cupboard love

insert Minister here

insert Minister here

The room in which I study at home is quite small: in some houses it would be called a cupboard. But I can squeeze all my bookshelves (three big ones), my desk and chair, a drawer unit, a couple of other shelves for general gubbins, various magic trick storage boxes and a CD/DVD shelving unit in addition to a few other items that probably come under the heading ‘sundry tut*’.

I am quite happy in this little room. It’s cosy. It’s my space – there is no room for another person in here and as long as I am relatively organised I can get in and out of the door without crashing into things. But recently someone who knows about these things looked in through the door and observed that it breaks all sorts of rule and regulations about working environments. And that leaves me with a dilemma: do I obey the rules and regulations and move my study to occupy the room which is currently our Dining Room or do I carry on as I am – cosy and happy?

If I occupy the Dining Room there will be no space for our dining table and chairs in the house. They could go into what will become a cupboard that was previously my study, but there will be no way in which people will be able to sit around the table! And it’s a colder room, too, having a much larger window and being part of an extension that is not well insulated. But if I stay as I am I am breaking the rules and regulations and I try to be a law-abiding person.

In the end I have decided that as I am the only person affected by the current arrangements and I am happy with them, and that if I adopted an approach that met with the rules and regulations it would seriously inconvenience our family (and make hospitality somewhat difficult) I will stick with the Status Quo** (“Whatever you want, whatever you like, whatever you say you pay your money – you take your choice…  Whatever you need, whatever you use, whatever you win, whatever you lose…”) sorry, status quo.

How do we decide what the right thing to do is? On the whole we obey the law, but sometimes the law can stand in the way of justice. I think it is that sentiment which is behind general disgruntlement with ‘health and safety gone mad’ attitudes. The summary of Biblical ethics by which I try to live is to seek to do whatever is loving and whatever is just, and if the two are in conflict love wins. I am not sure that it’s just to disobey the rules and regulations about my study cupboard, but it’s the loving approach to put my family’s needs before the rules and regulations.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I would usually pronounce this word like ‘but’ however here I would like you to pronounce it like ‘put’ – or if you have a better spelling please let me know!

** If you don’t know what this refers to, shame on you – visit this clip on Youtube now with the volume on your speakers set to 11 (warning – someone had a lot of fun with a vision mixer!).

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.”