Thursday, March 31, 2005

Eats shoots and leaves...

My dad saw this great sign when we were visiting relatives down in Sussex. Supposed tobe one item but it SO reads like two - eugh!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


The latest list of bloogles:

God moves at the speed of light
Habbo Hotel stacking shelves
Why are syrup bottles shaped like women
Hallelujah stand tradition King denmark
The song I thought I had my life together
Merovingians and carnivale

The last one made me feel rather guilty because my blog description says I talk about Merovingians and I really haven't done so in a while so here comes a Merovingian blog. For those who fear history... look away now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Inter Rogations

When we were looking through all the books for our services for Easter, we saw the sections on ROGATIONS and some of my colleagues didn't know what they were or what they meant.

Well, it just so happens that this is one of those FEW things that I learned when study ing Merovingians which actually relates to modern church life in some way.

The institution of Rogations byt Bishop Mamertus of Vienne is recorded by Gregory of Tours in his Decem Libri Historiarum, II.34.

Rogations were basically a procession or prayer walk around the churches city of Vienne. No need for me to tell you all athe detail as there are plenty of links here for you to follow. Interestingly, Ian Wood, an early medieval historian talks about how Mamertus planned the rogations to be particularly appealing to people because of where the route went. Ancient liturgy wasn't all about doing the PROPER thing. There was some consumer consideration involved! Perhaps this could be a lesson to us?

So many ALTERNATIVE worship initiatives are actually based on ancient practices these days... maybe we'll see some Rogations of young people on 25th April?

New link

Picked up on a new cartoon yesterday.

Go check out Brian's Guide for some helpful advice from a wise young rabbit!

Gotta love it!

I'm not going to be online for a few days so I'm leaving you a few things to ponder in my absence!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Blog and google = ?

I'm quite new to this idea of being able to see how people got to my blog via google, yahoo etc. but I really rather love finding these blog googles. The are such fun that I really think they shoul dbe called BLOOGLES - did I hear that somewhere before or did my brain invent it?

Latest bloogles:

Frederick Varley Liberation
Menonites Ontario
Deep thought prayer
Dessert island
Trade justice sermon
Open Theology
Radio 4 desert island discs

... and finally two where I seem to be benefiting from ecumenism and interdiocesan links!:
St Mary’s Somerstown
Union Baptist Church High Wycombe

Sunday, March 27, 2005


We had an amazing but exhausting time last night at our Easter Watch leading to the Easter Vigil - staying up ALL NIGHT with activities and readings charting the history of God's people in the Old Testament and running up to Jesus' passion throughout the night.

I'm pretty spaced as I was on duty from 8pm Saturday until 11am Sunday non-stop which was rather draining and yet FAB!

We all went down to church at aroun 10pm and hid all the Easter eggs for the children's Easter egg hunt in church the next day. It was particulalry cool as we all had some of those glow in the dark glow sticks which look SO cool in a larg dark medieval church! We also made chocolate Easter egg nests and created special placemats for all the parishioners who were joining us for the 5.30am Vigil Mass (with Easter Fire which is pretty cool) and the subsequent breakfast.

I then went on to lunch with my dad, my brother and his in-laws which was great fun but it did mean I am only now getting tothe point of thinking about sleep. THis may be my earliest night in YEARS

I wanted to post Frederick Varley's Liberation, which I've raved about before, for Easter this year but a lack of time (and copyright law) haven't let me do that. Anyway, you should really see the full size 6ft tall image at the AGO in Toronto for the full effect!

Jesus Christ is Risen - Alleluia!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Simon of Cyrene

My reflection from a group of them for Good Friday:

Simon of Cyrene, a Jew (from his forename) from Africa, coming in late from the country, as Luke tells us for Passover, (father of Alexander and Rufus according to Mark) shows us two important things.

Firstly, we can take on the role of Simon and in that role we can be right there with Christ approaching his crucifiion. This close, there is no mistaking the difficulty and the agony of Christ; the blood sweat and tears. This great suffering is something we may shy away from and if it has done nothing else, Mel Gibson’s the Passion has shown the reality of the pain and brutality of Jesus’ death. Yet that film also includes an extremely poignant portrayal of Simon of Cyrene.

We see a man, taken from the crowd, forced to the ignominy of helping what a new arrival like himself would assume to be a criminal about to be executed. Yet in sharing Christ’s burden with him, in travelling on that journey to Golgotha, Simon sees not only the suffering of Christ but also the witness of Christ’s passion. In that sudden degrading experience, we see Simon transformed by Christ’s presence; his humility and is endurance.

Simon’s role is thrust upon him. He felt unready and frankly hard done-by but he takes up the cross for Christ.

This is for me the second thing Simon teaches us. He not only shows us the suffering of Christ up close but also takes on Christ’s role. He takes up his Cross.

In Jesus’ own words to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to follow me must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.

