Monday, May 30, 2005

Broad is best

Ok I finally give in that dial-up is rubbish and I should have broadband. I shall be campaigning for it at the office forthwith.

Had a splendid barbecue with Agent K and her hubby "I'm a firestarter" Colin and after we burned stuff K showed me tow thngs which people have been raving about on other blogs which I hadn't been able to look at because of the slowness of my connection and its tendency to cut out.

The first of these was Baby Got Book which Ian bigged up ages ago. It certainly is worth a look in. I think it give a glimpse of what the church could be like if Ali G had become Archbishop of Canterbury (rather than PM as he did in the film!)

The second film was All Saints which Tim featured. It has images of martyrs ancient and modern as well as video clips from Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ set to the music of Band With No Name. Definitely worth considering for a discussion starter/prayer starter. Not sure I'd have picked the icon images for the early martyrs but I suppose it gives the impression of them being more ancient.

Truth shall set you free

Fascinating document came through from Mike the other day (originally from Women in American History from Encyclopaedia Britannica online). I think it says a lot about the whole preaching debate we had a while ago. If someone speaks with TRUTH, INTEGRITY and with SPIRIT they can have an incredible impact. I don't like the querky phonetical spelling in it but I'm leaving it as I find it.

The speech isn't long. It isn't particularly erudite or grammatically clever but it gives the message clearly. This is surely what we're aiming for when we preach the Gospel?:

Frances D. Gage:

Reminiscences of Sojourner Truth

By all accounts, one of the more powerful speakers in the history of American women was Sojourner Truth. Of course, there exists no transcript of the actual words of her famous exhortation to the women's rights convention of 1851, known by its refrain "Ain't I a Woman?" Rather bland newspaper reports of the day mention her effective speech, but the eyewitness account of feminist Frances D. Gage, recalled some 12 years after the fact, provides the most direct evidence. We here offer the introductory remarks and full text of the reminiscences of Mrs. Gage, printed exactly as they occur in volume 1 of History of Woman Suffrage.

Like any primary document, Gage's account has its flaws and limitations. It was written in 1863, and even if Gage was able to draw on contemporary newspaper accounts, or her own notes or diaries, it doubtless suffers some lapses or distortions. More problematic is her decision to render Truth's speech in its vernacular, and the attempt to record her accent and pronunciation, rather than in standard written English. This practice was not unknown among 19th-century American journalists and authors, but it may distract some modern readers, or even seem patronizing or offensive. Finally, some will undoubtedly be offended by its use of pejorative terms that are no longer used in polite society.

Despite these problems, readers who can penetrate the layers of anachronism and documentary limitations can still learn much from this excerpt. It is the only extended eyewitness account of Truth's famous speech. Its description of the days leading up to it, the initial hostility of her audience, and their conversion give us a sense of the mood and emotional quality of the event. The drama of the speech itself is evident. Even the coarseness of some of Truth's speech, and the attempt to capture its dialect, has its purpose. It shows how great the distance was between Truth and her audience (and even between her and Gage). It is also a powerful reminder that though she suffered hardships incomprehensible to her audience and unimaginable to modern readers, Truth was a woman of exceptional strength, possessed of little elegance but tremendous eloquence.

Sojourner Truth was once a slave in the State of New York, and carries to-day as many marks of the diabolism of slavery, as ever scarred the back of a victim in Mississippi. Though she can neither read nor write, she is a woman of rare intelligence and common-sense on all subjects. She is still living, at Battle Creek, Michigan, though now 110 years old. Although the exalted character and personal appearance of this noble woman have been often portrayed, and her brave deeds and words many times rehearsed, yet we give the following graphic picture of Sojourner's appearance in one of the most stormy sessions of the Convention, from

The leaders of the movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sun-bonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, "An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and niggers!" "I told you so!" "Go it, darkey!"

I chanced on that occasion to wear my first laurels in public life as president of the meeting. At my request order was restored, and the business of the Convention went on. Morning, afternoon, and evening exercises came and went. Through all these sessions old Sojourner, quiet and reticent as the "Lybian Statue," sat crouched against the wall on the corner of the pulpit stairs, her sun-bonnet shading her eyes, her elbows on her knees, her chin resting upon her broad, hard palms. At intermission she was busy selling the "Life of Sojourner Truth," a narrative of her own strange and adventurous life. Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."

The second day the work waxed warm. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Universalist ministers came in to hear and discuss the resolutions presented. One claimed superior rights and privileges for man, on the ground of "superior intellect"; another, because of the "manhood of Christ; if God had desired the equality of woman, He would have given some token of His will through the birth, life, and death of the Saviour." Another gave us a theological view of the "sin of our first mother."

There were very few women in those days who dared to "speak in meeting"; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture, as they supposed, of the "strong-minded." Some of the tender-skinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. "Don't let her speak!" gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced "Sojourner Truth," and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.

The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows.

"Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all dis here talkin' 'bout?

"Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place!" And raising herself to her full height, and her voice to a pitch like rolling thunder, she asked. "And a'n't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! (and she bared her right arm to the shoulder, showing her tremendous muscular power). I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a'n't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man--when I could get it--and bear de lash as well! And a'n't I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a'n't I a woman?

"Den dey talks 'bout dis ting in de head; what dis dey call it?" ("Intellect," whispered some one near.) "Dat's it, honey. What's dat got to do wid womin's rights or nigger's rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?" And she pointed her significant finger, and sent a keen glance at the minister who had made the argument. The cheering was long and loud.

"Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?" Rolling thunder couldn't have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, "Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin' to do wid Him." Oh, what a rebuke that was to that little man.

Turning again to another objector, she took up the defense of Mother Eve. I can not follow her through it all. It was pointed, and witty, and solemn; eliciting at almost every sentence deafening applause; and she ended by asserting: "If de fust woman God ever made was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder (and she glanced her eye over the platform) ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let 'em." Long-continued cheering greeted this. "'Bleeged to ye for hearin' on me, and now ole Sojourner han't got nothin' more to say."

Amid roars of applause, she returned to her corner, leaving more than one of us with streaming eyes, and hearts beating with gratitude. She had taken us up in her strong arms and carried us safely over the slough of difficulty turning the whole tide in our favor. I have never in my life seen anything like the magical influence that subdued the mobbish spirit of the day, and turned the sneers and jeers of an excited crowd into notes of respect and admiration. Hundreds rushed up to shake hands with her, and congratulate the glorious old mother, and bid her God-speed on her mission of "testifyin' agin concerning the wickedness of this 'ere people."

