Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ironies in preaching

Did a big sermon about moaning which is posted below, as you may wish to read it is all about people complaining, and not getting just how much God loves us, and that our attitude should be one of gratitude rather than moaning.

After the sermon my first comment was 'you started the service three minutes late and it went on too long...'


Year A Proper 20 (2008) RCL Principal

Moan Moan Moan

We are all very good at moaning. Lets be honest. There’s nothing most of us like better than a good moan. We might not naturally be inclined to moan, we may be quite happy with our lot, we might be the type of personal who is settled with what she or he has, but if we get the chance, nearly all of us like to really let rip at a good moaning session.

PCCs have a reputation for being such events. In your average stereotypical PCC meeting, the Vicar moans about wanting to change lots of things and not being able to, then the people moan that the Vicar wants to change everything and in the end very little happens. Then the Vicar and the PCC go home and moan about being on the PCC and wondering why it all happens, and I suspect the Lord groans too.

Not that this is the case in our PCCs here, actually I have to say, and I am being sincere, that most of our PCC meetings are productive and, though sometimes tiring and often containing what we might call ‘a full and frank airing of opinions’ we usually find we have much to be thankful for and over the past few years in these villages our PCCs have accomplished a huge amount, for which I am thankful. [more]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oi be doin' me blog, yarrr

Well, ye scurvy dogs, 'tis international talk like a pirate day and I be celebratin', a keg o' rum and a boiled parrot, i reckon....

Crossing the Red Sea

Struggling with Biblical stuff, a sermonic reflection!

Year A Proper 19 2008

Set free!

One of the frustrations of reading through the Bible the way we do Sunday by Sunday is that we often, like this week, have three amazing, awe-inspiring and challenging readings and then don’t have time to address all of them in the sermon – or rather if I tried to, then we would be here for most of today, if not most of the next week and maybe beyond…

Not a great way to be remembered, as the Vicar that went on and on and on and on….

Which of course I am never guilty of – ahem.

So it falls to me to try and pick perhaps one theme or idea from these readings and use that! [more]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Small endings....

Life at the moment is a series of small endings, final PCCs, final services in some Churches, last visits to people, a huge amount of sorting out.

In the midst of this we had a new beginning, as our new Team Rector took office at a rather lavish ceremony in one of our Team Churches on Wednesday evening, we had the Bishop of Ely, our Archdeacon, the Rural Dean and a host of civic dignitaries come and and mark the beginning of this new phase in the life of our Team. I have tried to avoid talking too much about my leaving until this point, as I didn't want the two to be confused - as I have said countless times, the appointment of a new Team Rector is nothing to do with my moving on, in fact it was one of the factors that made it harder to think about moving as she will be a real boon for the team, and having worked with her for four years I am constantly impressed by her vision, her pastoral skills and her energy and sensitivity in ministry.

So we had a great service, at which I had a minor, rather invisible part (by choice) as part of the worship band, which was great fun. One of the things I will miss when I move is being part of a small group of musicians who lead worship for our fortnightly worship services. It is one of many things I will miss.

So our minds are now turning towards the practicalities of the move, packing, removal companies, setting up essentials like a phone line and utilities at the other end, getting motorbikes sorted and/or crated, how to get both cars to Devon, picking up our ebay purchases for the new house! Our holiday, which I mentioned I might blog about, seems a long way away, though if some time is available, i will say a bit about that. Now it's time to enjoy a day off, with my rather late breakfast waiting for me in the kitchen, then to cut the lawn and get a few odds and ends sorted today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is 'blearghhhh' because that's how I feel - bit nauseous, bit tired, glad I don't have a meeting tonight.

I'm not moaning, its partly because I've been trying to catch up on various things, including writing magazine letters, shredding lots and lots of bits of paper I don't want to take with me when I move, meetings (some better than others) and various admin bits - I'm just doing lots of things and have got lots done, not a bad thing at all.

Right now, as well as feeling slightly ropey, I've also got a bit of a caffeine overdose which a couple of hours with the children will soon deal with. I do like the fact that being with my gorgeous offspring (I am biased, I know) completely takes me out of myself and I just get on with playing, readings stories, feeding, bathing or whatever needs doing. I think that every now and then (well, most days) I need something that takes me 'out of myself' and makes me just get on with stuff! It's easy in this job to be introspective and indulge in a fair amount of 'navel gazing' - of course there are times that this isn't possible, but equally its a trap that is easy to find ourselves in, particularly on a day like today which has involved lots of admin and sorting out the study (the shredding was fun, though).

