Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oooh check me out!

I've only just now read in Dave's blog that my article for the local diocesan newspaper the Door has been published (online at least). Ian asked all the full-timers at the last network meetng if they'd be up for doing a column one month and guess who got volunteered for the first one!!!

"And Sarah Hamilton of High Wycombe kicks off our new monthly column ‘Youth View’ on the triumphs and tribulations of youth workers around the Oxford diocese."

I didn't know I was supposed to do tribulations! I could have but instead I wrote about our mural painting at the local primary school.

Rediscovering the knowledge in Techknowledgy

Am feeling pretty pleased with myself today as I have successfully persuaded my tired old windows 98 pc to accept broadband. It was a bit like explaining cars to a medieval monk. "What is this broadband of which you speak? I must needs use this quaint 56k modem for tis the only modem which existeth. The world is flat rate..."

Eventually I persuaded it that it DID have all the driver files it needed and that it hadn't lost them. Perhaps they'd just rolled under the sofa...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

By George!


Matthew 18.10-14
Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
1 Corinthians 12. 12-22 & 27
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The readings we heard today tell us about the importance of everyone.

We might be different but we are all important.

In the story of the lost sheep we heard how a shepherd left 99 sheep to go and look for 1 sheep. It sounds a bit sill really. It’s a bit over the top to fuss over one sheep? Well that’s the way God’s love is. It’s over the top. But it’s not al about that one sheep. It’s not just for the sake of that one sheep that the shepherd goes to find it. It’s for the sake of the whole hundred for the other 99 just as much as the one that was lost because the 99 are missing something without that sheep. Not one of those other 99 sheep could BE that 100th sheep. Sheep may all look the same – they’re all white and woolly – a bit like a uniform really I suppose – but they’re not all the same. Just as all you beavers or cubs or scouts or explorers may wear the same uniform. It doesn’t mean you’re the same. It does mean that you’re a community though. It means you’re a BODY.

Just like that second reading that we heard, you might all be different but you all need each other.

Just like those parts of the body are different there are people who are different

Some people are good at listening, or who enjoy music
Some people look out for everyone or notice things
Some people are good at explaining things, speaking up for others or singing
Some people are good at helping out or at building or making things
Some people are good at supporting others, or standing firm or playing football or running.

You and your friends might be good at some of the same things but there is no one who is exactly like another person and we need all sorts of different people. If everyone was the same there are so many things we couldn’t do because we need people who can do all sorts of different things.

Take the flag for example.

How did it get here today?? I know I know someone carried it in. But it didn’t just appear from nowhere. Lots of people were involved in producing the flag.

What different things would need to be done to make that flag? Any ideas?

(there are lots - any suggestions from the blogosphere?)

ALL these different jobs need a different person with different skills. No matter what you’re good at there’s a need for you in this community of scouting and in God’s family.

God’s message to each of us is that God loves us as we are. He doesn’t demand that we be someone other than who we are and he wants us to get along with others in our community. That’s how simple it is. That’s how Jesus summed it up. There used to be hundreds of rules but Jesus reduced it down to just two

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul and love your neighbour as yourself.

Obey those two things and our community and each and everyone of us will thrive. What happens if we don’t obey that? Well we heard it in the first story. God’s love is so strong that even when we do stray from those two rules and move away, God brings us back into community.

Sermon 23rd April evensong


Psalm 143. 1-11
Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Selah) Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Save me, O Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life. In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.

Isaiah 26.1-9,19
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up victory like walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, so that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace— in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low. He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul's desire. My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. If favor is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and do not see the majesty of the Lord. O Lord, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for your adversaries consume them. O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

Luke 24.1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened

After the drama and horror and glory of Holy week and Easter, we, like the disciples, can sometimes feel a little lost as to what to do now. Obviously for us, the Easter story can never be as it truly was for those involved. We can never sufficiently “suspend our disbelief” and forget the ending of the story … or as it is for us today, the end of the beginning. As much as we can lose ourselves in the solitude of the Lady Chapel here during the vigil or witness the events in the dramatised gospel or the stations of the cross. It will always be with the eyes of those looking back that we see those events. We cannot encompass how the disciples felt immediately after Jesus’s resurrection.

