Thursday, April 30, 2009


Human/Dancer stage 2 2
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush
This latest painting - which started off VERY differently was inspired by the words of the Killers song Human (se lyrics below). I particularly like the "cos I'm on my knees looking for the answer to are we human or are we dancer" which says a lot to me about prayer. We're all searching to understand who we are as humans and as people within society. Are we dancing to someone else's tune or by being a dancer are we being more free than mere humanity allows. I'm not entirely sure what the lyrics are about but I rather like the fact that I don't know!!

I started with one of those canvases which I love doing where I merge colours and created feathered joins between them. Then when that had dried I entended to add another layer of the same over the top but it ended up quite different! The layer I added over the top I then scraped away to give a kind of washed over effect and that which I scraped away then got moulded together to make the dancer. I then thought I might change the background a little to show some of that movement and changed it completely or rather added yet a third layer. I'm still pondering whether I want any more figures in the picture or if I want to add some colour to the figure. I never intended her to remain green as it didn't look right but it's growing on me!! Michael, when he first saw it used the word impressive which is still making me grin with a little touch of pride. He doesn't always like what I paint (which is reassuring because then I know he means it when he does!) and impressive is a pretty encouraging word.

I did my best to notice
when the call came down the line
up to the platform of surrender
I was brought but I was kind
and sometimes I get nervous
when I see an open door

close your eyes, clear your heart

cut the cord
are we human or are we dancer
my sign is vital, my hands are cold
and I’m on my knees looking for the answer
are we human or are we dancer

pay my respects to grace and virtue
send my condolences to good
give my regards to soul and romance
they always did the best they could
and so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know
wave good bye, wish me well

you gotta let me go
are we human or are we dancer
my sign is vital, my hands are cold
and I’m on my knees looking for the answer
are we human or are we dancer

will your system be alright
when you dream of home tonight
there is no message were receiving
let me know is your heart still beating

are we human or are we dancer
my sign is vital, my hands are cold
and I’m on my knees looking for the answer

you’ve gotta let me know
are we human or are we dancer
my sign is vital, my hands are cold
and I’m on my knees looking for the answer
are we human
or are we dancer

are we human or are we dancer
are we human or are we dancer

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Creativity

Long (but great!) day yesterday hosting Breathe at a Youth event in the south of the diocese. Some really good reactions to it which is always pleasing. To relax I've been a bit creative too firstly by beginning a new painting (not sure where it's going yet but about to hit it again in a sec!).

I also crafte this rather lovely dish of scallops with spaghetti for lunch - scrumptious though I say so myself. I'm very fond of scallops but they're a bit of a luxury. Fortunately they're one of the few items of seafood Michael will eat so we both enjoyed this. It's always fun creating a "new" dish - a bit like being in Hell's Kitchen this week! Still wouldn't want to be there though :o)

Spring Spaghetti
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Friday, April 24, 2009

God our father

A friend of mine posted a link to this video on her facebook. It is just amazing (It comes with a tissue warning).

Being me I couldn't leave it just at the video but I've looked into it a bit.
Team Hoyt haven't just done this triathlon but are in fact 6 off from doing 1000 events and speaking to corporate events for massive companies such as Morgan Stanley, GlaxoSmithKline, Google and American Express .

Father and son team Dick and Rick Hoyt don't restrict themselves to these achievements either. Rick is a graduate of Boston University and Dick is a retired lieutenant colonel in the air nation guard and a friend of the "President's Council for Fitness. They also front the Hoyt foundation which seeks:

"to integrate the physically challenged into everyday life. One way to accomplish this is to educate the able-bodied, making them more aware of the issues that the disabled face every day. Another is by actively helping the disabled to participate in activities that would otherwise be inaccessible to them."

I am deeply impressed. I think the word CAN'T just lost its meaning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ethos Narratives

I'm off to one of our local YMCAs today where I'm helping their CEO engage with the residents there on the issue of the Christian ethos of their organisation locally. The question of how big the C is in YMCA seems to be a matter of debate in many YMCAs and the outworking of their Christian service comes across in many different ways around the country. They do have very clear Christian underpinnings in the form of the Paris basis, the Kampala Principles and Challenge 21 but the question was about exploring that in our local setting.

When we were looking at how we might engage with the issue of stating our ethos, I came up with this idea (no idea if it's original as I don't read widely enough to be sure!!) of using Ethos Narratives.

Rather than saying just as Christians we believe all people are equal (Galatians 3.28 et al) and so we have an equal opportunities policy etc., etc. I suggested that we chose for ourselves various stories from Jesus' teachings - mostly parables as it turns out - which say something of how we work and why we work; which tell the story of our ethos rather than theologising it out. If it works, the idea will be that we can then use posters, videos, modern translations, sculptures, artwork, songs which tell these stories to help those who provide and use our services understand what it is we're about.

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about this. Is it new or I have I subconsciously borrowed the idea from somewhere!!??

Sermon on Thomas

Last Sunday I was at St Peter's Pedmore and I preached on the appearance of Christ to Thomas:

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “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.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:19-31
I focussed on the idea of seeing is believing, picking up on the idea of there being many things we see which are not true (the amazing things peopel can do with airbrusing photos and film) and things which we can't see but which we know are true - electricity, magnetism, dark matter etc.

I got the congregation making windmills out of pipe cleaners, some beads and a little template I knocked up which had the words "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" on. I said that people can't have God proven to them and they can't see God but they can see God working through people if people allow the Holy Spirit to move them. I challenged them therefore to be like the windmill - to be a visible sign of God working in the world.

