Saturday, December 24, 2005


(Switch off the pc and go out and do something less boring instead!)

Come on folks it's Christmas... stop looking at blogs and go off and have a Merry Christmas with family, friends and the like!

Within all the tinsel I hope you find Christ's peace this Christmas:


I have seen Christ
In the neglected face of an unloved boy;

I have seen Christ
In the gentleness and faith of an old man;

I have seen Christ
In the quick hands of a nurse
Who knew I needed her before I asked;

I have seen Christ
Born again in spirit
In the joyful song of a bright faced child;

I have seen Christ
When my heart was breaking
In the compassionate eyes of a friend;

I have seen Christ
In the forgiveness of a loved one;

I have seen Christ
In the anguish of a mother
for her dying son;

I have seen Christ
in a dustman and a doctor.

God grant
That they may have seen Christ in me.

~ Joan Rowbottom,

from "A Touch of Flame”,
an anthology
of contemporary Christian poetry
compiled by Jenny Robertson.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Duran duran 001

Duran duran 001
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran 008

Duran duran 008
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran still

Duran duran 028
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran pretty colours

Duran duran 033
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran again

Duran duran 041
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran Duran

Duran duran 045
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Images from Duran Duran at Earl's Court

Duran duran 037
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Wild Girls

Agent K and I went to see Duran Duran at Earl's Court last night. FABULOUS fun - we felt very YOUNG and didn't know all the songs but the light show and performance was pretty spectacular.

Pictures to follow when I have the camera, its cable and a PC within closer proximity than the explosion of wrapping paper in my living room will allow!

UPDATE: Miz was there too - how bizarre is that... so there was a Wild boy there too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Google Fight

Thanks to Paul I've found a lovely timewaster called Google Fight - we all have SO much time to waste right now I'm sure!!!

So far I am sniggering about the following Google fights:
Fight 1: Women in Youth Ministry vs Men in Youth Ministry
Fight 2: Batman vs Spiderman
Fight 3: Sarah Hamilton vs Ian Macdonald
Fight 4: Sarah Hamilton vs Jonny Baker!!!

Any takers????

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Women and Men in Youth Ministry

There's a new chapter up at FeminYM, this time a post from the male perspective on women in youth work/ministry. Thanks to Simon for this. There are also, as always, some practical tips.

We'll be putting up some related discussion points soon when you've had a chance to read it all.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mystery of Christmas

Another great thought provoker from Taize entitled the Mystery of Christmas.

This might well be useful to those preparing Christmas reflections/sermons/talks or even discussions over the turkey!:

The accounts of the birth of Christ are inexhaustible. All through our life, our faith finds resources in them for nourishing itself and converting itself to become more and more a faith in the God of the Gospel. There, Christians find their God and discover themselves, and the truth of their own heart.

Christmas introduces us to the paradoxes with which the Gospel is strewn from beginning to end: the infinite God is there in a little child; the Almighty God is present in the weakness of a new-born infant; the Word becomes crying. Has it been emphasised enough how much these accounts are in profound coherence with the rest of the life of Jesus? Mistakenly, some people set them aside, as if they were the residue of a form of religion still too affiliated to the fabulous. Are we embarrassed by the appearance of a star? We have to look at the point to which it is leading us: to a naked infant in a crib. Above all let us see what these accounts are celebrating: God who expresses himself not through force or violence, but through a being who is helpless, and totally surrendered.

At Christmas, let us also have the courage to listen to the word of Jesus: “Whoever sees me sees the Father” (John 14.9). As a result, the fear of God, fear which insinuates itself so easily, no longer has grounds for existing. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes that God became a child so that we might cease to be afraid of him.

Many contemporaries of Saint John, both Jews and Greeks, could have written, “In the beginning was the Word…” Only John, the Christian, who had touched with his hands the Word of Life, can write, “The Word became flesh”. By “flesh” we are to understand weakness, finiteness, mortal created ness. Here is the scandal of the Christian faith. A scandal that is not restricted to Christ’s birth, nor even to his earthly existence, but continues in his way of being present today. From this, Saint Augustine draws a whole understanding of the sacraments.

The Word took flesh, became flesh (John 1.14). And so God is linked to a process of becoming. He is not the unchangeable one that the philosophers imagine. His transcendence does not consist in remaining aloof, far from human beings. The transcendence of the God of the Bible is to penetrate human history and to bring newness to it. Where everything was old, worn out, apparently exhausted, with no future, the Word brings freshness, newness, zest for Life or quite simply what Christians call forgiveness. For if John writes, “The Word became flesh” with the connotations of weakness and finiteness that we have pointed out, he does not say, “we have seen his misery”, but “we have seen his glory”. An intense beauty, which John calls “glory”, shines forth from the incarnate Christ. In his manner of living in the midst of our world, in accepting human limitations, in a total surrender into the hands of his Father, in receiving his existence day by day, glory shines forth. The face of God reveals itself.

Matthew does not tell us anything very different when he gives us the long genealogy of Jesus. The reader concludes that the history into which Jesus enters is complex and far from perfect. Who is this God who does not fear getting involved in the history of human beings, with its density and even its darkness? He is the God of the Nativity, of the Cross, of the Resurrection, but also of the sacraments. Through the Eucharist, he even mingles with our body, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa dares to say.

It was to take time for Christians to draw the full conclusions of this way of taking history seriously. It is not even sure that the process is complete.

Why are we touched by the accounts of the Nativity? When we read them something resonates inside us, like an appeal to let go of our shell, and to get rid of our armour and our self-sufficiency. Our hearts are made for trusting. Charles de Foucauld expresses this in his memorable prayer, “My Father, I surrender myself to you… for it is a necessity of love for me to give myself, to place myself without reserve into your hands, with an infinite trust, for you are my Father.”

Very often, the heart only opens up in the presence of someone humbler than ourself. Let us not forget: it is the Wholly Other that is present in the crib. But that child prevents us thinking of transcendence as distance or as a threat. Open to his presence, we shall not lose our liberty. We shall be led to make of our lives a “creation with”. Yes, Emmanuel is there, in that child: “God-with-us”.

