Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And There's More....

This month's 'thought from the Vicar' as printed in the parishes paper...

Didn’t We Do Well?

After last month’s thoughts, which might have seemed negative but which were not meant to, I thought I would – or indeed should – offer some of the reasons why I find myself constantly encouraged by the Mission and Ministry lived out by our Parishes within the Five Alive Mission Community.

Did you know, for instance, that the national average for population attending Church in the UK is roughly 5%, of which about 3% attend Anglican Churches? In our villages that number is between 6 and 11% of the population attending our churches with some regularity, and when you add in our brothers and sisters of Baptist and Methodist Churches in the Mission community that number rises even more. Not that it is the numbers themselves that are important, but the fact that our church fellowships remain at the heart of our village communities. We are genuine community churches, existing for the benefit not just of those within our walls, but for the whole of our villages. [more]

Catching up time....

I have continued my series of articles on 'Demystifying the Church' and think it's time to catch up with what has gone into the local 'Parishes Paper' which serves these five villages. The first one is from February, sorry for delay in posting. Anyway, the link to the posting is to my New Kid Deep Stuff sister blog....

Demystifying Church parts two & three!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The promised sermon for St Peter's Day

Muck Models...

I am not in the habit of hanging around with Bishops or Archbishops – I have a healthy (Biblical) respect for those in authority, but I don’t make a thing of trying to meet up with them, or catch their attention. In my last Diocese there was a Bishop’s annual garden party where I would always say hello and make small talk with the Bishop for a minute then make myself scarce and chat to colleagues. I did have a tremendous day yesterday listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury speak at the Dioceses’s 1100th anniversary, but more of that soon, I didn’t actually get to talk to him or chat to the many other Bishops and Archbishops around in Exeter yesterday.

There is one exception to this – I used to know an Archbishop quite well. He was a very unprepossing man, diminuitive in stature, though very much great of heart. I knew him in the last years of his life, having been the Archbishop of Uganda, predecessor and friend of the African Martyr and Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum Bishop Leslie had returned to the Uk and became Bishop of St Edmunsbury and Ipswich before returning to Cambridge. [more]

Thirteen years and counting

Today is the anniversary of my ordination, thirteen years ago I was a pale and trembling youth ascending the steps to St Paul's Cathedral to be ordained by the Bishop of London under the cross which sits upon the central dome of London's famous landmark.

Actually, I wasn't pale, but I was trembling, and the weight of responsibility that came from that day, the 'cure of souls' shared with the Bishop, firstly of London (& Kensington), then Ely (& Huntingdon), and now Exeter (& Crediton) - the bracketed names are Suffragan/Area Bishops who work under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop - that weight of responsibility has never left me and I still feel hugely privileged to be serving the Church and the Communities in which I am set.

I didn't have any particular 'celebration' of the day, but after doing an Assembly for the local school, then spending the morning doing admin, I went to visit a woman, aged 100, to share Communion with her and her husband. It was probably the best and most moving way I could have marked today - this woman is poorly and very week, but she was visibly enlivened by the sharing of bread and wine and by the blessing that followed. It was quiet, understated and profound. A reminder of the privilege and responsibility of this ministry.

Today is also St Peter's Day and I prepared a sermon for this which I preached yesterday. I will endeavour to post it soon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Look how long it's been....

....since I last posted!

It has been something of a rollercoaster over the past few weeks, a very very busy time which I wish I'd had time to blog about, but it seems one thing after another has cropped up and, as I have said before, when I've had energy I've not had time to blog, and when I've had time I've not had the energy.

Anyway, after the marvellous George did his technomagery on my PC things I thought I would have lots of time (all those hours wasted watching little hourglasses on my screen, for instance) to blog and write, as well as catch up on some visiting and put my house, or rather study, in order. Unfortunately life has flooded in to fill the gap left by the hours of time saved, and a huge amount has been going on. There have been some marvellous events in these parishes, including a couple of weddings, and some rather difficult meetings/decisions/complaints/grumbles to deal with too. We also had a very big and moving funeral following the death of a young man in the village of Dalwood, with an incredible show of support from both the village and the Satan's Slaves - the motorcycle club this lad was a part of.

One of the most amazing parts of the day was that I was allowed to ride with the cortege of a couple of hundred motorbikes from the local town of Axminister, following the hearse, to Dalwood.

I was struck by the loyalty shown by the bike club, and many of its associated bike clubs, who turned out for the ceremony, some of whom came hundreds of miles from all over England, Europe and even New Zealand, and have been extremely supportive of the family up to and beyond the funeral. The widow of this young man and his children all rode pillion in the cortege. It gained a bit of coverage in the news including a video available here.

