Posts Tagged 'small group'

I Gotta Feeling

“I gotta feeling,

That tonight’s gonna be a good night.

That tonight’s gonna be a good night.

That tonight’s gonna be a good, good, night”.

From “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas.

I’ve written frequently and lovingly about the little small group of people who have inhabited our home most Tuesday evenings for the past 3.5 years.  Something that started off small has grown organically and I often wondered whether I could imagine my life without them all sat around our dining table chatting, laughing and eating?

Over the years some folks have joined us for a time and moved on, but most of the group have been fairly consistent.  These were not people we knew before but, whilst we don’t see each other a great deal through the rest of the week,  these folks feel like family. 

We often say that church is not the buildings but, rather, it is the people.  Whilst I love our church gathered, this small group collective has become church community to one another in a very real way.  Without these individuals, I know my life would have been much poorer these past few years.  They have brought so many laughs, tangents of discussions, new books, resources and ideas into our lives.  They have helped to continue to shape my thinking, to deconstruct some old notions, to re-examine my beliefs.

We met for the final time as this wee group on Tuesday.  I really wondered if it was going to be an emotional evening?  It actually felt like the perfect end to a chapter.  Before everyone left, we stood in a circle and just prayed blessing, guidance and a commissioning over one another.  It was hugely meaningful and uplifting. 

As people left, we all talked excitedly of seeing one another at the Carols by candlelight service on Sunday evening – almost longing to ensure that we don’t lose the cohesion and friendships we have developed.  So, in a very real way this is the end of an era.  Despite that, I am genuinely excited to see what tales we will trade a year on from now as we each re-orientate ourselves into 2010.


These Are Days

“These are the days.
These are days you’ll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you
Are touched by something.
That will grow and bloom in you”.

From “These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs.


The little small group collective that gather around our dining table and inhabit our home and hearts have been working through a series looking at the topics of simplicity, love and justice in recent weeks. 

There are some big and small ideas that seem to challenge me to the core weekly.  Some little changes I can make and some bigger ones I am trying to work through. 

It’s good to enjoy food and laughs with friends who are also determined to encourage one another to grapple with things it’s easier to dismiss.  For each of us to become who we are meant to be and to think and live counter-culturally at times.

I seem to be hearing lots about consumerism at the minute.  I always falter with that when the new Howies or SAS catalogues arrive.  Mind you, this little piece made me smile:

“Come rain (and there will be), come shine (here’s hoping).  Even if our knees have knobbles and our calves are like sticks, we’ll be hunting through our wardrobes for our favourite shorts.  Because just a few hours of sunshine is all we need to remember those summers when we were kids.  When the sun shone for longer, the days were endless and our only deadline was tea on the table.  And when we got up in the morning and threw on our shorts and t-shirts, grabbed some toast and our bikes or skateboards and left for the day we knew that one day in the future the sun would be shining and we’d be putting on our shorts and remembering that feeling.

These are the days and they always were.”


Perfect Moment

“This was your perfect moment.”

From “Perfect Moment” by calamateur.



If you follow my blog a tall, then you’ll know that a little group of friends have helped facilitate an art exhibition currently running in Edinburgh under the banner “The Art of Joy”.  Our little collective’s events include a therapeutic art workshop  on Tuesday and knitting and nattering night on Wednesday of this week.

We are also delighted to confirm that relatively fresh from performing 4 songs on the telly on BBC’s Rapal and securing four out of five for their latest album in The List this month, calamateur have agreed to play as part of our little project.  It will be their first gig in Edinburgh for three years and will take place at our closing event upstairs at The Lot, Grassmarket, Edinburgh on Monday 13th April.

Calamateur is the moniker used by singer / songwriter / general noise-maker Andrew Howie. Based near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland, Andrew has been recording and releasing his own music since 2000.

He has released 1 single, 4 EP’s, 2 mini-album’s, 2 full length albums, a collaboration album and curated a compilation. He has been likened to artists as diverse as Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Damien Rice, Guided by Voices, Susuma Yokota and The Blue Nile.

His music has been played by John Peel, Radio 3’s Late Junction, the Scottish Evening Session on Radio 1, Beat 106’s The Beatscene and local radio / internet radio the length and breadth of the country. Here’s what some people have to say:

“…nothing short of brilliantly absorbing…”  – Is This Music?

