Tag Archives: death

The “Show” must go on

My beloved Father died 39 years ago yesterday (on 21 February 1976) in Glasgow  – at the Western Infirmary. Yesterday, he was very much on my mind. What a decent and honourable man he was, and a loving and beloved Dad, whose counsel was wise, realistic, and positive.  I wish that I was even half the man that he was.

It was a Saturday – early evening – when he passed away.  After the usual formalities, I took my mother home (widowed at the age of 55), and stayed with her until almost midnight.

I then drove home to my Manse – some 40 miles away  – where my beloved wife (and one year old son – fast asleep) was waiting.

After talking things through for an hour or so, I went into my study and stayed up all night, writing a sermon from scratch; my organist was a wonderful, delightful, talented musician – who often was given the praise list half an hour before the service – so no problems there, with what hymns would be sung.  Davie – you were wonderful, as a musician, and as a friend.

This was my first Charge and had only been there for a couple of years – so no “Golden Oldies” to rehash.  I think that I finished typing my notes about 6.30 that morning.

And, in the pulpit on time on the Sunday morning. Haven’t a clue what I preached about (it’s somewhere in my files).

Then, after a snatched lunch, back down the road to Glasgow.

Foolhardy? Professional? Let the congregation down with sub-standard material?  What do YOU think?P

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This night as I lie down to sleep……


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Grave humour


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Dying for a Pint


  A string of pubs are urging patrons to shun idle chatter or football banter and ponder some of life’s biggest questions – via the humble beer mat.

from the Edinburgh Evening News, 6 November 2014

From today, more than 130 Capital pubs will serve up frothy pints on a coaster bearing poignant quotations that are designed to steer bar-room conversations towards death.

It is hoped the passages will inspire hard-headed Scots to open up and share memories about late loved ones while sipping their pints.

The move has been spearheaded by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (SPPC) – which represents end-of-life charities – and aims to prevent Scots from bottling up about death and encourage them to talk it out.

SPPC chief executive Mark Hazelwood said: “Pubs are an important part of Scottish culture. So is death. All of us experience loss of some kind during our lives, and many people get something really positive from sharing stories of their dead loved ones.”

The thought-provoking messages include a quote from George Eliot – “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love” – among several others but the words “To Absent Friends . . . because dead ordinary people live on in the stories of the living” is scrawled on every beer mat.

Ryrie’s Bar at Haymarket was one of the first to receive its quota of striking coasters from Stewart Brewery, which is supporting the project.

Wendy Dickson, the pub’s assistant manager, said the project “made sense” as bars are where “most people go to talk about anything”.

She said: “The beer mats are not in your face, they’re simply saying that it’s OK to talk about death if you want to.”

Dr Duncan Brown, medical director at St Columba’s Hospice, said open discussions about death helped people to cope with bereavement.

“At the hospice, we work hard to provide the best quality of care to people with advanced illnesses and to their families. We’ve found that it is easier to do this if people are able to have open and honest discussions about death, dying and bereavement when the time comes.

“I think that these beer mats are a great way of bringing conversation about death back into normal life.”

Church of Scotland minister Ewan Aitken hailed it as an “extremely positive” concept.

He said: “We compartmentalise death to the point when it happens, and then it’s too late to deal with it.

“It’s an absolutely positive thing – getting Scottish men to talk about feelings at all is a positive thing.”

You can quote us on that..

• “Behind every man now alive stands 30 ghosts, for that is the ration by which the dead outnumber the living.” – Arthur C Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

• “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no-one can steal.” – Irish Headstone

• “Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.”– George Elliot

• “The first Burns Suppers were held in Ayrshire in the 18th Century by Robert Burns’ friends to mark the anniversary of his death. Who would you hold a memorial supper for?”

• “To Absent Friends… because dead ordinary people live on in the stories of the living.”

• “More people attended the funeral of Ludwig Van Beethoven than of Michael Jackson.”


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Snakes Alive; Snake handler RIP

imageReality show snake-handling preacher dies — of snakebite
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
February 16, 2014 — Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)

Jamie Coots had said that he believed a poisonous snakebite would not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God.
Star of “Snake Salvation” has died of venomous snakebite
Pentecostal Pastor Jamie Coots believes that God protects against venomous snakebites
Coots refused treatment for the bite, authorities said
(CNN) — A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died — of a snakebite.
Jamie Coots died Saturday evening after refusing to be treated, Middleborough police said.
On “Snake Salvation,” the ardent Pentecostal believer said that he believed that a passage in the Bible suggests poisonous snakebites will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God. The practice is illegal in most states, but still goes on, primarily in the rural South.
Coots was a third-generation “serpent handler” and aspired to one day pass the practice and his church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, on to his adult son, Little Cody.
The National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling all kinds of poisonous snakes — copperheads, rattlers, cottonmouths. The channel’s website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, wearing a fedora. “Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services,” Coots “still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith,” the website says.
In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for having crossed into Tennessee with venomous snakes. He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to National Geographic. Tennessee banned snake handling in 1947 after five people were bitten in churches over two years’ time, the channel says on the show site.
On one episode, Coots, who collected snakes, is shown trying to wrest a Western diamondback out of its nook under a rock deep in East Texas. He’s wearing a cowboy hat and a T-shirt that says “The answer to Y2K – JESUS.”
The pastor is helped by his son and a couple of church members.
“He’ll give up, just sooner or later,” one of the members says. “Just be careful. Ease him out.”
The group bags two snakes, which a disappointed Coots says hardly justifies the trip to Texas.
“Catching two snakes the first day, ‘course we’d hoped for more,” Coots says in the video. “We knew that the next day we was gonna have to try to hunt harder and hope for more snakes.”