The Good Book

Graeme posted some excellent exegesis on the passages concerned with homosexuality recently. Apparently it led to some people removing themselves from his readership and from his mailing list. For me this all links up with what I'd been talkng about with the issue of tolerance. It also links back to Jeffrey John's comments on the need to read the WHOLE BIBLE and yet also accept that there is no such thing as THE Biblical teaching on something as the Scriptures are not written by a single human author and therefore not to be taken as a whole without awareness of this. Graeme's words come from an honest and open reading of the text. We need to respect that in anybody, no matter what position they then take. Now I'm sure I won't be losing any readers as you all know I'm liberal (a wussy liberal even, allegedly!) and have had to put up with this kind of thing before but with rather less dispassionate academic rigour. you can follow some of the comments on Graeme's site but here's what he had to say originally:

"Whether we choose it or it chooses us, the issue for our generation is the issue of homosexuals in the church (note, I did not say homosexuals in the kingdom of God - that is God's issue, not ours). For the last few months I have been working on what initially started as an article for a popular Christian magazine and has now turned into a mini thesis on the issue of homosexuality. I have been seriously cautioned to be cautious about making my speculations and ruminations on this topic public - and rather to wait until I have a fully formulated and completely defensible position on the issue. I am beginning to despair that that might never happen, so here is my compromise: some questions that both guide and confuse me in my quest for understanding.

I trust you will find it helpful as you honestly examine your heart and doctrine on this powerfully divisive, yet vitally important issue.

* There are only seven verses in the Bible that deal with the issue of homosexuality: four in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament.
o Can we dismiss the accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah and the identical situation in Gibeah because the issues of their with so much more than homosexuality -- including rape, inhospitaility and violence? (I think so).
o How can we rely on the two passages in Leviticus, when they are interspersed amongst other commands that are clearly not for us today, and/or were restrictions based on cultic practices (e.g. cutting sideburns, tattoos and clothes with more than one thread type), and/or we are not prepared to implement prescribe punishment of stoning to death? (I don't think we can)
o Most scholars agree that 1 Cor 6:9-11 and 1 Tim. 1:8-11 are ambiguous at best, most likely referring to masters and their slaves - thus more concerned about the abuse of power relationships rather than homosexuality as such. And what is the difference between a homosexual and a "homosexual offender"?
o Are we certain we really understand Romans 1:18-27, and are we certain that it is a clear command against homosexuality, especially as it looks as if this is the only verse that really could be used in an argument from Scripture?
* Paul's major appeal in Rom. 1:18-27 is that people have abandoned God to chase idols. God then "gave them up" and allowed them to "exchange" what they had for a perversion. There is a possibility that this is a reference to the cultic laws we discussed above, and that it is the "inflamed with lust" aspect of the act that is the problem. Some scholars argue that Paul's concern was not those people who were born homosexuals (with a built-in homosexual orientation) but rather for those who were experimenting with "unnatural" sexual behaviour. Other scholars have argued that even if Paul had in mind to condemn all homosexual behaviour, that this should be interpreted in the same way that we interpret instructions about women's head coverings, for example, or men growing long hair. In the latter case, 1 Cor 11:14 uses the same argument about being "against nature", and many scholars believe that this should rather be interpreted as "against Jewish culture and accepted traditions". Paul may in fact, have been using an example of homosexuality in Romans to point out to Jews their own double standards in being repulsed by homosexuality that was rampant in the ancient Greek/Roman world, yet not seeing their own cultural sins. Of course, more conservative scholars see these verses as laying out doctrine and rules for behaviour - that has been the historical majority interpretation. My point is simply that there is room for alternative interpretations, without doing damage to the text or the rules of interpretation.
* Are we really convinced that our hermeneutical method is 100% accurate and needs no revision?
* Why would God be repulsed by homosexual love? If the traditional understanding and interpretation of scripture on this issue is correct, there is a great weakness in its ability to explain why homosexuality is an abomination to God.
* Of course, we all believe that God is against abusive relationships of any kind, unhealthy relationships of any kind and experimenting with our sexuality - this much is clear from Scripture. It is also clear that sexual activity is meant for lifelong monogamous relationships, has the highest expression of the bond that exists between two people committed to each other. How much of the rampant licentiousness earned loose living associated with the homosexual community is simply a reaction to the institutionalised hatred/rejection homosexuals feel, and how much is actually inherent in the lifestyle/orientation itself?
* At what point does a same-sex relationship/friendship become a forbidden homosexual one? It would seem to me that the answer to this question is clearly that it only becomes a problem when there is actual sexual intercourse involved. The real issue is therefore not about homosexual orientation, but about sex. And let's be honest, whatever else one can say about the church and sex, we cannot call it healthy, objective or sound. If the church's reputation for clear thinking and sexual issues is so pathetic, how can we be so sure that we have the homosexual issue correct?
* Why do we get all up tight about the biblical commandments on this issue, while completely ignoring a whole host of other the biblical sexual ethics (e.g. having sex with a woman during her period, levirate marriages - having sex with your deceased brother's wife in order to give him a son, concubinage, arranged marriages, etc)?
* Doesn't the whole issue come down to just one question for Christians: is same-gender sexual activity within a committed, lifelong, monogamous homosexual relationship sinful?
* Will the God I serve really send all lifelong, committed, monogamous, born-again homosexuals to hell? Is homosexuality really a deal breaker with God? If so, why?
* If the church has a history of being so wrong on issues such as slavery, apartheid, women being allowed to vote, racism and so many other issues, can we be so sure that we are right on this issue?
* Are we simply going to continue ignoring the elephant in the living room -- the rampant homosexuality of the celibate priesthood?

God may be the same yesterday today and forever, but he is not a static God. Throughout history it has been his way to deal with his people slowly, each generation being required to deal with only a few issues, building up a set of traditions for future generations to start from. Our ancestors dealt with Crusaders, with slave owners, with apartheid and institutional racism, and women leadership in the church (some Christians are still dealing with some of these issues) -- I'm sure that it is our generation who must deal with the issue of homosexuals in the church.

Scripture is vital. Our traditions are important. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. Of these things I am sure. But the questions above haunt me and I have no peace on this issue. I cannot rest until I do. Souls are at stake.

I invite your comments and contributions -- as long as they are honest, constructive and Spirit-filled in intent."

