Wednesday, June 24, 2009

God Gazebo

God Gazebo 1
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush
I finally got the four panels of the inside of the gazebo painted today. It's certainly a lot harder to get acrylic to go on to the plastic in a way which is appealing to the eye. I'm much happier with the last three panels I did than with the first when I was really just getting a feel of how the paint was moving.

Disappointingly the silver paint just looks grey so my plans for using silver and gold have changed.

I also need to work out whether I want to put something on the outside too. I might just write GOD GAZEBO on the outside of the segment I like least!!

I am on leave and my colleague told me off for doing this when I'm not working but it was FAR TOO MUCH FUN to count as work and I was able to take such a leisurely pace doing it. If I'd been doing WORK I'd have felt really guilty about taking so long as there are so many useful things I could be doing!!

Let me know what you think anyway.

In addition to the inside painting I'm working on some bead hangings and one of the pics shows M on the outdoor bean bag (covered for painting!!) which we've bought for it. There will also be some thought provoking things for the young people to look at - when we've thought what might be provoking!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Word became pasta

I was making some soup for supper today and had one of those cheesy non-holy but could have been holy if I was a little loopier moments.

I opened the mini alphabet pasta which I bought ages ago in Spain (the tiny stars having been finished) and in opening the packet four letters spilled out onto the work top.

The first letters to come out were an echo of creation...



Of course if I was Italian it might well have had a different "creation moment" as I created


which means woman!

Michael was suitably unimpressed but we did still look for messages in our soup (as I used to when I was a child!!) All I got was DOT and AXE...

I might just have to have a go at the PlayPaws Alphabet Spaghetti game tomorrow as I'm in the mood!!

Or you could go play with the alphabetti spaghetti word generator! - makes a change from scrabble on facebook and you get to choose your own letters !!

Sermon on Isaiah 6 - not the Trinity

I was preaching at St Mary's in Kidderminster on Sunday one the following passage:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Isaiah 6:1-13

There was also a baptism so the sermon brief was to focus not on the Trinity (for Trinity Sunday) but on the reading and the baptism. So they had the following - or thereabouts. I've taken out the baby's name which I did use - just so you know I didn't call her "this baby" all the way through!!

What an amazing image of God in all his glory in this vision of Isaiah. This has been a journeying passage for me over the years -of mixed meanings – it has spoken to me in different ways throughout my life.

I really love the graphic description of the place. When I was a child this was especially true.

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke."

I really loved that image of the angels with all those wings and especially that great long robe spreading through the court. I was rather into stories of princesses with long dresses and I rather pictured that long road like the wonderful dresses in my Ladybird edition of Cinderella!
That really graphic image spoke to me very strongly when I was young.

Then when I was a little older and studying history, the thing that struck me about this passage was that, as much as it is a description of a vision, it was a vision located in TIME by the writer. “In the year that King Uzziah died.” According to most historic record that’s in 740 BC. This vision is not some vague story for any time. It’s a vision that a real person had at a particular time. It has a particular place in the story of God and of his creation.

In my life in ministry, that moment when Isaiah says “here I am, send me” has been significant many times. When I was thinking about changing careers from sensible history teaching for something as mad as youth work, I heard this passage. When I was welcomed into my new role as a youth minister, we had this passage. When I was thinking of moving jobs, leaving family and friends behind, this passage made me realise there would be some SENDING by God and that I was ready. “Here I am send me”

Does Isaiah sound ready though? That’s not where he starts and it’s not where I started with this passage. I’m sure it’s not where this baby starts her journey of faith with this passage either.
No Isaiah starts not as one ready but as one aware of God, aware of himself and prepared to change.
He knows he has seen God but he feels he’s the wrong kinda guy from the wrong kinda place. God however transforms him and turns his life around.
That’s what each of us today together with this baby and her family, seek to do in joining in this baby’s Baptism and re-living our own baptism.

We may think, like Isaiah that we’re not really ready or worthy but it’s that turning to God and showing a willingness to be changed by God that we begin our journey. It’s not a magic wand though, far from it, there will be things that draw us away from God as well as those that draw us to God.

It was also with some sadness that I learnt another way this passage had significance for me. someone who was brought up in the same church as me is not now someone who includes religion in his life. He and I were chatting a few years ago and he told me that this very passage was THE one that, as a young teenager, made him decide NOT to keep coming to church. Why? He told me that he thought if the angel needed tongs to pick up the hot coal then that made no sense of God being Almighty so he couldn’t be.

