Thursday, November 25, 2004

A couple of weeks without blogging

Again, another break since my last blogging session. I do come back to see if there are any comments to read, but haven't felt up to writing anything, for a variety of reasons.

Part of what has been going on in life is a bit of reflection - a subject tackled in detail with my spiritual director this afternoon. If i may offer some advice to anyone who is reading this - if you don't have a spiritual director/soulfriend/advisor/mentor then i would recommend you get one - the chance to spend an hour talking about nothing but where you're at spiritually is invaluable, incomparable and just plain wonderful. Perhaps part of the joy is being able to talk things through without strings attached - without an agenda or goals but just where the Spirit leads.

Anyway reflective spirituality is part of why my blogging has been sparse (or even non-existent). Another part is that i officiated at my first ever funeral of a baby - nine years in this ordained ministry lark and this was the first very small person i have had to lead the goodbyes to. It was a profound and moving experience, and a very confusing one.

It was confusing because, like the congregation, I did not want to be there. It was moving and profound because the whole point of this meeting was to offer a life and all its potential to God before it had even a chance to begin. Also, as someone expecting another baby in about six weeks it brought to mind how risky this childbirth business is even today. I think the main reason i found it so confusing was becuase to a certain extent i had no idea what i was doing there. I mean the obvious reasons, to say goodbye, to commend and commit a soul to God, to support the bereaved (and seeing the parents was the most difficult part) were all obvious but on a deeper level i had to wonder what i was doing there.

Was i there to help find meaning in this tragedy? If that was the case then i failed miserably - i didn't and don't feel that i could offer meaning or reason to such an event. Was i there to offer comfort? Not sure i managed that either - all the 'god has a plan' platitudes fly straight out of the window in the face of this experience - besides, i don't beleive that God did have a plan to take this life away from his parents before it had the chance to begin, you're welcome to disagree, but it doesn't make sense to me and all the 'my ways are higher than your ways' talk in the universe will not help convince me of that at all. But then, i am stubborn and if God is like that then i am sure that God will teach me a lesson when the time comes, eh? And don't get me started on predestination, and God's will for our lives

nahhh i'm certainly not going there.

So it comes back to the why was i there? Perhaps i will never know, but i knew it was the right place to be and the right thing to do. I offered a little reflection to the mourners, but no answers. I prayed with them and for them and i handed the whole thing over to God - which in the end is what we do with life and death, hand it to the God who is big enough to contain it all - the anger, the grief, the pain, the sorrow, the suffering, the joy, the laughter, the hope, the peace. All things come from you, O Lord, and of your own do we give you.

Normal blogging will be resumed as soon as plausible.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

web page

well the webpage is up and running

www.fracme.net is my new domain and home on the net, at the moment it is still very much under construction but i have managed to get the thoughts about 'Faith Hope and Love' that i promised upon a page of the same name under 'recent writings'.

The webpage exists really to promote my ongoing writing and speaking work, this exists alongside my ministry as a Vicar in these wonderful parishes of South Cambridgeshire. I love my role as pastor and priest, but value the discipline that writing and speaking need. I hope to continue and develop this part of what i do, indeed, what i am.

If anyone is any good at webdesign and stuff and would be willing to offer tips and tricks with regards to what i have thrown together i am happy to receive suggestions - just use the usual email or web@fracme.net

Remembering

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day - the Sunday nearest Armistice Day (Nov 11th for those not in the know - World War One, the Great War of 1914-18 formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). It's the day when those of us in ministry think hard about what we are trying to do with this yearly occurrence - we don't want to glorify war, but we don't want to skirt over, or around, or under the sacrifice that so many made for us in the two major wars of the last century, and indeed in the ongoing conflicts of our world where so many give up their lives in the name of freedom.

It strikes me that no matter what we feel about the conflicts of recent years that occur in our name - the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq - we are bound to those who those who fight for the ideals that we hold so dear. We may not agree with the means, but the end of 'peace and justice' is surely a shared ideal... I am caught in a dillemma because i hold dear the freedom of speech, the pursuit of peace and the ideal of freedom for all yet (not suprisingly) i am not sure about the present western method of bringing this about. I am not a pacifist, but i hold close the hope for peace, true peace - divine peace, shalom. How we can bring this about in our present troubled world is well beyond me - but i keep praying (and i don't believe that this is a cop-out).

Over and above all this, though, for someone in full time ministry we are faced with this time of Remembrance. I feel this is a vitally important time. We are by our very nature remembering beings, our identity is very much in what we remember. Those who are afflicted with loss of memory are considered somehow depleted - hence our discomfort or fear of the Alzheimer sufferer. or our fear of losing our own memories (see the Movie Memento for a fascinating and thoughtful exploration of the loss of memory).

We are people of remembrance. In the New Testament we are given the celebration which binds us together as Christians, Holy Communion. In it we are told to 'do this in remembrance of me' by Jesus. Remembrance makes us who we are as people of Christ and as human beings.

And at Remembrance-tide we are called to remembrance of those who have given everything for the freedoms we enjoy. Surely the least we can do is bring them to mind and thank God for their willingness to give themselves for what they (and perhaps we) believe(d) in.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Another day another explosion

November 6th and most of the local villages and towns are having their bonfire night fireworks tonight - though there were a few who did it properly yesterday on the great feast of Guy Fawkes night.

For those of you of a USA or international persuasion then Guy Fawkes night, or Bonfire night, or even good old November 5th is the night we remember the thwarting of a plan to blow up the houses of parliament about 399 years ago (we British have long memories and really know how to hold a grudge)

The fact that Fawkes was part of a Roman Catholic Conspiracy in early Protestant(ish) England offers even more chance to make this time of year divisive, though fortunately most people don't take the original basis of the festival terribly seriously. In Lewes though they still burn an effigy of the Pope on the 5th November - again, though, not many people know what that means.

It's all a bit like Christmas in modern western society - most people enjoy it, but very few have an idea about what it really means. Perhaps this in itself is not a bad thing, if people think that peace, joy and love are a good thing, with whatever basis, and that they are good things to make the most of, then that in itself is positive, surely?

Discuss, with reference to salvation... Your time starts now.

Just had to mention

There was an election on the USA this week

Sad but true

Thought I'd pop the thought in there in case anyone was wondering about my connection to reality, or whether I related to reality at all.