2018 Sept 1st - Saturday

A planning meeting on Thursday morning and then off to Kilchoan Primary School in the afternoon to encourage the children to be involved in a project around Remembrance - more on that soon.

That evening we were at the neighbours for a curry - and to get to know their puppy a little better.

On Friday, my dog and I looked after the puppy for the day - great fun! Around the fun I was preparing for today's induction of a new minister to the Parish of North West Lochaber, which happens this afternoon. And getting ready for tomorrow's worship.

2018 Aug 29th - Wednesday

I was sorry to miss the last of the weekly Afternoon Scones at Kilchoan today and hope the afternoon was a success. The team have had a busy summer and will be glad of the rest. The next date for this is Wednesday 19th September. You can get it into your diary now!

Meanwhile, I was in Fort William. There are two nursing / care homes there and a hospital - and one person in each! Three visits and travel = five hours.
The hard part is realising it's easy for me as I have my own transport but using public transport it's a full day there and back. Not easy for the older generation if they want to visit friends or family. In fact, from Kilchoan to one of the homes it's impossible in a day! It would be good if there was enough flex in the system for people to be placed where they are accessible to friends and family.
Now I'm thinking it would be good in future to have a little network that could offer hospitality to anyone who needs to stay overnight - I'm off to send a couple of emails ...

2018 Aug 27th - Monday

Messy Church over and photos to follow. Good fun! Next Messy Church Sept 24th.

Now tidying up and getting ready for tomorrow's Morning Teas and Coffees in the Chalet next to the church building at Acharacle from 10.30am until noon. I'll be popping into Acharacle Primary School after that then starting on next weekend's sermons.

On Saturday there is the induction of Rev Stewart Goudie to North West Lochaber Parish Church and on Sunday worship.

No rest for the wicked - only wish I could remember what I did!

2018 Aug 25th - Saturday

Sermon done, short talk still to do. Lunch now, then walk the dog and get to grips with Messy Church. That's all today.

2018 Aug 24th - Friday

I've just come across a fabulous quote that I can use as part of a series of short talks while I'm away in October. It was one of those God-incidences that happen unexpectedly. Your minister is a thankful and happy person.

Silence is not the absence of the presence of God, but the secret place where we experience the presence of God like never before.
Paul Bane on Mindful Christianity Today

2018 Aug 22nd - Wednesday

Took a couple of days off and away this week, Monday and Tuesday, to do some family stuff - nice. But it does mean that now I'm back home and working again it feels like Monday - but it's Wednesday!!!

Sunday went well - there was communion at Ardnamurchan and an ordinary service of worship at Acharacle. It was a while since I'd been at Ardnamurchan and it was good to be back. At the end of each service, over the sound system, I put on Runrig's track, Every River, and explained how all the ways of my life lead back to God. Some people sat and carefully listened to the words before coming and saying how they hadn't realised the words could be used in this context. God can work through any medium - it's all God's creation!

Today (Wednesday, not Monday ...) it's been a catch up day before a day in Fort William tomorrow. It's all go! Have a good week folks and God bless!

Photo of afternoon tea with the family - sandwiches, cakes, scones and gallons of tea - nothing else to eat all day!

2018 Aug 17th - Thursday

Another week nearly over! And, mostly the last week went to plan.

Monday went soothly - Fort William for a working lunch and Kilchoan for a meeting, 124 miles and 4 hours in the car.
The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office encourages congregations to meet their elected representatives and so, on Tuesday, the neighbouring minister and I had arranged a walk during which local congregations could meet and chat with the MP. At the end of the walk we had tea and cake - always welcome!
On Wednesday I'd made an appointment to meet the MSP who was doing local surgeries - I wanted to highlight the continuing difficulties small and remote communities face when accessing services.
It was interesting to meet both the MP and MSP on consecutive days.
It was on Wednesday that things went a little wrong. I'd hoped to visit Kilchoan in the afternoon, to support the Tea and Scone Afternoon. No wheels, as they say - literally in my case. Both vehicles needed new tyres and ended up in the garage at the same time! That meant no scones either!
All sorted now and mobile again. On Thursday I took the mobile manse and the dog off to Kilchoan. I had a meeting en-route and then today a blessing. After a night in the mobile manse, the dog and I are back home. She's exhausted and sleeping on the settee, ignoring her own bed.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I'd best get on with preparing Sunday's worship!

2018 Aug 12th - Sunday

I've been looking at the week ahead -

Monday, a working lunch in Fort William and a meeting at Kilchoan in the evening.
Tuesday teas and coffees at Acharacle in the morning then Meet Your MP at Strontian in the afternoon before an evening meeting.
Wednesday, the mobile manse goes into the garage for it's service and MOT while I meet the MSP to discuss access to health care in this remote area and in the evening there is a service to mark Ella Gill becoming a reader in the CofS - well done Ella!!
On Thursday there is a meeting to discuss some ideas for working with the schools while the car is getting it's service!
Friday and Saturday are clear at the moment and I'll be able to prepare worship for Sunday and gear up the new school term which means a busier time ahead.
Have a good week folks - God bless!

2018 Aug 10th - Friday

Getting ready for a funeral later today. Most funerals are 'big' with the community turning out in great numbers to say goodbye. Even, like today, when the person hasn't lived locally for a good number of years.

It's something about identity - people identify with places and communities just as much as they may, or not, be ancestrally rooted there. What is it about a place and a people that gets into your blood? We bond with somethingbigger and beyond ourselves.

For those of faith identifying with that something is what we acknowledge when we say 'yes' to God. We don't know exactly what God is, no-one does, but we see in Jesus the attributes of God - kindness, goodness, a love of building people us and looking for the best in others -in a word, love.

There are very few people, if any, the world over who don't want love in their lives. We identify with people who love us - God loves us. But God gives us free-will to accept love ultimately comes from God. It's up to us to accept our identity in God's love, or not. The Bible tells us each, God loves for who you are.

May the gentleman today, rest in the love of God - and may his family and friends find comfort and peace in the love of God.

2018 Aug 9th - Thursday

During school holiday periods some of the regular activities are put on hold - and I fully expect to catch up with visiting, clear the backlog of paperwork and organise future events and plans - it's always a triumph of hope over experience and this summer is no exception.

It's about ten days until school restarts and while I've made some progress there is so much more to be done than I'd hoped. That said, there really is much less of a backlog and there are quite a few ideas for the future buzzing around in my head - and I've visited a few people I'd hoped to see - so it's not all bad.

I trust God will honour the efforts I've made and give me the energy and guidance to prioritise and tackle the rest. It's not really my 'to-do' list but God's.

By this experience, I'm once again reminded that we will never come to the end of the 'to-do' list and it would be good to come to terms with that. Don't beat myself up for what I haven't done but rejoice that I've got this far.