Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lighthouse day 2

Ok so today was my second day at Lighthouse Hazlemere and my turn for the talk at the start (below). It was pretty well received. The whole marquee went really quiet which I thought wasn't a great sign at first but then realised it meant that everyone was listening and not chatting!

Second night of Fresh Cafe was FABULOUS. I actually got to have a go on the human sized table football because I was encouraging a group of young people to have a go and they were one short so they encouraged me!

We have such a great team that all went smoothly and it was a great night for all. The highlight had to be the EXCLUSIVE WORLD DEBUT of UnderSide the latest Christian rock youth band. Awesome. Go guys!

So here's the talk (you won't get the Darth Vader impression which I did ad-lib but hopefully you get the message!

In these last few days you've been looking at the Star wars films and the story of Joseph and today I want to talk to you about CHOICES.

In these stories, as in life, people make important choices.

Joseph first makes some stupid choices. He decides to use his God given gift of prophetic dreams to shame his brothers and claim he is better than them.
He had a dream in which all his brothers bowed down to him

Anakin Skywalker also makes some bad choices. He follows a path that seems to lead to his destruction. He made a choice to follow the Dark side.

We are all free to make choices. That is the amazing thing about God’s creation. We’re not mere playthings of God, toys that he controls like the puppets in the drama section. God gave each of us free will. Now certainly God would like us to make certain choices. But the choice is ALWAYS ours.

In the same way that it is so much better for the children we're working with to make the CHOICE to behave. So God would rather we made the CHOICE to be good.

The choice is always YOURS.

Yet the amazing message that God has for us is that even when we make bad choices.If we acknowledge our bad choices and turn around. Then God welcomes us back

Joseph and Anakin both go through dark and difficult times because of their choices. They seem to be in wonderful positions of power and have everything anyone could want Jospeh lives in a great Egyptian palace, Anakin is practically the rule of the galaxy and yet for each of them something is missing.

When Joseph’s brothers visit him and seek his help. He has a choice to make. He could have rubbed their noses in it that he was right. There they were bowing before him but he doesn't. He acts out of love and gives them the food they need.

When Anakin (darth Vader) meets his son and his son seeks his help he has a choice. He can follow the Emperor and keep all the power he has over the universe or he can help his son.

Despite all their bad decisions of the past Joseph and Anakin make the right Choice.

They make a brave and selfless choice that seeks to help others no matter what the cost might be.

I don’t know where each of you is in your life with God.
I don’t know what choices you have facing you.
I do know that you have the power to make those choices because God gives us that power. We can rely on God's power to give us the strength to make those choices.
To make a good choice or a bad choice
I also know that God can and will forgive any bad choices you have made if you say sorry for them.

What choices to you have to make? Maybe it’s a choice to seek God

Ask God to help you make those choices

"No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8.37-39

I want you to remember that when you're making your choices.

I want you all to make a choice today. Today make the choice to serve God and make the choice to HAVE FUN.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Spread a little Bubbliness

A day of detachment today!

Not only was I detached from the SAOMC summer school but I was also in a detached support role at Lighthouse, Hazlemere our local Christian holiday club for children (900 or so of them!) and staffed to a large extent by teenage volunteers. My job was a kind of chaplaincy role, wandering between the different groups and talking with the teenage volunteers who were doing the actual job of the children's ministry.

Then I had a brief break to come home and change into something much warmer for the evening (actually I was pretty much cold all day as it was more like November than July and I was in sandals!) and as I was driving out in the huge queue of cars taking children home, some of the young volunteers who were sharing a car were letting bubbles out of the windows as we queued and as we drove along. It was a lovely sight and a real moment of sunshine on a cloudy afternoon's traffic jam.

Then I was back at the Lighthouse site again this evening for Fresh Cafe which is the reward we give to the teenage volunteers. Again I was detached - this time the detached team leader (ooooOOOooh!) so I was on the wander again spending time listening to the young people, talking to them or encouraging them to take part in the human table football (where people take the role of the footballers with harnesses tying them to the posts - well, elastic bands actually- in the giant inflatable pitch) or the silly hook a duck, splat the rate fair stalls we had.

Chatting to the members of my detached team and discussing exactly what the role was I felt a bit of a fraud to be doing what I was doing as WORK.

I know that there are plenty of people who would not want to do it but I got to spend the evening talking with teenagers, listening to Simple Reason and another local band (sorry guys I missed your name but you ROCKED!) and encouraging other adults in their work with young people.

Tomorrow I get to deliver the message to the volunteers at Lighthouse and then do the same detached role all day and all evening. I'm really looking forward to it.

Just think I could have spent today in silence at the SAOMC summer school. This is much more me. However I have learnt the value of quiet time and retreat which is why I'll be really pleased to be in Taize next week.

