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 www.weblogcartoons.com

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?