This is not an easy call. Being of the world is the easy call. Being of Christ is the tough call.

Nevertheless Jesus calls us, as Simon was called, to follow in his name.

In many of the churches in Wycombe throughout this lent Lent, we have been studying the Beatitudes and the example of Simon of Cyrene reminds me of another statement of Blessedness:

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

So often to represent Christ seems the hard choice in life not something we might consider blessed. Just as we have been unravelling the complexities of the beatitudes in our lent groups; Jesus assertion that those, who some might considered to be suffering are in fact blessed.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit.

Blessed are those who mourn.

Just as in these statements of the beatitudes, Christ was saying that those who opened up their hearts and eyes to acknowledge their spiritual poverty, to mourn over the state of the world by seeing it through Christ’s eyes, so too, with Simon it is right to say:

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. .

Not because the one who comes in the name of the Lord will have an easy time.

Simon would have been reviled for being forced to carry the cross of Jesus, yet he was blessed by his own self-sacrifice and we too, if we take up our cross, no matter how tough that might make life for us, we may be considered blessed to come on the name of the Lord.

However, if we can take up that cross and deny ourselves If we, like Simon, can truly take on Christ; be in Christ in the agony of Good Friday then we can truly come to be with Christ in the Joy of Easter and then we will be blessed.

Friday, March 25, 2005

God's Friday

Being Good Friday and at a fairly traditional church, it's been a busy (yet wonderfuly inspiring!) day.

So for your consideration a bit from one of my most favourtie finds when Iw as studying Anglo Saxon poetry.

The Dream of the Rood
(here in translation)
Hwæt, I will recount the best of dreams,
which I dreamed in the middle of the night,
after speech-bearers turned to rest.
It seemed to me that I saw a most wondrous tree,
the brightest of rood-trees, extend aloft
encircled by light. That sign was completely
covered with gold; jewels stood
beautiful, at the surface of the earth;
likewise there were five
up on the shoulder-beam. Many hosts of angels
- fair by their pre-ordained condition -
gazed thereupon; nor was that indeed a criminal's cross,
but holy spirits, men over the earth,
and all this famous creation gazed upon it.
Wondrous was the tree of victory, and I with sins stained,
wounded sorely with blemishes. I saw the tree of glory
beautifully shine, adorned in its covering,
adorned with gold; jewels
But still through that gold I was able to perceive
the earlier enmity, as it had immediately begun
to bleed on the right half.
I was completely afflicted with sorrows;
I was fearful because of that beautiful vision.
I saw that shining sign
change covering and colour;
sometimes it was made moist with blood,
drenched with blood's flow,
sometimes adorned with treasure.
But yet I lying a long time there
gazed at the Saviour’s troubled tree,
until that I heard it call out;
the best wood began then to speak words:

"That was years gone by - I still remember -
that I was hewn down at the forest's edge,
cut out of my tree trunk. Strong foes took me there,
shaped me there for themselves in the form of a spectacle,
commanded me to raise their criminals.
Warriors carried me there on shoulders,
until that they set me on a hill;
many foes fastened me there. I then saw mankind's Lord
hasten with great zeal; he wished to climb on me.
There I then darest not bow nor burst
contrary to the Lord's word when I saw earth's surface
trembling. I would have been able
to kill all foes but I stood firm.
The young hero stripped himself - that was God almighty -
strong and unflinching; he stepped up on the high cross,
brave in the sight of many, where he wished to redeem mankind.
I trembled when the Warrior embraced me; nor did I dare,
however, to bow down to the earth,
to fall to the surfaces of the earth. But I had to stand firm.
As a rood I was erected; I raised the powerful King,
the Lord of heavens; I dared not bow myself down.
They drove through me with iron-coloured and sinister nails:
on me the wounds are visible,
the open malicious wounds; neither dared I to injure any of them.
They mocked us two both together. I was completely stained with blood,
covered from the man's side after he had released his spirit.
I had endured on that hill
severely stretched out. Shades of night had
covered with clouds the Lord's corpse,
the bright radiance; shades went forth
dark under the sky. All creation mourned,
bewailed the king's fall; Christ was on the cross.


I've had two experiences of Gethsemane in the last twenty four hours.Most recently, today I took the little bibbles (as my boss calls "children") into the church yard and we made small crosses out of forcythia branches in bud in the hope that we'll have some leafy, flowering crosses on Easter Sunday. It is great to share the Easter story with children, though of course it is a bit of a challenge to find the balance between explaining what Jesus did and not telling them too much that they get scared. However I am always surprised by how GOOD they are at understanding how Jesus was hurting and that he did so out of love for his friends.

The other Gethsemane was in the splendid garden which our flower ladies created for our Maundy Thursday vigil.

These pics were taken during the day but during the night the candles were lit and the pyx held a ciborium full of the sacrament. It is an amazingly powerful way to "stay and keep watch" with Christ.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Infamy! Infamy!

