STOCKI SURMISING

MY 60th BIRTHDAY - WONDERFUL DAY

Stocki 60

Much as I loved the surprise parties thrown for my 40th and 50th birthdays I had my family under strict orders that I didn't want big party for my 60th. 

It wasn't that I wanted to hide the fact that I was 60. Fr Martin Magill and I have heralded our landmark birthdays for a month, trying to raise money for Embrace NI. 

No, I have become more and more introverted through my 50s. I am not sure what to do with crowds pointing at me. Fitzroy singing “Happy Birthday’ before the service was lovely but my heart and brain go mush and I cannot fully appreciate the sentiment! 

I am happier at a good meal with a smaller number rather than short greetings with a couple of hundred.

So it was Holohans Pantry my very favourite restaurant, owned and run by good friends. We even had Eli and Bella as waiter and waitress. The food was amazing. I am a Seafood Boxty fanatic so joined by our good friends David and Rachel Quinney Mee I was in my happy place. I am always so relaxed in the Pantry.

Not that I got away without a surprise. Oh no! Dandering out at the end of the Fitzroy service someone mentioned an Ice Cream Van and I realised that they have done me again. Surprise!

Yet, a surprise that included the entire congregation, at least the 60% back after Covid, was a perfect way to celebrate. To see the children and young people enjoy a big 99 or a double one with lime sauce was a birthday thrill. Even a more mature member admitted to racing to get in line before the kids.

It was a real carnival and of course with an ice cream van and children it was not about me. I loved it. 

The whole day had started on BBC Radio Ulster. Fr Martin and I were rather honoured to have our landmark birthday recognised on Sunday Sequence and the lovely Audrey Carville reflecting on our lives.

It was good to give testimony to what has been a 10:10 ‘life in all its fulness’ and confessing no regrets but that at times I had hurt others. It was good to declare that we weren’t switching off and were getting excited about the future, particularly the 10th Anniversary of The 4 Corners Festival next February.

It was good to give a last plug to our Big 60th Birthday Fundraiser. To realise that we will have raised over £7000 for Embrace NI and the work that they do with refugees and migrants is the best present ever. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so generously! 

An hour after that interview I was standing in Fitzroy. It is my piece of pitch. As Kevin De Bruyne has that midfield space where he can play his genius, passing a football into the path of a team mate, so I have my lectern at the front of Fitzroy.

For twelve years that has been my space. In grief, in illness and in joy that little piece of real estate has been the place where I have found my deepest gladness, my reason to be on this planet.

To be there on 10:10. on the day of my 60th birthday, was a marvellous lining up of the calendar. To share the first communion in 18 months with my congregation was going to be special anyway but even more on this particular day. 

“You know who you are with bread and wine in your hand. You are a somebody.” A twist on TV’s Tales of the Unexpected. Who we are. And then… to close… Singing…

 

And all my life You have been faithful (oh)

And all my life You have been so, so good 

With every breath that I am able

Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God (yeah)

 

As we sang I felt a perfect moment. Me and God… aligned. I am thankful, so thankful for reaching 60. For having Janice beside me, throwing surprises. For daughters ploughing their deepest gladness. For an amazingly gifted and generous congregation that allows me to be me. For a wider society that invites me to share with it whether on radio, in newspaper or occasionally TV (Martin and I will be talking about a favourite book in BBC’s Book Week… coming up soon!).

Late evening, with a wee glass, Janice and a TV thriller. In the quiet, looking back. A most wonderful birthday.

60 years. What a 10:10 life. As Van once said, “It’s too late to stop now…” I am kind of glad it is over. The rest of my life starts here! Let’s go!


ON THESE STEPS - PRESBYTERIANS MARK 100 YEARS OF NORTHERN IRELAND

On These Steps

It seemed to me that it was the press getting it wrong, not for the first time. 

As I welcomed people at the door of the Presbyterian Church’s On These Steps event marking 100 Years of Northern Ireland I watched the TV cameras as journalists interviewed political leaders about President Higgins decision not to attend a church service in Armagh to mark the same 100th Anniversary.

With all that fuss about church and 100th Anniversary events you might have thought that the press would be interested in what was going on in the actual building that they were interviewing outside of… but no.

If I say so as one of the organisers, On These Steps was a cutting edge contribution to the discussion around the founding of Northern Ireland. It recognised that as some celebrated the existence of Northern Ireland others deeply resented partition. 

