Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review - the Map

I have recently read a book which was sent to me by booksneeze.com. Called 'The Map' it's all about men and the Church

Book Description

A map, hidden in the gospel of Matthew, is the key to awakening the sleeping giant in the church—men.

Sounds like fiction, but it's true. The apostle Matthew embedded a map into his gospel. History's greatest men, including Christ himself, followed this map.

The Map begins as a fictional tale of murder, deception, and greed as three men fight to uncover the most important discovery since the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then, using the tale as a parable, Murrow shows men what the map looks like, where it is found in the Bible, and how to walk its three ancient pathways today:

* Submission
* Strength
* Sacrifice

David Murrow stumbled across the map by accident in 2006. After three years of research and writing, he is ready to reveal it to the world

My thoughts:

No matter what you think about the state of masculinity and manhood in the 21st Century the fact is there are fewer men going to Church - and Murrow seeks to address this. He does this in an interesting way, part adventure story, part reflection on that story. It's a good yarn in the first half, and rather than spoil it I will just say that it's worth reading. The Second half is somewhat more patchy - his arguments of what constitute masculinity and femininity have some merit, and critique of the feminisation of the Church hold water but his specifics about 'manly' behaviour I found less useful - rubbing the face of a bully in the dust, and using firearms are much more about Murrow's attitude than a healthy approach to 'manhood', I think.

The Three journeys offer food for thought, especially for those of us responsible for leading men but also for any man seeking to be a disciple. I would recommend this book, but mainly for the story - some of Murrow's later thoughts I found frankly adolescent rather than reflecting the maturity that is the aim of the book. If you're willing to take with a good pinch of salt then it's worth the read!


You can check out The Map: The Way of All Great Men by David Murrow at Thomas Nelson's website, just click this link!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


You can get it on Amazon here:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thought for another week

Still catching up! here's one from early on in Lent!

My wife and children are away visiting family, which I thought would give me a sense of freedom and a glimpse again of the bachelor lifestyle: watching what TV I want, junk food, not doing the washing up, loud music and playing guitar into the early hours – things which I couldn’t get away with when there are others around. Sitting here in an empty house it doesn’t feel like much fun, though, it’s actually quite lonely – not at all like the picture in my head! The grass may seem greener on the other side, but it rarely is. Our fantasies are not often like real life.

Jesus said to focus on today, on what we have, and make the most of it; not concerning ourselves with tomorrow or the next day but what is right and good here and now and trusting God to be with us through it all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today's sermon - Doubt is Good

Year C Easter 2 (2010) RCL Principle


Doubt is good!

Poor Thomas – always remembered as the one who needed proof. The one from whom we get the saying ‘Doubting Thomas’ – a saying still used in a Biblically illiterate nation, with generations of people who don’t understand phrases, or at least don’t know the root and deeper meaning of phrases like ‘Prodigal Son’, ‘Treasure in Heaven’, ‘faith like a mustard seed’, ‘Job’s comforter’ nor many others that most of us have grown up with.

Thomas, remembered because he couldn’t accept the stories that the others were telling – because he didn’t happen to be with the others when Jesus appeared. Doubting Thomas because the fantastic events recounted by his friends were too much to grasp, because he needed more. [More]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Resurrection

You may not like the style, or even the whole Rob Bell deal - but I love this! Resurrection, life out of death, God's ultimate yes to the world - celebrated by Rob Bell...

Resurrection: Rob Bell from The Work of Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Thought for the week further catch up!

This one is from the second week in Lent! I will get through them all soon, promise
On the whole our national news media seem to enjoy pointing out the mistakes made by the Church at large or the points at which it struggles. My experience of Church has been, though, that the true face of the Church is the local fellowship – though I am happy to be a part of a wider Church family and I hold my Bishops in great respect. In the end, don’t judge Christian Faith by news reports (except the good things our local papers say!). If you want to explore faith, and see the Christian life in action look to Christians around you, to your local fellowships of all different traditions, to those who are seeking on a day to day basis to follow Jesus. We do fail, we make mistakes, but we are trying with God’s help to live and share the Good News of Jesus Christ where we are.