By the amazing power of bravenet I have recently joined the ranks of those who know how some people get to my blog. I have had much amusement with the curious inquiries via google and yahoo including "dessert island", "sarah bishop", "what do Christians think about the Da vinci code". (I've not yet got to the point of creating blog entries around them like Peter but maybe someday!)

However this morning I had the first visitor I've noticed via a little "critique" site.

I would tell you who this person is but incomprehensibly the writer remains anonymous! However I'm guessing it's a guy.

Personally I found his review rather funny and am secure enough to read the critique (or should that be criticism!?) from someone I don't know who's bi-line is: "It wouldn't hurt if it wasn't true..."

Here's what the guy said:

' "Ok I am absolutely stuffed of delectible Thai food. Heaven!"
How can I describe the delight I felt when I first found this Blog, and that first line in particular? I will take it easy on this female because I am certain that she has some kind of mental defect. That line is straight out of The Simpsons, that little fat kid who says,"I'm full of chocolate!" She even looks like the fat kid! I'm telling you, there's something about this Blog that is just creepily easy, it's like beating up a morbidly obese person. You get a C for amusing me. C '

So if it DOESN'T hurt... does that mean it ISN'T?

From the comments he receives I can see that a LOT of people find him offensive but I really do find it rather amusing. It's the first C I've got in AGES!!! (doesn't that make more like LISA from the Simpsons???)

Anyway my principal reflection was on the nature of blogging and bloggers. This guy clearly gets some kind of satisfaction out of what he writes otherwise surely he wouldn't bother. Though clearly he's pretty much a glass half full person. I prefer a more optimistic outlook myself and tend to write stuff I hope will make people smile or think. I tend to think the best of people rather than the worst and so my second reaction to this review was to wonder quite what had made this poor guy SO miserable that he wants to wallow in venomous spite. Perhaps that is my mental defect; I think the best of people, even Judge Mental, bless him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Life Together

I finished Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, Life Together today and in my enthusiasm for this inspiring text I instantly loaned it to H at lunch when she said plaintivley, "I need a book to read". This means that I don't have the text with me to give you my reflections on it which is probably for the best. There were SO MANY excellent passages that I would have been inclined to type up page after page.

In the latter chapters, Bonhoeffer talks about the need for confession andacceptance of our sin beforemoving on to talk about ministry. For Bonhoeffer, ministry begins in servanthood. He stresses the importance of humility, and of listening before a minister can speak God's word to someone.

I can't do justice to Bonhoeffer in a single blog entry but what I will do is urge you to pick up a copy of Life Together. It really isn't an arduous read. I guarantee it's shorter than the book you're currently reading (unless your book includes lines such as "Here is Spot. See Spot run!") and something in it will certainly speak to you and your faith. Whether you live in an ideal Christian community or in one which there are conflicts and difficulties, Bonhoeffer has some sound wisdom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Have you met Revd Jones?

Rachel and I had a fantastic thought whilst we were rehearsing for the Chrism Mass this morning. We shared a few of those classic faux pas of ministry that we’ve experience recently.

(My most recent treasure being at the morning Eucharist when we were interviewing for the community missioner post in High Wycombe and I misread the text of Isaiah about SIN as “Your SKINS are as scarlet but they shall be white than snow”- my skin went DECIDEDLY scarlet! )

This discussion about putting your liturgical foot in it led us to pondering what might happen if Bridget Jones were to be ordained.

Can’t you JUST picture it?

Maundy Tuesday

The Chrism Mass this morning was marvellous. It was rather weird because I was sitting exactly where I had sat for the Licensing of Youth Ministers last February. This was especially odd as I was there today to represent my fellow Licensed Youth Ministers and youth workers in the service of rededication. So when Bishop Richard asked

"Lay Ministers, when you were commissioned, you undertook to be faithful in prayer, and by word and example to minister to those for whom Christ died. Will you do all that is in your power to witness to God’s love for all people?

on behalf of us all I responded


And in receiving his blessing, I received it for all our ministries:

May the God of peace, sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will accomplish it.

Consider your commitments renewed and your ministries blessed, everyone!

I also got to read the Old Testament reading about Samuel’s call. I read in church very often but of course in a cathedral FULL of clergy, including FOUR bishops, this is a little bit daunting. Nevertheless I followed the advice of my friend many years ago when I first began reading as a teenager. He said, "Sarah, when you’re reading, they ALL have to wait for YOU. You're in charge!" So despite some nerves I took great delight in a marvellously sonorous "SAMUEL!… SAMUEL!" echoing around the cathedral

A gathering of clergy and laity from across the diocese was also an opportunity to meet lots of people I haven’t seen in a while, including lots of deacons and students from the SAOMC and someone I haven’t spoken too since we worked together as teenagers on the young adult holiday called Springboard which the diocese of Oxford used to run as a kind of follow on from Yellow Braces.

