Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

So anyone put any thought into resolutions?

I'm thinking I'm going to try to READ more. I have a habit of buying books and stacking them up in waiting for me but I LOVE reading and don't do it often enough as I get distracted by things that NEED doing.

I don't really have too many obvious vices (drinking, smoking...) to give up but I guess there must be habits of being kind I could take more seriously.

But before resolutions begin we have the fun of some friends over to ours for a murder mystery party for New Year's Eve. I'm an eccentric Archaeologist and Michael is a Sigmund Freud wannabe! Sounds perfect!

What are you gonna do for New Year's Eve or for resolutions?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas feelings

Just found a really good Christmas reflective page at rejesus.

How are you feeling in this Christmas season?

Now as the commercialism kicks in to the max and all the SALES start, I lose a little faith in people's appreciation of the significance of it all, as I see people desperate to spend MORE money and get lots of good deals. If you're happy and thankful or down and feeling a bit of a failure they've got some Bible passages appropriate to your mood.

So if you'd rather look at something somewhat better than half price kitchens, prices slashed on sofas and herds of people piling into the Metrocentre at 5am pop over there and have a look. They have other Christmas activities too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas meaning...

Just had a great time with the children from our local CofE School at their end of term assembly in churhc. Lots of Angel Dance and looking at God as the Light of the World (guess which song we used!?) and the stillness of these energetic and lively children when we played the Tim Hughes track was awe inspiring.

We had great fun dancing about to bouncing songs too.

I think with Christmas it is always difficult to balance the MERRY with the MEANING and sometimes we might look rather like sourpuss grumpy face if we try and over do the Easter in amongst the Christmas. I find the words of this song particularly poignant. I think it can sometimes be a bit heavy for Christmas but it says it for me. You probably all use it a lot and have heard it all before but we tend to stick with traditional at this time of year rather than worship songs so it was a new one on me last year.

Since the day the angel came
It seemed that everything had changed
The only certain thing
Was the child that moved within
On the road that would not end
Winding down to Bethlehem
So far away from home

Just a blanket on the floor
Of a vacant cattle-stall
But there the child was born
She held him in her arms
And as she laid him down to sleep
She wondered - will it always be
So bitter and so sweet

And did she see there
In the straw by his head a thorn
And did she smell myrrh
In the air on that starry night
And did she hear angels sing
Not so far away
Till at last the sun rose blood-red
In the morning sky

Then the words of ancient seers
Tumbled down the centuries ...
A virgin shall conceive...
God with us... Prince of Peace
Man of Sorrows - strangest name
Oh Joseph there it comes again
So bitter yet so sweet

And as she watched him through the years
Her joy was mingled with her tears
And she'd feel it all again
The glory, and the shame
And when the miracles began
She wondered, who is this man
And where will this all end

'Til against a darkening sky
The son she loved was lifted high
And with his dying breath
She heard him say 'Father forgive'
And to the criminal beside
"Today-with me in Paradise"
So bitter yet so sweet.
Graham Kendrick

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Spirit

Jolly Christmas elves band available here! Just in case you needed perking up into the Christmas mood. There might be an annoying pop up bu Firefox blocked it for me so I'm not certain!


Less than reluctant

Ok I know this is YET ANOTHER short and sweet blog after an uncredibly long break but I've been pretty busy. Just to let you all know that Reluctant Souls has decided to close.

Thanks to all members:It was a good way to express our community but the time has passed. I'm sure we'll all continue to meet out there in the big wide blogosphere.

God bless

Christmas Presents

Just solving some christmas present problems... I've downloded and printed a copy of Dave Walker's 2007 calendar. Why don't you try the same!?

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Flannelgraph for Christmas

We've discovered our flannelgraph at church TWO WHOLE BOXES (including a VERY unnerving representaiton of the second coming!) and so we're putting together an interactive nativity scene in our north chapel. Off now to find some SKY from our local scrap store!

VERY exciting!

My Space giggles

Sorry - Just had to share this one with you...

I logged in this morning to find the messaeg;

"Jason Donovan wants to be your friend"

Bless him! He must be desperate!

I took only a little pleasure in saying No.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Time, Much to do.... and wine?

I've been hectic busy with

BCUC carol service - which went really well
Decroating our Christmas tree at church
Film Night watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Sunday School Nativity and the service sheet for our crib service
Running a funky advent game with our young people's Sunday group
Preparing for our Christmas Eve party
Getting readers for and rehearsing with choir for our Nine lessons and carols service tonight (which is being broadcast on BBC 3 Counties Radio on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning)

Christmas is definitley coming because:
I've had my first glass of mulled wine
I made (and tasted) Cranberry relish today
I watched children sing Away in a manger
The Fairground organ played outside church yesterday

and today... I'm about to watch Muppet Christmas Carol. The best EVER!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Youthblog's new boss!

The new bishop of Oxford has been announced. He is John Pritchard, who has been Bishop of Jarrow, a suffragan of Durham.

Bishop John said: “Coming to the Diocese of Oxford is an unexpected honour and privilege. Through the years I have looked at the Diocese from afar and much admired what I’ve seen. Little did I think I would have the opportunity to make a contribution to the life and vitality of the Diocese and the wider community. I shall give it everything I’ve got but will need to start with a great deal of listening and learning. Please be patient!”

He has authored various books worthy of note through SPCK which include works on prayer and sharing faith.

He's doing a tour around the diocese today concluding with tea at our place which we've known about but not known about. We knew we had to be around but not why - it was all very exciting!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reluctant blogs

Having switched over to the new blogger, I now can't access those blogs which haven't switched which includes reluctant souls. Anybody still on the old beta who's a member will need to do it. It'll involve something slightly complicated as it relies on the person who created the blog to sort it and Ben M left a while ago but it doesn't seem to understand that!

Ok so that's the first glitch of the new system!


Ok so this is my first blog through the beta version. Seems fine so far!

Had a good session with the young people at Pulse yesterday; Some looney balloon games to start and then the talk slot based on a version of the game one of the young people ran on the youth holiday. I popped a slip of paper (with something we do at Christmas written on it) and a prize into an uninflated balloon then got the young leaders to blow them up. We passed them round in a pass the parcel kind of way and as we opened each one we discussed how important each thing was to Christmas (Eating turkey, Giving things, Jesus being born, crackers etc.) It worked pretty well and there was a good buzz about the place.

We also did some Christmas craft that I remembered doing myself as a brownie. I found instructions here. Even some of the boys thought it was "pretty cool" as it's rather clever. You turn old Christmas cards into twenty circles which you then turn into a icosahedron. They look pretty good too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Over a WEEEK?