The sight of all these bikers was powerful, to say the least, but the respect they showed for the local community, their friendship, and the way the local community welcomed them and made provision for them was inspirational.

Apart from that the weddings we have had here were time consuming, and worth every minute. The two couples I have performed ceremonies for were both a joy to work with and the days were fun alongside all of the 'proper' stuff we have to do for a wedding.

The most recent wedding was in a tiny village called 'Stockland' nestled away in a valley in the East Devon Countryside, the reception took place on the crest of a hill outside the village and I tried to take a series of photos to show the panorama of it all! Though it looks cloudy it was very warm and the skies soon cleared, though these pictures don't show Stockland at its best!

This should fit together as a kind of panorama, but not sure if it will work! I can't quite tell what it will look like...

So lots been going on, a few sermons written, a few articles, some music reviews, and generally lots of busyness. More later...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Now that's what I'm talking about

On the other blog at least....

apologies for fuzzy piccies, that's the screen capture, go to the site with the strangely formatted link below to see originals!
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On a lighter note

Finished my ranting, for now, so thought I would share my latest Wordle with you! I might have to do a 'Deep Stuff' version, as I notice that Jesus is near the centre but not as clear as I would hope (there's a sermon in that somewhere, I am sure). Not sure if clicking on above picture will work, so there should be a link below...
    title="Wordle: New Kid">    src="http://www.wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/924481/New_Kid"
alt="Wordle: New Kid"
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The putrefaction of politics - rewritten

Hmmmm, far too much ranting in what is to follow, so I have come back to edit, mainly because I am not sure I phrased things as carefully as I usually would, and partly because me having a rant doesn't necessarily help anything. Time for a little self-censoring, I think....

I normally make a point of avoiding political and social commentary on this blog, mainly because so many others of the blogosphere indulge in such, and make a much better fist of things than I ever could. The general idea of this blog is to give a bit of insight into the life of a relatively normal rural Vicar and the everyday situations he experiences (that's 'he' in a specific sense, meaning me, rather than an expression that I believe minister's should be 'he'). It's also to offer a bit of my 'out loud' thinking, for better or worse, in the hope that some of my ideas will receive a bit of a workout before I try and put them into action. Along with its sister blog 'New Kid Deep Stuff' there's also the none too subtle aim of getting a bit of thinking about 'faith', specifically of the Christian variety, out there for comment, reflection and response. Oh, and I say some stuff about me, motorbikes, music, France, books, art and bits when I have time (not done an awful lot about that lately).

What I have not done is set myself up as someone who makes pronouncements about world events, or news headlines, or celeb culture, or telly or whatever. Not that I have nothing to say about these things, there is very little that I won't chunter on about with a certain amount of opinionated waffle if I get the chance. But life's too short for you all to listen to my opinions about everything, nor I suspect would many of you care overly much about what I might think on many of these things - or rather I'm not sure my opinions would offer much to the debate :-) .

Our recent elections and the results now available have, however, caused me to break from my original aim of steering clear of social or political comment. I have refrained from commenting on the greed and self-interest which has dominated, to a rather wearing degree, the media reporting on British politics lately. The reporting on which has been nearly as awful as the actual events themselves, which could pretty much have been made public in a couple of editions of our newspapers rather than dragged out over weeks. It seems though that the disenchantment with our politicians (and to a certain degree the media going on and on and on about it) has led us to a very bad place indeed.

In our recent elections our country it seems has taken a swing towards intolerance, injustice and racism which I find deeply disturbing. I know that there is a certain racist streak within Britishness (sad to admit, but I hear plenty of such opinion around the place). I know that there is a often a certain attitude of superiority and intolerance in western society generally and among english speakers particularly. But voting in two members of the neo-Nazi BNP to represent our country in Europe is, to be frank, disgusting. Like many public commentators and many bloggers I am gobsmacked that they have a forum for their loathesome bigotry - and the fact they have convinced enough people to vote for them that they have two members in the European parliament is depressing in the extreme.

I recognise that we will never eradicate bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and as a Christian I realise that sin is endemic in the human condition, but the endorsement of such parties as the British National Party is an active move towards evil, and something which those of good faith must condemn. Some very good thoughts about this to be found here at Nick's blog, he says it particularly well here. Let's pray this foothold doesn't strengthen the BNP but shows them up to be the uninformed hate-mongers they are.
Oh, and another addition, there is a significantly more balanced account here, which perhaps I should take more notice of! I'm not going to remove this post completely, though, as this does stir up some strong feelings in me, and if nothing else lets everyone know that there are some things I am passionate about, and some things I am absolutely against, inclusivity I am for, racism and bigotry I am against!