Wednesday, 25 August 2010

All roads lead to...

I must confess that the above image has been slightly Photoshopped for effect - it is 7 miles if you turn left and 8 if you turn right, but the gist of a signpost with no apparent distinguishing function was too hard to resist. Well, Bute is an island, and Kilchattan Bay is pretty much the bottom bit.

A good day today of getting to know people, scattered over a rather wide area of the Scottish countryside. Lives are filled wtih joy and pain, good experiences and bad experiences. We all look very hard for the signs of where we are supposed to go, what we are supposed to do. I would never be able to be Calvinist enough to accept that all is set, all the signposts point to our pre-determined Rothesay and the only question is how many miles and when we'll get there. But there is a little bit of me that feels that most signposts DO point to Rothesay, and as we make our freewilled choice to belong, believe and generally accept a life that God wishes for us, we have to make a pretty bad fist of it to accidentally take the road to Kilchattan Bay (which is the finger of the signpost that is pointing out of the picture - and which will now be dropped as a metaphor before the good residents of Kilchattan Bay decide that symbolism of damnation/etc./etc. is not appropriate for their beautiful village).

I went left, and was rewarded with amazing views of Arran, as well as reaching my chosen destination (which was, indeed, Rothesay).

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Glen 10 & authorised liturgy

I picked up Elly from her first provincial youth camp (in a denomination where 'provincial' is not a pejorative term, as it seems to be down south). The camp was at Glenalmond school in Perthshire, under the leadership of a bishop and with about 60 delegates and 20 leaders - how about those ratios!

This is early days for us in the Scottish Episcopal Church, but 'Glen 10', from the final worship and slide show I saw, plus conversation with Elly in the three hours it took to get home, fill me with interest and hope!

The whole youth thing was done brilliantly - how many events have a day time sign-up activity for the youth to choose that is 'sleeping'? Cooked breakfasts and iPod fests abounded. But there was also unashamed engagement with the daily office, with eucharistic theology and liturgy. The essence seems to be meeting people where they are, but maintaining the distinctiveness of SEC worship. That flies in the face of much of the 'Fresh Expressions' work down down south, where form is a flexible as context.

But it makes it a realistic (if you are a pisky this is what you get) and integrity-laden approach. I wonder how this will evolve as the years go by? I wonder how engaged and missional we are in non-episcopalian contexts (and where we lose the essence of what we are)? I wonder how easily one can remain eucharistic and sacramental without letting go of the controls of authorised liturgy? I wonder why I'm asking so many rhetorical questions?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

East is east and west is west

Freshly returned from holidaying afloat on NB Dalriada (NB = narrowboat - official designation for a 6'9" wide canal craft!) with a good, relaxing time had by all.

The journey started at Kirkintilloch, Dalriada's home base, nicely situated at the mid-pointish of the top pound of the Forth and Clyde canal (pound is the bit between locks - top pound is the flat on the top!) The top pound goes as far as Spiers Wharf and Maryhill Locks in Glasgow, so we basically started a few miles from Glasgow.

Destination: Falkirk Wheel - which is a spectacular feat of engineering, and, on a windy day, a fantastic opportunity to get your boat blown embarrassingly off course in a busy basin with hundreds of Japanese tourists photographing it. We avoided the embarrassment this time - not too windy, and wriggled into the wheel!

The view from the top!

We then journeyed the 32 miles to Edinburgh - right into the heart of the city. Plenty of braid weed (which ties up your propeller and stops the boat going or steering), and fun and games having diesel pumped into the boat and certain waste fluid products pumped out of the boat - these things can never be done quite when and where you want. Plenty of interest in Dalriada - she still says that she comes from Gloucester, which is quite a haul at 3mph from the Union Canal.

Now Edinburgh - where do we start...? Mary and I met here as students nearly 25 years ago. We know the place pretty well. Even some of the more 'interesting' bits that we sailed through have strong memories (Wester Hailes...)
asically, we love Edinburgh a lot, and it was wonderful to be there. But after the boat passes through and we disturb the water, or we visit the castle, or have a pizza at Mamma's in the Grassmarket, a little later there's no trace of our visit. We are all transient visitors.

So I loved this permanent footprint that the Union Canal builders left behind them in 1821, on the sides of bridge 61, just before you go back into the Falkirk Tunnel.

The left hand face is looking towards Edinburgh - smiling! The right hand face is looking towards Glasgow - grimace. Or is it that you pass the grimace as you go towards Edinburgh, but are greeted by a smile as you return to Glasgow. Hmmm. Take your pick of the preference for east and west.

But I still tend to read the Scotsman rather than the Herald. A dangerous admission for a clergyman in Argyll???