Although he directed his sermon at the clergy, Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading delivered an excellent sermon for all the people gathered in the cathedral, (laity, clergy, vergers and other full time churchworkers, NSMs, parishioners and even one youth worker!) He talked about the joys and satisfactions of the Christian life and Christian ministry as well as the frustrations but one thing he said stuck with me. He said there’s a problem

“When the office becomes somewhere you go and work rather than something you say.”


Excellent point. Do we dedicate ourselves to saying the daily office/s (e.g. morning and eveing prayer) or do we focus on our daily office routine?

Chrism-mass is coming

Sorry just could NOT resist that title!!!

Well today is the Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Oxford. This is the service where the holy oils are consecrated by the bishops and then given out to representatives of all the churches in the diocese for use during the year at baptisms, in visiting the sick and in confirmations and ordinations. Most dioceses do this on Maunday Thursday but for reasons beyond remembering and comprehension Oxford has "always" doen it on what has been nicknamed "Maundy Tuesday!"

I will be representing all the Licensed Youth Ministers of the diocese and reading the Old Testament (Samuel in the temple when he hears God's call) and administring the chalice at the Eucharist. I will most likely be the only person in procession who is not robed in some manner and this has prompted some comment from a few people I've spoken to. Some, from my rather traditional church, have questioned the "not robing" thing and others have not even thought it an issue and so asked me why I would! For me, the decision involved two factors one from principle, ne practical. Firstly I don't think any of the other LYMs in the diocese would robe if they were there and so in NOT robing I represent them. On the more practical level, I don't yet have my own cassock and have to borrow one when I need one.

However, I am quite catholic in my spirituality, theology and worship so WILL be getting a cassock made to measure, though not until later this year. In a way it's quite a good thing that I don't have a cassock as if I HAD already got mine, my decision about robing or not might have been mor complicated.

The whole idea about the wearing of cassocks is so that we do not present ourselves in worship as ourselves with our own individuality but as servants of God in leading God's people. So, ironically, if the LYMs HAD a particular style of robe (as Licensed Lay Ministers do), by WEARING it I would be representing all of them whereas by going without a robe, I will be more myself and less one representing others.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The parable of the Mower

Would those of you who know me well make sure you're sitting down, please?

I spent the day tidying the house and garden. I EVEN mowed the grass - BOTH front AND back!

It did feel a bit like the parable of the sower.

A girl went our to mow. Some of the mowing was on the path where grass had grown up between the slabs. Some was among the thorns and she got scratched. Some mowing was among the rocky ground but some was on the good smooth ground and she mowed with ease!

When I had just started mowing I came to a clump of grass and noticed that there was a ladybird so, not wanting to kill it, I mowed round it. I spent the next twenty minutes mowing round ladybirds. Of course when I came back past the patch later, the ladybird had often gone so I was then able to mow that little bit quite easily and move on. It made me think about how sometimes, when we are making great changes, we sometimes have to leave some little parts unchanged so that we don't hurt people who are deeply attached to things. Yet when all else has changed around them, to change that last little bit is much simpler than you might expect. Mowing around the ladybirds didn't stop me mowing altogether and ultimately they didn't stop me finishing the mowing.

Keep an eye out for the ladybirds.

(Picture from Liverpool Museum)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

New Kids on the Blog

The young people came up with an exciting idea today at our Sunday group which is called Crew. A blog for our whole group so that they can all contribute to it as a group. Pretty cool, huh?

Well I shall be setting up the page today and sending them invites to join. I'll put a link to it and then we'll seem what happens!

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Seems it's the season for talking about Passion.

Kathryn has been sharing her response to The Passion of the Christ and Ian has been talking about Practicing Passion.

In her thoughts, Kathryn comments on the great brutality of the film and Jesus' appearance as 'barely human' throughout most of the film.Having spent the afternoon battling against a large bramble and now typing with majorly scratched hands, I've been pondering the whole crown of thorns thing. I caught my finger on a massive thorn and it REALLY hurt and bled and everything. One cut. One thorn. I can't encompass the idea of a crown of them rammed onto my head. Yet as I was struggling with this huge 12 foot long branch (that I REALLY should have dealt with last year!) I finally managed to get it coiled up and heaped onto the compost mound. It sat there, crown-like and I kinda got a shiver.

We don't like to think of all that pain and hurt that Jesus went through but he did and in fact many people go through all kinds of pain so often. We can't deny pain and we shouldn't. If we pretend it's not there we treat pain like a "monster under the bed" which gets more terrifying because we won't face it. Yet that is the AMAZING thing about Easter. It's NOT all about the pain and the agony of the cross. The death of Jesus is amazingly important and vital BUT it is not the END. As Giles Fraser said in the Church Times this week, to say we are saved by Jesus' death
"allows nothing for the ressurection to do in the overall story of salvation. If we are saved by Jesus' death on the cross, why did he need to rise again?"

