Thursday, 29 July 2010

Afternoon ramble

Yesterday I managed to finish preparing for Sunday's service, and the wedding service for Saturday was also prepared, which is good as we are busy today and tomorrow!
So yesterday afternoon we went for a walk up a country lane until we reached Offa's Dyke path and then we came back along the path over the fields back to our home.
Once we reach Offa's Dyke (the dyke can no longer be seen around here) we stop and sit down to partake of afternoon tea - tea bag, mugs, spoon, hot water in a thermos flask and yummy biscuits all carried in a small rucksack.
The views were wonderful, blue sky, white clouds, green fields, pale yellow fields which had already been harvested - we could see for miles, spotting the site where we had lunch a few weeks ago on the top of the hill across the valley. We waved at the train - cos you do - well we do!
And marvelled at the buzzard which we watched for ages and it never once flapped its wings - it glided all over the valley, showing off its markings as it flew above us - Wonderful!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Erotic Love

There have been many letters in the Baptist Times in response to articles written by the blogger 'nah then' (see side column). One points out that "...the Bible itself is 'X-rated'. Mutilations, rape and dismemberment are found within its pages." I must admit that I was shocked when I first read my Bible from cover to cover, discovering things that I had never heard in church!
Next Saturday I shall be taking a wedding, and as I prepared a little talk, I decided to use a few verses from 'Song of Songs' or 'Song of Solomon' as it is called in some translations. Wow, that was difficult - so there I was using just a few verses and then stopping short - not because I thought any visitors would be shocked at the language - but because I thought it may offend some church-goers! We don't usually hear sermons from that book!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I've changed

I used to be a wallflower, watching everyone else. I was told by a good friend that I shouldn't go into the ministry (but I'm not sure of his views on women in the pulpit!) because I was more of a Barnabas - helping in the background.
But I followed my calling and after many years of helping in the background, I am now often to be found in the pulpit.

Ours is a small chapel with most members being OAPs, with very little in the way of facilities, so we are praying and thinking about how we can be Christ in the village.
The village has an active life based around the village hall. I've never been a social animal and going to regular women's meetings has never been my style but as the newly appointed minister, I thought I ought to join in.
So once a month I join others for an afternoon talk and recently went on their summer outing to Ludlow - beautiful but not the same as our bit of Wales. This annual outing attracts many others including the local vicars and others who take the day off from work thus filling a large coach.

Then there is the book club which I joined not only to broaden my reading matter but to meet other women, most of whom do still go out to work. And yes, I've read some good books that I would never have previously picked up.

And every Wednesday I join in the coffee morning - a mixed group of OAPs but mostly women. Our chapel lunchtime bible study follows this once a month and those who have looked at the notes start discussing the questions over coffee, along with others who don't go to church.
Yesterday the coffee morning group all went to a very nice hotel for lunch, and I was asked by non-church going folk to say grace, during which there were many giggles because I thanked God that we didn't have to do the washing-up - but let's be honest - isn't half the pleasure of eating out, the fact that we neither have to cook the meal or wash-up!

I've never had such an active social life and its been a wonderful opportunity to get to more people in the village. I'm a changed woman!

Monday, 19 July 2010

It's not logical

We came to South Wales on holiday three years ago, as we were on our way to visit my Aunt further north but had heard about a little church in the middle of nowhere which had a well where an 11th century pilgrim had been healed and the church possessed a 'sense of the other'. It can only be reached by a single track lane with twists and very steep bits or a tramp across several fields. Having driven there once - we now leave the car and walk the last bit.

Having visited my Aunt and continued our holiday in Brecon, we decided that we preferred our first campsite - so returned there. By now the weather had changed and we had difficulty driving back into the field through the mud. And so for the last few days we sat in our camper-van, stuck in the mud in the pouring rain when I suddenly found myself saying "Isn't it wonderful here - we should move here when we retire - oh - we are retired - what's stopping us? - nothing!"
The farmer kindly pulled us out of the mud with aid of his tractor and then let us hose down the van ready for our journey home.

On our return we put our house on the market and looked up the village in the BU handbook to discover that there was an active Baptist chapel which we had walked past without noticing it - which is weird because it is very difficult to miss!

As we told our younger son of our plans, he told us that he had got his wife 'up the duff' - were we still going to move? It was not planned as she was still to complete her degree - and it would have been very useful to have a Grandma living nearby.
I also had to promise my Mum that I would still come and see her every month and tempted her with holidays in Wales.