So Here we are to Worship

Great week (so far) learning all about liturgy with the SAOMC and also having a chance for some real quality time with Jo and with Mark as well as with people I see less often like Alex, Claire, Fiona and Malcolm. We've looked at the way the Eucharist service developed and how the pattern of daily prayer changed from seven times a day to twice a day and the impact Common worship has and, one of the most fascinating sessions for me, looking at what things have influenced and can influence the architectural construction of churches. I'm hoping to get back to join them for a session on hymns and hymnody on Friday (oh and a night out with the girls! ) .

Greatest quotable bit so far this week came from Michael Sansom:

"Orthodox liturgy is liturgy at full throttle!"

I couldn't agree more. This week has made me an even more passionate advocate of good well thought out (that doesn't mean rigid) liturgy. It has also consolidated my passion for advocating a common lectionary. To think that all the churches, no matter what style, theology, or denomination they might represent, hear the same Gospel message each Sunday is, for me, such a demonstration of the unity of diversity within the Christian church. It was with some sorrow that I discovered that many of the churches the people represented did not use the lectionary. So I'm intrigued.... those of you out in the blogosphere.... does your church stick with the lectionary or make "local" decisions about readings?

One curious thing this week, though. One person made a comment about me being there when I don't "have" to be. He seemed amazed that I could want to be there for the sessions even though I'm not exactly "doing" the qualification.

Well for me SAOMC provides a unique opportunity to meet Christians from an incredibly eclectic group of churches and churchmanships. It's a place full of adults (which is a change for me in many ways!) and a chance to use the part of my brain that likes to study. It is also a place where I have found some incredibly supportive friends who have encouraged me in my own faith and ministry journey. Some others are more aquaintances than friends (which is sometimes a shame) but there it is like a church, of sorts, and as someone who works for a church it is fabulous to have a Christian community where I'm not on duty sometimes.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Blogging Interrupted

Ok it's that summer season and I will be rather busy over the next week so blogs may be sparce.

Thereafter I will be in Taize for a week then back for a while and then off to Shropshire with the young people of All Saints and THEN off to Greenbelt - hurrah!

So apologies if you're bored and stuck with nothing to read.

I promise to save up all kinds of stories to put on the blog on my return.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Preach it brother!

Adrian Warnock has suggested that bloggers post about their favourite well-known preachers.

As Adrian suggests, I'm not going to include the preachers I probably know best but who are themselves not so well known. Otherwise I would, of course, mention Dave and Maureen and Peter. I find a good sermon something really inspiring and something I aspire to and ask God to bless me with.

So my top preachers that you may have heard of...

Br John of Taize who speaks with great biblical knowledge and yet a passionate energy for practical Christian action. His greatest gift is his humility about his own inspirational and insired ability.

Br Roger of Taize who, despite his great age and the brevity of his sermons, demonstrates an almost tangible Christian love when he speaks his simple and yet profoundly challenging messages.

(ok two Taize brothers first in the list - can you tell I can't wait to be back there? Only SEVEN DAYS to go - yay!)

Tony Campolo preaches with such energy and passion that you cannot fail to be provoked to action. His heart for social justice shines through his no nonsense setting for of the Christian gospel.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell blends a strong desire for evangelism with a deep theological learning and a gentle humour which engages his listeners so that they hear his message and carry it with them into their lives.

Now I'm a little distressed that this list doesn't include any women. This is certainly not to say tha I have never heard an inspiring woman preacher. Certainly not. However there are clearly fewer well-known or well-established female preachers.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Rapid time movement

Can't believe it was only a week agao that I was in Hyde Park listening to R.E.M. Now you can listen to it online for seven days. Wish I could keep it somehow :o(

Maybe they'll do a live album of it.

It's taken me right back there.

I can still feel that wonderful smiling face and gentle evening sunshine during The One I love :oD a really positive "life is good" moment of feeling connected to God, connected to people and content within myself and my life. It brings it back just listening to it. Wow!

(oh and time does indeed fly - I feel rather old this evening as my next door neighbours got broken into and the police came round. I have reached that age of thinking "blimey police officers have got young!")

Full Blooded plot

Ok so I've finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.


