Thursday, June 13, 2013

The things that make us think...

So, we're leaving the country soon to go to the land of Maple Leaves, Beer, Ice Hockey, Mounties, Moose,
Mountains, Bacon, Snow and lots of different stereotypes than those to which we are used... stereotypes which seem to be drifting sadly towards intolerance, racism, poverty and a dismantled social welfare system...though I prefer the Tea, Vicars, Cucumber Sandwiches and lovable Cockerneys of bygone eras!

Such a move is bound to create lots of very mixed feelings and the odd sensation, more so than previous moves, that things are being done 'for the last time' in this particular context.

For example, as an Anglican Clergyperson in England I am legally bound to perform the weddings, funerals and baptisms (colloquially known as 'hatch, match and dispatch') of anyone who lives within the borders of our parishes - though there are some conditions on these things, it is pretty much an expectation that the local 'Parish Church' will perform these functions for all who request them.  Which I love.  I sometimes have problems fitting in all of these 'Occasional Offices' along with all the other duties I have to perform, but they are a HUGE privilege and a point of Pastoral contact that allows me to meet people at the highest and lowest points of their lives and share, unconditionally, the joy and compassion of Christ!  Though human experience is the same all over the world, the unique position of the Church of England in this sense of Parish Ministry is not something replicated elsewhere.

Such differences are the things which are making me think at this moment!  I don't  feel sad that I am leaving, though I am sad at those I am leaving.  I know that this is a place I could come back to with people who (hopefully) I will see again. I have a strong sense of rootedness around here - this is the area I was born and grew up in, and the homecoming was a powerful one, and one I thought was likely to be permanent.

I remembered this afternoon the overwhelming feelings of going to Stockland Church, a village I have a long connection with, as their Vicar for the first time.  I felt amazed (and still do) that God had called me to come back to this place with such a particular role and that I was meeting with school and family friends from twenty years before in such a new way!

There will be much that is different in our new life - but the process of taking stock and moving on is in itself quite a helpful one, or at least I am finding it so.  It would be easy to become maudlin or nostalgic, or to create a phantasy of what things will be like in our new country and new life, but it wouldn't be anything other than a pipe dream.  I am grateful for recent experiences which have pointed me more towards enjoying the moment rather than living in the past or the future!  It doesn't mean I can't dream, or hold to precious memories, but it does mean I am inhabiting this place and this time without a painful sense of either dread or loss...
I am always encouraging people to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, it seems that this time I am listening to my own advice.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another review - Next Generation Leader

I've been enjoying listening to audiobooks as I have travelled around lately, and am fortunate to be a part of ChristianAudio's reveiw panel, so here is my latest review:

Andy Stanley - Next Generation Leader

After spending a fair amount of my Masters reading books on leadership I can honestly say I wish I'd had this one to refer to! A warm, practical and spiritual guide to what makes a good leader tick and a good grounding for all of us called to any form of leadership in business or ministry.

One of the pleasant aspects of this book is how Stanley's advice, rooted firmly in Biblical narrative, is transferable between 'sacred' and 'secular' occupations. It's makes clear yet unforced connections between our own integrity as Christians and our ability to function as effective leaders. Many books of this type seem to try and shoehorn Biblical examples into contemporary living, whereas Andy Stanley uses the stories and characters of Scripture to both ground and exemplify the gifts and requirements of Leadership.

The narration is clear, easy to listen to, but also keeps one's attention. It made very good in-car listening, with lots of parts grabbing my attention.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this free as part of Christiaudio's Review opportunities, but this did not in anyway influence my opinion of this product.