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via Patheos – Unfundamentalist Christianity

Pastor: “He should have killed you. At least you’d have died a virgin.”
October 30, 2013 By John Shore

I got this letter in:
Hi, John.
I became acquainted with your writing a couple of months ago and love it. I so wish I could travel back in time and hear your voice in my head while I was growing up, instead of the hard-core fundy “you’re going to hell” soundtrack of my early life.
I’ve read with great interest some of the things you’ve written about how the church treats victims of sexual violence. I just had to share a bit of my story around exactly that issue.
When I was 16 years old, I was raped at knife-point by a stranger. Not having a clue how to handle it, I decided to confide first of all in my pastor. While I was literally still bleeding from the attack, he told me (and I quote) “It’s too bad that you didn’t force him to kill you instead. That way you could have at least died a virgin.” That was the sum total of his “advice” to me—not, “Oh, you should go to the police,” or “Oh, I’m so sorry that happened to you,” or anything that might have been even remotely helpful anywhere on this planet.
After that reaction, I decided not to tell anyone else—including my parents or the police—ever. It wasn’t until six years later, after I had attempted suicide and was hospitalized for severe depression, that the truth came out. And then, only because I saw my rapist’s wedding photo and announcement in our local paper and freaked out a bit. (Well, okay, a lot.) It took me a long time, a ton of therapy, and no small measure of the grace of God to get past this exhibit of what a pastor-friend calls the “cult of virginity.”
God calls us to be sooooo much more than what happens with (or to) our genitals.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a voice of reason and compassion in that regard!! To this day, almost 30 years later, I harbor more anger toward that “pastor” than I do toward the man who raped me. At least the rapist wasn’t pretending to represent God. The damage the rapist did to my body and my psyche was not insignificant; but the soul-damage done by this “man of God” nearly killed my faith.
And Jesus wept.

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Death in Jerusalem

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on holiday to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband that he could have her shipped home for £5000; alternatively it would cost only £500 to have her buried in the Holy Land.

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, “Why would you spend £5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only £500?”

The man replied, “Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance”

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Address – SANDS service, Crichton Memorial Church, 19/12/2013

I heard of a very strange auction that was held back in the 1920s in America.

Not the usual items that you find on all these daytime TV antique shows that I watch if Jeremy Kyle isn’t on (what an admission! – well, I am retired….and one’s got to watch something before “Pointless” comes on at 5.15!)

The items in this particular auction consisted of 150,000 patented models of old inventions which hadn’t really worked nor caught the imagination of the buying public.

There was, for example, a “bed-bug buster” and an “illuminated cat” that was designed to scare away mice.

Then there was a device to prevent snoring: a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbours.

And then there was the adjustable pulpit that could be raised or lowered according to the height of the preacher. Tall minister – UP it goes! Wee bauchle like myself – the lowest setting

Well all or most of these 150,000 items caused a lot of mirth amongst the bidders.

But for 150,000 others, it was no laughing matter, for these were the inventors.

These 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams.

They represented disappointment, of hard work and love and time and patience that had come to nothing

Most of us – particularly this evening know about broken dreams and disappointments

‘Tis the season to be jolly. But it’s not jolly for everybody, is it? For those who have lost loved ones this can the hardest part of the year.

I love Christmas.

But this Christmas will be the first I’ve spent at home without my wife who died last year.

She used to sit opposite me at the other end of the dining room table – but her chair is empty – she’s gone.

How many of you have “empty chairs” in your hearts, particularly at this time of year?

Most of you; most of us.

Whatever the time of year, for many of us gathered here, life can be a difficult – Christmas or any other time and especially, when events trigger a thought or a feeling that brings it all back to us – the disappointment, the unfairness of it all, perhaps even a creeping sense of bitterness or resentment that others have fuller family lives than we do.

The family side of Christmas is important, of course it is.

But deeper within those of us who are people of faith, it is the appreciation of the tremendous gift of salvation given as God in Christ stepped into time at Bethlehem to accomplish our salvation that is most important.

Salvation – it means saving from sin, of course. But, non theologically speaking – are we not saved also from ourselves, from bitterness and sorrow, negativity and a sense of unfairness? Perhaps even from envy and resentment that others have what should have, ought to have?

And what does one do with this appreciation? How do we please God during this season?

One way is by reaching out to others, especially when we are sorrowful

We who have been through the “ the valley of the shadow” can end up being a comfort for those who walk in darkness.

Happy or sad, may the Lord Jesus bless your Christmas with joyful thanksgiving of what Almighty God did to make a way for us to be renewed with peace , because of that first Christmas.

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Westboro – Shirley Phelps

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December 7, 2013 · 08:30

Sail Away

Henry Van Dyke:

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
“Gone where?”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says:
“There, she is gone!”
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

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