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Blog Holiday Weekend

The blog has suffered from the good weather this weekend, I'm afraid. So has my lawn, the flower beds thatneed weeding and pretty much anything practical that didn't involve me sitting in the sunshine and smiling!

The book has benefitted from it slightly but my friends have had most of the benefit which is all to the good.

Also half term is coming up and I have duties at scout camp so I'm going to post a few long but hopefully interesting things to keep you all going.

Don't read them all at once!! ;oP

Friday, May 27, 2005

Youthworkering about

My previous boss used to spend a good amount of time just "being around" this was christened "vicaring about" by our colleague. I have to say that I think it is a very important part of any ministry job. Obviously it helps to be somewhere where you might meet people which often means being about in town which I often have to do anyway as today when I was buying Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events for tomorrow's film night.

However on my way to youthworkering about the town I stopped off in church to see that everything was in order as I'd left it open for visitors and our verger Hazel had her well-deserved day off today.

Well I was thrilled to have three young lads come into church whilst I was there. Now I think I've seen them come in before and it's possible that they were part of a group who caused a little trouble by running around and making lots of noise. However I could be wrong. Anyway, I was talking to one of the flower arrangers when the boys came in (they were, at a guess aged 9-13 ish) and they asked if they could have a look around and I said that would be fine as long as they respected the building and didn't make a mess or run around. They also asked if they could light a candle and I pointed them to the pricket stand.

I left them to it for a while but when they were having a little trouble putting the candles in the stand (a WHOLE other issue to do with a dodgey batch of candles - the trials of a progressive catholic parish!!!) I went over to help. They asked me about the display that the children who were recently admitted to Holy Communion made as part of their preparation. I explained how they had made a tree to show that we are all part of the family of the church and how the the children then joined us in sharing the bread and the wine.

One of the lads told me that he had put a prayer up on the board before and he started to look for it on the board but I had to explain that we had probably used it in our prayers in the service and so taken it off the board. I left them writing some prayers and went of to prepare our Sunday fellowship group Bible study (about Acts 3 and one of the questions in our material was - "Why do you think the crippled man waited outside the temple?" - freaky!). The lads then had a look around the building and came up to me to ask what "all the cushions and stuff" in the North chapel were.

I explained that it was from a service the young people had done. They listened and then went back there and after a bit more of a walk around they waved and said goodbye and said they'd come back again.

Now when they walked in these boys may well have been hoping to nick some candles or some candle money or to write somethng rude on the board of prayers and I know some parishioners would have been very nervous about them being in church. They didn't swagger in with a yobbish strut but they weren't smart public school kids either. I admit that my first thought was to be a littlw wary but I like to think that I took a leap of faith that they wouldn't (even if it had been their original plan). I kept an eye and indeed I stayed in church when I hadn't planned to, just in case.

I hope that what they saw in our church was a place where they are welcomed, even invited, and not judged or prejudged for their appearance and age. I hope they found a place where they could make a connection with God and see that the chuch may be a huge old building but it is also the loving community that meets in it and makes sure the doors are open.

Going from church I went off in search of Lemony Snicket on DVD and met one of the young people who I haven't seen in ages but who I've been keeping in touch with over MSN. Now sometimes I worry that I'm kidding myself that MSN is alright as the only means of connecting with some of the young people who no longer come to events but the conversation today assured me that we HAD maintained communication and it SHOWED. She had just finished her RS exam that morning and had felt pretty ok about it but missed a couple of questions because she couldn't remember them. I asked what they were and she said the first one was something about what does the Apostle's Creed say about Jesus and the second one asked for the difference between the Catholic and the Orthodox church.

So I ended up in a discussion or rather an explanation of the filioque clause, a brief recitation of a bit of the Apostle's Creed and joking with her that she should have come to Choral Evensong more often (she used to be in our choir) because we used the Apostle's Creed for that!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ministry of Truth

I've read an interesting couple of posts today about youthworkers and their role in parishes.

I am constantly reminded at how lucky I am to have a wonderfuly supportive church community within my parish and an incredible network of fellow youthworkers throughout the diocese of Oxford (and now a little further afield too!) as well as a fantastic and eclectic group of people learning and praying with me at the SAOMC.

Marko has been extremely open about his experience of an incredibly unsupportive and in fact destructively manipulative church community. Ali C has shared with us something a youth worker had emailed him about the incredibly high expectations placed on a youth worker.

Both these stories show that as gifted as youth workers might be and as strong as their calling is to serve in a particular place, it also takes the community in which their working to find that gift and that calling to support the work. (It seems Ben has been exploring that issue of community ownership recently) I know that the fact that my parish employs a youthworker often pushes the budget to the limits but I also know that you cannot quantify what we achieve in youth ministry. You can make all the targest and benchmark systems in the world. The impact of one person's LIFE and MODEL and MINISTRY on individuals is immeasurable. In fact someone wise (thought I can't remember who) said that it is far better NOT to know the impact we might have on people's lives as we'd only get despondent or arrogant.

Think about it... Have you ever told someone from your formative years what a difference they made? I know there are some people in my past who have influenced me in ways they wouldn't necessarily look on gladly - people whose leadership style have made me think, "I'm DEFINITELY going to do that differently" but those people don't need to know that. I've also sat in wonder contemplating the AWESOMENESS of the example of some people but I know that to tell them would not help them. In fact I don't NEED to tell them. God pretty much takes care of giving us enough hope most of the time, I find.

Often in working with young people I wonder if anything I do makes a difference to any of them but then I see a small change, a glimmer of Christ's light shining in the life of JUST ONE of them and I KNOW it is all worth it. It may be "through a glass darkly" but ever so slightly LESS darkly and that slight lightening doesn't make me want to see the clear light face to face NOW it simply assures me that it is there and it WILL be there. I keep coming back to Jesus words to Martha:

"You are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing."

p.s. Both of these guys are now on the blogroll and I look forward to hearing what they have to say in the future.Thanks to Ben and Tim for bringing these to my attention!

Are you sitting down?

Now I don't want anybody to get a shock but I've just taken a test and apparently I'm a Liberal Christian! However some of you may be AMAZED at how orthodox I am apparently! 71% more orthodox than most people my age and gender - ha!

A Liberal Christian
You scored 29 out of 45 on orthodoxy!