What to blog

Ever so ocasionally there are days when I don't know what to blog. Days when not much happens or when life is full of "interesting times" which are best left unblogged. Today is such a day.

Well perhaps I should correct that... Today WAS such a day until I opened my email to find the news from Taize with a link to Brother Roger's "Unfinished Letter" Within it are words of such wise faith, such unfaltering hope and such a deep trust in God's love that it overflows to the reader.

The words were exactly what I needed and the challenge from the Taize community is to explore what each of us can to to complete the letter; to find our own conclusion to it through our prayer our service and our loving.

You can download it in pdf or read it here:

“I leave you peace; I give you my peace.” (1) What is this peace that God gives?

It is first of all an inner peace, a peace of the heart. This peace enables us to look at the world with hope, even though it is often torn apart by violence and conflicts.

This peace from God also supports us so that we can contribute, quite humbly, to building peace in those places where it is jeopardized.

World peace is so urgent in order to alleviate suffering, and in particular so that the children of today and tomorrow do not live in distress and insecurity.

In his Gospel, in a dazzling intuition, Saint John expresses who God is in three words: “God is love.”(2) If we can grasp only those three words, we shall go far, very far.

What captivates us in those words? The fact that they transmit this luminous conviction: God did not send Christ to earth to condemn anyone, but for every human being to know that he or she is loved and to be able to find a road to communion with God.

But why are some people gripped by the wonder of a love and know that they are loved, or even cherished? Why do others have the impression that they are neglected?

If only everyone could realize that God remains alongside us even in the fathomless depths of our loneliness. God says to each person, “You are precious in my sight, I treasure you and I love you.” (3) Yes, all God can do is give his love; that sums up the whole of the Gospel.

What God asks of us and offers us is simply to receive his infinite mercy.

That God loves us is a reality sometimes hard to comprehend. But when we discover that his love is forgiveness above all else, our hearts find peace and are even transformed.

And then, in God, we become able to forget what assails our hearts: this is a wellspring from which we can draw freshness and new vitality.

Are we sufficiently aware that God trusts us so much that he has a call for each one of us? What is that call? God invites us to love as he loves. And there is no deeper love than to go to the point of giving oneself, for God and for others.

Whoever lives a life rooted in God chooses to love. And a heart resolved to love can radiate goodness without limits. (4)

Life is filled with serene beauty for whoever strives to love with trust.

All who choose to love and to say it with their life are led to ask themselves one of the most compelling questions of all: how can we ease the pain and the torment of others, whether they are close at hand or far away?

But what does it mean to love? Could it be to share the suffering of the most ill-treated? Yes, that’s it.

Could it mean having infinite kind-heartedness and forgetting oneself for others, selflessly? Yes, certainly.

And again: what does it mean to love? Loving means forgiving, living as people who are reconciled. (5) And reconciliation always brings a springtime to the soul.

In the small mountain village where I was born, near our home, a large poverty-stricken family lived. The mother had died. One of the children, slightly younger than I, often came to see us. He loved my mother as if she were his own. One day, he learned that they were going to leave the village and, for him, leaving was not easy at all. How can a child of five or six be consoled? It was as if he did not have the perspective needed in order to make sense of such a separation.

Shortly before his death, Christ assured his friends that they would receive a consolation: he would send them the Holy Spirit who would be a support and a comfort for them, and who would always remain with them. (6)

In the heart of each person, Christ still whispers today, “I will never leave you all alone; I will send you the Holy Spirit. Even if you are in the depths of despair, I remain alongside you.”

Welcoming the comfort that the Holy Spirit gives means seeking, in silence and peace, to surrender ourselves to him. Then, though at times dire events may occur, it becomes possible to go beyond them.

Are we so easily upset that we need to be comforted?

There are times when all of us are shaken by a personal trial or by the suffering of others. This can go so far as to undermine our faith and extinguish our hope. Rediscovering the trusting of faith and peace of heart sometimes involves being patient with ourselves.

One kind of suffering leaves a particularly deep impression: the death of someone we love, someone we may have needed in order to keep going forward here on earth. But such a trial can sometimes be transfigured, and then it opens us up to a communion.

A Gospel joy can be restored to someone in extreme distress. God comes to shed light on the mystery of human suffering, going so far as to welcome us into an intimacy with himself. And then we find ourselves on a path of hope. God does not leave us all alone. He enables us to advance towards a communion, that communion of love which is the Church, at one and the same time so mysterious and so indispensable … The Christ of communion (7) offers us this enormous gift of consolation.

To the extent that the Church is able to bring healing to our hearts by communicating forgiveness and compassion, it makes a fullness of communion with Christ more accessible. When the Church is intent on loving and understanding the mystery of every human being, when tirelessly it listens, comforts and heals, it becomes what it is at its most luminous: the crystal-clear reflection of a communion. Seeking reconciliation and peace involves a struggle within oneself. It does not mean taking the line of least resistance. Nothing lasting is created when things are too easy. The spirit of communion is not gullible. It causes the heart to become more encompassing; it is profound kindness; it does not listen to suspicions.

To be bearers of communion, will each of us walk forward in our lives on the road of trust and of a constantly renewed kind-heartedness?

On this road there will be failures at times. Then we need to remember that the source of peace and communion is in God. Instead of becoming discouraged, we shall call down his Holy Spirit upon our weaknesses.

And, our whole life long, the Holy Spirit will enable us to set out again and again, going from one beginning to another towards a future of peace. (8)

To the extent that our community creates possibilities in the human family to widen…

Footnotes to Brother Roger's Letter

(1) John 14:27

(2) 1 John 4:8

(3) Isaiah 43:4

(4) At the opening of the Council of Youth in 1974, Brother Roger said, “Without love, what is the good of living? Why live any longer? For what purpose? That is the meaning of our life: to be loved for ever, loved into eternity, so that in our turn we go to the point of dying for love. Yes, happy those who die for love.” Dying for love meant for him loving to the very end.