We were on the steps of Union College 100 years to the day that the first Northern Ireland parliament met. We heard Jim Allen perform the King’s speech from that very day:

I speak from a full heart when I pray that My coming to Ireland to-day may prove to be the first step towards an end of strife amongst her people, whatever their race or creed.

In that hope, I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and to forget, and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment, and goodwill.

On These Steps flowed from these words.

Local songwriter Ferna sang a newly commissioned song imagining Northern Ireland as a person reflecting on his/her birthday. Ferna is deep of thought with a poetic dexterity and musical daring. We got it all. It was imaginative, poignant and I hope we could all see ourselves, individually and communally, “I am never not afraid/So I’m always getting saved.” 

There was a fascinating address by historian Ian McBride about the world of 1921 where Europe was being cut up with borders and Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances that caused our border. He said, “My hope is that, in this centenary year, we can collectively interrogate some of these self-serving reflexes…The challenge for historians, among others, is to ensure that the complex realities of the Irish situation a century ago are not ironed out for political, ideological or therapeutic reasons.”

Presbyterian Moderator David Bruce led us to look forward. With personal, literary and Biblical images he called our politicians to see our institutions as precious and for us all to sit down at the crossroads and talk about our stories and how we can live together. He spoke of how Jesus brings the love and justice together in his incarnation and cross and therefore hope is possible. David concluded:

“A multi-cultural Ireland, north and south is a blessing to us, and we need not be fearful of it. The stories of those who have left everything behind in their homelands to be part of our story in this, their new homeland, need to be heard, and they will enrich us, just as we will bless them…Whatever a new Ireland resembles, it will not be because someone was victorious, while another was defeated. If it looks like that, it won’t be a new Ireland…”

The press, obsessed with short catchy headlines missed such helpful content. They also missed a panel that doesn’t meet publicly too often in Ireland - Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Paul Givan MLA and Junior Minister, Declan Kearney MLA, representing the deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, who was unable to attend. Newly appointed Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Conor Burns MP, also took part along with Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD. Jude Hill interviewed. Now there’s a press story. Missed!

The atmosphere was one of respect and listening. I might have liked a little more honesty and forthrightness from panellists but it was a real contribution. We need more of such events as we move forward to whatever the next 100 years looks like. Maybe the press will share headlines of some of the good things too!


LUCIA'S STORY.. & A QUESTION OF YOU - On Organ Donation Week

EMB-Lucia-Quinney-Mee

photo: Jasmine Stockman

 

It is Organ Donation Week. Let me tell you a story and then ask you to do something.

Lucia Quinney Mee passed away a few days before her 21st birthday. Over the previous 12 she had depended on four families giving their loved ones organs that she might live.

For most of her life she was best friends to our daughter's Caitlin and Jasmine, living in the same cul-de-sac where our own house is in Ballycastle.

Along with Lucia's sister Alice, the four girls connected one sunny day and soon were all splashing in our kiddies pool. They were four buddies ever since, walking through childhood and their teens until Lucia would leave them in May 2020.

There were so many incredible happy memories. Yet, I guess Lucia’s story stood out in sad and wonderful ways. Around 2007 the girls came up to a Chaplaincy night at Derryvolgie Hall, where I was Chaplain. They did their dance routine, cute kids loved by our students. Lucia’s eyes were a little yellowish… within a week she was in an operating theatre in Birmingham Children’s Hospital receiving her first liver transplant. 

Lucia received her fourth liver in King’s Hospital, London the day before New Year’s Eve 2019. Sadly, she never quite made it through. For five months she battled with her amazing parents and sister by her side. We hoped. We prayed but as her dad told us “sometimes love is not enough to hold a body together.”

Through twelve years and those first three livers Lucia has lived the most incredible, inspirational life. She became a swimming star at British and World Transplant Games. Gold medals were plentiful. She carried the Olympic torch in 2012.

She set up a charity Live Loudly, Donate Proudly while ill before her third liver transplant that encourages people to donate organs. In 2016 she organised a Gala Dinner for Transplant charities and her speech was so mature and articulate. 

She also spoke at the 4 Corners Festival Banquet in January 2018 when we celebrated families who donated their loved ones organs to others. 

Her Live Loudly Donate Proudly blog showed an exceptional flair for writing for one so young.

In 2017 she was the youngest in the Queens New Year’s Honour’s List, receiving a British Empire Medal. Our Jazzi took the photo above for the press! She also got to have lunch with the Queen herself.

