Thursday, November 29, 2007


Ok so I've done a little brochure of my paintings for the Advent Craft fair on Saturday. I thought this was the easiest way of making it clear how much each painting was on sale for. It's all got rather professional and unnerving!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Art of Display

I'm putting a few of my paintings up for sale at our Advent fair this Saturday and have been working out how to display them and the more periless issue of pricing them not just according to how much the materials cost but also taking the time and talent into account.

If you've admired any in the past and fancied buying one, I am taking reservations for some which I'll still display but you'd better get in quick or take your chances and come along on Saturday to see the lot! There is much else to see (and hear as well - including our choir!) including some handmade chocolates, jewellery, wooden bowls and the usual church cakes (I have to say our cake bakers are rather fine!)

Hope to see you there!

Question Time

I had a fascinating morning this morning as part of a panel of "religious experts" at my old high school. I don't think I've been back there more than once since I left in 1993 and it was familiar and strange all at once. Some curiously familair bits were, of course, some of the young people I work with who are part of Wycombe High and a few of them were in the year 12 session as well.

We covered some most thought-procoking topics including Human Rights in the UK (including extending detention periods for terror suspects and the Oxford Union hosting extremists in their debating chamber), International Human rights (the monks' protests in Burma and the Olympics in China given its human rights record), freedom of religious expression (wearing religious symbols at school and the appropriateness of dress for men and women according to some religious practices), medical ethics (contraception and abortion), sexual morality (legalisation of prostitution, homosexuality and adoption by same sex couples) and the role of women in religion (women priests and bishops).

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive before I got there as, due to a few communication confusions, I didn't know anything about what the topics to be discussed were going to be. Then when I got there it was most reassuring to meet two Franciscan nuns who knew much more than I did about the plans. They had that wonderful air of calm that those of religious orders often have (usually without knowing it in fact!) as I find with the brothers at Taize. I felt instantly calmer.

The debate itself was in fact really interesting. The girls were put in groups of ten with two of the issues (and some newspaper articles on the subject) to discuss and come up with questions for the panel. The best of these questions were then selected and the girls who came up with them then asked us.

I'm not sure whay but I got asked directly about legalisng prostitution and also made some contributions on religious attitudes to modest dress and the wearing of religious symbols. I also felt strongly enough to respond to something one of the other pannelists said. Someone suggested that countries where women wear "more clothes" have a lower level of sexual crime. I couldn't but comment on the implication that a woman is responsible if she gets sexually assaulted and in affirming the culpability of the attacker rather than the victim I got the one and only round of applause (and blushed!)

I think what was great was seeing some of my young people in their school setting but in a way that was perfectly natural and not intruding on them. I also got to chat to a group of muslim students who felt that their faith had not been represented in a way that was easily understood and would have liked to clarify things in places. I was able to chat to them about it an dthey very graciously commended me on my contribution (as did my young people but I think they're just biased!

I have to say the whole cut and thrust of debate really was thrilling - perhaps too much so though! I don't think I'll be progressing to Question Time just yet as the adrenalin really got pumping when someone said something contraversial!

Well I was brought down to earth rather successfully by the unique experience of our PCC this evening so I think that probably levels the day when all's told!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Are you sitting comfortably

More adverts from Nick Park and Co for the Leonard Cheshire charity came online today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Heroes and Gifts

I was in this evening so able to catch another episode of Heroes. I didn't start with this series but wanted to and I managed to get into it a few episodes in. I think I may be buying it to watch it all as it really is good. The thing that fascinates me about it though is the whole issue of gifting and what makes heroes. I don't think it's unusual that the heroic attributes in the series are decidedly unlike the gifts we hear of in the New Testament. In Heroes we have people who can control time, fly, heal themselves, cause fire, cause nuclear explosions, steal the powers of others, read minds or stop others using their powers. These are all about power; the gaining of it, using of it and often the abusing of it. There are those who use their hero powers for the good and there are those often torn about using them for good or evil but for the most part the powers are not for "the building up of the people." The gifts of the New Testament, however are all about service; teaching, pastoring, healing, speaking and interpreting tongues, administration, encouragement, showing mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy and discernment of spirits. (Romans 12.6-8 & 1 Corinthians 12.4-10).

If you were asking for hero powers which would it be - I have to admit I hve always fancied flying! Now I know in all the stories Superman does a good job in using that gift to serve others but it is one that can also be used against them. Likewise, though the spiritual gifts are intended to be used in servicce, they too can be used to build up not the community but the individual. It is a tricky balance, I think, but God gives to each of us something which helps us make that balance, whatever our gifts.