One of the funny things about preaching is that often you come out with something in the middle of a sermon which you hadn't been expecting to say. I had that on Sunday. I had a teeny idea about covering the fact that many people have doubts but I took up the theme of contrasting this with the coomunity of faith. I said that we gather in such communities so that they are always communities of faith. Even if we have our own doubts that day, the community of faith still has faith and so we are still within that community of the faithful. I assured the people that ALL CHRISTIANS have doubts at some point, using the example of Mother Theresa and this wonderful quotation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the revelation that Mother Theresa had doubts:

“Mother Teresa wonderfully was no plaster cast saint. She has helped to affirm many who are passing through this period of desolation and dryness when God seems so remote. St Theresa of Avila after one such bout cried out in frustration to God, ’No wonder your friends are so few given how you treat them!’ My regard for Mother Teresa has been enhanced. Doubt can be an integral part of faith, when the evidence is never so overwhelming, so incontrovertible. St Thomas is our patron Saint for doubters. We live by faith not by sight and frequently the evidence does not make the leap of faith redundant.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rain and Snow final version

Here at last is the painting I blogged about before which I finally finished at the weekend.
It's inspired by this passage:
"As the rain and snow come down from above and return not again, but water the earth, bringing forth seed for sowing and bread to eat, so is my word that goes forth from my mouth. It will not return to me fruitless, but will accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the task I gave it."
Isaiah 55.10-11

It's not really like any other painting I've done before in style. It's also the same size as the last painting I did which I still love. I'm a little undecided about this painting. I know it's done and as it should be but I'm not sure I particularly like it. Does it show what I wanted it to show - almost perhaps but I can't say for sure it does the whole thing. I rather like the way the text can be read as it is but also with the paired verses alongside each other that compares rain/snow with word.

Not quite sure where it's going to go as yet!

So uncertainty all round. Apt for Holy Week perhaps...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who do you love?

The fantastic we love our youthworker charter has now launched. There are lots of resources including the wonderful Dave Walker's cartoons especially commisioned for the charter.

If you are part of a church which employs a youthworker, check out their 7 point charter:

We will pray and support
We believe that our youth worker needs spiritual support in their work with young people.

We promise to pray for our youth worker and keep their needs a high priority in the church’s prayer life.

We will give space for retreat and reflection
We believe that taking time to think and pray is just as essential for our youth worker as organising events and meeting young people.

We promise to encourage our youth worker to use part of their schedule to give space for retreat, reflection and personal development.

We will provide ongoing training and development
We believe that learning the skills of youth work is an ongoing process and that it’s important to continually invest in professional development.

We promise to set aside time and money to provide this for our youth worker.

We will give a full day of rest each week
We believe that taking regular time off helps maintain our youth worker’s passion and energy for their work with young people.

We promise to actively encourage our youth worker to take a day away from their role each week to do something different.

We will share responsibility
We believe that having a youth worker does not release the rest of the church from our responsibilities towards young people.

We promise to encourage everyone to play a part in volunteering, praying for or supporting young people.

We will strive to be an excellent employer
We believe that it’s important to have clear structures and procedures for recruiting and employing a youth worker, and to provide supportive management structures.

We promise to follow good practice guidelines in the way we employ our youth worker.

We will celebrate and appreciate
We believe it’s vital to acknowledge what our youth worker is doing and the commitment they have made to work with young people in our church.

We promise to make sure our youth worker knows they are appreciated and we will celebrate their achievements.

I'm so pleased to see that this is finally here. All churches employing youthworkers wiull get so much more out of their youthworkers by following this.

I can almost hear my blog readers asking - what about we love our vicar/organist/sunday school teacher/curate/flower arranger/verger/chorister/warden/deacon/cleaner/worship leader/house group leader/children's worker/steward/lay reader/evangelist*?

Well perhaps this should spur us on to look at all those whom churches employ and all those who give their time for free.
*delete as applicable

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Firepit Fine dining

Michael and I lit up the firepit for the first time this year tonight. I decided that I was a little bored with what I normally do on the fire pit (jacket spuds in the ashes, garlic mushrooms in foil and roast pork with apples/cider). So this evening we ventured into oriental territory and had the following:

Red cooked Roast Pork
Marinade a pork roasting joint in 4tbsps soy sauce, 2 tbsps brown sugar, 4 tbsps sherry, 1 tbsp chinese five spice, 1tbsp sesame oil, 2 inches ginger finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped 4tbps rapeseed oil and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. After marinading, place the pork in a foil tray and pour over the marinade. Wrap all this in two layers of foil and place on the embers of the firepit for 2 hours.

Coconut noodle soup
thinly slice 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 onion, 2 spring onions, 1 inch ginger, 1 radish, 1 green chilli, 2 large mushrooms. Heat oil in the pan (you can start this indoors if it's easier!) Add all the chopped veg and sweat for a few minutes. Add 1 tsp lemon grass, 1 tbsp bouillon powder, a dash of oyster sauce, a tsp of miso paste, a dash of mushroom ketchup, a dash of soy sauce and stir. Then had a carton of coconut cream, a pint of water and a tbsp of sesame oil the juice of one lime, a slug of sake and one whole bird eye chilli (optional!). Bring to simmering point. Transfer to the firepit and, when the pork is nearly ready, bring it to the boil. Add two portions of wholewheat noodles and simmer for three minutes (or as per instructions).

Serve in bowls with a couple of big ladels of noodle soup topped with a fresh slice of red cooked pork.