I won't make any comment as I hate to spoil books for people.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Gregorian Charm

A few days ago I posted about Gregory of Nyssa and his homily. I haven't been able to find it anywhere online so here it is:

"When we look down from the sublime words of the Lord into the ineffable depths of his thoughts, we have an experience similar to that of gazing down from a high cliff into the immense sea below. On the coastline one can often see rocky cliffs where the seaward face has been sliced off sheer from the top to the bottom, with the tops of the cliff projecting outwards forming a promontory overhanging the depths. If anyone were to look down from such a lofty height into the sea below they would feel giddy. This is exactly as my soul feels now, as it is raised from the ground by this mighty word of the Lord: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

God offers himself to the vision of those whose hearts have been purified. And yet, as the great John says: ‘No one has seen God at any time’ And the sublime mind of Paul confirms this opinion when eh says that ‘no one has seen or can see God’. God is the slippery steep crag which yields no footholds for our imagination. Moses too, in his teaching, declares that God is so inaccessible that our mind cannot approach him. He explicitly discourages any attempt to apprehend God, saying, ‘No one can see the Lord and live.’ To see the Lord is eternal life, and yet these pillars of the faith, John, Paul and Moses, all declare it to be impossible! What vertigo in the soul this causes! Confronted by the profundity of these words I am confounded.

If God is life, then they who do not see God do not see life. On the other hand, the divinely inspired prophets and apostles assert that it is impossible to see God. Is not all human hope thus destroyed? But the Lord supports our faltering hope, just as he grasped Peter when eh was in danger of sinking and stood him on the waves as thought it were solid ground. If, then, the hand of the Word is extended to us also, supporting those who are at sea in the midst of conflicting speculations, we can be without fear. We are gripped by the guiding hand of the Word who says to us: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

Those who see God shall possess in this act of seeing everything that is good: eternal life, eternal incorruption, unending bliss. With these things we shall experience the joy of the eternal kingdom in which happiness is secure; we shall see the true light and hear the delightful voice of the Spirit; we shall rejoice unceasingly in all that is good in the inaccessible glory of God. This is the magnificent consummation of our hope held out to us by the promise of this Beatitude."

What a message! What a preacher! God help me to be as inspiring in the talks I'm working on for our youth holiday and the children's holiday club.

Size Matters

Last night I watched Victoria Wood's excellent documentary about size, weight, health and body image.

Some really good insights into the importance of self worth for people and the difficulty of achieving that in a world which portrays stick thin as the ideal and never shows "normal" sized people without criticism of them being fat.

Sarah Ferguson reflected on how a lot of her own self perception of herself was based on what other people around her said and thought. She reflected on her own appearance in the light of the glamour of her sister in law Diana. Ok that's got to be pressure hasn't it?

I am constantly grateful to my parents for bringing me up in such a loving home that I have never felt SO bad about my appearance or weight that it depressed me or stopped me doing anything I wanted to do. I really don't look in the mirror and think "ugh!" I may not be Jennifer Aniston or Keira Knightly but I think I look ok and sometimes I even look great! (Awaiting evidence of photo from Ami's camera of me at the R.E.M. gig!)

Well that's great for me but I want to be able to pass that feeling on to the young people I work with as well as to my friends and colleagues. How do I do that though? Well I think it is very simple really. So simple that it's too obvious and we might miss it.

The simple solution to a world in which people feel bad about themselves is the solution Jesus himself offered to those who felt bad about themselves.

Jesus' offering was LOVE. Pure and simple.

That is why I have a positive self image. That is the only way people can have such a high self esteem.

So today is the day for you to tell someone not that they look NICE but that they look BEAUTIFUL or GORGEOUS or STUNNING.

Do it today!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Check me out!

Thank you to all those who helped out with the worship question. Those of you still skulking in the shadows, I apologise for inflicting any sense of guilt!

I finally managed to get all the practical details of the youth holiday sorted today. That just leaves a few financial, spiritual and emotional things to do! I also have a talk for the children's club next week for the teenagers working with the young ones. The theme for the week is Star Wars tied in with the story of Joseph. Once I set my brain to it I'm rather loooking forward to that one.

Today however seemed a bit like a Felix felicis day (Hary Potter mark : p. 461) as I got lots done, had a good lunch with the local youth workers AND got a call from one of the DYAs asking for my expertise on youth work in a non-evangelical church context. THEN this evening we had a great time at choir. First with a game of Pulpit Pom-Pom with the junior choristers and then a wonderful time singing Tallis' If ye love me, a new (to us) Magnificat by Ralph Vaughan Williams and best of all Hubert Parry's My soul there is a country. Sheer heaven!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Y Worship


22 unique visitors today and 11 comments - 50% turnout. That's better than a local election!

Come on the rest of you though...

I know you've been looking (and some have come back twice!). You know you want to.

I worship God because...


For one of the sessions on the Youth Holiday I want a load of statements from different people.

Can I please ask EVERYONE who sees this post to add a comment which completes this sentence:


Go on you know you want to. Even those of you who have NEVER commented and yet seem to look in fairly often - you KNOW who you are!!! (But I don't, curiously enough!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I just can't get you outta my head

Well ever since I went to the R.E.M. concert in Hyde Park last saturday (due to be broadcast on Radio 2 this Saturday - hurrah!) I have been singing this song in my head.