Our salvation is not throught he death and agony of Jesus but through the TOTALITY of the Easter mystery. Salvation comes through our being IN Christ in his PASSION and most importantly in his RESURRECTION. It is through Jesus' death that we die to sin but it is Jesus' resurrection that gives us the new life and eternal life.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Life at the Speed of Light

Just had the joy of reminiscing on some old times whilst watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

This was the film that we watched when I was a YOUNG PERSON on a residential run by the Oxford Diocese called Springboard. Now I'm running such things - oh boy!

Ferris' take on life was pretty simple:

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. [OH YEE-AAH!]"

If anyone else remembers watching it when they were younger and is thinking, "Life doesn't move THAT fast... it wasn't THAT long ago..." the young friend of Ferris is now the Stuart Bondek in Spin City.

Ok he's not THAT old but you can see the change!!

Ferris is a great teenage rebel and what does he do on his rebellious day off? Well among other things, he eats in a fancy restaurant and goes to an art gallery! No the world's greatest rebel really!

What's IMPORTANT for Ferris is that he spends the day of freedom with his best friend and his best girl.

"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. [OH YEE-AAH!]"

So the message for today? Stop and look around. Live a little!

I want to hear what you get up to in your chilling out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Sing it again

I posted a few days ago about singing in church and whether we should, what we should etc.

Last night I finally had time to read a little more of Bonhoeffer’s Life Together which I am finding immensely useful (despite the inherent masculinity of the text, thought I am getting over my issues with that!) and there was a section on singing:

"Why do Christians sing when they are together? The reason is quite simply, because in singing together it is possible for them to speak and pray the same Word at the same time; in other words, because here they can unite in the Word. All devotion, all atention should be concentrated upon the Word in the hymn. The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words. Yet we do not hum s melody, we sing words of praise to God, words of thanksgiving, confession, and prayer. thus the music is completely the servantof the Word. It elucidates the Word in its mystery... It is the voice of the Church that is heard in singing together. It is not you that sings, it is the Church that is singing, and you, as a member of that church, may share in its song. Thus all singing together that is right must serve to widen our spiritual horizon, make us see our little company as a member of the great Christian Church on earth, and help us willingly and gladly to join our singing, be it feeble or good, to the song of the Church." (Life Together, II The Day with Others)

Whilst I’m talking about Bonhoeffer, the part on PSALMS is just fantatstic, calling them the prayer book of Christ. I have ALWAYS had trouble with what I’ve considered the WHINGING psalms and what felt to me like the lack of HOPE they expressed. However Bonhoeffer’s description of them as the prayers of Christ and our opportunity to pray them through him and through his true and proper persecution, deprivation and loss was enlightenment to me.

Epistle's Creed

As there’ve been no takers for summarising Paul’s message I thought I’d let you know what the Ministry course students suggested.

William was uncharacteristically succinct with: “Jesus saves. Get into him”

Ian’s summary was fantastic but so great I can’t remember it. Sorry, my friend.

Someone else focussed on TRANSFORMATION and the evidence of it seen in the communities Paul was writing to.

For me the fascinating part of the discussion focussed not on these Soundbytes of Paul but on the summary of people's feelings about the text

We looked at what aspects of Paul we found either appealing, unrealistic, unhelpful, or unintelligible.

One person commented that he thought Paul stressed unity over truth and I rather liked that but then realised that he had said it pejoratively. In fact a lot of the things that one person found appealing someone else found unrealistic, unhelpful or unintelligible. I suppose this isn’t to be wondered at. In fact if all those in ministerial training had the SAME opinions life really would be dull and the future of the church look somewhat bland.

Paul stressed Unity over truth?

I rather agree with the concept of doing that. It speaks to me of the emphasis that Paul places on LOVE for others and for God.

I suppose it’s no wonder that I should think that. I am a rather touch feeling kind of a person (an “F” if you want to get Myers-Briggs-y) whereas the person who thought Paul was wrong to stress Unity over Truth is more a thoughts and ideas kind of chap (a “T” for those with Myers-Briggs on the brain!) so naturally he might want to have it all RIGHT and sorted even if that meant division. On the other hand I would rather have things disordered a little and unsettled if that meant a stronger community.

Alan, who was leading the class, said that it would be interesting to set that whole idea as an essay next year, particularly with reference to the debate over the consecration of women as bishops.

What would Paul write in his letter to the Anglicans?

The Paul in Spirit

At SAOMC this evening, Alan challenged us to explain the gospel of St Paul "in a nutshell". Before I tell you what the Oxford ordinands came up with do I have anyone willing to give their "nutshell" of Paul?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sing a new song

I had a meeting today with the Scout group that is organising the St George's day service with me on the issue of FORGIVENESS and we got to discussing the music for the service. This is a service which welcomes 500 young people and leaders into our church and as much as we can make the content welcoming and the service sheet friendly together with a page to colour for the Beavers and yougner Cubs, the issue of music is ALWAYS difficult. What songs and hymns will "everybody know"?