One moment they were stunned for their loss the next even more stunned when they discovered the truth. Clearly Peter’s immediate reaction is Joy. But where do they go after Easter Sunday?

The day after Easter Sunday is where we meet with the disciples on a more level playing field. Yes they meet with Jesus but not predictably, not as they had met him before.

According to Luke first, He meets two of them on the road when he is the LAST person they expect to meet. So much so, that they don’t recognise him. Then he first appears to the twelve when they are in hiding – and hoping not to receive visitors,

In Mark’s version he appears to the Mary and when she tells the disciples they doubt her. Jesus then appears to the eleven and rebukes them for their lack of faith. In this version of events there is a great speech and then a swift and final departure.

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Similarly, according to Matthew’s version of events, Jesus appears just the once, by arrangement to the eleven in Galilee and there gives the Great Commission

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

It’s amazing and clear cut and rather statesmanlike I suppose you could say but I rather prefer the versions of Luke and John

Jesus in Mark’s version rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith yet in Luke and in John’s gospel, when he enters the place where they are hiding “for fear of the Jews” he calms them saying “Peace be with you”

Luke tells us that they doubt he is real and so he proves it to them by eating something with them. A shared meal as was so often their custom before. Likewise it is when they stop and eat that they realise the identity of the man who had said to them:

“Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”

To the eleven, according to John, Jesus goes on to say

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

The end of John’s Gospel also has another story of his appearance. I think this is one of the most intimate accounts of time with his disciples. Jesus appears when Peter has decided they should go fishing and even after all that has happened they are not certain it is Jesus. Yet they eat breakfast with him and in that familiarity they come to be certain of his identity. Again Jesus has words for his disciples. This time particularly for Peter, possibly because he needed a gentle reminder to leave the fishing business behind and get on with it:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

So what do these post Resurrection words have to say to us in our very much post modern post resurrection world?
Well these are not in fact the only accounts of Jesus reappearance. Paul also tells us that he appeared to James and to the five hundred as well as in a vision to himself. Paul tells us these things because he felt the need to tell the Corinthians these things in the 15th chapter of his first documented letter to them.

Even so soon after Jesus’ death and resurrection, people were questioning its veracity and it’s significance. Paul is very clear
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins”

Paul wants to emphasize the importance of Jesus death and resurrection. Without it The Way, the life Jesus intended for us, Christianity as we know it is worthless and unfounded. This is why so much stress is placed on those words of Jesus after his resurrection. These are the words that resound with us today in this season after Easter. These are the words that resound with us everyday in the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection. These are the words which resound in our hearts and in our church leading us in THE WAY.

Where might you meet Jesus? On the road? With a friend? Going about fishing when you should be doing something else? You might meet him where he asked you to be or it might be more of a surprise. Wherever you meet Jesus remember his words:

Peace be with you

Feed my sheep

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Leave well alone...

What better way to mark the end of leave than the prospect of two sermons tomorrow!??

In a moment of madness before Easter I recall offering to lead and preach at evensong tomorrow "as I'd be there for St George's day with Scouts in the afternoon anyway". A statement containing as much logic as the time I volunteered to lead the 12am-6am slot at a twon 24 hour prayer event as it was "the only time I wasn't doing anything else that day" - er... sleep?

