Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Still on the go, great book



This is my current review book that i am trying to finish up and get the review sent off. I won't go too far into detail, but just to say it is a short (but not lightweight) book of theological reflection on what it means to be a Christian in response to who Jesus was and is. There's no in-depth reflection on the Incarnation, no attempt to be trendy, just a highly relevant, simple (though not easy!) read all focussed on Jesus and the reign/kingdom of God.

Jim Wallis on Capitol Hill



God's special interest is poverty - great short thought from Jim Wallis speaking on Capitol Hill.

Thanks to Mars Hill for posting this, good blog!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back from Greenbelt?

Anyone back from GB06? What did you do? What was the best bit of the festival for you? What did you think of the new mainstage? Anything that really stood out? Anyone go to any of the literature stream stuff? Let me know, please, I not terribly dismayed that I didn't go - it's been a good bank holiday weekend - but I would love to hear your experiences...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Taking risks with links

Decided to add the Amazon World Cinema DVD link to my sidebar because I think my way of thinking and many things in my life have been enriched by catching a glimpse of the way the world is portrayed through movies. This might mean that some of the links don't meet with the approval of those who visit here, movies that perhaps might concern some Christian folk, but I am going to keep the link anyway because even watching movies that disturb (see Jem's review of Crash, I was the one who called it harrowing when we watched it together) can make us think again about how we make the message of Jesus Christ relevant to a very dark world.

Some of the world cinema movies I've watched have been fun too - see Luc Besson's 'Taxi' movies or 'Les Vacanced de M Hulot' or 'Amelie', some of them are masterful examples of the celluloid arts for instance the 'Three Colours Trilogy'. All in all I think seeing stuff outside our usual narrow frame of reference is a good thing. But I am happy to be corrected on that it someone has a good reason. I have been a bit short of comments lately, so please feel free to respond.

Books in the sidebar

As you can see, there are a few extra bits at the side, and a couple of things have disappeared. I wanted particularly to add some links to books which are either on the go or have been mentioned before in my postings. I thought I would say a few words about the ones there now

Brian McLaren - a Generous Orthodoxy - have been carrying this around for about six months, partly to see what all the fuss was about and partly because i have had in my mind the idea for a book with a similar title for some time - still not got around to reading any of it yet, so can't comment, but he has certainly stirred up things in the Evangelical world.

Sally Morganthaler - Worship Evangelism - a great book, in lots of ways. It begins with the challenge to consider what Worship is and a particularly good summary of 'worship within the Psalms' which gives plenty of food for thought. The basic premise seems to be that worship in itself is evangelistic - something i agree with completely - and that bringing folk into the presence of God has its own effect. The challenge is, of course, whether our worship is bringing people into God's presence and if not, why not.

In the course of considering this Morganthaler considers the models of seeker services and whether they really do justice to the aim of worshipping God and takes time to think about ways of worship which can energise and excite the spirit within us.

It might not be a book which one would agree with completely, but it contains so much good material that even dipping into it is rewarding and challenging. The opening chapters are particularly good. It's well written, engaging and enjoyable, though not always comfortable.

Lionel Shriver - We need to talk about Kevin - bought recently from a second hand book stall in a village in France! I have read about five chapters and am already rapt with it, written in such a way that it is hard to put down i have to discipline myself by reading a chapter at a time.

It's written in letter form, with a wife writing to her estranged husband about the disaster her son has perpetrated. Though what it is becomes clear very early on I won't mention it here as things unfold beautifully in the first couple of letters. I am impressed both with the quality of the writing and the imaginative and sensitive handling of the subject matter.

Alistair Cooke - Letter from America - a wonderful selection of snapshots from the sixty years of letters for the radio that Cooke broadcast. It gives considerable insight to the changes and events of the past years in that nation (or selection of nations as Cooke seems to paint it). Reading a letter at a time gives lots to think about and enjoy - easy reading without being lightweight, insightful without being patronising and intelligent without being overly intellectual.

Christopher Irvine - The Art of God - fantastic theological book about the transformation that worship brings. For me, reading this in tandem with Worship Evangelism was a wonderful experience. Though coming from a very different place to Morganthaler this book shows more of God's great work in us as we encounter him in prayer, worship and sacrament. It is a work of scholarly theology from an Anglican Theologian but, I believe, contains principles that apply to Christians of any tradition and background. I have talked at length in previous posts about it here and here and stand by everything i have said before, it is a helpful, thoughtful, worthwhile book.