This evening a group of us were picking hymns for the services in April and the same issue arose.

We're no longer in a position to assume that there is a "common hymnody" (as my friend called it) in our society. Gone are the days when we could guarantee that young people or adults would KNOW certain hymns or songs. Many people of my generation will not have sung many or any songs and hymns at school. I remember the repertoire at my secondary school consisting of three songs and one hymn. I imagine, in fact, that our school was unusual for having Christian assemblies. This must be even more rare now.

So how DO we select music for these events? People feel the NEED for there to be singing but what do we choose?

Surely we have to face the fact that for many young people, and indeed adults, the concept of a large group of people all singing together at anywhere other than a large sports event is completely alien.

I will be playing some music on CD for people to listen to (a few ideas for this but any suggestions will be accepted!) but we still have three places in the service where we have put a "hymn" and I STILL need to find something to put there. Ideas anyone?

Monday, March 14, 2005


When shopping for the fair trade cocktails for our youth club I got a LITTLE bit too enthusiastic about the whole Fair Trade deal and, on a tropical-island-fantasy inspired whim, purchased three fairly traded coconuts. Of course I got them to the youth club and looked at them thinking... well NOW what do I do?

There was far too much going on with the young people so we had NO coconut element to our cocktails and I was left with THREE fairly traded coconuts and NO idea how to get into them or what to do with them if I do other than drink bacardi out of them or crush it and use it in curry! Any grand ideas about using them though DOES rather depend on getting the things open!

I managed to give one to my friend Colin as a bit of a challenge for him. After many amusing "noises off" and talk of "sticking it in the microwave" while Kathryn and I ate our tea Colin successfully opened the coconut using, and I quote "a hacksaw... and a saucepan!" This did not result in two neat "I can make horsey noises like Monty Python and the Holy Grail" coconut halves so I went searching on the net.

One method, which sounds very long and arduous, involves taking off the husk and "finding the three veins".

Method number two
uses a gentler but somewhat slow cooking strategy (though this might result in some useable coconut halves!)

The third way has comprehensive safety advice and tells me that I need to saw the coconut if I want neat halves - logical enough I suppose!
Any other bright ideas? I'm sure my Hawaiian readers might have a better idea than me!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Fair enough

This weekend brings Fairtrade Fortnight to an end and two youth events have rounded it off rather neatly for me.

Yesterday at Pulse we had mostly Fairtrade ingredients in our cocktails at HaRVey's bar including a fabulous Banana smoothie.

(Lookng back to the discussions about young people and junk food, yesterday we also experimented in putting out fruit as well as our usual sweets, chocolate and crisps. Even though one of the lads bet me "my pride" that no-ne would eat the fruit, the grapes and satsumas went down very well indeed. The only trouble is that grapes are far more expensive than crisps!)

Then this evening I was invited to talk about Fair Trade to a group of young people at Freedom in Sandhurst. I demonstrated the need for Fair Trade with a short "unfair" game of skittles and talked about our need to support Fair Trade for the sake, not only of those who produce our food, but also of ourselves as we seek to be the people God wants us to be, seeing people as Christ would see them.

I left them with the challenge to do something:

Support the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign through wearing a band and sending a card to Tony Blair or by making a change in their household shopping to buy fair trade goods, not necessarily of all items but to change at least one thing (coffee, tea, orange juice, hot chocolate, bananas, sugar, honey, muesli, etc) to a fairly traded alternative.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Dessert Island discs

Yeah I KNOW it should be DESERT Island but I think a DESSERT island sounds more fun!

An idea ocurred to me as I was in Blockbuster getting the Xbox games for our youth group tomorrow. The long-running Desert Island discs show on Radio 4 asks people to choose (oh boy how many is it?) let's say 8 "discs" to take with you if you were on a desert island. I thought about updating this with DVDs. What 8 DVDs would you not want to be without? This is, of course, not the same as the 8 best ever films but the 8 films you would want to watch over and OVER again when stuck on a desert island (on the amazing solar-powered portable DVD player that just HAPPENED to be with you!) You also get one book (in addition to the Bible and the Complete works of Shakespeare),one luxury item and as it's a DESSERT Island - your choice of unending supply of any one dessert!

So I thought it over for a good few minutes and here is my list.

1) Indianna Jones and the Last Crusade
2) Bridget Jones' Diary
3) Pride and Prejudice
4) Shrek & Shrek 2 (It's a double DVD - that counts!!)
5) Groundhog Day
6) Pirates of the Caribbean
7) Pleasantville
8) An Agatha Christie (Poirot or Miss Marple either really!)

(Nothing too sad - I mean how BAD would that be?! Nothing too scary and nothing about being stuck on a desert island!)

