I'm loving the new U2 album, "Songs of Innocence", in a way that their recordings have not grabbed me since Achtung Baby. There have always been songs that felt like filler to me. Not so this album. I'd go so far as to describe it as my favourite since that recording. Great tunes, playing and production (much less compression than recent releases). Thoughtful, personal and spiritual lyrics and a real passion comes through. Echoes of early albums like "Boy" and "October" but with references to every stage of their career. Enjoying Lycke Li's vocal on "The Troubles".
I can't recommend this enough, but then as a fan since 1980, I've never really hated anything they've done.
If you've got an iTunes account you can get it for free at the moment.
I'm declaring how I've voted and explaining why. Because I'm moving home this week, I'll not be able to join any ensuing debate, but if you comment, please be generous and kind to one another. Please don't be like the ignorant folk in both camps who seem intent on being cruel and destructive and who seem to be completely incapable of listening to one another.
I voted YES. My reasons are as follows:
Historically, boundaries change. This need not be an acrimonious divorce. Rather, I'm trying to see it as a new birth. Nation states are born or reborn regularly. Look at the Baltic states who gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union or the former Yugoslavian states. In 1921 Ireland became independent after a much longer period than Scotland has had of being joined with England. Our parliaments have been joined for just over three hundred years. The crowns were joined one hundred years before that. The white paper suggest that (for now), the crowns will remain joined. In that sense, there will still be a United KINGDOM.
We are talking about the Scottish Parliament having full control of every aspect of our life. At the moment, the government in Westminster is not one that most people in Scotland wants. As a former Labour Party member, I'm not sure that many people in Scotland would want to be ruled by them now, given their decision to move further and further to the right. At times, I find it hard to distinguish between the three big UK parties and the rise of UKIP only makes me think that England will drift that way even more.
I believe this change might allow the Scottish people to lose the chip(s) on our shoulders, allowing people to fly and grow in confidence. We'll have to take responsibility and make wise decisions.
Will it be hard? Of course it will. We might well have to sacrifice much in order to be a new nation. Will there be things that concern me in this future? The economics are unclear and the politics of EU and NATO membership uncertain. I don't see how we can ditch Trident but still accept the possible use of nuclear weapons by NATO. There are many questions about the currency and debt that will have to be answered.
However, with imagination, hard work, democratic engagement and hope, we can build a better nation, where the least, the last and the lost are cared for and where we can work together with our neighbouring nations to ensure peace for everyone. I don't fear the future. It seems to me to offer great opportunities for transformation. I hope we get the chance to at least try.
The rain did not dampen the enthusiasm for the Gibson Street Gala. Church was mobbed, volunteers welcomed and entertained, and the local community shone, even though the sun didn't.
I realised today that there will be many things in the next few months which I'll participate in for the last time. As I walked round the Gala, a wee tear came to my eye. I am thankful that we've been given the gift of partnering with such a vibrant event as the Gala. It truly is a wonderful day and one that I look forward each year. I wonder how it will feel next year if I come back as a visitor?
This morning we announced that after ninteen years as rector, we are leaving St Silas at the end of the summer. I am to serve as rector of St Thomas' Church, Corstorphine. A very emotional day in so many ways, but we have a strong sense of calling to this and we will be leaving at a time of much happiness. Not all my predecessors can say that!
The goal now is to end well, and begin a new ministry in Edinburgh at the end of September.
Much downsizing is required as we'll be moving to a smaller home - it's amazing how much stuff has accumulated over the years. It's possible that I'll commute to Edinburgh for a month or two if our new home is not ready yet. Our new vestry might end up renting our old home from our old vestry.
We've been humbled by the understanding, supportive comments and love of so many today. I've managed to hold back public tears, though they have flowed privately. Above all, we are so grateful to the Lord for all that he has given to us, and that amazingly He has allowed me to continue to serve in ordained ministry for so long.
Here's a letter we gave out to the congregations this morning and evening:
It is with some tears that we write to let you know that we will be leaving St Silas’ on 31 August. David is accepting a call to be rector of St Thomas’, Corstorphine in Edinburgh. The institution is likely to be during the last week of September and we hope that you will consider joining us on that occasion.
St Thomas’ is in many ways the mother church of evangelicals in the Scottish Episcopal Church and over the years has enjoyed a close relationship with St Silas’. This move will hopefully strengthen those bonds.
We are so grateful to you all for your loving support down through the years. You are an amazing part of the people of God! In the difficulties, changes and mess of life you have shown true grace and loving welcome. It’s a mark of what kind of church we are: full of truth and grace.
Some will worry about what lies ahead. We’d want to remind you that the rector is not the head of the church, Jesus is. Now is a time to look to Him for His leading. The next year or so will involve a process of profiling both the congregation and the kind of person you hope to call as your next rector. It will need much working together and caring for one another. You’ll also need to undergird everything with prayer. It will be a good time, as you seek together for what the Lord has next for you.
The vestry will be looking at the way ahead. It is likely that a ministry team will be set up consisting of an interim rector (appointed by vestry and licenced by Bishop Gregor), assisted by the staff and other members of the congregation. Details of this and how it will function will be given as soon as they are finalised.
David came here as a young man and as he has grown older, he has learned so much, and is maybe a little wiser. He is thankful for your patience when he has not always got things right, and it has been a great encouragement to work together over the years to serve the Lord. For all this and for so much more, St Silas Church will always have a precious place in our hearts.
In closing, we quote the prophet Samuel’s farewell words, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” I Samuel 12:23-24
Much as I love Uganda, I must say this: the legislation signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni this morning is an evil thing masquerading as a good thing. It will bring persecution of people with same sex attraction and that is cruel. That is no way to treat anyone, and it will have a negative effect on Uganda's standing in the world. In addition, it's definitely not the best Christian attitude available towards those one does not agree with.
"Microsoft" called our home first thing this morning and a nice gentlemen who claimed to be based in the UK informed me that our computers were full of nasty viruses and that they could help. I knew this man was telling porkies and tried to tell him so, but he was most insistent. If "Microsoft" call you, it almost certainly won't be, so don't fall for this scam. They simply want your financial details in return for their "help". Don't be fooled.
For a good lowdown on the scam and how to deal with it, look at this:
Unfortunately,I forgot to use my favourite anti cold-calling phrase, of asking the caller if they'd like to find out more about Jesus. It often has such a powerful effect that they put the phone down on me. In this case, I reckon this guy could definitely do with His transforming help.