Monday, February 16, 2009

All Human Life Is Here

One of the reasons that I've not had much time to stop and think lately is because I have had, in the past three days, a wedding, a baptism and a funeral. Unusual to have all three so close together, but with all the preparation and visiting that goes with such events alongside the usual commitments of Church and village life it has been something of a whirl over this past week or so.

Things are going well despite all this busy-ness. I have moments where I think I would quite like to just stop, or get away, but that's more to do with fatigue than any great issues over the job or the direction things are going. We are just, as a 'Mission Community' seeking to figure out a bit more of where we are going, what official setup we need to impose on our group of parishes, what the pattern of Sunday services should be etc. In some ways, as I may have said before (brain is a bit fuzzy at the moment) this is where the 'rubber hits the road' as far as my role as Vicar to these parishes goes. I am hoping to set up, preferably alongside our ecumencial partners, some new ventures and to offer some training and resources to those who have roles in planning and leading some of our worship.

It's all very exciting really, though the energy and time that are needed to keep things going as they are sometimes seems to overtake any plans and hopes for other things happening in our Churches!

busy busy busy

In the absence of time to get my thoughts together, I thought I would publish my wordle cloud - a graphic representation of the most common words on my blog, at least recently! Thanks to Steve Lawson for the tip!

Monday, February 09, 2009

No accounting for taste

It constantly amazes me how tasteless I can be!

Worth explaining that opening statement, I think. No matter how much I have learnt, no matter how many different music tastes or styles or genres I have been exposed to, or how much theatre I have experienced, or books I have read, or art i have appreciated, some things never change.

I still love REO Speedwagon's 'Roll With the Changes'. I finally got around to adding it to my iTunes library this evening, and my iPod will see it appearing with some frequency.

But despite the flippancy, it does cause some reflection on those things which we cannot leave behind, or those experiences that make us what we are. In lots of ways I like to think that i have gained a certain measure of sophistication, that my life experience has left me wiser as well as older. That I have matured and grown - just this evening (in the pub, because the best conversations take place either there or in Church) we have talked on the theme of 'if I knew then what I know now' and wondered about what we didn't learn when we were younger.

Every now and then I have a nostalgic moment - wondering about how things might have been, or whether I would have been better off if x or y were the case twenty years ago. But it comes down to the fact that my life as it is, with the wife and family I have, with the calling I have, with the villages and Church fellowships I serve, is the best place I could be. I do believe that I am in the best place I could be and I thank God for it.

But I still, thanks to my teenage years and the experiences then which make me who I am, have a soft spot for REO Speedwagon, it may not be cool, but I love it!

On Sunday....and mixing with Christians and not!

Well, as Quilly said in comments, the service that I thought might just have a few folk at had over a hundred people along and was joyful and filled with praise. Sadly, the loss of puppeteers was a disappointment to a few, but on the whole those who made the effort really appreciated and enjoyed it. The worship was uplifting, the fellowship was heartwarming and the feeling of being together as the people of God was quite overwhelming.

It was encouraging to see how many had braved quite difficult conditions (much of the snow, and snow melt lying on the roads had re-frozen overnight making some bits very exciting indeed) to come to Church. I was moved to see the cross section of those who came, from different villages, different ages (we had four generations of one family at the service), different backgrounds - with various levels of commitment to Church!

So a tiring, but worthwhile experience.

This morning, in between bits of admin and tidying, preparing assembly for this afternoon and writing emails, I have been tweeting and exploring the self proclaimed 'Christian Alternative to Facebook' called Faithout. I have signed up, so if anyone is joining please add me!

But it raises a question I often find myself asking. What value is there in having exclusively Christian online stuff? I mean, I understand the value of being able to get hold of Christian resources, and read Christian blogs, and to contact other Christians - but surely part, in fact a major part, the defining part, of being Christians is to be 'out there' (some of us are more 'out there' on sooooo many levels :-) ) rather than creating 'holy huddles' or 'christian cliques' or 'enlightened enclaves' or.... actually that's enough of that. I suspect you get the drift!

Sometimes our Christian groups seem to be protection against the nitty-gritty hard work of actually getting on with sharing our faith. It can be, or rather it is, uncomfortable to be noticably Christian, much easier is the 'blend into the background option'. So if we are taking part in this great social media/networking revolution, are we shooting ourselves in the foot by creating a Christian alternative, rather than 'mixing it up' with all the grungy, earthy, heathen, normal types on the rest of the web? I use the word heathen with a certain sense of irony, by the way...

Perhaps we need to gather in these enclaves to build us up and prepare us to tackle the difficulties in the rest of our lives? Perhaps its just good to make more Christian friends? But if they become a substitute for real interaction with those outside the Church then sure they become the antidote to the great commission? Though it could be said that much social media interaction is a substitute for real world interaction - hopefully not in my case, I must go out to do assembly now! The internet verses interaction in reality debate must wait for another time.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hell, snow, we won't go!

For those who have been following my twitters (tweets!) and facebook updates you will know that I have been grumbling about the lack of snow here - when all around the villages and towns seem to have been inundated - that means it is very difficult to get about, but we haven't even had the chance to build a snowman in the Vicarage garden! Three miles West of us, as you crest the hill into the Otter Valley, there was some wonderful snow covering the fields, just north on what is called 'the Seven Mile Straight' there was some impressive drifting by the road, and some very exciting driving trying to get into a village called Stockland, about three miles East - on the other side of our valley - there was enough snow to close the road.

But here its just been slush, freezing, ikky gloop. No fun at all.

Not that any of this is without its problems, whether snow or sleet or ice it is impossibly difficult to get around these parishes. If you do it is often worth the effort! As hopefully these pictures (taken on my iPhone, not with a posh camera or anything) will show. I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful view across the valley from Stockland Hill (next to the local TV mast!) that I had to stop and take some piccies!

