Monday, December 31, 2012

Don't forget the lyrics

Happy New Year - and here's a gorgeous version of the often missung, indeed massacred, New Year Fave - Auld Lang Syne...



Here's to allowing ourselves to be freed from the past, and looking forward to the future whilst cherishing the moment!  Grace and Peace to you all!

New Year Thought For The Week

You may already have read this in the Midweek Herald, or on the Herald's website but here's my own (ahem) dulcet tones sharing this week's Thought for the Week for the New Year.  Have a good one!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Sermon Online - been a while!


Yes it has been a while, but I thought that as I have managed to breathe a little life into this blog, (the Mothership of my blogging world) I should really add something to New Kid Deep Stuff.  There's lots of stuff I said I would put online, some thoughts on silence, my notes on Social Media Spirituality etc and maybe I will get them here, or maybe put them straight onto this blog, but for now here is my Sermon, preached this very morning and written just hours ago (a sermon about which I got quite excited, as I grabbed my Greek Lexicon and looked up various words) - some thoughts about today's set reading for Colossians...


Year C Christmas 1 2012


Striking Images

One of the things I love about the Bible is the rich and varied images that leap out of the pages whenever and wherever I read it.... (Continued)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A thought for the week catchup again

I've been meaning to record this for a week or two - my thought for the week for the week before Christmas, but there were so many other things that I ended up doing instead.  Anyway, as I say in the recording, I just want a sense of completeness (at least with regards to these Thoughts for the week!).

Hope you are all having a great Christmas (we are on Day Five - keep partying for another week)!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Older... and wiser?

That end of a year feeling is prone to nostalgia, or reflection, or just noodling around without quite so much to do as usual.... Which is where I am, after the rush of Christmas I have volunteered this year for 'graveyard shift' of the week after Christmas, which is giving me time to do some catch up, even a bit of tidying, and some thinking and praying.

This morning someone said I was wise.  This is not a boast, but it is something I never expected to hear about myself !  It begs the question "When did I stop being wacky?" I was always, at school, the odd one who didn't drink (really, it wasn't my thing until after I was 18) but was still willing to do daft things.  I was always loud, to a degree that embarrasses me now to think about it, I wasn't afraid to make a fool of myself, I would try singing (though I wasn't great at it), acting (though I wasn't great at it), entertaining (though I wasn't great etc etc).

Those of a psychoanalytical bent will probably be able to detect that there were aspects of wanting to be noticed, of wanting verification and attention and other deeply felt psychoneeds, many of which I have become more aware of addressed over my past thirty years since.  But it was also that I just loved having fun, and entertaining people.  I knew what I was doing, I was a sort of self-conscious, self-aware oddball.

Much of this was tied up with my deeply held, and sometimes conflicted, approach to Christianity.  I had made a very personal commitment to following Christ at the age of eleven, coming from an unchurched background which has been documented elsewhere on this blog.  I had come to faith in a conservative Evangelical church through the wisdom and dedication of a number of people who I still hold in very high regard.  My (mainly internal) conflict grew as I heard teaching which I simply couldn't go along with - and this became worse as I moved Churches to one where I went, to be honest, cos I liked the music!  An overly conservative interpretation of the Bible made me feel uncomfortable, partly because of the guilt that often went with my the very fact that I might disagree (after all the Bible told me it was inspired, and that I should submit to my leaders...) and partly because the 'Theology', particularly in the Church of my later teenage years, often went hand in hand with a right-wing agenda that I didn't, and still can't, subscribe to.

Besides, many very conservative and/or  pseudo-fundamentalist interpretations of scripture fall down under their own reasoning, and all pick and choose the bits of the Bible they want to obey as it suits them, no matter what is claimed!  But I'm not here for that... and please note I am talking about 'very conservative' interpretations, particularly the ones that claim not to be interpretations but direct communications from God of 'the one truth'!  I respect, appreciate and have lots of time for many conservative theologians, pastors and writers and am grateful for the guidance and correction I have and still receive from them and from my own heritage of such understandings.  Those I find myself in disagreement with I would, on the whole, be happy to discuss issues of faith, and listen to, and learn from, and would like to have the same courtesy in return.  Those who I profoundly disagree with are the graceless and condemnatory types, such as coming out of the right wing of the Christian Church in the USA.