During the long months of waiting for the housing chain to sort itself out, we made several visits back to Wales and started worshipping at the chapel. On our first visit I was asked if I could play the organ? No! Would you be happy to teach in Sunday School? NO! I then thought I ought to confess - 'I do preach a little' - 'Oh Good' was the reply - 'Are you happy to have a woman in the pulpit?' as quick as anything the response was 'Oh Yes - I book the preachers!'

It was not logical - young Stanley was born on the day the contracts for selling our house were signed - we would be leaving family and friends - knowing no-one in South Wales - but it is the best move we have ever done.

We have made more friends here than ever before - both within the chapel and outside. Mum and our sons and daughter with spouses come for holidays - the area is beautiful and we love climbing the hills.
And now many years after leaving college, I am able to make full use of my studies and am so grateful for the opportunity to have listened to some of the world's greatest preachers.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Good News

It's a year since this little Baptist Chapel called me to be their minister, although we were already members and had been worshipping, along with the occasional preach, with them for the two previous years.
So yesterday was the first Annual General Meeting where I took the chair. And I should mention that although we have quarterly Deacon's meetings we don't have Church Members meetings. This was a big event!
Because many of our folk are getting on in years and don't like coming out in the evenings, we opted for coming together on a Saturday morning.
One of our deacons who celebrated his ninetieth birthday a couple of months ago has been unable to get to chapel for well over a year as he doesn't have the puff to walk up the path.
He lives just a hundred yards from the chapel and so we always have our deacons meetings at his house. He can usually be seen sitting in his new conservatory and he waves to us as we walk to chapel, and enjoys reading my full script prayers and sermon without the aid of reading glasses!
But yesterday he arrived at the chapel for the AGM on his new scooter! However, doing something so different yesterday has meant that he was too tired to join us this morning for the service.
Arrangements will now be made to make sure that he can come into the chapel and remain sitting on his scooter for the services. But the really wonderful news is that he will be able to see his grand-daughter get married in two weeks time.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

What should women wear

... and who should make the decision?
Should it be her husband? or should it be the government? Has anyone thought that maybe a woman may like to make up her own mind?

I first met women in burkas in a London department store decades ago and was quite intrigued! Covered from head to toe in black, some with a thick black net over the eye opening, while others wore a gold mask. I wondered if they really could see what they were buying!

There are times when I think it would save a lot of time and effort not to worry about the state of my hair or makeup, and could see the benefit of putting on a burka.
But I do think it is sad that what women wears should be dictated by the government, especially as I understand that many wear the burka through choice.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Women Bishops

The vote has been cast but we won't see any Women Bishops until 2014!
I was thrilled with the decision but saddened by much of the discussion, what many who were against were trying to explain was that this would be going against tradition - nothing about what the bible says!
I spent a very long breakfast with Christina Rees at a conference led by 'CBE' (Christians for Biblical Equality), 'WATCH' (Women And The CHurch) and 'MWG' (Men Women and God).
At the conference there was a paper presented on Romans 16:7. "Andronicus and Junia... they are prominent among the apostles." A man and a woman!
The Authorised version has Junia, as does William Tyndale's 1526 translation, but in more recent translations such as the commonly used NIV, 'Junia' has been changed to 'Junias' - a made up name with a masculine feel to it!
There were female apostles and Paul wrote about at least one!
When the decision to have women priests was made, my Roman Catholic female friends were horrified at the thought of the traditionalist Anglican priests defecting to them - they were not against them as Anglicans but their views on women priests!

We Baptists may have been ordaining women for eighty years, and have the equivalent of a woman bishop but as it is the membership of each church which decides on who will be their minister, our number of women ministers is still quite low.
Why is it that the church which should be at the forefront, stills lags behind on the question of equality?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The news

Raoul Moat's dictaphone showed the police that he was getting angry with the way his situation was being reported.
I have rarely bought a newspaper - one; because I could see that I would sit and read it all day long and not get any work done, two; I hear most of the news every hour on the radio and three, because there are so many inaccuracies.
This morning I woke up very early and listening to the World Service, they were telling me of the situation in Haiti. The financial response to the earthquake was second only to the Tsunami and many folk are now living in better conditions than ever before. A few hours later on radio 4, they were stressing that so much work needs to be done - two sides of the same story; good news and bad news - no wonder we get confused when often getting only half the story.
Let us continue to remember those who are still affected by the London bombings, the Tsunami, earthquakes and the recent event in Rothbury.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