In between all of that there were parties and pop concerts and all the stuff a young woman does. In spite of all she had to go through Lucia lived loudly and more than that selflessly. In the pool she swam for her donors whom she never knew but never forgot. She wanted others to have the gift of life she was given for those twelve years. She was a world changer. 

We loved her. We admired her. Last night sitting in her parents house, a house filled with photographs of her bright, brave smile I was emotional again.

Today I want to thank again, though I don't know who they are, the donors' families that allowed Lucia to become so precious to us. Life. More days to love. What a gift!

So on Organ Donation Week, have the conversation. Tell your loved ones that should tragedy cut your life short that you want to give a longer life to all the Lucias. To give life through your death. It almost has a Gospel sized sense.

Do it. Do it this week. Do it now!

 

I remember you, tiny in the corner

Coming over to splash in the water

I had no idea that down the years

You’d become an extra daughter

I remember the Chinese lanterns

Going up in the New Year sky

Writing how you’d change the world

And wondering how they fly

 

I regret not seeing you in the pool

When, even second, you were a winner

Olympic torch and Empire medal

The Queen inviting you for dinner

I remember your big Gala night

When as well as your beautiful fashion

You spoke courage beyond your years

With articulate flair and passion

 

Live loudly donate proudly

Is exactly who you are

And in every dark night of my soul

I’ll go searching for your star

We loved you and we love you

You will always have our love 

But for holding bodies together

Earthly love is not enough

But we will love you

For love is the best thing

Love is the only thing

Love is the eternal thing

We love you. 

THE GIRLS

 


SENDING MIGRANTS BACK, RADUCANU'S LESSON AND EMBRACE NI

Daily Express Raducanu

Only a British tabloid!

Alongside a seemingly triumphant headline of MIGRANTS WILL BE TURNED BACK TO FRANCE they have a photograph of a delighted, if disbelieving, Emma Raducanu, the nation’s tennis new hero after her phenomenal US Open victory.

The clue is in the name. Emma is not one of the Hartlepool, Swansea, Derry or Glasgow Raducanus. She is the Toronto born daughter of a Chinese mother and a Romanian father. In the final Raducanu beat Leylah Fernandez a Canadian teenager born in Montreal to a Filipina and Ecuadorian. 

There in one tennis match that screams to everyone paying attention that migration is the way of the world. It always has been. It is the way of history. It is how I ended up here. 

Migration is also the way of the Bible. From Genesis though to the latter stages of the New Testament people are on the move, the people of God are on the move. Jesus was a refugee, on the move, at the very crux of the Salvation History narrative! The Exodus, another movement of migration, was a major storyline too.

It is us understandable that God would understand such human migration and therefore into his advising on how to live life safely with care and compassion would include laws on how we deal with the stranger, coming into our communities or nations. It is always with care - the love of God. 

As a follower of Jesus, and as a minister in a congregation, I am always aware of Jesus example in Matthew 25 where he lays out how you’ll recognise a sheep of his flock. By their welcome to the stranger and meeting the needs of the thirsty and hungry. This is the business that you’ll find Jesus followers, as well as work with the sick, the prisoner and  the naked, being busy about.

This is why Fr Martin Magill and myself decided that we would choose Embrace NI as the NGO to benefit from our Big 60th Birthday Fundraise. 

Embrace NI has been helping the churches across our denominations to care for the migrant, refugee, asylum seeker, stranger for 25 years.

They have an emergency fund which our Fundraise will hopefully healthily replenish BUT they also do an amazing job at resourcing churches both in Biblical teaching and pragmatic application. 

Please check their website https://www.embraceni.org for more details of those Biblical and practical resources and some exciting seminars they are doing. 

And it would bless Fr Martin and my heart if you could feel able to donate to our Big 60th Birthday Fund - https://www.embraceni.org/donations/

There might be an Emma Raducanu out there but be sure there will be another human that God loves preciously who needs the welcome help of Jesus followers rather than being turned back to France without a Jesus welcome. 


20 YEARS SINCE 9/11 - Stop The Spinning Wheel

911-attacks-guantanamo-trial

 

On the 10th of September 2001 Clive Gregson was gigging in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He encored with The Beatles song Across The Universe and and crowd sang over and over, "Nothing's going to change my world..."

In the morning the same crowd woke up and watched the world change before their TV News eyes. 9/11. Twenty years ago. Where were you, everyone is asking?

