Thursday, August 07, 2008

normal service will be resumed

as soon as plausible....

Off for a few weeks, might not be able to blog in the meantime, if not then have a good time this August folks!

Oh, and its our fifteenth wedding anniversary today, so am spending it doing admin before I leave :-)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Another stolen Meme!

As Dr John said, Melli's blog is a goldmine for memes. I like this one

1. If I could travel back in time, I'd go to the gym more as a young man (or tell myself to go to the gym more, whatever makes sense!)

2. Give me truth or give me nothing

3. I am listening to the Resurrection Band.

4. Somewhere, someone is thinking what's the Vicar doing?

5. I'll always be in love with my family

6. My idea of a good time includes motorbikes, music, worship, God, friends and family - though some of these are incompatible with others

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to seeing the batman movie tomorrow my plans include working and getting things ready for holiday and Sunday, I want to celebrate my mother's sixtieth birthday, followed by a trip to France

I know that it's meant to be a Friday meme, but by then I will be gone down to Devon, another look at the Vicarage and meet a few Parishioners, then party with mum for the weekend, then take her off to France for a week's holiday. I need to clean house here, and get the list ready for the house/dogsitter of where everything is and what the routine is for our lovable hounds!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday thoughts and a sermon

Good day yesterday, Sunday, only two services and both were encouraging and energising (which can't always be said about Sunday worship services!) A simple Holy Communion from the book of Common Prayer (1662) to start my day and a contemporary language Parish Communion for our mid-morning service, two Churches not far apart so no rushing about trying to get there on time, both well attended and both with a feeling of worship and friendship and prayer. Like one of the parishioners said about another event a little while ago 'it's like we turned up and God made sure he was there too'!

I preached on the Old Testament reading which I had preached on before, it felt right to use some material which I had used previously again, which rarely happens. I'll put that sermon at the end of this post with a link to the full text at New Kid Deep Stuff.

Today has been spent mainly in the company of the Rural Dean, who was undertaking the Archdeacon's visitation (ie check up) on his behalf. The formalities all went well, thanks to very organised Churchwardens at the Church we went to, and afterwards the Rural Dean and I spent a couple of hours chatting, having lunch, and generally putting the world to rights. It was a very enjoyable opportunity to spend some time in reflection on my time here, and to have a good natter...

I went into Cambridge this afternoon to visit a Parishioner, it takes some time to get into the hospital, walk to the ward (the place is like a small town) and get out again, but these visits are important and I am glad I went. That took up much of the afternoon and since returning I have done the mundane tasks of the day like cooking some supper, making phone calls and sitting down to blog!

So here's that sermon I was telling you about....

Proper 13 (2008) Year A RCL Principal
Wrestling with Angels

When I was younger – in my early Teens, I think, there was never anything on TV on Saturday’s apart from Grandstand or ‘Dickie Davies’ world of Sport.’ As someone who didn’t appreciate spectator sports, this used to leave me frustrated and annoyed! There was one thing that grabbed my attention, though, (and considering it was 25 years ago now, it must really have grabbed my attention!) and that was the Saturday Afternoon ITV wrestling! This was in the days of ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Giant Haystacks’ – it mainly involved huge men grunting a lot, running around a ring and jumping on each other!

But it was the sense of theatre, the make-believe aspect of it that really caught my attention. I was na├»ve enough to think that they might really be fighting – my illusions have since been shattered! But apart from that aspect of the make believe there was a sense of unreality about it – it seemed to be a game, not real, something that didn’t really hurt, despite the moans and groans on the TV. Of course, I now know that none of it was real, and the US wrestlers have taken the whole theatrical aspect of wresting to extremes with ‘WWF’ and ‘WCW’ (ask my nephew if you want to know what that stands for). But wrestling, at least any wrestling outside of the Olympics, has connotations of falsehood, unreality about it. [more]

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Blog!

I found a cracking new blog today, written by a buddy of mine in Milton Keynes, another Anglican Priest and all round good chap - he's written some very good reflections from his time on sabbatical over the past few months and I highly recommend a visit. I must now put his blog on my sidebar, and had I known he would have been one of the magnificent seven yesterday...

Though I'm not sure who I wouldn't have had from the list!

find Tim's blog here


It's been fun catching up on the blogosphere, and following a link from Quilly I ended up at insanity prevails where was posted a reading meme, so here's my version....

1. Do you remember how you developed a love of reading?
I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading, at school I used to (metaphorically) devour books, and read them again and again - I used to love the imagination that went into comic books (especially Marvel & DC) and just read and read and read and read.

2. What are some books you loved as a child?
I used to read the professor Branestawm books, Harry Harrison's 'Men from p.i.g. and r.o.b.o.t', there was a lot of sci-fi in my early reading, and I had read H G Wells' 'The War of the Worlds' about a dozen times before leaving Primary School. I did like Roald Dahl books, though I tended to read things like his short stories rather than his children's books! As mentioned above I read lots of comic books and particularly enjoyed Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America & Captain Britain, Fantastic Four and the Hulk.. I don't remember reading children's books of the Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter type, I probably read more of them now with my own children than I did when I was younger.....