(5) “Living as people who are reconciled.” In his book A Prospect of Happiness? which appeared two weeks before his death, Brother Roger explained once again what these words meant for him: “Can I recall here that my maternal grandmother discovered intuitively a sort of key to the ecumenical vocation, and that she opened for me a way which I then tried to put into practice? After the First World War, her deepest desire was that no one should ever have to go through what she had gone through. Since Christians had been waging war against each other in Europe, she thought, let them at least be reconciled, in order to prevent another war. She came from an old Protestant family but, living out an inner reconciliation, she began to go to the Catholic church, without at the same time making any break with her own people. Impressed by the testimony of her life, when I was still very young I found my own Christian identity in her steps by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.”

(6) John 14:18 and 16:7

(7) The “Christ of communion.” Brother Roger already used this expression when he welcomed Pope John Paul II to TaizĂ© on October 5th, 1986: “The constant longing of my brothers and myself is for every young person to discover Christ, not Christ taken in isolation but the ‘Christ of communion’ present in fullness in that mystery of communion which is his Body, the Church. There, many young people can find ways to commit their entire lives to the very end. There they have all they need to become creators of trust and reconciliation, not just among themselves but with all the generations, from the most elderly to little children. In our TaizĂ© Community, following the ‘Christ of communion’ is like a fire that burns us. We would go to the ends of the earth to look for ways, to ask, to appeal, to beg if need be, but never from without, always while remaining within that unique communion which is the Church.”

(8) These last four paragraphs were spoken by Brother Roger in December 2004 at the end of the European meeting in Lisbon. They are the last words he said in public.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Party time... Excellent!

Ok so I'm trying to pick a film for our Christmas Eve party and there were two boxes of second hand videos in our church coffee shop. I need a film that is no longer than an hour and a half - preferably less - which WON'T be on tv over the Christmas season but which IS fab, funny and will hold the young people's interest.

Now in the box were...

Mouse Hunt - slapstick funny... I mean it's got a mouse who's clever and lots of silly Home Alone kinda things which I'm sure lots of them will love.



then there was also....

Ok so I LOVE THIS FILM but I'm a bit worried that the young people won't and if I LOVE it and they hate it... it's far worse than if there's a film I think is OK which they think is OK.

Though how can you not ADORE a film so EXCELLENT that contains quotations such as:

"If she was a president, she'd be Baberaham Lincoln."

"What if he honks in the car?"
"I'm giving you a no-honk guarantee."

"Did you ever find bugs bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?"

"Ex-queeze me?"

"Do you accept cash? CHA-CHING!!"

"Let's do the Scooby doo ending"
"Good call!"

ok ok I'll stop!

So people... Do we go with Wayne's World or something more seasonal?

What can I give him?

Well I'm sure some of you are still trying to work out what to give for Christmas.

My alternative idea for today:

I gave blood this afternoon and was really pleased to see one of our young people there too. it really isn't difficult, takes little time and could literally mean the difference between life and death for someone this Christmas time.

So if you're 17 or over take this simple test to see if you CAN give blood then go on guys, bite the bullet and DO SOMETHING AMAZING!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Aslan like it

Well I saw the film on Friday and I certainly enjoyed it but I don't feel COMPELLED to see it again or have much to say. In a way this is a good reflection on it. I thought it was a good adaptation. It left enough of the original and had the spirit of the books such that I did not feel it represented any kind of betrayal of the text.

There were certainly moments I absolutely loved, particularly tea at Mr Tumnus' house and the enchanted fire (the picture doesn't do it justice - you have to see it) which reminded me of an illustrated poetry book I had as a child with a poem about fire fairies. They truly transported me to childlike wonder as did the animation involving the map of Narnia.

All of the chief characters were as I would have hoped in many ways. Aslan, the creature was delightful, the voice rang slightly too much of Liam Neeson( I know it was him... it just... it sounded like him not like ASLAN) yet the scenes at the stone table were very moving indeed. Lucy was very good (though interestingly she didn't get "reminded" to help others after the battle as I remember her being in the book and the tv version - interesting twist on her "perfect" character). Susan was a bit annoying but the play between the two brothers was really good.

Somewhere I read someone saying that they came out of the film not knowing why the children should support the lion instead of the witch - sorry but that person's view is a bit nuts! The witch was hideously smarmy and nasty. I thought the play between her and Edmund was trully powerful.


I know I shouldn't be picky but the army of animals on the good side was sometimes just... well... silly! Picture the great panning shot of the mighty faun warriors then... badgers... great warriors... wild boar... and the Witch's chariot pulled by Polar bears? Sorry tha just looked silly!

Also, now don't get me wrong, the music was enchanting most of the way through especially Tumnus' lullaby (manuscript here!) which accompanied the fireplace fairies BUT I thought the closing credits began with a silly bit of music which really made a bit of an anticlimax for me.

and finally...

One major reservation: Lucy and Mr Tumnus - a relationship I have worried about before but NEVER as much as I did with this version! He was perfect as one of those "strange men" that you "don't go off with, children" - even if he does offer you tea and toast!!! True his character is a little bit mixed though he is finally good but the slimey plausibility of his approaches really draw on the stranger danger features!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New light on the Gospel

Just seen images from the St John's Bible over at Real Live Preacher. I have to say it's an expensive book but I think it might just be worth it!

The idea behind the book is to make the Bible as special a book as it should be in the tradition of the great illuminated Gospels such as those created a Lindisfarne. However this new book reflects some of the delightful modern illustrations such as those from Turvey Abbey.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Lion King

Off to see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe tonight with some of our confirmation group (despite one very disappointed boyfriend who was hoping to see it with me!).