You are theologically orthodox but more socially liberal, at least in
the ways that you imagine Jesus would have been. You believe in
spreading the gospel but not in bashing other people to do it. Your
beliefs are serious to you, but you probably have a pretty good sense
of humor about them too. The Episcopal Church welcomes you!
Jesus loves you! (But, you know, not in that way)

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 71% on orthodoxy
Link: The What Kind of Christian are You Test written by agape29

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In the picture

My mate Mark was taking photographs of all the people at the SAOMC for their new course publicity material. In the midst of lots of serious pics he took a few fab ones of all my friends. Now I wouldn't DARE put those up without permission, as tempting as it is to put up the one of William pulling a grumpy face or Chris looking especially holy.

However, I don't need permission to put up ones of me!

Here is me endeavouring to look studious whilst really contemplating eating cake!

I managed the serious contemplative look much better in this one though!

You might almost believe that I was writing something useful! It was a great evening though the highlight wasn't the theological discussion but the suggestion that it doesn't MATTER if it was a evil snake in the Genesis story as it could equally have been an evil gooseberry. Great image. The serious point being that the DEEP TRUTH of Genesis is FAR more important than the surface story. What the snake stands for is more important than why it is a snake. Is it in any sense a literal story that describes how humanity fell from grace with God or is it a way for us to explore the way that people continue to fall from grace.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bing Bong

I was out collecting Christian Aid envelopes this afternoon. This can SO often seem like a thankless task. Often you can knock on four doors in a row and get no response even though you can sometimes see people in there ignoring you. Or worse you can be told that “you’re on private property, you know” as one of my young people was told this year. The temptation to stuff a random proportion of the envelopes with coppers from my own purse occurred to me only briefly last year but again as then I steeled myself to knock on that first door and wait for no answer! I think I return to my previous incarnation as an Avon rep to be happy to do all the cold calling. This year I had a new road; flatter, shorter but with more complicated houses turned into six million flats each! Yet in the midst of all the people telling me “no, thank you” (what is that? What exactly was I offering them that they didn’t want??!!) the begrudging pennies chinking, the woman asking me for ID and saying “it doesn’t have your picture on it!”, in the midst of ALL that there was a MOMENT, a wonderful moment of sheer and utter pointfulness.

I had knocked on a door with Arabic writing on the door that clearly showed me it was a Muslin household. As I’ve been doing Christian Aid for a few years now, I know that in fact Muslims give most generously and willingly to Christian Aid. They have a strong belief in the importance of charitable giving. I learned that lesson soon after I learned that people in poor looking houses tend to give more generously than people living in rich, well-kept homes. I suppose the story of the widow’s mite should have taught me that long ago. It’s a lesson in life really; rich people don’t get rich by giving it away do they? That’s harsh but burning shoe rubber for Christian Aid supports the theory.

So I’d walked up to this Muslim household and knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman surrounded by lots of children of different ages. I held up the envelope and said I was collecting them. I was met with lots of blank looks. Then a little boy pushed passed his slightly bigger sister and tilted his head at me then pointed at me, smiled and said, “Church.” There was much discussion in the hallway and people began putting money in the envelope but I was too busy grinning back at this little guy who was still smiling at me. I asked him, “Have you visited our church with school” He grinned more and nodded.

It was fab. This little chap must have been in one of the school groups that visit our church and clearly it was a GOOD experience for him.

So I may have collected only something like 12 envelopes out of 71 potential households but that one really made a difference.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tolerance of Intolerance

So many issues arise in the Anglican church at the moment concerning inclusion and exclusion, acceptability and unacceptability, tolerance an intolerance. Whether it’s an issue of human sexuality or the consecration of women priests as bishops the wider church seems focussed on issues that divide.

I have to admit that, as one who believes with a passion in Jesus’ own model of acceptance of all people with love, I find the issues that divide the church difficult. I consider myself a tolerant person and have difficulty understanding those who cannot find that tolerance in their hearts. I advocate the standpoint of the organisation Inclusive Church:

We affirm that the Church's mission, in obedience to Holy Scripture, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation.

We acknowledge that this is Good News for people regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation.

We believe that, in order to strengthen the Gospel's proclamation of justice to the world, and for the greater glory of God, the Church's own common life must be justly ordered.

To that end, we call on our Church to live out the promise of the Gospel; to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation.

However, recently I was challenged about how far my tolerance stretches. I’m clear that I tolerate those who are often not tolerated and yet my tolerance does not always extend to the intolerant themselves. For example, I find it difficult to accept those who themselves cannot accept the ministry of women in the priesthood. Yet if I am to be truly tolerant I should be able to respect their deep-held, prayer based opinion even though it differs from my own.

"You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." Matthew 5:43-48 43

Last week I heard the Very Revd Jeffrey John speaking about Jesus’ ministry of miraculous healing. Jesus went to the margins of society and crossed them. He did not simply cure the physical symptoms of the people he met. His ministry was far more radical. Jesus went out to those who were unacceptable to society and brought the excluded back into acceptability.

The Levitical laws; the ancient rules of the Jewish Temple, declared that some people were not acceptable in the worshipping community; those who were not entirely physically whole or fit, those who seemed to be possessed by demons, women with bleeding. The Samaritans were considered less than perfect because of their ancestors. There were also laws which said a person was unclean if they touched a dead body. Jesus turned all these rules upside down as surely as he turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. He cured the blind, the lame, the woman with internal bleeding. He touched lepers, including a Samaritan, and cured them. He raised Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter from the dead.

Jesus’ Gospel is one of love of all. Yet is it easier somehow to love the poor, the suffering, the excluded than to love the wealthy, the oppressor, the excluder? Perhaps we find it harder to show the Gospel of love to those whom we see to be falling short of it. Yet Jesus did not preach to people who were already fulfilling his teaching. His message to them was a challenge to do what he asked of them. He did not wait for them to be right before he spoke to them.

“The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance." Luke 5.30-32

God’s call for each of us is to live a life of example to others. To know our own failings and acknowledge them, and to show our love for both the tolerated and the intolerated, the tolerant and the intolerant not only by our words but by our actions:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13. 34-35

Friday, May 20, 2005

Blog silence

Apologies that the blog has been rather blog free this week. I hadn't even really noticed the gap since Wednesday.

In my defence I have been rather busy with two visits to the church - one from our Cubs and one of 90 year one children from Hamilton school - and a session with years 6 and 7 at the CofE school planning their mural as well as youth holiday planning and working out what we were going to do at the chillout worship on Saturday.