3. Do you have a favorite genre?
I still love Sci-Fi and fantasy, particularly funny stuff like Pratchett and Robert Rankin, but also read a lot of philosophy and Theology. I like a good thriller, and have discovered lots of contemporary Novelists which I enjoy and which will appear in the last question here. I do like reading Postmodern stuff (whatever that means) eg Douglas Coupland and of course read lots of the Bible, so a huge number of genres there. Every now and then I will pick up a poetry anthology and remember just how much I love poetry - one of the great things about the internet is that I have found lots of sites where I can look up poems easily!

4. Do you have a favourite novel?
How long do we have? I love lots of novels, but I think 'Time's Arrow' by Martin Amis is an exceptional novel, quite profound. I have recently read 'The Book of Dave' by Will Self which I enjoyed very much indeed.

5. Where do you usually read?
Everywhere! I do have a weakness for reading in the loo, but my favourite place is in the sitting room when no one is around and I can wrap myself up in a good book. I also love reading in coffee shops. I will read anything and everything, if having breakfast alone with nothing in reach I will often read the cereal packet!

6. When do you usually read?
All day, and sometimes in the evening, never in bed as I tend to go to bed after my wife and the light is already off!

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
I never have less than half a dozen on the go at once, I like to have lots of different styles going on, so a bit of 'pop theology' along with a couple of novels, maybe some philosophy, a couple of review books, some funny stuff.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
It depends what it is and why I'm reading it. When i have written essays and longer talks and done research for them I read at a desk in order that I can quote and cite the material. I will often have a pencil handy when reading nonfiction books in order that I can underline and make notes.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?
I buy most of them, quite often in charity shops or at Church fetes and the like, and though I keep lots of them, I also give lots away or redonate them to charity shops. If I have read a book I liked which was lent to me, I will buy a copy in order that I might lend it too! We have lots and lots of bookshelves around the house, and I have a study with a few hundred (at least) books in it.

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy?
Ah, I seem to have answered this already...

11. If you have children, what are some of the favourite books you have shared with them?
My children seem to love reading even more than me! I am enjoying 'The Worst Witch' series by Jill Murphy and some Roald Dahl that I've not read before, like the BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox. There are also some great children's versions of Bible stories which are fun, like Mick Inkpen's 'stories Jesus told' series.

12. What are you reading now?

Saturday, Ian McKewan
Sowing, Reaping, Keeping- People centred Evangelism, Lawrence Singlehurst
Return of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson
Jean de Florette et Manon Des Sources
Hey Nostradamus, Douglas Coupland
Prayer, Philip Yancey
Messy Spirituality, Mike Yakonelli
a random Doctor Who book i picked up at a fete called 'The Clockwise Man'

13. Do you keep a To Be Read list?
No, just piles of books I keep topping up and then carry around with me for a while so I can read them whenever I have a few spare moments, then they get put on bookshelves or recycled by being given away/donated/lent

14. What’s next?
I've got three or four books to review which I really must get around to.
Fury, Salman Rushdie
Preaching what we practice by Schlafer & Sedgwick
Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels
Loving the Church You Lead, David Hansen
Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf
Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman

15. What books would you like to reread?
I would like to get through Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth as I've only ever dipped into them. I would like to read Terry Pratchett's discworld books again, and 'Good Omens' which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, Robert Rankin's books would be worth revisiting and Joanne Harris' novels.

16. Who are your favourite authors?
I have many, and amongst them are Louis De Berniers, Will Self, Alexander McCall Smith, John Ortberg, Walter Wangerin, Karl Barth, C S Lewis, Philip Yancey, Mike Yakonelli, H G Wells, Joanne Harris, Ian McKewan, Peter David, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Miroslav Volf, Karl Rahner, Rowan Williams, Douglas Coupland, Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Stephen Clarke, Jules Verne, and amongst poets I like Stewart Henderson, T S Eliot, Mike Starkey, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Coleridge, William Owen and much much more...

Quick link

Sank has responded to my comment about his groovy guitar playing with a post of a song called 'The Cape'.... Enjoy

Friday, August 01, 2008

nearly there

According to my archive, 09/08/04 was my first blog post ( for those who do it the wrong way round, that translates as 9th August 2004) and as I know its unlikely that I'll get to post that day, as I am travelling down to see my mother for her birthday celebrations and then off to France, I thought I would just mention it as I'd thought of it!

I'm only on 576 posts, so it will be a while before I get to give out some tremendous prize when I get to my 1000th, which seems like more of a crucial milestone really.....

The magnificent seven

As promised, here are seven blogs worth visiting, as well as the ones mentioned in my previous post - ah, heck, go and visit all the ones in the sidebar, they are all worth a visit!

But here's the pick for today....

Old and in the way - I love Sank's blog, home grown wisdom, funny stuff he and his family are up to and lots of great stories about their various adventures. Gary himself comes across as wiser and funnier than he probably thinks he is. He's good on the guitar too - check out his flikr link!

