How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down the to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount  Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised his blessing

Life that never ends. Psalm 133.

 

 

 

 

You would have to call it

The best of both worlds!

 

There are some places…

Where you can ski all morning in glorious sunshine,

Then come down from the mountain after lunch

And swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Nice.

=

Cyprus is one such place.

Isola 2000 in France is another resort within reach of the waterside

And Mount Hermon in Israel is another.

Ski in the morning.

Swim in the afternoon.

Nice.

--

Mount Hermon’s place in the poetry of the Old Testament is as a sign of the soothing balm of blessing that is enjoyed

By those who live in a spirit of harmonious brotherhood…

Where enmity is forgotten and the cool soothing blessedness of healing and reconciliation become the normal experience of all concerned.

Not bitter

Not fractious

Not divided.

Like a soothing perfume on a hot and bothered forehead…

And, in the powerful poetic image,

it trickles down the beard of the old priest Aaron

In extravagant and uncontrollable blessing.

Nice.

++

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Family life can be tricky!

Demanding. Fraught.

==

Individuals living in community

Intimacy

Cheek by jowl

Working out their lives

Coping with their “moments”

Fulfilling their ambitions

Exploring their possibilities…

Not usually quietly!

The sound of a slamming bedroom door

Is never far away….!!!

Those irritating commonplaces that must be attended to….

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Who gets to sit in the front of the car?

Who will bring the wheelie bin in?

Who will put the wheelie bin out?

Who fed the dog yesterday?

Who used the last of the toilet roll –

and didn’t replace it…

 

Yes,

Family life

the rough and tumble

the grinding, the grating

the bumping and scraping

of personalities in flux

the queue for the bathroom

Life!

Family life!

Sometimes strident

Occasionally marred by angry voices

Perceived injustices

Derelictions and duties

Obligations and tedious little ways

Real life..

 

And sometimes

Brokenness and strife

Families where huffs have been taken

Old resentments rooted deep

And long silences that prevail.

We have more than our fair share of those

In sunny Dunbar.

++

So it is pretty special

Pretty wonderful

Rather nice

A sacred moment

When the love and the commonality

That makes family

That lies at the heart of family

Happens!!

+

And there is harmony

Sharing

Respect

When the uniting factors that bind family together

Overcome and overwhelm

the rasping abrasive sounds of angry voices:

And love holds its proper place…

==

Sometimes it’s a tough crisis

that silences the strident voices:

And those who, at the core, care deeply for each other

Gather around someone who is hurting

Or bruised

Or in trouble…

And the petty squabbles are shoved to the side

And what matters

Really matters

Is recognised and addressed.

..

Or it could be a celebration:

where what is nice in us

what is good in us

wins the day

and we share in someone’s achievement

celebrate a champion

and self is forgotten

in the focus on someone’s moment of triumph.

We are genuinely proud of them…

Delighted for them…

 

Whatever brings these moments to birth,

they are sweet and lovely and sacred;

And we remember what really unites us

And the precious bonds and connections

that hold us, and make us …

they are like the sweet perfume

the dew on mount Hermon.

My family….God love them…

+++

And when that shared spirit of love

Informs and defines congregations,

then something dynamic and creative is at work.

+

For the truth is,

that from the very beginning of the life of the church -

there were squabbles

upheavals

tense, tight-mouthed debates.

There was

division and disharmony:

as ordinary people struggled

to make sense of an extra-ordinary story,

and the beginning of a new family of faith

 

 

Corinth was chaotic.

Jerusalem was a hotbed of glowering jealousy.

The churches of Turkey were petulant and provocative.

And the tendency to controversy and schism,

To heated angry exchanges

Over this nice detail

That small print deviation…

dogged and damaged the church.

Pretty much

                                     from day one…

The inability of Christians throughout the centuries to cling to the unity that best expresses the faith

is one of the greatest tragedies…the biggest losses

experienced by the Church of Jesus…

++

Which is why every celebration of our togetherness is so precious

Why that spirit of unity is so worth rejoicing in nurturing, guarding;

 

Believe me,

I grew up in the West of Scotland

Where prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism

Suspicion, caricature, distance

Were the very air we breathed

And it was sad, divisive - and utterly un-Christian!!

=

So, living here…

Being these kinds of congregations

Sharing our common life in Christ

As the bottom line of our church life

Our expression of our faith

This

is a blessing we have been given

that we must cultivate and delight in,

a refreshing cooling balm

in the heat of the battle…

++

For long years we have shared ministry here and hereabouts

Without those brooding suspicions

Without a great chasm of ancient misplaced prejudice

Coming between us…

With no cross, bitter, angry words:

but

With love and respect,

and a common sense of purpose:

A restless missionary vision

that pushes us out beyond ourselves,

To minister compassion

And gospel truth to our communities.