Were did that time go?

Sorry readers I've been distracted by
FABULOUS confirmation course and service last Sunday
FUNKY Staff Christmas do on Friday - BLOC 3 you rock!
FLOATY Advent Carol service on Sunday
FEBRILE cold - hubby's not mine
FRANTIC Christmas shopping
FANCY flier designing partially aided by the great site vistaprint which no doubt some people discovered ages ago!
FULSOME envelope stuffing with all the fliers!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Monday was my first day of planning for Christmas proper and I made a good start as you can see. What could be more perfect as a Christmas gift for your Christian friends and colleagues than a little humour about the church provided by the talented pen of Dave Walker, Cartoon Legend, minor Christian celebrity and my old mate!? He's not just a legend in this country either - check out how his fame has spread across the channel!

SCM Press were fantastically efficient as well. I ordered the books one day and they arrived the next - REALLY. Amazon watch out is all I can say!
originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Quint -essentials

My lovely youth leader Chris and I drove up to Shropshire on Saturday to see the place we're going for our youth holiday next summer which is called Quinta. They have an impressively/intimidatingly comprehensive information pack which we'd already had a look through but there's nothing like seeing the place is there?

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

So for those young people popping over here to have a look, here are some pics of the place we went to see and where we will be going.

What is AMAZING about Quinta is that is looks like it will actually manage the impossible which is give us a place to stay that is cosy and just for us AND also give us lots of on site facilities because we're going to be in the lodge houses at the edge of an estate with lots of grounds including an outdoor pool, a sports' hall a low ropes course, a tuck shop, tennis courts, a climbing tree, swings and LOADS of space.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christmas IS now coming

OK so as I said previously, Christmas can't begin until after my birthday and as that was LAST WEEK preparations now start in earnest.

One of the things I have to do for Christmas this year is plan a service which has some readings from the Bible and some from "other sources" so I'm looking for 4 Bible readings for Christmas (that's not too difficult reall is it!) but also four from non-biblical texts so I have a few suggestions which I'd like to run past those of you in the blogosphere. The service is for a group that is mixed (churched, unchurched, dechurced, multifaith etc.) but it is a CHRISTMAS service so it is allowed to be about Jesus (it's not some awful WINTERVAL nonsense)

Here's my shortlist at the moment ( in no particular order):

BC:AD Ursula Fanthorpe
Because of Christmas Day Ravi Sathasivam (Sri Lanka)
"Encounter with Father Christmas" from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ch. 10 C.S. Lewis
The Story of Silent Night, anon
Christmas Eve (1914) Mike Harding
The Christ Child, G K Chesterton
A Hymn on the Nativity of My Saviour, Ben Jonson
Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

BC:AD This was the moment when Before Turned into After, and the future's Uninvented timekeepers presented arms. This was the moment when nothing Happened. Only dull peace Sprawled boringly over the earth. This was the moment when even energetic Romans Could find nothing better to do Than counting heads in remote provinces. And this was the moment When a few farm workers and three Members of an obscure Persian sect. Walked haphazard by starlight straight Into the kingdom of heaven. Ursula Fanthorpe

Because of Christmas Day........... When the December comes When the white snow cover our lands My heart is filled with joy because this is the month for Christmas When the carols are being sung When the Christmas trees are brighten the house When the stockings are overflowing under the tree When everyone's face is glowing to open the gifts My heart is filled with joy When the cities are decorated with lights When the snow flakes are softly falling on my head When my family dance and walk around streets When our friends visit our home for dinner My heart is filled with joy This blessed Christmas joy within our hearts and celebrate throughout the world to observe the birth of Christ Ravi Sathasivam / Sri Lanka

"Encounter with Father Christmas" from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ch. 10

"Come on!" cried Mr Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight. "Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling."
"What do you mean, Mr Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep bank of the valley together.
"Didn't I tell you," answered Mr Beaver, "that she'd made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn't I tell you? Well, just come and see!"
And then they were all at the top and did see.
It was a sledge and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Wirch's reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man in a bright red robe (bright as holly-berries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest. Everyone knew him because, thought you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our word - the world on this side of the wardrobe. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. SOme of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now the children actually stood looking at him they didn't find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became wuite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.
"I've come at last," said he. " She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Alsan is on the move. [The Witch's magic is weakening.]"
C.S. Lewis

In the winter of 1818 at St. Nicholas’ Church at Obendorf, a village near Salzburg, Austria, Joseph Mohr, the assistant to the priest, faced a dilemma. It was just days before Christmas, and the church organ which was so important to providing music for the Christmas services was broken. Since the organ repairman was not a local of the village it would actually be months before the repair could be made, and Christmas would be long past. His solution to the problem of the broken organ resulted in one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time. In 1816 Mohr had written a simple poem that the villagers could understand expressing the wonder of the birth of Jesus. He asked his friend Franz Gruber who was the organist at St. Nicholas to write music to accompany his poem so that they could sing it together using a guitar to accompany their singing. They first performed their newly composed Christmas carol at the Christmas Eve midnight service on December 24, 1818.


Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve, 1914, stars were burning, burning bright And all along the Western Front the guns were lying still and quiet. And men lay dozing in the trenches, in the cold and in the dark, And far away behind the lines, a village dog began to bark. Some lay thinking of their families, some sang songs and others were quiet Rolling fags and playing Brag, to pass away that Christmas night. But as they watched the German trenches, something moved in no-man's land And from far away there came a soldier, carrying a white flag in his hand. Then from both sides, the men came running, crossing into no-man's land Through the barbed wire, mud and shell-holes; shyly stood there shaking hands Fritz brought out cigars and brandy, Tommy brought corned beef and fags Stood there laughing, crying, singing, as the moon shone down on no-man's land On Christmas day we all played football, in the mud of no-man's land Tommy brought a Christmas pudding, Fritz brought out a German band And when they beat us at the football, web shared out all the grub and drink And Fritz showed me a faded photo of a dark-haired girl back in Berlin For four days after, no one fired. Not one shell disturbed the night For old Fritz and Tommy Atkins, they'd both lost the will to fight. So they withdrew us from the trenches, sent us far behind the lines, Sent fresh troops to take our places- ordered guns; "Prepare to fire". And next night, in 1914, flares were burning, burning bright. The message came, "Prepare offensive, over the top we're going tonight!" And men stood waiting in the trenches, in the cold and in the dark, All along the Western Front the Christmas guns began to bark.

