Monday, February 28, 2005

London BABY!

My plans this morning were to go to Canterbury and build a FANTASTIC snowman with my friend Craig because there was LOTS OF SNOW down in Kent.

Trouble was...there was LOTS OF SNOW down in Kent so all the trains from London got cancelled. So there I was in London. At first I was grumpy that there would be no snowman building but then I remembered that I LOVE wandering around London.

I ambled from Charing Cross to Trafalgar square where the sunshine was just glorious:

Then I wandered towards the Church House bookshop via Whitehall and caught the news headlines!

Yes the guys from Fathers for Justice were out again. This time on the corner of Downing Street (which I tried to get in the shot but failed)

Then I went to Westminster Abbey and had another look at the new statues over the West door

with a particular focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer as I am just reading Life Together and I've also, today, purchased The Cost of Discipleship.

A very picturey day really!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ten things...

Well here's an idea borrowed from Peter: His are way better than mine but clearly he's more exciting than me.

Ten Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't:

1. Played the role of a pregnant woman in a youth video project.
2. Believed I was born in a tent for an embarrassingly large part of my childhood.
3. Performed Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall.
4. Eaten lunch at the BBC opposite Bill Giles the weatherman.
5. Nearly been sold by my mates to Belgian man when we were on holiday in France.
6. Been interviewed on Channel Four lunchtime news.
7. Deliberately failed at Limbo.
8. Sold my talent as a Latin motto writer at an auction
9. Told a gathering of 500 Scouts that as a child you always wanted to be a pirate.
10. Allowed a student to enter my classroom with two buckets of gravy.

The gauntlet is down... Go on blogging pals. Spill!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Falling for someone...?

Through the post today I received something that I had requested earlier this week. It's an information pack about from Iain Rennie Hospice at Home about doing a charity parachute jump for them.

IRHH is an excellent local charity which provides at home care and support for terminal patients. They were absolutely wonderful when my mum was ill and I'm now part of a team which run a two day holiday club for bereaved children with whom they've had contact. I love doing the Chrysalis club because it is a really practical way of supporting a charity which did so much for me. It is using my talents rather than demanding my money and I think we all need to do some stuff that isn't just about puting our hands in our pocket as part of our giving. Somewhat ironically that's a bit more difficult when you're in a job, like youth work, which is essentially doing that a lot of the time.

So I KNOW that this is agood cause and deserves support.

Anyway what I want to know is...

Who thinks I should commit to raising a minimum of £375 to jump out of a plane for Iain Rennie?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Proud to Present Publishing People

Tim has finally given in to pressure and begun his own blog with the great neame of Deputy Blog. Fantastic bit of cartoon inspiration! From the looks of things he may run out of things to say when he reaches the end of the P section in the dictionary but it seems a fairly eclectic selection so far.

In order to help with his inspirational requirements...

any suggestions of good (clean) P words for him to use as starting points?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Carnival is NOT over

Christian Carnival continues, offering you access to a choice selection of Christian blogging.

Ok there might be just a SLIGHT ulterior motive for sending you over there... yes I get a feature :oD

Seriously guys I suggest you have a look at the plethora of theological reflection and debate.

Also why don't you think about submitting one of your best recent blogs to the next carnival on 2nd March at Crossroads?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The more it snows...tiddely pom

Well I'd be lying if I didn't say I was excited because it had SNOWED last night before I went to sleep and this morning it's STILL HERE.

However we have got rather woossy SOUTHERN snow!

According to my housemate there was a little more when she left for work at a SCARY time of the morning but right now it looks pretty but not dangerous to drivers.

So no sledging today but... I've got a full day of interviewing people anyway so I'm not FREE to go sledging!

Looks pretty but isn't dangerous... the best of both worlds!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Simo the Snowman

Simo has made us all a little bit jealous cos HE had REAL snow :(

Ah well... Welcome to the blogosphere Simo!

There's no Business like Snow Business


I just got very excited by the precipitation of snow that actuallyLOOKED like snow. Big flakes and EVERYTHING.

However as I began uploading the picture it stopped

Still... it was cool!

Though it doesn't look like I'll be needing a sledge!