++

And we have been extraordinarily blessed

that this has been carried forward

without petty-minded self-regard,

or the exhausting and wasteful jealousies and immaturities

that can sometimes hobble the best intentions…

++

How has that come about?

Have we just been lucky?

Have we settled for harmless versions of the Church

so that everything is cosy, bland and monochrome…?

I don’t think so…

==

I think

we have been extraordinarily blessed

in the leadership given by the Kirk Sessions

and the people involved

in making the unity of purpose happen…

Men and women of true Christian spirit

eager to conduct the challenging affairs of the church

with a clear-minded vision of the role and nature

the call and the mission of the church of Jesus:

and a refusal to get bogged down in the petty stuff

that can waste so much time, and exhaust so much energy.

 

With a clear-eyed sense of purpose,

they have sought to make the church work

and the shared ministry

- where each brings their own best contribution

to our witness to the world -

to make that work

harmoniously and joyfully…

And this has been our experience

++

When there could have been

Tension -

there is calm.

Where there could have been competition,

there has been co-operation.

Where there could have been

jagged edges,

there has been joy…

where there could have been ancient prejudices

there has been a recognition of differing stories…

==

And this is a blessing

A gift

shared with us by God:

and the Spirit which has informed the life of the church

has been the Spirit of gracious love

and gentle affection for each other.

++

And when you know how ugly it can be…

how tiring and wasteful the stupid arguments,

that can happen, the strife there can be

then the sense of being blessed

becomes all the more sharp and real!

++

because in the heat of battle

in the sweat and strain of the tasks of mission and service

this experience -

tried and tested over so many  years -

is a soothing, cooling, reviving, precious shower of blessing

And the sweet perfume of it

Pours over worried foreheads,

Splashes down the face and neck,

fills our souls

fills our church,

and spreads out and beyond

In witness

and celebration….

 

 

There is still much to be done, together ..all the  congregations in our town

A whole new community is taking shape around us.

The world has changed with a dramatic force.

Old assumptions lie in pieces,

and we will have to -

are having to change – adjust –learn:

always around the central, non-negotiable core

Of the Gospel:

which gives us direction,

and injects all we do with its meaning and point.

 

So we don’t get sloppy and complacent.

We don’t self-congratulate with re-assuring pats on the back

==

But we do take a time

to wonder at the grace of God:

that he has blessed us in this way

in a shared vision that makes us restless for God…

in a fellowship, sweet and precious

==

Today, together,

In the unity of our common love for Christ

And shared commitment to his service

 we stop and smell the perfume…

We climb to the top of Mount Hermon

And we walk together, with bare feet,

Through the dew-soaked grass…

 

And it feels good!

 

AMEN.

 

+++

 

 

 

  

 

How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down the to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount  Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised his blessing

Life that never ends. Psalm 133.

 

 

 

 

You would have to call it

The best of both worlds!

 

There are some places…

Where you can ski all morning in glorious sunshine,

Then come down from the mountain after lunch

And swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Nice.

=

Cyprus is one such place.

Isola 2000 in France is another resort within reach of the waterside

And Mount Hermon in Israel is another.

Ski in the morning.

Swim in the afternoon.

Nice.

--

Mount Hermon’s place in the poetry of the Old Testament is as a sign of the soothing balm of blessing that is enjoyed

By those who live in a spirit of harmonious brotherhood…

Where enmity is forgotten and the cool soothing blessedness of healing and reconciliation become the normal experience of all concerned.

Not bitter

Not fractious

Not divided.

Like a soothing perfume on a hot and bothered forehead…

And, in the powerful poetic image,

it trickles down the beard of the old priest Aaron

In extravagant and uncontrollable blessing.

Nice.

++

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Family life can be tricky!

Demanding. Fraught.

==

Individuals living in community

Intimacy

Cheek by jowl

Working out their lives

Coping with their “moments”

Fulfilling their ambitions

Exploring their possibilities…

Not usually quietly!

The sound of a slamming bedroom door

Is never far away….!!!

Those irritating commonplaces that must be attended to….

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Who gets to sit in the front of the car?

Who will bring the wheelie bin in?

Who will put the wheelie bin out?

Who fed the dog yesterday?

Who used the last of the toilet roll –

and didn’t replace it…

 

Yes,

Family life

the rough and tumble

the grinding, the grating

the bumping and scraping

of personalities in flux

the queue for the bathroom

Life!

Family life!

Sometimes strident

Occasionally marred by angry voices

Perceived injustices

Derelictions and duties

Obligations and tedious little ways

Real life..

 

And sometimes

Brokenness and strife

Families where huffs have been taken

Old resentments rooted deep

And long silences that prevail.

