Sunday, 26 April 2009

There's been a murrdurr, surr.

A dismembered skeleton was this evening found under our table. The chief suspect has shiny black fur, four legs and a long tail and should not be approached unless you like cuddles.

In case readers overseas don't get the reference in the title of this post it's a quote from the UK television crime drama Taggart, set in Glasgow.

Friday, 24 April 2009

More years than there were dalmations!

My gran was 102 on Sunday. It's an amazing age to reach when you think of all that has happened in the world in her lifetime.

Fourteen of her closest family, plus our dog, gathered in her little room to mark the occasion. Unfortunately she doesn't hear very well so we have to take turns to speak close to her ear. Meanwhile of course the rest of us got caught up in conversations. Penultimate Child, who's very fond of her great-gran, was sitting on her bed beside her for most of the time. On the way home in the car she said, "Mummy. TWICE, Great-Gran said, "Thank you all for coming. I hope you have a safe journey home" but we didn't leave. Why was that?" Oops! None of us heard, except Penultimate Child, who was the only one listening. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

People Get Ready.

On Good Friday (10th April) I posted about the doings of the local church here in Perth. Nathan, our very lovely drummer, who is also a talented film-maker, put this together and said it was okay for me to post it here.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter poetry, Steve Turner style.

Happy Easter one and all. Isn't it great, those of you who share my faith, to think about the fact that people in every corner of the world have been celebrating the resurrection of Jesus today? Actually I think most of them must have been in our church as we ran out of seats and some of us had to sit in an improvised overflow area. Good problem to have, though. Incidentally the headless boy in the foreground of the second of these photos is my son. I'm so proud.

Here are two Easter poems from Steve Turner, my favourite poet, even better than Ogden Nash.

The Cast of Christmas Reassembles For Easter

Take the wise men to the Emperor's palace.
Wash their hands in water.
Get them to say something about truth.
Does anyone know any good Jewish jokes?
The one about a carpenter
who thought he was a King?
The one about the Saviour
who couldn't save himself?
The shepherds should stand with the chorus.
They have a big production number -
'Barabbas, We Love You Baby'.
Mary? She can move to the front.
We have a special section reserved
for family and close friends.
Tell her that we had to cut the manger up.
We needed the wood for something else.
The star I'm afraid I can't use.
There are no stars in this show.
The sky turns black with sorrow.
The earth shakes with terror.
Hold on to the frankincense.
We'll need that for the garden scene.
Angels? He could do with some angels.
Avenging angels.
Merciful angels.
He could really do with some angels.
Baby Jesus.
Step this way please.
My! How you've grown!

Steve Turner

- and -

Poem for Easter

Tell me:
What came first
Easter or the egg?
or daffodils?
Three days in a tomb
or four days
in Paris?
Bank Holiday Monday).

When is a door
not a door?
When it is rolled away.
When is a body
not a body?
When it is a risen.

Why was it the Saviour rode on the cross?
To get us
to the other side.

Behold I stand.
Behold I stand and what?
Behold I stand at the door and

knock knock.

Steve Turner

Saturday, 11 April 2009


This made me laugh, on Annette's blog, so I nicked it:

Black Tarmac and Concrete are arguing in a bar.
"I'm harder than you! I built the M1" Said Concrete.
Black Tarmac retorts: "I'm harder than you, I built Heathrow's runways."
Just then the door bursts open and Black Tarmac and Concrete go quiet.
The barman notices this and asks them why.
"We might be hard.", says Concrete, "but he's a bloody cycle path."

A New Ensemble.

My new dressing gown and my new welly boots match! I bet not many of you could claim to have matching dressing gown and wellies. I didn't set out to have them matching, although perhaps I was in a blue-and-white-stripey mood today...

Anyway what's even more bizarre than having matching dressing gown and wellies is having a place to wear them. Next week we're going off with our caravan and I'll be walking to the shower block each morning in my new outfit. (If you've never camped or caravanned, you need to know that this is socially acceptable behaviour).

Note: wellies from Asda, dressing gown from Matalan. Nothing but the best will do, you know.

Friday, 10 April 2009

It's Friday but Sunday's coming.

Look what was happening at our church today:

Actually it wasn't just at our church. There were six similar scenes set up round the town/city (its current status is a matter of dispute but that's another story) as a joint project by a few of the churches, between 9am and 3pm. The purpose was simply to cause people to remember Easter as being about something other than Easter Eggs, delicious though they are, and daffodils and rabbits, delicious though they may be also, though I've never tasted either.

Also, there was a "walk of witness" in the town centre:

I missed the whole thing, being, as I was, in prison. However, I did get to watch the Jesus film with the second batch of prisoners this week. It may be the most watched film of all time since its appearance in the 1970s but it's probably not the best film of all time, to be honest. Yet, it's a faithful version of Luke's gospel and it really brought home to me how relevant the Christian message is to our guys. Jesus was so subversive. He wasn't impressed by puffed up human authority and loved the underdog so passionately.

