Wednesday 1st. April, 2015 – An Away Day with the Moderator and with the members of the Other Two Border Presbyteries 

John is deep in thought as he wonders how to address the ministers from the three Border Presbyteries

Up and walked Mix, showered and was ready before nine to be collected by Alan who was our driver for today. In all there were Alan, Stephen, Jeff, David and me in Alan’s car and we went off to Tweed Horizons Conference Centre which had been booked for the day. There was a full turnout of Duns ministers and a lot from the other two presbyteries as well. The format really consisted of dividing us up into groups and inviting us to speak to each other in small groups about those things which we had found hard and to share those things which we had thought successful. I guess the issues weren’t that important, it was about sharing and getting to know each other, particularly across presbytery boundaries.

The facilities at the centre were really good – lots of coffee and cake and, at lunchtime sandwiches and wraps in abundance. Everyone had been asked to share a verse or a passage which spoke of their ministry. Several folk shared their passage in the morning and several others just after lunch. I didn’t get to share mine – I wasn’t bothered because I am not really a serving minister any longer. When the email had come in I had immediately thought of the Road to Emmaus, with the wonder of Easter (this in Holy Week) and the discovery that Jesus is there in the meeting of strangers. I’d quickly gone on from there to Isaiah chapter forty-three, paraphrased in Songs of God’s People ‘Do not be afraid for I have redeemed you’ – a passage which has meant a great deal to me at different times, particularly when things haven’t been going well – or rather when I got trapped between political parties with our employment programme in Buckhaven. It’s a good passage and it’s good to remember that it is directed towards Israel and therefore its promise can be transferred to the Church: when we are in situations made difficult because of misrepresentations or different ideologies, we are not alone. In fact, had I been asked I would have spoken about the best chapter in the whole of scripture, Luke chapter fifteen – the story of the shepherd seeking out his lost lamb (You matter to God as much as a sheep does to the best shepherd imaginable), the woman searching for her lost coin (You are as precious to God as an engagement ring is to a woman in love), and the lost son (God cares for you as the best father in the world cares for his son). Again promises not just to me but to all – and therefore affecting the way we all relate to each other: which takes us back to the Road to Emmaus.

In the afternoon we talked about the difficulties of operating as small presbyteries with the thought, perhaps, that the time is right for us to consider seeing a future for ourselves together with our sister presbyteries in the Borders. It could be fun – different kinds of meetings, perhaps just twice a year with meals and speakers and celebrations, extra staff (including a full-time clerk so I could get back to building). Well, we’ll see.

We were driven home by Allan and after supper left for me by Olive (the rest of the family dined at lunchtime) I watched some television and quickly found myself asleep. I woke up in time to walk Mix and get to bed. It had been a good day.


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