We have more than our fair share of those

In sunny Dunbar.

++

So it is pretty special

Pretty wonderful

Rather nice

A sacred moment

When the love and the commonality

That makes family

That lies at the heart of family

Happens!!

+

And there is harmony

Sharing

Respect

When the uniting factors that bind family together

Overcome and overwhelm

the rasping abrasive sounds of angry voices:

And love holds its proper place…

==

Sometimes it’s a tough crisis

that silences the strident voices:

And those who, at the core, care deeply for each other

Gather around someone who is hurting

Or bruised

Or in trouble…

And the petty squabbles are shoved to the side

And what matters

Really matters

Is recognised and addressed.

..

Or it could be a celebration:

where what is nice in us

what is good in us

wins the day

and we share in someone’s achievement

celebrate a champion

and self is forgotten

in the focus on someone’s moment of triumph.

We are genuinely proud of them…

Delighted for them…

 

Whatever brings these moments to birth,

they are sweet and lovely and sacred;

And we remember what really unites us

And the precious bonds and connections

that hold us, and make us …

they are like the sweet perfume

the dew on mount Hermon.

My family….God love them…

+++

And when that shared spirit of love

Informs and defines congregations,

then something dynamic and creative is at work.

+

For the truth is,

that from the very beginning of the life of the church -

there were squabbles

upheavals

tense, tight-mouthed debates.

There was

division and disharmony:

as ordinary people struggled

to make sense of an extra-ordinary story,

and the beginning of a new family of faith

 

 

Corinth was chaotic.

Jerusalem was a hotbed of glowering jealousy.

The churches of Turkey were petulant and provocative.

And the tendency to controversy and schism,

To heated angry exchanges

Over this nice detail

That small print deviation…

dogged and damaged the church.

Pretty much

                                     from day one…

The inability of Christians throughout the centuries to cling to the unity that best expresses the faith

is one of the greatest tragedies…the biggest losses

experienced by the Church of Jesus…

++

Which is why every celebration of our togetherness is so precious

Why that spirit of unity is so worth rejoicing in nurturing, guarding;

 

Believe me,

I grew up in the West of Scotland

Where prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism

Suspicion, caricature, distance

Were the very air we breathed

And it was sad, divisive - and utterly un-Christian!!

=

So, living here…

Being these kinds of congregations

Sharing our common life in Christ

As the bottom line of our church life

Our expression of our faith

This

is a blessing we have been given

that we must cultivate and delight in,

a refreshing cooling balm

in the heat of the battle…

++

For long years we have shared ministry here and hereabouts

Without those brooding suspicions

Without a great chasm of ancient misplaced prejudice

Coming between us…

With no cross, bitter, angry words:

but

With love and respect,

and a common sense of purpose:

A restless missionary vision

that pushes us out beyond ourselves,

To minister compassion

And gospel truth to our communities.

++

And we have been extraordinarily blessed

that this has been carried forward

without petty-minded self-regard,

or the exhausting and wasteful jealousies and immaturities

that can sometimes hobble the best intentions…

++

How has that come about?

Have we just been lucky?

Have we settled for harmless versions of the Church

so that everything is cosy, bland and monochrome…?

I don’t think so…

==

I think

we have been extraordinarily blessed

in the leadership given by the Kirk Sessions

and the people involved

in making the unity of purpose happen…

Men and women of true Christian spirit

eager to conduct the challenging affairs of the church

with a clear-minded vision of the role and nature

the call and the mission of the church of Jesus:

and a refusal to get bogged down in the petty stuff

that can waste so much time, and exhaust so much energy.

 

With a clear-eyed sense of purpose,

they have sought to make the church work

and the shared ministry

- where each brings their own best contribution

to our witness to the world -

to make that work

harmoniously and joyfully…

And this has been our experience

++

When there could have been

Tension -

there is calm.

Where there could have been competition,

there has been co-operation.

Where there could have been

jagged edges,

there has been joy…

where there could have been ancient prejudices

there has been a recognition of differing stories…

==

And this is a blessing

A gift

shared with us by God:

and the Spirit which has informed the life of the church

has been the Spirit of gracious love

and gentle affection for each other.

++

And when you know how ugly it can be…

how tiring and wasteful the stupid arguments,

that can happen, the strife there can be

then the sense of being blessed

becomes all the more sharp and real!

++

because in the heat of battle

in the sweat and strain of the tasks of mission and service

this experience -

tried and tested over so many  years -

is a soothing, cooling, reviving, precious shower of blessing

And the sweet perfume of it

Pours over worried foreheads,

Splashes down the face and neck,

fills our souls

fills our church,

and spreads out and beyond

In witness

and celebration….