Margaret Benefiel - The Soul at Work - looks great, keep meaning to really get to grips with it, stay tuned.

One book I decided not to add is 'Scepticism Inc.' by Bo Fowler which is one of my favourite books of all time - but the list at the side could just get longer and longer. 'Scepticism Inc.' contains the adventures of an intelligent shopping trolley in a world of metaphysical betting shops, sounds odd, it is, but it asks, or encourages one to ask, questions about faith, reality and the state of faith in the West now and in the years to come. It's well written, easy to get to grips with and it's funny too. I cannot recommend it highly enough, though I am sure I will get emails which tell me they thought it was wierd and rubbish! If you want to read some more, or even get it, follow this picture

That's it for now - just be thankful i've not started talking about DVDs/Movies or music, or we could be here for weeks.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You can tell i have a slack half hour

Three posts in a row, my mind is racing (must be all the caffeine I've consumed this morning) so I'm filling in the time with a few posts - perhaps trying to compensate from not being in the 'creative atmosphere' of greenbelt by being a bit creative on my own.

Anyway, every now and then I put something in my blog about what books I'm reading and then usually forget to mention what i thought, so here (with some help from Amazon) are a few i've read and what i thought about them



I love Dave Gorman's books, style and general attitude, and the Googlewhack adventure is his best so far - there's a certain lunacy inherent in his inability to resist a challenge and the way he sets himself seemingly meaningless tasks which become imbued with a desperation the reader is drawn into as the book carries on. I really enjoyed reading this book, and one is kept wondering right up until the end whether he actually ends up achieving his goal - by which time you're not actually bothered, because the journey has actually been so rewarding.



Read this on my recent holiday and between howls of pain at how accurate Wheen's observations are and laughter (though it's not as funny as the Paxman quote on the cover suggests) there was plenty in this book to get the old mental juices flowing. It's well written, engaging and challenging, not an easy book to read by any stretch of the imagination, but well worth getting through.



Last one for this post - will try to learn to put links into the sidebar or something so you can follow up some of the things i waffle on about. I enjoyed this book on holiday too - some very thoughtful observations of life generally - it didn't start with such an obvious premise as 'McCarthy's Bar' (ie finding pretty much any bar which shared a name with the author, something that would see me going very thirsty even in Ireland where the only thing I have seen with the name McCollum is a Newsagents in Armagh) but as a combination of travalogue and reflections on the world in general it was a good read. Gives some idea of the less savoury side of British history and the strange accidents that make nations what they are.

That's it, then. Enjoy. There's loads of books that I've read lately that i would love to tell everyone about, and i have had the great joy of reviewing some books lately which have been very good - but that may all have to wait until another time.

Woah - nostalgia city

After a late night visit to see someone in hospital I returned home to find my wife looking through a box of old photos - pictures from college, old school friends, 80's hairstyles etc etc. Having planned to conk out I was rapt for the next hour looking at these pictures. It was something of a rollercoaster as i felt a huge amount of embarassment at my hairstyle (or lack thereof - style that is, not hair) a huge sense of loss at friendships now gone (some of which i have tried to rekindle, but Paula, Doug, Gill and John seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth) and a sense of now having a life far removed from my expectations.

I find myself often wondering 'what if' when it comes to relationships, decisions made, things lost and found. It's probably part of what it means to be human, to hold on to memories and use one's imagination to envisage alternatives. On the whole I have few regrets, but do find myself thinking 'if I knew then what i know now'.

But i suppose that makes us what we are, and life still holds out possibilities, challenges, hopes and dreams that will leave me thinking in ten or twenty or more years (should i be alive to think these things) 'what if'.

Obesity in Britian

I read in the paper this morning that three quarters of men will be obese in the next few years, this means, I guess, that its only my head destined to remain unfat...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Summary of theological thought through kissing

Its an old post on the Faith and Theology Blog, but a goodie, a summary of the theology of kissing which gives an insight into the style of lots of theologians...

That makes it sound very high fallutin', it's funny is what it is.

