Thursday, 7 May 2009

Reaing the Bible in 90 days

Someone once rebuked me in that I have almost finished watching the entire seven series of "The West Wing" but had never fully read the entire Bible, or rather encountered the "full Counsel of God". Indeed what an appaling state of affairs for a Christian to be in.

Therefore I have decided that from today I am going to read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 90 days following a structure on Bible Gateway. It follows roughly about 16-20 chapters per day so I doubt I'll get a lot else read in this time but in all honesty, so what?

I'll let you know how it goes....

P.S Think on this. When you reach glory, how are you going to respond to Obadiah or Habbakuk when they ask what you thought of their respective books?

UPDATE: It didn't work...

Being Able to Choose One's Own Minister

Is part of the issue surrounding the Rev Scott Rennie of Brechin Cathedral. I won't go into the details of the story as that has been well documented elsewhere, but one of the recurring themes is the complaint that Queen's Cross Parish Church as a congregaton voted for Mr Rennie to be their minister but that the matter has now been taken out of their hands.

I am no expert in Church of Scotland Practice & Procedure but after about 20 years growing up in a Manse I have a fair idea of what happens at a vacancy (If anyone with more knowledge than I finds fault in my writings on this, please contact me and I'll change it immediately)

After the minister has left a charge, the Presbytery has to give the congregation "leave to call" a new minister. A congregation cannot simply go ahead and charge onwards on the search. After the "leave to call" has been given, the congregation sets up a Nominating Committee which then searches for a new minister and after he/she preaches as sole nominee, the Interim Moderator supervises over a vote of the congregation on whether or not to call the said minister.

In Independent or Congregational circles, that is the end of it. If the vote goes well then the minister can accept the post and basically he/she is the new minister. No-one else has any say in the matter.

However, Queen's Cross Parish Church is not such a church. It is part of the Church of Scotland which has a Presbyterian model of government. This basically entails a series of para-congregational groupings with the intention of holding one another to account. Please see my friend the Rev Ian Watson's blog for more information on this.

Therefore when in the Church of Scotland, a vacant congregation elects to call a minister, this has to be "sustained" or rather approved by the Presbytery. Mostly this is done on the nod with little or no discussion as there are very few issues which ever arise. However, only when the Presbytery sustains the call can the congregation have their new minister.

In the case of Queen's Cross Parish Church, although the Presbytery of Aberdeen sustained the call, a group of dissenters from the Presbytery appealed to the higher court of the church, namely the General Assembly for this to be overturned as is their constitutional right. One of the whole ideas behind Presbyterianism is that a decision by a lower court of the church, be it the Kirk Session or Presbytery can be referred to the higher court by a dissenting member as what happened in the Presbytery of Aberdeen.

Yet in the various media and church circles, complaints whirl around about Queen's Cross Parish Church not being able to decide for themselves on their prospective new minister. The frustration of the matter being taken out of one's hands must be enormous but when as all Ministers (and I think Elders) vow at ordination that the Presbyterian model of government is agreeable to the Word of God it is difficult to sympathise on this matter alone.

Oh and one more thing. If I hear someone else claim to spot the intense irony in this situation that in the Disruption of 1843, Evangelicals walked out of the Church of Scotland for the right of a congregation to choose their own minister and now they are doing the opposite I think I'm gonna scream!

In 1843 the Evangelicals led by Thomas Chalmers walked out of the Church of Scotland as they could no longer live with the situation where local wealthy "patrons" installed their own choice of minister into a charge, no matter what the wishes of a congregation were and that in turn, the Church of Scotland was in effect being governed by the State and not having Spiritual Independence over it's own affairs. Hence now the situation where the Church of Scotland has a jurisdiction in law over it's own Matters Spiritual which cannot be overturned by the State.

Never was there a mention that Presbyteries and in turn the General Assembly should not still hold to account the actions of local congregations.

I'm sure I'll blog again on this subject again but those are my brief thoughts this evening.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Why Trust The Bible..............

Was the title of a dialogue event which my Wednesday morning Bible study group hosted this lunchtime in a Spanish Restaurant in The City.

A good number including a colleague of mine ate, listened, asked questions, argued and debated about whether we should trust the Bible. An excellent event and I can only pray fruit will come of it after hearing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is an interesting concept though, why we should trust the Bible. Probably the best point someone made today was a chap who when challenged why there had been no (obvious) Gospel miracles in nearly 2000 years replied that the Bible itself is a true miracle.