Freshen Up!

I spent Sunday afternoon with a group from FRESH NOISE clearing up rubbish at a parade of shops in Downley.

It was really cold but great fun. We made a pretty good impact on the place filling at least twenty black bin liners with rubbish and debris from the shops.

This was just one of many projects around the town that got loads of young people engaged in doing something for their community!

Let it snow

O the weather outside is... well NOT FRIGHTFUL!

I joined last night with Pete's sentiment of excited expectation at the prospect of snow today.

However I'm lazing about at home on my day off (having decided that travelling anywhere unnecessary would be daft with the forecast) and yet... well there is NO SNOW here.

There was something that cannot event be called a flurry of stuff that was so small it looked like rain. The Eskimo people must have a word for it (they have - how many words for snow is it??)

Looking at the silver lining though - the news has just said that snow IS COMING later. Shame really. I was hoping to have some to play in today. Now it might actually be inconvenient tomorrow especially for those peopel travelling here for the Community Missioner interviews and those driving them around the town on tours.

Friday, February 18, 2005

ave atque carnivale

Just picked up on a Carnival of Christian blogging for your delectation!

Hope along over to Wittenburg Gate for the Catholic Carnival and have a look at the people who have set out their wares at the blogosphere fair.

Conference Pair

Just a quick one to point you to Ben's blog entry about the stuff he's learned from his conference of the Interschools Christian Fellowship and what he's been reading from all the matrix conference bloggers.

Smartie PANTS

This is truly an annus horribilis!

Not only have we had to face up to the shocking truth that Nestle now owns Rowntree and therefore anyone boycotting Nestle must boycott SMARTIES :o( NOW we hear this morning that they are going to CHANGE the Smarties packaging. The Smarties TUBE is going!

They're going to have some hideous hexatube and the plastic lid with the letter of the alphabet is going too!

It truly is a sad day.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Theology of Relativity

Thanks to Ales Rarus for posting this quotation:

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
Albert Einstein

So what does that say to us about heaven? It seems like a minute?

I had some interesting comments on the whol Speed of Light theology. Kathryn tells me that Colin is apparently uncertain of the validity of the basis of relativity for the theology Tony Campolo was speaking about and Lev expressed concern that we start from science in our theology. Campolo was worried when we start from the cerebral in our theology.

So is the place to start in our heart? Surely that could lead us to picture God in our own image?

Of course an obvious starting place is the Bible but it is fascinating how little that text actually speaks about the nature of God. It SHOWS the nature of God but the word trinity never features, for example.

This is really the age old debate...

Where is the focus of your faith?

The Bible
The Holy Spirit

How do those relate?

It's interesting that there are three of them. How very Trinitarian!

The emphasis that we place as Christians on those three says a lot about us as individuals I think. I'm rather inclined to say that, just like the Holy Trinity, they are inextricably linked and with no hierarchy as we think of hierarchy and to be Moltmannian for a second, it is more important to focus on how those RELATE to each other than to worry about structure.

A CLOSER encounter of the second kind

Ok so this evening I'd arranged to go to the cinema with some friends to see Sideways. This is a film I've been intrigued by since I saw the trailer in Canada in October. However it turned out that Sideways wasshowingtoo late so my friends bought tickets for Closer which I had,in fact already seen. Oops!

Now there are many films that I have watched several times. There are few I have seen more than once at the cinema (notably Bruce Almighty - first time as youthworker work, second time as mate, third time with guy I liked as the only alternative to Piglet the big movie) but Closer is not one I would have planned to see twice.

Not only does it contain an extremely GRAPHIC internet sex scene which is pretty embarrassing to watch WITH anyone but it depicts four unempathetic characters whose lives are not to be envied or emulated.

Watching the film a second time round I was able to reflect more deeply on their lives and the complete emptiness of their reltionships because of a lack of true love and forgiveness. The four characters all talk of love and forgiveness but it is lacking in TRUTH. They focus on telling the TRUTH as opposed to lying about their transgressions yet their honesty is BRUTAL and hurtful.