You will be pleased to know that the blog doesn't DO sound but this is what I've been, humming, singing and generally embarassing myself with in public!

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I've left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Fire (she's comin' down on her own, now)

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I've left behind
Another prop has occupied my time
This one goes out to the one I love

and for anyone who is wondering...

Harry Potter progress = page 374.

Gregory of Nyssa

Today the church celebrates Gregory of Nyssa and his sister Macrina. I remembered these two figures from our studies on the early church at SAOMC and yet I was surprised to be deeply impressed with the wisdom of Gregory in the passage set from one of his homilies for this morning's office.

I have been trying to track it down on the internet but as yet without success.

Gregory is reasonably well known for focussing on God as mystery, as unknowable. This is the theme he explored in the passage I read this morning.

He compared contemplating God to someone contemplating the deep sea from a high cliff; an experience that would produce a kind of spiritual and theological vertigo.

If I can't find the whole text I might even resort to typign it in. I really found it THAT awe- inspiring.

I'm currently working on the talks for our summer residential and I wish I could give such inspiration to the young people as Gregory's words have done to me and surely to so many others down the centuries.

When we met with the young people who are going on the holiday we got them to pose us the most tricky and challenging questions that they had about God and faith and church. We've been fairly brave (perhaps too brave!) and opted to tackle these:

  • Who is God and how do we know he exists?
  • Why do we worship God?
  • Where is God in my life?
  • How do we communicate with God?
  • What does all this mean for me?
Any suggestions for activities, passages, prayers, talks or mind-blowing inspirations welcome!

Don't just sit there - do something

Ever wanted to DO something???

Well this website offers mutual encouragement.

Have a look at the Pledgebank

Monday, July 18, 2005

HP progress

As Ian has suggested I have been spending SOME time reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Cracking Stuff.

I wouldn't dare give anything away.

Page 212 so far...

One day I will get back to reading Mark Earey's Liturgical Worship for the SAOMC summer school but not just yet!

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Concert last night was FANTASTIC

Just what I needed to bring out my inner Tigger!

I didn't actually swing straight from Eeyore to Tigger in fact. It was a gradual process that was kicked off by me finding a new minibus for the youth holiday! Rather a tense time on Thursday and Friday when we just didn't have one - eek!

However I have totaly confirmed that I'm an extrovert. I was walking back through the crowd to get to the bar and I was just SO energised by seeing all the people. It was wonderful.

We got to hear some great music but actually the whole vibe of the place of people being positive and hopeful and expectant. There was this haze of positive energy shining around with the sunshine.

I went with Ami and some of her friends and their friends. It was a really mixed group. Several of us had never met the others so it was a real get to know you time as we sat on the grass in Hyde Park first under the baking sun and then under the ever-changing sky of the encroaching evening.

I have pictures of that time but I'm afraid I was too busy jumping, swaying and whooping later on!

We then went back for drinks at Russ's place and so we didn't get back to High Wycombe until 2 am but it was SO worth it. It was even worth leaving Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at home unopened. I shall be beginning that shortly!

Friday, July 15, 2005

St Swithun's day

According to legend, if it rains today then it rains for 40 days.

Why? You might ask.

Well it all harks back to the time when St Swithin, the bishop of Winchester died he asked to be buried outsideand he was. Years later the monks decided that a splendid shrine INSIDE the cathedral would be more fitting. However when they made the decision it rained solidly and heavily for forty days and forty nights so that the monks could not move his body due to the torrential rain.

This is delightfully recorded by woodlands junior school in Kent and you can see more about Winchester Cathedral here.

One of the things I remembered about St Swithun from my studies was that his shrine (now lost - thanks Henry VIII) was one of those which had holes in so that pilgrim could get really up close and person with the saint.

Anyone wanting to know more, there's something a lot meatier at the Medieval Sourcebook.

Eyeore moments

Most people who know me will tell you that it is rather rare for me to get grumpy or down but there were a couple of things yesterday that just really niggled at me and so today I'm not really in a the mood to blog positively about life in general. I know I can work one of them out as it just means working darn hard to sort something at work but the other one is not to be solved by anything I can do and is just going to simmer away which is frustrating but there you go.

Hence the next post. Detached. Infomative. Impersonal.

Normal service will resume shortly.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

John Keble

We remember John Keble today, or at least we are called to do so.

It's one of those names you say "oh yes" and might remember something but not necssarily anything too clear unless you have particular reason to do so.

If you're of a certain generation it may merely conjur memories of the Monty Python sketch concerning Keble Bollege Oxford.

For others it may be the vague remembrance of the name at the bottom of a hymn such as New Every Morning is the Love or Blest are the Pure in Heart.

