Sunday, February 15, 2009

Unfinished life story

The streets had been relieved of most of the burden of post- international match festive detritus by the time I arrived for this morning's eight o'clock celebration. I was neverthless bothered to count a dozen glass beer or spirits bottles (three of them smashed into the pavement), plus other mess, in the sixty yards from car to church door. City by-laws permit only the use of plastic drinks containers on match days. This is ignored by people coming on coaches who stock up at local supermarket bargain prices before setting out, and later discard their empties on to the streets for others to fall over, or sweep up. The law has persuaded coach drivers to be enforcers of new coach seat belt regulations. No doubt it would be possible to persuade drivers to ban the transport of alcohol in glass containers from out of town into the city on match days, if there were spot checks to weed out offending coaches, with banishment to a car park with a five mile journey into town on public transport unless they comply. A touch of zero tolerance here would help make the city a safer place.

Friday evening, a 17 year old lad was murdered, his head kicked in during an unprovoked assault by two others just around the block from the church. I'd be willing to wager that strong drink, if not drugs as well, was the driving force behind this crime. Last time there was a murder in town the killer was a mad woman who should have been cared for in hospital. Excessive drinking is the source of much commonplace madness and violence on our streets. Sooner or later it will have to stop. Few people genuinely want to live in such a dangerous and unstable environment, even if there is a whiff of excitement to go with it.


I was glad to listen, and not to have to prepare a sermon today, as Ben was preaching. It meant I had free time yesterday to add to the 'spiritual autobiography' I have started to write.

The impulse came from an email conversation with another local evangelical Christian blogger. Paul contacted me to discuss blogging as we are both part of the Cardiff Street Carers' Forum Steering Group. Recently I set up another blog to record the meetings and decisions of the Forum, to help those whose duties mean they cannot attend every time, but need to know what's going on. Such a brilliant tool, so easy to use. Better than filing cabinets full of minutes, especially if you need to tell an on-going story rather than catalogue precisely the transactions of a developing group. He mentioned how the need to write a self-description to accompany his blog stimulated him to think about his faith journey in a special way, as he is an evangelical Christian who understands the need to give a positive witness to his faith.

My blog self description is lean and factual. The statement that I am a city centre Anglican pastor covers the present phase of a spiritual journey lasting three quarters of a lifetime. What would the outline of my story of ministry look like? I began to write, but the outline expanded. I have just got half way, and have written more than ten thousand words in my spare time in recent weeks. Who's this for? Nobody's asked for it, but not infrequently I ask myself what this life in mission and ministry has been all about.

It's a way to review where I am after nearly fifty years of seriously seeking God, in order to consider what the next step might be, once I am freed by a pension from the duty of earning my keep. To what good use might this freedom be put? A question requiring answers, rather than the telling of my story, but maybe reminding myself of what I've been privileged to experience over the years will open my heart and mind more completely to whatever comes next.

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