Normal blogging will resume shortly but until then I'm filling with a sneak preview of my Parish Magazine letter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Swings and roundabouts

Apologies for the mega-blogging followed by a lull. In fact it is goodnews as I have been directing my literary endeavours towards the novel again. Tonight I topped 12,000 words. Hurrah! More than my BA thesis, nearly up to my MA thesis though decidedly less than the PhD but hopefully much more likely to get published than any of those!

I had a real time of personality dichotomy over the last few days. A great evening at SAOMC looking at the letter to the Hebrews and 1 Peter on Tuesday night and then a school visit of 90 children from year one on Wednesday morning. Both fabulous, challenging and fulfilling in their own ways.

I had a fabulous time with children asking all kinds of questions about church and the things we have in a church and what we do and who does what and what is that for and how long does that take and how old is that. You really can't help but be enthused by the overwhelming enthusiasm of children. Its their incredible honesty of response. They LOVED the church and were totally bubbling over with questions. If they hadn't liked the place, it would have been obvius by their disengagement but so clearly that wasnot the case. It really does make you understand why Jesus said we needed to become as little children to enter the kingdom.

In contrast, at SAOMC I had a splendid stroll and chat with Jo and then a stimulating discussion about the varying perceptions of the Kingdom of God in the Epistles [Did they consider the Kingdom had arrived or were they working towards it?] with a deeply insightful contribution from William on Paul's "through a glass darkly". He argued that it is not as simple as to say that the glass in now dark but one day it won't be. In journeying to faith and in deepening our relationship with God we see through the glass less and less darkly and when the time comes that we know God fully it will be all light. Wow! Just wish I could have been as adept at explaining my point about endurance.

We were talking about Hebrews and its take on suffering. The text seems to imply that there's a beneficial nature to suffering in terms of spiritual development (not really meritorious as such but evidently not all bad) and Alan was rather doubting the validity of that proposition. I, somewhat ineptly, endeavoured to suggest that it was much like John Cassian's reflection that self-discipline of thoughts and routine brings a spiritual freedom. I didn't argue the case well enough as people thought that couldn't apply to involuntary discomfort. However I would firmly disagree. It goes back to that great line of Viktor Frankel. The greatest freedom is to choose one's own attitude. Whether one is suffering due to persecution or as a result of imposing self determined discipline, it is the attitude that one takes to it which can make all the difference to oneself and to those who witness one's attitude.

So deep theological thinking one evening and overwhelming youthful exuberance the next morning and I loved them both. Can life really get better than this? Well in fact it can as I came home to a marvelloously tidied house! No I don't have a fleet of house elves just a fantastic housemate. :oD

Monday, May 16, 2005

Korean up the Khyber

Just can't resist putting this in for you all.

Someone found the blog yesterday by typing in "Sarah Hamilton" Wycombe and as there are a few of us Sarah Hamiltons out there I thought I'd see what actually came up for this serch. However I wasn't prepared for the Korean to English translation (of what had originally been in English as a press report about the library poster incident in 2003).

I think my favourite has to be how it translated the bit that described me and what I did. Orinigally it must have said something like, Sarah Hamilton, the Youth worker but the translation gives: "the young people employment self-acknowledgement Sarah Hamilton"
In my defence, I'm sure I described Christmas more accurately than it says here!!!

So for your delectation, here it is

" Is a religion partial " one possibility forbade the public library notice of the Christmas worship guidance poster of the church with reason.

Until now the British churches Christmas and the Easter Day gadfly will give the congratulation worship which invites the local resident, will reach and and the public place gadfly it notified the poster for.

pe The king of the British central part em sourly above high khom All Saint church Chengtu which are to the rain (High Wycombe) in the watching library (Listing time of service) notify the Christmas poster. But watching forbids in singing together grade cause Bridget Adams what kind of specific religion B or record notifying expression the poster of the public performance which it does pe khim em in policy to be sourly violated, it refused.

The Bridget " does not attend in the church and the residents which are many it attends in Christmas music worship. Consequently the watching library most the place which is most it informs music worship to this field suitable thought with language." |#ed20{mal_hayss_ta. Her in the last month library staff it discovered that it is not notified in the notice board case you to give the poster but and it had the different poster and in the notice board directness attaches the flaw library staff became India in the library market.

And the library market explained to be soft pe the king em to be sour in order not to notify a what kind of specific religion or the poster of the political group in library policy, that.

And the Dewar which is a watching interested party who takes charge of the library " it is a shock in of course like this policy but as watching e ccel there is not a possibility because all religion group does not give music worship at Christmas." |#ed20{tap_pyen It did.

The Bridget when it means that this problem is limited in one church there is not a star problem, but against like this policy that against this policy the important religion groups to propose a problem re-lon is necessary it talked. And it was British Anglican Church Chengtu, the young people employment self-acknowledgement Sarah Hamilton talked to demand a library whole, that knows at Christmas simple only the birth of a king tree or the light bulb Christmas meaning where the fact that it exhibits is not one field which it re-describes minutely it is necessary in the people.

Copyright (C) 2003 " beautiful house " All rights }reserved{.

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Shameless publication of my sermon at Choral Evonsong for Pentecost yesterday evening. Intoning went well so I was pleased.

The last time I preached on the feast of Pentecost, it was a very different setting; a family service celebrating the admission to holy communion of a group of children. I used a visual aid to illustrate to those children and to everyone else there what difference the Holy Spirit can make. When one of my colleagues heard that I was to be preaching again this Pentecost, she asked me if I would be using the same illustration again this evening. No. I’m sorry. There will not be a large inflatable cube floating around the church this evening.

Instead I want to talk about Peter’s experience of the Holy Spirit and what he had to say about Pentecost, as we heard in our second reading.

This text, from Luke’s story of the Acts of the Apostles is an absolute gift to any preacher. Not simply because it is a passage rich in scripture and in theology but because it presents to us the first Christian sermon of the early church. Indeed it is perhaps a model for ALL Christian sermons.

It begins, in fine tradition… with a joke. Peter protests to those who had witnessed the coming of the holy Spirit on the disciples: No, these men are not drunk… after all it’s only nine o’clock in the morning.

For those gathered the apostles, Pentecost must have been a rather shocking experience. Tongues of fire, the sound of a rushing wind and then all that curiously coherent babbling in different languages. I don’t think the average Anglican evensong congregation is in that state. However I think there is often a moment of trepidation, of expectation perhaps of apprehension when a preacher steps up into the pulpit.

