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Minister

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November 22, 2017 · 14:06

Holocaust Day (short piece for ‘Life & Work’ – the Church of Scotland monthly magazine)

Come with me to a place of horror and almost tangible evil. It’s early in the morning of the last day of 2016, and it’s cold with thick frost lying on the ground.

It’s chilling; not just physically, but spiritually. This is Auschwitz, and I’m visiting the notorious concentration camp.

When I was a Parish Minister, the congregations I served didn’t mark Holocaust Day (27 January – the day on which Auschwitz was finally liberated).

Why not? I don’t know. Perhaps because we are somewhat inured to the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jewish, Roma, Polish and other innocents. Perhaps it’s because it seems so far away in time.

But I would defy anyone who has felt the chill of Auschwitz or any of the other places of horror associated with the Nazi persecution, who has seen what’s left of the gas chambers, or the piles of shoes or the collection of battered suitcases jon show in Auschwitz, not to be moved.

It is a salutary reminder of the inhumanity of wicked men that we should note and note well.

As it happens, I will be leading worship (as Pulpit Supply) on the Sunday before Holocaust Day in January and will certainly now meditate with the congregation on the hellishness of what was perpetrated back then, and pray that it is never repeated (although, tragically, there have been too many incidences of ethnic cleansing since).

I would hope that other ministers and worship leaders would do so also………

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God’s Frozen People

Christ’s words: ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me…..

And he concludes:‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

 

In his poem “How the Great Guest Came,” Edwin Markham tells of an old cobbler who made elaborate preparations for a dreamed-of visit from the Lord

The Lord never came. But when a beggar came, the cobbler put shoes on his feet.

When an old lady came, the cobbler helped her with her load and gave her food.

When a lost child came, the cobbler took her back to her mother.

Then soft in the silence, he heard a gentle voice:

‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’

 

Ours is increasingly a society where even some Christians are less like the Good Samaritan and more like those who passed by on the other side of the road.

Reach out? No! Too risky…. and in many cases we want to Lord it over others.

Let me tell you a story from the Archives….

I was ordained and inducted to my first Charge in 1974. Of course, as part of my pastoral ministry, I visited the elderly & infirm.

One one particular occasion, I called round to see this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.

On this day, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.

The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.

She would have none of this! Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!” Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc

But I did. Got the jacket off, rolled up the sleeves, brought in the coal…..

….and after 20 minutes or more, and almost a full packet of firelighters and a box of matches used up…..nothing, no spark, no flame, zilch.

I got a look that said, ‘I told you – you shouldn’t have bothered!’

Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.

In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have

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Trumped!

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November 21, 2017 · 15:37

The Call

In a previous generation, the Rev Andrew Sutherland, minister at Lairg, received a call to a church in Glasgow. On hearing of the approach made to their pastor, the elders of the Lairg congregation, cross and concerned, beat a hasty path down to the manse. They were met at the manse door by the minister’s son. “Is your father home, we must speak with him”, they said to the boy. “No”, he replied, “my father’s in his study praying about a call, and has given strict instructions that on no account is he to be disturbed”. “Is that so”, said the senior elder, “go get your mother, we will have a word with her instead!” “Sorry”, said the boy, “my mother also said that she wasn’t to be distracted.” “Oh, is she in prayer too?” “No”, the boy replied, “she’s packing the dishes.”

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Happiness is a warm gun….

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November 16, 2017 · 13:29

Visit to Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi, Kerala, India – October 2017

 

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http://www.santacruzcathedralbasilica.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=470

 

 

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Church of St Francis, Kochi, Kerala India – visited October 2017

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November 4, 2017 · 11:40

The Retiring Priest

The Retiring Priest

A Priest was being honoured at his retirement dinner after 40 years in the parish.

A leading local figure and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little speech at the dinner.

However, he was delayed, so the Priest decided to say his own few words while they waited.

“I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it.

He had stolen money from his parents; embezzled from his employer; had an affair with his boss’s wife; had sex with his boss’s 17-year old daughter on numerous occasions; taken illegal drugs; had several homosexual affairs; was arrested several times for public nudity and gave a STD (sexual transmitted disease) to his sister-in-law. I was appalled that one person could do so many awful things.

But as the days went on, I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.”

Just as the Priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and gave his talk.

“I’ll never forget the first day our parish Priest arrived, said the politician. In fact, I had the honour of being the first person to go to him for confession.”

Moral: Never, Never, Never Be Late.

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