Mike Harding

The Christ-child
The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap, His hair was like a light. (O weary, weary is the world, But here is all aright.) The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast, His hair was like a star. (O stern and cunning are the kings, But here the true hearts are.) The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart, His hair was like a fire. (O weary, weary is the world, But here the world's desire.) The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee, His hair was like a crown. And all the flowers looked up at Him, And all the stars looked down.
G. K. Chesterton

AN HYMN ON THE NATIVITY OF MY SAVIOUR. I sing the birth was born to-night, The author both of life and light ; The angels so did sound it. And like the ravish'd shepherds said, Who saw the light, and were afraid, Yet search'd, and true they found it. The Son of God, the Eternal King, That did us all salvation bring, And freed the soul from danger ; He whom the whole world could not take, The Word, which heaven and earth did make, Was now laid in a manger. The Father's wisdom will'd it so, The Son's obedience knew no No, Both wills were in one stature ; And as that wisdom had decreed, The Word was now made Flesh indeed, And took on him our nature. What comfort by him do we win, Who made himself the price of sin, To make us heirs of glory ! To see this Babe, all innocence A martyr born in our defense ; Can man forget this story ?
Ben Jonson

Christmas Bells I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Till, ringing, singing on its way The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The Carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; ‘For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’ Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, November 20, 2006

In other news

Ok today I will be mostly doing stuff around the house so you'd better pop over to All Saints' News to read my boss David's report so far of his visit to Pakistan.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Arch-enemy of Canterbury????????

Sensational news stories today concerning an interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams in the Catholic Herald. I heard it first in Radio 4 (in the bleary-eyed pre-breakfast state) and it sounded like he was saying that ordaining women to the priesthood had not brought renewal to the church so I wanted to follow up and find out what he said for real.

The BBC has him saying something reassuring about the place of women in ministry:

I think perhaps what one doesn't realise is how very, very normal this has come to feel for the vast majority of Anglicans and it hasn't undermined what the people feel about the ministry of the sacraments.
For me this was very reassuring. the article had implied that Rowan had not felt there had been the expected RENEWAL as a result of women in the priesthood and I was worried that somehow peopel expected that women being priests would be so ontologically different from men being priests that there would be a noticeable difference. For me the poitn has always beent hat individuals bring themselves to the priesthood and as much as there may be differences iont he personalities of priests these do not change the NATURE of priests. To have expected some great amazing RENEWAL and change from women in the priesthood would, bizarrely enough, have made ME question if it were the right thing to do. Women came into the SAME priesthood, the apostolic sucession, the CHURCH that has moved with the times and changed in many ways but still remained essentially the same. To hear the archbishop saying that women have become part of the normality of church is a FAR greater success than for there to have been some blinding shining amazing wondrous change.

The thing that had worried me most on the news this morning was the implication that the archbishop had said that they might revise the decision to extend the priesthood to women at some point int he future. Reading what he ACTUALLY said reassured me. In answer to a question as to whether he thought it was possible that the church might reverse its decision and restrict the priesthood to men his response was that he could

"just about envisage a situation in which, over a very long period, the Anglican Church thought about it again, but I would need to see what the theological reason for that would be"

Some might take that as someone saying we should revise but I hear it far more as a man saying he wouldn't exclude the possiblity but it was HIGHLY UNLIKELY and would be done only if theological reasoning LED to such a decision.

I think to me it sounds like an interview in which the Catholic Herald was desperately TRYING to get the Archbishop to say such things but not succeeding but the very fact that the questions were posed was enough for some journalists to hang a sensational story on.

This assertion is backed up by the Archbishop's own press release:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has dismissed as 'wilfully misleading' newspaper reports that he is doubtful over the ordination of women to the priesthood, has ever felt that the ordination of women priests had been 'wrong' or believes that a revisiting of the question is likely, necessary or desirable.

Speaking during a visit to Manchester, Dr Williams declared his continuing support for the ordination of women to the priesthood.

"From the very beginning of this issue I have been a supporter of the ordination of women and have not doubted the rightness of that decision or the blessings it has brought. It has been a difficult road for the Church and the cost of that decision has been a heavy one and that has been a test.

"I made it clear in the interview with the Catholic Herald and will continue to do so that I see no theological justificaton for any revisiting of this question and indicated in the interview three times that I had no wish to reopen it, whatever technical possibilities might theoretically exist."

"The presentation of this to mean anything else is wilful misinterpetation. My convictions mean that I feel nothing less than full support for the decision the Church of England made in 1992 and appreciation of the priesthood exercised "
Whatever the papers may have said about it all, the lectionary as ever brought a great deal of calm to the matter. We celebrated today Queen Margaret of Scotland, known for her gentle teaching and humility. First of we had Psalms 26 & 27 with the lines:

My foot stands firm;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord

One thing have I asked of the Lord
and that alone I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
To behold the fair beauty of the Lord
and to seek his will in his temple.

Then before we had the description of the virtuous wife from Proverbs we we had this from Turgot's Life of St Margaret:

MANY, as we read, have got their name from a quality of their mind, so that in their regard there is shown a correspondence between the word forming their name and the grace they have received. Peter was so named from "the Rock," that is Christ, in token of the firmness of his faith; John, which means "the grace of God," from his contemplation of the Divinity, and his prerogative of Divine love; and the sons of Zebedee were styled Boanerges, that is, "the sons of thunder," because they thundered forth the preaching of the Gospel. The same thing was true of this virtuous woman, for the fairness which was pre-shadowed in her name was eclipsed by the surpassing beauty of her soul. She was called Margaret, and in the sight of God she showed herself to be a pearl, precious in faith and works. She was indeed a pearl to you, to me, to all of us, yea, to Christ Himself, and being Christ's she is all the more ours now that she has left us, having been taken to the Lord....
Nor need we wonder that the queen governed herself and her household wisely when we know that she acted always under the wisest of masters, the guidance of the Holy Scriptures. I myself have had frequent opportunities of admiring in her how, even amidst the distractions of lawsuits, amidst the countless cares of state, she devoted herself with wonderful assiduity to the study of the word of God, respecting which she used to ask profound questions from the learned men who were sitting near her. But just as no one among them possessed a deeper intellect than herself, so none had the power of clearer expression. Thus it very often happened that these doctors went from her much wiser men than when they came...