 

 

There is still much to be done, together ..all the  congregations in our town

A whole new community is taking shape around us.

The world has changed with a dramatic force.

Old assumptions lie in pieces,

and we will have to -

are having to change – adjust –learn:

always around the central, non-negotiable core

Of the Gospel:

which gives us direction,

and injects all we do with its meaning and point.

 

So we don’t get sloppy and complacent.

We don’t self-congratulate with re-assuring pats on the back

==

But we do take a time

to wonder at the grace of God:

that he has blessed us in this way

in a shared vision that makes us restless for God…

in a fellowship, sweet and precious

==

Today, together,

In the unity of our common love for Christ

And shared commitment to his service

 we stop and smell the perfume…

We climb to the top of Mount Hermon

And we walk together, with bare feet,

Through the dew-soaked grass…

 

And it feels good!

 

AMEN.

 

+++

 

 

  

 

How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down the to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount  Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised his blessing

Life that never ends. Psalm 133.

 

 

 

 

You would have to call it

The best of both worlds!

 

There are some places…

Where you can ski all morning in glorious sunshine,

Then come down from the mountain after lunch

And swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Nice.

=

Cyprus is one such place.

Isola 2000 in France is another resort within reach of the waterside

And Mount Hermon in Israel is another.

Ski in the morning.

Swim in the afternoon.

Nice.

--

Mount Hermon’s place in the poetry of the Old Testament is as a sign of the soothing balm of blessing that is enjoyed

By those who live in a spirit of harmonious brotherhood…

Where enmity is forgotten and the cool soothing blessedness of healing and reconciliation become the normal experience of all concerned.

Not bitter

Not fractious

Not divided.

Like a soothing perfume on a hot and bothered forehead…

And, in the powerful poetic image,

it trickles down the beard of the old priest Aaron

In extravagant and uncontrollable blessing.

Nice.

++

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Family life can be tricky!

Demanding. Fraught.

==

Individuals living in community

Intimacy

Cheek by jowl

Working out their lives

Coping with their “moments”

Fulfilling their ambitions

Exploring their possibilities…

Not usually quietly!

The sound of a slamming bedroom door

Is never far away….!!!

Those irritating commonplaces that must be attended to….

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Who gets to sit in the front of the car?

Who will bring the wheelie bin in?

Who will put the wheelie bin out?

Who fed the dog yesterday?

Who used the last of the toilet roll –

and didn’t replace it…

 

Yes,

Family life

the rough and tumble

the grinding, the grating

the bumping and scraping

of personalities in flux

the queue for the bathroom

Life!

Family life!

Sometimes strident

Occasionally marred by angry voices

Perceived injustices

Derelictions and duties

Obligations and tedious little ways

Real life..

 

And sometimes

Brokenness and strife

Families where huffs have been taken

Old resentments rooted deep

And long silences that prevail.

We have more than our fair share of those

In sunny Dunbar.

++

So it is pretty special

Pretty wonderful

Rather nice

A sacred moment

When the love and the commonality

That makes family

That lies at the heart of family

Happens!!

+

And there is harmony

Sharing

Respect

When the uniting factors that bind family together

Overcome and overwhelm

the rasping abrasive sounds of angry voices:

And love holds its proper place…

==

Sometimes it’s a tough crisis

that silences the strident voices:

And those who, at the core, care deeply for each other

Gather around someone who is hurting

Or bruised

Or in trouble…

And the petty squabbles are shoved to the side

And what matters

Really matters

Is recognised and addressed.

..

Or it could be a celebration:

where what is nice in us

what is good in us

wins the day

and we share in someone’s achievement

celebrate a champion

and self is forgotten

in the focus on someone’s moment of triumph.

We are genuinely proud of them…

Delighted for them…

 

Whatever brings these moments to birth,

they are sweet and lovely and sacred;

And we remember what really unites us

And the precious bonds and connections

that hold us, and make us …

they are like the sweet perfume

the dew on mount Hermon.

My family….God love them…

+++

And when that shared spirit of love

Informs and defines congregations,

then something dynamic and creative is at work.

+

For the truth is,

that from the very beginning of the life of the church -

there were squabbles

upheavals

tense, tight-mouthed debates.

There was

division and disharmony:

as ordinary people struggled

to make sense of an extra-ordinary story,

and the beginning of a new family of faith

 

 

Corinth was chaotic.

Jerusalem was a hotbed of glowering jealousy.

The churches of Turkey were petulant and provocative.

And the tendency to controversy and schism,

To heated angry exchanges

Over this nice detail

That small print deviation…

dogged and damaged the church.