Perhaps this is the root of the common practice of setting the listeners at ease with a light hearted comment or perhaps something to catch the attention. Whatever the motivation may have been, Peter is demonstrably the first to have begun his sermon in a light mood.

Yet soon thereafter, Peter proceeded to the first, rather meatier course of his speech. He quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. A good solid piece of biblical teaching. Yet, again, somewhat reassuringly for the modern preacher, and as the juxtaposition of the reading from Joel with the reading from Acts this evening shows, Peter didn’t actually get his scripture word perfect. What matters is Peter’s choice of scripture and his accuracy of its message. That he does get right. Peter picked a passage which spoke to the situation he was in. He showed that the passage had relevance to his audience not only in terms of being an important religious text from the past, a link to their religious and spiritual heritage, but also as a description of the events they have just witnessed and the future they will face.

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

This is a message of inclusion for all.

And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Joel, a minor let’s be honest, lesser known book of prophecy might seem like a curious choice for such a momentous day. One might expect a meaty bit of Isaiah, something from Moses, a speech by Elijah – some big player. Yet Peter’s use of Joel is not, I don’t think, inappropriate. The book of Joel is a later prophecy and sits, in terms of its composition on the cusp between the age of prophetic texts and the age of apocalyptic texts. This passage we have heard contains something vital for Peter’s message. Peter could have sought the authority of the great prophets to illuminate for people what they have just witnessed but instead he chooses a more lowly text. A text which makes clear that the day itself had been foretold. The gift of prophecy that he and the other disciples have received is a sign of the universal gifting of God’s people. It is no longer to be the great prophets alone who will have the gift of God’s inspiration. More than that, this gifting of God’s people with his Spirit is, for Peter, a mark of the fulfilment al that God had promised to his people. Moses himself had asked God that “all people might be prophets”. To Peter, this is what is happening at Pentecost. ALL people are being given the chance to receive the Holy Spirit.

After recounting this historic, old covenant text Peter springs from that foundation to talk about the new covenant with Jesus. Peter’s message for the people gather that day on Pentecost was that it is essential to grow out from their history. To see that their past not only precedes but also shapes their present and their future. That following Jesus was not some new-fangled idea but something rooted and grounded in his people’s history. Joel had talked about how times were bad but how they could and one day would be good. Peter considered that time to have come on the day of Pentecost.

As Peter’s audience are caught up in this image of Young men having visions and old men dreaming dreams he goes on again to remind them of their history and again he backs this up with more scripture.

He states clearly that this man Jesus whom he has been describing was the one David had spoken of and the one the Jews had been awaiting; the Messiah.

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.”

This passage from psalms is also one which speaks of life after death. Part of the essential message of Jesus’ salvation

“Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.”

Peter has talked about the history of his people; the distant history of their ancestors and about their immediate past – of the life and ministry of Jesus; of his passion and resurrection. Yet there is MORE.

In the true style of the sermon, Peter doesn’t not only tell people about their faith, but tells them more. Peter concludes as all good sermons should conclude. Having set out his texts and interpreted them’ having made his message clear, he has already made an impact on his listeners but finally he presents them with a challenge. He tells them not only what they should know but also what they should DO.

He tells them to turn away from sin, to be baptised and then, being forgiven of their sins receive the Holy Spirit.

Peter is saying that you can have tradition and history but that is not enough. That is not the end. You need to turn from that to look forward to receive the Holy Spirit. Just as the richness of the music we have heard comes from a strong tradition so too, it can’t merely stay as a tradition, as something written down. For the message of those words and notes to come alive, they need to be breathed. Not only by our fine singers but by the Holy Spirit. If those words were merely sung and not prayed through the Holy Spirit they would mean nothing. So too if our Christian beliefs, our history our practices are not breathed through by the Holy Spirit, then it means nothing.

You have heard the message of Peter:

Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Jeffrey John

As promised, a bit from the Very Revd Jeffrey John's reflections on REAL Bible Study.

Jeffrey began his talk with a recollection of those bizarre passages from the Bible which involve smiting, stoning, and general damning which have then been followed by the immortal and eternal THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD THANKS BE TO GOD!

He went on to explore what exactly the Bible is - not a book but a library. He argued that there is not single passage that can truly be called the word of God though the Bible as a whole might well be considered the word of God. However it is far better to think that the Bible "can be the vehicle of God's word to us now but connot be God's word.. there is only one WORD of God, that is Jesus Christ."

He used various models for the Bible and I think my favourite had to be the kaleidoscope with "many different authors' reflections and refractions of God's word" which produces different patterns some lighter and some dark but "white light is always there behind it." Because of this, there can be "no such thing as THE Biblical teaching on anything."

Jeffrey was keen to impress on his audience the importance of reading not only the text of the bible but also commentary on it. He said that in order to understand any passage in the Bible we must understand where it comes from. All good solid exegetical stuff really but it is shocking how often, perhaps especially in youth work, we expect to have a group read a text from the Bible and understand its meaning without any more support or insight.

He went on to show how a deeper reading of the text could help with a greater understanding of what the "white light" might be in certain places.

I particularly liked his highlighting of the nature of the recipients of Jesus' healing miracles. Not to say that the stories were created by the authors of the Gospels but that the selection they describe of the miracles Jesus performed was deliberate not accidental. Amongst those cured are all those who had been ostracisedfrom society by Levitical law; the crippled, the blind, the leper, the possessed, those who were ritually unclean because of bleeding. This shows that Jesus was, as Jeffrey John said, "absolutely revolutionary, absolutely hateful to the religious authorities of his time." By healing these people he was accepting them and showing the world that their understanding of God's laws was skewed.

Contraversially, though clearly stating that it was only one interpretation and neither his own or one he would die to defend, Jeffrey recounted how the curing of the centurion's servant could perhaps have been one of these miracles designed to show acceptance. It is nothing new to suggest that the centurion's "beloved" servant might have been intimate with the centurion. Perhaps Jesus' curing of this young man was a sign of Jesus' acceptance of the centurion and his lover as they were. A challenging interpretation for all of us!


Life got far too exciting yesterday as the exhaust disconnected from my car on the way to London Colney. At least I was on the A404 near AMersham not somewhere on the M40!

A slight bruise, a wander in Chesham and a hefty bill later I finally made it to the SAOMC weekend and went to a session on Baptism and then heard Jeffrey John in the evening. More on his REAL Bible study anon.

