Back to business

It has been a while since I last posted anything… It was very nice to get people complaining that I hadn’t posted – people are actually reading it!

It has been an incredibly busy, but rewarding time since starting at Trinity. I am loving the opportunities that I am getting, the friends I am making and, what appears to be a creative side of me, that is getting a chance to release itself. From visual work to crafting words, the time I am no longer spending preparing for essays or dissertation work is freeing my mind to put pen to paper for prayers and even some song writing (more on that at a later time!).

Since my last post, I have been working with the Calderside Learning Community Chaplaincy Team, which Karen, my supervisor (or ‘bishop’), is a part of. For the second year running, we ran a Rights Respecting Week called R.E.S.P.E.C.T, which can only be described as a rewarding, although tiring, week with first-year pupils. This was to help promote and participate in UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award programme.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. We had four workshops looking at four of the 54 articles found in this Convention:

  • An arts, crafts & music workshop to allow children to develop their personality, talents and skills to the full.
  • A games workshop to allow children to relax and play. In some parts of the world, children live their entire life working.
  • A workshop dedicated to discussing disabilities – both obvious and not so obvious – and how children, irrespective of such disabilities, should be given what is needed to ensure that they can lead full and independent lives.
  • A drama workshop, which used the medium of drama to help children understand that they have a right to think and believe what they want and practice their religion freely as long as they allow others to do the same.

At the end of the week, we brought everyone and everything together at a Friday morning assembly, where each workshop got to showcase their article and what the pupils had done and learned in them. From singing verses written by pupils to the tune of ‘True Colours’ with other pupils using sign language to sign the chorus to a drama sketch about Sectarianism being acted out by one of the groups, everyone got a chance to laugh
and to reflect on the issues raised throughout the week. On the topic of colour, we also hung a piece of coloured paper, which every pupil had designed, along ‘The Street’ – a central area in the school building, which looked as beautiful and vibrant as the one from last year.

Each pupil was also given a multi-coloured wristband as a memento, which we hope they will look at and remember their call to respect others around them.

Our Cosy Café was held at the end of each day from Monday to Thursday, which was a great success.

 

As we continue to do this every Thursday in Calderside, your prayers of support would be greatly appreciated.

We are also involved in running Cosy Café Sundays, which is now reaching out to approximately 50 children in the area, which is amazing! We run it in a relaxed café atmosphere with hot chocolate, games and opportunities for young people to express themselves simply through a chat, a group discussion or something more creative. We are focussing on the theme of being ‘imitators of God’ (Ephesians 5) and what that entails according to the words of Paul.
From personalised packets of Love Hearts for our ‘living by love’ week to serving burgers from a barbecue dressed as waiters (complete with bow ties!) to stories from the Timbuctoo series by Roger Hargreaves in our Storytime with Auntie Karen, we have explored these themes with humour whilst offering space for reflection and response.
The fun doesn’t stop there however! Over the October break, we held a Holiday Club for Primary School kids called The Academy of Amazing Things, which explored the story of Moses from his birth through to the parting of the Red Sea in order that the Hebrews may be led to freedom and safety from Egypt. By means of games, crafts, some singing, video clips from The Prince of Egypt and experiments, which I performed under the guise of Professor A.M.A.Zing, we not only had a ball, but all the children were incredibly well behaved and contributed a great deal to the week.
Alongside all of these wonderful opportunities (with many more to come), my experiences of worship and pastoral work continue to grow and develop as the days roll on. With two primary schools in the Parish, school assemblies have been a pleasure to be a part of as well as doing assemblies in Calderside Academy! Looking out to a sea of a couple of hundred faces was a shock to the system for my first S6 assembly, but you simply get on with it!
What is also a big shock to the system (well, for me anyway) is when you wake up as a Probationer and realise that the couple of days or so you would spend a week at your placement has become full time! I mean this in a positive way, because in some ways you feel that the finish line is in sight. The experiences are intensifying; you are only going to get as much as you put into the placement and the opportunities you get to explore as a Probationer with the support of experienced colleagues and patient parishioners are something that I have embraced to the full and will continue to do for the remainder.
So, that’s us pretty much caught up! Oh, and I have booked my flights to the States for my trip to Calvin College for the 2012 Worship Symposium! Karen and David, a fellow Minister in training are coming along too so I am sure it will be great!
I do hope to keep this up to date now so thanks for your patience and for surviving to the end of the post!

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…

Probation

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!