What if the people prayed?

Our CSM read the words of this song in his announcements on Sunday.

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In the name of the Father, the Son and the Propet Mohammad

News clip from the Seattle Times:
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Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest. She does both, she says, because she’s Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she’s ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she’s also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim..? She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word “Islam.”

“It wasn’t about intellect,” she said. “All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.

“I could not not be a Muslim…”

Redding’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.
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eh?

Andrew C

Scots Wha Hae

I was looking at the website for the Scottish Parliament and happened to notice that you could view the website in several languages. English and Gaelic of course, Urdu, French and the usual suspects….but what a smile came upon my fissog (face) when I noticed that they had a rendition of the website in my natural tongue..Scots (although its not Ayrshire Scots, but there you go!)

Here is a little taster:
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Wha are the MSPs an whit can they dae for me?

MSPs are Members o the Scottish Pairlament. They mak laws an decisions on devolvit
maitters.

Ivery 4 year elections til the Scottish Pairlament is hauden. In the election fowk in
Scotland vote for candidates an the candidates that wins become MSPs.

There are 129 MSPs, made up o 73 constituency MSPs an 56 regional MSPs. Ye are representit by 1 constituency MSP an 7 regional MSPs.

Yer MSPs need tae ken whit maitters tae ye tae help the Scottish Pairlament wark for
ye, suppose ye didna vote for them.

Gin ye contack an MSP anent something that concerns ye they micht:

* speak in a debate on a maitter ye hae raised
* introduce a Bill tae chynge the law
* lodge a motion for debate in the Pairlament
* speir the Scottish Executive anent a maitter ye hae raised
* lodge an amendment tae a Bill
* refer ye til anither bodie or organisation
* advise ye that nae faurer action can be taen

Ye can tryst tae meet yer MSPs at the Pairlament, in their local office or throu their regular
surgeries in yer local area.

Tae find oot wha yer MSPs are an hoo tae contack them, ye can luik on the Scottish
Pairlament wabsite, speir at yer local Pairtner Library or contack the Public Information
Service (details is on the hinderend o this leaflet).

Abortion

BBC news reports that abortions in England are up 4% on last year, including an increase amongst those under 18. This corresponds with the increase in the abortion pill as opposed to operations.

Report highlights child poverty

From the BBC:

More than 90,000 children in Scotland live in “severe poverty”, according to a study by Save the Children (STC).

The charity has classified just under 10% of the country’s one million youngsters as living in its worst poverty bracket.

It comprises children aged 15 or under living with two parents who bring home less than £7,000 a year after paying for housing costs.

The statistic is in the charity’s Living Below the Radar report.

STC’s findings, which were published on Tuesday, suggest that one third of children in severe poverty cannot afford play equipment such as a bike or a football, while a quarter miss out on going to toddler or play groups once a week.

The report also found that about 20% of the under-privileged youngsters cannot afford to celebrate occasions like Christmas or birthdays.

Reflection 3 – Transparency

One of the values that is very close to my heart is the idea of transparency. I firmly, firmly believe that the best way we can glorify God is by simply being ourselves. With that, I mean ‘warts and all.’ There is a strong temptation for those in leadership to pretend to be something they are not and this adds complication and stress which cannot be expressed outwardly and so ends up being unhealthily internalised. I try to be honest with the things that confuse me, honest about the things I don’t understand and direct about the things I believe to be unacceptable.

If a person is one thing on a Sunday and something else at home then there are issues of integrity. If I go around pretending I’m the absolute perfect Christian because I am an officer, then I do my people a dis-service. I know some officers who seem to be the soundest people you can come across, then you hear of a dramatic calamity where lives fall apart. I believe that if we can be open with our struggles then we don’t fall by failing to live up to our own realistic expectations.

Holiness is about transparency too…if I don’t allow my life to be transparent, then I will never be aware of the things that I need to let other believers see in me, so that they can then keep me accountable and encourage me to change. Transparency also enables the Christian to move deeper into Christ because they are more readibly willing to admit their failings, to be corrected, and to move on into further levels of submission to Jesus.

How do you become open? I don’t know. I learned it out of desparation. At my home corps as a boy, I had to be open because the body of Christ was the only safe place for me….it was the only place where I could get the support I needed. I didn’t hesitate about confessing the need for help in any particular area.

What am I saying? Simply that it is sometimes better to be open with our struggles than to pretend they don’t exist and tie ourselves in knots trying to live life bound up in keeping alive a lie. I hope I am making sense!

Misrepresentation

I read this on Eleanor Burne-Jones’ blog, and I have no way to contact her directly so will do so here. She writes this:

So far as I understand it, and I am still trying to get this clarified, as a soldier in the Salvation Army I have no right to be discipled, mentored or directed to some active service by my officer. I can be kept out of active service indefinitely, with no reason given to me in writing, with no right of appeal, with no grievance procedure if I feel I have been unfairly treated, and with no procedure to follow if I wish this to be reviewed. When this happens to soldiers we are simply expected to sit and let it happen. That seems to be the cultural assumption?

It is sad that that is her experience at the moment, however, this is not how it is supposed to work at all, by far. I don’t know the specific circumstances, but offer this response here seeing as there is no way to do that on her blog.