When it was morning she rose from bed and devoted a considerable time to prayer and the reading of the Psalms, and while thus engaged, she performed the following work of mercy. She ordered that nine little orphans utterly destitute should be brought in to her at the first hour of the day, and that some soft food such as children at that tender age like, should daily be prepared for them. When the little ones were carried to her she did not think it beneath her to take them upon her knee, and to get their pap ready for them, and this she put into their mouths with the spoon which she herself used. The queen, who was honoured by all the people, did this act of charity for the sake of Christ, and as one of Christ's servants. To this most loving mother might be applied with great propriety that saying of the blessed Job, "From my infancy mercy grew with me, and it came forth with me from my mother's womb."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

He'll not like it but...

I have to tell you all how wonderful my husband is. He organised a surprise party for my birthday on Tuesday night, getting my Dad to pretend to invite us to dinner, my colleagues to make sure i was caught up in meetings all day and some of my friends to ask if thye would be seeing me later in the week to give presents. Michael also baked TWO cakes and a massive load of scrummy Danish biscuits.

Thanks to all who were involved in planning it. Though I do worry about how good you were at deception!!!

Thanks especially to Michael who isn't even really a party person and who totally rocks. (Sorry honey but yes I am still FAR TOO PERKY!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reality Check

The lovely hubby and I went to see The Prestige last night which is one of those films that doesn't conform to the standard filmography of the Blockbuster so well worth a look for people who like to see something intriguing, engaging and also visually amazing. We both agreed it wasn't quite the film we thought it was from the trailer but nevertheless we did enjoy it ever so much. If you like the MIchael Shamalamamam Night films you'll love this one.

It led us in to some interesting discussions about what REALLY happened in it because it is a film about illusion which leads you down some interesting paths and sometimes you can't remember which bits were "true" and which bits were not. Of course it is ONLY A FILM but within the internal reality of the film we still couldn't agree about which bits REALLY happened.

The whole concept of illusions and how they work made me think a lot about how we do worship - I know maybe I need to get out more! -

For those of us leading worship there's the lesson to remember that when we lead worship it's not actually all about us and not matter what we put into it we DON'T get the glory we give it. One of the characters asks of another who has performed a fabulous trick that invovles disappearing through thee floor:

"Does he enjoy taking his bows under the stage? "

For us that is what we must do; humbly accept thanks for worship we've led but do so not front and centre but under the stage.

Even more amazing was the connection between worship and illusion by the way they're structured as in both cases there is still always the basic structure:

Michael Caine's character Cutter sums this up:
"Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary some thing do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before."

Now I know when we're leading worship we're not trying to deceive people but engage them in worship and commmunication with God but what Cutter is saying is that the basic parts of illussion or for us the basic parts of worship are the SAME but the way you dress it up is different. We all KNOW how to worship God. We all seek that connection with the one who loves us and yet we feel the need to dress it up in different ways all the time; either with long-inherited traditions, loud worship songs, emergent innovations or just lots of words.

"Every great act of worship consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The worship leader invites you to come in from the ordinary world. The second act is called "The Turn"; The worship leader asks you to set aside the ordinary world for something extraordinary in turning away from sin and turning towards God. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before - a God filled with GRACE waiting for you to encounter that GRACE."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Alternative Service

Ok just to add to the SAGA of the BT/Talktalk nightmare of last month, our broadband (which had remained miraculously unscathed by the whol debarcle suddenly disappeared without warning. Apparently BT had told Waitrose that our line was disconnected now (or possibly reassigned - i.e. back to us!). IN theory we should ne paying a £55 reconnection charge but they are waiving it. Silver lining is that we'll get wifi and 8Mb instead of 2 for the same money but the BIG BLACK CLOUD is that we're off broadband for a WEEK at home. So there will be an intermission in both Deep Thought and The Third Province. We apologise for the additional time you'll have on your hands now and for the lack of silly/contraversial comments to your posts by both of us!

However it puts me in my geeky mind of Obi-Wan

Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibily imagine

(8Mb powerful mwah ha ha hAAAAH!)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Seek and you will find

Phil has flagged up that he too observes how people find hima nd his blog.

Most recently people have been finding me through:

looking for pictures of Johnny Depp
looking for a bible scavenger hunt
coming from Rev Gal blog pals
coming from the salvation army page on youth work/ministry

Funny how the world works really.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's just not right...

Dave has flagged up an important and worrying trend. The date for switching on Christmas lights is creeping ever earlier. Now I have a very effective guideline for when Christmassy things can happen. NO CHRISTMASSY things (buying presents, lights, singing of carols and other such things) can take place BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY on 14th November. It's a VERY simple rule. If you MUST INSIST on making it less personal then you can use REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY as a guideline (one not to forget you could argue!) as the marker. I mean how can you do the silence round the war memorial AND have carols and tinsel all over the place???!!

As Dave points out too - things could even get nasty...

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Join the Oxford Street Christmas Lights Campaign at the Cartoon Blog.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Interesting thing yesterday...

I discovered that I am not the only one who prefers to take of my glasses when I pray.

I think for me it's something to do with wanting to be "me" without extras, wanting to see "through my own eyes" (as Darth Vader said!) and not be distracted.

Obviously I can't do this when I'm leading prayers (as at my first leading of meditation at BCUC yesterday which went pleasingly well!) but any other time it's my clear preference.

Anybody else do the same or have some strange prayer preparation foible?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Signs of Ageing

Ok some signs of ageing recently...

  • Seeing a picture of my neice on my bruv's site and thinking (and saying) "Gosh she's got big!"
  • explaining to a young person (who looked STUNNED) that when I was a child I went to a cinema to see a film and there was a short film before the main feature (I remember this happening like once to be honest tho!)
  • Hearing the trailer for the John Humpreys and Rowan Williams interview and thinking "ooh I must listen to that later"
  • Looking forward to (and watching) the Secret Policeman's Ball as I thought nostaligcally of the earlier ones and wondered if it'd be as good.

Yet signs of youth too - hurrah!

  • Looking for posters at the SU poster sale for our chaplaincy room at the college and naughtily suggesting those that would ALSO be a VERY poor choice!!!
  • Trying to get some sweets out of Ian
  • Getting to borrow Ice Age 2:The Meltdown on DVD and being VERY excited
  • pulling a convincing mock tantrum as part of our confirmation class!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Operation Christmas Child

Michael and I had a lovely morning this morning shopping for Christmas presents. Now normally I hate people doing Christmas shopping so early (before my birthday is officially too early, in case you didn't know!) but this was different.

We were shopping for a Boy aged 10-14 as part of Operation Christmas Child.