Jude Law's character is compelled to demand the truth even though it destroys his relationships. Yet most distressingly, although he is flawed, Dan is kinder and gentler than Clive Owen's character and still it is Dan who loses the girl (more times than I can count!) and loses his hope.

The world of Closer was like another world to me. I felt the people in it lived according to different rules and, I suppose they did. For me Christianity is so cnetral to my life that I sometimes assume that spirituality is at the centre of the lives of ALL people.

Seeing the film a second time reminded me that there is a whole world of people out there for whom that film would have resonated. People who, like Julia Roberts' character, have such a low opinion of themselves that they do not think they ought to have happiness and fulfillment.

Christians really are "in the world but not of the world". We are called to "shine as points of light" in what is for so many a dark world. If we look at the world through the eyes of Christ we see as Campolo said, "that their anger is hurt."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Through the eyes of LOVE...

Well I gave you a little something a bit lighter but I'm afraid the stuff from the Matrix conference is STILL making my head buzz with ideas.

Also my bible study this morning referenced to a passage that I looked at with new eyes after the insights of Tony Campolo. In the Gospel of John, we're told that Jesus said to his disciples:
"I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the FATHER WILL GIVE YOU WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME." John 15.16

Now a lot of people over the years have taken this as the ultimate open wishlist but Campolo's invitation to be IN CHRIST brings, for me, a whole new meaning to this. It is not tha, by asking in Christ's name that the Father will give us whatever we ask, it is, rather, when we put ourselves in the mind of Christ and pray that we get, not what WE want but what we ask, which is of course what Christ wants.

When he wastalking about looking through the eyes of Christ, Campolo made reference to the Catholic use of stations of the cross. The labyrinth we have set up in All Saints' is based on this same concept and follows Christ through the Easter story. It is still not quite finished but I have a few pics to give you a taster.

The journey begins with the celebrity of Palm Sunday symbolised here by the bright colours of clothes Jesus would have seen laid down before him as he entered Jerusalem, the palm crosses and the photo mad lifestyle magazines of today.

We also follow Christ to see the water that Pilate used to wash his hands of the guilt of Jesus' persecution.

Another image on the journey of Christ is the pile of nails. A painful reminder that to look through the eyes of Christ is to feel the pain Christ feels.

Things that make you go hmmmm

There are certain things in life, you may have noticed, that make you realise that despite all the VERY mature external things in life, deep down, you're just a big kid dressed up as an adult. For me these have recently been:

1. Sitting over breakfast as people are discussing theology and the Eucharist over their grapefruit, muesli and croissant... while I tuck into coco pops and boiled egg with dippy soldiers!

2. Setting up a labyrinth which involved filling a sand tray so we could put footprints in it... and wanting to make a sandcastle!

3. Finding yet ANOTHER jar of chocolate spread is nearly finished.

4. Defending the fact that jelly is COOL and a proper food stuff to my colleagues.

5. Being in a pancake race... and discussing tactics which involved the words "and then just leg it!"

6. Pulling a face when someone tried to make me eat nasty manky runny soup (the flavour of which was never discovered!)

Any other experiences people?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Speed of Light

Even though it's been several days since Matrix now, I have still got quite a lot of the things Tony Campolo said buzzing around my head. The fascinating thing has been the different stories people have told from the conference in various blogs in the blogosphere (Alice, Ian, Kathryn, Lev, Pete and Roy)

We have all heard what Tony Campolo said in different ways. Various aspects struck each of us in particular and those have been the things we've focussed on. It reminded me of the session I went to on Theology of/with young people in which Bob Mayo was proposing a move away from the relational model of Youth ministry to a kind of relational model 2.0 which he calls a narrative model. This moves the focus of working with young people away from stressing the importance of building a relationship with the young person to sharing stories with young people. Hearing their stories and enabling them to retell their story with God in it and inviting them to become part of God’s story.

Bob used as an example the four different gospels and how their authors each viewed the world through Christ’s eyes and yet also through their own. In the same way, we youth workers seem to have seen the matrix conference through our own eyes and through Christ’s
So, through my eyes…

The thing that has stuck with me over the last few days has been Tony Campolo’s assertion that we need to be thinking in terms of a more modern theology. He based his theology on the Einsteinian theory of relativity, proposing that God works at the speed of light. This resonated a great deal with me and helped me answer a few questions about God’s omniscience and prayer.