So thank God for reality checks and the grounding that having a family gives.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We're still here

Glad to see that the startup of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) hasn't reduced us all to our constituent molecules or otherwise ripped the fabric of time and space apart. It was quite fun listening to the radio this morning as the reporter sought to make the start up exciting!

There is a good, short reflection, on this event (or number of events, as that's what its for - to create a number of observable 'events') from a Bishop in Europe here - and a great rap too (not by the Bishop but embedded from YouTube). May it 'rock you in the head' - as it says in the rap... Or perhaps that should be 'rock thee, verily, in the head' to put it in religious language...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another Sermon! Two in one day....

Year A Proper 18
Being Church
I don’t know what your perfect Church would look like!  A lot of people who call me about baptisms and weddings in the team mention how much they want their service to take place in this building or that building because it is such a lovely Church.  And their concern in many ways is about the building…
I think many of those who visit our churches, though, are pleasantly surprised that what makes our Churches such good places to be a part of is not how well kept they are, or whether they are architecturally wonderful, or even if they look like Churches are meant to look.  It’s the warmth of the welcome, the genuine love that many of our congregations have for each other, and a desire to follow Jesus that makes our Churches special. [more]

Sermon catch up

There are obviously hoards of folk out there who are lost without my words of wisdom, so I thought I would get the last couple of week's sermons posted.  Here's the one from 9 days ago, not one of my best, written with brain determined to function but not quite achieving that aim....

Year A Proper 17 Principal

A few weeks back I talked about how we picture Jesus – some of us seem to be stuck with a ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ picture – all tied up with Victorian Kitsch and nicely scrubbed children gathered around a blue eyed saviour – some picture a revolutionary, shouting insults are the Pharisees, whipping traders from the temple courts, others prefer a more intellectual picture, with Jesus debating with scholars and scribes.  The list goes on – and having preached on this once I don’t plan to save myself the trouble of preaching by just saying the same thing again.

One of the points I wanted to make, among others, in that sermon was to say that our picture of Jesus, whatever it might be, cannot ever be enough – there will always be more to discover, more that challenges us, more to inspire and disturb.  And so it should be. [more]

Monday, September 08, 2008

Where we are and where we're going

To be honest, that last post was a bit useless, so much to say and little motivation - due to the whole 'catching up' thing that sometimes makes holidays feel like and intrusion rather than a liberation.

I have actually been back at work for a week, and don't really seem to have achieved much at all - it feels as though I've been paddling madly and getting nowhere... The reality of the fact that we are moving in seven weeks is really hitting home, when we were the other side of our holiday it all seemed a very long way away, now its only a few weeks off I find myself thinking about how much I need to get done before I start packing let alone thinking about packing and moving and starting again.

The announcement of my move has had one effect that, though not a great surprise has been quite overwhelming, the number of people who have expressed regret that we are going. I knew a few folk would be disappointed that we were leaving, but the strength and the sincerity of people's feelings has been much greater than expected. I regret the number of friendships that were really starting to grow - particularly with those outside church circles - that may not last with such a great distance between us. A number of people who are parents of children at the school where my daughter goes have taken a year or so to realise that just because I am the Vicar it doesn't make me mad, frighteningly religious or 'holier than thou'. One or two of the other 'dads' in particular have started to become very good friends, and (at the risk of sounding overly soppy) I will miss them.

Not only that, there have been people who I have only met once or twice who have expressed a deep regret that i will no longer be Vicar. I'm not really sure how to react, or how to say that it's not because of any deficiency in these Churches or villages that we are going elsewhere, quite the contrary - its the idea of new challenges, of doing things differently, and because being a minister is not a job that can go on and on endlessly (though some might describe my sermons in such a way). The longer we stay here, the more attached we and our children become to the village, and the fact is that being a 'Team Vicar' as I am now is often seen as an assistant's post rather than one where I am fully responsible for the ministry of the Church. This isn't the case in our own Team setup - it is definitely a partnership of equals in this team, a culture fostered by the last Team Rector and very much an aim of the new TR - but from the outside staying too long in this position could cause questions to be raised as to why I haven't been willing to take on 'in Incumbency'. So for that, and other good reasons, it is the right time to move on - and I have discovered that there's nothing like announcing you are going to encourage and affirm you in your ministry (and to help convince yourself that you aren't either completely rubbish or very unpopular!)

That was a somewhat unplanned reflection, I've not said anything about our fantastic trip to the Dordogne in August, nor posted my last couple of sermons, so there may (or past history shows may not) be a flurry of activity over the next day or two....