More thought for the week stuff

Catchup time again! This time a thought for the week from a few weeks back(Valentine's, actually, but the meaning is still current), I will add these as I find time in next few days - or weeks. Otherwise the current version can always be found by going to the Midweek Herald website and reading the current e-edition of the paper (Honiton, Axe Valley or Sidmouth versions!) It usually says on the cover which page the Thought for the Week is on!.
Love n Stuff
Love makes the world go round. Somewhere deep in all of us there is a need to know we are loved and that somewhere, somehow, we mean something to someone. We may not put it in such terms, but at the root of so much human activity is this deep abiding need for love. It comes to a head for lots of people around this time of year – Valentine’s Day approaches and for some of us there is a hope that we might get a little reminder that someone loves us or we might fear that we don’t feel loved. But whether cards drop through the letterbox or not, remember one thing: you are loved “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John’s Gospel, Chapter 3 verse 16. You are loved.

A Palm Sunday Sermon

Here is the sermon for Palm Sunday - it has been a while since I posted anything to the New Kid Deep Stuff Blog, though I have a load of sermons I have been thinking of sharing! I know that parts of this sermon I have recycled, but it was extensively rewritten for our shared service for Anglicans and Baptists here in Kilmington. Sometimes the core of an idea is worth using again and adapting for a particular situation! I have a second sermon preached on that day which I may post sometime....

Year C Palm Sunday 2010

What did they think they were doing?


As we hear again the familiar story of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, as we imagine the crowds pressing against him, the shouts, the palm trees being stripped of leaves, cloaks laid on the ground. As we imagine the air ringing with the sound of acclamation ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. As we see this rag tag collection of ordinary people, along with prostitutes, tax-collectors, fishermen, labourers, fanatics, religious types following this odd figure seated upon a donkey, a beast of burden. As we wonder at the adulation of the crowd and the song of people we should ask ourselves – what did they think they were doing? [more]

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Getting back to it is difficult

The longer one leaves something the harder it seems to be to get back to it - that certainly is the way things feel with this blog! I often think to myself 'oh, I should blog about that' but then think to myself - how would I introduce that? How do I make up for all those weeks with nothing said? Do I have to try and fill in all the gaps and explain exactly why it is that things have been so gappy?

So I decided I would open with a statement about it being difficult to get back into blogging, and then just carry on and see whether or not any/some/all of the thoughts that have bobbed up and waved a bit turn up in blog posts over the next days or weeks.

But without any more ado

Alleluia - Christ is risen!

It's that statement that makes us what we are - as Christians, I mean... So our celebrations of Easter and the lead up to it over Lent have been at the forefront of all I have done over the past six or so weeks. In fact our Lent course (which I wrote using material from my last Diocese) and all of the other events of the past weeks have dominated my time and energy usage pretty much since I came back from my Christmas break.

We take Lent seriously in these parts - or at least I do and some other folks join in too. This year's Lent course was a five week Bible study based around stories from the Gospels of encounters with Jesus. It was not as well attended as the talks I put on last year, which is odd because the criticisms of last year were all about too much talking from the front - this year when I offered Bible study people voted with their feet! The quality of the conversation and some of the profound and moving reflections from those who did take part in this series of events were exceptional though and it made it more than worth having prepared these evenings. It's not about the numbers!!! Quality not quantity is my motto!

Mothering Sunday was the usual celebration, with special services in all five parishes, of which I managed to lead three - glad we have a good ministry team here!

Holy week began with special services in each Parish plus an extra afternoon service in a local 'chapel of ease' in Whitford, I assisted one of the morning services, a joint service with our Baptist brothers and sisters in my home village of Kilmington which was a great celebration beginning with a procession around the village along with Benny the Donkey borrowed from 'The Donkey Sanctuary'. By the time we reached the Church there were about 100 people in the parade (in a village of 700 or so, that's a pretty impressive average) and we were joined by another fifty or so for the service. Even more important than any numbers (thought despite my quality not quantity motto I was encouraged by!) was the feeling of unity and celebration of Jesus our king. It was my privilege to preach at that service, a sermon I shall add to the New Kid Deep Stuff Blog soon.