Still emerging

Having been slightly shocked at the animosity (often dressed up as 'sticking by Biblical standards' or 'trying to live Christian life in a new way' depending on which side you are on) in the Emergent Church debate, I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful posting on the EmergentNo blog from one of the main bloggers which was concerned with how we can draw on a variety of sources (as we all do) for our Christian formation. It advocates tolerance and consideration, and was worth reading just for that. I was so pleasantl surprised I even sent a 'thank you' email to the author. The text of the post can be read here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I did not love her...

One line in the latest Bruce Cockburn keeps reverberating around my brain 'I did not love her - but it's different when it comes to you' - obviously the whole premise of the song.

It got me to thinking how many times we can fall in love in life - and how we can remain faithful to our partner through all of the feelings that go alongside that.

I have a friend who I go out for a drink for once a week or so, and on a few occasions we have got around to talking about whether there was a great love in our life who we didn't stick with and whether they were 'the one who got away'. In fact at one time the subject came up a few times over the course of a couple of weeks, I think because of a meeting with an old flame on his part which had got the cogs whirring and the 'what if..' machine that most of us seem to have in our brains sprung into action.

I know, though, that far from his days as 'Jack the lad' in London in the 70s this man has stayed faithful to his wife since the day they made their vows. I didn't have any sexual partners apart from my wife when we married, and haven't since I hasten to add - though I did have a number of romantic involvements before marriage and probably (without me realising as i am pretty unaware of these things) could have since...

I believe completely that people can remain faithful to one person, whether they choose to marry or not - but this viewpoint seems to put me out of touch with a variety of current day thinkers! I don't think it is just because of my Christian understanding of the world, but because i have a faith in fidelity too! It does impact upon my understanding of Christian Pilgrimage, because i think the idea of God as faithful can be mirrored in a loving committed relationship - but its because I see those who have weathered storms and come out the other side still committed to one another and i see the richness in that relationship and value of their lives together. It says something not to the romantic in me, but to the pragmatist, as i see lives made fuller by this.

I'm sure, by implication, it says something about the life of Faith with God, but i will leave you to draw your own meaning from that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Prayerful

Spent midnight til 1am this morning/last night in the prayer room at our 24/7 event here in our village and found myself profoundly affected by the amount of prayer which is going on. For a small community (about 1200 in this village) we are managing to maintain 49 hours of continuous prayer in our little village hall. Not quite 24/7 - more like 49/2 but an encouraging start.

Those who had put the space together did a great job of creating an ambience and pulling together lots of resources to aid prayer and have given plenty of (metaphorical and physical) space for folk to explore praying - my hour passed swiftly as i spent the time chatting away to God! Tried to do some listening too, which is much harder.

Came away from that time feeling energised and excited about the praying people in our Church fellowship and the possibilities that come from praying together about our life of faith in community. Realise i don't mention prayer much in this blog, but wouldn't want anyone to think that i don't believe it to be of the utmost importance in our walk with Christ.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Two years a blogger

Had the revelation this evening that a week ago was my second anniversary of starting a blog. My blogging has been pretty patchy at times (just take a look at the arcive section to the right and see how many months are missing) but now i am, um, less patchy

not necessarily any smarter or more interesting, just less patchy

Happy blog day to me
Happy blog day to me
Happy blog day dear meeeeeeeeeee
Happy blog day to me (big crescendo, lots of trumpets and huge round of applause)

Thank you, i love you all

Bit more grumpy than i should have been

Was a bit harsh about Greenbelt in my last post, and now i have guilt issues....

It is unfair (and frankly wrong) to say that they aren't engaging seriously with theology, my beef is that there is so little basic theological teaching in the Church and lots of esoteric, or trendy theological subjects that grab attention for a while and then fade out - and i think to a certain degree this is reflected at GB. Of course there are lots of important issues which people need to grapple with about our engagement with the world through faith and art, and GB does this admirably, but i still have this niggling feeling that if we don't own the shared theology of the Church which stretches way back to our roots then we build sometimes very complex edifices on rather shaky foundations.