Reliably as ever Matt has reviewed the film but I am a little wary of reading reviews in case it spoils anything. Obviously I know what HAPPENS not just in the end but pretty much all the way through but nevertheless I don't want to know which bits are the BEST bits or which bits are different from the book until I see it. I suppose because I DO know more than you normally might about a film I want those thigns which are a surprise to be just that. I want to maintain that air of MYSTERY. I mean an allegory (especially an allegory of the Easter Story) wouldn't be an allegory without some mystery!

Roland: "Who are you?"
Chaucer: "Lilium inter spinas; the lily among the thorns. Geoffrey Chaucer's the name, writing's the game."
(Blank looks from the group)
Chaucer: "Chaucer? Geoffrey Chaucer? The writer?"
Wat: "A what?"
Chaucer: "A wha- a what? A writer! You know, I write, with ink and parchment? For a penny I'll scribble you anything you want, from summonses, decrees, edicts, patents of nobility… I've even been known to jot down a poem or two, if the muse descends. Probably read my book? The Book of the Duchess?
(More blank looks)
Chaucer: "Fine, well, it was allegorical."
Roland: "Well, we won't hold that against you, that's for every man to decide for himself."
A Knight's Tale

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Deck the Lounge

So last night was the now annual tradition of Mike and Wayne helping me decorated my tree (this is the second time - that makes it a tradition!) They'll both be going back to the states for Christmas where all the trees will already be up so we all get into the festive spirit together...

Ok so it's just possible we had a little too much festive spirit (mulled wine) but I think we still managed to make a fairly delightful tree which is flickering at me as I type.

A few lessons learnt though...

drinking mulled wine has its effects...

don't use too much flash ... and never trust a man with a tree growing out of his head!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wherefore art now?

Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.
Here are some of the things I painted/drew whilst I was on retreat.

When I've finished stuffing envelopes full of the monthly mail out and made a phone call I'll try and blog some of the stuff that I reflected on while I was there and some of the things I read on my reading week.

Compton Durville
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Inner Light
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

New Song
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Holy Spirit
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Fresh SNOW

OK so I've been a bit distracted from blogging by the discussions on FRESH EXPRESSIONS and SNOW over at Reluctant Souls. It really is great to be part of a church and indeed this little community within it where we can debate all seriously on the one hand and be INCREDIBLY SILLY on the other! And all because someone thought it would be cool to have animated snowflakes falling down the screen of the blog!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hanging by a thread

Ahead of the more serious stuff coming...

Richard has some links to some great Tshirts and the FABULOUS pics that people have put up to go with them.

Personally I think this looks like it has a lot of potential for an activitiy with young people - photographing Tshirts in appropriate contexts! Good challenge?

(I'd put a pic up but need to ask permission first!) Just go and look! It's not difficult!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Return of the er... well not King

Wonderful few days of retreat without mobile, email, internet, tv or cd player (due to failure to take headphones!!! but all to the good I think).

I was able to be free of distractions and so have a good time to relfect, relax and think. I wasn't in silence as such though much of the day was in silence and lunch on Friday was a silent meal (soup - not a great choice in some ways!)

It was wonderful to join the Franciscan sisters in their life and worship for a few days. I really loved the simplicity of it all.

Yet whilst I was away the world seems to have continued to turn and I was sorry to miss whatever coverage there might have been of Archbishop John Sentamu's wonderful service at York minster this week. The Oxford diocese group were lucky enough to meet this infectiously holy man at Taize this year.

From reading the report in the Church Times it certainly sounds like it was a fantastic spirit-filled occasion.

Just looking to book tickets for our confirmation group to go and see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for next weekend and discovered that Andrew has details of a letter from C.S.Lewis declaring his opposition to any film with live actors being made of the book. He would have been happy with an animation however, thoguh not int ht disney style. I can understand how Lewis would have been reluctant for a film of that era to recreate Narnia but perhaps with modern technology, he would be happy? Though he does say "not Disney!"

Well I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it I think! Ironically I am currently re-reading one of Lewis' other novels, Perelandra and loving it all over again! I strongly recommend it (after the first of the series, Out of the Silent Planet, of course!)

Well during my reading week and retreat I did a bit of reading so look forward to some posting on women in ministry - sorry Mark but it is a relevant topic even it offends some people to bring up the issue of gender - as well as some interesting nuggets of theology that I leafed through in the library at the community - a surprise and a blessing!

I might even post some of the things I painted/drew whilst I was there and you never now I might get head-hunted by some modern art lover somewhere!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Beating an unhasty retreat

Ok so having written about the city based retreat for the Perspectives Journal I am now about to head off on a more traditional SILENT retreat - without internet, laptop or mobile.

Unfortunately that means silence for the blog too. Though at the moment that may not be such a great surprise!

In the mean time, you should all be busying yourselves making Christmas cards or working out six degrees of Jonny Baker from George Bush or Tony Blair.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Picture this!

Ok the world gets MORE AND MORE bizarre!

Apparently my picture has appeared "on the front page of the Missouri Conference Review" which has me confused with someone else and describes me as "a probationary elder from Sedalia now living in England"

Unfortunately I can't get this link to the pdf to work so I can't prove anything. Anyone got any bright ideas?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nine days wonder


Has it really be NINE DAYS since I posted??? Goodness me!

Well appropriately enough I have just opened up Blogged 2005 which has a section from 9 Days Wonder as one of the many entries of various blogs from across the country this year.

Well I've still been getting some traffic including someone looking for

"the top 20 signs that you're falling in love"

hmmm... interesting!

I wonder if "failure to blog" gets in that list somewhere!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is it a sign???

Dave has a painfully accurate cartoon this week. No matter what words we put on the signs outside our churches... is this what people see?

Again sorry that there's not been much. I've been partly pleasantly and partly painfully distracted. Painful distraction now done though so pleasant distraction all the way I hope! Oh and maybe a brief blog here and there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

God moves in mysterious ways

Ok so last week I was pretty gutted that I wasn't going away for a placement in a parish in Halesowen and now life has just shown me that God does things for a reason.

