Saturday, 26 June 2010

au revoir for now

This is the last posting on my blog till September. It will be back in the autumn with a new look and a new and more varied kind of input.

In particular, I am removing the ability to comment on the blog. This was meant as an opportunity for on-line discussion of the issues raised in the blog, but that has not happened in the way that I had wanted. Indeed, it has become the vehicle for some thinly-veiled personal criticism of me and my church and I will not provide the platform for that kind of attack. The cloak of anonymity has not helped.

I hope you have enjoyed at least some of what I have written and I hope you will enjoy it again.

Friday, 25 June 2010

the trip to Cambodia

2 weeks from now, nine people from the Church will be packing our bags ready to catch a flight to Bangkok at the beginning of our trip to Cambodia. We are going to meet up with our friends and partners at CHO, to see their work at first hand and to take part in it in some way or another. Nearly all of the arrangements are in place; in the Church service on Sunday, we will be prayed for by the congregation; the money that people have raised will 'go with us' electronically; we're set to go, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

You can learn more about CHO through the link on the Church website.

While we're away, you can follow our progress by our new blogsite on which we plan to post something every day that we're away.

Why are we going? 3 reasons:
1. we are partners in the gospel with CHO; they seek to serve Christ in their community and we seek to serve Christ in our community and we both do so because we know the love and grace of God for us in Jesus Christ. We are going to strengthen that partnership. So we will run a pastors' conference for 3 days, with 70 people coming to learn Ephesians.
2. the work which CHO does amongst the poorest people of the world is vitally important in the mind of God and we are looking to take part in that work, even in a very small way. So we will be making bricks, planting crops, teaching children.
3. justice for all is such a huge part of God's kingdom; by visiting Cambodia we can learn a little of what justice means and what justice looks like when Christians get to work to rescue people from violence and oppression.

Desmond Tutu: "Christians shouldn't just be pulling people out of the river. We should be going upstream to find out who's pushing them in." For a long time, we've given money to good causes and that has been a good thing to do; but we also have to learn about what causes people to be in need and change the world. If we can do that even a little, our 2 weeks in Cambodia will have been well worth while.

Friday, 11 June 2010

catalyst for change?

This morning I took part in a discussion about a service to support some candidates for ministry in the Church. Every year in June, the Presbytery of Edinburgh has held a service to allow the group of candidates completing their academic courses to say 'thank you' to those who have supported them - family, friends, home church, placement churches - and to ask people to pray for them as they move to work full-time in ministry through their probationary placements.

For a number of reasons, the previous practice of holding a service on a Sunday evening, seemed not to work this year. We have decided to change it and the same kind of service, which before had a small congregation, will now take place at the beginning of the next presbytery meeting, guaranteeing an audience of between 200 and 300. More people will be aware of our candidates and will pray for them. Seems to me a better option.

But what was the catalyst for change? We didn't decide to do it differently because we wanted to do it differently. We decided to do it differently because it appears that the previous practice wasn't working!

It happens all the time. The rules governing MP's expenses were changed, not because someone said 'let's change these rules' but because the consensus in the country was 'this is not working!' That became the catalyst for change.

There are a number of changes that we might make to the way we do things in our Church, but is that change for the sake of it? Or is it because something is not working? We need to be wise!

What changes do you think we need to make? What might be the catalyst for these changes?