For those for whom nothing is conjured, may I enlighten you:

Keble, John (1792-1866)

John Keble was educated at Oxford where he became a fellow of Oriel College (1811-23). He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1831 to 1841, and from 1836 until his death thirty years later he was priest of a small parish in the village of Hursley, near Winchester.
In 1827, he published (originally anonymously) a book of poems called The Christian Year, containing poems for the Sundays and Feast Days of the Church Year. The book sold many copies, and was highly effective in spreading Keble's devotional and theological views. His style was more popular then than now, but some of his poems are still in use as hymns.

On 14 July 1833, he preached the Assize Sermon at Oxford. (This sermon marks the opening of a term of the civil and criminal courts, and is officially addressed to the judges and officers of the court, exhorting them to deal justly.) His sermon was called "National Apostasy," and denounced the Nation for turning away from God, and for regarding the Church as a mere institution of society, rather than as the prophetic voice of God, commissioned by Him to warn and instruct the people. The sermon was a nationwide sensation, and is considered to be the beginning of the religious revival known as the Oxford Movement or Tractarian Movement (so called because of a series of 90 tracts, known as Tracts for the times.

Keble translated the works of Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century) and an edition of the works of Richard Hooker (1554-1600), He also wrote more books of poems, and numerous hymn lyrics. Three years after his death, his friends and admirers established Keble College at Oxford.

But I leave you with Keble's own words:

The Church has in these later ages been gradually growing imperfect and languid in her discharge of both her duties. She has not shown her ancient bold front to the civil power when profane or encroaching. She has not kept her old jealous watch against utilitarian breaches of order, or philosophical perversion of truth within her precincts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Girls are from Mars...?

One of the male teenagers I work with has blogged something on the way that girls treat guys.

I found it very illuminating and thought those in youth work would also be interested. As might those doing adolescence for their SAOMC essay!

Sexism, SterioTyping + Lies

I am just sick of hearing girls slagging boys off, what have we done to them,
Nd all the sayings Everyones gotta assume thatthe boy is cheating
I mean all the songs from like destinies Child is bout Guys Cheating on girls nd how they lie

Yes I aint one sided here, guys do cheat on girls yes some guys are dicks and will lie
But most dont, so why do girls have to steriotype the guys into summing bad?
Yet when the profe that the nice guys do exist in your life right next to you
You dont wanna take it in. Why do boys diserve this?

What Have we done? Yet all of us are cheaters who just want sex, and nothing else
When was the last time a girl came and sat down and talked to me bout summing without it somehow turning into summing sexual. Girls then also lie alot more than guys i mean in a realtionship

The Guy is more open about it, nd the girl is not and wont open her feelings and talk about everything

Afriad It will hurt us? Well u know it hurts more knowing that u keep secrets from us.
+ We wil find out, we aint as stupid as we look either. On the surface we may look simple but we are much more complex, most of the boys i know are even more emtional than girls.
We have more hobbies than girls i mean like we have sports technology, Transport all kinda things
But what are girls into? Makeup and Shopping to make them selfs look good, for who? the cat?
Its guys they dress up for, Even when they have a boyfriend / Husband They still ahve a thought that someone nicer, more hansome might be there. That makes us feel great dont it, knowing the only reason
You dress up for to look nice for Guys.

Nd This is a Proven Fact that Girls Sleep around more boys in Relationsships
Nd all the boys cheat do they?
For that reasoni know why girls dont tell their feelings cos they never are 100% for one guy.
Theres always someone else. they wont talk about. Yet they deny it you can still tell
When was the last thing u saw slagging of woman? But theres Plenty Slaggiung of Guys
Oh What Jerk we are, Why? Just cos you slept round nd they guy caught you nd dumped you?
Nd then they dont know how they feel?!?! Whats going on eh?
One day they love you another they dont? Nd they dont even have a reason for it!
PLease i wanna understand this someone explan,
But no girl will cos they wont say what they are really thinking
What they are really feeling.
Thats about all i gotta say But please remeber if i didt make it clear ::

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

YB late night worship

Agent K and I were leading the late night worship on Saturday night.

Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures but imagine a large old barn with two paddling pools (one blue filled with water - and giant jenga blogs around the edge - and one yellow full of play sand) There is also a rather funky light display that looks like flowing water.

Into this dark space come 60 or so young people and leaders. There is some chillout music playing (details on request).

This evening we are continuing to focus on the Story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. After Jesus death two of his followers left Jerusalem for a town called Emmaus. Cleopas and his companion are relatively unknown and yet they were part of the founding of the church. God takes ordinary people and brings them into his story and uses them.

So leave behind all the things of the world. The things that are on your mind. We invite you to join Cleopas and his companion on a journey. Leave behind this time and enter God’s story. Let God’s story be your story.