But that is a topic for another time.  Or maybe not - I am not going to change the minds of the Neo-Reform movement - and I am not going to regress to that type of belief any more than I will ever be drawn to or convinced by the uber-conservative Anglo-Catholicism within the C of E.  Unless God goes against everything he has been teaching me for the last lifetime and through miraculous revelation causes me to drop every bit of conviction and intelligence I have, of course.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  My larger than life character which I cultivated in my teens was partly due to my deeply held desire to follow Jesus, and to live a life which was joyful and savoured each day.  Though I might have been conflicted about my Church affiliation, I was in no doubt that Christian faith was dynamic, joy giving and life affirming.  It was too important not to take seriously, and taking seriously meant having fun!

So I think I was often seen as wacky.  I was certainly described that way... the kind of person that would do daft things without the need for alcoholic de-inhibitors! Though it should be pointed out that I didn't do anything which would demean myself or others, play practical jokes at another's expense, or do anything obscene or offensive.  Despite these (unstated) ground rules - I think I lived up to an ideal which said that Christians didn't need to be miserable or boring.  I could also hold my own in a theological argument, due to the extensive reading and studying I was doing not just about Christianity but about the many and various philosophies and expressions of faith in the world.

And to me this was, and remains, an important part of my expression of, understanding of, and inhabiting of Christian faith.  That the way of Jesus is a life giving, life affirming, gracious, expansive, enjoyable way - as well as being a challenging, hard edged, loving, powerful way.  I don't build faith to suit my own way of thinking or doing, if so then I would be living a significantly easier and less dedicated life.  I still take my grounding from the Bible and to that I add the stories of faith from Christians through the ages, the traditions and rituals and patterns of the life of the Church (particularly but not exclusively the Anglican Church), the need for reason and understanding, the experiences of God in prayer, worship, sacrament and contemplation and last (but not least) in engagement with the world.

As I have got older I have sought to keep something of my individuality - but less at the expense of my dignity, however.  The funny thing is, those parts of me which I consider to be completely 'normal' (as far as anyone could be so) are often those things which some consider mark me out as still a bit of an oddball... The Biking, the love of guitar based (yes, often heavy metal) music, the love of movies and trivia, the love of drama and comedy, a willingness to join in with most things even if it's not cool (and especially if it;s funny), the willingness to sit and talk to strangers, the visits to the pub, a couple of tattoos and having friends in the tattoo and biker world.... None of them particularly outrageous or radical, but I guess not necessarily conforming to what a stereotypical Vicar/Padre/Minister is considered to be or to do.

I still read Theological books, and read quite widely, I still love to pray and worship.  I love to read and study Scripture, and the Bible remains the ground of my faith - but I hope I am cultivating an intelligent and thoughtful way to interpret and apply the Bible to my own, and encourage others to apply to their, daily walk of faith.  I spend more time in quiet than I used to, and I love being with my wife and family.  I've gathered a few qualifications on the way, and an awful lot of experience.

But 'wise', me? I consider that a huge compliment, and wisdom is something I would hope that God would/could/will/does bless me with.  It is quite moving, though, to have that acknowledged and affirmed and (in my less secure moments) not something I thought I would ever be accused of.  I will continue to work at it though, with God's help...

Not sure I'd ever thought I would end up quite like this though, cue the Del Amitri song :-) Justin Currie, with his usual pathos and heartbreak, gives food for thought, and though the track is essentially quite sad, there is a good question to ask in the middle....
"So look into the mirror; do you recognise someone? Is it who you always hoped you would become When you were young? "
Think I might be getting there...



And a thank you to Rob Griggs-Taylor, biker, friend and encourager!  @robgt2 on Twitter who got this whole post started....



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Moving To Far Away Places

In our local magazine called 'The Parishes Paper', which goes to residents of the five parishes I serve, I decided that simply publishing the official notice of my departure was probably not helpful, and that people would wonder why on earth I wanted to move from this beautiful place, with good people, an ancient history and usually temperate weather (this last year notwithstanding).  So I prepared a short article which described the process.  It's not really a 'why' but more of a 'how' this happened.  The why's will come out more as I continue to write, I hope....