Pretty much

                                     from day one…

The inability of Christians throughout the centuries to cling to the unity that best expresses the faith

is one of the greatest tragedies…the biggest losses

experienced by the Church of Jesus…

++

Which is why every celebration of our togetherness is so precious

Why that spirit of unity is so worth rejoicing in nurturing, guarding;

 

Believe me,

I grew up in the West of Scotland

Where prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism

Suspicion, caricature, distance

Were the very air we breathed

And it was sad, divisive - and utterly un-Christian!!

=

So, living here…

Being these kinds of congregations

Sharing our common life in Christ

As the bottom line of our church life

Our expression of our faith

This

is a blessing we have been given

that we must cultivate and delight in,

a refreshing cooling balm

in the heat of the battle…

++

For long years we have shared ministry here and hereabouts

Without those brooding suspicions

Without a great chasm of ancient misplaced prejudice

Coming between us…

With no cross, bitter, angry words:

but

With love and respect,

and a common sense of purpose:

A restless missionary vision

that pushes us out beyond ourselves,

To minister compassion

And gospel truth to our communities.

++

And we have been extraordinarily blessed

that this has been carried forward

without petty-minded self-regard,

or the exhausting and wasteful jealousies and immaturities

that can sometimes hobble the best intentions…

++

How has that come about?

Have we just been lucky?

Have we settled for harmless versions of the Church

so that everything is cosy, bland and monochrome…?

I don’t think so…

==

I think

we have been extraordinarily blessed

in the leadership given by the Kirk Sessions

and the people involved

in making the unity of purpose happen…

Men and women of true Christian spirit

eager to conduct the challenging affairs of the church

with a clear-minded vision of the role and nature

the call and the mission of the church of Jesus:

and a refusal to get bogged down in the petty stuff

that can waste so much time, and exhaust so much energy.

 

With a clear-eyed sense of purpose,

they have sought to make the church work

and the shared ministry

- where each brings their own best contribution

to our witness to the world -

to make that work

harmoniously and joyfully…

And this has been our experience

++

When there could have been

Tension -

there is calm.

Where there could have been competition,

there has been co-operation.

Where there could have been

jagged edges,

there has been joy…

where there could have been ancient prejudices

there has been a recognition of differing stories…

==

And this is a blessing

A gift

shared with us by God:

and the Spirit which has informed the life of the church

has been the Spirit of gracious love

and gentle affection for each other.

++

And when you know how ugly it can be…

how tiring and wasteful the stupid arguments,

that can happen, the strife there can be

then the sense of being blessed

becomes all the more sharp and real!

++

because in the heat of battle

in the sweat and strain of the tasks of mission and service

this experience -

tried and tested over so many  years -

is a soothing, cooling, reviving, precious shower of blessing

And the sweet perfume of it

Pours over worried foreheads,

Splashes down the face and neck,

fills our souls

fills our church,

and spreads out and beyond

In witness

and celebration….

 

 

There is still much to be done, together ..all the  congregations in our town

A whole new community is taking shape around us.

The world has changed with a dramatic force.

Old assumptions lie in pieces,

and we will have to -

are having to change – adjust –learn:

always around the central, non-negotiable core

Of the Gospel:

which gives us direction,

and injects all we do with its meaning and point.

 

So we don’t get sloppy and complacent.

We don’t self-congratulate with re-assuring pats on the back

==

But we do take a time

to wonder at the grace of God:

that he has blessed us in this way

in a shared vision that makes us restless for God…

in a fellowship, sweet and precious

==

Today, together,

In the unity of our common love for Christ

And shared commitment to his service

 we stop and smell the perfume…

We climb to the top of Mount Hermon

And we walk together, with bare feet,

Through the dew-soaked grass…

 

And it feels good!

 

AMEN.

 

+++

 

 

  

 

How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down the to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount  Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised his blessing

Life that never ends. Psalm 133.

 

 

 

 

You would have to call it

The best of both worlds!

 

There are some places…

Where you can ski all morning in glorious sunshine,

Then come down from the mountain after lunch

And swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Nice.

=

Cyprus is one such place.

Isola 2000 in France is another resort within reach of the waterside

And Mount Hermon in Israel is another.

Ski in the morning.

Swim in the afternoon.

Nice.

--

Mount Hermon’s place in the poetry of the Old Testament is as a sign of the soothing balm of blessing that is enjoyed

By those who live in a spirit of harmonious brotherhood…

Where enmity is forgotten and the cool soothing blessedness of healing and reconciliation become the normal experience of all concerned.

Not bitter

Not fractious

Not divided.

Like a soothing perfume on a hot and bothered forehead…

And, in the powerful poetic image,

it trickles down the beard of the old priest Aaron

In extravagant and uncontrollable blessing.

Nice.

++

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Family life can be tricky!

Demanding. Fraught.

