Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not entirely unoccupied...

I realised a week of non-blogging has gone by again. I've been living up to my name and been usefully employed with some brushes as well as doing some book reviews, writing some of the book Phil and I are working and proof-reading the first of my best beloved's recently completed trilogy.

Evidence of some of this can be found in the ART folder on my flickr site.

Today I've been very much occupied tidying my office. I have managed to ecavate the filing cabinet but only tackled some of that magnus opus so far. I have discovered two hooks on the wall that I had never seen before but I've really no idea what my predecessor used them for as there's very little space below them and, as they're in an alcove, would be pointless as a place to hang pictures. Well after today the office has gone down on the Hamilton scale as the carpet is now not only VISIBLE in large areas but also CLEAN! The bookshelf is also tidied AND organised into sections. The office now pretty much contains only those things it should contain. So tomorrow I'll be moving them all back into the places they should be and clearing the desks!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

I am a Christian

A great poem that one of my young people sent me. I think it's pretty cool!

I am a Christian
When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I am saved"
I'm whispering, "I was lost"
That is why I chose this way.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
And need someone to be my guide.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And pray for strength to carry on.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are all too visible,
But God believes I'm worth it.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
Which is why I speak His name.

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge.
I have no authority.
I only know I'm loved

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Evan Almighty

Went to see Evan Almighty on Monday. It's definitely worth a see. Not sure it needs the big screen for all of it but certainly the denouement won't look as good on the small screen.

Of course there is the inevitable comparison with Bruce Almighty...

I think Evan is in some ways more likeable (doesn't seem like the character was in Bruce Almighty) though a litle bit vain and politiciany! Yet his "conversion" is not as dramatic as Bruce's. He displays some resistance but mostly listens to God and obeys. It's a shame so many of the funny bits have feature in the trailers.

For me the key bits which are worthy of reflection are the scene with God and Evan's doubting wife...

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

and right near the end when Evan tries to command the water or the ark or the rapidly approaching the bridge or ANYTHING... but finally he says "Can I get some help here?" and God acts! It is GOD'S power not Evan's and Evan knows that (or at least he remembers it eventually!!!)

Like Bruce Almighty there's an easy "lesson" which is that an Act of Random Kindness (A.R.K.) can change the world. There's even a project in American based on the film called ARKalmighty which is helping churches sign up to this concept.

Yesterday we went to see Bourne Supremacy - I have to say it is a better film. Pacier, more engaging, thought-provoking.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recipe 2 - Chocolate Puddle Pudding

This was a rather popular conclusion to the week away with the young people. Be warned it can be kinda rich!! It works well with a little bit of vanilla icecream.

This pudding is rather clever as it knows which bits to put in the sauce at the bottom and which bits to keep as cake.
(for 6 people)

Preheat the oven to 180c or Gas mark 4

In a mixing bowl mix together 5oz self raising flour, 2 tablespoons of cocoa (or you can do 4oz flour and an extra 1oz cocoa!) 7oz caster sugar, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla essence, 1 oz melted butter and 5 fluid oz milk (preferably full fat or semi skimmed).

Spoon this mixture into an oven proof dish.

In another bowl, mix together 5oz brown sugar and 4tablespoons of cocoa. (Alternatively you can use a very good drinking chocolate which has a similar cocoa content!). Sprinkle this evenly over the top of the cake mixture in the dish.

You can leave it at this stage for a while.

When you are ready to cook it, pour three quarters of a pint of hot (not boiling) water over the dish and put it straight int he oven for fifty minutes. DO NOT PEEK!

The finished pudding will look like a chocolate cake semi floating in a chocolate puddle.

You can eat it hot or cold... if it lasts that long!

Recipe 1 - TIFFIN

In a saucepan melt 250g/8oz butter and 4tbsps of golden syrup (or brown sugar/honey if you don't have syrup!). When it's melted take the pan off the heat and break up 400g/14oz dark chocolate into the saucepan. Stir it all up.

Then crush up 450g/160z digestives (this usually works out as just less than one of those big packets so you can eat the few left over!!) and add them to the chocolate mix.

Then add 200g/7-8 oz of a mixture of the following:
nuts, raisins, glace cherries, dried mango, dried cranberries, coconut, dried apricots, dried apple, dried pineapple, glace ginger, mini marshmallows etc. Experiment with different mixes.

Smush that all into a silicone baking tray (or a greased normal baking tray if you don't have one of those)

Gently melt another 400g chocolate in the pan and pour this on top of the mixture. Smooth it out. You can even put little marbling effects in with white chocolate if you're keen).

Put in the fridge until it all sets. When it's hard, take it out of the fridge fro twenty mintues then slice into pieces. You can put these in a tin and store in the fridge for as long as you can hide it from yourself!