But the weather, or 'Extreme Weather Event' as it is being called in the media, hasn't worked in our favour in the local Churches this week. Tomorrow we have a special service at which we were hoping to have puppets, a music group,and a significant congregation (not that we ever have insignificant congregations!). Having driven across today I suspect many will not be able to make it, the snow is compacted on some of the hilliest parts, with frost adding to the ice on the roads this evening. So some of the music group will probably struggle to get there, the puppeteers have (sensibly) asked to reschedule (they come from a few miles away), and the roads will doubtless be treacherous tomorrow.

Also, i had planned to invite all the children from the local schools with a card to be given to each one on Friday. I spent much of thursday designing, printing and cutting these cards, only to have school called off, so now i have 250 colourful bookmarks :-)

The best laid plans etc etc

So we may find we have a more intimate, mellow congregation than planned. Not that I am complaining, I suspect it will be worth any trouble it takes to get there!

Friday, February 06, 2009

more to say....

As promised, the catch up continues

Epiphany (2008)

Come to the king, whoever you are…

I don’t know if you remember the Christmas publicity campaign from a few years ago, one which caused some controversy at the time, but being broad minded myself I rather liked it. It had a cartoon picture of three outrageous faces with a caption which went something like this:
You’re in a stable, you’ve just given birth and now three kings have turned up with presents for the baby – talk about a bad hair day....

Of course, it’s trying to get us to think about the familiar story of the arrival of the wise men in a different way, which most of us who are responsible for preaching and teaching during our major Christian festivals are always trying to do! I think that, and the fact that ‘bad hair day’ is one of my favourite modern phrases, means that this ad really appealed to me, despite the fact that various green ink users in Tonbridge Wells got very excited about the whole campaign. [more]

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It really is catch up time!

In an effort to operate a policy of full disclosure, or at least to get up to date, here's the latest sermon I have posted at New Kid Deep Stuff. In case you were wondering the [more] at the bottom of the post doesn't open up the post itself, it takes you off to the exciting realm of my other blog site. Just so those who don't want to read a whole sermon can look at the other things here, really - thanks to Standing Under the Sky for the tip! Unfortunately a quick look around my bookmarks reveals that Standing Under the Sky no longer exists so hopefully the thanks vibes will end up with whoever....

The Sermons begin (more posts over the next few days, hopefully)

Christmas 1 2008

Incarnation

I enjoyed my Christmas this year, actually I enjoy my Christmas celebrations every year, and the many and varied services I took part in were quite moving and very enjoyable. But now the big day has come and gone, the present wrappings have all been cleared up, the aftermath of the mammoth meal has been dealt with, and we settle down to another dose of reality after all of the celebrations have finished. Of course we still have the New Year to see in, but Christmas is past until next August when the shops put their decorations up again. [more]

Have been meaning to blog

Like so many things, blogging seems to have fallen by the wayside in the past few days, not that I can pinpoint any particular reason, just lots of distractions.

It certainly isn't because of the snow! Despite most of the UK being covered in snow, and (according to the media) most of the world grinding to a halt, we have had hardly any here in the mild South west. Actually, looking at the weather map it looks almost as if the snow has been avoiding us, and only us - further west has had some heavy snow, and further east, and further north, the south is coast, so there's not been a great impact there - until you get to France where they too have been snowy.

So, much to the chagrin of my wife and offspring, the snow has pretty much bypassed us so far (apparently this might not be the case next week!). I couldn't do much travelling yesterday morning, but by the afternoon it was fine to be out on the roads and I scooted off to do Wedding Preparation afternoon with a couple being married on the 14th of February (very romantic!). It is the first wedding I am doing in these 'new' parishes - and I am very much looking forward to it (not as much as the couple I suspect!).

So, its the everyday that has kept me busy, our midweek services continue to be the anchors which hold my week in place, there has been a lot of preparation for a big service this coming Sunday at which we hope to have some puppeteers as well as a full church! I am looking forward to being a part of the music group and having some new songs to teach the congregation. Along with the scourge of my clerical life, which is the admin that goes along with this parish priest stuff, and a fair amount of guilt over not having done my expenses since July things have been ticking over and on the whole going well!

I am aware it has been some weeks since any sermons were posted, and as some people seem to appreciate them I will try to post a few on New Kid Deep Stuff over the next few days. I have to fit this in around getting my wife's car sorted (it made funny noises and started juddering last week, so the garage have the engine in bits!).

My car has been playing up too! Turbo troubles, but (hopefully) relatively minor. It is just a pain to be driving back and forth to the garage to get these things sorted - though being stranded in the nearest medium sized town (Honiton) did mean I finally got that haircut I have been nagged about for the past couple of months!

So to-do list includes sermon posting, a bit more thinking about questions for Sank and Eric, some more blogging and some sleep - which I am about to attempt now.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

there probably is no bus

Just a quick link, which seems to be getting a lot of coverage

The bus slogan generator


After the Atheist Bus Campaign printed 'There probably is no God. So stop worrying and get on with your life.' on the sides of buses, claiming that they were fed up of 'religious advertising' (actually, many of us with any kind of faith aren't so keen on most 'religious advertising') someone had to come up with a way of being able to make our own bus posters on line, and here it is! Enjoy!

Oh, and the campaign did a great job of getting people to actually talk about faith, which is a good thing - maybe I should contribute to the campaign to keep these posters going :-)

My favourite response was from the Church Times cartoonist Noel Ford. ..not sure if this is copyright, if so then i will take it down if requested...

Go see the Church Times site anyway, its worth a bit of a look around....