We've done it

One of reasons for moving here was to be able to put our boots on indoors and climb up the local hills.
While renting we managed to walk up our favourite hill each year. But this year we have only managed to go for short walks because of the work needing to be done on the house and in the garden, let alone preparing sermons and services.
We were planning to go for the walk a couple of days ago, but the weather changed for the better and we didn't want to get sunburnt. But today the forecast looked good, and although the sun came out a couple of times, most of the time it was covered with a thin layer of white cloud.
The hill is a long ridge, where we have seen hand-gliders - its a weird experience to see them flying below!
We had lunch on top with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside - very similar to the view from an aeroplane's window when taking off but without the carbon footprint!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


I remember what I was doing when I heard the news. My younger son was getting married the following week and I was helping my daughter-in-law with the final touches to her wedding dress.
We had the television on when the news came through, and she was very concerned as her elder brother was travelling across London on his way to see her. It was with a great deal of relief that sometime later, she was able to give him a big welcome hug.
I remember hearing the news about John Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22nd 1963. Our YPF (Young People's Fellowship - gosh doesn't that sound old fashioned) was having its annual outreach weekend and I bounced into the hall with a friend and wondered why one of the lads was looking so despondent.
Even at that age with a very narrow outlook on life I was fully aware of the hope that the young Kennedy had brought. And I saw the very first Dr Who the next day!
I was at work in a design studio in London when I heard that his brother had also been assassinated.
In August 1977, I remember my Dad asking me what I thought about Elvis's death - I didn't read a newspaper and had no idea that it was thought to be drug related.
I woke up in the back bedroom of our house to hear that John Lennon had been shot - in 1980 it really did mean the end of the Beatles, because there was always talk of them getting back together - but I still love their music.
And I was working hard on the dissertation for my Masters when my Mum rang me up on 9/11.

I watched the programme about 7/7, seeing folk talk about what happened, some claiming it was a miracle that they survived. But what about those who didn't, two young men, both travelling by tube for the first time - one lived, one died. Those left behind not wanting to know of a God who would take away their precious daughter. I wonder how I would have reacted if I was in their shoes.
And did miracles happen that day?
Or do miracles happen everyday? but there are not the extreme events that cause us to stop and take note.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The time

For those of you who are thinking that I'm not sleeping very well, can I assure you that there is something very weird about the time of my posts - they are about eight hours late!
Does anyone know how I can alter the time?

Wimbledon is over

OK I admit it - I don't enjoy sport! Even with a name like mine. In tennis at school I couldn't hit the ball as far as the net, let alone over it and I haven't tried since!
I was never any good at sport and have never enjoyed watching it - so have great difficulty in understanding why people should spend so much money to pay to watch it.
However, I do acknowledge that there is something in watching the great skill of others.
And although Wimbledon is over, and not long before the World Cup is off our TV screens, the Tour de France has just begun.
My younger son has always loved bikes and considered taking up cycling as a career, but when he found out that he would have to practice by cycling 100 miles every day - he decided life was too short!
To succeed in any sport, not only do you have to have talent but also the dedication and determination to focus the whole of your life on that one thing - no good for the multi-taskers.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Why edgy dancing?

With my background in dance and love of dancing it was still a shock when a dance group took part in a church service when I was in my twenties.
But realising that there are many passages in the Old Testament where people praised God through dance and with the encouragement of our Assistant Minister, I later danced in church - it was quite an experience of bringing those two loves together.
Many years later, as a mature student, I mimed and danced to a couple of songs in Chapel - a wonderful experience for me, even though it made some folk rather uncomfortable! It being a very male dominated environment!
That was the last time I danced in public - dancing is something that I now only do in the privacy of my own home, but my spirit dances at every possible occasion.
My first choice of title of 'Dancing on the edge' had already been taken - so I twisted the words, ending up with a more 'edgy' title. But not edgy in the way of my dictionary's definition of irritable or nervous but more along the lines of 'a bit different', 'not the usual' and coming at something with a different point of view.
Apologies to those of you, like me, who have small computer screens, that the dandelion clock covers the word 'edge'.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What's in a name

My second Grandson is 'cooking nicely' in his Mum's tum, expected next month but his parents are having so much difficulty in choosing a name.
I've been thinking about starting a blog for well over a year, but just couldn't think of the right name for the blog as I believe that a name conveys so much before anyone starts to read the content.
The decision has been made and here is my first post!
My name is Sue, even my Mum called me that! Dad called me Sausage, but Susan when I was naughty so I don't like being called Susan! I'm known by other names by my beloved but that's between him and me!
And then there is my best friend from teenage days - I call her Maggie and only recently found out that I'm the only one who still does - and likewise she calls me Sug. Someone had bad handwriting and Suzy was read as Sugy - and Sug stuck.