It was quite a strange way that I got to see the news live. My friend Shane Tucker, now back living in Delaware, Ohio was in my Chaplaincy cafe. He wanted to show me a video. As we tried to get it going the TV cut in and there was news of a plane hitting the Twin Towers. But for Shane I wouldn't have been watching TV.

We watched and the second plane hit. Shane immediately knew it was a terrorist attack and was on the phone to his father in America. He said to me - Bin Laden. I am not sure we ever watched his video.

I don't know when I wrote this poem. Somewhere between the terrorist attack of that tragic day and the idea of going to war in response. It takes me back to the day and I think brings Jesus revolutionary ideas into all such moments.

 

Do you remember when the sky exploded

Do you remember the sick stench of rubble and skin

Do you remember the children left waiting in nurseries

Do you remember the funerals without a coffin

Do you remember the lingering fidgeting agitation

Do you remember the paralysis of nothing you can do

Do you remember Jesus saying, “Do unto others

As you would have them do unto you.”

 

Do you remember the heart of the nation crumble

Do you remember the rip in the lining of your soul

Do you remember the day fair could not be mended

Do you remember despair spiralling out of control

Do you remember the news men lost for words

Do you remember fiction blurring into what’s true

Do you remember Jesus saying, “Do unto others

As you would have them do unto you.”

 

And in vengeances vicious circle

In the perpetual cycle of hate

Someone has to stop the spinning wheel

Or everything’s gonna be too late

Jesus said, “Do unto others

As you would have them do unto you.”

That grace can blow holes in our waging of war

So that peace can squeeze through.

 

Do you remember nowhere left to run

Do you remember the long cast shadow of death

Do you remember the people falling, falling, falling

Do you remember the fear for your next breath

Do you remember the panic ‘neath the dust of hell

Do you remember the heroes trying to make it through

Do you remember Jesus saying, “Do unto others

As you would have them do unto you.”

 

And in vengeances vicious circle

In the perpetual cycle of hate

Someone has to stop the spinning wheel

Or everything’s gonna be too late

Jesus said, “Do unto others

As you would have them do unto you.”

That grace can blow holes in our waging of war

So that peace can squeeze through.


BACK TO MY DEEP GLADNESS - POST HOLIDAY EXCITEMENT!

Stocki 19

The summer is over, at least in terms of Stockman vacations, sorbets and sabbaticals. I am back to Fitzroy a week now and beginning to fill the mind that I emptied over August with new imaginings.

Being creative has been problematic during this past Coronavirus year and a half. All energies have been used up just keeping Church running rather than thinking about extras.

I am not sure how the next year will be. There is still a lot of uncertainty around us as we deal with not only the deaths caused by Covid-19 but also the serious illnesses and the consequent disruption to family, work colleagues and contacts.

Part of me is a little anxious about not knowing but I can feel my soul finding energy out of the rest. Time to conjure ideas to do the worship, spiritual formation, pastoral care and mission that a fellowship of faith does. Whether online or in Fitzroy we will find ways to be conduits for the grace of God. We need a Gospel According To… or two!

I am also excited about celebrating the 10th Anniversary of 4 Corners Festival in the first week of February 2020. We have some wonderful possibilities of theology, music, art, drama, interview and more under this year’s theme Common Ground Common Good. 

There is also this blog. Thank you so much for reading it whether you are looking for a good record, a fascinating book, some passionate thought on sport, ideas about peacemaking or radical thoughts on Jesus. This next year should see Soul Surmise We reach 1 million hits which blows my mind. Thank you for encouraging my self indulgence!

My friend and companion in peacemaking Fr Martin Magill has a big birthday coming up in September. For one whole month I have no idea what it must be like to be his age BUT by October 10th I will know! We have plans as to how we can make these celebrations work for those that Jesus cared most about… watch this space.

For those who are kind enough to listen when I am on the radio, I am on for seven weeks. I start this Wednesday 1st September for Wednesday mornings (new time is 7.20 or so) and the day after I finish those I start on BBC Radio 2, doing Thursdays from September 23rd to October 14th (5.45am). My first Radio 2 one is on my favourite Queen song - no idea! 

I am sure most of you know my mantra on vocation. Frederick Buechner puts it succinctly when he says that it is “where your deepest gladness meets the world’s deepest need.” I thank God every day that I get to do my deepest gladness and pray that it can somehow meet some of this broken but precious world’s need.

Let’s do this!