This really is a fabulous scheme and our Church is collecting boxes this Sunday. Seeing some already bored children on half term around the shops, I thought it could be a perfect activity to occupy them for a day (planning, shopping, wrapping the box, making a card to go inside, filling the box)

We purchased:
Hat, gloves & scarf - hopefully "cool" enough
a jacob's ladder
a slide whistle
a notepad
a pack of pens
a tin of drawing pencils
(... is it just me or i this like Kim's game or the Generation game... which reminds me)
a cuddly toy - dog (which Michael picked and which almost escaped and stayed with us cos it is so cute!)
A tennis ball
a car
Three bags of sweets
toothbrush and toothpaste.

(ed. Oh and as always I forgot one thing: a lizard which sticks out its tongue when you squeeze it!)
Thanks to God for Hawkin's Bazaar which is just FABULOUS for toys!

If you fancy having a go you can find your nearest collection point here.

Pic of our finished box once we've wrapped it!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.
Chris prompted me with a comment to this pic to explain what's going on. I was invited to be one of the judges at our Scouts' Masterchef contest recently. Here are the other delectable dishes.

This pudding here was actually REALLY scrummy but it did look a bit unfortunate once the chocolate squirty cream wilted!

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

It was pretty impressive to see some Genuinely cultured cooking from Emily and her team.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

It has to be said though the chips won many points as did the banana splits ...

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

and the chicken pasta with elegant bay leaves, eh?...

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

However it was the stuffed mushroons followed by fried chiken pieces with chips and rice (no realy!) which won as they were STONKIN!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

i-priest's liturgical calendar

For all those of you not on paper based diaries but on one of those clever gizmos that talks to your pc (but doesn't know when Easter is!) Fr Simon Rundell has again put up a file to download and import to outlook or palm desktop. He even gives clear instructions to add and remove if you don't like it. What more could you ask?

Thanks again i-Priest!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Myspace... their space... our space?

I've been musing over the whole myspace thing lately. Now that I'm not the only "crusty" old person with a myspace (Dave and Simo are both out there too!) I'm feeling a little less awkward but it is still a strange kind of a place and certainly a place for the young. On doing a local area search for people when bored the other night there were 17 pages of ppl aged 18-35 but only 7 pages of those aged 25-35. Far more young peopel than oldies. Is it actually THEIR SPACE?

I feel that my blog is probably my myspace really as it's the thing I really keep up to date and where I do a lot of my external thinking and musing. I have spent time tweaking it and making it prettier and have got my flickr link and all that but... BUT the young people are not really in to the blogosphere thing and they ARE into myspace.

(There was a great video presentation on a blog somewhere and I can't find it so imagine a link here! There was also some discussion about the myspace generation here)

Going along the whole lines of the "meeting them where they are thing" (and as usual playing catch-up with youth culture) I've had some ponderings and some ethical questions...

How much should we be out there with them?

Do we add them or wait for them to add us?

This is their space for free expression...
Do we comment on anything we think is ill-advised or inappropriate?

Should we leave myspace as their space or try to make it our space too?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On this blog in history...

So the challenge today is to blog about my day so it can go down in history along with hundreds (thousands?) of other bloggers.

Today at Morning Prayer and Eucharist we remembered Ignatius of Antioch who was an early martyr for the faith and wrote some powerful words to the Christians at Rome as he was being taken there to be executed for being a Christian(see below). We remembered in our prayers the people of China who are restricted still from acknowledging their Christian faith.

Later in the morning I had a meeting with Matt a fellow youthworker at the Baptist church up the road and we dreamed some big dreams of what we could do for the young people of the town including maybe a double decker bus to drive around the place and meet the young people where THEY meet across the area (at the local park, in the car parks where they hang out, etc) with a cafe and large screen tvs with all the works, mobile skate park that we can put up wherever we go and whatever else we fancy. Ok so I know from Simon's experience that there are ups and downs with bus projects so we also thought about opening a specific Christian youth cafe, maybe for the after school slot, and we thought about where we could do it. We also thought about an event which could be the same but travel around the area to different churches. It was a really energising conversation and I came away buzzing with ideas for our futures (and with a date to meet up again to carry it forward!)

Then later I met up with David the vicar for a catch up on a few things and spent the afternoon planning and praying through the confirmation session for the evening.

Before the session Michael, my husband and I had supper (bread, ham, cheese, betroot, some cold boiled potatoes, with a little chopped onion, cucumber and celery - apparently this might be interesting in a lot of years time!)

We watched a couple of Star Wars clips (Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader from A New Hope and Yoda training Luke from Empire Strikes Back) as part of exploring the Holy Spirit - using the way they describe the FORCE to explore the way the Holy Spirit has an impact on our lives. It was a really good session with lots of discussion and reflection too.

My favourite comedy moment has to be when we were discusing what our names mean and Tom W said, "My name means twin." "Hey so does mine!" says Tom F! maybe you did have to be there but it was funny!

So that was this day in history!

Ignatius' Epistle to the Romans
"Through prayer to God I have obtained the privilege of seeing your most worthy faces, and have even been granted more than I requested; for I hope as a prisoner in Christ Jesus to salute you...All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. "For what shall a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? " Him I seek, who died for us: Him I desire, who rose again for our sake. This is the gain which is laid up for me. Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me from living, do not wish to keep me in a state of death; and while I desire to belong to God, do not ye give me over to the world. Suffer me to obtain pure light: when I have gone thither, I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. If any one has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened...I no longer wish to live after the manner of men, and my desire shall be fulfilled if ye consent. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet no longer I, since Christ liveth in me." I entreat you in this brief letter: do not refuse me; believe me that I love Jesus, who was delivered [to death] for my sake. "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me? " Now God, even the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, shall reveal these things to you, [so that ye shall know] that I speak truly. And do ye pray along with me, that I may attain my aim in the Holy Spirit. I have not written to you according to the flesh, but according to the will of God."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Some serious blogging...

I've been feeling a bit guilty that some of the blogging has been less than serious latley, when in fact in life I've been having some pretty big discussions about life, youth minsitry etc.

Then tonight I discover that the Salvation Army has turned to my humble blog as an authority on youth work and youth ministry.