“…stunning… a work of beauty…what took Snow Patrol’s 3 albums and 4 people to accomplish, Calamateur’s Andrew Howie manages straight off with songs of desolate beauty underpinned with a savage hope…”  – John Earls, Planet Sound

“…the aim is true and the heart is strong in this beautiful little record. 4/5.”  – The List

“…providing one of those moments where your head says nothing really out of the ordinary happening here but your heart suggests otherwise, trembling as if touched by something altogether magical….”   – Losing Today

For a flavour of things please click the following link

Calamateur will be accompanied on the night by local talent in the form of DLDown who have been described as follows: 

“Jo Wilson hushes the room with a minute or so of delicious loops that abruptly end whilst his songs of faith sweep through the room. Icarus doesn’t overtly retell the tragedy of Daedalus’ son, but hopes (over a breezy island strum pattern and cool chord progressions) that “maybe to Heaven I can break through.” “Lazarus” then asks us to step into the surprised man’s sandals and try to imagine the electricity of a human resurrection. Solid, beefy guitar set and enlightening lyrics, although the quick death of the brilliant loops and layers is a hard truth.” 

Our spirits should also be raised as Fiona Stewart brings some stand up comedy to add to the evening’s events.

If you can get yourself to Edinburgh on Monday then please let us bring some joy to the end of your Easter weekend.

The event starts at 7.30 and tickets will be available on the night at £5 per head.

Bad Architecture.

“Let’s take them apart, all of these old beliefs and go back to the plans.

Burn them down to be rebuilt to house the lonely and the damned.

Bad architecture will never last”.  

From “Bad Architecture” by calamateur.



I love the above song.  I love the lyrics, the picture language and the truth it conveys.

A structure can either be a vehicle or an obstacle.  We often say we love change, but settle for the comfort of what we know.  As a church community we are looking at restructuring things.  The current model works, but is it more than symbolic that we’ve outgrown our existing building and leased another building which has recently been sold which will leave us forced to look at relocating again?  We will be having to look afresh at buildings and structures physically and metaphorically. 

Existing properties can be functional, but outdated.  Better solutions can be found to the changing needs of those frequenting a building.  New ideas can transform things and a new design can make a positive impact upon its environment.  Good architecture can become something that attracts and is talked about positively.  It can become something cherished. 

I think it is proper to recognise the history of a church building and generations of community with thankfulness.  But, a vision received over 100 years ago may not be the same as the vision for the here and now or for the next 1, 10, 50 or 100 years.

It is exciting, but unsettling.  Are we willing to demolish something we love and have a vested interest in in order to bring new life?  As we move from a structure focused around small groups of people doing life together to forming groups centred around people with a common passion (known as Missional Expressions) what will the church gathered and scattered look like even twelve months from now?  What legacy will our actions now make for future generations? 

P.S Calamateur will be playing in Edinburgh for the first time in 3 years at The Lot, Grassmarket, Edinburgh on Easter Monday.  Tickets £5 on the door from 7.30.  It is guaranteed to be fantastic.

A Beautiful Collision

“Here it comes,

a beautiful collision

is happening now”

From “A Beautiful Collision” by David Crowder* Band.


Our little small group collective talk a lot about “relevance”.  We talk a lot about “embracing and shaping culture”.  We talk a lot about what’s going on in our lives – the good things, the trying things and the things that wear us down.  We talk for hours and it rarely feels like it.  We laugh so hard at times.  So, I think we concluded that in the midst of whatever life throws at us we find faith, we find hope and we find love, albeit sometimes at varying degrees.  In a world of bad news, we have good news.  In the storms of life, if we look hard enough, we can find peace.  Despite our mood we can find joy.

How do we express or share that?  How do help others do that?

From 25th March until 17th April we are commandeering the bistro area of The Lot at Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.  We are facilitating an art exhibition – celebrating the work of artists and, hopefully, creating a form of sanctuary for those who enjoy the pieces whilst on display.  Instead of charging the artists any commission, we will take 30% of any sales proceeds and give it away to the Grassmarket Mission who work with the marginalised in our city. Some of our group are running some art workshops.  Some of our group are starting a group where they can knit and natter over a drink and socialise.  We’re putting on a live music night with DLDowncalamateur and some stand up comedy.  We’ve entitled our little venture “The Art Of Joy” and you can find out more here.

It’s been daunting and now we’re almost there it’s really quite exciting.  Hopefully, this will not just be our human efforts, but will serve to bring hope and joy to the city we love so much.  So here we will be, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, next to all the pubs and curios shops of the Grassmarket hoping for a beautiful collision of real life and faith.

You Are My Joy

“You are my joy,

You are my joy,

You are my joy.

You are my…JOY!

And I’m laughing so hard,

I’m laughing so hard,

I’m laughing so hard…”

From “You Are My Joy” by David Crowder* Band.


So I write a lot about the little small group of people who inhabit our home weekly and who do life together.  We’re pretty good at talking, questioning, pondering and going off on tangents of discussion, but, how good are we at actually making a difference to the world around us?  As a wider congregation we have decided to cancel small groups for a fortnight in March in order to encourage us all to actually get involved in something that the church does in the community or to dream something new up.