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?" Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?" He said, "What has happened?" Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus." Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him. They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"

Luke 24:13-32 in the Message version from Crosswalk.

So you’re on that journey with your friend Cleopas. Take some sand to help you think about that long dusty journey.

We feel the sand

You and Cleopas think about all the things that have happened with Jesus. The supper for Passover and that thing with the cup and the bread. Then the time in the Garden and Jesus is arrested and killed.

Then this strange news from the women that his body has disappeared.

A Person meets you

He asks what you have been talking about and you tell him all about it.

Then he asks but what has been happening in YOUR life and you start to tell him all the things that you’ve done. The stuff you’re really pleased about your family, your friends.

Then you realise you’re telling this guy everything you’ve ever done including all the stuff you know you shouldn’t have done. The stuff you’re not proud of the stuff you wish you hadn’t done. Things you would never tell ANYONE not even your mates or your family.

And he listens

He just takes it all.

So imagine all of those things. All of those uncomfortable niggling things are the grains of sand in your hand.

Jesus is going to take them all from you all the it. So just drop it.

It’s gone.

Even those little bits that cling. The things you can’t quite let go. He’ll take all of those. Wash your hands in the pool and see – it all goes away.

People wash their hands in the pool

Then you travel on

You and Cleopas arrive at Emmaus

You invite the man to share bread with you and he takes the bread and breaks it and THEN that’s when you see Jesus for who he is.

We share some bread
As we eat it think about community and how People do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Jesus said I am the bread of Life.

Bread – it’s boring it’s an everyday thing.

So often we think about all those everyday material things.

It’s in the breaking of the bread that we see Jesus and what is the response of Cleopas and his companions. They had tracked seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus and their reaction to seeing Jesus is to leap into action and go straight back. They are fired up by it.

Jesus’ story doesn’t lead us only to hear it, to take it in but to take that story out.

Jesus leaves you but he remains with you in spirit and in the sharing of bread

Bread is not what life is about. Life is about something deeper.

It’s not about what you put in your mouth but what words you speak with your mouth and allow God to speak through you.

We’ve thought about our community here and our communities at home.

When you go home what are you going to say to people? Are you just going to tell them what you ate?

Or will you tell them something deeper?

What are you feeding yourself with do you need to rely on the holy Spirit

How is your life going to be changed?

Now that’s all from us.

As a sign of the message you’re going to share the light of Christ that you’re going to shine into the world, you can light a candle and set it floating in the pool. I don’t want you to do this because it seems like fun. Only if you really want to make a commitment to shine as a point of light in the darkness of the world. To show that you are going to focus not on bread but on the word of God.

Light floating candles
So you go out to share the message

What message are you going to share?

Monday, July 11, 2005

In tents day

I've had a day of mostly chilling after the busy weekend of Yellow Braces 05 and then the Taize service at All Saints and the barbecue for the group going to Taize this summer from the Oxford Diocese.

It was all wonderful but rather tiring!

So today was much quieter including a lie-in, lunch with my dad and then a trip over to a camping exhibition with Agent K.

I got myself a lovely new tent for Taize and Greenbelt which is BIGGER than my existing tent and only £20 - most pleasing!

Yellow Braces 05

Well SIX accident report sheets later.... YB 05 is over :o(

Seriously though it was the BEST ever!

Such a wonderful group of young people, an AMAZING team, some amazing worship and a real feeling of a community being sent out!

Youthblog has managed something vaguely coherent earlier today which was before I finally emerged from under the duvet.

The only thing I can think of is a brief "awards nomination"

For receiving the most nicknames in one week the award goes to Aidan/Sasquatch/Squishy/Squashy/Splashy/Sas.

For temerity in the grip on a walkie talkie the award goes to Amy.

For randomness of early morning confusion the award goes to Kathryn "Max Bygraves?" Campbell.

For unbelievably tidiness, early rising and being packed up ALREADY the award goes to Yvonne "the mummy" Morris.

For endurance in the face of extreme tiredness in the face of illness the award goes to Ian.

Any more suggestions?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Youthblog infiltration

I'm blogging from Youthblog central this morning as we're finalising stuff for Yellow Braces this weekend.

And also the amazing news that I've not got a PORPOISE!

Hopefully I will have some pictures of the exciting activities such as waterballoon volleyball and the late night worship (to whet your appetite the latter invovles not ONE but TWO paddling pools!)

Whilst Ian, Kathryn and I are away this weekend there is still interesting stuff to read out there in the blogosphere.

Check out the questions about youth work that Roy has posted.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London in chaos

Shocking news this morning.

I've fortunately heard from two friends who work in London (one who had only recently got off one of the tube trains involved) but am still waiting to hear from two others.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved through injury, loss, worry and confusion.