Good Friday this year is kind of special to me. It's 30 years this year since Good Friday 1979. I was thirteen - strange, that, since, 30 years on, I'm only 21, but I'm a slow developer. I was at a camp in St Andrews run by Scripture Union. It was on Good Friday 1979 that I understood for myself that the cross was to do with Jesus taking the punishment for my sins, on my behalf, so I could be forgiven and adopted as God's child. In the process I would be promised eternal life in heaven when I die. For years I said that was the night I became a Christian, but, since I grew up in a Christian home, I think now it was rather the moment when I owned my inherited childhood faith for myself. (All who grow up in Christian homes need to do that because God has no grandchildren). Anyway, all these years later I remember it as a significant moment, and it was quite nice to spend the thirtieth anniversary watching the same message that I understood then be dramatised before these men. I hope it did some good for them too.

Incidentally, as I was telling guys round the jails that the film was being shown this week, the common witty retort (from staff too) was that "I don't need to watch it. I know what happens. He dies in the end". How funny. NOT. I was amazed how many times I had to say, "No! He comes back to life after that!" to which I got, "Oh yes. I forgot". That's why I picked the title I did for this blog post. Today is a sad day for Christians, but it's not the end of the story.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Maundy Thursday synchro-blog

Today, to mark Maundy Thursday, there is a synchronised blogging thing happening. I signed up to it earlier today with a plan to write something tonight. This plan has changed thanks to Him Indoors inviting folk round. I don't mind - I like the folk!

So instead I'll go for a teeny weeny little thought on the Lord's Supper.

Theologically minded types reading this may spot that I'm a bit of a Zwinglian Memorialist, but it doesn't hurt, it's not against the law, and it works for me. Basically that means that I think that when we have communion, it is an act of remembrance. I don't believe in transubstantiation, consubstantiation or anything else, personally. However, I bristle slightly when those who disagree with me say that I believe in communion as a MERE memorial. There's nothing "mere" about memorial services. We don't call funerals "mere" memorials. Okay, so there's a body being disposed of, but even if there's not - if someone's lost at sea and there's no body, we don't disparage the importance of the memorial service by calling it "mere".

My thought on the Lord's Supper as instituted by Jesus on the night on which he was betrayed is simply this:

Every time I conduct a funeral service, I try to find out what I can about the person, if I didn't know them, in order to say something meaningful about their life. I try to encompass a bit about their childhood, their parents, their working life, their hobbies and interests, their achievements, their personality, and so on. And yet when Jesus planned his own memorial service, even though his life was far more remarkable than any of ours, in terms of his birth, his miracles, his message, the ONLY thing he wanted for his memorial service, even though he was to be raised to life (and that too was astonishing), was his death.

This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood, poured out for you. Whenever you eat this bread and drink this wine, you proclaim - what? You proclaim my death until I come.


Our deaths don't generally accomplish anything. They bring to an end our accomplishing stuff, in fact. But the death of Jesus was the most important thing about him, and he doesn't want us ever to forget that.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Happy Marriage to You, Happy Marriage to You...

It was my privilege to conduct a wedding this afternoon. I am a fan of marriage and really believe in the whole two-becoming-one thing. It's borne out by folk referring to their spouse as "their other half" and, more poignantly, by the widow/widower who says (s)he feels as if (s)he has lost part of her/himself.

However, conducting a wedding's kind of scary too. Scarier than conducting a funeral. Funerals don't tend to be filmed. But with weddings there is the real and present danger that if things go a bit wonky, then you will end up being seen endlessly for all eternity on You've Been Framed or on Youtube.

Anyway, in amongst the serious stuff, and the beautiful poetry the bride had chosen, and the lovely vows they'd written themselves, and all the general loveliness, I thought it wise to inject a touch of humour and reality into the thing, because marriage is such an everyday practical thing, for all that it's also a mystical magical mysterious and miraculous union.

So I turned to one of my favourite poets, Ogden Nash (author of such delights as:

Parsley is gharsley;

Candy is dandy
but liquor is quicker;


Sure deck your lower limbs in pants; Yours are the limbs, my sweeting.
You look divine as you advance — Have you seen yourself retreating?

It was not these "poems" of course, that I chose, but the following:

"The glances over the cocktails
That at one time seemed so sweet
Don't seem quite so amorous
Over the shredded wheat".

and my favourite,

"To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you're wrong admit it
Whenever you're right shut up".

Many a true word has been spoken in jest, don't you think?

As I reminded them of the Biblical saying never to let the sun go down on your wrath, it struck me that in Scotland in the winter that must mean you can't argue after about 4pm. Hard! Maybe "don't go to bed angry" is a more realistic target!

In nearly sixteen years of marriage, we've never had a cross word. Huh? Course we have. We've had arguments, fights and differences of opinion too. But we have tried not to let the sun go down on our wrath. And we've tried not to remember the other's past mistakes and cast things up. I suppose the one bonus of getting older is that forgetting stuff seems to come more easily - in fact remembering is the tricky part...

I wish the pair well for their marriage, and am very grateful to have been part of it. Incidentally, lest there is anyone in the world who's never had the pleasure of watching "The Vicar of Dibley" on television, the picture above is her. Not me. I've never worn robes. Otherwise we're a bit alike though, I suppose.