If God works at the speed of light then to Go everything is happening at once. “I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Through Christ God experiences the way that WE see the world but this was not in the past, this was not something by which God was CHANGED, this was part of God, yesterday today and tomorrow. There is no question of God knowing something before it happened or predestining people for anything. God knows. There is no time scale of before and after.

This really reminded me of psalm 139:

“Before a word is on my tongue, Lord
You have known its meaning through and through
You are with me beyond my understanding
God of my present my past and future too.”

This makes sense of prayer to me. Through prayer we get a glimpse of the world at the speed of light and through the eyes of Christ. Through prayer we connect with this God who is past, present and future.

Campolo spoke about prayer and our tendency to “pray stupid” treating God like “some transcendental Santa Claus” but he had some reassurance for us, too. He said:“Don’t be afraid to pray stupid!” because that is the role of the Holy Spirit, our advocate. The Holy Spirit hears our stupid prayer and turns it into something beautiful and eloquent when God hears it.

Everybody needs some BODY

Well the labyrinth is now complete save for the BODY element. We need to create something that looks like Jesus' body in the tomb. There are complicated instructions involving chicken wire in the book we've used as the basis of our labyrinth. There has been talk of pillows, papier mache, shop mannikins and many other things but no body as yet. I could do a cheesy theological bid for the fact that it is still only lent and we have not got to the point of the body in the tomb yet but that would be mostly unspeakable!! Parituclarly considering that, as Tony Campolo said, at the speed of light it is all happening at once. So I suppose, at the speed of light, we have got the body!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lead us not into temptation...

I had the privilege of hearing yet another of my young people give a talk in church. Ben did great and he's put his talk up on his blog so take a look. He talked about temptation in Genesis 2 and in Matthew's account of Jesus' temptation after his time in the wilderness.

Although having young people amaze me with their wisdom sometimes makes wonder whether I should hang up my preaching bands I also find it so wonderful to be able to encourage them in it.

Our church is pretty traditional but the people are really good at being open to young people being involved at the heart of worship and are genuinely pleased and proud to see our young people sharing their faith. I'm not sure which of them please me most the wise young people or the wise congregation. Well they're just ALL SAINTS I suppose!! ;o)

Going round in circles

We've just finished sticking down the tape for the beginning of our labyrinth in church for Lent. At the moment it consists of 7 concentric circles in blue masking tape which tomorrow we'll be turning into a proper labyrinth with turns and an entrance so I really DID spend my afternoon going round in circles!

This is not ours but hopefully ours will look this soon!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Feedback... or is it White Noise?

After feedback from a few sources recently I've changed my picture on the blog. Any thoughts anyone?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Matrix reloaded

Can't believe no-one else from Matrix has used that as a title!

Well aside from the meet and greet element of the conference there were also some excellent sessions to feed the imagination with some inspiration and innovation (the themes of the conference).

Tony Campolo was on fire with passion for the truth of the radical gospel of Jesus. He first encouraged us to be of the same mind as Christ (Philippians 2.5)
so that when faced with conflict
"Through the eyes of Christ, you'll see that their anger is hurt"
By looking at the world through Christ's eyes, Campolo proposed that we could seek a unity in the church through love. He told a wonderful story about talking to a group of sociology students and asking them how various religious leaders would react to meeting a prostitute, concluding with the question:
"How did Jesus react when he met a prostitute?"
One student answered quickly
"Jesus never met a prostitute."
Campolo admits a certain self-righteous glee in informing the student that, yes Jesus DID meet a prostitute; that it was recorded in the New Testament.
The student persisted
"No Jesus never met a prostitute."
Only then did Campolo realise that his student had the REAL answer:
Jesus never met a prostitute... Jesus met a person. Jesus saw beyond what others saw. He did not see someone despised by society and judged for what they do. Jesus saw the true person.

