Monday, October 26, 2009

I second that emulsion

It has been pretty full on recently - as previous posts have probably intimated, this pub project is taking up a fair amount of energy, mental and physical. On Friday I trained as a licensee and will hopefully find out in the next day or so if I passed my exam, will then get a certificate and have to sign up for my personal license with the local council - this gives me authority to 'sell or authorise the sale of alcohol by retail' and is (rightly many would say) tightly regulated.

I was interested to find out that there are very strict guidelines with regards to what a licensee can and can't do. We can't sell alcohol to anyone who is obviously drunk, and a close eye is to be kept on the possibility that alcohol might be sold to children (ie someone sharing their drink with under 18s). We have had to learn the four 'Licensing Objectives' - the reasons that alcohol is licensed:
Prevention of Crime and Disorder
Prevention of Public Nuisance
Public Safety
Protection of children from harm.

I am very pleased I can remember them!

So, Friday last was spent doing the license holder thing from 10am to 6pm .... Saturday meant back at the pub for a committee meeting at 8.30am and a day of cleaning, sorting, painting and another committee meeting until 6.30pm then home to sort out sermons and prepare Sunday stuff, then Sunday was, well, Sunday, the usual.

And after all the glitz and glamour of the weekend (lots of TV camera stuff going on, but if I am lucky all my gaffs will be edited out) we got to Monday morning and the reason for this post.

I had a meeting at 9am (which I got to about ten minutes late) to choose a colour of paint for our chancel here in Kilmington Church (hence cheesy-but-too-good-to-pass-up-80s-reference-blog-post-title). I bet when people think of the jobs that clergy have to do, choosing paint colours for the church doesn't really enter into it. I'm not belittling it, this is all part of the warp and weft of everyday life for our churches but with all the quips about 'you only work one day a week' people don't actually have much of an idea what we do get up to. The practical is always hand in hand with the spiritual, the pastoral with the practical, the mundane with the sublime. In that way, ministry is like life!

Anyway, thanks everyone for your support for the Yarcombe Inn thing, prayers appreciated - as a couple of commenters have said, not the usual thing one prays for, but I think this is an important project for this community and they are taking it seriously not as a chance to play at running a business, or even because we all want to drink beer but for the benefit of our community!

Details of the launch can be found on the facebook page here, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pub, the latest

A few random thoughts, feeling tired after a few busy days so they might not be completely together!

After an afternoon tinged with disappointment (only because no samples were brought for tasting) we are considering who should supply the Community Pub at Yarcombe with drinks. We are discovering some tensions because the TV company backing, or driving, the project of having a community pub are under constraints of their own regarding shooting schedules which don't fit in with the lives of those of us who work full time, and don't necessarily fit in with the timescale of getting people up and running for the pub's grand re-opening next Thursday.

Someone put it well, we are all trying to use each other (not meant to be a derogatory term, simply what's going on). The TV company are wanting to film a show, the village wants a pub and TV company are helping with that, the suppliers are wanting trade, in the end we all need to get what we can and give what we can for/to/with each other.

I was pleased when the TV company got this moving, though I have to say credit for getting the whole project put on anyone's agenda goes to one of our local parishioners, a Mr Ford, who really pushed for things to happen until the TV company got involved and took on the reins!

It is interesting how a project like this brings out certain village politics and tensions. There has certainly been no 'bitching' but there are gripes that come out in conversation that show certain relationship dynamics. I am impressed by the dedication of the committee and volunteers as displayed so far, and think this has a very good chance of working.

From a pastoral point of view it's been great to get involved with people who I don't normally have contact with. I hope that this pub project will help those relationships to grow, along with the relationship between church and village being nurtured. The one thing I have to watch is that this doesn't take up too much of my time, I have four other parishes to consider too.

Will keep you updated with random blog posts as time goes on....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last for today

This is my third and final instalment of my preaching journey over the past few weeks!

God So Loved The World

It’s the best known sentence in the best selling book in the world. Travelling around the country you will see it plastered outside Churches, you’ll find it on the sides of buses, in London it is all over the tube system, if you have nothing better to do than stay up late watching American Football there will always be someone who stands up waving a big placard with a the reference to it whenever a touchdown happens or a field goal is scored. It’s there in great big letters ‘John 3.16’ in the NIV it says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” and in the translation most loved by those who quote it, the King James (or ‘Authorised’) Version it says “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”. [more]

See, I said there were a few sermons on the way

Another Sermon. This week I preached two sermons and prepared three! One (for our earlier service) was for St Luke's day, one (for later morning) was for our 'All Age' worship and was more notes than script, and pretty much busked when it got to it :-). The third was written for a friend who was trying to fit in too much to her life and wanted a hand, that one might be published later. I'm afraid I am going to skip posting the all age, but here is St Luke...

St Luke (2009)
St Luke the Evangelist…

When I lived in London, which was some time ago, there was a visit from an American Evangelist to Earls Court Arena. He was coming to bring his ‘healing ministry’ to the UK – his name was (and I assume still is) Morris Curello. London was plastered with huge posters which had pictures of abandoned wheelchairs and dropped crutches, and various medical impliments discarded in the wake of this man’s healing campaign.