For Holy Week we had a number of services following a similar pattern to the one observed in my very first Parish where I served as a curate. It brings home to me just how profoundly effected I was by the training I received all those years ago - an issue that will be at the forefront of my mind as we prepare for the arrival of a curate in training in our Mission Community in July.

So on Monday evening of Holy Week we had a small, intimate service of Holy Communion with prayers of penitence. A sort of spiritual 'clear out' before Easter, with the opportunity to sprinkle a few grains of incense on hot coals as a sign of letting go of the sins which separate us from God and neigbour.

Tuesday was another Holy Communion, this times with prayers of Healing - recognising the need for all people to receive healing in a broken world, all were invited to be prayed for by the minister leading the service. A refreshing and moving service.

Wednesday was a meditative service of Prayers and Readings for Holy Week. Some silence and reflection in a busy world. Another thing for me to blog on another time, I think.

Maundy Thursday saw the Eucharist of Chrism (blessing of Holy Oils) and renewal of Ministerial Vows at the Cathedral in Exeter. Very good service, with an excellent sermon from the Bishop of Plymouth - beautifully led by the Bishop of Crediton (as the Diocesan Bishop is on sabbatical).

Following this service I came home to deal with a few visits and then went to the Mission Community passover meal at Yarcombe - run by the Associate Priest to the Parishes it was a thought provoking, though joyful, celebration and explanation of the Seder meal and its history, along with the links between it and Holy Communion which inform our own celebrations and worship.

Good Friday had a very good family service with reflections on the cross and the nature of Jesus death and sacrifice. I always wondered how we could consider the Good Friday story in a way that made it accessible and engaging for people of all ages, and since experiencing the way that it was done in Bourn Parish where I served as Vicar before here I have tried to echo that here. Using activities, songs, readings and prayers along with images and symbols draws both adults and children into the story and the meaning behind it.

We observe the 'three hours' of Good Friday as three separate events in three different churches - with meditations and silence from noon til 1pm, the stations of the Cross from 1-2pm and meditations on the Seven Last Words of Jesus from 2-3pm. I am not naturally inclined to silence, this is good, power, moving discipline for me!

Holy Saturday is a service free day until the evening, when it officially becomes Easter Eve and we prepare for the celebration of Easter Day with a vigil of readings and canticles and the lighting of the Easter Fire followed by the singing of Exultet and renewing of Baptism vows. A garden brazier was brought to Stockland Churchyard and we had a good blaze going but I couldn't light the Paschal candle from it!!!

And on Easter we celebrated - joyfully, movingly, prayerfully and faithfully. A good day indeed.

But all of these events took preparation, all the services were put together by me using various Anglican resources and we produced booklets for all of them. I took many but not all of the services, and my excellent team of lay and ordained ministers also took part in much of the activity and led and preached and generally enhanced events.

It's been tiring, but good. It's been tiring enough writing this - I should go now and will consider adding more later.

Happy Easter! Christ is alive!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Slightly Freaked out

Hi all

It has been far too long, but things have stacked up, piled up, fallen over, been piled up again, been sorted, then left a bit, then stacked up again, put into new piles, fallen over etc etc etc

I am slighty freaked out that I won lovely Quilly's 'Punny Monday' over at http://quilldancer.com/
and haven't written anything on this blog for ages, so feel I have wasted time (as the prize is being the featured blog of the week) and squandered the opportunity to have good folk come and make comments about my blog, life, faith, whatever.

So apologies. When life gets a little less busy, and I am sure it will one day soon, I will give this blog the time it deserves and you good folk with have something to comment/reflect/muse on and I will look forward to doing that.

For now - have a very Happy and Blessed Easter, and may the risen life of Christ be yours today and always! Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed - Alleluia!