Changing Vistas

It’s just over a year since I moved my blog spot and tried to think productively about what life holds for me. I’m not sure it is particularly exciting for others, as it doesn’t often offer much more than naval gazing on my own life. However it has offered a place to leave the mix of thoughts that sometime we need to be separated from, if we are to grasp at a better perspective.

Personally and as a family it has been a year that has brought some fairly major changes in life, and I think in personal perspectives on who we are individually. Or maybe that’s just me…

It is quite apparent from the early notes in this blog that we were settled in our previous home, and had much to look forward to in the place we were. It was only towards the middle of May that it became apparent that life would be changing, and then once we accepted the possibility of that change everything moved very quickly.

However in the midst of that change there has been much to learn and accommodate.

Firstly never underestimate the resilience of children. Mine have been amazing the smallest adapted really quickly to the new situation, and has a core group of good friends to play with and travel home with. More recently that has developed to sleep overs. The eldest took a little longer, but now has plans for adventures with friends in the last few days of this holiday. Being slightly older there are strong links to previous friendships and those connections continue with modern technology.

Secondly, sometimes you have to listen to friends. It was a friend who encouraged me to take a look at something new, and a friend who when I didn’t think it was for me pointed out why it was. Other friends highlighted my good points when I was keen to see only my failings. So at the year end I feel considerably more confident than I did at the beginning.

Lastly, when things seem to be upside down or not hurrying along, there is no point worrying about it. That just makes you ill. If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, just keep smiling because eventually all will sort it’s self out.

Twelve weeks into the new thing I can genuinely say I’m having a great time and the rest of the family seems happy and settled. My new session clerk and the deputy are living up to the promise they made to a past session clerk that they would look after me. It’s full on with lots of new things to learn and experience, and still a lot of learning to do. And as we wait the new year I’m tired, full of the cold, but looking forward to all the New Year will bring.

I have thought over Christmas of those we left behind, knowing that some of what they did for Christmas would be similar to years gone by. Post New Year for them will have the Nominating Committee looking at potential candidates as their new minister. No platitudes or sanctimonious comments I hope from me, but a genuine hope that they find someone who will enjoy being their minister as much (if not more) than me, and will offer then a fresh picture of God in their midst.

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Costumes on parade

In the midst of thoughts about Nativity, I’ve been giving a little thought to the kind of costumes we wear and why what they might represent to other people. In part it’s been prompted but something that the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had suggested for ministers to be doing in the week before Christmas, in part it’s because a squadron of angels, shepherds, wise men, and animals lay claim to the sanctuary, and in part because I’m thinking about how children relate to adults around the church and recognise who they are when they have been told that these are the people who are responsible for them.

So what did the Moderator say? His suggestion had been at in the week before Christmas all ministers should be donning their clerical collars in the hope that it will encourage conversations. Now I don’t have a problem with wearing a collar. Having worked prior to ministry in an organisation that required a uniform, for me the clothing of ministry is a uniform and in specific places for some those clothes offer the comfort and assurance that someone might know what they are doing in relating to God. However I do not feel any the less of a minister on the days that I choose to wear ordinary clothes. There is a running joke in our home that there is no problem for people deciding to speak to me, as I seem to attract all kinds of people who even without knowing what I normally do decide to have a conversation with me. Regularly a at bus stops and train stations I can find myself drawn into conversations with people I’ve never met before.

I do think that occasionally clothes are important. As a child growing up in a congregation where the elders wore the obvious sign of Morning Suit, it was comforting to know that should you get lost in the large building that one of them suits would know where your dad might be. In today’s world of need for protection of children, and ensuring that they are safely transferred between buildings perhaps we as a church need to recognise hat a yellow vest can be as much a sign of who to trust as a Morning suit was to an earlier generation.

Of course some might see this as being over-zealous or a doing down of the role of elder, but when it comes to the vulnerable of our communities, there is a clear Gospel principle that the lost and the least should be our akin priority.

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Advent Waiting

The notion of Advent always excites me. I like the thought of having a time of waiting, and enjoying the anticipation and preparation. I’m not certain the actually living of Advent matches the expectation and hope.

5 days into December and I’m conscious that I’ve done none of the preparations that need to happen for the coming celebrations with our home. There are various notes on bits of paper for what worship might contain. All around the other bits of life keep rolling forward.

Today has been a pause for reflection as I met with the writing group of which I’m part. The meeting has forced me away from the busy-ness of the new place, away from the desk, but has perhaps not aided in the panic rising of not being ready.

I smile as I write for is that real Advent waiting. We’re never ready for Christmas, for the gift of love God gives.

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