Mar 122012
 

Well, that’s just over two weeks in ‘the job’. Three Sundays, albeit one where I was preached in, two funerals, initial contacts with one of the primary schools, time with local colleagues, and lots of unpacking and manse-readying. Oh, and a rapidly filling-up diary.

If I was being totally honest, I would have to say that it still feels very much like the honeymoon period is in its early days. I’m probably getting off very lightly at the moment, but that’s fine. It’s time being used to settle in. And attempt to tune my ear to the local accent. I suspect people are just being very polite and speaking ‘properly’ around me, because when I hear the locals speaking together I wonder if it’s a different language. Mind you, Kirriemuir itself seems to attract a lot of ‘incomers’. It is, without a doubt, a beautiful part of the country and is eminently commutable to Dundee, Perth, and even places like Aberdeen if you don’t mind a longer drive. It’s well-served with amenities and not too far from places like Forfar if you need a bigger supermarket. You can hit the huge retail park on the north edge of Dundee in under half an hour. A drive through Edinburgh or Glasgow to somewhere similar is probably shorter mileage, but possibly longer in time.

So living here in Kirrie is not a great hardship. Mind you, I’m writing this in Falkirk as I’ve popped back down to load up the car with more bits and pieces.

Settling in comfortably to a new living place certainly makes it easier to settle in to the main reason I’m here at all – ministry. Like I say, I haven’t been overly-burdened so far (maybe I shouldn’t admit that publicly) and that has given me an opportunity to reflect on what I have been doing.

Two ‘proper’ Sundays is not enough to evaluate how things are going generally, but they have still provided enough of a challenge to think about things.

Yet again, sussing out the hymn repertoire of two new congregations is fun. That said, they’re both very good at giving it a go. You know it’s a new one to them by the near silence on the first verse; but there’s certainly a lot more volume by the last. Prayers have been appreciated and commented upon. The children are great to work with, but present some interesting challenges too. we’re both ‘unknown’ to each other and it’ll take a little while to build up a rapport.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the time constraint between the two services. It means sermons are shorter than I would usually do – well, if I want to fit in the same number of hymns, etc. That’s a good discipline to say things more succinctly and perhaps get to the point more quickly. I’m still very guilty of trying to squeeze too much in and will also need to ‘tone down’ the ‘level’. That’s not any criticism of the congregations, but of me. My ‘fallback’ position when I’m not so sure of what to say, is to make it too academic. It’s where I’m most comfortable and is perhaps a way of not wanting to make things sound too basic. Once I get to know folks better then I’m sure the right level will be found.

Actually, on a related note – I was asked if I might consider re-introducing the mid-week Bible study group. That’s certainly something I’d want to do, and might even, depending on who’s up for it, convene in more comfortable and convivial surroundings. That’s maybe one step too far at the moment, but you never know.

And the relatively quiet start has also allowed me to think ahead a little bit. Not that I’ve spent any time preparing anything, but just beginning to get my head round some of the medium-term issues which need addressing.

So, all-in-all, definitely settling in. And very much looking forward to what’s ahead.

  5 Responses to “Settling in”

  1. Thanks for the update. You were all being prayed for yesterday at St. Andrews West.

    Dave

  2. Hi John.
    I’m so pleased you are settling in without too many problems. Very good luck for the future :o)

  3. You were remembered in Jerusalem…at the Western Wall no less. Glad that life is busy without being overly so.

  4. Hi John, as you settle in how do you see your blog evolving? Someone asked me that about mine last week and I have been thinking about what I’ll do about it when I go to my pastorate in September.

    How much have you said to your congregants about your blogging? One of the two churches I will be serving put a link on their website to the post in which I reacted to their calling me.

    Are your congregations now part of your “imagined reader” and if so what difference does that make?

  5. Thanks for the good wishes folks, and the prayers are much appreciated.
    Nick, good questions, and I’m still giving it some thought.
    I’ve been encouraged to continue putting my thoughts ‘out there’ as a reflection on the early years of ministry. But I’m also very aware that they will be thoughts around a context I am committed to for the foreseeable future. And that does put different pressures in place. My congregations know I blog, and I know that some members read it. So that means a shift away from identifiable ‘situations’ and dealing more with general thoughts and issues in ministry. And I’m not sure that that is where I want to be with the blog. That said, it is still early days so it may be that there is still plenty to write about that doesn’t compromise growing relationships.
    There are also a couple of other ideas running around my head. I may well start a ‘thought from the manse’ blog on the church website – but that becomes highly contextual and wouldn’t be right for here. I may also start an audio ‘letter from Kirrie’ as a semi-regular contribution to the Central FM programme I previously contributed to. All of which helps, in some respects, to define the limits for this blog.
    I don’t want it to become a round-robin monthly update, or whatever. But, at the moment, I’m not sure where it is heading.

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