Last night I finally gave up on awaiting the DVD delivery of the film "The Tree of Life" from LoveFilm - which has been on my rental list for months - and ended up purchasing a copy from the Playstation Store to watch via the PS3. I'd been wanting to watch the film since it won the Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, as its themes of faith, our place in the universe, the nature of God, love and grace, and some mind-bending imagery from science's current understanding of the origins both of the universe and life itself seemed extraordinary. That the film also starred Brad Pitt and Sean Penn made it even more intriguing.
Well, it certainly is quite a movie. I thought it was fabulous, but I can totally understand why some people would get utterly frustrated with it. Some have thought it to be pretentious rubbish, others have said that it provides a poignant glimpse into eternal questions, others declare it a masterpiece. I tend towards the latter camps, but the film no doubt demands some sacrifice from its audience in order to make the most of it. This is not your typical Hollywood blockbuster! [There's more...]
Braving the very cold turn in the weather, we took advantage of the afternoon to visit the first day of the Strathaven churches Easter Trail 2012 this afternoon. This uses various sites around the town as a kind of mini-Oberammergau allowing you to explore the events of Holy Week. This is their third time of putting on the trail, and the first time we have managed to visit it.
The organisers, drawn from all the local chuches, have put a lot of thought and energy into the various sites, and this effort really helps to make the journey a memorable one. We joined one of the guided tours, which worked very well (thanks, John!), though you can do the trail yourselves. As we are not setting up a labyrinth for Good Friday this year, I found this a good way to explore the story, though be prepared for it to take a couple of hours. [There's more...]
On Thursday evening Carolyn, Sophia, Katherine and I travelled into Glasgow to St Michael's Roman Catholic Church in the shadow of Celtic Park for the ninth of eleven performances of the play "The Martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie" written and directed by Stephen Callaghan, who also played the main part, St John Ogilvie. My hat is doffed to Stephen, it was a fantastic performance, which I know he had to take on at short notice when the actor who was due to play the part could not do so.
The play is just part of Lentfest with many different arts events taking place across Glasgow during the season of Lent organised by A.G.A.P. (the Archdiocese of Glasgow Arts Project) where my sister works with Stephen as administrator for the project.
I'm not sure if I can say I really enjoyed the play, as it casts light on a time of our history that is bedevilled with fear of the other and abusive power games that turned once well-meaning, goodly and Godly people into tyrants. If it doesn't make you uncomfortable as you watch an account of events that took place just near us, then I don't know what would. But I was moved and impressed by the dedicated performances put in by all the players. [There's more...]
All of last week the chaplaincy team were leading assemblies in Calderside Academy using the cross as the symbol that directed our thoughts. The cross was swiped from the wall in the church - while at some point this will no doubt find a home high up on the sanctuary wall, it sure is handy to have a large cross to be able to use for this kind of activity!
We were thinking about the cross at the pre-eminent moment in human history where what tries to diminish us is reversed by that which can fulfil human life. [There's more...]
A long day on Friday meant that when I got the chance at 10 p.m. having put the two younger kids to bed, I headed for the pillow myself. Stupidly, I checked facebook after plugging my phone in to charge on the bedside cabinet and saw the beginnings of a long discussion in the facebook OneKirk group from folks who had just watched the second episode in the series "Reverse Missionaries" on BBC2. The programme was recorded, but I had intended to watch it another time. The comments - one of which cheekily came to the conclusion that all the woes in Blantyre are due to me (thank you, Bryan!) - raised my curiosity level, and I ended up heading back downstairs to watch the programme.
I confess to a lot of mixed emotions having watched it. This seems to be echoed in the various comments from others either on facebook or in person. There was a wider story that it was good to tell, and raises a lot of questions and challenges for us and for the church as a whole, and then there were the very local issues that drastically oversimplified the story of church life in Blantyre for the sake of making the documentary easier to follow. [There's more...]
It has been a very long day. I'm still awaiting a moment to slow down for a breather after returning from Baltimore. Nae luck so far. However, it was a fun and extremely varied day.
Worship planning for Sunday first thing, a trip to Costco as soon as they opened to pick up a wedding cake for the afternoon, a disagreement with the staff at Costco about the pricing of Cadbury's Hot Chocolate for Cosy Café (I eventually got the refund!), and then a visit with a family about a baptism before lunch.
In the afternoon, the mock wedding with the P3 class from David Livingstone Memorial Primary School was good fun (and thanks to the folks at Livingstone Memorial Church for hosting and making the afternoon special for the children and parents who attended). I was asked at the reception after the service, "So do you think that will make them more likely to get married in the future?" A good question in a culture where a formal commitment between couples is becoming ever less common. [There's more...]
