Friday, 28 January 2011

part time ministry?

In the years after leaving college when acting as a spiritual director, I met with several ministers whose churches were only able to afford half a stipend and yet expected their ministers to preach every Sunday. So even before I was officially asked to be the minister here, I made it very clear that in my mind, part-time meant that I would not be preaching every week.
The Chapel had been used to the Moderator taking the services on the first and third Sundays, and enjoyed having input from others on the remaining Sundays. Last year, my first in my new role, I opted to 'do' the first, third and fifth Sundays but I soon learnt that a fifth Sunday is followed by a first, giving me very little time for myself between services - so this year its just the first and third for me!
And January is the first month of the new regime and I have made full use of having an extra spare week. We have been out and about visiting friends, attended the Village Women's belated Christmas lunch, started decorating the downstairs cloakroom and done some long overdue housework. I celebrated two friends 60th birthdays at the Book Club, by drinking champagne and devouring totally illicit but truly scrumptious and beautifully decorated cup cakes make by another of our members.
However, next week is going to be busy as I have booked to attend a day's seminar at college as well as my monthly course, so I am starting early on next week's service which will include welcoming a new member which is very exciting.
But I have become aware that when in public, I never completely throw off my ministerial position, in that respect I am a full time minister.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Our nearest town is about five miles away where the churches are very active during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, but we do have a very good relationship with our local Anglican Church just a mile from our Chapel.
We get together every year for a joint service, usually held in an evening but last year we had to cancel because the weather was so bad. As both congregations are getting older we opted for an afternoon service this year and although it was at the Anglican Church our Chapel was asked to provide four readers.
We had a good size congregation with Baptists outnumbering the Anglicans by at least two to one! and I felt quite honoured to be asked to join the Vicar at the end of the service to say a blessing.
As well as some of the Anglicans joining us for our Bible Study, we meet each other at the weekly Coffee Morning in the Village Hall, at the monthly Village Women meeting, and at the occasional Book Club meetings, and relationships are forming and growing outside the Church as well as inside but it is so very special to be able to worship together.

Friday, 21 January 2011

going to war

Back in 2002 I could never understand why, if Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction which could be here in 45 minutes, going to war was the best thing to do? Surely, if that was correct we could be hit within the hour! It all sounded very fishy to me!
And now we are in Afghanistan, and I've still not understood why?
Although I believe myself to be a pacifist (would I think the same if I had been born a generation earlier?) I think the men and women in the forces should get as much encouragement as possible.
We often see planes flying very low over our house and believe that they will be dropping soldiers on to the Brecon Beacons for a training exercise. As we came back from our walk this afternoon there were empty army trucks being driven towards the Beacons. And so we waved to the drivers, receiving in return the hugest of smiles, waves and toots on the horn!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

I didn't have the flu

I am nearly back to my usual self; yesterday we had our monthly get-together over sandwiches and a Bible Study with several folk from the Church in the next village (only a mile away). We have some good discussions and its lovely that both the Vicar and Deacon join us. As it is the King James Bible's 400th birthday, we discussed the various translations we use and then looked at the creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2. I will be picking up on this for Sunday's service.
It was lovely to hear that folk were pleased that I was back but I had to stress that I had not had the flu; I had it - once, forty years ago - and it was horrid!
The test to see if you have flu or just some other nasty bug is the £50 note one! If you see a £50 note lying on the ground outside and you are able to get up and get it - you do not have flu! If you had flu, you most probably wouldn't want to open your eyes anyway - too much effort and you certainly wouldn't be able to use your computer!

Saturday, 8 January 2011


During my period of raging lethargy, I have been able to read although I have never been a fast reader. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I was reading 'Sisters of Sinai'. I was attracted to it by the author, Janet Soskice, who had contributed to 'Swallowing a Fishbone?' with feminist theologians debating Christianity.
The sisters were twins who were born just over 100years before me, in the middle of the Victorian age. However, far from being confined to the home, they had an enlightened father who encouraged them to travel widely even in their teens, although he did require the sisters to learn the language before they visited any country.
Both sisters married quite late in life and both were widowed after three years of marriage and the year before their fiftieth birthday they set out on the first of many trips to St Catherine's monastery in the Sinai desert, where they discovered the oldest copy of the Gospels. The journey would entail a seven day camel ride across the desert, which now takes just three hours by car!
They learnt Greek and Hebrew as well as Arabic and Syriac to enable them to translate the various document that they discovered, which they were still doing well into their seventies! 
They were able to make all these trips because their father had inherited a lot of money - the equivalent of £7million and the sisters were the beneficiaries of their father's will which had legal clauses to stop any man from marrying the twins for their money! They always thought that the money was to be used for an important reason rather than just being spent on luxuries but they still managed to buy dresses from Worth in Paris (the one British couturier), wear expensive jewellery and fur coats and possess one of the first motor cars!
I did enjoy reading about their various adventures and as someone who started a new vocation in her forties with a degree, a masters in her fifties and local ministry in her sixties, hopefully I will have the chance to write the book I been planning for many years in my seventies!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

radio and the Bible

Last Sunday, I spent the morning in bed tuned in to radio4 and for the first time in many, many years I listened to The Archers. I remembering listening to it when I was very little sitting on my Daddy's lap because I was scared of the voice of Walter Gabriel. However, listening to the omnibus edition didn't get me hooked enough to want to listen to the much hyped 60 years special.
However, on Monday, I was hooked when listening to 'The Story of the King James Bible'! So each morning having eaten my porridge, I went back to bed and listened on the following two mornings.
I must admit that although I knew that the Authorised Version (AV) was not entirely accurate, I had no idea that it was translated to 'big-up' royalty.
Over the years I have acquired many translations - I was teased at college because I used the 'Noddy' version (Good News) for my daily use, although I used the Revised English Bible for my college work.
I never liked the NIV, I found it dry, but it seems to have become the translation of choice for many churches. For my personal use I now prefer the New Living Translation, finding it very easy to read out loud - although that was one of the thoughts in the minds of the translators of the AV, and I use the  New Revised Standard Version to prepare my sermons.
The Message translates some well known passages in the bible that fill it with new life but it fails in Romans 16:7 giving Junia a sort of masculine name - Junius - translated by yet another man not able to contemplate that Paul would refer to a woman as an apostle!
My Tyndale New Testament translated in 1526 is OK! It seems it is since then that women have been demoted!

Monday, 3 January 2011

raging lethargy

There are at least three different bugs doing the rounds in our village, and following a very busy December, I seem to have caught all three - at once. I had the cough in time for the Carol Services, so dared not sing along. The cold came late Boxing Day, quickly followed by the raging lethargy. So for the last week, I have either been in bed or on the settee snuggled in a blanket.
I planned all yesterday's service but by Friday realised I wouldn't be well enough to be there on Sunday.
I have it on good authority that it all went very well with many folk playing their part. Three different Bible readings; read by three different folk, a solo of 'Joy to the World' sung by one of our organists, news from our link missionary in Thailand, a beautiful prayer and the Lord's Supper.
It's quite nice when there is someone else to make the tea and cook the dinners with no other prior engagements to cancel but I'm not recovering quickly enough and so I'm not going to be well enough for my monthly trip to college, dinner with my daughter and a visit to see the Grandboys along with a meeting with an old friend - all carefully arranged but I've got to be sensible!
I was a sickly child and although improved as an adult, now I'm also diabetic, that seems to affect healing which takes longer than average.
I have learnt from this and have already put less in the diary for this year. But for the moment, I shall make the most of the time and carry on with the opportunity to read while the knitting remains untouched - I must be ill!