Nick's Sanctuary - Nick is a Christian who thinks deeply and writes powerfully about pretty much everything and anything. He knows how to have a good rant every now and then, but he's always measured, considerate and often able to point out things in an enlightening way - very good on Doctor Who and sci-fi and faith generally, I like his recent thoughts on Roboboy too!

It's Kinda Confusing right now - Tom himself has admitted he's been a bit flakey lately in his post frequency (perhaps even less frequent than me!), but now he's all shiny and married he has posted a couple of great thoughts in the past few weeks, obviously wedded bliss is inspiring... Tom's archive is well worth exploring as he thinks out loud about life, faith, hope, fear and all that stuff

Dave Walker's Cartoon Blog - Witty and insightful observations of the quirks and quandries of the Church of England, very well worth a visit, funny and often quite thought provoking. Yay, go Dave.

Annie Porthouse - I wish Annie blogged more frequently, cos she always writes good stuff. Annie is a writer, a Christian and someone seeking to live ethically and generously. She's involved in 'generous' which (if I've got my facts right) sprang from the Greenbelt project called 'The year of living generously' which sought to challenge people to commit to lifestyles that were (and are) generous towards ourselves, neighbours, God and God's creation - initially for a year but those who took part I think found themselves profoundly effected by it all!

Diary from England - Naomi's observations on life in this particular corner of our sceptred Isle. Warm, informative, enjoyable, sometimes quirky, often funny. It's nice to go and read the thoughs of someone who is genuinely good natured and doesn't have a big agenda behind what she writes.

and last but not least, not that these have been in any particular order!

Eric has Issues - thoughts from someone whose thoughts are worth reading, frequently entertaining, often containing lots to consider, approaching life with humour and reflecting on the vagaries of the world in his own inimitable way.

So, to all of you listed above, please feel free to swipe the award artwork to add to your blog, then pick seven of your own, should you wish, to share the award. If you aren't on this list, don't worry, as Dr John pointed out, with seven people above potentially choosing seven other blogs, and the chain continuing, there is a very good chance that most everyone on the internet will end up with it at some time!

On feeling encouraged

Bill at The Old Fart's Blog has given me the great honour of awarding me the Brillante Weblog accolade which he, in turn, has been awarded by Dr John... He says its because I can make him laugh and think - which is one of the most encouraging things I think anyone could ever say about my blog, so many thanks Bill

There's a condition attached, which says that I too must nominate seven blogs to receive the same and say why - though Dr John and Quilly and Bill, three names which would naturally come in those seven have already been nominated, so go visit them anyway as the award is deserved by all three - Bill because of his warmth, thoughtfulness and honesty, Dr John because he always has something good to say and Pigeon Falls is wonderful, Quilly because she is funny and thought provoking....

But with those three out of the running I will scour my links list (to the right) and think again.... More later today!

The second encouragement was probably the most moving and profound thing anyone has ever said to me in ministry, or even in my whole Christian life (I was quite keen on telling people about Jesus even before I was be-collared)....

A parishioner who I have know for four or five years in one of our smallest villages called me to discuss baptising his granddaughter, something I am very happy to arrange. I like this chap and his wife very much, I have enjoyed evenings at parish events nattering away with them and have had a few opportunities to minister to them and to their family over the years. Like many parishioners who have become friends there's a level at which I would love to cultivate my relationship with them further, but time and life in general have not really allowed it. I didn't think I'd done a huge amount over and above being my usual self - ie there was no specific instance which I have helped them through, I've never sat down and just 'talked faith' with them, they are not frequent attenders of the church - though I don't doubt the genuineness of their faith. Yet in response to my telling him that I would like to do this baptism, but that we need to have the service before October because I am moving he said to me...
'My wife is a committed Christian, and I have always had difficulty with faith, but in the time I have known you I have learnt more about true Christianity than at any other time in my fifty-nine years of life. I wish you all the best in your move, but we will sorely miss you'

I was, and am, totally blown away by such kind and encouraging words.

This isn't to 'blow my own trumpet', as it were, but more of a reflection on how 'just getting on with it' in terms of Christian witness, just trying to live faith with integrity and honesty can have a profound effect on other people. I know I am not a 'super-Christian', I make mistakes, I upset some people by being a bit rough edged and others by not being terribly assertive or organised. I frustrate some by being 'evangelical with a liberal edge' and others by being 'liberal with an evangelical edge' (it depends where you stand when you look at me, I guess) and I have re-occuring bouts of 'foot in mouth disease'. I don't claim to be perfect but even in my everyday, relatively normal way I realise I can change people's lives by simply trying to be the person I think God wants me to be, and to follow Jesus in my faltering, sometimes mistaken, sometimes tired, sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes doubting, sometimes hopeful way. More than anything else this should be an encouragement to all of us that Jesus can work with even the least promising of material :-)...

God bless you in your seeking and finding, your following and faltering, your faith and doubt. More about the blog awards later, hopefully today, maybe tomorrow. And thanks again Bill!