I have been fortunate to have a very small part in the brainstorm session for greenbelt over the past few years, and some fantastic ideas have come out of those sessions, including the idea of a small series of talks on foundational theology, it has been said over the past few years, but nothing has really come of it. Again, lots of good things have come from these brainstorms, and over the past twenty or so years of my involvement (from children's worker to speaker's escort to venue steward to festival reception to speaker to 'literary stream contributor' and 'ether contributor') I have Greenbelt to thank for some of the most challenging, exciting, liberating theological experiences of my Christian life. I just wish that the Church at large, and Greenbelt in particular, would take up the challenge of re-stating our faith.

there are loads of reasons why its good for me to take a break from GB this year, not doing anything is a good one (the compulsion that comes from having a part to play isn't there), having very small children who like to be awake from dawn to beyond dusk (when there's lots of noise and activity) is another, the literature venue that i enjoyed being a part of and taking part in doesn't have the same draw this year (can't put my finger on why - i think the names they've got don't excite me, though some of the other ideas in the programme look good, and i think they have streamed the programme - ie taken away the venue and mixed it all up - which takes away some of the distinctiveness it had).

So lots of things which say to me 'take a break - and perhaps next year' - this would, after all, have been my twentieth consecutive year, and anything can feel a little jaded after that amount of time...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Speaking online

In response to a couple of requests, here again is the chance to hear some of the sermons on the creed of which i was one last term at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Been thinking a bit why i don't really feel any attraction to Greenbelt this year, and i think it is because, yet again, there is no serious attempt to engage with basic Christian Theology - I am not one to be bound by doctrine and dogma, preferring faith in Jesus Christ! But I do believe that to know who we are as Christians we need to know where we come from, and going back to what the Church has proclaimed for generations is a good start...

The Faith and Theology Blog is undertaking this, a series called Theology for Beginners - worth looking out for. And the sermons from Emmanuel are here.

Incidentally, perhaps my concern about emergent stuff is to do with a lack of accountability to the historic formularies of the Church. As well as structures of accountability which are built in (or should be) to more mainstream Churches. As you might be able to tell from these snippets, this is something which is really starting to get my mental processes going... Perhaps I will get around to thinking about this with some structure in the coming months...

emergent does upset people, doesn't it!

Following on from my last flippant post, I am interested just how much the whole emergent movement has terrrified the Conservative Evangelical Church in the USA, i read an entry on emergentNO blog (you can work out the address for yourself, i can't be faffed to link it) which expresses terror at one particular evangelical poster-child (now ex e.p-c) who mentions an interest in contemplative spirituality!!!! (The person in question so obviously in need of saving is Max Lucado, evangelical writer and speaker).

No matter that Christians have embraced contemplative spirituality as part of the rich tapestry of a life of prayer and devotion for two thousand years, no matter that the shape of the Church most of these groups hold so dear is post-Victorian, or post Evangelical reformation, and bears very little relation to the shape of the fellowships of those who actually knew Christ! No, what's really important is that the only authentic expression of Christian faith is that which mirrors their own understanding and doctrine! It's a good job that Jesus taught such clear and definable doctrine and had all his dogmatic presuppositions spelled out so clearly, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

being [emergent]

Don't get me wrong, i think the emergent church movement (or 'fresh expessions' in the C of E version of trying to put an instututional stamp on the same thing) is a good thing on the whole - I have concerns about authority and accountability but that will have to wait til i get the idea for my Ph.D thesis sorted!...

It does seem, though, after a trawl through a few emergent blogs that what i really need to do is start putting square brackets around things if i really want to be emergent... so what do you reckon to [new kid on on the blog] or to give it a really edgy theme [newkidontheblog]

cool, eh?

On a completely different theme

Saturday saw me having a really enjoyable ride down to Reading (about 100 miles) to see some old friends, in fact I'd not seen them since 2000 when we all went to the Great British Beer Festival together (I still have some very unflattering pictures of myself from that event, not because i was in a drunken stupor but because i had a very dodgy haircut!)

Not only was the ride lots of fun but a few hours in a garden celebrating a 30th birthday was a great way to reaquaint myself a little with them, and to bolster my resolve to see them again. One of them is in the process of exploring his vocation to ordained ministry in the C of E, which might mean he ends up within visiting distance if they come to the Cambridge Theological Federation for training - which would be fun.

They also have a delightful daughter who I'd not met before, which made me realise just how much can change in six years! When we were last all together Jo and i were childless too! Now most of our days, indeed much of our lives, are worked out around the kids...

It's so much fun visiting friends, should do it more!

Thanks Jem

Jem has put a comment below as a response to my last post which leads to some thoughts of his worth reading (they always are on Jem's blog!) - but one of the most helpful things in that post is that he gives the address for writetothem.com which is an invaluable site giving all your local councillors, MPs and MEPs and contact details for them. Worth putting in your bookmarks...

