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The tearful kiss: A story for Father's Day

father-and-son-embraceSteve Tomkins, editor of Reform, offers the following reflection on the story of the prodigal son for Father's Day.

"There was a son. Let’s call him the prodigal son. And there was a father. Let’s call him the father.

Growing up was a miserable experience for the prodigal son. He didn’t have his older brother’s skill with tools or head for figures. He was clumsy and got words wrong. The father was always laughing at him in front of the servants and showing off his mistakes to his friends, and in private knew the exact words to make the boy feel smaller than ever. And that was when he was sober.

When he said: “I can’t wait for you to die, give me my inheritance now,” the prodigal son shocked himself with his willingness to break every rule in the book, but hadn’t the father repeatedly said: “You’ll get nothing in this life but what I leave you”? There seemed a real justice to what he was doing, in his deep gnawing anger.

The pigsty was not the first time his thoughts turned back to his father, not by a long shot. In the bars and betting shops and brothels, sometimes he was haunted by the father’s disapproval, sometimes driven by a voice that said: “This’ll show him”. And yet as he spent up the father’s money, it never seemed to buy him the freedom and new life he craved.


New online store now open

Online-store-buttonThe United Reformed Church communication department are really pleased to say that we've revamped the URC's online store and it's open today! The updated store provides a one-stop shop for all URC merchandise and publications, and a more user-friendly online shopping experience.

Elizabeth Quinn, URC publications and merchandise assistant, who has worked hard on getting the new store ready, said: "We want people to enjoy browsing the latest publications and to take a look at the range of merchandise available. We hope the new online store will make shopping for URC publications and merchandise a better experience and encourage more people to see and buy what's available."


Environment Sunday

Ben NevisEnvironment Sunday is on June 8th this year, the Sunday nearest to the United Nations World Environment Day, which takes place on June 5th. Trevor Jamison, a United Reformed Church Minister, serving as Environmental Chaplain for Eco Congregation Scotland, offers this reflection.

"When Environment Sunday comes this year I will be enjoying the great outdoors, walking along the recently opened 135 miles long John Muir Way, running from Scotland’s West to East coasts.

John Muir (1838-1914) was a Scottish-born American pioneering environmentalist. He is prized, particularly in the USA for his explorations, writings and advocacy on behalf of the nation’s wilderness. He was instrumental in Yosemite Valley in California becoming a National Park.

He spoke and wrote of nature using the language of religion; a person of his time, affected by his upbringing. It was his deeply religious (and difficult) father, attracted to the Churches of Christ tradition, who moved the family from Scotland to Wisconsin in search of greater religious liberty.


New convener of the United Board

LAND-2012-178 Chaplain General 002The United Board has announced the appointment of the Revd Jonathan Woodhouse as convener of the board. He will take on the role in January 2015, replacing outgoing convener, the Revd Ian McFarlane.

The United Board conducts chaplaincy work in the Armed Forces, representing Baptist, Congregational, URC, the Assemblies of God, Elim Pentecostal and Free Church of Scotland churches. The main objective of the board is to assist in the recruiting of chaplains for HM Forces, whilst supporting, encouraging and promoting the United Board chaplains in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. As convener, Jonathan will be responsible for representing the board at interdenominational advisory groups, supporting and advising all chaplains, and publicising the work of the United Board.