JOE BIDEN, ISAIAH 6, ME... and YOU!

Biden and Isaiah

As if US President Joe Biden doesn’t have enough to contend with, he has been getting some stick for his exegesis of Scripture. For the lay person, exegesis means a critical explanation or interpretation of a text and boy did Joe get it badly wrong.

To explain, if you missed it. Responding to the ISIS-K attacks in Kabul this week The US President vowed that the extremists would be brought to justice. He then used Isaiah 6 v 8. 

Isaiah 6 records an awe striking confrontation that Isaiah had with a holy God. God’s grace was amazing even back then and God moved to deal with Isaiah’s sin and guilt. Made new, Isaiah hears God ask “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Isaiah full of the energy of new life responds, “Here am I, send me.”

Joe Biden abuses the Scriptural text to say, “The American military has been answering for a long time, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’”  

Isaiah though is neither American nor in the military. He is accepting a call to be a prophet for justice for sure but it doesn’t seem to be the kind that Joe Biden has in mind and hails from a very different Chief. 

Those of us in the rest of the world are more than uneasy with the equating of America and the prophets of God, as though they are conduits for God’s keeping the world right. The Taliban might be saying similar things!! 

Biden’s exegesis is frightening BUT more frightening is that his misuse of Scripture is an everyday occurrence all over the world. It could happen in a pulpit near you tomorrow!

Let me surmise two lazy acts that we need to beware of. The first is that someone has quoted the Scripture therefore they can be trusted and the statement has to be true. 

I have listened too many times to “lonely verses” being ripped out of their Scriptural context and preached as Biblical truth. I hear people walking around pontificating (and I use the word intentionally) that they are Biblical because they quote the Scriptures and quote them more than everybody. 

Throwing a “lonely verse” up in the air doesn’t make us any more Biblical than Joe Biden was! Let us beware of being fooled by a Biblical quotation. Let us not be lazy about what we hear. Let us listen carefully. Let us search the Scriptures to hear the deep meaning of the text and not just the careless throwaway use of it, as if it is some magic set of words.

Secondly, let us not be lazy about how we use the Scriptures. Welcome to my world. I need to confess that I feel insecure every single week as I step up to a lectern (or in front of a camera). I have a fear that I might abuse a holy text. It is not a fear of inferiority, either as a theologian or as a preacher. It is a holy fear that I represent God correctly. 

In every situation that I am in, I am determined that I will go as far as I can to understand the text in the context of its time and in the context of the entire Biblical narrative and then apply it as carefully as I can into the context of Fitzroy in 2021. I know that at times I will get it wrong but I am determined to pray and study as much as I can to not misrepresent the Jesus teaching, God's amazing grace and the radical ways of His Kingdom.


STOCKI ON DAILY BLOGGING - AND SIGNING OFF FOR VACATION

Stocki and Jani 21

When I moved to Fitzroy in 2009 I realised that any ideas of writing more books were pretty much gone. I had my Masters dissertation pretty close to book form but I left it. 

When I write books I need time lots of time to get back in from where I was, to find the next chapters. Days. Weeks. I am so glad to got the time on my 2018 sabbatical to ghost write Trevor Stevenson’s memoir, From Killing Fields To Fields Of Life. That was a lovely wee surprise!

Anyway, back to 2009. I then thought. I could blog more. During the 2010 World Cup, as it was in South Africa that I had written so much about, I decided to blog every day for that month. For eleven now years I have kept going. Just 500 words or so, an article, review, poem from beginning to end, everyday. 

I don’t always do it. When I am tired my imagination wanes and I have to repost old blogs. Or re-write them. Yet, I have been sending out something most days for over a decade and I am very thankful that many of you read those thoughts. Thank you. The next year should see Soul Surmise pass 1 million hits. Wow! Thank you again.

To the point. Today I start my summer vacation. I treat it pretty religiously. I believe I should. I have blogged about that too.

So, I take the pressure off myself. I go on social media less. I only write blogs about what I am reading, listening to and rhyming. Any meaty articles get noted for post holiday. If I don’t write one thing for a month so be it but usually I like reviewing the book I have just read as it helps me untangle what I got from it. Hopefully it might be a good recommendation for your own summer reading.

Why do I say all of this. To remind myself to allow myself to be led by quiet waters. To commit to sabbath. Maybe it is also a last preach to all of you. Whatever, you do in ordinary time, leave it down for holiday time. Take the weight off. Find empty days. Those are the days where refreshment is most fertile. 

