.  The Scots (Scottish Scots and London Scots) were be-kilted; the girls a veritable fashion show.  Jo’s dad, Jim, got to walk her down the aisle.  Her mum/mom, Jenny, got to be flustered and emotional.  All the components of a wedding service were there except the vows and rings.  

Thanks to our Book of Common Order I had found some suitable promises

I Edward/Joanna

in the presence of God and these witnesses

renew my commitment

to you Joanna/Edward

as your husband/wife.

All that I am I give to you

all that I have I share with you

Whatever the future holds

I will love you

and stand by you

as long as we both shall live. 

Perhaps the most beautiful part of the ceremony was the singing of the Aaronic Blessing (“The Lord bless you and keep you”) which I led “a cappella”, joined admirably by the all the other Presbyterians present.  The All Souls family showed themselves at their most loving and caring by facilitating the day, including the catering, which was at another church not far away.

It was good to spend some time with Graham Caskie (an avid reader of this blog) and to meet his fiancé Clare.  I first met Graham at a General Assembly when he was a youth delegate.  He’s now in insurance and though he tried to explain what it is he does I’m none the wiser.  Another connection was made with Peter McMahon, whose grandmother, Jessie, is a member of our congregation.  He was playing the cello, as well as being a guest.  I was also glad to catch up with Alan Boag, now working in Perth, and pleased to hear he’s getting a permanent contract at long last.  As Alan himself put it, he has flown the nest.  

We danced the night away in good Scottish style, led by the ultimate oxymoron, an English ceilidh band.

Going to London for a wedding is certainly out of the ordinary for a parish minister.  This has been one of those occasions that takes me out of the predictable daily cycle of ministry in Kirkmuirhill.  I went as pastor of a particular family and feel that the bond with the Farrow family has deepened.  We won’t see much of Eddie and Jo in the future but I went as much for Keith and Evelyn (Eddie’s parents) who remain in Blackwood.  And for their generation of friends, who are watching their children become parents and wondering if the Lord and his church will be as much a part of their grandchildren’s lives as they have been for them. 

I missed Kim and the kids terribly; nevertheless, I’m glad I went. 

(I don’t have any photographs of the day.  If you have any please send them and I’ll post them on this sight.)  


Submlime and ridiculous

February 11, 2009

The sublime – a quote from Gurnall “No prayer was ever lost at sea.” 


The ridiculous – What was Boaz before he married?  Ruth-less!

Lessons from a skint knee

February 10, 2009

You never know the minute.  Yesterday afternoon, after being out with the Cornhill boys knocking on doors in the morning, I was settling down to prepare for today’s funeral when I got a call from the school.  Jordan had hurt his leg and the first aider thought it might need stitches.  I’m past the stage of worrying about Jordan’s injuries; or getting hot and bothered about his antics.  He’s a boy’s boy and these things are going to happen.

This accident was the result of running away from a snowball fight.  He fell into an uncovered drain and badly cut his left leg. 

So we spent yesterday afternoon in Wishaw General A&E.  It turns out that we did the right thing.  Although not a big wound, it’s deep and the nurse was concerned about infection. 

The funny thing is that Jordan was worried about amputation.  And this is the boy who is thinking about joining the army!  Every time the nurse brought out something – a swab, a needle, anything – he wanted to know what it was for.  He was so concerned that that they were going to do something drastic to his leg.

I hate interuptions like this so I decided to deliberately try to see God’s hand in all this.  So here are the good things that came out of this accident:

1. Jordan and I got to spend some unscheduled father/son time. 

2. We were reminded of how blessed we are living in Scotland where we not only have excellent health care facilities, but it’s free.  We had to wait just over an hour, but given how busy A&E was that was nothing.

3. The nurse recognized Jordan’s general good health and strength.  He has a body that can fight infection.

4. He goes to a school where he is cared for when these accidents happen.  It’s a relatively small school, and though he is just a first year, the headteacher knows him.  Indeed, she told me that he went to her first after the accident.  Nothing like going straight to the top. 

5. I picked up a book to read, one I hadn’t read for a while and was meaning to – and decided that it isn’t worth reading any more, so it can go back on the shelf, and it isn’t among the “to read” books I feel guilty about.

Cornhill students

February 9, 2009

This week we have a team of students from the Glasgow Cornhill course working with us. Cornhill is a year long course that trains people in how to read and communicate the Bible.  Sometimes those on the course have already done some theological training and want some practical training in preaching; for others this is the first step towards ministry. 

Two of the students preached yesterday- very effectively I must say.  Constructive criticism will be given privately!  What has struck me is the variety of backgrounds.  Among them are an ex-sailor, an ex-A&E nurse (male), a painter and decorator, a lad with a farming background, and a ski instructor.

What is particularly thrilling is to hear their testimonies.  One lad came to faith while his marriage was disintigrating; but the Lord brought him and his wife back together.  Another was raised in a Christian family, went to church, and always assumed he was a Christian until he heard a message that convicted him of his sin.  Another was invited to a Christianity Explored course by a work colleague.  It’s just wonderful how the Lord intervenes in people’s lives.

Please pray for this week.  The guys have already been doing some door-to-door work.  They’ll be going to various meetings within the life of the church, taking part, and observing.  And on Friday we’re holding an evangelistic curry night – men only. 

I’ll try to find the time to keep you posted.