==

Individuals living in community

Intimacy

Cheek by jowl

Working out their lives

Coping with their “moments”

Fulfilling their ambitions

Exploring their possibilities…

Not usually quietly!

The sound of a slamming bedroom door

Is never far away….!!!

Those irritating commonplaces that must be attended to….

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Who gets to sit in the front of the car?

Who will bring the wheelie bin in?

Who will put the wheelie bin out?

Who fed the dog yesterday?

Who used the last of the toilet roll –

and didn’t replace it…

 

Yes,

Family life

the rough and tumble

the grinding, the grating

the bumping and scraping

of personalities in flux

the queue for the bathroom

Life!

Family life!

Sometimes strident

Occasionally marred by angry voices

Perceived injustices

Derelictions and duties

Obligations and tedious little ways

Real life..

 

And sometimes

Brokenness and strife

Families where huffs have been taken

Old resentments rooted deep

And long silences that prevail.

We have more than our fair share of those

In sunny Dunbar.

++

So it is pretty special

Pretty wonderful

Rather nice

A sacred moment

When the love and the commonality

That makes family

That lies at the heart of family

Happens!!

+

And there is harmony

Sharing

Respect

When the uniting factors that bind family together

Overcome and overwhelm

the rasping abrasive sounds of angry voices:

And love holds its proper place…

==

Sometimes it’s a tough crisis

that silences the strident voices:

And those who, at the core, care deeply for each other

Gather around someone who is hurting

Or bruised

Or in trouble…

And the petty squabbles are shoved to the side

And what matters

Really matters

Is recognised and addressed.

..

Or it could be a celebration:

where what is nice in us

what is good in us

wins the day

and we share in someone’s achievement

celebrate a champion

and self is forgotten

in the focus on someone’s moment of triumph.

We are genuinely proud of them…

Delighted for them…

 

Whatever brings these moments to birth,

they are sweet and lovely and sacred;

And we remember what really unites us

And the precious bonds and connections

that hold us, and make us …

they are like the sweet perfume

the dew on mount Hermon.

My family….God love them…

+++

And when that shared spirit of love

Informs and defines congregations,

then something dynamic and creative is at work.

+

For the truth is,

that from the very beginning of the life of the church -

there were squabbles

upheavals

tense, tight-mouthed debates.

There was

division and disharmony:

as ordinary people struggled

to make sense of an extra-ordinary story,

and the beginning of a new family of faith

 

 

Corinth was chaotic.

Jerusalem was a hotbed of glowering jealousy.

The churches of Turkey were petulant and provocative.

And the tendency to controversy and schism,

To heated angry exchanges

Over this nice detail

That small print deviation…

dogged and damaged the church.

Pretty much

                                     from day one…

The inability of Christians throughout the centuries to cling to the unity that best expresses the faith

is one of the greatest tragedies…the biggest losses

experienced by the Church of Jesus…

++

Which is why every celebration of our togetherness is so precious

Why that spirit of unity is so worth rejoicing in nurturing, guarding;

 

Believe me,

I grew up in the West of Scotland

Where prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism

Suspicion, caricature, distance

Were the very air we breathed

And it was sad, divisive - and utterly un-Christian!!

=

So, living here…

Being these kinds of congregations

Sharing our common life in Christ

As the bottom line of our church life

Our expression of our faith

This

is a blessing we have been given

that we must cultivate and delight in,

a refreshing cooling balm

in the heat of the battle…

++

For long years we have shared ministry here and hereabouts

Without those brooding suspicions

Without a great chasm of ancient misplaced prejudice

Coming between us…

With no cross, bitter, angry words:

but

With love and respect,

and a common sense of purpose:

A restless missionary vision

that pushes us out beyond ourselves,

To minister compassion

And gospel truth to our communities.

++

And we have been extraordinarily blessed

that this has been carried forward

without petty-minded self-regard,

or the exhausting and wasteful jealousies and immaturities

that can sometimes hobble the best intentions…

++

How has that come about?

Have we just been lucky?

Have we settled for harmless versions of the Church

so that everything is cosy, bland and monochrome…?

I don’t think so…

==

I think

we have been extraordinarily blessed

in the leadership given by the Kirk Sessions

and the people involved

in making the unity of purpose happen…

Men and women of true Christian spirit

eager to conduct the challenging affairs of the church

with a clear-minded vision of the role and nature

the call and the mission of the church of Jesus:

and a refusal to get bogged down in the petty stuff

that can waste so much time, and exhaust so much energy.

 

With a clear-eyed sense of purpose,

they have sought to make the church work

and the shared ministry

- where each brings their own best contribution

to our witness to the world -

to make that work

harmoniously and joyfully…

And this has been our experience

++

When there could have been

Tension -

there is calm.