There was the chance to see our young people do a great presentation of the Gospel reading on Sunday on the work side. On the personal side it's a bit of a mixed blessing. I've had the chance to spend some decent time getting to know some friends I wouldn't have had a chance to know and I've been able to be around for something that I'm needed for. Deo Gratias!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Light dawns

This song has always been one I loved but it seems to be hanging with me at the moment :oD

Something is happening
Everything's different but everything is fine yeah
This is the good stuff
Yesterday's only what you leave behind
It's only in your mind

You gotta talk to the One who made you
Talk to the One who understands
Talk to the One who gave you
All the light in your eyes
All the light in your eyes

No use pretending
You never existed until you saw the light yeah
You're just beginning
You haven't missed it-it's all ahead of you
And you know what to do

You gotta talk to the One who made you
Talk to the One who understands
Talk to the One who gave you
All the light in your eyes
All the light in your eyes

Here comes the world and she is beautifully mysterious
She's got it all and you say "Give it to me"

Nobody's happy
That's not the world I know inside
Where everybody hides

You gotta talk to the One who made you
Talk to the One who understands
Talk to the One who gave you
All the light in your eyes
All the light in your eyes

You gotta talk to the One who loves you
Talk to the One who understands
Talk to the One who gave you
All the light in your eyes
All the light in your eyes

Yeah, thank you thank you!
Yeah, everything great and small
Yeah, thank you thank you
For the light in your eyes
For the light in your eyes

Sheryl Crow

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What could be keeping me from blogging...???

Well certainly not hanging out with gringos in the local Mexican restaurant for my birthday... no I wouldn't do that instead of blogging would I???

Great fun guys! Muchas gracias!

20,000 blogs under the see

Wow the counter shows that I have had 20,000 visits sinc I started the blog last year.

Thank you all for stopping by. I'm not sure this was quite what all of you were looking for.

Most recently I've had some people looking for "Mark Berry and Children's TV" and "What are women allowed to do in ministry" as well as the "Shelf-life of prosciutto". I still get a lot of people looking for Menonites and Maya Gold chocolate too. Sorry I have nothing more to say about those really!

Well it's been a little weak on theology in the last couple of weeks and consisted mostly of brief ramblings (of which this is another) but I'm afraid I have been proving the accusation of someone I was speaking to yesterday; "people with blogs don't have real lives!"

I've been somewhat busy communicating directly to people lately not via the blog so apologies to those who have missed it. It doesn't get better either. I'm going off to stay with my bestest next weekend and then off on a reading week and a retreat both of which should produce much thought but I don't know if it will all convert into much blogging. I vow to be back with somethign meatier soon.

God bless


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Saintly aid

Been on a two day course to renew my appointed first aider at work certificate this week with St John's Ambulance. It was incredibly reassuring to realise just how much of this stuff I do know how to do!

Today was the assessment and I passed - hurrah!

Part of the assessment involved the assessor asking me what incidents I'd had to deal with since I qualified before. This took SOME TIME!!! I'd had to deal with far more incidents as part of youth work (and actually two or three walking down the high street!) than most of the other people on the course and Max says she had a similar experience too! Perhaps we should make more of this as Ian says.... maybe we are the 17th emergency service!!!

I think my favourite part of today though was leading a game with the people who were waiting for their assessments. We passed a merry half hour of "Fred likes" (with a great one: "Fred likes compressions but he doesn't like rescue breaths" That's one I've not heard before!) and then one of our trainers took up the baton with a game of "I pass these scissors crossed" ( "oooh Fred likes scissors!!!") Personally I thought we should pass the scissors closed and by holding the blade!!! ;oP Then one of the other trainess led us in "In my shop I bought a...." All good fun!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bore me creative!

The source of some great online video clips and sillinesses, has teamed up with Channel 4 to bring you the UK's first viral competition.

"For those who haven't cottoned on yet, virals are what we show on Bore Me. So I'm inviting you to make your own, send it in and, hey presto, your hard labour could be rewarded with some cool prizes and exposed to the world.Enough waffling - just get those creative juices flowing.

But remember, this is with Channel 4 so please, no defamatory, indecent or illegal stuff - we may laugh but it'll go no further. Lawyers love virals too but also have families to feed.Find out more

Closing date is Monday 5th December.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Woolhope (and that's all!)

Great day out with Mr youthblog himself visiting Woolhope residential centre which he loves and which will be the base for our church youth holiday next year. Fabulous setting and really cosy. I can see our group having an amazing time there and my mind is alreay racing with ideas of what we can do when we're there and how we'll use the space!

woolhope 007
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Thanks for the intro, Ian and for the eclectic soundtrack!!!!

Tomorrow and Thursday I'm off on a refresher/renewal course for my First Aider at Work certificate. Should be interesting.

Not so Mystery Worshipper

Barrie visited All Saints on Sunday as part of his Church Tour and has put up a review.

Highlights for me

"9.45 - odd time for a service" Something that seems so NORMAL to people who have been there for years and yest so strange to outsiders - worth thinking about!

"top for welcome" The welcome team will be pleased!

We also seem to boast a vicar with Mr Benn like abilities to appear "as if by magic" ;oP

Glad you felt welcome and didn't hate it completely, Barrie!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Shakespeare Spinning

Ok so I was ALL excited to hear that there was going to be a modern version of Much Ado About Nothing on BBC1 and I'm watching and enjoying it but... well... it's just not Shakespeare is it? Ok so it's the PLOT and some of the ideas of the original play but... the words... I mean that's pretty much the vital element of a Shakespearean play yes?

I mean where are great interchanges like this:

Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of
Signior Benedick.

Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave
him use for it, a double heart for his single one:
marry, once before he won it of me with false dice,
therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.

It may be the story which is superb but have we come to this that we can't even manage to have the original because it's too complicated?