Pete's put up some notable quotations which I think is a good idea so I thought I'd appropriate it! So here you go:

"People are as young as their dreams and their visions and as old as their cynicism"
"People ask me 'why do you go to the theatre?' Because church doesn't giveme much hope."
"America is not just a country anymore. It has become a deity. To critique America in America is to critique the only thing they believe in"
"When WE talk about revolution and innovation, we're talking about slight change. He [Jesus] challenged everything and called us to a radical lifestyle."
"Are we ready to welcome the New Jerusalem or are we going to socialise young people to live in Babylon"

Johnny Douglas on church:
"Often annoying, profoundly annoying but never optional!"

Robert Beckford:
"Learning form the failings of those we admire is one way we can be inspired by others"

Post.... ironic

Well having had great intentions to borrow some wi-fi time from Agent K and Ian at the Matrix conference I was instead busy recruiting new bloggers once again!!! So welcome to Pete Maidment and Simo as well as, potentially in the future, to Tim (You KNOW you want to mate!)

Furthermore I got a chance to meet Roy - as we knew we would - but we also met up again with Alice which was VERY cool. I was also introduced to some of those I've seen on the blogroll of others like Jonny Baker and Pete Leveson so they will be joining my blogosphere ranks shortly too. Blogging featured quite heavily overall really both in the topic of conversation, as a starting point for introductions and in the act of blogging itself.

It was a curious sight to see a group of youthworkers all sitting around with their coffee and laptops in front of them, communicating with and about blogs when, in fact, they could have spoken to each other. How like some young people eh? Yet it WAS communication and no less effective than speaking (which we did do plenty of too!)

When I see young people communicating by text and msn and email and discussion boards and pretty much anything except face to face chat I personally see it as a positive thing. These young people ARE communicating. They're not plugged into games or the TV. Even more than that, this kind of communication is far better than those who speak to each other and yet do NOT communicate; those who exchange platitudes instead of exchanging stories, ideas and beliefs.

The boundary of the blogosphere, like the universe, is expanding and expanding! Long may it continue.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

R U Flippin MAD?

Well today is Shrove Tuesday and High Wycombe has marked this for the last five years with a Pancake relay race up and down the High Street.

This year All Saints' church returned to form with a team of myself and two cassocks inhabited by Hazel our verger and Dave our Vicar.

The race is in aid of Shopmobility which is a local charity that provides, free of charge, powered wheelchairs and buggies for those who have difficulty walking around the shops in High Wycombe. This is a really simple idea that makes an all important big difference to people.

There were 12 teams including ours and four heats of three teams at a time in the first round.

We were due to be in the third race against a team from Biffa and a team from ... oh dear... The Wycombe Leisure centre.

Our teams tactics about flipping tactics and the pancake exchange were beginning to seem irrelevant as we line up against these young people in tracksuits!

However, thanks the encouragement from our wonderful supporters, we stormed through to a comprehensove first place in our first heat!

In our second heat we were up against a second team from Biffa. This was a close run race all the way through and our second runner closed the gap and then Dave powered through to a photo finish!

Because it was so close, Dave and I ran in a tie-breaker mini race. I was pleased to see that the tall long-legged guy racing against me really had to get his head down to get a little bit ahead of me and my "litte legs going like crazy" (as Hazel said!!!) and we handed over pretty much even but with them slightly ahead. Then Dave was up against an extremely sprightly looking young chap who just stormed off. They were pretty close but Dave said he knew the guy was ahead of him so he graciously eased off.

This speedy team went on to win the final so we felt pretty justified in coming a close second to them in the semi final!

Well after all that I'm not sure I can really face EATING some pancakes at our Shrove Tuesday party! Hazel was requesting the karaoke machine...

It could be an INTERESTING evening!!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mappa Mundi

Having seen these maps on the sites of Dreamer and Misty I couldn't resist one any longer.

There is something fundamental about those of us who blog - we want to know that SOMEONE is reading and we like it when we know WHO is reading (and preferably that there are lots of them!) It is this rather sad compulsion that makes us all use Blog Explosion and blogclicker to get traffic. I have to say I have found some wonderful blogs that I would NEVER have found without BE and BC but I have also seen plenty I could have lived without!

Without BE and BC I would never have found the romance in the blog or discovered the joys of a walk in winter and a brief rest on the park bench.