Picture from BBC news

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Google mouthed

Slightly weird website recommended by my friend Chris.

It's a random sentence generator that uses Google.

Simply type in a few words and it randomly selects words from sentences (with those words in) which it finds on Google.

Weird but funny!

So far I have generated...

Ian Macdonald likes to say yes to the new World Order; the rise of the machines...

Tim and the dragon the Story of the baby Jesus in the Manger

Pete smells like teen spirit by soundcraft.

Ben is like a roadmap for peace in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dave draws cartoons in his spare time. he enjoys spending time with you and your research by providing a forum for discussion of the Dictionary of the english Language.

Just think - this could end the need for actually THINKING about what to say!!!!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Lack of Progress

Day off today so it only began at 11am when I deigned to get up - HEAVEN!

There won't be much on here today as I am mostly curled up with a book. I'm reading Patrick Parker's Progress by Mavis Cheek. She is a wonderful writer as her characters are delightfully uncomfortable to the reader and her observations on the interplay between people and their internal monologues are enviably perceptive.

If you're looking for amusement. Today I recommend the caption contest at youthblog or the amusing MAKE POVERTY HISTORY cartoon at Dave's Cartoon Church.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Without a shadow of a doubt

This was what I wrote for my sermon this morning. However I never actually read them out as I find I make much more sense if I simply talk rather than read and the original text is never what comes out.

Visual aids included a hairdryer, some of those handheld windmill things and an inflatable cube.

We had the story of Thomas today. Thomas didn't believe it when his friends told him that they had seen Jesus.

Imagine if someone said to you that yesterday there was a TEN HOUR concert and 9 concerts in total with BILLIONS of people watching it? If you'd not seen nything about the Live8 concerts you might not believe that.

Some people will tell you that I once launched a large inflatable into this church.

Would you believe them?

Do you think that I would have been ALLOWED to send a big bouncey cube to float about during the service? Sounds rather strange.

Well it’s true I really did.

But you don’t always believe things people tell you.

Just like Thomas in our reading this morning sometimes we feel we have to see them for ourselves.

Thomas had been away when all his friends had seen something amazing. Something so WONDERFUL the best thing they could possibly imagine. Their friend was not dead but alive. The hope they had put in Jesus was justified.

Thomas would have wanted to believe that but just imagine it. What one thing would you REALLY want to happen. If someone told you it had happened – wouldn’t part of you not really believe it? Would you believe it though if you hadn’t seen it for yourself?

Thomas said he wouldn’t. He said he needed not only to SEE Jesus alive again but to touch his wounds to prove he wasn’t a ghost a trick or some other person who just looked a lot like him.

Then of course Thomas DID see Jesus and what was his response. He saw JESUS. A man who had died and who was alive again. Not just any man. A special man. Unique no-one had ever been like Jesus before. Seeing this amazing man back from the dead Thomas KNOWS that he is really something special. He KNOWS how special as he says to Jesus

My Lord and my God

This is a fantastic statement. FINALLY one of the disciples has really got it. Jesus isn’t just another preacher. He’s far more than that.

Yet Jesus isn’t as pleased as u might think he would be. He says to Thomas

"Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Who is Jesus talking about there?

Who but us? Pope Gregory the Great who lived 1400 years ago cherished this passage of the bible because it spoke directly about those of us who believe in Jesus without having seen him. Gregory lived 600 years after Jesus and we live 2000 years after Jesus but that passage can still speak about us.

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Well they say that seeing is believing

We believe in lots of things because we can see them. Yet that’s not really BELIEF it’s not faith.

In our modern world, so often, things are not always what they seem computers can now do amazing things with film and pictures to create things that have never really happened.

But believing isn’t always about seeing.

Can we believe in things that we don’t see? Can we believe the things that are said in the bible when we didn’t see them ourselves?

Well there are many things that we believe in that we can’t see

We can’t see electricity and yet we KNOW that it’s there.

We can’t see air but it’s clearly around us

It’s the same with heat or the power of a magnet

Someone told me we can’t see Dark Matter and yet apparently it’s what makes up most of the universe.

Well there are many things that we believe in that we can’t see as such but we can see their effect.

So you can’t see electricity but you know that there is electricity running through this cable when it makes this hairdryer blow

And you know the air is there because you can see it make the windmill turn.

There are much bigger things too.

We can’t see LOVE but we know it’s there by the effect it has.

We cannot see Jesus. Thomas had not seen Jesus but he could have SEEN the effect Jesus had had on the other disciples and WE can see the effect Jesus has on the lives of others.