Phil don't know why they didn't go for yours as you do this whole debate more than I do but maybe this is telling me I should do some thinking then some blogging. There may be the notes from a couple of sermons this weekend. I've given up using the pc for my sermons as I don't write them out so it requires me to remember what I said - which is rarely identical to what I planned to say!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

HaRVey's Bar menu

So as promised the mocktails of delight from HaRVey's bar:

Six foot Rabbit
Vanilla milk with sugar strands


Orange juice, cranberry juice and dolly mixtures

Merry Berry
Raspberry and strawberry milkshake with a touch of cranberry

Winter Sun
Orange juice and pineapple juice with a red cherry

Box of Frogs
· Mix Lime squash with water
· Add an eyeball sweet

Band Substance
· Mix sparkling water with Strawberry cordial/squash
· Add a shoelace sweet

Six foot Monkey
· Mix milk with bananas
· Add a sprinkling of sugar strands

Melted Snowman
· In a jug mix sparkling water/lemonade with peppermint cordial
· Top with eyes and nose shaped jelly diamonds

· 1 Part citrus drink
· 1 Part Pineapple juice and coconut drink
· 1 water

Wibblethorpe's Wobbler
· In a jug Mix milk with banana milshake stuff
· Add 1 tsp of Cocodirect drinking chocolate
· Add 1 jelly baby

The Dance of the Raisins
· Mix orangeade with apple juice
· Add raisins
· Watch ’em dance!

Fair Dinkum
· Mix milk with coco direct drinking powder
· Froth in the shaking machine

Out of this World

· Mix lemonade with lime cordial
· Float a flying saucer on it

· Mix the runny jelly with lemonade
· Add one jelly dude (aka jelly baby!)

Harvey Headbanger
· Mix Sparkling water with lime coridal
· Add a dash of lemon juice

Gives you the Ooglywooglies
· Mix Lime squash with water and milk
· Add space dust?/ sherbert – if I have time to find some!!!!

Sianara Simspons
· Mix sparkling water with Strawberry cordial/squash
· Add a dash of orange juice

Fruit Xplosion!
· Mix together:
· 2 parts Orange Juice
· 1 Part Apple juice
· 1 Part Grapefruit juice
· 1 Sparkling water

Hopalong Abraham
§ Half fill a glass with OJ
§ Top up with lemonade
§ Top up with equal parts fruit twist and cherryade
§ Add a bursting bug sweet
§ Cut up ¼ peach for each jug

mix Fruitfling and cold chocolate milk
(honestly it's nice but weird)

Sweet Sensation
Equal parts of each:
Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Sparkling Water
And 1/3 tsp sugar
Bit of lime mix

Just juice Jazz
§ Equal parts Fair trade OJ and Fair trade mixed juice
§ Top up with water/honey

Vicar Ticklar
§ Equal parts banana and strawberry milkshake mix
§ Top up with milk
§ Whizz in blender
§ Pour into a glass and squirt on some cream

Just Juice Jazz 2
§ Equal parts Fair trade OJ and lemonade
· Serve in clear orange plastic cup
§ Top with some fruity bits

Fair Dinkum
· Mix milk with coco direct drinking powder
· Froth in the shaking machine
· Serve in clear colourless plastic cup

Curse of the Fair Rabbit
· Mix milk with bananas
· Froth in the shaking machine
· Serve in clear colourless plastic cup with gratings of chocolate on top

Orange Saturdays

§ Equal parts Fair trade OJ and water
§ Add slice of orange
§ Serve in orange stemmed wine glass

and for the pirate lovers out there....

Captain Jack

· Mix six parts Orange Juice with 1 part water and 1 part lime cordial

Berry’d @sea
· Place some fruits, milk and ice cream in the blender and mix

Eye! Eye! Captain

· Mix apple juice with lemonade
· Add an eye! sweet

Black Pearl Parlay
· Half fill a cup with coke
· Add a spoonful of ice-cream
· Top with a shake of chocolate strands

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Propping up the bar

I've just been thinking through our cocktails for HaRVey's Bar this Saturday at Pulse and trying to remember what was in a cocktail I had called a Virgin Mary (we've never done a tomato jucie cocktail so I thought it'd be fun) I discover LOADS of links to MOCKTAILS.

What was really reassuring was that our mocktails that we've been serving for a while now were actually really rather creative in comparison to some of those on the sites especially in their nomination.

When I'm in the office tomorrow I'll try to remember to upload some recipes for people but keep your eyes peeled for the wonders of:

The Wibblethorpe Wobbler (created in honour of Dave Walker, cartoon wonder, who visited us a couple of year ago)
Gives you the ooglywooglies
Sianara Simpsons
Hopalong Abraham (named after the limping pig at Woodcroft Christian centre where we had our youth holiday in 2004 - I guess you had to be there)
and my favourite...

Led by the Spirit

Jo did this test so I thought I'd have a go. Not sure quite what it says really:

Not sure I feel all that wise and the secondary gift of tongues seems to be based on me being good at languages - not sure that's the same thing really.

Jo wanted other people to have a go so pop on over and we'll see what results.

Ranking Gift Score
Primary Wisdom Score: 9
Secondary Leadership Score: 7
Secondary Tongues Score: 7
Secondary Giving Score: 7
Secondary Compassion Score: 6
Secondary Prophecy Score: 6
7 Administration Score: 6
8 Apostleship Score: 6
9 Servanthood Score: 5
10 Exhortation Score: 5
11 Interpretation Score: 4
12 Shepherding Score: 3
13 Evangelism Score: 3
14 Discernment Score: 3
15 Helping Score: 3
16 Knowledge Score: 2
17 Healing Score: 1
18 Teaching Score: 1
19 Faith Score: 0
20 Miracles Score: 0

Spiritual Gift Clusters (click on a cluster for more information)
Rank Cluster Score
1 Organizing 9
2 Nurturing 7
3 Outreaching 4
4 Witnessing 2

Contemplative Youth Ministers

Great day today with the Oxford Diocesan Network looking at Mark Yaconelli's book Contemplative Youth Ministry.

Great discussions and prayer time led by Yvonne and Ian. the silence was really powerful. More reflection in time.

Good too see a few blog lurkers there too!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Art of slide

I heard about these on Radio Four but then I popped over to the Tate website to see the pictures. I know what _I_ want to do next time I'm in London!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Still a mystery?

I'm focussing on cooking (a chicken casserole, some scallops and a bolognese for the freezer!) and doing osme laundry and cleaning today so nothing too fancy from me blogwise today but you TOTALLY have to check ou this story on Ship of Fools which Dave has flagged up.

It is an unfortunate state of affairs if someone feels so insecure that they need to compliment themselves in the guise of pseudonyms.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Birth dath Shmirth date

Ok so it seems that there really ARE people who think the whole birth date determines who you are thing really works (so much for the nature/nurture debate!)

