World Book Day

As I have done previously, this morning I am recycling a ‘thought for the week’ that I have circulated to the Ministers in our Association.

This morning my Facebook feed is full of photos from my friends of their children dressed up as characters from books to participate in World Book Day. It’s very entertaining, especially trying to work out whether I remember those book characters from when our children were younger, or even from my childhood. Some of the ‘book’ characters seem a little tenuous – I am not sure how many ‘Power Rangers’ books there were, for example. But you can see that the children are really proud of how they look and I hope they’ll have a good day.

It got me wondering. Which Bible character would you dress up as? This is not an out-of-season plug for ‘Get in the Picture’. I recognise that for many of the characters involved it might not be very obvious which one we are at first glance. But you might put in some interesting touches to show who you were: to distinguish between Mary and Martha you might carry a cushion to sit on or wear a pair of rubber gloves and carry a mop; to distinguish between Moses and Joshua you might carry a fire extinguisher or a hard hat.

20150106_085811 (2)My personal devotional readings at the moment are exploring Nahum and Jonah (sharing the theme of Nineveh’s relationship with God and his people). I remember leading an all age service once at my first church and coming into the church wearing torn clothes, bare feet, drenched head to toe and covered in seaweed. I began with, “You’ll never guess what happened to me on my way here this morning…” and told the story of Jonah first-hand. He must have been quite a sight when he turned up at Nineveh looking rather dishevelled and smelling of dried fish vomit. Perhaps that’s why they paid so much attention to him.

In her reflection on my reading this morning (looking at Jonah’s psalm in the fish, chapter 2:1-10) Anna Robbins commented: “We can never win at hide-and-seek with God. It’s not just that he’s good at finding us. Rather, there’s nowhere we can go that he isn’t there already.”

That could be quite scary if you were trying to run away from God but it’s also a reassurance. It’s true of all of you that you do as a Minister. He’s waiting there for you in Scripture even before you begin to write your sermon. He’s already there in the hospital ward when you go to visit a terminally ill person. He’s there in the difficult Deacons or Church Meeting. He’s already there in the life of the person who is not yet a Christian and wants to find out more. There’s nowhere we can go that he isn’t there already.

Be blessed, be a blessing


om nom nom nom nom

There are many things that populate the surface of my desk. There are post-it notes with telephone messages, pieces of paper with ideas and spider-grams and scrawlings. There are letters awaiting reply. There are various bits of stationery and equipment. And there are many books.

First and foremost is my bible: without which I would be lost. Then there are books that help me understand my Bible. There are books that I use to help me plan services. There are books that I use for my own reflections and time with God. And there are books that I am reading to further my understanding and brought my awareness. And there is a pile of books that are waiting to be read.

One of my ambitions is to be able to be in a position where the height of the pile will diminish. This requires a certain amount of discipline on my part to set aside time to read, reflect and pray. With all of the busyness that being a minister entails it is very easy for this time to be squeezed out. I can find myself seeing it as a luxury or an indulgence and justifying not reading books because I’m spending time doing “proper ministry”.

But unless I am being fed I am going to struggle to feed others. Unless I’m being nurtured I will find it difficult to nurture others. You can only give somebody something that you already have. when I returned from my sabbatical leave I was full: I had spent 3 months reading, reflecting, praying and being fed and nurtured. and unless I am regularly replenishing myself eventually the well will run dry.

In case you’re interested the books that are currently ‘on the go’ are: How God Became King (Tom Wright); Real Scientists Real Faith (Ed RJ Berry); and Christ in the Wilderness (Stephen Cottrell). There is a substantial queue waiting to be the next in line!

How and where do you get fed?

Be blessed, be a blessing

I think I’ve used this joke before but it’s relevant to today’s theme:

bible genesisA collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that Gluten-somebody-or-other had printed it.

“Not Gutenberg?” gasped the collector.

“Yes, that was it!”

“You idiot! You’ve thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!”

“Oh, I don’t think this book would have been worth anything close to that much,” replied the man. “It was scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named Martin Luther.”