This week we should be proving that it IS a small world after all as Ian, Kathryn and I will be meeting Roy who we've got to know through the blogosphere at a conference for youthworkers called Matrix. I'm looking forward to some great times and some blogging via the wonders of someone else's wifi!

History and Poverty

Well I am fresh back from my experience at the night shelter run by St Mary's Somerstown near Euston and I have to say that it was an eye-opening experience.

It was indeed an eyeopener but not for the reasons I might have thought before I went. I spent my time using so MANY facets of my ministry both with a teenager, with another volunteer discussing the issue and the theology of women priests as well as discussing the life of Christ with our guests.

I was terribly daunted at the prospect of helping and sleeping at a night shelter for the homeless so I was very pleased when my friend Ian offered to pick me up on his way from Oxford so we got the opportunity to share our trepidations.

We arrived to meet some of the parishioners who are part of the team who run the shelter as part of a scheme with other local churchs who man seven locations throughout the three coldest months, accomodating thirteen homeless people each night and offering a meal to others too.

Shortly after we'd laid down our stuff and explored the history of the church (founded by the ever so fantastic catholic Oxford Movement) we heard a testimony from Bill who was on the streets for over ten years after family tragedy left him a man broken in will and broken in spirit. He told us about his turn around and his commitment to working with and for people who are on the streets.

One of the most eye-opening things was Bill's account (corroborated by other volunteers) that many of the government statistics about the number of people living on the street are woefully underestimating the myriad of people without a home. On the day that the government announced that there were no more than 250 homeless people in London, Bill walked through London, in a straight line, from the church, just off the Euston road, to the Thames. In that one straight line he counted over 350 people sleeping in doorways and in bin stores. Jan one of the volunteers told us how shelters knew well that the authorities were seeking to hide the true levels of rough sleepers. When counts were made, those counting were restricted to count ony in safe areas, any homeless person spending that night in a shelter was not counted (and of course the counts are done when the authorities ensure that the shelters are full) and others are moved out of the area of the count. The national figure is most likely closer to 100,000 people without a home to call their own. A real eye-opener

Yet this wasn't the greatest shock for me.

No the most amazing thing about meeting these people who spent the night at St Mary's was discovering how much they are NOT terrifying, NOT all drunks and drug addicts, NOT all poorly dressed and unclean. No. They were people, hardly distinguishable from those of us who volunteered to help. Ok some of them clearly had some of the issues you might suspect but there were others that you would NEVER have been able to distinguish from anybody else walking around London. Their levels of education, qualification and sophistication were as varied as those of the volunteers. What they each had in common was their individual, particular story. Some had been on the streets for years and were happy to remain so. Aaron reflected with us that he considered the friends he had met on the streets to be his family. They were the people who knew him whilst his birth family did not understand. Some were clearly deeply troubled by personal tragedy which had caused them to drop out of the society they had been a part of. Others however had not been on the streets long but just had nowhere to go.

Meeting the other volunteers was also a most fascinating experience. Now I have done it once I could easily see myself working in a shelter again. Yes the behaviour of some is uncomfortable and sometimes awkward or down right rude but the majority of people were so very grateful for what you quickly realise really is the LEAST we could do. It has started what I think will be a continuing reflection about what I might do in the future.

An interesting aside - I met a man (one of the volunteers) whose ancestor traced his heritage back to several of the VERY obscure saints I studied for my PhD. I really didn't expect to be discussing Arnulf of Metz and Radegund when I set out yesterday.

Sorry this has been rather a mind-dump of thoughts. I shall be reflecting more on it all but I know there are some people out there who will be wanting to know my thoughts on it all. If you have ever considered volunteering or even better if you have always thought it was something you couldn't POSSIBLY do, open yourself up to this opportunity and volunteer NOW. It is not as frightening as you think and you will connect with humanity in awamzing new ways by letting go of those fears and taking that leap of faith.

Finally, with my recent postings in mind, we really need to think about the log in our own eye here in the UK before we look to the Third World to MAKE POVERTY HISTORY.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Another day in Paradise

Many years ago when I myself was a young person, we went with a group to Iona. There we focussed on the homeless and were asked to do a little sketch based a bit on the good Samaritan.