This evening I am leading and preaching at evensong. Not at all scared! Me? No! Ridiculous!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Call me a cock-eyed optimist

Great day yesterday swanning about in Oxford having coffee then lunch then a drink with three wonderful people. I also did a bit of writing and continued the search for my outfit for my friend's wedding. We also chatted later in the evening about the recent film I saw THE WEDDING DATE which made me think maybe I need to get me of those too, not a rented one, of course but a willing chum - eek!.

It really was a great day and still unspoiled by what could have been DREADFUL...

I was humming my way home on the park and ride bus when, without knowing it, I somehow let my purse slip out of my handbag. I didn't realise this at the time at all.

As I was driving home from the park and ride, a friend called me several times, and left a message which is unlike her. I picked up the message as soon as I parked back in High Wycombe and phoned Hazel straight back as her message had requested.

It seems that an extremely MARVELLOUS person (called Michael) had found my purse on the bus and discovered Hazel's number on the sponsorship form for my Charity Parachute Jump (anyone still wanting to sponsor me do let me know!). So this man ( I really should call him GENTLEMAN - his actions deserve the epithet!), this gentleman had told Hazel that he'd found my purse and would I like to collect it? I then phoned him and arranged collection.

So I am driving back over to Oxford today to collect it from his office.

Anyone else have their faith in humanity restored? I think this shows how GOOD people are on the whole.

Isn't the world fabulous?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wholly Spirit

Wonderful evening at the confirmation of three young men I have known for years and spent the last couple of months preparing for confirmation. It was incredible. It felt so HOLY, so RIGHT and so TIMELY. The highlight for me was standing together with David (our vicar) by each of the boys as the bishop confirmed them. I trully felt part of something tangibly transcendent and evidently life-changing.

The service was in one of the other team churches, St Mary's and St George's, which is decidedly smaller than All Saints' and being a week night it wasn't terribly full of people however it was clearly full of the Holy Spirit and indeed of some great incense!

It made me reflect on my own confirmation (many years ago now - good grief!) which was a BIG event at All Saints' on a Sunday morning with no spare seats in the house (must have been about 500-600 people). I was prepared for confirmation in a large group of I think about 8 teenagers and in fact there was ANOTHER group of a simialr size of just teenagers. It was in the days when it was "my turn". I'd reached the age that one reached and so it was time to be confirmed. I ddin't feel then what I felt yesterday evening.

I'm not saying I regret being confirmed. Of course not. It's merely that I think the idea we have now of admitting young children to Holy Communion in a big group and then waiting for individuals to ASK for confirmation.

So often in the Church and in youth work we focus on the BIG events with LARGE numbers. God does not measure success in numbers (does God measure success at all?). God calls us one by one as the words of the confirmation service yesterday said:

God calls you by name and claims you for His own

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dream a little dream for me

Barrie had a link to this Cadbury's Dream Factory with THE BEST IDEA I've seen in a while.

Cadbury's are proposing that people submit their dreams and are offering to make some of them come true. Barrie suggests that we all submit a dream about Cadbury's and FAIR TRADE chocolate.

Just think. If enough people submit a dream about Cadbury's using Fairly-traded chocolate. Maybe, just maybe, Cadbury's might bow to the pressure of the buying public and trade fairly with their cocoa suppliers.

Any one can dream

CREature Discomforts

Had a good day at CRE yesterday with the colleagues, including schamozzling with Dave at his ever so distinctive booth promoting his new CARTOON CHURCH.

Yes it is a SHAMELESS plug. I think his stuff is great and I don't mind telling you all LOTS!

However I also got measured by J and M Sewing for my new cassock (well FIRST (ministerial not choir) cassock) and they were so surprised at how short my legs were (compared to my body) that they double checked. Depressing or what? There were also FAR too many scary looking religious puppets about.


I don't know why I find them freaky. I LOVE the muppets but these nearly humanoid puppet things they have just "give me the wiggins" as Buffy would say!

Then in the evening I went along to SAOMC for a fascinationg couple of sessions, one on Human development and "attachment" and the other on the letter of James, its theology, authorship and place in the canon. They may not seem as directly relevant as some special practical youthwork training but having just used an absolute tonne of what I learnt through the course last year in preparing three young people for confirmation, I was really pleased to be learning and exploring theological issues once again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Face ache

Fantastic time with my friends Kerry, Roland and Nicola yesterday evening. I haven't laughed so hard or so long in a while! My face hurt, my chest hurt, and I was exhausted.


Today I'll be off at the CRE being a groupie of Dave and his new CARTOON CHURCH which is now launched.

Check it out guys!

Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm a real Princess

This afternoon I had some time to kill between coffee with one friend and supper with some others and as I was in the incredibly shopping-temple that is the Oracle in Reading, I decided to have a bit of a look for an outfit for my friend Lis's wedding in October.

Unfortunately in looking for wedding outfits my attention was drawn to the lovely evening gowns that were also there. I found an absolutely beautiful creation of green and cream flouncinessfor the shocking figure of £95.

It was one of those rare times when I wished I had not only the money to be able to afford it but also the occasion on which to wear it.

Why am I not the kind of person that gets invitations to balls, galas and regattas? My name MEANS princess. That should count for something!

I love my job and watcing DVDs and eating pizza with the young people... but once in a while it would be WONDERFUL to be a real princess!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Sith Sense

Fantastic news from Matt that the new Star Wars film is FANTASTIC, a revelation, a return to true pre CLONE nightmare quality. Ok I guess I'm sounding like far too much of the anorak so I'll stop! So who wants to see it with me?

... and just cos it's so great, here's Darth Tater again!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Passion powered

Great meeting with the young people who are going on the youth holiday this evening. LOTS of passionate discussion - though not all entirely focussed on what we were talking about! It reminded me of the session with the pupils of the school I visited on Thursday to plan their mural. Full of ideas: some fantastic, some not so great but all bubbling from enthusiasm, that PASSION which we're all practicing! I've now got as far as Chapter to in Kenda Creasey Dean's book, Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church
and I'm hoping to get a few more concrete ideas about working WITH the empassioned young people and harnassing that passion. I know we manage it most of the time but I'm not quite sure HOW we do it! We seem to manage to funnel the ideas of the young people and channel them into the work but I'm not sure whether it's something we're doing as a youthwork team or weather it's serendipity. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is working without me noticing exactly how. I don't know. What I do know is that we have a flipchart full of ideas for activities for our youth holiday (and we have a fabulous mural in the offing at the CofE school too!)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Worth a look

Now that Dave has his cartoons in the Church Times each week, I've made a point of sitting down and reading it in a little more depth than I have done. The guide to the church this week warns against the dangers of confusing a shed with a church - be warned Ian!