I know we all love it when we read a description that seems to flatter us and encapsulate all we've always really known about our deep-seated virtue but have never been brave enough to assert.

Well Star signs are one thing - they apply, allegedly to approximately 1/12th the population but these birth date things apply to approx 1/365th (Statisticians - I know I know it's not perfect but it's a rough estimate) so it's not much mroe plausible.

Just in case there was anyone out there thinking that these things MIGHT be TRUE I have a few arguments to counter it.

Firstly the whole Jesus saying I AM the way the truth and the life ...

Secondly and rather more forcibly this time compare the people who share MY birthday for 14th November - Me, Prince Charles, Claude Monet - yeah like we're ALL THE SAME!!

Thirdly, if I share a birthday with Prince Charles, that means someone shares a birth date with Adolf Hitler which is as follows:

Your Birthdate: April 20

You are a virtual roller coaster of emotions, and most people enjoy the ride.
Your mood tends to set the tone of the room, and when you're happy, this is a good thing.
When you get in a dark mood, watch out - it's very hard to get you out of it.
It's sometimes hard for you to cheer up, and your gloom can be contagious.

Your strength: Your warm heart

Your weakness: Trouble controlling your emotions

Your power color: Black

Your power symbol: Musical note

Your power month: February

Ok so that applies to 1/365th of the population EVER of this world apparently and that means that 1/365th of the population was like Adolf Hitler. Fortunately this is NOT true!

Finally everyone, can we realise that each one of us is a marvel of God's creation, an individual, distinct beloved child of God and much as we strive to be LIKE something IDEAL, that which we trully resemble is the one who created us and maybe we should focus on that more.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Here are some belated pictures of the rainbow that partially fuelled my musings for the Harvest service last weekend.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.


Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.
Here are the promised photos of Lily!

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

Isn't she just adorable!?

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

Here with proud mum and dad (Louise and Ian)

She has, so far, resisted Uncle Michael's attempts to corrupt her into pipe-smoking!

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who am I?

Interesting discussion about "horoscopes" recently and whether it really describes personality acurately. Maddie was talking about her scepticism and how, like me, she becomes more sceptical when she listens to Steve Wright's horoscopes on a Monday - sceptical and amused in my case normally! Jo posted about personality and had the test below so I thought I'd post it as an example:

Your Birthdate: November 14

You work well with others. That is, you're good at getting them to do work for you.
It's true that you get by on your charm. But so what? You make people happy!
You're dynamic, clever, and funny. And people like to have you around.
But you're so restless, they better not expect you to stay around for long.

Your strength: Your superstar charisma

Your weakness: Commitment means nothing to you

Your power color: Fuchsia

Your power symbol: Diamond

Your power month: May

How does this compare in accuracy to a personality profile based on the Myers Briggs or Belbin type? (my MBTI type is ENFP and on Belbin a few years ago I was notably strong as Team worker and Resource Investigator and weak on Monitor-evaluator and Implementer)

One of our young people said she thought it was possible that being told your type/star sign displays certain characteristics might actually make that true because you "live up to" the hype.

What do we think?

By the way FUSCHIA??? FUSCHIA??!!!!! I think not.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Harvest sketch

Ok so this is the first churchy sketch I've written. We didn't do it totally as written but it seemed to go down kinda well and the young people enjoyed doing it to.

Feel free to use... a comment here if you do so would be appreciated.

(until James interrupts)
Good morning everyone and welcome to our service for Harvest Festival.

TOM – The young people of Crew were each asked to prepare something for Harvest. Oh here’s James…

(James enters in Dr Who gear)

Tom – er James what are you doing?
James – Well it’s Tardis Festival today, like Sarah said.

TOM – No it’s HARVEST FESTIVAL not Tardis Festival. You’ve made an idiot of yourself again. Well let’s hope the girls get it right

(Kate and Jemima enter awkwardly both wearing one vest)

Tom – O…K… So what are you two doing?

K/J – It’s OUR VEST festival so we’re celebrating together in our vest. Don’t you remember? Sarah Said..

Tom – HARVEST HAR..VEST Festival You know as in harvesting crops and everything.. Well let’s hope Lydia got it!

(Lydia Enters in wellies and festival gear)

Tom – Oh dear… So… What have you come as?

Lydia – Got your wellies then?

Tom – my wellies?

Lydia – Yeah for OUR BEST FESTIVAL. It’s gonna be the BEST.

Tom – It’s not THAT kind of Festival

Lydia – isn’t it?

Tom - well at least your close, I suppose.

It’s Harvest Festival which does really mean OUR BEST too really.

It means we celebrate all that God gives us and we give BACK to God
the best we can.

For some of us that might be our eagerness… if it is for Dr Who and the

It might be working together… though I don’t think we need to be wearing
the same vest to do that ALL the time!

It may not be a festival like Greenbelt or Glastonbury but it IS a celebration

Monday, October 02, 2006

Storks, gooseberry bushes, etc.

Well Michael and Dad and I went over to Oxford this afternoon to meet ELIZABETH (LILY) PAMELA HAMILTON born this morning at 00.59, weighing in at 6lbs 8 oz.

She is utterly adorable (and I'm not just saying thatbecause Ian, my bruv, was completely convinced she looked like me soon after she came out!)

We were too busy cooing to take pics but Ian has some beautiful ones.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Getting exciting!!!

My Brother phoned my dad to let us all know that my sister in law's waters have broken so we're heading towards BABY time. In a few hours time I could be an AUNTY an my dad could be a GRANDAD teehee!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spirituality of Generation Y

The London Institute for Contemporay Christianity held a day today on the Spirituality of Generation Y featuring research from Phil Rankin, Buried Spirituality and Bob Mayo and Sylvie Mayo-Collins, The Spirituality of Generation Y and the Nazareth Project which is beginning research with Christian youth groups.

It was a challenging morning of quite a lot of BIG WORD stuff and also some reflection on the implication for practice.

Ian has a good summary and will no doubt have some more.

For me the key stuff was as follows:

Young people who took part in the research exhibited a common set of responses to various media which were summarised as Happy midi-narrative: A sense that the world is good as it is with no deeper meaning and that individuals can and should be happy. The flipside of course being that a failure to be HAPPY means a failure on the part of the young person with all too familiar consequences of self-harm, depression etc.

Young people, according to Phil Rankin's research think Church is S**t (this I think may well reflect a reluctance to talk about it rather than an opinion on its nature) and also equate tree-hugging, Christianity and Islam as essentially the same.