Nevertheless was still sighing in the scene when Beatrice and Benedick almost admit their love (maybe because it had PROPER Shakespeare! Oh that a lovely man would read me something like this:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
Sonnet 116

The Parish Chest

Had a wonderful morning delving into the Parish chest at All Saints with my friend Wayne who was looking for documents relating to the church and its reaction to the first world war. I was looking at all kinds of church records and bizarre books that the church has accumulated for some reason. We amended the record of what one of the books was because I could translated the Latin to show it wasn't a Thesauraus but a Treasury of the Rites of the Church (Thesaurus ritualis) and commentary on the breviary and the missal - very cool! It was bound in vellum and everything, dating from the seventeenth century. Also some wonderful visitors books from the last thirty years with some hilarious fake entries from some comedians among the trite "beautiful church" comments.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hale and farewell

Apologies for some relative blog silence this week but I've been rushing around trying to sort things out before going off on a parish placement for four weeks in several churches in Halesowen.

Unfortunately I learnt this weekend that I'm not going to be able to go on placement as the accomodation they had organised for me has fallen through and they've tried but failed to find an alternative.

So instead I am going to be on a week of study and a week of retreat and I may also slot in the last few days of leave I have left for this year. Then it'll be back to work!

Anyway this should mean the blog gets at least a bit of a look in over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fiat Looks

Hey fantastic link from another Fiat Panda owner!

To all those young people who think my car is "cool!" (poor deluded things!!!) now you can make your own. I bet it might go faster than mine though!!!

In honour of this great boxy idea I thought I'd put up a pic we took at the mural painting session at the school. I managed, unintentionally to park my car on the "road" painted on the playground!! For once it looks like I own a BIG car hehe!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The anitdote to blog quizzes

Ok for all those of you (*cough* Mark *cough*) who object to those quizzes which people do and then put results on their blogs, there's a special little quiz which I stumbled across yesterday.

Are you a frankly unfriendly catholic?
... turns out I'm not. :oD

(note: the site is rather sarcastic and takes an extremely pointed view of certain elements of the church. The fainthearted may wish to look away... now)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sermon 30th October evensong


Old Testament Reading Daniel 7.1-18

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagles wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a mans heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

New Testament Reading Luke 6.17-31

And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of mans sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

The first reading we heard this evening came from the book of Daniel. This is a book which has a mixed history. Children know well the story of Daniel in the lion’s den and of the three young men in the fiery furnace, Shadrach Meschach and Abednego and yet it is also a text with elaborate dreams and visions such as the passage we heard this evening. So what is this book about?

The book of Daniel falls into two distinct sections. It tells first of Daniel and his companions in the first 6 chapters then there are six chapters dedicated to Daniel’s dreams.

The book as a whole, scholars agree, was written after the desecration of the temple in 168 and before its restoration in 165 under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The second section dates from that time whereas chapters 1-6 are collected from the diaspora era. This was probably based on an oral tradition from the time of Alexander. Daniel is not perhaps so much an historic figure as a figure of legend reinterpreted by the author. The way that the character Daniel appears in other apocryphal texts like Susannah and Bel and the Dragon is reminiscent of the retelling of legends of Hercules and other heroes in secular literature.

Chapter 7 from which our passage comes takes cardinal place uniting the two sections of the book. Chapters one to six establish the life and character of Daniel and Chapters 8-12 are essentially a commentary on chapter 7. It’s also worthy of note that Chapter 7 is curiously a chapter written in partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic. Chapter 7 is also connected to chapter 2 which retells the king’s dream of four kingdoms.

So this is the history of the composition of the text but what of its meaning?

The passage paints a vivid picture such as to fire the imagination of great painters into painstaking recreation of the images involved:

The great storm churning up the waters of the sea and from that chaotic action the coming fourth of four huge beasts:
The first like a lion with eagle’s wings
The second a bear ravaging three ribs in its mouth
The third a four-headed beast like a leopard with four black birdlike wings
The fourth beast, the most terrifying of them all, with 10 horns and human eyes. Portrayed by some artists like a triceratops

Then we see the ancient of days on a fiery throne with wheels of fire sending out a river of fire which destroys the four beasts.

Then in contrast to the chaotic arrival of the four beasts, a man comes from heaven amidst clouds. This man is led to the figure on the throne and:
Verse 14 quote.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The passage then continues to explain the significance of the four beasts as four kingdoms

These are generally agreed to be the four great kingdoms: Babylonians, Medes with the Persians, Hellenists or Greeks and the Roman empire.

And the last figure of course is associated with Christ

The beasts in the vision emerge from chaos whereas the son of man emerges from glory.

These great kingdoms will fall away but the kingdom led by the one who comes from heaven will not fade.

Yet many have gone further than the basics of this interpretation. For example in the medieval period the book of Daniel was the source for a book giving guidance on interpreting dreams and one man, named Joachim of Fiore used the book to describe the end not just of these kingdoms but of all kingdoms. His apocalyptic interpretation was picked up by the English Chronicler at St Alban’s. Matthew Paris’ used Joachim’s interpretation of this passage which described “a time two times and half a time” (verse 25) to predict the world’s end in 1250 (though he revised this somewhat dramatically in 1251).

Joachim and Matthew among many others treated the book of Daniel as a puzzle which required solving. The modern world is buzzing with all that lies within The Da Vinci Code, seeking desperately for a deeper mystery, but the Book of Daniel has been inspiring such reflection and puzzlement for many more years. Yet this passage of Daniel and similar passages in other books are more than puzzles and it is wrong to treat them as that as it devalues them. As Br John of Taize has said

“There is a love of the arcane and the convoluted, and the mystery of God is in danger of being reduced to a riddle or puzzle to be solved.”

The book of Daniel portrays the end times as this world outside attacking the kingdom until one comes to destroy the kingdoms of the earth yet as our second reading demonstrates Jesus is the one who comes and declares the kingdom is HERE the kingdom is NOW.

Our bible study should be informed by study and by history but it should not spiral into a fascination with the curious and the mysterious world of visions. It is important to understand the meaning of passages such as those in Daniel yet it is far more important for us to turn to the Good News such as the words of Jesus in our second reading.

The importance of the kingdom of God does not lie in the understanding of the complexities of Daniel’s vision but in the outliving of Jesus’ desire for his people. God’s kingdom is not built upon the destruction of the earthly kingdoms but in the transformation of the hearts of his people.

