On Friday I returned to the rectory to discover that one of the double-glazed windows at the front of the house had been smashed. Police were informed and I'm waiting for the go ahead from the insurance company to get it sorted.
Imagine my joy when I returned to my car at 10pm after tonight's vestry meeting to discover the driver's window tanned and my old (hidden) iPod nicked. The fascia on the stereo is one of those removeable types, so that's still intact. Clearly an opportunistic criminal was having a go. The police were informed again (they even offered me the help of Victim Support this time....if this continues, I might take them up on it!) as were the insurance company, and now, having paid the £75 excess, I'm looking forward to a 1am visit to Autoglass in Baillieston. The question is, given that I'm due back at church for 7am, whether I should just stay up and work a night shift?
I spent a day off visiting castles. Dumbarton and Newark (Port Glasgow) were great, but it was the third castle we visited that made my day. Portencross holds special memories for me: my dad used to take me fishing from the pier there and I can remember finding a way to sneak into the ruined castle. Much to my delight, I recently discovered that a group of enthusiasts have managed to raise the funds necessary in order to restore and renovate the building. But I'd quite forgotten that the intention was to open the castle for the first time during the Spring school holidays, so it was fantastic to find it open and that we could climb up the tower. It's well worth a visit and it's a tremendous tribute to all those who have worked so hard to make it possible. Entry is free (though donations are appreciated) and the doors are open from 11am-4pm every day until the 17th April. Thereafter the plan is to open at weekends or by arrangement.
I was talking to a very gifted secondary school music teacher and a talented young actor this afternoon about their prospects for work. Clearly, cuts in secondary education will hit the creative arts curriculum hard, with teachers not being replaced when they retire and posts being slashed. The knock on effect on the confidence-building and socialisation that these subjects give young people are incalculable, but I fear for generations of them, for they might not have the opportunities or the joy that such learning brings. With two artistically gifted children in the final stages of secondary education, this is something close to home.
Are there other ways that the deficit might be met, other than massive cuts? Here are some suggestions:
I've just heard the terrible news that the person killed in the bomb attack in Jerusalem yesterday was one of the missionaries we've partnered with for many years, Mary Gardner, who served with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Togo. Mary was studying at the Hebrew University. Please pray for her parents, Tony and Jean, in their loss.
We had a wonderful time with Mary when she was back on furlough in 2009. I was privileged to be involved in her debrief with Wycliffe and many folk got to know her better. She was a quiet and faithful servant of the Lord. Words fail me at the moment, save for the following:
"1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance" 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
My friends, Véroniqueand Ben Nicholson, have recently moved to Zimbabwe to head up Tearfund's operations. Véro is blogging here. It's worth checking out, as the joys and vagaries of life in Africa are shared.
Elbow's new album "Build A Rocket Boys" is released today. It's another joyful and exuberant collection of songs that serves to remind me why I love music so much. They play in Glasgow on Tuesday 15th March. Do you think I might go?
Here's a wee live excerpt of a song from the new recording: 'With Love'.