And on the theme of Israel and the Lebanon, lets just hope and pray the ceasefire holds. For more thoughts check out sojourners on the net and the lebanon chronicle

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Avoiding difficult subjects

I was reflecting on just why i have not felt a great pull to blog on the situation in the Lebanon or on the scare over the plot to blow up planes mid-flight over this past couple of weeks and have focussed on the relatively trivial events in my life...

It's not that i don't care, just that i have nothing to say. Or rather that there is nothing that i could post on this blog which would make any difference - or at least that's how i feel. I am happy to warble on about my motorbike, things going on around me, good music, even theology, but with regards to the scary and horrific events going on in our world i feel that distressing and unjust and downright evil as they may be my noodling on about them isn't going to help. For some appropriate response from the c of e look here and follow this link for some thinking from Richard Wells over at Connexions. I leave it to better informed folk to start your thinking process going and guide your prayers.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Michael Berk Bells

This is my first attempt at adding a YouTube vid to my blog, and what an introduction, I love this track - in case you didn're read the post below, this is Michael Berk who I saw at The Bun Shop on Monday of this week

CURB YOUR DOGMA: A Foot in Both Camps

CURB YOUR DOGMA: A Foot in Both Camps

I do like what Ken has to say, as can be seen in my response to the article. Looking forward to future instalments

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fantastic!

Had a great evening yesterday celebrating our 13th Anniversary of Marital Bliss.... Found a great venue in Cambridge which we've known of for about 12 years but never been to! It's called the Bun Shop, and is a pub come tapas bar come restaurant etc etc. Also on various Monday Nights it hosts and acoustic night set up by the Acoustic Routes group who meet regularly at a little place called CB2.

So, good grub, good company (the lovely Jo) and good music, what a great evening. There were two artists, one was Bernard Hoskin a founder of acoustic routes who has a great voice and plays guitar very nicely indeed as well as being an excellent singer-songwriter and the other was a guitarist who rightly deserves the title 'virtuoso' called Michael Berk - I can't describe his style except to say he was amazing - bits of folk, blues, Jazz, celtic, flamenco all wrapped up with some incredible and firework-filled playing. I've not been so impressed since I saw Steve Vai with the Dave Lee Roth band backin the early 90s... Different style but similar levels of music creativity and brilliance. Michael, who was also nice enough to chat with a few of us open-jawed yokels afterwards, has a myspace site with some of his music available to listen to and it really is very good, though live he adds a whole new dimension to it anyway.

Jo liked it too - after 13 years plus of putting up with my acoustic noisemaking this must have been an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise!

Also got to ride my BMW for the first time since returning from holiday, which was very very enjoyable too... Though that had to wait until this morning as I ended up being far too busy yesterday.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Not mentioned the bike for a while

My lovely k1100lt, as mentioned in previous posts, has been out of the news lately - this is mainly because I've not ridden it since going away on holiday at the start of July. I have had lots of fun on it and it is a great bike to ride, very comfortable with a fair turn of speed when needed!

Unfortunately it has developed an unhealthy tendency to fall over! I should stress that this has not been when i have been riding it... and it has only had two falls, but there is some minor cosmetic damage to my baby which has caused me great heartache!

The first time was when trying to reverse it out of my garage - which (with the usual sensible planning of a diocese which doesn't actually want the expense of creating a garage so just puts gates on a lean-to) has a gravel floor - my foot lost its grip and the bike was slowly and quite gently lowered to the floor. Very little damage done there. The second time was more spectacular and i missed it! In the heat of the 1st of July the bike was propped on its centre stand in the driveway when the (c of e budget) tarmac under it gave way and the whole thing fell onto my mother in law's car - and bounced off again! No real damage to the car i am glad to say, but the fairing and wing mirror on the side it fell is somewhat battered now! Deep sadness. I plan to ride it tomorrow, which happens to be my 13th Wedding anniversary - so will only get a short go on it between a holiday club for local kids in the morning and a funeral in the afternoon. Or perhaps after the funeral and before Jo and I go out for a meal in the evening....

here

the word that is missing from the end of the last post is 'here' which is where i put the link that blogger doesn't like, fortunately it seems to work in the header of the previous post.....

life is just one big adventure

Readings for Transfiguration

No matter how hard i tried, Blogger couldn't cope with me adding links for my previous post, though firefly and joss whedon (spelt wrong, sorry) worked after repeated goes i could not get there readings to stay, in fact it seemed to cut out the nearest paragraph if i did try, so i am going to have another go at this, and add the readings to both the header above and

Glory be!