Tim Sudworth highlighted that some projects are aware of working with thrid generation non-church young people who are not ANTI church - they have no experience of it to be hostile to it which is of course an opportunity. The other good news from Tim was that the projects which have shown fruit were those which were long-lasting (hurrah for those of us in their fourth year!)

Tim and others suggested that schools work might, rather than helping youth work, in fact be part of the negative influence on young people about church. OUr table discussed this and reflected that many of us preferred a kind of CHAPLAINCY and pastoral role in educational institutions rather than an educative role.

Bob Mayo presented some evidence that, ontrary to popular belief, young people are not part of a spiritual revolution; there is no great number of young people who are "spiritual but not religious". There is however a curious phenomenon of young people praying even though some of them also state they don't believe in God. Bob's reflection on this was the need to turn the private prayer life of young people (which he viewed as formative spirituality) to a public one (which could be transformative). Young people see God as someone who is there when no-one else is. They pray to feel better and seek comfort either when they've done wrong or when they're in difficulty. This lacks any kind of penitential impetus and doesn't CHANGE the young people. He said it was important for us to work towards co-ordinating the WHERE, WHEN and WITH WHOM of public prayer for young people.

He emphasised that PLACE was important as was SPACE - Place being the geographical location and Space being how it feels. He said we should shift our focus from what we do to where we do it. He spoke particularly from the perspective of the Evangelical church but acknowledged that more traditional models of church do have a focus on PLACE using the evidence of the importance of context for young people shown by the reflections of young people interviewed by Spirituality of Generation Y (young people listened to music and in discussions almost always reflected on what the music reminded them of not about the music itslef). As Bob said, "context needs interpreting and also shapes the interpretation." He said, using the churches as shrines could be significant.

Phil Rankin also talked about the importance of context (his research varied a lot to do with context - interviewing young people in a school and young people on a street corner was fundamentally different). He emphasised young people's lack of awareness of their need to God but this should not be confused with a lack of NEED.

His research sometimes made it socially acceptable for people to talk about spiritual things. Perhaps this could be something youth workers do or as he would advocate encourage others to do.

The Nazareth Project highlighted that there is still a BLACK HOLE between the formative and transformative spiritualities.

Ok these are vague notes and the stuff from panel was even more vague.

I had two great quotations:
the church should be "a place of questions not a place of answers"

Someone also spoke of alternative worship as bringin the private prayer INTO the public space by making public spaces which evoked the private space.

Si Jones of Ignite, spoke about fresh expressions and his church saying
"we're not talking about a fresh expression of church, we're talking about a proper expression of church" - this made me think... when is the more true CHURCH - when we share bread and wine or when we chat over a coffee/pint afterwards?

Rachel from the Romance Academy stressed the fact that place is important and that meeting them where they are may NOT be the best way because tkaing them out of their comfort zone can be more effective in challenging them and taking them to new explorations of their faith.

and my own reflections on it:

Can we trully ever talk about young people as a whole having a world view? I think it's useful research but can it really be applied universally? I remember studying world views when I was translating Latin Saints Lives from the Merovingian period (it's something the Annales school of historians did a lot) and constructing what the world view was proved very difficult and then making links between world views was just as complex. It's a good thing to do but I think for the time it takes it can often end up telling you what your instincts already told you.

From what the researchers said I got the feeling that the role for youth workers lies with empowering young people to grow their spiritual and emotional intelligence so that they can interpret their own existential questions more successfully. Young people may not perceive themselves as having a God-shaped-hole but in each of God's children is the yearning for the Father and for the home that he has for us, whether we are aware of it or not.

A lot of what was said also pointed to a need to really work out WHY we are doing what we're doing with young people. The need for a THEOLOGY of our youth ministry as the determinate of our action was clear.

For me the idea of PLACE and SPACE really rang true with our Chillout worship for young people, our new contemplative service for adults (Cuthbert's Isle this Sunday 8pm!) and the way our church is OPEN each day.

One of the people on our table highlighted the possibility that in seeking TRANSFORMATIVE spirituality we might be pushing a CONFORMATIVE spirituality on young people.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Talk Talk BT update

So I phoned BT today - First off I leave a message to get phoned back "within an hour" and NOTHING, ZIP NADA so after Michael kindly sits on hold for ten minutes I get someone. They have no idea what I'm talking about. They say they have done nothing but do offer to reconnect me to BT of course!

So I phone Talk Talk again and ask for some clarification. Apparently I need to phone DIRECT SALES (as if I'm a new customer I guess). The woman was very helpful and when I asked her why it was disconnected she said that they had been notified by BT on 20th September that my line was pending removal for line rental. Talk talk are going to send me some form of confirmation of this notification with my next bill so I can chase it with BT.

So now I get to phone Talk talk in a different office!

Oh whay joy!

{and some more}

ok so then I phoned the number given to me as the DIRECT SALES OFFICE number which turned out to be customer services again. The softly spoken Scotsman said he would put me through to the right department and so I end up back at the "press 1 for..." section. I press 1 and end up.... yes... back to a South African man who asks me the security questions in order just after I answer them (a bit like that character in Terry Pratchett!) and when I ask if I'm now at DIRECT SALES he says but I'll put you right through to someone. GREAT :o)... or not.
He puts me on hold ofr about two minutes and then comes back to say he's putting me through to someone. That someone turns out to be... a voice telling me how valuable my call is and apologies for the SHORT delay. Twenty minutes of this short delay later... a lovely lady who is, (frustratingly for my complaining hat) really helpful and sorts it all out. Oh and she did the changing my name thing which I still keep forgetting to do since the wedding!

So all that's left to do now is call back BT when I have the evidence from Talktalk of BT telling them I wanted to leave and causing this whole nonsense in the first place!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rain on my parade

Ok so my lovely day off is going so well (the man has fixed the roof and the tap so there isn't water dripping ANYWHERE in the kitchen now) and then I get a letter from TalkTalk saying

"We've just recevied notification that you would like to cancel your talktalk serve."

er.... NO!

So I phone them up and apparently BT have cancelled my account with TALKTALK? How does that work?

Talktalk were really helpful: Firstly they answered the phone within 1 minute and also apologised AND gave me a number to call BT.

Annoyingly though... BT are "very busy today" and so weren't able to answer me in the first five minutes (ok they offered me a call back service but I'd like to go out so that's not much help really). How can a telephone company have such a poor telephone customer service when other companies do just fine?

So I will have to go out now and call BT when I have the HOUR or so to wait. Anyone else had this problem?