Book: (SSSSOOOOOO tricky!) but if I've got the Bible and Shakespeare... I think I might opt for a blank book and then I can make charcoal and write something.

Luxury item: Grand Piano (music and shelter all in one!)

Bonus Dessert island dessert: tough one... but ultimately it has to be something chocolatey! Preferably chocolate mousse to go with he tropical fruit there might be on the island!!

BLIMEY that was tough! Anybody else willing to put them out there?

Friday, March 11, 2005


I somehow managed to wipe half my template while I was adding a link - eek!

I might take this opportunity to redo the look of the blog as it must be over six months since I started - don't know as I managed to wipe the archive links too! let's hope they're still there somewhere!

Anyway here's the opportunity...

Were you on my old blogroll? Do you want to be on again? Let me know or I might just forget you!

Forgive and Forget

I'm working on a service about FORGIVENESS and I KNOW that somewhere in my resources I have a sketch about the parable of the unforgiving servant or something like that but I'v FORGOTTEN where.

Anyone got any ideas where I might have seen it or can anyone suggest/provide a good sketch for 2-3 people reading and not necessarily having to act?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Education Education Education

Ian has been talking a lot about work/life balance and has had some responses back. I'm someone who used to be VERY bad at taking time out, partly because I love what I do, partly because there is ALWAYS plenty a youthworker can do and partly because, being single, I sometimes have evenings with nothing particular to do and end up working. However I am much better now. I still work too many hours but I try to ensure that more of the work I do is towards my personal development (and I'm not just saying this because I have a review tomorrow eeeek!).

Intriguingly this is something that I learnt in my former career (which is one people often consider a bit ODD for a youth worker). I used to be a lecturer in History and Latin. People think that this was a whacky change but I have brought a lot from my former role to my youth work.

One of the founding principles of university work is that ALL teaching staff are active learners. All those who encourage and instruct students are themselves students of something. This is why university staff get such LONG "vacations". What this means for me as a youth worker is that I spend quite a lot of time in personal development and more recently I've been spending more time READING which is something I "didn't have time for" when I was working ridiculously long hours.

Well I've not blogged this week until now because I spent Tuesday having an indulgent training day. During the day, I joined my friend Mark at his Methodist training course for a session on Black Theology run by Anthony Reddie and in the evening we went on to the SAOMC theology course that I used be a member of (nostalgia fest - I've SO missed them all - let's not go there!) for a session on the Reformation and a session on Paul and his first letter to the Corinthians.

The day with Anthony Readdie was REALLY good. I learnt an awful lot about the practice of tolerance and our need to work from within ourselves and encourage people to share their stories (reminded me of Bob Mayo’s session at Matrix too!) and in the afternoon we did a bible study which was very challenging.

Anthony had us read the story of Pentecost and challenged us saying that a traditional reading is that the Holy Spirit IGNORES difference and says we are all the same so we ALL hear. An alternative more challenging reading is that the Holy Spirit highlights and celebrates the difference.

One of the most challenging thing Anthony shared was about the invisible WHITENESS of society. The fact that we consider what WE are and what most of society is to be NORMAL. In fact WHITE is, subconsciously, the default setting for society. This means that, when reading the text of the Bible, even though it doesn’t SAY that the people are WHITE, people assume they are. The shocking news came from a survey of young black people reading the Bible. Anthony asked them to describe the people in the stories and the young people described them as white. When he asked them why they responded:

“Because if they were black, it would say so!”

So even though the Bibles don’t seem to be racially biased there is INVISIBLE WHITENESS. What other INVISIBLE things might there be? Surely our young people find that there is often an INVISIBLE ADULTNESS about our churches

“Because if it was for young people, it would say so!”

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mothering Sunday

What better symbol of a modern mother - pulled in all directions, focussed on her family and a TOTAL HERO?

"Leave saving the world to the men? I don't think so!"

Happy Mothering Sunday to all those who care for us!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Thank you Mr Preview!

I had one of those culture defining moments this evening... and unfortunately I think I'm a Philistine!

I went to a concert featuring Grieg's Piano Concerto and as the orchestra and Piano soloist played the openingbars, rather than revelling in the counterpoint and allowing my thoughts to soar with the strings, I was thinking of Eric Morecambe and the FANTASTIC sketch involving a very game Andre Previn as the piano soloist to Eric's conductor. Eric steps in to "show Andre how to do it" and when Previn points out that he's playing it wrong Eric ripostes: "I'm playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order." Anyone else remember it?

Fortunately after that I was able to concentrate and reall enjoy sitting listening to music and doing ONLY that not doing sixty things at once.

Multi-tasking is a great skill but a dreadful habit.