We came up with different ways that people walking passed a homeless person on the street could react.

They could give money, give food, kick them, ignore them, hug them, take them with them.

When it came to put the sketch together (with Phil Collins' Another Day in Paradise in the background - yes it WAS that long agao!) people suggested that I was the most likely to give the homeless person a hug. I was rather shocked by this and have always felt rather guilty that in fact I DON'T do that. I try to give food when I have it but never money when I see someone begging. I try never to ignore them but I have never hugged a homeless person.

Well tonight I am working in a homeless shelter. It will be interesting to see what happens!


Friday, February 04, 2005

Prayer request

Just heard frommy friend Ben that his uni has been celebrating SHAG week and is rounding off the whole week with a Porn Party on Saturday night.

Can our society reach any greater depths?

The Catholic Society at the uni are going to be offering an alternative event and would appreciate your prayers now in their planning and on the night.

They've been focussing on the following bible passages:
Psalm 2
Wisdom 19
John 1

So please if you can spare five minutes to think or pray for them I know it would be appreciated.

God bless

Deja vu

As I was typing in yet another post about MAKE POVERTY HISTORY campaign. I suddenly thought that I have been saying the same thing rather a lot recently.

It reminded me of Cato the elder, a Roman Senator who stood up EVERY DAY in the senate and at the end of every speech on every subject said these three words
Carthago delenda est

Carthage must be destroyed.

Now of course this wasn't the most loving, charitable or benevolent sentiment but Cato believed that the destruction of Carthage was the only way of securing Rome's safety and prosperity.

Well if he could do it everyday for that long, I think I can afford to say it a few more days even and still not be considered a nutcase! What d'ya think?

History in the making

As I said yesterday, Nelson Mandela was in London yesterday for the MAKE POVERTY HISTORY campaign and my friend Dave was able to be there. He's written up his experiences with pictures so go have a look at that.

Gordon Brown meets today with the other G7 finance ministersa and he seems to be really passionate for change right now. I was rather impressed and I hope it's not all a stunt to get more votes at the next general election. I'd like to think that it is motivated by a devotion to justice and I remain determined to look on that bright side until I receive evidence tothe contrary!

Anyway, even if it IS a bid to win back the traditional Labour voter, if it means an end to world poverty would that matter? Could we REALLY achieve an end to world poverty? Jesus said "the poor are always with you" but could there really be a time when that is no longer true? Wouldn't our food of plenty taste all the sweeter if we knew that there was no-one in this world who was without food?

I heard the speeches from Mandela and from Bob Geldof yesterday (which Dave handily typed in - hurrah for copy and paste!) so for you delectation:

Nelson Mandela:
"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings...
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right; the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom...
Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy but not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up...

Make poverty history in 2005.

Make history in 2005.

Then we can all stand with our heads held high."

However the words of Bob Geldof say it with bluntness and style:

I’m tired of the politics of being nice... I want the politics of responsibility... I’m sick of standing in squares, linking arms for a cause, tear gas and records, I’m sick of this crap... I say again, Feed The World for we starve for justice, hunger for dignity, thirst for an end to degradation and we have nothing to nourish our dreams.”

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Just so...

Following on from what I was saing about MAKE POVERTY HISTORY, There is a large rally of people in London today listening to Nelson Mandela and petitioning the government to take Trade Justice seriously.

I realise that some people won't know what Trade Justice really means so I thought I'd include here a bit of a talk I gave on Trade Justice last year:

The trade Justice movement seeks to persuade the World Trade Organisation that it needs to make Trade fair not in terms of people having freedom to set whatever price they want because that leads to rich countries deliberately under pricing and leaving farmers in poorer countries going out of business. They want trade to fair in terms not of bread but of people.

Unfair trade does not only affect those in poor countries. Farmers in this country receive barely enough to cover the costs of what they produce as the prices are set not by the costs of production but by supermarkets who buy from them.