Where there could have been competition,

there has been co-operation.

Where there could have been

jagged edges,

there has been joy…

where there could have been ancient prejudices

there has been a recognition of differing stories…

==

And this is a blessing

A gift

shared with us by God:

and the Spirit which has informed the life of the church

has been the Spirit of gracious love

and gentle affection for each other.

++

And when you know how ugly it can be…

how tiring and wasteful the stupid arguments,

that can happen, the strife there can be

then the sense of being blessed

becomes all the more sharp and real!

++

because in the heat of battle

in the sweat and strain of the tasks of mission and service

this experience -

tried and tested over so many  years -

is a soothing, cooling, reviving, precious shower of blessing

And the sweet perfume of it

Pours over worried foreheads,

Splashes down the face and neck,

fills our souls

fills our church,

and spreads out and beyond

In witness

and celebration….

 

 

There is still much to be done, together ..all the  congregations in our town

A whole new community is taking shape around us.

The world has changed with a dramatic force.

Old assumptions lie in pieces,

and we will have to -

are having to change – adjust –learn:

always around the central, non-negotiable core

Of the Gospel:

which gives us direction,

and injects all we do with its meaning and point.

 

So we don’t get sloppy and complacent.

We don’t self-congratulate with re-assuring pats on the back

==

But we do take a time

to wonder at the grace of God:

that he has blessed us in this way

in a shared vision that makes us restless for God…

in a fellowship, sweet and precious

==

Today, together,

In the unity of our common love for Christ

And shared commitment to his service

 we stop and smell the perfume…

We climb to the top of Mount Hermon

And we walk together, with bare feet,

Through the dew-soaked grass…

 

And it feels good!

 

AMEN.

 

+++

 

 

  

 

How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony! It is like the precious anointing oil running down from Aaron’s head and beard, down the to the collar of his robes. It is like the dew on Mount  Hermon, falling on the hills of Zion. That is where the Lord has promised his blessing

Life that never ends. Psalm 133.

 

 

 

 

You would have to call it

The best of both worlds!

 

There are some places…

Where you can ski all morning in glorious sunshine,

Then come down from the mountain after lunch

And swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean!

Nice.

=

Cyprus is one such place.

Isola 2000 in France is another resort within reach of the waterside

And Mount Hermon in Israel is another.

Ski in the morning.

Swim in the afternoon.

Nice.

--

Mount Hermon’s place in the poetry of the Old Testament is as a sign of the soothing balm of blessing that is enjoyed

By those who live in a spirit of harmonious brotherhood…

Where enmity is forgotten and the cool soothing blessedness of healing and reconciliation become the normal experience of all concerned.

Not bitter

Not fractious

Not divided.

Like a soothing perfume on a hot and bothered forehead…

And, in the powerful poetic image,

it trickles down the beard of the old priest Aaron

In extravagant and uncontrollable blessing.

Nice.

++

Let’s not kid ourselves…

Family life can be tricky!

Demanding. Fraught.

==

Individuals living in community

Intimacy

Cheek by jowl

Working out their lives

Coping with their “moments”

Fulfilling their ambitions

Exploring their possibilities…

Not usually quietly!

The sound of a slamming bedroom door

Is never far away….!!!

Those irritating commonplaces that must be attended to….

Whose turn is it to do the dishes?

Who gets to sit in the front of the car?

Who will bring the wheelie bin in?

Who will put the wheelie bin out?

Who fed the dog yesterday?

Who used the last of the toilet roll –

and didn’t replace it…

 

Yes,

Family life

the rough and tumble

the grinding, the grating

the bumping and scraping

of personalities in flux

the queue for the bathroom

Life!

Family life!

Sometimes strident

Occasionally marred by angry voices

Perceived injustices

Derelictions and duties

Obligations and tedious little ways

Real life..

 

And sometimes

Brokenness and strife

Families where huffs have been taken

Old resentments rooted deep

And long silences that prevail.

We have more than our fair share of those

In sunny Dunbar.

++

So it is pretty special

Pretty wonderful

Rather nice

A sacred moment

When the love and the commonality

That makes family

That lies at the heart of family

Happens!!

+

And there is harmony

Sharing

Respect

When the uniting factors that bind family together

Overcome and overwhelm

the rasping abrasive sounds of angry voices:

And love holds its proper place…

==

Sometimes it’s a tough crisis

that silences the strident voices:

And those who, at the core, care deeply for each other

Gather around someone who is hurting

Or bruised

Or in trouble…

And the petty squabbles are shoved to the side

And what matters

Really matters

Is recognised and addressed.

..

Or it could be a celebration:

where what is nice in us

what is good in us

wins the day

and we share in someone’s achievement

celebrate a champion

and self is forgotten

in the focus on someone’s moment of triumph.

