Friday, February 29, 2008

French and lovin' it...

I've been thinking for a few days now about what exactly to say, having spent another few days away in Bergerac, SW France I found myself overwhelmed by the hospitality, the welcome and the generally positive attitude of the people I met and spent time with. Above all it was great fun, my friend Nick and I got some work done (he did the difficult stuff, I held the hoover and cooked the meals!) and we spent some evenings in local bars chatting with the locals and had some meals at friends houses.

But what amazed me is the limited experience of many French people of the Church. For the majority of them 'the Church' is the Roman Catholic Church, and they don't have many good opinions of that. The fact that a Priest (me) would sit and eat and chat with them was a real novelty and they were warm and friendly towards me as we discussed (in faltering French and varied English) what I believed and how the Church of England was different to their own expression of Church.

Now I personally have had very good experience of our RC cousins and the priests I have known in the UK are funny, intelligent, wise and friendly men. It's shame that for many the only impression many French folk have of the Church is of an archaic institution detached from the people and filled with men of dubious sexual intention. It shows how the media has affected their perception and how lack of contact with Christians in the everyday has impoverished their understanding.

So I am wondering if I might be able to exercise some kind of ministry in France. Every now and then positions do come up for Anglican ministers in French Anglican Chaplaincies, and the prospect of this seems very attractive at the moment. Of course it would be a massive change for the family (this is not just a random thought, I have discussed with lovely wife and some trusted friends) but now might be the time that our little ones could make that change and we could start a new life with me exercising a new ministry elsewhere. Pray for me, folks, and watch this space.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

There's always time for a meme

It took less time than i thought to format and post my sermon, so once again following a link from Quilly (though she took the 'lost' version) I did this little meme, and of course it is completely accurate, ahem.

This week's sermon

Only a few days late! Enjoy...

Lent 2 (2008) Year A RCL Principal
Different Disciples

One of the problems I have had with Christian life is not about being a Christian – it’s about how other people see Christians. Apparently we are all the same, often thought of as goody-goody’s, not really connected to the real world, we’re hypocrites, and we’re judgemental. And that’s just the comments I’ve received from my visits around the villages – my usual response is, ‘well, there’s always room for one more’

On the other hand, one of the great joys of being a Clergyperson who doesn’t really fit the stereotype is that I can shock people into thinking about whether there prejudice or stereotypes about the Church have any grounding in reality! They usually don’t – to be honest I don’t know any clergyperson that fits any of the stereotypical wet, slightly bumptious, clueless but amusing picture painted by the sitcoms. [more]

Why its been quiet this week

Another week, another reason for not blogging! Its been recovery time here in sunny South Cambs (and yes, it has been sunny, though cold) and i have been catching up on all those little things that slipped whilst my life was filled with funerals, so lots of phone calls, writing the parish magazine article for this coming month, some reading, some time with family, admin, a few visits, and the usual church services. I've also been preparing for a little time away in Bergerac, France, with a friend of mine. We are off to the house in which my family has a small share to get some work done on the kitchen and to kick back and relax...

So it will be another quiet week here, and i will try and blog some more upon my return. If i have time in the next hour or so I will try and post my sermon for last Sunday, which wasn't too bad (though I say so myself) in fact I will post this, then get on with that....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Filling a space

A gentle meme for Sunday, just to let you all know I am still here. Found this thanks to a visit to Quilly after getting back from Church an hour or so ago, she in turn pointed to Melli for a shout as to where she got this!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Did you notice...

...that I've not mentioned the Archbishop of Canterbury and the recent ridiculous furore over the speech that he gave to the law society as part of a series entitled 'Islam and the Law' for which he has been criticised for talking about 'Sharia law'?

Just thought I'd mention it.

Now I wonder if I should file this under 'stupid people who don't know what they are talking about'? Or whether that might sound a bit judgemental....?

A Sermon for the Start of Lent

Here, only a few days late, is the sermon I preached at my early service on Sunday

Lent 1 (2008) Year A RCL Principal

Short Cuts

The great thing about living somewhere for any length of time is that you get to know the area, and you find your way around it in such a way that you learn all the short cuts. Having lived in London on and off for twelve or so years I used to be quite adept at find the back routes to places which avoided the traffic – or at least, may have taken us a little out of the way, but meant we did not have to sit behind a row of cars for ages.

I am just getting to the stage now where I am getting the hang of where to go and when during the day to avoid traffic. Though I have to say that riding the motorbike has made me lazy, as I rarely find myself stuck behind anything when I can nip around the side. [more]

The light at the end of the tunnel... not an oncoming train!

After six weeks of funerals, many of them from one village, it looks as though things are starting to even out again! All the other things, services, visiting, prayers, sermons, talks etc etc have carried on as well as a lot of bereavement care and a lot of time planning and leading these goodbyes so I simply haven't had time, or indeed energy, to put into blogging. Thanks for the ongoing comments and messages, they have been much valued, hopefully now I can get back to some semblance of normality.

Many other significant things have happened over the past few weeks. My wife has stopped her paid employment (though she works as hard as ever, she's just not paid for it at home). My son reached his third birthday pretty much intact, except for a chipped tooth due to a run in with a vacuum cleaner wielded by his enthusiastic older sister in a moment of trying to help with the cleaning. With all the busy-ness that has gone on I have not been writing either on my blog or personally, nor have i spent as much time reading and reflecting as I would have liked. Though i have had a few events, including the Men's group for which I posted a talk a week or two ago, which have been significant in the response which they have generated, and in which I have invested quite a lot of emotional and spiritual energy.

I find in many ways I am more excited about my faith and my relationship with Christ than I have been for years. In the midst of trying to do so much I have felt much more that I have relied less and less on my own strength and been willing to turn much more to God! Now this is something that every Christian should do all of the time, but perhaps it is only when we have to that we actually make that conscious effort to allow God to work with us.

This journey of faith isn't an easy one, but my experience is that it is so much more rewarding if we share it with others, and we recognise that Christ is our constant companion on the road.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Being a Disciple....

Sunday's talk for our Evening Worship....

Team Evening Worship
3rd Feb 2008
Exodus 13.17-14.end

Discipleship: To be a Pilgrim

I can remember a day my life changed – after a few hours of delay (something for which my wife is still struggling to find complete forgiveness) I found myself driving at a slightly faster speed than I am used to up the road past Wood Green to Hinchinbrooke Hospital, where I rushed through the corridors with a very pregnant, very ‘in labour’ wife and voila – well, not really ‘voila’ there was a fair amount of pushing, breathing, pushing and even some shouting involved – just under an hour later (yes, I had left it a bit late) a little person appeared who (along with her brother) has never let life be the same again. [more]