As well as gifts, we have the guidance of what our fruits should be: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In Heroes, one solution to make sure people don't abuse their gifts is to make sure that there is no-one who has them. With the spiritual gifts there is somehting else. There is that all important humility of service which Paul was so keen to instil in the Christians in Corinth. A gift was to serve the community. If it did not it were better not to be there:
"in the Church I would rather speak five words with my understanding--so as to instruct others also--than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."
1 Corinthians 14.19
In Heroes they seek to control powers by laws and restrictions but in God's giftings it is different:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5.22-23

Movies that moved you

At the Youthwork Conference at the weekend, Fuzz Kitto used a clip from Dead Poet's Society and I was reminded just how profound watching that film was as a teenager.

I can also remember a visiting ordinand who took u away for a weekend to study the book of Revelation. Unfortunately I remember very little about the teaching of Revelation but I do remember he showed us Cry Freedom! This Spring I showed my older group V for Vendetta and hope that maybe it had a similar impact. I remember discussing with my young people the fact that they had noticed that parts of that film make me cry.

Considering that I'm still reeling from when some of my young people considered Mrs Doubtfire to be a CLASSIC FILM, (good but classic???) what makes a classic?

What films were those GREAT films that really moved you when you were young? Have you shared them with your teenagers?

In the eye of the beholder

Great new cartoon today from the consistently good ASBO Jesus about young people. I wonder just how many times this will appear in youthwork literature!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marriage and the Ministry

Pop over to FeminYM to check out Amanda's new contribution to our Women in Youth Ministry site. She's reflected on the relationship between her marriage to a fellow youth worker and both their shared ministry and her own personal ministry. The second part of her thoughts will appear shortly and, thanks to some connections made at the Youthwork conference, we should have a piece on being young and single and in youth ministry coming soon.

The Youthwork Conference

As always with conferences, when we got together over some fantastic fish and chips at Harry Ramsden's (away from an extremely windy seafront!), we talked over what had been the "best bits" of the Youthwork conference for us. For me as for many of us it was the chance to get together and network with other youth workers, swapping stories, being silly together (MUCH over-excitement on our team during the television theme tune round at the quiz - 19/20 woohoo!), exploring the town and pier together, eating together and worshipping together.

Of course there was good stuff at the conference too. You can download individuals mp3s here for £4.50. Or the whole lot here for £75.

It was great to see a reasonable crowd at the Sophia Network launch including Amanda who is writing something for our Women in Youth Ministry site. Jenny Baker introduced everyone to the reasoning behind the network as improving not only the place of women in youth ministry but of making youth ministry (as part of God's creation) a balance of male and female. It's not just about women being women but enabling men and women to work well together.

Fuzz Kitto led the Early day and used the model of a meal (appetiser, starter, main course and dessert) as the structure for his four talks. I have to admit I took a while getting in to what he was doing but his take on things was pretty refreshing as he got us to taste various things (including chocolate!) as we reflected and he urged us to think about the "flavour" of our ministry and the flavour of God. He also sent us out to stand by the sea and reflect then went on, in the main course, to identify some of the key ingredients of good youth ministry and I hope to get those from him at some point as there were LOTS of sub points but they were summarised as:

  1. Being available
  2. Showing Interest
  3. Building Relationships
  4. Communicating
  5. leading
  6. Teaching
  7. Creating Community
  8. Encouraging Involvement
He also quoted a few great lines (from Alan Roxburgh, I think):
"Truth is relational"
and another;
"We don't work for the church. We work for God WITH the church."
and finally from the great Dead Poet's Society (which I must watch again as it was SUCH an influence when I was a teenager!)
"No matter what anyone tells you words and ideas can change the world"
Another bit that I took away was about the need for creativity in people-centred work. We never finish with people so it is important to have something which we can finish. I sat there partly desperate to get home to the HUGE pair of canvasses Michael had bought me for my birthday and get painting something that was screaming to get on the canvas!
and then Fuzz said:

"It is only in creative activity that we externalise our nature as in the image of God"
Wow! REALLY need to paint this now!

Jeff Lucas was very entertaining in the first main talk but also had some words of wisdom. Callin on us all to avoid burnout and cynicism:
"Dream your dreams through me again and let me see the wide screen picture and let me do the small things well"
I must admit I skived his last session only to discover it was a viewing of Babette's Feast so I didn't feel so guilty as I'd already seen it as part of one of the weekends away with the (SA)OMC course!

For me, Juliet Kilpin (from Urban Expression) was probably the highlight of the main talks as she challenged us to be more daring in our servanthood. She also used one of Dave Walker's cartoons (the facebook one!) so I was almost certainly going to like what she said!