Well the two sermons are written and indeed I'm considering the prospect of another preach this time at the local URC church where our ministry team is helping out during their vacancy. I'm leading an all age worship there on 21st May and rather looking forward to it! Nothing planned for that yet but in the mean time there'll be two sermons popping up tomorrow. See if you can tell which one is which - one for 500 beavers, cubs, scouts, explorers, scout leaders, fellowship and assorted supporters, the other for our evensong congregation which has been gorwing rather well lately I'm pleased to say so there may be around 20 or so.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Prayer Eggs

We had sleepover for Maundy Thursday this year (usually we do one for Easter eve up to the 5.30 am first mass of Easter with the Easter fire). We took part in the Maundy Thursday service with footwashing and the stripping of the altars - this is such a powerfully symobilc service that even those who were a bit embarrased about being AT CHURCH caught the sense of loss that the removal of all the church decorations evokes. As part of the three days of Easter (the triduum) the church has a WATCH through the night on Thursday - remembering Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and his words to the discples whom he found sleeping "could you not watch for even an hour?"

Well we had planned to have the young people taking part in the watch as part of the sleepover but I was aware that AN HOUR of silent prayer would be unproductive if not just extremely difficult for many of them so we got the young people to work out how long they wanted to do - a quarter of an hour, half an hour, forty-five minutes or the full hour. They opted for thirty minutes which I was really pleased about. For those who are not at all accustomed to long periods of prayer I had several suggestionas to what they might do in the time. There are the stations of the cross in church and the Lord's Prayer stations are still in our North Chapel so these were available but I also wanted something a little less pressured. So I came up with Prayer eggs (or Preggs, as the young people Christened them!)

A few weeks ago Michael and I were in Hobbycraft and saw these brightly coloured hollow eggs that you could fill with whatever and I thought they'd come in handy (though I had no idea what to do with them at the time!!!). We offered the young people a choice of egg colour and then they could choose which of the following to include in their Pregg:

A tiny model sheep - to remind them of Jesus as the Lamb of God, Jesus as the good shepherd or the parable of the lost sheep
A 1p coin - to symbolis the meagreness of the widow's mite and the greatness of an offering however small if it is given with generosity or as a reminder of the parable of the lost coin.
A soft heart - to remind them of God's love for them
Letters - to spell out their name remembering that God knows them by name, intimately as a father and that he calls us each by name
A mirror - so that they can look in the mirror and see who it was that Jesus died for, or that "now we see as in a mirror but then we shall see face to face"
A cross - to symbolise... well... the cross and Jesus' sacrifice for us
A chocolate easter egg - to remind us of the sweetness of God's love

I thought later as well that we could have put a small foot in it to symbolise the foot washing or nails for the cross or any number of things. You could work out all kinds of things or even tell a story with them in the Godly Play style.

In the end I don't know who used the Preggs but they all seemed to find the experience of the silent prayer (aided by a candle in a jar for each of them in the dark medieval church!)
I was certainly more successful than some of the hot cross buns we made (they were delicious but not quite as planned!)

We then watched The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe on the new big screen (courtesy of the new projector which we bought with our donation!) which was pretty cool even if it didn't finished until 3.30am. The plan was that we'd then sleep from 4am until breakfast at 10am. Unfortunately we didn't get quite that much sleep! I think we might have to revert to PLANNING not to sleep if we do it again. No sleep is somehow easier to deal with than sleep interrupted and in short bursts! 12 hours sleep later I'm feeling a bit better and able to remember how cool most of the event was.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Red letter Christians

So Tony Campolo describes the Evangelical left in the US in this great interview. He says that the Evangelical left focusses on those words in the Bible which are in RED: the words of Jesus. He's really good in this interview with a political comedian (who does try to phase him but fails) as Tony bashes home the message - JESUS LOVES EVERBODY!

And the bonus is... there's a link to The Daily Show on the same site so you can see the great political satire show without having to fly across the Atlantic!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My favourite waste of time... again

Ok so I've notposted - been kinda busy planning for the whole Easter thing and all that!

Anyway, especially for those who loved the singing horses here's something else to keep you occupied...