God’s Call…. And the Bishop’s
At the beginning of November I received a phone call from James Cowan,  the Bishop of British Columbia inviting me to become Rector of St John The Divine Church, Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  This was the end of a process begun in June when I took a funeral in Kilmington for a man who I hadn't met, but whose son – a Bristolian, now a Lay Canon in the Cathedral in Victoria – had been visiting for the past few years and got to know me. 
After the visits which are usual for a funeral, a number of conversations and finally the service itself I received an email headed ‘an impertinent suggestion’ – which recommended I consider a particular position in British Columbia, in a large, broad and inclusive Anglican Church based in downtown Victoria on Vancouver Island.
This was a bit of a surprise.  We hadn't been looking to move, nor had we any desire to consider anywhere else.  Yet because it had been suggested ‘out of the blue’ – and after consultation with some wise Clergy friends and colleagues – I looked at this job in a city and a country I had never visited and wondered whether it might actually be a prompt from God to consider this.
The initial interviews were by phone with a committee of eight people from the parish of St John’s.  Jo and I met one of the wardens for lunch in London whilst he was on holiday, I spoke to our Bishops and Archdeacon and to the Bishop of British Columbia and Jo, Katherine, Jack and I were invited to see the city over the half term and for me to be interviewed face to face and meet these people I had been interviewed by over the phone.
The upshot is that the offer was made, and after nearly a month of deliberation I have accepted Bishop James’ invitation and he has appointed me as Rector, with my duties beginning in August 2013.  It was not an easy decision to make, but as a family we feel this is a good move to make, and we believe that God has had a hand in all of this over these past weeks and months.  We expect our final Sunday to be in June and to move sometime in late June or early July.
This is very much unexpected, it wasn't part of our plan and it certainly isn't due to any desire to move away from here –yet this large Church in a very different context seems to be an appropriate place for us to go to next.  There is still much more we hope to do here, and with the excellent Ministry Team and Mission Community Council we have for Five Alive Mission Community there is plenty for us to be getting on with.  God is faithful and continues to call us all in his service and it is still my privilege and pleasure, for the coming months, to continue to serve this Mission Community.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas

Hello lovely blog folk - thanks for reading lately following the demi-resurrection of this blog.... Here's a nice Christmas type picture - the nativity set that we use for Posada services, you can find out more about the patterns here....

And here's an Audioboo


Happy Christmas to you all :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Last Night Of The World

All this nonsensical talk of the world ending tomorrow does give the opportunity to share a rather excellent song by the talented and very brilliant Bruce Cockburn...

Of course, the song does raise the question, what would you do if this was our last night on earth?  Being the homely type, spending it with my family would be the only thing that would matter.  I'd also look forward to seeing God face to face, and becoming truly who we are meant to be.

The song has more to it though, with some sharing of hope and hopelessness in this world.  Lots to think about here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thought On Unity

Thought for the week from last week.

Wassablogforthen, eh?

A short blogging hiatus, but not hopefully a statement of further blog lack...

As is so often the case when I reconsider starting up some kind of semi-regular blogging I ask myself exactly why I stick with it... or not, as the case may be.

Obviously the blogging has a draw which I don't seem to be able to ignore, even if I seem to be able to leave it for months at a time.  So for as long as I seem to have inspiration, or the ability to type at least, it looks as if New Kid remains!  Unlike other writers who seem to be gently ebbing from the blogosphere (eg the interesting Shawn Smucker who writes a thoughtful post as to why he is stopping blogging here) I have decided to stay...

I do feel I need to say a bit about what this blog is and isn't, though.  And rather than justify, mainly to myself, my reasons for writing, I thought I would start with a bit of what you may or may not find if you explore previous posts.