Anyway, the edition this week has a certain youthwork spin to it. There's an interview with a youthworker who's on the archbishop's council. According to Mark Russell, Dr Rowan Williams is excellent with young people. This is good news for those who will be taking teenagers to meet him tomorrow. Wish I could join you everyone! There was also an article reviewing some youth and children's work resources though some of them seemed less than recent.

However the article that interested me most was the plug for The Monastery. This is the latest in reality TV and I'm hoping it will be a revelation to people. Five men joined the monks at Worth Abbey for forty days and nights. It screens on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC 2 - take a look.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

For your shedification...

Ian seems a little bit SHED obsessed at the moment - especially with his post today! Apparently he's had more comments on his blog about the post on SHED than on his youth work postings recently.

This shouldn't be surprising, really, as sheds play an important role in church life, don't they?

You don't agree?

Well I think you must have forgotten the many FAMOUS hymns about sheds!

Some reminders for you:

In the hymn See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph one verse begins:
"Holy Ghost, llluminator, shed Thy beams upon our eyes,"

or in "Alleluia, alleluia! Hearts to Heaven and voices raise"

we have: "Christ is risen, we are risen! Shed upon us heavenly grace,"

or from "Through the night of doubt and sorrow"
"One the light of God’s own presence,
O’er His ransomed people shed,"

and what about
"Bread of the world, in mercy broken,
Wine of the soul, in mercy shed,"


"Bless├Ęd city, heavenly Salem," which gives us:
"From celestial realms descending,
Bridal glory round thee shed,"

and who can FORGET the immortal

"Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;"
from "Forty days and forty nights"


"And Thy fullest benediction Shed within its walls alway" from "Christ is made the Sure foundation"

and finally I don't know them myself but apparently there is a hymn called:
"For man the Savior shed"

and another:

"Sweetest joy the soul can know,
Fairest Light was ever shed,"

Yet the one most appropriate for Ian I think must be:

"Thou Lord, defend this land of ours,
Its smiling shores, its mountain towers;
Thy blessing on its future shed
Like morning dew when night is fled."

Many thanks to Cyberhymnal for the lyrics! and yes... my brain has gone loopy from the stress of our church hall being out of action!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

ABC easy as 123

Fabulous time wasting link from Kazza. Can you stop playing with these fridgemagnets?

This was a great diversion for me after a day of RUSHING ABOUT trying to sort out alternate youth events because our church hall is out of action indefinitely - aaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggh!

A Treasury of words

I was fascinated by Tim's adventures into the realms of treasure-hunting - I can just see him in a Captain Jack Sparrow kind of a style. Nice.

(Ok so it's only partially a good excuse to get a pic of Johnny in there!!!)

Yet these are not the only treasures to be discovered out there apparently. Peat Weblog has a fabulous link to a wonderful idea of a site recommended by Radio 4 apparently!

Book Crossing is a scheme whereby people DELIBERATELY leave books in public places, log the place they left it and await to see where it might have travelled!

Only trouble is I have to dig out some books I enjoyed but didn't love SO much that I can't part with them. I do have just a FEW books around the place. In fact someone sitting in my dining room recently looked up at the groaning shelves and said, "Sarah are those all your books?" "No," I answered, "the rest are upstairs!!" When I like to think I'm not too materialistic I have to remind myself about my love of books.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Christian Creature Comforts

I've only just had a chance to sit down and enjoy the new series of Creature Comforts from Aardman. Jonny Baker used the one about Cats and Dogs as part of our worship at The Matrix Youth conference earlier this year and I see a lot of potential for laughter and discussion with some young people.

There are sections on creation/evolution, Christmas and aliens as well as a fabulous episode apparently about buying pets but based on intervews with people about the dating game. It has a lot of really good stuff about self-worth.

I think this is why I have always LOVED the original Creature Comforts and why I was gutted to realised I'd missed the new series when it was on TV. I find the way that Nick Park et al. connect the human situations with our preceptions of corresponding (though not identical) situations in the animal world. Genius!

Well Ben M has taken up the challenge to write bible discussion notes for the series for me. What a star! Leaves me with plenty of time to conemplate the joys of the new Wallace and Gromit film!

Hitchhikers' Guide to the Blogosphere

I've been talking recently with some NEW readers to my blog about the nature of the whole blogging thing. We talked about how it was a good medium for logging what happens in my life and yet how it also dissipates some of my writing away from other projects such as the novel(s) I've been writing. However the biggest issue for a lot of people is about how you know what to write and what NOT to write in view of who might be READING the blog.

It's an interesting question.

As a person in ministry and someone with what could be considered, in some ways, a public role I have to think very carefully about what I put on the blog and, I must admit to you, my loyal blogees that I don't write about EVERYTHING in my life. There are a few things which get missed out quite deliberately.

How do I judge what I can and can't include? Well as a youth worker it's not too difficult.

I think to myself...

Would I be happy with my young people reading this?
Would the congregation be happy to read this?
How would the most sensitive person I know feel about it?

Yet it's more than the audience response alone. It's an interesting Christian reflection, as well, in the mode of loving your neighbour: What would the people I'm writing about think?

Obviously I don't want to flatter people or make out that they are amazing (though with most of the people I know that's tough because they ARE FABULOUS AND WONDERFUL PEOPLE!) and nor do I want to say horrible things about people but how much is "telling it like it is" only the truth from my perspective?

I think that's why I like the opportunity for people comment so much. You can get feedback on what you've said and especially what you've said about people.

So to the other bloggers out there....

How do YOU decide what does and what doesn't appear on your blog?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

BANKing Holiday weekend

I blame Peter for leading me to this site. It's a kind of stockmarket of blogs. Could there BE a bigger (and yet vaguely compelling) waste of time?

Strangest thing is that you don't have to register your site to be on... so now I have shares in several of the blogs I read!

Anyone fancy some shares in Deep Thought? It's fairly popular at the moment you know as I keep getting people looking for DEEP THOUGHT, BRAIN THE SIZE OF A PLANET and other HITCHHIKERS' GUIDE TO THE GALAXY phrases! Apologies to those getting here and being disappointed but if you've got so far and have enjoyed the blog...

... so long and thanks for all the traffic!