Friday, March 04, 2005

There' Snow-body as grown-up as youthworkers

This morning I woke up (for the third time having slept very badly grrr) and was not in the best of moods as I felt the day was going to hit me like a juggernaut. I had tonnes to do and nevertheless had to drive out to a meeting for the whole morning. *hrumph!* However, as I was preparing my brekkie it started to snow.



It was fab. My child-like glee only waned slighty at the thought of having to drive to the meeting in it but then the meeting was moved to within walking distance (faberoony!).

So I had a lovely walk through that amazing silence that you only get when i'ts REALLY snowing abundantly. I did Morning Prayer in church then headed off to the King's Centre where, bestest of bestest news, the other High Wycombe youthworkers and I decided that our network meeting needed to begin with a "Snowman/team building exercise"! Ok this deteriorated somewhat into a snowball fight but it was really cool, even when we got ambushed by some local young people!

Snow is JUST the best! Unfortunately we've since had a downpour of rain which washed it all away, then some hail and then some lightning all VERY exciting!

Well Girly night in tonight for me and housemate - 13 going on 30 and Princess Diaries 2 to watch whilst we pig out on Chicken Fajitas! Mexitastic joy!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

School Dinners

Last week Simon had seen Jamie's School Dinners, a programme featuring Jamie Oliver and his campaign to improve the food this country gives to children in schools. I managed to catch an episode tonight.

Unsurprsingly to those of us who work regularly ith young people, most of the food young people want toeat is processed, full of sugar and preservatives, high in salt, high in saturated fat and more importantly lacking in nutrients. I'm not saying that all young people eat rubbish food but I know that there are plenty who do.

For me the shocking session was Jamie holding up raw fruit and vegetables (some common like leeks and rhubarb and others more "exotic" like asparagus) in each case fewer than half the class and sometimes only one or NONE of the children knew what they were. In contrast when he held up the logos of some fast food joints all the class knew all of them.

It was distressing to see Jamie's despondency in the face of so much difficulty in educating the children in good food as basic as roast chicken instead of the highly dubious turkey twizzlers.

Having persuaded one family to try a week without preservatives, prepackaged food and sweets, Jamie listened as the mother and father recounted the resulting chaos not when the processed food was removed (though there were tantrums aplenty in the supermarket!) but when they "gave them a treat". Within thirty minutes the children were argumentative and stroppy. The shock on the parents' faces spoke volumes.

As Simon and the resulting discussion said last week, this really is a challenge to those of us who work with young people and provide food and drinks for them. It is the eternal trouble - do we give them "what they want" or only offer healthy food.

Well for one, we have our cocktail bar at or youth club next week and I'm going to try to make the drinks slightly less sugar filled! The tuck shop element is more difficult though. We've introduced fruit but should we really withdraw the chocolate? At my Sunday morning group we have biscuits... should we stop that? We serve fizzy drinks which I ocasionally replace with fruit juice but this makes quite a dent in the budget... Is this worth the cost? We've bought a popcorn machine so that the popcorn we serve at film nights is lower in sugar but we also have pizza... what would we have instead?

Well something we could all try is having a look at the packs for schools and parents.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Grand Day Out

My week of leave this week has turned into two days of leave, today and tomorrow. Doesn't help knowing my bruv is in CANCUN and a friend is in CUBA... What's my exotic choice???

Today I'm off to Guildford to see my goddaughter and her new student house that she's sorted for next year as well has some retail therapy and something scrumptious in a delightful restaurant!

Then tomorrow I'm off to Reading for the day with my dad which should be cool as well.

So not much blogging - even though I've found some new stuff on Einstein and relativity - you'll have to wait for that I'm afraid!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Fifty things

Tim put this up on his blog and I have blatantly purloined it!

I’ve put a * by the ones I’ve done.

I'm quite impressed really! However I think there are some missing (and some which are too dull to be in there!) so I've added some at the end :oD

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink* (there were thre of us!)
02. Swam with dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain*
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it*
09. Hugged a tree*
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris*
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watched the sunrise*
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game*
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables*
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars*
21. Changed a baby's nappy*
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower*
24. Gotten drunk on champagne*
25. Given more than you can afford to charity*
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope*
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment**********
28. Had a food fight (food be much delicious and powerful commodity to waste)
29. Bet on a winning horse*
30. Taken a sick day when you're not ill* (to my boss I’d like to point out this was when I was at primary school!)
31. Asked out a stranger (ok, an acquaintance, but for all intents and purposes, a stranger)*
32. Had a snowball fight*
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can*
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favourite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip*
38. Taken an ice cold bath/shower*
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar*
40. Seen a total eclipse*
41. Ridden a roller coaster*
42. Hit a home run*
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking****
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors*
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment*
48. Had two hard drives for your computer*
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts *

And the extras...

Done a parachute jump (hehe!)
Be on TV*
Seen Uluru
Ride a camel*
Be a published author
Write a Song
See Niagara Falls*
Marry Colin Firth ;oP

Any more suggestions!