Author Archives: David Grosch-Miller

Moving on

‘What will you do when you retire?’ is a question I have been asked a great number of times recently. The assumption being that after Assembly in Southport I will be at a loss as to how to fill my empty days.

My usual response it to point out that I ‘retired’ three years ago when I got to the magic age of 65. Since then I have been discovering the wisdom of the saying that perhaps retirement is a job for a younger person. I prefer to think that after next weekend I will have the opportunity to explore other interests beyond the church. Continue reading

Dreams or disillusions?

How future generations will judge the decision to leave the European Union is a matter of speculation. What is apparent is that the young and those for whom opportunity was something to be grasped voted to remain while the over 65s and the disadvantaged opted to leave. It was an outcome that clarified new fault lines in contemporary Britain, with Wales voting to leave and Scotland to remain. The immediate aftermath is marked by uncertainty and a level of anxiety that occasionally erupts into recrimination.

In some ways the campaign and outcome were illustrative of our times. We live in a period of rapid change that breeds anxiety and an erosion of trust. People crave certainty and fall victim to the charismatic characters who pedal brands of fundamentalism as the antidote to all our problems. The desire to stand on solid ground is understandable but human life is much more about developing the ability to hold opposing forces in tension rather than being confined in a straight jacket. The freedom to explore and risk and grow are at the heart of Christian faith not yesterday’s certainties which become today’s prison.

If there are lessons for the church, as we also seek to navigate our way through the choppy waters of change, then it must be to listen to the dreams of the young as well as the disillusion of the disadvantaged. Our anxiety must not become that which informs our decision making. We have to find a way to share the dream that God has for us, to be less concerned about the structures and the programmes of the church and much more enthusiastic about the purpose. Trust is an important ingredient in all human relationships including those within the church and it is something that we all need to work at. It is to be hoped that future generations will look at us and judge that we learnt to trust each other as we shared our dreams and remained faithful to our calling.

David Grosch-Miller

Building Bridges

As Christians we are in the business of building bridges not barriers, or so I informed the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in bringing greetings on behalf of the United Reformed Church. And there was much in the business of that church that supported the assertion. Northern Ireland has a difficult path to navigate as it listens to those affected by ‘The Troubles’ and begins the delicate work of reconciliation. Assembly heard from both victim and perpetrator and I was left in no doubt as to how deep wounds from that recent conflict still exist.

Mural on the Falls Road

Mural on the Falls Road

The headline will no doubt be given to the decision not to send representatives to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2017. This follows on from the decision of the Church of Scotland to allow a ‘departure’ which permits ministers in civil partnerships or married to a person of the same sex to be called into a pastorate. The surprise might be that the decision not to allow the Moderator to travel to Edinburgh was carried by only five votes. An indication that there are those in the PCI who still regard ties to the wider Presbyterian family as an important part of their witness.
Rope Bridge Carrick-A-Rede

Rope Bridge Carrick-A-Rede

Building bridges with those with whom we have profound disagreement is never an easy task. For communication to happen we have to leave the safety of our seclusion and risk being changed. The more violent we struggle the more the whole enterprise seems risky and liable to throw us into the chasm below. And yet if we are prepared to listen carefully and reflect deeply we open up new places to explore and be at home in. Fear is a powerful emotion that inhibits and diminishes us as human beings. Overcoming fear and taking the risky choice of engagement lies at the heart of the Christian Gospel.
Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim

Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim

Some thoughts inspired by crossing the Rope Bridge at Carrick-A-Rede. I wondered about the Giant’s Causeway to bring the PCI and Church of Scotland back together but according to the legend of Finn MacCool that didn’t work out too well either!

David Grosch-Miller