The St Andrew's Parish Church building was opened 30 years ago by Rev John Handley, the moderator of presbytery at the time, from the devastation of fire three years earlier that destroyed the old building. We are going to have a wee celebration after the service on Sunday morning, 25 March 2012, at the lunch hosted by the Sunday Funday Club.
We will also have the Stated Annual Meeting as part of the service before we head into the hall for food. If you have not read your copy of the Annual Report yet, please do so before then. A download copy is available, and print copies at the church itself.
There will be a small charge for lunch, £2, with proceeds going to support the Sunday Funday Club.
Friends at St Andrew's will be saddened to hear of the death of Jim Tait after a long illness. The funeral service for Jim will be held on Saturday 24 March at 10 a.m. in Blantyre Old Parish Church. Our prayers are with all of Jim's family at this time.
Having been approved by the trustees on Sunday past, the Blantyre St Andrew's Annual Report for 2011 is now available online, and print versions will be available for every household on Sunday. The Stated Annual Meeting will take place on Sunday 25 March as part of the morning service, any questions you have on the report can be raised at that time.
As always, the Annual Report provides a full account of what has been taking place in St Andrew's over the course of the past year and is a testament to everyone who gives of their time, ability and resources to serve Christ as part of St Andrew's. Particular thanks are due to May Shaw, our treasurer, for her time and dedication particularly over the past two months in preparing the accounts section of this report.
We've all been so saddened to hear of the death of Wilma Dunn at the weekend. Our prayers are with John and all the family as they grieve their loss. Wilma was a wonderfully supportive person who played such an important part in the lives of many of the youngest folks connected to the church. She will be deeply missed.
A service of thanksgiving for Wilma's life will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday 15 March in St Andrew's Church, thereafter to South Lanarkshire Crematorium.
Back in November 2010 we distributed cards to everyone with the timeless slogan devised during World War 2 "Keep Calm and Carry On" - and folks still talk about that wee card.
Since then the phrase has become even more common and variations, often flippant, of the phrase are all around us. Here, to remind us, is a video that tells the history of this poster. I had mistakenly said back in 2010 that it had been used extensively. It turns out that was not quite true. Millions of posters were printed, but they were held in reserve and never used during the war itself.
A very full day today with a 309 mile round trip to Kilchoan for Fiona Ogg's induction and ordination to the linked parishes of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan. We had a great time and it was a great privilege to be present on this very special occassion for Fiona as she takes up her charge and begins her ministry with the people of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
Fiona always said she wanted to minister in a rural context... I can safely say, having driven 100 miles on single track and unbelievably windy roads today, that she most definitely got her wish. But, wow, it was spectacular. We saw plenty of wildlife on our way, including a majestic stag standing proud on a hillock next to the road, and we also had some extraordinary tour guide commentary including the priceless... "ooh, look at those wee allotments down there, they really are small... oh, wait, that's a cemetery!" [There's more...]
As if the drive to Kilchoan and back is not far enough this weekend... the Johnstons are all flying out to Baltimore on Monday morning for a week to spend with family. Some of us were joking that it will probably take about the same time to fly from London to Baltimore as it will to drive 150 miles to Kilchoan. He may not be far wrong!
I've been playing with the British Airways app on my phone having booked with them and, surprisingly, finding it was the cheapest option, which is fab. You get your itinerary, your electronic boarding pass and up to the minute flight information all there. So very clever.
The decision to go is one we have been thinking about for some time, but in the end we decided very quickly just to go. However... I am realising that it is not just so easy to drop everything and go, and realising that before a planned holiday one does a lot more preparation for the absence than I realised. Alas not everything will wait until I get back, so I'll need to take a few things with me, but not too much.
It will be lovely to see family and friends on the East Coast, many of whom we haven't seen for four years. A brief trip, but it will be good.
Tomorrow morning, early, I'll be setting off with a couple of the kids and with Janette, Linda and Margaret representing St Andrew's at the induction and ordination of Fiona Ogg to the linked parishes of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan in the church at Kilchoan. The service takes place at 1:30 p.m., but it will be a long, slow drive there and back. An early night required for me tonight!
A big thank you to everyone who contributed towards the gift for Fiona from us all, a generous £165! Having spoken to Fiona, I purchased two super books that I am sure she will find very useful in her ministry. The remainder of our gift being presented as a cheque with cards both from the congregation and the Kirk Session. We will, of course, pass on our best wishes to Fiona in the name of everyone at St Andrew's.
I will take my camera, so photos will follow at some point! I haven't checked the forecast yet, but if tomorrow is anything like today, it should be a very pleasant drive into the Highlands.