There was some controversy over these posters because a number of people said they degraded those who were wheelchair bound, and in the Church there was an adverse reaction to what was derogatorily referred to as ‘Faith Healing’. Derogatory because faith healing seems more to do with the person that has such a ‘ministry’ than the God who Christians believe is the great healer, or Christ who is referred to as ‘the Wounded Healer’.... [more]

A few sermons to come....

I seem to be a bit behind in publishing sermons. I might add a couple over the next few days. For now here's one from a week or two ago...

Proper 24 (2009) Year B RCL Principal


The Big Picture

Have you ever seen a sunset so striking that it stops you in your tracks – not literally perhaps as this might not be a good thing when driving! But I have a vivid memory of a sunset which came at one of those moments when I was feeling rather jaded and found myself driving up towards our vicarage when we lived in Eltisley near Cambridge. Of course it’s rather difficult to put into words, but that won’t stop me trying – the Sunset was dramatic, colourful, beautiful – the clouds were gathered in such a way in one part of the sky that they seemed to be pointing to something in the distance, as they changed colour from grey to white, to purple, to red, to orange – there was something quite overwhelming about them. [more]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day Off

Yep, it's my day off so won't write anything today, will share another ASBO Jesus though!
This will not be a regular occurrence - just like this one as it carries on the theme of the last one I shared! I would recommend a trip to ASBO Jesus regularly!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's happening!

A quick update, the meeting this evening about turning the Yarcombe Arms into a community pub was well supported, with a lot of willingness to make a go of it. I am quite excited by the prospect of it and looking forward to being involved...

For those interested it will be aired on the 'Blighty' channel early in the next year, with the other pubs in the series starting in late December, the program is called 'Save our Boozer' and I am assured that that's not meant to apply just to me....

Will keep you posted, thanks for the messages of encouragement and comments.

Excellent ASBO Jesus!

The Blog 'The Ongoing Adventures of Asbo Jesus' often has lots of fuel for thought, this one is no exception. Jon is also a twitterer, you can find him here and I hope he doesn't mind me showing the picture, there didn't seem to be a don't copy command on the website but I will take it down and just put a link up if that's preferred. Whatever, he's highly recommended!

An interesting day...so far

My day started with a motorbike ride (waheey) to Church (waheey) for Morning Prayer. Obviously this happened after all the waking up, cup of tea, shower, dressing stuff but as you all know that this is part of the weft and warp of daily life I won't share too many details...

As always there were a few to say Morning Prayer together, it never ceases to amaze me that people will turn out on a weekday morning to pray together - not that praying is something that people don't do, but actually coming out of their homes and making time to be together so frequently is not something I am used to! My experience in a suburb was that people would come to midweek Communion, but in the centre of London it was not the case that people would drop in for the Daily Mass or for Morning Prayer, and in Cambridgeshire it was almost impossible to get anyone together during the day any day because people were so busy, or so absent due to working commitments. Here, though, people take time out to pray. It's a good thing...

Then a phone call from a friend meant I ended up writing something for a talk they are giving soon. It was a subject I was interested in so I was happy to help. I might even post it sometime!

Then it was school harvest in the Church next door, turned out to be quite a long one - and the kids did a great job of putting across something of the 'world nature' of our harvest, with a particular focus on the goods we have from Africa, and there was a detailed presentation on 'Fair Trade' (or 'Free Trade' as they call it in the USA) by the older class. Then I hopped on my Motorbike again and went over to Yarcombe to meet with the TV company putting together the Community Pub idea there. I liked it so much I took a picture of my bike outside the pub :-) Should have got a piccy of the film crew but was busy being interviewed...

Tonight is make or break for the Yarcombe Inn - I honestly think this is the last chance for this lovely building to be a pub again and won't rehearse all the reasons I think it is a good idea and how valuable pubs are in village communities but am hoping that there is both a good turnout and a willingness to put in the hours that can make this work as a community endeavour.

I will know in a few hours, and will let you know too, if we are going ahead with the project. The presenter/adviser said that it is 50/50 as to whether it can happen at this stage because a good number need to be behind it and willing to actually put the effort in to get this baby off the ground.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eh? Is that the Vicar on telly?

As you may know, I think each village should have two buildings at their heart. A Church (well, obviously) and a pub. I know that my mentions of the pub can freak out some of my readers from outside of the UK, as bars are often associated with drunkenness, licentiousness and lots of other ness-es which are not too healthy - but in the UK the pub has traditionally been a community building, a place for conversations, arguments, meetings, plans being made and generally somewhere to get to know each other. Yes there are drinks available, and some drink to excess but on the whole a couple of pints or whatever is considered enough for most and it is as much the company as the alcohol that is the draw. My own preference is for a proper ale, Real Ale, enjoyed with some good conversation and the occasional nip out to the garden for (ahem) a breath of fresh air.

Pubs are under threat, though. In city centres and towns many of them do exist as drinking factories, where people go to binge drink, and the 'happy hour' culture has encouraged that. But many of the things brought in to stop this culture of excess has impacted upon the vast majority of community minded pubs. More restrictive licenses and higher taxes on alcohol particularly. Alongside the blanket ban on smoking (which was meant to encourage more people to come to pubs but has succeeded in emptying a number), the business rates and general cost of running a business is putting pubs out of business by the day.

