Friday, 12 October 2018

Aerosol Words


This week I’ve attended my regional Ministers’ Conference – three days with forty Baptist pastors – it’s either been heaven or hell depending on your point of view!!

I loved the meal time conversations and the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and I really appreciate all the effort that goes in to making these occasions possible for us.

One of our speakers was the wonderful Ann Morisy.  Ann came to Amersham a few years ago and took our Elders’ Training Day on the theme of ‘Ministry to Seniors’ – she was as brilliant then as she was this week. She combines a gentle Liverpudlian humour with the sharp insights of a sociologist who works in a Christian context.  We learnt so much from her wise words.

One of her asides, however, will linger most in my mind.  She spoke of ‘Aerosol words’.  At first I was puzzled as to what she meant.

For her, aerosol words and phrases are used at those times when we want to spray around some warm feeling without really defining too much what we mean.  ‘Community’, said Ann, is an obvious ‘aerosol’ word – in the Church we use it all the time, yet maybe we are not too sure what it really means.  I guess ‘inclusivity’ might be another one, and probably those theological words like ‘Kingdom of God’ or ‘Eternal Life’ are also ones we spray around but would need to think hard about as to what they really mean.

Well – I put my hand up – no one is more guilty of aerosol words than me!

Yet I suspect that even if I might be hard pressed to come up with a comprehensive definition of words like ‘community’ or ‘compassion’ – the reality is I know what these words mean when I see love in action. 

I know it looks like:
-        Selfless giving
-        Dedicated service
-        Authentic living
-        Thoughtful commitment

Next week I’ll do my thinking without thirty- nine other colleagues around me – but for this week I give thanks for the fun we’ve had and all we learnt together.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Happy Birthday Sycamore Club

On Wednesday of this week we held a 40th Birthday Party for Sycamore Club. 

The club, sponsored by Churches Together on The Hill, Amersham (COTHA), provides one day a week when folk with dementia can attend – thus giving them a stimulating day and their carers a ‘day off’.  It’s staffed by very faithful and committed volunteers and this year celebrates its ‘Ruby’ anniversary.  To mark the occasion a service was held – led by The Revd Peter Binns, the club’s president from St Michael’s and a tea was hosted afterwards by Beverley (who has co-ordinated the club for a decade now) and her team.

It was a moving occasion, especially remembering those who had the vision for this activity forty years ago – in many ways they were ahead of their time.

On Wednesday, during the worship in church, we sang the hymn Loving Shepherd of thy sheep. I was especially struck by the appropriateness of the first verse which goes: keep thy lamb in safety, keep; nothing can thy power withstand, none can pluck me from thy hand.

Dementia, sometimes known as ‘the long goodbye’, can seem to us a cruel state of mind.  That hymn just reminded me that people we love who might at times seem ‘lost’ to us through this condition, are held in the love of God and nothing can pluck them from his hand.  Such a thought, I believe, gives continuing dignity and worth to them – to sense that they are honoured and valued by The Good Shepherd.

So Happy Birthday Sycamore Club, and thank you for your weekly work of loving, down to earth compassion these last forty years.

Aerosol Words

This week I’ve attended my regional Ministers’ Conference – three days with forty Baptist pastors – it’s either been heaven or hell depe...