– Firstly, in orders and regulations for Officer, an officers is charged with the responsibility for the development and employment of his soldiers in the fight…second only to evangelism, it is his/her key task.
– Secondly, it is the corps officers ‘privilege’ to ask the soldier to take up or lay aside a task and soldiers are encouraged to accept this decision, however, if you are being kept out of service for an issue that appears to be a disciplinary one, then the divisional commander should have been invovled in that process.
– Thirdly, assuming a soldier has a valid case, the soldier always has the right to contact the divisional commander to explain the position. The divisional commander is ultimately responsible for discipline and will intervene in any situation if he considers there to be an injusice, either against a soldier or an officer.
– Fourthy, s reminder that inspite of church being the church, it will always always have a human element to it. When we become soldiers, we agree to show the spirit of Salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution….that is valid for ocassions such as this…it is something we all have to do at times, even our Lord had to do it! God is our defence and ultimately he will vindicate us if indeed we have a case to be vindicated. He is good all the time.

Sorry you are being misrepresented Eleanor, but clearly the Army’s processes have been under-represented to you. God bless you as you seek resolution. May it never detract from the keeping of your covenant and in serving Jesus wholeheartedly.

blessings
Andrew

New soldier


Tomorrow, we have the joy of witnessing our newest soldier sign his covenant as we enrol him! Hallelujah! We’re looking forward to have his family and friends from work witness the event…they don’t attend the corps. He will be the sixth soldier we’ve enrolled at Pill. We also have the possibility of enrolling one more before we leave, but that depends on a lot of things!

Reflection 2 – changing roles

Having just posted about an hour ago that I wasn’t going to be blogging as regularly, here I go again.

I am sensing a change in myself that I am so relieved about. I’ve had this before…I had it when I went to training college. I am going to try and explain it because maybe there is someone out there who has experienced it too and wondered if you were the only one…

I suppose its that feeling of transition, spiritually. When we moved from Dennistoun to college, my role dramatically changed. From frontline East End of Glasgow work to the setting of the college was big. Within a few weeks at college, my role had all of a sudden changed from battler, fighter, change agent, destroyer, social worker, evangelist to that of encourager, equipper, builder-up-er…and yes, friends, pastor! People would have loved this in Pill I am sure, but it wasn’t what we were called to do.

Right now, I feel a similar type of change. Pill has been a bitlike battler, fighter, change agent, destroyer with a little bit of positive building stuck on the end! God has been so clear already that he is not appointing us to do the same for the Wick Corps. The call is ‘building and expansion.’

Here are the things that are coming through very strongly for me in my prayers of preparation for Wick, in addition to my generic callings to preaching holiness, full salvation and prophetically calling the Army to spiritual renewal, the marginalised and to mission-focussed heroism:

renewal facilitator! Sounds similar to the generic, but in ways that we’ve seen some refreshing in Pill, I believe we will see more in Wick. I’ve got a strong sense of calling to really minister to the wider body of the church in Caithness (which is the county we are in). This is the response to praying through the prophecies God has spoken to me. God is moving strategically in Wick in preparation for his new day.
evangelist. I will be spending much greater proportions of my time in Wick with the unsaved. I’ll finally be returning to my first love…sharing the gospel. I have a wonderful pub round to do, tonnes of children’s work in schools, youth work to pioneer and a HUGE district to work in! My corps district is probably about a 10th of the size Scotland!!!!

The upside to all this, is that I won’t need to be so tough…well, perhaps not in the same way as here! What a sense of relief that is for me personally! As well as the spiritual change, there will be the simple practical opportunities to learn from your mistakes. Praise God that he teaches us.

I thank God for every minute we still have here in Pill…we still believe we have been right for the times – and this is still the time!

Pray for us, will you?

Reflection 1

I hope you can forgive a bit of a quieter blog over the next little while! The next three weeks for us are packing as well as tying up odd ends at the corps. Then we are taking our two week summer holiday. Then its our farewell weekend, then we are off to back to Scotland! I do intend to blog, but it will be fewer and further between I’d imagine. I’ll be offering (for my own benefit more than yours!) some reflections on the last 3 years of ministry over the next couple of weeks.

The ‘goodbyes’ are still ongoing really. Last night was our last corps council, which was fine, until I decided I’d read a few verses from the first chapter of Philippians as my pray for the CC….I just about go through it without a tear, although my voice wobbled a bit! Saying goodbyes are difficult. We’ve been on such a journey, a real spiritual battle too. Every difficult day has been worth it though to see the things that are happening in the corps now.

Our ward system is still going from strength to strength. We’re still seeing a 500% increase (that’s not an exaggerated figure) attending our midweek discipleship programme since we started our Ward System. Hallelujah. We have five active wards, ranging in active attendance between 3 and 12 with one Ward almost ready to multiply before the end of the year.

But more than that is the spiritual impact. People are gaining confidence in praying both in a group setting and in public. People are interacting more in the hall and in fellowship outside too. Each ward is also beginning to get to grips with some active outreach…and a couple of Wards are considering utilising the Jesus Video Project, delivering a copy to homes in their Ward Areas.

People are being effectively pastored by a willing (most of the time!) and able team of pastoral leaders, and trained by a capable group of bible teachers. This corps could function in pastoral care and discipleship without an officer. Is this not part of our aim as corps officers? To train, release and equip soldiers for ministry. Sure, they will all say they’ve got a bit to go yet, but so do we all and they are doing a great job.

The Ward System will continue to bring health and growth to Pill. One of the reasons I am convinced of this is because, unlike some things, I haven’t had to drag it into reality. It has a life of its own which I have the opportunity simply to hold together through the ward leaders meeting.

In a sense, it would have been great to have been here to see how it develops, but I will be delighted as I watch from a distance the advance of the Kingdom in Pill!