Quote first beatitude.
Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

Translated so much more clearly, for me in the modern translation:

God blesses those who realize their need for him; for the kingdom of Heaven is given to them

These beatitudes speak of God’s way for us to live and God’s rewards in opposition to the world’s way and the world’s rewards:

The kingdom of God does not lie in the overpowering of humanity. It is given to us. Yet we must be ready to receive it.

But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

How can we be ready? Well it is not great mystery. It is not something that needs deep demystification and explanation. It is there clear for us:

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

The Mystery of God does not lie in the mysterious nature of of the details of visions like those of Daniel. The Mystery of God is that in spite of all we do to destroy God’s kingdom, God still welcomes each one of us and calls us to the kingdom.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Shake ripple and roll...

Glorious day in Brighton yesterday.

Met up with some people from Taize who I haven't seen in a while and as predictable Chris, Eleanor and Jo were lovely and Ben was teasing me within three minutes!

The House on the Rock which is their base for their community project is looking great. They're still working on the website but I promise a link to it when they finish that!

Anyway after tea and chat Chris and I wandered into town (FABULOUS SHOPS :oD) and stopped off for a milkshake at Shakeaway (which even has a funky game on the website!). Chris had Pineapple and Jamaican ginger cake shake while I had Chocolate and cherry with snowball - deLIcious. I can't believe this is the place that they have in Reading and I've still not got there yet!!!! Next time DEFINITELY. There's also one in Southampton (certain readers might know more about this than others!!!)

Then I had Tunch (like Brunch but later - so I'm told - tea and lunch) at Momma Cherri's with James. Really cool music and a great atmosphere. It's a friendly but slightly disorganised place. While we were there someone answered the phone and put it down then left the poor person on hold for like ten minutes because she forgot!

Then we had a lovely walk along the sea front with a beautiful sunset and a further wander round the shops before a pint and back to see Chris and drive him to his SPEAK meeting

Friday, October 28, 2005

Rock-a-bye baby

Ok this has been up on several sites and I don't always nick posts from elsewhere but it's a Friday and I'm on leave so...

Check these out!

I particularly like Baby Bumble Bee in the style of Sum 41 which is number 2 on the previews.

Question is should I buy this for the youth group. I think they might love it!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Great Scot!

Fabulous few days in Edinburgh visiting my friends Mike and Sue and also Wayne who’s been up there buried in some archives.

It was gloomy and moody my first full day there and then today it was bathed in brilliant sunshine and was simply stunning. I tried haggis with neeps and tatties and then today had a somewhat more delectable fish kebab at an Italian restaurant which battles with the chocolate soup I had at the emporium of that name as top nosh for my time here.

I did do things other than eat of course! In fact I have hardly stopped walking round the amazing city , eyes open wide and drinking in all the delights Edinburgh presents. The juxtaposition of Arthur’s seat with the city really is incredible. There’s a bustling city right slap bang next to a huge craggy hill – it’s just stunning! There was the fabulous trip up Calton hill today with splendid views of the city and of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags. Wayne and I also had a pleasant stroll around the National Gallery of Scotland including the delights of Vermeer’s Jesus at the house ofMary and Martha and some other spectacular landscapes. There was also some absolutely wonderful modern stained glass at the castle and both cathedrals (of Episcopal church and church of Scotland).

I’m now travelling down the east coast with absolutely spectacular views of the sea and rolling hills with glorious blue skies. It is true what they say; on a clear day you can see forever! I’ve had the delights of seeing Newcastle upon tyne and Durham cathedral as well as sheep in curiously precarious places and lots of fabulous coastline. Seeing the sea today makes me even more keen to go to Brighton on Saturday (if it is at ALL possible for me to be more keen!) and meet some friends and even get to eat at Momma Cherri’s soul food shack.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Being paid peanuts!

Thanks to Ian C from our Taize group for this one. It's a real encouragement to me in my youth ministry. I hope it is for you too.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read them straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." (Charles Schultz)

(SLH: what if you're IN Australia, though? ah well....)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Wallace and Grommit

Just seen Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit... FANCHEESYTASTIC

Oh seriously it was hysterical!

Some of the puns were SHOCKINGLY bad (I think they must have all sat down and said "right, what rabbit words can we get to mean something else????!!!" and used ALL of 'em) but I ended up clapping some bits they were so good (as did the guy next to me!).

The rabbits are just PERFECT (and a little ewok like in places!) the gadgets are as stupendous as ever and I could watch it al over again right now.

Before it was a little short based on the penguins from Madagascar which seemed really good until the main feature outshone it SO categorically.

I was particularly thrilled to see some lovely little Latin jokes tucked away in there (will need to watch again to catch a few others) as well as some grate (!) works of literature.

Anyone who had any doubts that Nick Park could pull off a full length feature must be eating there words by now.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mural high ground

Fabulous day painting the mural at High Wycombe CofE school. We watched it "nearly" rain all day though fortunately never really make it while we were there.

This painting day follows a scarily long process of design with the children of the school and with our
teenagers and it's still not entirely finalised but it was wonderful to see that white wall getting less white and I'm thrilled that we're going to have made a mark on
the place for many years to come.

All we have to do now is work out which two miracle stories to put in the boxes! We've got the Nativity, the Last Supper and Easter in three and two blank for the moment. We want a miracle story that is easily understood from a single picture.

Then when we're done there it's over to the adjacent wall for what had been planned to be the parables of Jesus but we're not so sure now! The wall has been refaced to create a completely different shape with a sep and a shelf which just cries out for something on split levels. I'm repressing the medievalist in me who wants to design a doom!

All exciting stuff

Then this evening we had a cool session picking tracks for our new youth band to start learning. Some of the tracks had to come with a warning

***Sarah WILL dance to this track - You have been warned!!!***

It is a sad truth that I have reached that age when at least SOME people think I'm not cool enough to boogey on down and strut my funky stuff and it isn't even my OWN children telling me - I thought I'd have at least until then to shake it on down!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lend a hand

Some fabulous little sketches from Lejo which Ian flagged up.