A pair of tongs was a stumbling block for him. There will always be stumbling blocks for all of us. Things which make us doubt, make us question. Question ourselves, question those we love, question the value of life, or the existence of God. Yet ours is a Gospel of stumbling but also of getting up again. Just like a child when she starts those first steps only to land back on the ground. this baby won’t stop there. She’ll get back up and try again and again. Jesus once told a man that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must become like little children and I think that was certainly one part of it – falling down but getting back up again and trying again and again. As we get old we sometimes feel more inclined to give up when it’s difficult but it’s never too late to start trying again.

And I still hope that my the young man I mentioned might do that in time. And the time I see the most hope for that has been since he became a father. His daughter is now two and I have seen such a transformation in his life. He sees the world in so many different ways.

Something so tiny as a baby, can change the world. This little child here can make us see things in a different way. Today we can look again at our own faith as we’ve shared in this baptism. You as parents must see things as people changed by this tiny form.

I think when we look at a young baby, and for parents, looking at your own children must be even more powerful, when we look at a young baby, we get a small tiny inkling of how God must feel looking at the world, at his creation, at each one of his little children.
We look with the eyes of love,
the eyes of hope,
the eyes of forgiveness of anything.
And I don’t know if you’re like me when I look at my own niece but I wonder just what she might achieve in this lifetime that is only just begun. Where might life take her?

And this is how God sees Isaiah in this vision. Full of Hope and Love and curiosity about what this beloved child will do. It’s how God looks at each one of us. God sees our failings and is ready to forgive them as he does Isaiah. God sees with the eyes of a loving parent, a hoping parent, an expectant parent.

Today we have offered this child to God’s care. To the potential of God’s call
To the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
We can’t know where God will send this baby yet. What her life may contain. But know for sure. God has hopes for her and hopes for all of us. His voice is there asking “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
That question is not just for Isaiah – it still rings out for each of us if we have the ears to hear it.
The question is
What is God’s will for you this week?
Where will God be at work in you this week?
Where and when will be your opportunity to say
“Here am I send me!”

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Making Hay while the sun shines

So it's raining in much of the country today but last week I was at the Hay on Wye Literary festival hearin Rowan Williams in conversation with A. N. Wilson on the subject of religion in literature, particularly Dostoyevsky about whom ++Rowan has just written a book which AN Wilson reviewed here. (The Guardian has reported on some of the session here) It was an inspiring discussion, an official ear-wigging on a conversation between two great thinkers, as my colleague put it. It was certainly interesting enough to prompt me to think about reading The Brothers Karamzov as my curate when I was 16 endeavoured to encourage me to do but which I have still never read. When I've finished my current book (Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher - most illuminating mix of fact/fiction now recommended by Richard and Judy but I did spot it a while ago!!)

The words that struck me from the archbishop, aside from those on silence which the Guardian picked up were those of this question:-

"Is there something about the grain of the universe that obliges us to love?"
These words prompted me to the following:

++rowan 2
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lost sheep

I really liked this - unfortunately I don't seem to be able to download it but I can post it!

The Parable of the Lost Sheep from vanmmoocow on Vimeo.

Do you need a secret millionaire?

A long blog silence, for which apologies. I have got some pics to put up when I'm back on the laptop from - one of them a sketch inspired by hearing Archbishop Rowan Williams in conversation with A. N. Wilson at the Hay Festival last week - but before all that I thought I'd share the good news for local charities out there...

If you've seen the show the Secret Millionaire, you'll be familiar with the way that people have offered money to community groups within particular localities. The Big lottery Fund and Channel 4 have now launched a new joint fund called the Secret Millionaire fund:

"The Big Lottery Fund and The Secret Millionaire have teamed up to give viewers of the programme a chance to act on the charitable inspiration fuelled by the show. Lottery funding worth £1 million has been lined up for people to apply for, or nominate projects to apply for grants of between £300 and £10,000 from the Secret Millionaire Fund.

From here you can nominate or apply for The Secret Millionaire Fund.

  • nominate a community project.

    You can propose a community project or organisation you think would benefit from BIG funding. BIG will then contact the organisation to see if it is eligible to apply for this small grants scheme and send out the relevant information.
  • apply directly.

    If you have an idea for a project that can bring real improvements to the lives of communities, and can pass a simple eligibility test (see information below), you can apply to Secret Millionaire Fund.

In both cases Lottery grants are awarded following an application and asseesment process which takes up to 8 weeks. For more information see the link to the right.

If your application to The Secret Millionaire Fund is successful Channel 4 (or RDF Media the production company who make the programme) might choose you for filming that will appear on the Secret Millionaire website and possibly in future editions of The Secret Millionaire. You will be asked to opt in to this at the point of application. Accepting or declining will not affect the outcome of your application."