She also co-led a session with Jonny Baker on Fresh Expressions and the Emerging church (using one of Dave Walker's cartoons again[this time the where the church scratches one] and the marvellous but sometimes painfully accurate ASBO Jesus). There were also references to Mark Berry and Richard Passmore so I felt rather at home! My friend and I both went to this and, although we both said it included much we had heard before, we still found it really good. For me, it was a great reminder of how to look at CHURCH and I'm sure I'm going to use some of the theory when I'm working with St Anne's and St Peter's in helping them look at their future plans for youth ministry in their community.

The worship at Early day was led by a guy called Darren Baird from Knock in Belfast who was AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC. He picked the perfect song each time and was really prayerful in leading us without dominating. The main worship sessions for me were not so good in comparison but they were in the theatre which was rather cramped so that may have had an impact. That said, the poems (someone PLEASE tell me they know where I can find them!) and some amazing cello playing really made an impact.

Yet in all this the time I felt closest to God all weekend was on the beach when I should have been in a seminar on personal spirituaity - yes I liked the irony too! It was really windy and it reminded me of a great time in Taizé during the storm this summer.

Back home now and started working on the painting that was screaming to be let out. It's based on the idea of that still centre within each of us and reminding me of that St Augustine line which someone (might have been Jeff Lucas!) used this weekend:

"Human beings are not bodies with souls but souls with bodies"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Star Wars Exhibition

For my birthday last week, Michael and I went along to the Star Wars exhibition and saw some of the original props from the saga. It was very cool though I did look a total wuss when Darth Vader walked into the exhibition room we were looking around and I leapt to grab Michael's arm and hide behind him as he cracked up at my pathetic terror. trust me he was SCARY in real life with the patented breathing and EVERYTHING.

For other interesting pics of the exhibition (including proof that I really am very short) have a look at the Flickr account.

ARK for Christmas

Evan Almighty focussed on the idea of

Acts of

and rejesus has a new thing that fits just perfectly with this concept.

What is Christmas really all about... presents or presence? Go out and float your ARK by generating your own random act of kindness.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conference and Discomfort

I'm off to Youthwork the Conference in Eastbourne today. The chocolate cake is baked and the bag packed and a whole 45 mins to spare to do everything else!!!

If you're going to be there I am open to coffee!

If you are interested the Sophia network has a launch on Saturday at lunch time.

Oh and if you're NOT interested in all that lot you may lik to know that Nick Park and his team have produced some fabulous new videos for the Leonard Cheshire charity.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Affirming Liberalism

Richard has flagged up a new initiative in the diocese that might well be of interest to those with a more liberal side.

Affirming Liberalism is described as a "Church of England network to affirm and support Liberal Christians and Liberal Christianity in the Oxford Diocese… and beyond".

I suppose this brings some balance to the Liberal/Evangelical/Catholic triangle.

I particularly like the phrases about ways we approach our faith:

  • Affirming the positive impact of biblical, literary and historical criticism for our engagement with Scripture and Tradition.
  • Affirming appreciation of the distinctive nature of religious language in vibrant worship which connects us to the divine.
  • Affirming a philosophical approach to Christian faith and the search for truth through God-given reason.
  • Affirming the positive insights of the natural sciences and mathematics in the formation of a Christian world-view and understanding of the universe.
  • Affirming the positive impact of the social sciences for understanding human nature and society, and developing Christian ethics.
  • Affirming the vitality of the performing and creative arts in shaping a dynamic Christian vision of life lived in relation to God.
If you want to know more, you may consider looking at the conference on 9th February, contacting them or just keeping an eye on their site.

Sophia so good

For those of you not at the youthwork conference in Southport... the Sophia network launches online this weekend (and at the conference in human form) with my small part of it here.

All those in youth work go and have a look. Ladies, consider joining and gents... maybe you need a men's network??

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush
Here a a few of the latest paintings. I'm going to be selling some of these at our church's Advent fair on 1st December. If you're interested in anything you've seen and haven't already said you want it you'd better speak now as at least one of them will go as I have to give one for the raffle.

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where is Merovinge anyway???

It doesn't happend often but yesterday someone expressed an interest in my PhD thesis.

This time it was even for somthing other than needing a large heavy book to flatten something with!

Bishop Alan
came to All Saints' yesterday to license David as the Area Dean. Alan had just returned from St Wandrille, a monastery in Rouen and he referred to this place in his sermon and the word Merovingian was used in All Saints' and not by me! Goodness!

I know this may seem entirely bizarre (particularly to anyone looking for something about youth work!) but it is faintly pleasing that the three years I spent toiling on some translations elicits a little interest from a noble few every now and then.

So, for those in that very small band, a reminder that you can have a look at some of the twenty saints lives of Merovingian bishops which I translated over at my Latin blog. There is only a small selection as I haven't really got round to putting them all up (or indeed locating all of the electronic files on the antique non internet pc upstairs!). However to any fans of St Wandrille, both the lives of Lantbert of Lyons and Ansbert of Rouen do include his name and their connection with him.