Another sermon - its been a few weeks since i posted one, but here is my offering for this Sunday, the Festival of the Transfiguration:

Shiny

I must admit to being something of a cult TV fan, and it is to Joss Wheedon's excellent, but short lived,series Firefly - that i turn for a word that strikes me with regards to today's festival - the word is 'Shiny'. 'Shiny' seems to mean 'cool', 'great' 'good', 'excellent' and lots more besides, often used ironically, but a great word nonetheless. And its the word that came back again and again as i read the lections for this week. 'Shiny'... God’s glory shines. In our reading from the book of Daniel we hear the story of a vision of ‘the Ancient one’ – similar to the vision of St John of Patmos in the book of Revelation. We read of the glory of the Ancient one and of ‘one like a human being’ (or ‘Son of Man’ as it is often translated). We are told that this ‘Son of Man’ is given ‘dominion and glory and kingship, that all people, nations and languages should serve him’ and that his kingship shall never be destroyed.

The theme continues in the Second letter of St Peter, as Jesus is described as receiving ‘honour and glory from God the Father’. We see something of God’s glory reflected in who Jesus was and is, says Peter.

And we, of course, have the striking description of Jesus himself reflecting God’s glory in the passage we heard in today’s Gospel, the event that we call ‘The Transfiguration’ – the feast we celebrate today. In this story we hear that Jesus himself was transfigured, changed, as he encountered God on the mountain and talked with Moses and Elijah.

And throughout the Bible we have accounts of the glory of God being a light that is too much to behold, the Glory of God overwhelms and inspires, it leaves those who glimpse it awe-struck, speechless and feeling only too aware of their own sinfulness, weakness and insignificance.

Our God is a God of glory, majesty, power, strength and holiness. Our God is beyond thought, beyond reason, beyond imagination. Immortal, invisible, God only wise - to quote a well known hymn. But our God is also a God of love and intimacy, closeness and even vulnerability. Our God knows what it is like to feel hunger, pain, weakness, loneliness and fear - because our God has made himself human in Jesus Christ his only Son.

And it is both sides of God that we see in St Luke’s account of the transfiguration. Though we may focus on the glory that shines all around as Christ talks to the two great figures of the Old Testament. Though we might be awed by the fact that Jesus is conversing with the two who represent the law, Moses, and the Prophets, Elijah. Though we might be overwhelmed by the splendour of the picture - we should not be distracted from what these three were discussing. Luke 9v31 “They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

In the midst of all this glory there is the very real, very painful knowledge of what Jesus is to go on to in Jerusalem. They were talking about all that Jesus was to undergo. In the midst of this miraculous event the cold, hard truth of Jesus’ destiny in Jerusalem was more than apparent.

And this is the paradox of the Incarnation, the topsy-turvy way that God does business, that God’s glory is revealed not just in lights and smoke, not in a booming voice or hosts of angels, but in the very real, very ordinary, very human, Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus in his life, teaching and ministry, in his death, resurrection and ascension reveals what God is like, he is as one writer said ‘the human face of God.’ It is this Jesus who talks in terms of loving God and our neighbour, and of doing to him what we do to the least of our fellow human beings. It is this Jesus who touches the untouchable, loves the unlovable and speaks the unspeakable. It is this Jesus who is fully God and fully human whose glory is revealed just as much in the touching of a leper, in his weeping at the death of a friend, in the agony of the cross as in the glory of the transfiguration.

The transfiguration is a distillation of the glory of all of Jesus life and work, it is a moment in which God reveals himself through Jesus is a visible and glorious way. But God reveals himself constantly through all of the records we have of Jesus, and shows us how we may also show the glory and life of God through our lives. In God’s way of doing things the ordinary, such as Jesus the ordinary human being, is transformed into the extraordinary through faith. The faith of Jesus is what made his ministry, death and new life possible. Because of his faith and total obedience God was able to work in and through him, and even raise him to life again.