We are genuinely proud of them…

Delighted for them…

 

Whatever brings these moments to birth,

they are sweet and lovely and sacred;

And we remember what really unites us

And the precious bonds and connections

that hold us, and make us …

they are like the sweet perfume

the dew on mount Hermon.

My family….God love them…

+++

And when that shared spirit of love

Informs and defines congregations,

then something dynamic and creative is at work.

+

For the truth is,

that from the very beginning of the life of the church -

there were squabbles

upheavals

tense, tight-mouthed debates.

There was

division and disharmony:

as ordinary people struggled

to make sense of an extra-ordinary story,

and the beginning of a new family of faith

 

 

Corinth was chaotic.

Jerusalem was a hotbed of glowering jealousy.

The churches of Turkey were petulant and provocative.

And the tendency to controversy and schism,

To heated angry exchanges

Over this nice detail

That small print deviation…

dogged and damaged the church.

Pretty much

                                     from day one…

The inability of Christians throughout the centuries to cling to the unity that best expresses the faith

is one of the greatest tragedies…the biggest losses

experienced by the Church of Jesus…

++

Which is why every celebration of our togetherness is so precious

Why that spirit of unity is so worth rejoicing in nurturing, guarding;

 

Believe me,

I grew up in the West of Scotland

Where prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism

Suspicion, caricature, distance

Were the very air we breathed

And it was sad, divisive - and utterly un-Christian!!

=

So, living here…

Being these kinds of congregations

Sharing our common life in Christ

As the bottom line of our church life

Our expression of our faith

This

is a blessing we have been given

that we must cultivate and delight in,

a refreshing cooling balm

in the heat of the battle…

++

For long years we have shared ministry here and hereabouts

Without those brooding suspicions

Without a great chasm of ancient misplaced prejudice

Coming between us…

With no cross, bitter, angry words:

but

With love and respect,

and a common sense of purpose:

A restless missionary vision

that pushes us out beyond ourselves,

To minister compassion

And gospel truth to our communities.

++

And we have been extraordinarily blessed

that this has been carried forward

without petty-minded self-regard,

or the exhausting and wasteful jealousies and immaturities

that can sometimes hobble the best intentions…

++

How has that come about?

Have we just been lucky?

Have we settled for harmless versions of the Church

so that everything is cosy, bland and monochrome…?

I don’t think so…

==

I think

we have been extraordinarily blessed

in the leadership given by the Kirk Sessions

and the people involved

in making the unity of purpose happen…

Men and women of true Christian spirit

eager to conduct the challenging affairs of the church

with a clear-minded vision of the role and nature

the call and the mission of the church of Jesus:

and a refusal to get bogged down in the petty stuff

that can waste so much time, and exhaust so much energy.

 

With a clear-eyed sense of purpose,

they have sought to make the church work

and the shared ministry

- where each brings their own best contribution

to our witness to the world -

to make that work

harmoniously and joyfully…

And this has been our experience

++

When there could have been

Tension -

there is calm.

Where there could have been competition,

there has been co-operation.

Where there could have been

jagged edges,

there has been joy…

where there could have been ancient prejudices

there has been a recognition of differing stories…

==

And this is a blessing

A gift

shared with us by God:

and the Spirit which has informed the life of the church

has been the Spirit of gracious love

and gentle affection for each other.

++

And when you know how ugly it can be…

how tiring and wasteful the stupid arguments,

that can happen, the strife there can be

then the sense of being blessed

becomes all the more sharp and real!

++

because in the heat of battle

in the sweat and strain of the tasks of mission and service

this experience -

tried and tested over so many  years -

is a soothing, cooling, reviving, precious shower of blessing

And the sweet perfume of it

Pours over worried foreheads,

Splashes down the face and neck,

fills our souls

fills our church,

and spreads out and beyond

In witness

and celebration….

 

 

There is still much to be done, together ..all the  congregations in our town

A whole new community is taking shape around us.

The world has changed with a dramatic force.

Old assumptions lie in pieces,

and we will have to -

are having to change – adjust –learn:

always around the central, non-negotiable core

Of the Gospel:

which gives us direction,

and injects all we do with its meaning and point.

 

So we don’t get sloppy and complacent.

We don’t self-congratulate with re-assuring pats on the back

==

But we do take a time

to wonder at the grace of God:

that he has blessed us in this way

in a shared vision that makes us restless for God…

in a fellowship, sweet and precious

==

Today, together,

In the unity of our common love for Christ

And shared commitment to his service

 we stop and smell the perfume…

We climb to the top of Mount Hermon

And we walk together, with bare feet,

Through the dew-soaked grass…

 

And it feels good!

 

AMEN.

 

+++