Because our little small group all work in different fields and live in different parts of Edinburgh, we have always found it difficult to identify a particular area where we could collectively direct our efforts.  As you can see from the photo above, two weeks ago we spread some wallpaper out and scribbled ideas all over it.  It was exciting to see how big we could dream.  Now it seems a bit more distilled.

So what have we decided to do?

With the world so full of bad news, we just want to bring some good news.  Actually, we want to bring on the joy.  So, we’ve decided to facilitate an art exhibition.  We’re going to invite artists to display work that will evoke a sense of joy.  We’ll invite people who wouldn’t classify themselves as artists to have a go at producing something of postcard size that we could display for sale – maybe this will unlock a new means of self expression for some?  We’re going to commandeer some space in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket and display the work and hope that people will interact with it.  The works will be for sale and, instead of charging the artists a commission, we’ll gather the equivalent and give it away to local causes who really bring joy and hope and make a difference in this city.  We’ll create a blog to track the project.  Maybe we’ll photograph it, make some postcards and post them to folks chosen at random from the phone book and bringing them some messages of joy, hope and good news – guerrilla evangelism if you like…

There’s a lot to organise, but, hopefully through it we will: engage artists in the joy of creating; connect with people who can find pleasure in the work and; raise some funds to help encourage, support and affirm worthwhile organisations who offer a life line.  Hopefully that just brings a little joy to the world…

Southern State

“Well, you’re sleeping in that southern state where the bars are filled with people you can’t hate.
But try as you try and you still can’t relate to them.
You drink that whiskey down as they ask you
Are you who you say you are?
The fact that we can’t tell makes us like you even more.”

From “Southern State” by Bright Eyes.


I remember that we had Religious Education on my first day at secondary school.  We were tasked with writing a short essay on the question, “Who Am I?”  I remember thinking it was an odd question, but I wrote down some thoughts about identity and self expression.  I loved doodling and the drawing which accompanied it was probably more telling of my worldview back then.  I recall it involving lots of people walking around – punks, casuals, trendies or old folks all with think bubbles asking “Who Am I?”  I guess that I linked identity largely with image or classification back then.

I remember being appalled when I read some literature accompanying an application form for graduate recruitment back in my student days which suggested that one could express their individuality through choice of silk tie, belt buckle and cuff-links.  I wanted to stand out more than I wanted to fit in.  From the photo above, maybe I’ve become that person…I do love the cuff-links my wife bought me for Christmas though…

Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, that question “Who Am I?” causes us all so many problems. 

After hearing of my friend, Craig B’s, answer in an interview in the Herald, I put the following question to the little small group collective who meet in our home: – “What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself?”

What would you say?

I came up with:

1) Father – I guess I see this as one of the most important and precious roles and tasks I have.  Maybe a better adjective would have been “parent” as I couldn’t imagine this role without the love and support and shared vision of my wife…Funny to think there was a time when the thought of being a Dad would scare me beyond belief…

2)  Gentle – I am gentle by nature and gently spoken.  Sometimes I think I’m perceived as weak in this way, as I find it hard to project my voice in certain environments or to engage and I have always been tall and thin.  I guess I’m just not “laddish” or “bloke-ish” particularly.

3)  Surveyor – whilst this is my job description, I don’t really define myself by this nor by my position in the firm I belong to.  Yet, I spend so much of my waking life (day time and many evenings) devoted to my work.  As I get older sometimes I wonder if I should be more engaged with this in trying to influence those around me?  I do try that in my own way – but I still sometimes wonder if I should admit that baldness is under everybodies’ hair, shave my head and try to fit into the corporate mold to a greater extent.  Again that just boils down to image, but it does affect how we think about ourselves…  I hope I am still growing into the person I am meant to be. 

4) Indie – I guess I have always been drawn to things that are counter-cultural.  Music, faith, films, etc.  Skateboarding changed my life and all the things that came from that culture – when combined with a free-thinking mind and a faith that is more real to me than anything – have made me into who I am today – contradictions, warts and all.  Yes, I know I should have put “interdependent” down as an adjective to demonstrate that I understand the need for church community, but, truth be told, I still love “indie”…Indie, indie, indie…

5) Anchored – I guess, I feel pretty secure in life most of the time.  I know where my hope comes from.  That’s not to say that I don’t get stressed or low, but above and beyond that I know God is God.

On reflection, I didn’t come up with a bunch of words that I once would have used.  Do certain words have meaning for a certain season and then develop us for something else?

My friend’s answers in the Herald were:

1)  Grumpy

2)  Grumpy

3) Grumpy

4) Grumpy

5) Ginger

I’d probably have given him the benefit of the doubt and supplemented one of them with “Genius!”

RSS What I’m Listening To

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
Blog for Amnesty - Protect the Human