Whenever somebody challenges me to PROVE that God exists I say I can’t and I won’t. God IS THERE. I know it. I believe it. I don’t think it’s a matter of PROOF. But I see God’s effect on my life

There are many people in this world who will tell you about Jesus and the amazing thing he did – the fact that he died for us and rose again from the dead to put an end to death.

None of those people has seen Thomas but each of them was told it by someone else and each of them has seen the effect that Jesus had on their lives and the lives of others.

Just as the electricity is the power we can’t see, and the air it sets moving is something we can’t see, so God is an unseen power in our lives but God’s effect is very visible.

The disciples and Thomas SAW Jesus and the effect that had on their lives was great enough that hundreds of people followed them while they were alive and NOW millions of people believe in Jesus’ message because of those first disciples.

What is that message of Jesus? Well I think it is summed up pretty well in what Paul wrote to those people in Ephesus

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

This is the amazing truth that YOU are loved and accepted just as you are. There’s no need to wear the right clothes, drive a particular sort of car, listen to certain kinds of music. God loves you and it’s that LOVE that you can see in the lives of people who are active Christians.

And how did all those people become Christians? Well it was like I said and as Paul says
you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

It is an amazing message. I think it is the best news in the world. It’s not just the good news It’s the best news.

It doesn’t end there though.

Just as you are loved by God so is everyone else in this church, in this town in this country in this whole world.

As Paul says about Jesus
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
Being loved by God isn’t the end of the message of Jesus but only the beginning. It demands a response from us. If someone says to you “I love you” you don’t just say “oh that’s nice” It effects you. It has an impact on the way you are and on your relationship with that person. You might do things that person wants you to do.

Because God loves us we become people who show God’s love to others together the church is what Paul calls the dwelling place for God.

In sending his son to die on a cross and to come back to life again. God was telling us he loved us. That was the wonderful news Thomas couldn’t quite believe without seeing the proof. So because God tells us that He loves us, we should build our relationship with him. We should talk to him and we should listen to him. Just like Habbakuk we need to listen for God’s call to us:

I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint

What does God say to us? To all those people who he loves? What does he say to you? I think his call to all of us is to remember that God loves every person on this earth. God loves the people who watched Live8 yesterday. God loves the people in Africa who are in poverty. God loves the people who can make a difference about that and God loves each of you. You are people who can make a difference and God can show you how. You just need to listen.

In response to what he saw when he met the risen Jesus, Thomas is said to have traveled through many countries taking the message of Jesus with him. What will you do to show this unseen God to other people?

Not just each of us as individuals but as a church what will we do to become that dwelling place of God?
We too need to pass on that message that Thomas passed down to so many who passed the message on. So that we can truly say
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Have been LOVING the Live8 concert - of course - U2 and Paul McCartney - just genius. Joss Stone rocked, Madonna - wow - ROBBIE WILLIAMS he's JUST superb.

However I have to say the highlight for me has to be the moment when Bob Geldof introduced the child who was filmed 20 years ago and is now taking her agricultural exams because of the money raised by Live Aid.

Seeing this tangible evidence of what can be achieved really struck home for me. Ok let's be honest... it brought tears to my eyes.

Live 8 isn't about some imagined horror. It's about reality. Real people. It's down to us in this powerful developed country to fight for the rights of those who need to fight for their own survival.

So to Gordon Brown, to Tony Blair to all those powerful leaders meeting in Scotland this week, you know what we want: MAKE POVERTY HISTORY.

To register your support you can sign up to the petition or even better you can upload your photo to be included in the gallery they'll have at Edinburgh. This is now up and running (well with a few glitches but be persistent!)

Just a moment though.... is that Rolf from the Muppets???

oh no... it's Razorlight - my mistake!

Pictures from the BBC

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ca Commence

I think George Lucas could learn a few things about making a decent prequel from Mr Christopher Nolan.

I have just been to see Batman Begins and it was FABULOUS!

I loved it.

I have to say bits of it were a little bit scary and this wuss had to shut her eyes when the scarecrow got nasty! It was a far cry from tha lovable bundle of straw in the Wizard of Oz!

Christian Bale was an excellently moody dark hero but the whole show was stolen by Michael Caine as Alfred. I heard Caine talking on Steve Wright about the film and he says he based Alfred on his first Sergeant in the army. He was just wonderful and had all the best lines (except one!) I particularly liked...

"All those bloody press-ups and you can't lift a b****y log"

However Batman also had some excellent things to say about anger, justice and vengeance.

Aside from the bizarre Quigon Jin flashbacks when Liam Neesom was telling the young Bruce Wayne about the power of anger.

Bruce Wayne is challenged to think about the difference between justice and revenge. One serves harmony the other serves self.

Katie Holmes, playing Rachel Dawes Bruce's childhood playmate, delivered a great line as well:

"It's not what you are on the inside that matters. It's what you do that defines you."