That God can bring about through so many different writers, a series of books and letters written over a period of thousands of years, into into one book which all interlinks really is a miracle. The fact that God speaks to us today through His Word is astounding and is a testament to the power and majesty He holds.

Little Roller to Right Field.....

As anyone who knows me well enough will tell you (probably with a sigh...), I am quite the fan of the American Pastime, Baseball. I think it's a fascinating sport which is hugely underrated and mostly misunderstood by people in the UK. So how on earth did a young Scotsman find love with baseball?

In 2005 I spent two months travelling the USA as a lone student. Before I went I had only ever seen snippets of the sport on some obscure channel at goodness knows what hour of the morning and in all honesty, it seemed intensely dull. What was all the fuss in America about this glorified game of rounders? When I arrive, I had no intention of following baseball but only thought I might try to catch a game or two just to experience the atmosphere.

I remember the first night I stayed in America rather vividly. When I arrived at my hostel on the Upper East Side of New York City, about 7pm or so and settled down to watch TV. As it was America, June and on a weekday evening, baseball was on (what I know as) SNY. I watched the game for as long as I could but without understanding what was going on, I soon lost interest and went to bed.

As time went on, I came to the astounding revelation that yes, there was more than one Major League Baseball team in New York. No longer did the New York Yankees have a monopoly in my mind over NYC baseball, but for some reason, I took to the New York Mets like it was an old friend. I started to follow their progress(even though I didn't know what half of the newspaper articles meant) as I travelled across the States, all the while picking up more and more scraps on the game.

So where did I first watch a live game of baseball? Was it Yankee Stadium? Shea Stadium? Fenway Park perhaps? No, in fact I watched my first game of live baseball in a tiny town in New Mexico. It was Little League! A bunch of schoolkids playing with hardly anyone actually ever hitting the ball.

Although the game itself was pretty dull, I was fascinated with the scene of a few bleacher seats filled with American Moms cheering on their children. I'm sure it was a scene that has played out all across America for decades, but it seemed so quintessially American which indeed it was.

It was in Sacramento CA at Raley Field however that I went to my first Professional Baseball game. It was a AAA Minor League game involving the Sacramento River Cats and the Salt Lake Bees. By all accounts it wasn't the most exciting game of baseball ever played (Salt Lake won 1-0....) but I loved it. The men walking around selling Hot Dogs, Beer, Ice Cream, Nuts was straight out of a film set. The noise from the stadium during ever single break in play meaning that the impatient and unable to concentrate American fan doesn't have to be bored for twenty seconds was so twee with the famous "7th Inning Stretch" coming in as well. Why would anyone not love this sort of situation?

I didn't manage to see much more baseball when I was over there as 1. I had no money and 2. I had very little time. Although I do remember sitting in the Chicago Greyhound Terminal watching the Chicago Cubs score a "Grand-Slam" against the St Louis Cardinals. I was sitting with an old black guy from deepest Tennessee who patiently answered all my little questions about what was going on. As far as my baseball knowledge goes, I have a deep sense of gratitude for what he told me about the game. It was all those things that never get explained on tv to the layman so it was a huge help to me.

However when I came home back to Scotland, the timer on the video recorder was set every Sunday and Wednesday night on Channel 5 for the live Baseball game. The next year was the same as I spent the summer in Wales where as you may guess, baseball isn't a popular sport.

It wasn't until I moved into my flat in Glasgow for my final year of university that my interest in baseball took off. There I caught the end of the 2006 World Series but was gutted the season finished there. So it was after a long close-season watching NFL and NHL that the Mets opened the reguar season in April. Then I watched every Sunday and Wednesday night no matter who was playing (and I still got a 2:1....) until I moved to London where unfortunately, I had no tv...

However, in 2008 I persuaded my flatmates at that time that we should get the NASN channel which shows live MLB games throughout the year. Well, it sparked my love of baseball like nothing else had done before. I started to read into the history of baseball and more specifically, my team the New York Mets. It turned out that they had won the World Series twice before in the Sixties and in 1986. The latter being famous for Bill Buckner's error in letting the ball slip under his glove (the title of the post is the famous commentary of that moment) in game 6 of the World Series to let the Mets win.

All of this happened at the Mets ballpark, Shea Stadium. To my horror, I learnt that it was being demolished at the end of the season. The thought that I, as a self proclaimed Mets fan would never have set foot in Shea Stadium was something I could not comprehend. How I took to rectify that will be in another post!