Saturday, December 24, 2005


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have seen Christ
in a dustman and a doctor.

God grant
That they may have seen Christ in me.

~ Joan Rowbottom,

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

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Duran duran 001

Duran duran 001
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran 008

Duran duran 008
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran still

Duran duran 028
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran pretty colours

Duran duran 033
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran duran again

Duran duran 041
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Duran Duran

Duran duran 045
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Images from Duran Duran at Earl's Court

Duran duran 037
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Wild Girls

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Google Fight

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

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

Any takers????

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Women and Men in Youth Ministry

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mystery of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to blog

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

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

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

You can download it in pdf or read it here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes to Brother Roger's Letter

(1) John 14:27

(2) 1 John 4:8

(3) Isaiah 43:4

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

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

(6) John 14:18 and 16:7

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Party time... Excellent!

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

Now in the box were...

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



then there was also....

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

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

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

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

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

"Ex-queeze me?"

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

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

ok ok I'll stop!

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

What can I give him?

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

My alternative idea for today:

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2005

Aslan like it

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

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

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

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


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

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

and finally...

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

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New light on the Gospel

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

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

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Lion King

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

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

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

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Deck the Lounge

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

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

A few lessons learnt though...

drinking mulled wine has its effects...

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wherefore art now?

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

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

Compton Durville
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Inner Light
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

New Song
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Holy Spirit
Originally uploaded by Sarah Hamilton.

Fresh SNOW

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

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hanging by a thread

Ahead of the more serious stuff coming...

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

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

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

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Return of the er... well not King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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