It’s a pleasure to welcome Andrew & Kirsty Morrison to the Fullarton ConneXions Family and local community! Andrew is probationer minister with us till the end of 2018, his full-time and final placement in training for ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament.

The Morrison’s fresh faces are fond reminders of Dorothy and I starting out as newlyweds in Chryston / Moodiesburn 29 years ago, where I did probation with Rev Martin Allen. I have no doubt that our experience, together with Kirsty & Andrew, will likewise be very positive.

Taking on a probationer is no picnic and involves much work, but the mutual benefits for budding Rev, bishop Rev, congregation and wider community are many. Key to unlocking such blessing is mutual appreciation that we belong to a community of learning, growing up into God’s Best for us and all we can be in God. This requires a readiness in both trainee and trainer to learn from each other.

The first 3 months will involve a lot of Andrew shadowing me and other leaders: to hospitals, schools, care homes, parishioners’ homes, funerals, services, community networking, outreach ministries, leadership meetings, grow groups, etc. This period will allow Andrew to see what Jesus is doing in Irvine and identify learning targets for joining Jesus’ activity, ultimately preparing him to step into a parish of his own.

As well as affirming God’s Transforming Grace & Truth at work among us and the chance to stretch Andrew in service, I anticipate searching questions to challenge me / us to consider ‘why’ we do things, and do them the way we do. I look forward to a fruitful, creative partnership, bringing the best out in each other and fresh ideas to the table. While God further moulds Andrew & Kirsty into channels of his Good News, lives will be touched, changed and blessed by their coming alongside and among us.

Like cape-crusaders, at Crosshouse Hospital, we marvelled at God’s ‘prevenient grace’. God’s enveloping purposeful, potent presence that goes ahead of us into situations. Jesus goes ahead to ready people and situations for us to step into with his listening, light and love. Appearing to his followers after his death Jesus told them to go to Galilee, where he’d meet them. Prevenient Grace isn’t an excuse for lax and lethargic preparation, rather a spur to prayerfully enter everyday situations expectant that God will work in our home, school, office, kitchen, football pitch, bowling green, pub, club, street, wherever we go.

We prayed with our Crosshouse patients in such a way as to allow others in the 6 bed wards to join in if they wanted. Smiles greeted Andrew & I as we left, ears and hearts clearly opened to words of grace, healing and hope. One lady drew me near to thank me for the prayer which had encouraged her to trust God.

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.” (St Patrick)

A perfect prayer for probationers and all pilgrims!