Firstly it's worth saying that I've never really had a rationale for this blogging business - that means I have mixed up a bit of my personal life, my ministry, my writings even (though rarely) my family.  You'll get a few thoughts on holidays and the house we've bought in France, but I didn't despite the temptation dissect the convoluted and sometimes frustrating business of house-buying in a land that loves bureaucracy.  It might have been interesting, but venting on a regular basis about French property could get old very quickly.

I do talk about my love of what I do, the life of these Parishes here in East Devon and the joys of rural ministry, as well as some of the frustrations.  I rarely comment on the goings on in the wider Church because that might cause you, like me, to bang your head repeatedly against the wall whilst wailing 'Why? Why? Why?' on regular basis.... Though I do sometimes talk about some of the structures within the Church of England to which I belong - Deanery and Diocese - and some of the quirky stuff that goes with being an Anglican.  You may well find me chatting more about what it means to move to another country, and continent, whilst still remaining a part of the Anglican Communion - and considering what being in a different Ecclesiastical Province means....

I rarely comment what is going on in the world at large - you don't see much - if any - mention of recession, or natural or human made disaster here.  I didn't share in blogging on the heartbreak felt my many of us after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, or my frustrations at the foolishness of considering gun ownership to be a right... (Obviously I would put the right to life as significantly higher than the right to blow other life away, but I'm kind of old fashioned and Judeo-Christian on that one).  This is not because I think as Christians we shouldn't engage with the wider world, quite the opposite, but I do think there are better writers and thinkers that do that kind of thing.

I do talk a bit of Theology.   I could talk an awful lot more, but again there are only so many hours in any day and most people have other things to do :-)

I do share a bit of what it means to be mixed up in this slightly odd world of the Church, of what it means to be a Christian today, at least in my context, as someone struggling with this whole following Jesus thing.  But then as far as I can tell anyone who truly wants to follow Jesus, rather than be a Christian for what they can get out of it, or for the sake of appearance, or because they are judgemental and need a hook to hang their bigotry on, or for any other reason than being bowled over by the love of God and the desire to follow the way of Christ, will struggle.

I do share a bit of what I share in my weekly Thoughts for the local paper.  It has a circulation of about 27000 people, and most of them seem to have stopped me on the street in the past few weeks and said "I do read your little bit in the paper every week, Vicar..."

I do share a bit about the detail of days, about things which strike me, about my own discoveries in prayer or worship, my own roles in the Church, the adventure of faith, the thought that goes into preparing things for worship or teaching. I have in the past put links up to sermons (at the other New Kid blog which suffers even more from sad neglect than this one.)

In short, apart from a lack of engagement and reflection on current events and the difficulties of the world around, this mish mash, faith based not particularly focussed blog isn't a bad reflection, or at least a selection snapshots, as to where I am, and where I have recently been.  I have a few things unfinished, such as more thinking about Silence and some notes about the Spirituality of Social Media, which I have promised a number of times to post here... I still hope to.  I have a few badly expressed thoughts, actually a lot of them, and a few relatively well thought out posts.  I have things which I may not express in the same way any more.  And things I am really impressed I said.

It might be because I am thinking about our impending move (yes it's six months away, but time flies) or it might be because we are getting to the end of another year, or whatever, but I think I will continue this slightly mixed up blog business.  And if you want to come with me along the road you are more than welcome...


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Thought For The Week

Wait for it!

Yep it's another thought for the week, this one from the week after Advent Sunday....

Thought for the Week Catchup

It's much more fun recording these Audioboos than adding to the type on my blog so here's one from three weeks ago following the (for me) disappointing vote at General Synod.  Just a short reflection, nothing too deep...



There are some more Thoughts I want to record, so you may get a little flurry of activity on that front over the next day or two.  I am having to do A LOT of Admin at the moment, so the odd blog related distraction is serving to keep me sane!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cool things to find

Time to 'fess up - I really like (in a sort of oddly twisted way) - 'Dumb Ways To Die' - a safety video from Metro Trains in Melbourne that if you come to it without any introduction seems a bit odd and grisly, but then gets its message across in the last few lines of the song.  The message being that messing about on railways is a really dumb way to die.


