Eyes on the Prize…

What a week! I returned from my final Candidates Conference in St. Andrews on Wednesday, which I and, from the posts on Facebook, many others enjoyed immensely. On the theme of ‘Context and Commitment’, we had seminars led by a variety of people from a number of parts of the Church including Priority Areas, World Mission and Church & Society. From ministers to the Moderator, it was an excellent programme and, in the evenings, a lot of fun!
It was at this conference that I heard exactly what describes the type of Ministry I want to have –
I want to be a Minister who talks to fishermen about fish and farmers about seed…

On Thursday, my Presbytery (Presbytery of Hamilton) held a recognition service to mark the end of my academic training and the start of my final placement (a.k.a Probation). I was delighted that Rev. Dr Doug Gay, Principal of Trinity College, University of Glasgow, was able to come and preach the sermon for the service, which was fabulous. With the service based upon Philippians 3:4-14, Doug discussed Paul’s boastful introduction to this passage before going on to say that all the qualifications and gifts are ‘a pile of crap […] unless we go on to preach the gospel of God’s amazing grace.’

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who contributed to a wonderful evening, especially everyone who attended!

And now, it’s off to spend some time with my girls, who I’ve hardly seen since last week!

Month One

You may be wondering why I am posting this already… Due to the family holiday in Norway and my final conference in St Andrews, I will not be back in Trinity until 4th September!
It has been a VERY quick month, in which I have had the opportunity to get to know a number of new people. Many of my visits have been to the housebound parishioners with whom my supervisor has journeyed for a number of years; sharing in their stories and, in some cases, their anxieties.
We begin a new worship series in Trinity when I return, where we will be using material from Spill The Beans, which I would highly recommend to all worship leaders and teams!
Upon my return, Hamilton Presbytery will be holding a Recognition of Graduate Candidate Service to mark the completion of my studies at Glasgow University and the beginning of my time as a probationary minister!

The Rev. Dr. Doug Gay, Principal of Trinity College and author of ‘Remixing the Church‘, has kindly agreed to preach for my service. Having worked together on putting a service together during our trip to Calvin College, Michigan at the beginning of this year, it means a lot to know that he will be a part of this special occasion.

There will be refreshments and home bakes after the service served in the church hall.

Thursday 1 September 2011
St Andrew’s Parish Church
6:45 p.m. Presbytery Gather
7:00 p.m. Service Starts

Right, I guess I better get packing!

Another day in Paradis

Yes, I have spelt it correctly! This is the name of the 5 house community in which my wife’s Norwegian relatives live and where we will be staying until Sunday. Kjersti, Karyn’s cousin and her partner Pål are getting married on Saturday, as many of the family who are able to are here in Haugesund, Norway for the shindig!

The last two days have been incredible! Between beautiful weather and a lot of time spent in one of the boats, we have not only had a lot of fun, but caught 40 or so crabs, 12 mackerel and 1 monkfish! Tonight, as you may guess, will be the seafood banquet down at the poolside.

My other brother-in-law and his partner are due here in any minute now, so looking forward to us all going back out to sea today at some point and hopefully catching more of the beautiful sunsets…

Going in the right direction…

While drinking my morning coffee, I was reading the blog of Peter Rollins, whose book entitled ‘How (not) to speak of God‘ has just been downloaded onto my e-book reader. In one of his entries, he recollected:

One evening a young man who is returning home after a long and tiring day at work gets a call from his concerned wife,

“Dear, be careful on the way home as I just heard on the radio that some crazy guy has been spotted going full speed the wrong way up the freeway”

“Sorry love” he shouts back, “can’t talk right now… there isn’t just one nutter, there are hundreds of them!!!”
One of the interesting things to note about this little anecdote is the way that the husband does not even entertain the possibility that he might be going the wrong way. Rather he takes it for granted that he is right.

Today’s lectionary reading about Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman’s daughter is one that may have wished not to have been there this Sunday! One the surface, one can be quite taken aback by how harsh Jesus’ replies are to this woman in need. After hearing an excellent sermon at Trinity this morning, there were a couple of things that I reflected upon as I cut the grass tonight, which I thought I would jot down in the blog (I am determined to keep up with this thing!):

  • It is interesting how events pan out in Matthew’s Gospel in this story. Written with a Jewish audience in mind as can be seen in the constant referral to fulfilment of the Hebrew Bible as well as the genealogy in Matthew 1:1, one could go as far as to be pleasantly surprised by Jesus’ actions in the end. If the Syrophoenician woman was not as strong in her faith in Jesus as she was, it would have been entirely understood if she were to have just walked away after Jesus’ reply/remark. But she didn’t. She stood her ground and fought her corner. This woman believed that Jesus could heal her daughter and as a child of God she felt that Jesus should answer her pleas in the exact same manner as those of a Jew. Boundaries were crossed and equal treatment was received.
  • England has had a tough week. With people taking things to the ultimate extreme and seeing fit to riot, loot, assault and in some cases kill, it was heartbreaking to see a father, grieving for his son who was killed while trying to protect others, simply asking the rioters to ‘calm down and go home’. For me this was a most beautiful thing. So many words could have parted that man’s lips at that time – words of anger, words demanding the most severe punishment for all involved, words wishing revenge and the pain that may accompany it, yet he simply said these words:

“Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill each other?

“I lost my son. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home.”

We live in a world filled with people going in different directions. Some people think there is only one direction. Some people try different directions to see if they will end up at the same destination. Some people are still waiting to set off on their journey.

My prayer is that one day, people may stop forcing others off the road for going in a different direction. We are all pilgrims on a journey…perhaps some may benefit from walking along a new path once in a while…


Exterior of Trinity







Probation has finally arrived! Above is a photo of Trinity Parish Church, Hamilton, where I will be working for the next 15 months in order that I may get a continuous and intensive period of practical training and experience for the Ministry, to begin to ‘firm up’ the training and experience gained during my shorter placements. It is an incredibly useful part of our training as it provides us with a much more immediate and direct preparation for parish ministry.

Trinity is in the Fairhill area of Hamilton, which is at the top of Hamilton in the direction of Quarter, Chapelton and Strathaven. It is a large parish with a lot of maze-like housing areas, which make me very thankful to Messrs. Tom and Tom (My Sat-nav)!

I officially started on Monday 1st and spent the first week with my supervisor planning the weeks ahead. We have visited a number of housebound parishioners together in order that I may be introduced before arriving unexpectedly on the doorstep in the weeks to come!

At the close of my second week, with a number of visits and a couple of funeral observations under my belt, I can safely say that I am going to enjoy my time at Trinity and cannot wait for what lies ahead!