All Saints' Youth Holiday 2007

Fantabulous time away with the young people at Quinta Hall up in Shropshire. We went to Holy Communion at the cathedral at Chester on Sunday and went to the beach at Prestatyn on Monday (with mini golf, sandcastle competition and fish & chip supper!). On Tuesday we send the young people on a treasure hunt round Oswestry then got them cooking for masterchef. Wednesday saw us enjoying a swim at Wrexham in the morning (including funky slide, jacuzzi and one of those weird tidal pool thingies) and then tree-climbing and doing archery with Aiden and Luke from the fantastic Adventure Plus all rounded off with a stoningly tasty roast chicken dinner. On Thursday we continued with Fencing and a low ropes course (including a game of Wah on the low ropes - yes I think we were mad!). Friday was a marvellously chilled out day on a canal boat going of the Pontcysyllte viaduct which is pretty amazing.

Alongside all this we looked at the book of Genesis, touching on issues of sin, meeting with God, families and using our gifts. There was also plenty of time for some great games of Kubb, Wah, the foot Game, Tom's game, shops, Mafia, 1-2-3, Monkey, boppit, Chinese cricket and the occasional few hours of sleep!

We had some great food and I did promise to put up two recipes - both chocolate coincidentally!

So recipes for tiffin & Chocolate puddle pudding following...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bishop on the Blog

Courtesy of Dave Walker (Cute cat owning cool cartoon creating curly haired dude) I've discovered that Alan our bishop has a blog which he seems to have started this August. So I may have managed to scoop Youthblog - oh yes!

Check out his latest post including a painfully accurate bit of commentary on Christian rock!

I look forward to hearing more from you soon, bishop.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Eat this bread

In the time I spent focussing on Bible study in Taizé, I was fortunate again to be in a group led by Brother John looking at chapter six of the Gospel of John. This chapter includes the feeding of the five thousand, the calming of the storm and a long bit of teaching on “the bread of life”. It was an amazingly apposite text for the week as each day involved the feeding of five thousand young people at Taizé (and trust me the tuna and potato salad looks like there really were only two fish between everybody!), we had plenty of teaching and sharing of bread as well as a very impressive storm.

The final part of the Bible introduction I went to at Taizé focused on Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life. Brother John brought out from this text something I had not connected to before. he talked a lot about what eternal life meant. Eternal life is not that which lasts for ever. Eternal life is that which is like God as God is eternal. It's not about not dying but about living. Brother John also emphasised the sheer shocking nature of Jesus saying he was the bread. To us it may sound odd but Jesus told an audience of Jewish people bound up in laws about eating that they had to drink his blood:
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live." Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" they asked. So Jesus said again, "I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day. For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. All who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them John 6.51-56
Now the idea of eating flesh is fairly shocking but of course to the Jewish people it is even more so as their tradition says they cannot eat meat with blood in it. Yet it was not this that Brother John said which really struck home.

We always associate this passage with the last supper; flesh and blood; bread and wine. Yet this passage comes a long way before the last supper. There is something much more significant about these words. For in eating or drinking something it becomes one with us. Once we have swallowed something within a few hours that is then part of us. This is the kind of food Jesus is talking about. Jesus is asking us to take Him into our lives so completely that it is as if we were one. That really is some challenge. Unless we take Jesus into our lives THAT much we don't have the eternal life. We're not living the life God wants.

So is Jesus so much a part of you that you have consumed that true bread? Is your life eternal?

There and back again

Well all the Oxford diocese Taize group are safely returned. We had an absolutely fabulous time.

I ended up on "night welcome" which means telling peopel to be quiet from 11pm and pretty much ASLEEP from midnight which is somewhat challenging!! but it was FANTASTIC fun as the team were hilarious.

Dovile from Lithuania was just Awesome - an experienced Night welcomer of 7 years and really skilled at chatting to people and persuading them to be quiet and in their OWN rooms, especially the Italian boys.

Mara was just hilarious and quoting Eddie Izzard and Family guy all the time

Simon was a great giggler who insisted the moon was so bright that at midnight we needed moonglasses and moon lotion.

Radik was so calm that he managed to make people quiet just by STANDING there.

and then there was the rest of the team..

Dr Phil was like a police dog specially trained for sniffing out alcohol and bagged so much in the week it made our team look decidedly unskilled! Although when Joanna discovered he was ticklish he did run away like a giggling Homer Simpson.

Vlad (the loud haler) did get the idea of keeping peopel quiet in the end but not really the idea of being quiet himself.

Hans was so loud that he tried to tell ME to go to bed when we were closing Oyak - but they wouldn't let me as I was supposed to be working!!

Niklas (and Lisa who liked him so much she joined the Night team) from Sweden were just "chill" and helped keep me warm and laughing.

Christophe, well what can you say about the man that made all of us stay up until 3am some mornings and some of us until 5.30 am!! Honestly he was a legend... particularly when he lost his German cool and got really frustrated about people but never at them!!

Of course but by no means least was Brother Paolo who went RUNNING to get us more breakfast when there wasn't enough. A Taize brother flying across from the kitchen is a site to see.

The Oxford group did keep a taize diary (though without me nagging them to do it as I was on a different time zone to them most of the time it is a bit short!) which is beautifully and suitably random. I'll pop that up on the Taize blog when I get a sec.

Right now I need to upload some pictures and then get on with sorting our youth holiday out.