You can watch it here on YouTube: Dumb Ways To Die

But in a flash of inspiration there is an alternative, a sort of 'positive parody'. It celebrates all the wonder, joy, enthusiasm and excitement of finding out about this wonderful wild world we live in.  I think it is pretty much pitch-perfect.  To me this also represents something I love about the journey of faith - it is an adventure, it is exciting, is sometimes joyful, sometimes confusing, sometimes bemusing.  But it should also go hand in hand with a sense of wonder and awe.

I also think the idea of taking something good (the original makes an important point and does it well) and renewing it is a nice little parable of what Christians are called to do.  I don't believe God wants us to  condemn and criticise the world, but (with God's help) to redeem, transform and renew.  We are so often accused of being 'holier than thou', or hypocritical, yet the authentic Church shares its brokenness along with its hope, its questions along with its truth, its fears along with its joys, its failures along with its love.  As such we take this world, the stuff of it, the grit and the dirt as well as the wonder and the beauty and, with God's help, we sculpt a model of redemption.

Enjoy the discoveries along the way!  There are so many cool things to find.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

As is my usual form

As usual, having already posted today, I'll do a second post....

For some of you who know me well this is not news, for others the announcement of my move to another job, and another country, another province of the Anglican Church might come as a bit of a surprise, but anyway, here's the official bit:



November 27, 2012
To be read at all Services at St. John the Divine on Sunday, December 2nd, 2012To the Wardens and Members of St. John the Divine, Victoria
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It gives me pleasure to announce that The Reverend Alistair McCollum has accepted my appointment of him as Incumbent of the Parish of St. John the Divine, Victoria. This appointment is effective August 1, 2013.
Mr. McCollum hails from Devon in the United Kingdom where he is presently the Vicar of The Five Alive Mission Community, which reaches out and serves five rural villages in East Devon in the Diocese of Exeter. He is married to Josephine (Jo) and together they have two children, Katherine and Jack. Alistair has served as Rural Dean (Honiton Deanery), as Vice-Chair of the Ely Diocesan Committee for Family and Social Welfare and has been involved in the training of lay readers.
I wish to thank the members of the Bishop’s Consultation Committee for their work in this appointment process. I also wish to thank The Reverend Dr. Larry Scyner, The Reverend Sarah Belknap, and The Reverend Canon Karen Fast for their leadership in the parish.
Please pray for Alistair, Josephine, Katherine and Jack, yourselves and me as we enter into this time of transition.
In Christ,
The Right Reverend James A.J. Cowan
Bishop, Diocese of British Columbia

St John the Divine, Victoria, BC


I could do a long spiel about how unexpected this was (it was) and how sad it will be to leave this area and these people (it will) and how exciting the prospect of working at St John the Divine will be (it is) but if I do get this blog up and running again I suspect that much of my process will be visible here - and all of those things will get a significant airing.

So if you want to go and check out the website for St John's then it's here: St John The Divine.  There will be lots more to be said in the coming weeks and months - we move in June/July and are looking forward to getting to know a new place and new people and to having new adventures.

To be continued.....

Too Busy to Blog?

Actually, not too busy - that would be somewhat dishonest - but finding it hard to make time to write in the way I used to.  I do still write a thought for the week which I really should get back into that habit of posting, and I do write a sermon each week - but the times of sitting down at my PC for a good block and reflecting have been few and far between.

A Wordle of New Kid in its heyday :-)
I have, as many will know, been 'grabbed' but the immediacy of micro-bloggging, or as we used to call it "conversation", on Twitter (and to a lesser extent Facebook, but there is a different dynamic there).  So I am more than happy to have interaction, discussion, disagreement, as @revdal.... With such sporadic blogging here over the past couple of years I also value the feedback that comes from Twitter which rarely happens here.

I have also had more times of sitting quietly and opening myself up to silence, and in the silence the presence of God.  This is not always comfortable, and in some ways opens the path to a more critical self-analysis and reflection than throwing lots of thoughts out there and seeing what sticks.  Besides, as mentioned above, with the on/off nature of posting here I have been less likely to get a response - and the response does help with forming, critiquing and reforming my thought processes!

But that said I do like the idea of returning to blogging, and with my new appointment, who knows?  More in my next post.....