Friday photo – which cone?

cones2

It takes around an hour for me to drive to work in Nottingham and with my body getting older and creakier I go for a brief walk on arrival to ease the stiffness. One day this week I came across these two cones. One was in the middle of the road – one of may squashed by the cars that come up and down the road. The other was underneath the tree. I did a show and tell with the two cones as part of a prayer/reflection at the beginning of a meeting. I reflected that there have been times recently when I could identify with the squashed cone but that I believe in a restorative God who shows me the other cone and that in the ebb and flow of life both are part of our experience.

Wondering Wednesdays – the faceless priest

faceless priest
On Friday I was at a gathering exploring research into ministry practice. One of the presentations was on understandings of leading worship and the faceless priest was one metaphor. I cannot be a faceless priest. While I do not want to be a distraction when I lead worship to say that I am doing it as anything other than Sally for me is a denial that God called the whole of who I am. I appreciate that others have a different understanding but it has taken me many years to get to where I am now and my ordination was part of becoming who God had created me to be not an opportunity to withdraw from it. I am mindful that in the next couple of weeks friends are being ordained as deacons and as priests, my prayer for them is that the unique gift of who they are has the opportunity to flourish and that they can be a deacon or priest in a way that feels authentic, that is shaped by God not by the expectations or pressure of others.

Honest Christianity – when liberal is not liberal enough

Pilgrims steps 2
There has been another devastating event again this week with the fire in the block of flats in London. Of all the individuals and groups criticized, the local churches were not among them. Their doors, hearts, hands and pockets were open within minutes of the gravity of the situation being realised.

How sad that while this tragedy was being outplayed, a Christian declared that they had to resign because they could not see how they could reconcile their personal faith and their job. the person was Tim Farron and his job was the leader of a national political party, the Liberal Democrats. In his speech he said:
“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in….In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.
That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”

There is always more going on than what is seen or reported but how sad that someone who has sought to publicly serve their country and joined a party which has inclusive values and a Christian heritage, could not balance and integrity, their personal beliefs and their public role. His voting record did not seem as important as his beliefs and or struggles as a basis of being judged.

Although not on Tim’s scale, I sympathise with his dilemma. In the early days of being a NHS senior chaplain in a multicultural city, reconciling as someone from an evangelical charismatic background and leading a multi faith team and service, was not an easy place or position for me. How to hold these with integrity, transparency and consistency was a challenge and at first did not seem possible. It seemed something had to give. Did Paul help in l Corinthians
9 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 New International Version (NIV)

Through prayer, reflection and wise counsel my way forward was found in being the best Christian I can be, to love those I lead and serve. The criteria cannot be about agreeing, as we have such a spectrum of beliefs in our team but to respect and to seek to serve the wide spectrum of values and wellbeing of our patents, families, staff and reputation in our community. My own integrated consistent universal mission is to seek to live out and show the love of God with whoever I am with and in whatever I am doing. I am still trying to
work this out to Paul’s lifestyle. At the moment I am concentrating on being authentic and seeking to be and be better at, a Jesus loving Christian.

Friday photo – 31 years

Recently we celebrated 31 years of being married!  I saw this mug yesterday and it made me laugh.  While we have both tried to adapt and make changes there are still some things in each other we find annoying and I am not sure that will ever change – at least for me, Paul may be more gracious.  But we have also tried really hard to focus on the idea of different not wrong even when different does feel a lite bit annoying!

Wondering Wednesdays – the freedom in good enough

IMG_20160827_134851391 - Copy

I am a big fan of Donald Winnicott’s concept of ‘good enough’. Originally he wrote about it in relation to parenting – before I was even born (hence the picture). But it has been used in many different contexts since then. The link at the bottom of the blog is to a short article using the term in relation to doctors. At first I found the idea a bit odd as medicine is an area where we tend to think about wanting the best not just what is good enough. This is the concluding paragraph which I am still mulling over but think I have seen in other fields including my own…
Good enough is not mediocrity. It has to do with rational choices as opposed to compulsive behaviour. The good enough approach is a way to drive ongoing improvement and achieve excellence by progressively meeting, challenging, and raising our standards as opposed to driving toward an illusion of perfection. A best practices approach to any endeavour is to start with good enough and raise the bar to achieve excellence—because being an excellent doctor should not
compromise a good enough personal life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654842/pdf/0550239.pdf

Honest Christianity – God wants you to know Papa is especially fond of you

shack
Yes Sally and I have just got back from seeing The Shack at the cinema. There will be no need for any spoiler alerts and it is a while since i have read the book, but as I recall the book the film is close to it. I have left the cinema with a more tender heart and some small glimpses of light into the mysteries of God as Trinity and engaging with the sufferings of life. I know some have issues with the theology of The Shack but I want to congratulate the author of the book William Paul Young and the Director of the film Stuart Hazeldine for tackling two of he most difficult and perplexing concepts and issues within the Christian faith – suffering and the Trinity.

We were also privileged to hear the Trinity/baptism Godly Play story in church in an inspiring Messy church time. The story reminded us of the wholeness and the individuality of the personhoods and character of the our Trinitarian God as circles of cloth were laid as an overlapping Venn diagram and water, light and oil were used to represent our creator, redeemer and sustainer.

Remember. God wants you know, Papa is especially fond of you.

Friday photo – carrying on the story

Stones

I have written this yesterday believing that I will need more time to reflect on wherever we are this morning before commenting on that. This is a picture from Sunday where people were picking up the stones we had used throughout Lent and Easter and taking them out into the community. We built a cairn in lent adding one word a week on stones and in the Easter season we built a path from the Easter Garden with them. So messages of hope, compassion, trust, generosity, love, friendship have been taken by members of Hodge Hill Church into their communities. Whatever we are looking at this morning these messages will still be relevant.