Or you could check out the afterlife discussions at Dave's blog.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Golf's apart

Wonderful news item this morning. Apparently an old illustrated manuscript from China shows men in various leisure activities including golf. This rather scuppers the Scottish claim to have invented the game in the fifteenth century apparently.

I think it's interesting that people need to know WHO invented the game. So often we play games with our young people which we've learnt from other youth clubs or youth workers without that kind of need for provenance.

It's not the inventing the game that counts - it's the taking part!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Video, Videre, Vidi, Visum

Sad and behind the times but I'm trying my first video upload to the internet. It's on youtube and I did try posting it on here but it was too big and my html is rubbish!!!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The sermon that never was

I was on the rota to lead Evensong (Book of Common Prayer) last Sunday and as usual I mulled over the readings for a while... well... it turns out that in fact I didn't. It turns out that I mulled over the readings for the WEEK BEFORE for a while. So this weekend I did my first last minute sermons which went down rather well actually (what does that tell me?). However it is still in scribble form and never made it to the full text version (just bullet points really). The first one didn't get the final polishing job as I realised my mistake before that stage.

Nevertheless, instead of the sermon I DID preach, I thought I'd give you the sermon that never was...

Exodus 6.2-13
God also spoke to Moses and said to him: "I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name "The Lord' I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, "I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.'" Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, "Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his land." But Moses spoke to the Lord, "The Israelites have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?" Thus the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them orders regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, charging them to free the Israelites from the land of Egypt.

Romans 5.1-11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain F11 in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, "I have prevailed"; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous. You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

“We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us”

Many of us do indeed boast in our sufferings but do we do it so that it may produce endurance or provoke sympathy? The Israelites were certainly good at boasting of their sufferings. The psalmists too show much ability to boast of sufferings:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

Yet this is not what Paul means when he says we BOAST of our sufferings. No he means that because of grace, even in times of suffering we can be sure of God’s grace

“We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
Perhaps this is why we commit to certain disciplines in Lent to produce endurance.
Something which St Paul says is CHARACTER BUILDING

Two ways of looking at suffering. God has abandoned us. God is with us so it’s ok. In fact it’s good for us.

God can be daunting in his offering to us and his willingness to give us what we most desire. Sometimes what he offers us is so much what we want that like the Israelites we can’t quite believe it.

Yet it is sometimes hard to be sure of God’s presence.
So God sent someone to whom we can relate
Having made us in his image God remakes himself in our image to come to us in the form of Jesus.

Jesus is somehow more approachable as we know Jesus experienced much that we experience.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Easter Resource

Michael led the intercessions at church for us this morning. They were based on various key figures from the Easter story and he has posted them up on his blog. If you'd like to use them, he's happy for you to do so if you acknowledge them as from The Third Province.

All fired up!

Michael and I had a wonderful evening getting rid of some garden waste last night. He had done some sterling work chopping down a couple of shrubs that had got ideas above their shrubly station. So we made a fire pit and whilst burning the garden waste we also baked some potatoes in the ashes along with some sausages and a piece of pork wrapped up with herbs and spices as well as putting some mushrooms with garlic and a little butter in a pan on one of the stones round the fire.

Amusingly, when we went to retrieve our supper we had a little trouble finding it! We got the pork out ok because it was quite big and the potatoes and mushrooms were just delicious... however the sausages never made it. We found one decidedly shrivelled one in the ashes but of the others... there was no sign!! Here's what the pork looked like though!!

More on the Mural

We had a fabulous day yesterday adding to what we'd done to the mural at the local C of E school. We had some of year five, our teenagers and also a few extra little helpers who were at the school with their parents as part of a "ground force day" at the school to tidy up the gardens, fences etc.

Here is what it started like:

and here is what we added :oD

More pictures of the detail on Flickr.

I am REALLY pleased with it. So only the top to finish, the detail to add, the Christmas panel to fill in oh and the entire other wall to design and paint!!! Then we have two more places wanting us to come and do a mural!!