Let’s do it!


GLENN, MARK, BRUCE & ME - KINGS HALL, 21.7.2013

Kings Hall 13

 

Friends remind me that this photo was taken 8 years ago today. I was meant to be going shopping for paint! A phone call told me there was a free Bruce Springsteen ticket. When were they heading down I asked. In half an hour they said. Why? It'll not start until 8. Oh no, he'll do a wee set if we get in with the first in the queue. Really?!?!

It was a hot July day just like today. I enjoyed sitting with Glenn and Mark as much as I enjoyed the gig. They told me tall tales of their Bruce bromance. I thought I was a fan! In their shadow, maybe not! 

Bruce did play the wee secret set for the crazies. I was so thrilled to be among them. The entire gig was amazing. My review can be read HERE

Glenn gifted me that ticket. He never said. He and Mark made up more tall tales of how an extra one arrived in the post or how Glenn's son needed to go to Dublin.

He gifted me that ticket! It was who he was. It was an amazing day. As well  as the ticket he and Mark welcomed me into their gang. We partied. We made memories that I am basking in again today.

Thank you dear brother. It was a Glory Day. Wish we could do it again. I'd buy you. We'd pay anything for just one more song!

 

I loved when you took me chasing God

Up ahead and never looking over your shoulder

We knew everything when we were young

But relished all the questions, getting older

And you’re thoughts took us out there

But you always landed them, flesh on

In the hidden quiet moments of generosity

That’s where peace, love and justice got done.

 

And we’re standing in the King’s Hall sun

South Belfast basking in a saxophone wailing

The smile on our faces lighting the evening

Our big hearts and sweet souls are sailing

Between Atlantic City and Bangor pier

Our sails so full and the skies so clear

 

If we ever had the time again

Then I would make more time

In the meantime I’ll hear your whispering

In every Bruce Springsteen rhyme.


MY LONGING TO EXPLORE GOD

Magic Rings

I didn’t want my soul to be saved from hell as much as I wanted to know God. God. Imagine that. God. I couldn’t. As David Gray said, probably not about God, “we are trying to spell what the wind can’t explain”.

The first step of following Jesus for me was a leap into the biggest adventure that I could imagine a human can take. I was Jonathan Livingston Seagull, from Richard Bach’s short novel, wanting to fly like no other gull has ever flown… or human being had ever lived. I was seeking that “life in all its fulness” that Jesus invited us into in John 10:10.

As a seventeen year old I felt like Digory in CS Lewis’s Magician’s Nephew. In that, the first novel chronologically in the Narnia Chronicles but not first published, Digory and Polly find magic rings that bring them into Narnia through a dank pool. Polly wants to go back to safety but Digory says, “There's not much point in finding a magic ring that lets you into other worlds if you're afraid to look at them when you've got there.”

I believed that Jesus life and cross and resurrection was the miraculous act of God that had tossed me into this other world. I wanted to spend my life looking. I was mad keen to jump headlong into mystery and vastness. 

It feels that what then happened was that they handed me a couple of books. Here’s all you need to know in this tome of systematic theology. God confined to a few hundred pages! Here’s another one about what to do and not to do. They told me it was very clearcut. Biblical they called it. There was no room for questions or doubts. No room for mystery for that matter. Adventure and risk seemed frowned upon. 

Forty years later and I am still seeking more. More about God than was in the books. I am still seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading into what the Bible really does say. I am mad keen to find out what it sounded like to those who wrote it and heard it for the first time. I want to know where our cultural lenses over 2000 years have shaped it, perhaps wrongly. I find a lot of wrongly!

Oh I know that my cultural glasses will make errors too. I am aware that I might shift the swing of the pendulum too far. But I am not into this for some safe sitting around at the corner of the stagnant pool talking about the colour of the magic ring or I how held it to get in. I want to step out beyond. I am up for the daily dynamic of the dilemma that is discipleship in a mad crazy 21st century world, not simple do this and do that following.

So, in this week that I have been given to reflect and read I am reading about the culture of Jesus day, about how the Bible works and how to preach better. The preaching is why I was born, my reason to be magiced the rings, my place in this vast ginormous kingdom that I am still exploring daily. 

None of the books might be deemed to be safe in certain theological jurisdictions but as CS Lewis also said, “Aslan is not safe but he is good.” Aslan, he also said, was on the move and I am up for the chasing after!