So, when there was mention of the possibility of reopening one of the pubs in one of the villages in the Five Alive Mission Community under the auspices of being a community pub (run, administered, managed and supported by the villagers of the community it is in) I jumped at the chance to support this. When I heard that this was going to be facilitated by a TV production company who want to make a series of short documentary/reality telly films on such endeavours I was wary, but willing to hear them out.

Last week I went to a very informal meeting with the production team (along with a group from the village) to discuss the possibility of making this happen. They are offering to train cellar keepers/bar staff/food staff. They are offering to cover four personal licenses for staff. They are offering free advice from someone who manages a number of pubs in the NEast of England for a month. They are willing to front some money to buy stock on an interest free basis and only payable if the pub makes a profit. They will pay the first month or so's rent and rates. All they want to do is film it, and preferably make it succeed (they made it clear that they don't think that failure will be a ratings winner).

So I'm sold. I am meeting with the team tomorrow at Church to say why I think it is a good idea (and might be filmed, so must wash hair/trim beard/put my shiny vicar shirt on). We then have a meeting tomorrow evening which all of the village are invited to at which we need as a community to show our support, willingness and desire to have a pub in the village. We are also going to have to put our money where our mouths are and actually be willing to put in the graft that will make this happen. That is where it could stand or fall. I will keep you updated - I am excited about the idea, it is a lovely pub in a great village, it could be a very good place to start the 'Churchpub' or 'pubchurch' meeting I would like to see happening in the New Year. It could well be a good meeting place, it has a lot of history to it (it was once Sir Francis Drake's pub) it is comfortable and has lots of potenital.

We shall see what happens. Here is to the Yarcombe Inn!

A sermon

Been a few weeks, haven't published many sermons, but here is one

Proper 22 (2009) Year B RCL Principal
Turning things Upside-down

I am going to indulge myself for a moment and talk about my children! Firstly my little girl Katherine. For those of you who have heard all of this before please feel free to switch off for a moment! Katherine is eight next month and she is an absolute joy not always easy, but so full of life and creativity and a desire to know things. Jack is very similar, lively, thoughtful, exploring, fun, with a great sense of humour. He has been at school now for a couple of weeks and apart from coming home very tired, he is enjoying the whole experience, making friends and generally making the most of things. I must admit, though, that I never realised just what an effect having a child would have on me. I come from a large family – large in the sense of lots of us – and have always known what it is like to have younger siblings and nephews and nieces and cousins etc etc around. I am surprised how much Katherine and Jack have changed our lives (not just in practical terms, such as sleep, having to picking up nursery, getting to and from school, meeting up with their little friends, spending lots of money and all of that!) but how my attitudes and understandings have changed. [more]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hello, remember me?

There's a certain irony in the fact that I resolve to keep blogging and then leave it for weeks before blogging again. I don't have an excuse (not sure I need one) but I do feel the need to say something!

It's been an odd few weeks, lots of bitty things needed doing, there were some significant funerals (as previously mentinoed) and life in the parishes of this Five Alive Mission Community has continued apace. We have also been in 'Harvest Season' - and though I've not been out in the fields with a scythe we do take Harvest Thanksgiving seriously in rural areas, so far I have clocked up Six harvest festival services and one harvest assembly - I still have two assemblies to go. My colleague and Associate Priest Anne looked after one of the school Harvest celebrations (having done them all last year). Because my mind has been so focussed on the harvest, along with just keeping things running, I've not really felt reflective enough to write anything. Life goes on and my brain power hasn't been applied to anything other than the ordinary.

But then God is as much in the ordinary as in the special and significant. "THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God" wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins in his poem 'God's Grandeur'. Hence me feeling not too bad about having been away from the blogging world for a while - it's been the meetings, conversations, visit to the pub, parish events and school visits that have kept my attention and not the certain level of exploring my inner life which blogging depends upon.

I do feel now, though, that I am reaching the end of the first year of my time here in these parishes and my mind and heart are turning to a more reflective bent. It has been apparent in the last few days as I have found myself drifting off to where I was this time last year, looking forward to coming to a new group of Parishes, a new stage in ministry, a new home whilst feeling torn at leaving good colleagues and friends behind. I do miss those I used to work and live with, I miss friends we made over eight years in the Papworth Team Ministry, I miss the roles I had within the wider church, particularly in training lay ministers and I miss my proximity to Cambridge and the resources there - as I had been considering taking up a Ph.D or a Doctorate in Ministry.

So you may find me on blogger every five minutes in the coming weeks, or at least more frequently than I have been - which wouldn't be difficult - or maybe not, we shall see. I now need to visit all the excellent blogfolk I have been neglecting and if you haven't been for a while I urge you to check out Dr John, Quilly, Melli, Bill, George and Sank and all the other links on the sidebar- I will be soon. Catch you later...

PS Despite the lack of blogging I am enjoying keeping up with Tweeting, and my twitterfeed in the right hand column lets people know what I have been doing.... If you follow me i will follow back :-)