Trade Justice is not only about those who produce the food we eat. It is also about us. If we are to build a world like that which Jesus talks about. A world in which we love our neighbours, we must not conform to this world; to the ideas of success, gain and competition. We must think about those things that St Paul talked about in his letter to the Philippians

whatever is true,
whatever is honourable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable,

We shouldn’t support Trade Justice simply because it helps people who need it. We should support trade justice because that makes us the type of people that God wants us to be. Not to treat people with patronising charity but to deal fairly with them and so to be people of justice and honour.

The idea behind Trade Justice is not about what is produced but about the people who produce it and the people who trade and the people who consume. It is not about the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'm gonna make me a PROPHET

A friend asked me the other day if I had anything on theology and the film Dogma. I directed him to the series of blogs I did on the film a few weeks ago. Unbelievably I then had a further thought about how the film demonstrates the universality of God's calling for each of us.

My bible study this morning from the Bible Reading Fellowship focussed on Deborah, the rather unlikely choice as a judge over the people of Israel in the book of Judges:

"At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment." (Judges 4.4-5)

My vicar, David has a wonderful way of engaging people with the bible. He says that he often thinks that if HE were God he wouldn't have done it that way but then he ISN'T and God does a pretty good job even if we think God's way is a bit strange sometimes. So maybe God knew what he was doing choosing Deborah even if she was a woman! The Israelites were suffering a series of military defeats and God chooses a non-combatant woman to guide them. It seems rather odd. Yet of course Deborah epitomises God's desire to show us that life is not about what we can do without God but how much we can attune ourselves to God and work with God and others.

The film Dogma contains a rather motley crew of unlikely heroes, the wayward angel Loki who repents of his rampage, the thirteenth apostle Rufus who didn't get to heaven because he forgot the instructions and the last zion Bethany - a mostly lapsed catholic working in an abortion clinic. Yet even more than all these, the PROPHETS are the most unlikely choice of all that God made to prevent the end of the world.

Silent Bob... a PROHPET. I think his name says it all really. You'd think that someone who doesn't say much isn't going to be particularly able in the art of giving prophecy and yet his role is crucial in saving the world.

Yet even Bob's silence is nothing compared to the AMAZINGLY bizarre choice of Jay as a servant of God.

Jay himself says:
"Me lead you?! Lady, look at me. I don't even know where the Hell I am half the time!"

I'd love to give you some quotations from Jay but I just can't TYPE that kind of language in here. Watch the film! However despite being a sex-obsessed swaggering swear machine, Jay so clearly has a heart of pure gold. Because of his no nonsense attitude he stops to help a woman being mugged, he sticks by her in her somewhat bizarre quest and shows some wisdom amidst all his profanity... well maybe not much but it's there!

My point is that Jay is the most unlikely choice for a prophet and yet it is Jay that God chooses in Dogma.

We may often think that we're not particularly good at anything but God doesn't see it like that. God sees within each one of us the potential for service.

Where is God calling you?

Band Substance

It ocurred to me, after a comment from Anne, that although many of us in the blogosphere are sporting our white bands for MAKE POVERTY HISTORY we are not saying exactly HOW we want people to do that. Of course if every single person in the First World bought a band and thus made a donation to Oxfam that would do a lot to help those trapped in poverty but that's not what this is all about.

The MAKE POVERTY HISTORY campaign encapsulates the whole campaign in NINE WORDS:

Trade Justice. Drop the debt. More and better aid.

The MAKE POVERTY HISTORY campaign is not about raising money but about calling on the governments of the rich countries of the world to commit themselves to levelling the playing field.

By wearing a white band or putting a band on your blog you will be showing that you have joined a worldwide network of people including the likes of Nelson Mandela who have made a statement to the G7 finance ministers or written Tony Blair demanding that he use his influence to put world poverty on the international agenda.

It's not a fashion statement. It's a STATEMENT

Trade Justice. Drop the debt. More and better aid.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

World gone heart-shaped

Ok I can understand that there are in this world some people who enjoy the prospect of a floral delivery, a box of chocolates and a plethora of cards on the 14th February but do the rest of us normal mortals (who will expect nothing more than yet ANOTHER invitation to apply for a credit card to arrive in the post box) really have to endure TWO WHOLE WEEKS of the world turned all hearts and flowers???