And God longs to change the ordinary into the special in our lives. He does it already in the sacraments, where ordinary water becomes the water of life in baptism, or ordinary men and women become one flesh in marriage, or in the sacrament of Holy Communion that we celebrate here and now. In this sacrament bread and wine become our spiritual food and drink, and represent and become for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our re-enactment of the last supper of our Lord these ordinary things become special, and enable us to live and grow in God.

And we also have our own chance of transfiguration – not that we will go out on to a hill (that’s difficult enough in this part of the country!) and meet with Moses and Elijah! No our transfiguration comes as God changes us, us ordinary people, into his body in the Church. As we live in Christ, as we seek to follow Christ and serve God through faith we are drawn closer to him and, by the working of the Holy Spirit, become more like him. We will reflect God’s glory ourselves if we will only allow ourselves to be changed as we meet God through faith, in word, in sacrament, in prayer and in living out our Christian lives filled with God’s Spirit…

We are reminded in this festival, that God is both glorious and intimate, both loving and awesome. It is this God that we occasionally really do have a glimpse of, and that glimpse transforms our understanding, and makes it possible for us to show God’s light to the world in the everyday, through loving and serving God and our neighbour, through faith and devotion in our own prayer and worship and through becoming, with the Spirit’s help, more like Christ.

So our reaction to all of this should be to serve, to follow Christ and pray. We learn and grow and as we do we see the glory of God in the everyday, and we can then give thanks for the God who makes the ordinary special through faith. When we realise that this glory can be seen in the most unexpected places, even in me and you, then we don’t make inappropriate attempts to hold on to this glory and contain it - as Peter did. Peter offers to build three tabernacles in order to house the glory of God, seen in Christ, Moses and Elijah, in that place.

We too often seek to contain God’s glory in our Churches, our liturgy, vestments, our doctrine, our worship, our particular tradition or experience. When our eyes are open we will learn to see how Jesus is present in others, how the Kingdom of God is a part of the world already and is being brought in by those who are faithful, who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

And when life gets hard, when things seem darkest and most fearful. It is then that we can return to the mountain, to the Altar, to Church in order to pray for a glimpse of God in the ordinary made special in our worship. We worship the God who can fill the temple with his presence, but who longs to be the still small voice that whispers his love and strength in our ear. It is this God whose glory we celebrate in this Eucharist, and in our lives.

God is glorious, but not always in the ways we expect, may we all learn to keep our hearts and minds open to the glory of God in all aspects of life.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A few thoughts

Its late again, so i am not going to be here long. Just a thought to keep the blogging up. Have been trawling the blogsphere looking through all the links i have attached here, plus added Curb Your Dogma by Ken Howard - Ken is an Episcopalian Priest in the suburbs of Washington DC who stayed in our house with his wife and daughter whilst we were away, and came to supper after we returned whilst he enjoyed a few days of study in Cambridge!

Anyway, my thoughts, I am amazed by how much good stuff is out there in the blog world - lots of dross too, but i am still quite pleased I have included the links I have and don't feel I want to drop any - do try them out, some of them are updated more than others, some I agree with more than others (try and decide which!) but all in all there is plenty of good thinking being expressed in these parts of the blog world. Its fun too to look at the UK Godblogs and to take a random trip around the blogging episcopalians from the links in the sidebar too!

Nighty night

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can't cope with endings

For those of you who think the title of this post contains hints of deep stuff, i will let you know very early on that it doesn't....

As i have been reading a variety of novels lately (i tend to read a couple a week) I have come to the conclusion that i really don't like the way most of them end. For instance, take Mil Millington's 'Things my girlfriend and I have argued about'. It's very funny, almost to the point of being smug at times where you feel the author has a style which says 'yes I'm funny, I know I'm funny and I am going to put lines in that show how funny I am and make the plot revolve around them'. Anyway, despite that it's a good read, until the end - or at least i didn't like it. My wife thought the ending was good, and was happy to live without a resolution, but i wanted a hint as to what happened next... I prefer happy endings anyway.

As i reflected upon this i realise that a lot of novels i've read lately have left me unsatisfied in the endings department. I wonder whether it is because i have enjoyed the writing and not wanted the thing to end, whether it has just been badly finished and some authors run out of steam when it comes to the closing chapters, or whether i have some kind of pathological aversion to endings in general. (oops, said there wouldn't be anything deep in here, sorry about that, slipped up for a mo).

Anyway, gave me some food for thought, maybe i will reflect upon it some more.