I particulalry love this one and this one is a close second!

Fans of fingerbobs... welcome to the 21st century :D

Lad's day out

The first proper post has gone up on Fem in YM....

Check it out.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blogging is essentially selfish?

At the panel discussion on blogging at Greenbelt 05 somebody posed the question:
"Aren't bloggers essentially arrogant" and in many ways blogging can be a fairly self-centred "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" activity. However as with all failings, I think an awareness of the failing is the beginning of combatting it.

Well some of us see a blog as not only a place for individuals but for communities. I know I certainly network much more effectively with some people through reading their blogs and commenting and welcoming comments from others on my musings. Yet some take this a step further.

There are already some blogs out there which have more than one author but Ben over at Reluctant Soul (d3parture as was!) is inviting people to join his blogging community. I feel ever so pleased to have been asked to contribute to this first. Anyone else interested in exploring how this community could work in a blog please do leave a comment. Some of you may even have had an invite already.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

old enough to be in a Museum!

Just popped into Wycombe Museum where my picture (with one of our young people) is forming part of an exhibition about places of worship in the town. How exciting!

Will upload pic at some point!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pumpkin Time

Eaton centre
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.
This time last year I was in Canada and was reminded of that fact today by the most ridiculous thing. I was sitting in Blackwell's in Oxford with a view of the Sheldonian and the Bodleian and yet I was looking at a coffee and a butternut squash panino (yum!) and it reminded me of the spiced pumpkin latte I grew somewhat fond of at the Starbucks in the Indigo bookshop in the Eaton Centre where I waited to meet Kerry from work so we good catch the streetcar home together (sigh!).

Actually I think I should be banned from book shops as I was "just popping in" to purhase A Short Introduction to Theology whih is on my CYM students' reading list but which I've not read (not that I don't KNOW some... but you know!) so as I was in the theology section at Blackwells...

FAR too many books later I sat in Caffe Nero with said coffee and panino (there were caramelised onions too - hmmm) about to read the book I had atually carried WITH me. Which is only fair Isuppose as it was one of my main reasons for being there. I was having a BIG VISION and planning session. I've found myself rather caught up with (very necessary) minutiae recently and felt the need to step back and reassess the programme and all that jazz. The book in question, Kenda Creasey Dean's, Praticing Passion has particular relevance for two reasons. Firstly it is a book which is all about foussing our efforts on the theology or "why? factor" of our ministry rather than the programme. Secondly I needed to find a passage I wanted to slip inot the first blog post of Fem in YM which is going up at the end of this week one it has final editorial approval from the both of us!

Somewhat ironically I ended up working out the programme for the next eighteen months but, in many ways, that isn't ABOUT programme as about balance and finding the spaces to do training sessions which sometimes get squeezed out if I don't plan ahead.

Veni Video Vici

I can't believe I missed the fact that there's a new Roman drama coming onto BBC 1. Apparently they're having to defend it against accusations of explicit content. James Purefoy (humina humina) of Knight's Tale glory features in the trailer and as my hopes of him being the next James Bond have been disappointed it's good news to know that he'll be on our screens again soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Wedding

Apologies but I was a little too busy over the weekend to put anythng up o
n he
use I was at my friend's wedding. It was a fabulous time especially getting the chance to boogey on down with "me colleagues" and the inspired choice of bacon butties for the evening me
al was most welome indeed! The reception was at a local brewery and AMAZINGLY no-one made any jokes about organising anything there during the speeches! I think my choice moment has to be a little after the fact. One of my friends was given a table decoration to take home but she got a little worse for wear later on so I took charge of it and decided to return it to her the next day. She had only partial recollection of the night's events at that point and when I handed her the flowers saying, "Oh I believe this is yours" she responded, "Oh blimey I didn't nick it, did I????" Pure class!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Story time

WhichJo has flagged up a new progamme starting soon called The Story of God. It's going to be hosted by Robert Winston (he of fertility treatment fame) who has presented quite a few programmes on human beings' health and psychology. There's an article about it over at the Guardian.

Now is it just me or has the profile of religion in TV got a bit higher? All to the good I think.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Taize community and MOTHER church

In contrast to the discussion at our FRESH network, I've been following various discussions about the Taize community on another site recently which have called into question the integrity of that community and its validity. I've found the comments some people have made about it rather shocking for their visciousness and negativity. People have questioned whether the community actually preaches the gospel, builds up the kingdom and leads people to faith or if instead it opens up paths to the occult. This was such a shocking accusation especially as it came from Christians. Then today I received the newsletter from Taize and there was a passage exploring a very similar issue. It reflects on the pasage in the Gospel of Mark which described Jesus' own family coming close to calling his ministry into question. It reminded me that even Jesus faced opposition from good people with good intentions but confused ideas about what God's will is for his creation:

"Being Christ's brother or sister or mother"
Mark 3:31-35: In this passage, Christ uses a small incident as a starting-point to express something important about what it means to be close to him. His family, worried by the unexpected course his life is taking, come looking for him. When their arrival is announced, he responds with a startling question: Who are my mother and my brothers? … "Doing God's will" or "putting God's will into practice" does not mean following an arbitrary set of rules or submitting to orders that first have to be deciphered and then carried out. It implies a dynamic of trust. If we come to understand, however tentatively, that God loves us, little by little it becomes clear that God's will for us is his love, and nothing else. Trust in this leads to a desire to do what pleases him, a desire that can take root spontaneously and naturally. And what pleases him is nothing other than to love in our turn. It is by entering this dynamic of trust, even if we understand it only a very little, that we find ourselves counted by Christ as his brothers, sisters, and mothers.

Why are "those who do God's will" more important to Christ even than his own family?
What does "doing God's will" mean for me?
What could it mean for me to be Christ's brother or sister or mother?

Monthly Bible meditation from Taize