"Any Questions?" is a new format service we are trying out tonight. Questions have been sent in by people on the subject of "God". I'll try and answer them plus we'll have texted questions for a small panel of experts. If it works, the plan is to run a whole series of these over the next year.
In some great company, I cycled to Loch Lomond yesterday morning. It's a lovely ride, with a few main roads to cross and short on-road section through Dumbarton. On the return, by the time we reached Dumbarton, I was very saddle sore, and opted to catch the train back to Scotstounhill. I remain a wee bit tender following such exertions.
In the evening, I had a dinner date with a beautiful young woman, who will remain nameless for fear of embarrassing her (she is family, in case you are worried!). I had a voucher to use which had been given in February - I just hadn't got round to using it. We dined at Two Fat Ladies West End. Not being in a fish-frame-of-mind, I opted for the estate of Mey fillet steak with hasselback potatoes and a red wine jus and my date went for the roast breast of chicken with tomato and chorizo. Both dishes were beautifully presented, the meat was tender and tasty and the vegetables were perfectly cooked. We loved the antique china dinnerware and individual cutlery (all sourced on Ebay, according to our waitress, Katy). For dessert, we couldn't decide, so ended up having a bit of everything (Two Fats Grand Dessert), which we simply could not finish. Our favourite was the Bramble Cheesecake, which we did manage to eat.
Five pastors met in Starbucks, Byres Road before 8am this morning in order to share what we had discovered or rediscovered in the New Testament. The idea is to read through a book a week before Christmas, meeting up every week to share together what we are learning. Today it was Matthew; I shared some thoughts on the historicity of Jesus, the pastoral nature of Jesus teaching ("Hey, disciples, the church will be rough and you need to live with integrity"), and the sheer inconvenience of following Christ. The others had better nuggets than those and all-in-all it was a very good time of spiritual nourishment. I had my big shiny new ESV with me (and was duly slagged for it) - our church of Scotland colleague had a tiny little New Testament (some humility there).
I will have to read through Mark this week........
I met my old friend Alastair Black at the Florence gig last night. We used to hang out at New College together, frequently dogging classes as we did so. He now pastors Stirling Baptist Church. It's good to know I'm not the only middle-aged vicar who likes her work.
A powerful performance by the whole band, which the crowd lapped up. The Etta James song she did was spinetingling stuff.
I now await her next visit to Glasgow on the 9th December.
Here she is in action (who is that singing along at the top of his voice?):
A lovely nun called Maria surprised me on Thursday-
Maria: With a surname like that, you'll be from Ireland.
Me: Sadly no, but my dad's family came from there.
Maria: Have you ever been?
Me: Only to Dublin a few times.
Maria: That's where I come from.
Me: Like U2.
Maria: U2. Ahh, that Bono, he's lovely, so he is.
She is the the coolest nun in the world! The staff at the Redemptorist monastery of Kinnoull were wonderful hosts, just as I remembered them being many years ago. They served their guests well, with smiles and genuine Christlike care. They've got a real joy in life.
In other thoughts about rock stars, after the service tonight I was told that I got a mention on Dermot O'Leary's Radio 2 show yesterday, and to my amazement it's true! Listen here from about 29.15.
An interesting week ahead, with three days in a monastery, a national prayer conference on Thursday organised by Evangelical Alliance, the electoral synod on Saturday morning and the institution of the new rector of Bearsden and Milngavie on Saturday afternoon. Yes, I know, I'm a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, or somesuch.
The building of the new hall begins today. I say "the building begins", when of course it involves demolition of the old hall first. However, the contractors are here at the church. Parking in the driveway is no more! (Problem No 1 - I'll either have to get on my bike more, which I know is the right thing to do, or find some free parking nearby). Volunteers are needed to help demolish the Dawson Hut tomorrow night contact ali(at)ruthandali.co.uk if you fancy that bit of fun!
It's been a long haul to get to this point, but it's exciting and I'm thankful to be at the start of the physical process.
Some friends gave me tickets for another gig last night, this time a bit closer to home at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. I'm having a musical feast of a weekend!
First up was Pete Roe. A very talented guitarist, singer and tech for just about everyone else's instrument it would appear. He became the celeb of the night, as everytime he came on stage to fix something or even appeared in the room, the crowd chanted, "Pete Roe! Pete Roe! Pete Roe!".
Next up was King Charles (no, not the martyr). He's been described as "big of hair and pedigree tunes", and, yes, his hair is amazing. The music is pretty good too, and seems to draw on an eclectic mix of influences from folk, rock and eastern musical styles.
The main event was Mumford and Sons, who are riding the crest of a new folk/rock thing that's going on. Great stomping-up-and-down-like-nutters tunes, beautiful ballads, and very fine musicianship (three out of the four members had a shot on the drums at some point). I'd listened to their stuff on Myspace before going, but was really drawn in by their performance. See them if you can (they are in Aberdeen on Friday.......and Ullapool on Saturday).
I've enjoyed the range of music I've been able to hear this weekend, even though, yet again, I failed to take my ear protectors last night and stood in front of the speaker cabinets. Very slightly deaf today, which was a bit embarrassing when, at church this morning, I met a visiting audiologist who was clearly unimpressed by my explanation of why I am hard of hearing today.
I saw Kevin McDermott at the Victoria Hotel in Largs last night. We were a bit last minute about it and called the hotel to see if we would get in. "Ten tickets left", they said. We asked them to keep us two and they did. A beautiful Ayrshire coast sunset accompanied the drive to Largs.
In all, there were about thirty paying guests in the upper room, so it was a very intimate gig. Mr McDermott played a lot of songs from his first three albums, which suited me fine, as its that material I'm most familiar with. I haven't seen him play for ten years or more, but his voice has stood the test of time very well, and he played his songs with some passion. The audience were mostly devotees apart from two women from Largs who told us they went to most of the gigs at the hotel, but weren't familiar with his older stuff. They left shortly after the interval.
Continuing on from my previous experience a few months ago of "stalking" musicians, we ended up talking to Kevin and his girlfriend during the interval because they were sitting at the table next to us. Sadly, he no longer has the rights to his early material, presumably because the record company keeps the rights in order to recoup the advance that artists get when they sign a deal. He seemed stoical about that and was good-humoured throughout the show. He obviously enjoyed talking to the punters afterwards and it was a pleasure to spend an evening in the company of someone who delights in his craft.
He even commented on how cool the posters were outside the church and referred to me as he sang a line in the song that follows. We had a really good night out. He's at the Victoria Hotel, Largs tonight as well.