Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Thought... Proud of my children....

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sermon Catch up...

Not posted at' Deep Stuff' for a bit, so here's the beginning of the sermon from Sunday just gone.... with a link to the whole thing at the end...

Lent 2 (2013) Year C RCL Principal
Honesty and Trust

If someone came to the Rectory telling me that they hear the voice of God, I must admit that I would think the worst.  Just as if someone approached you telling you that they had conversations with the almighty then we might feel a little disturbed.   This is not the kind of person we want to sit next to on the bus….

BUT  Imagine what it would be like if we could talk to God freely and hear his voice!  If we shared such an intimate relationship with God that we were able to sit and chat and be chatted to in return. [More]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back In The Day...

We have started the Big Sort Out - which is how I am describing (with intentional capitalization to make it clear this is an 'event') the preparations for our move to our new life in Canada and our new Spiritual Home of St John the Divine in Victoria, BC.

Of course this could just be an excuse to get rid of lots of the crud we have been gathering for decades and replacing it with new crud.  This is something we, as a family, seem to excel at!  But this isn't a post about de-cluttering, emotionally, spiritually or physically - that's something that a quick google will reveal is talked about to the point of cliche...

There is one good quote about Clutter though, which I will share with you.

That'll do.

No, the thoughts that inspired this blog post, if inspired isn't too big, pretentious or overstated a term, were all the more mundane.  I realised that as I started sorting (well, we have four months) I have lots and lots of cassette tapes...

I wonder how many of us still use cassettes.  Of course when I was in my teens they were the best way for us hip young things to get our music from place to place, and we loved making copies of songs to present to that special person, or to a best friend, to share music that meant something.  I loved looking for cheap cassettes in the stores around Notting Hill and I have pretty much kept all of my cassette tapes.  In fact I am now trying to sell/give away/clear out many of them.  Though I am dumping the ones I recorded myself, compilations, copies of vinyl LPs I own etc etc I am sorting the rest out.  And here is how some of them look (my gallery)

You can click on any of these if you want to see my sometime ropey, sometimes inspired musical tastes over the years between 1981 and the mid 90s, which is probably when I had pretty much stuck with Cds, and being the techno-bunny I am most of the stuff I listen to is now MP3/iTunes stuff, or Spotify, or even (recently) various musical podcasts and Cross Rhythms radio.  The cassettes are all available, by the way - just email me :-)

But seeing all these cassettes (and many more) brought back vivid memories of where they came from, how it felt to get hold of them and listen to them, the excitement of hearing music for the first time and of working out what I liked or not.  I chose the title because of all the feelings that these cassettes have brought up and the reflections they have caused - the phrase 'back in the day' is a recent addition to common English, I believe - I think we used tend to say 'in the old days' - but that sounds a bit too historical, so I have decided on a title that suggests more personal reflection!

These cassettes cause me to remember the feeling of discovery - there were few outlets for learning about music in the UK in the 1980s, the magazines (which you couldn't listen to), the radio (which was quite circumscribed), the occasional record shop that would let you take a quick listen if it hoped you would buy something  (not the case in the little Market town I grew up in) - we also had 'Top of the Pops' - a weekly TV show with music from the charts, and women who danced wearing jumpsuits or leotards called 'Hot Gossip'.... But on the whole music was shared around friends, and we relied on each other to get to know different stuff!

I was quite proud  of the fact that I had discovered 'Christian Music' - the UK didn't have the big Church networks, Cable TV and music production facilities of the States, so there were few Christian Artists and few outlets for their material here.  I found a bookstore in the nearest City to my town and I would save up to buy a Cassette of Petra, or Amy Grant, or whatever was in favour at the store that week.

The idea that there was, somewhere, a culture of music and events, and mega churches, and 'Christian Celebrities' and TV shows and all that jazz was exciting and encouraging for our group of friends, who felt like (and probably were) 'Yokels in The Sticks' and whose experience of Church was small, sometimes even small minded, and insular.  It was exciting to see that there were people elsewhere in the world who were creative and dynamic and musical and talented and Christian!  Though I would steer away from many of the commercial aspects of the 'Christian Culture' now, and would never knowingly watch a Christian TV channel I still appreciate the broader perspective that these things, or even the idea of these things, gave me.

And so now I am packing up many of these cassettes and selling them off or giving them away.  I have much to be grateful for about the journey that these were a part of, and lots more I could say - and don't get me started on my heavy metal phase.... will see if I can get that photo uploaded sometime :-)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Thought For The Week On Prayer

Catching up, here's mid January's thought on the fact that prayer isn't just about words.  Forget what you have been told, prayer is whatever way allows you to listen and speak to God...

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Telling stories

One of the best off-the-cuff sermons I have ever heard was from a colleague at Imperial College London who turned up to find he was preaching on Matthew Chapter 1 verses 1-17. For those of you who have not yet memorised the whole of the Bible and who haven't clicked on the link it is worth knowing that this part of the first book of the New Testament is a long genealogical list leading from the start of the Jewish Faith (ie Abraham) to Jesus.  It's not something many of us would relish reading, lacking the humour, narrative and immediate appeal of the Bible passages most of us remember and appreciate, but it is one of the set readings following the Lectionary through the year.

To be confronted with this text without having any preparation for preaching on it would throw most of us, but not Bill (for it was he) who proceeded to preach for ten minute in a way that brought these seemingly dry verses to life,  who teased out some of the meaning in them and some of the purpose in having them placed at the start of this first of the books of the stories of Jesus.  Bill drew out something of the importance of the divisions within the lists (three lots of 14 generations) and the very deliberate choice of names on the list; Luke's version (Luke Chapter 3.23-38) of the same list is arranged differently with different names and goes all the way back to Adam, actually even back to God.  (For more material on the differences between the two accounts of Jesus' ancestry try this link to 'about.com'.)

Bill talked of those who are mentioned in this list and those who are left out, and of the presumable aim of the author in compiling this list.  But more than anything else he said one thing which has stuck with me over and above all the other stuff he managed to get from this bit of scripture.

"Beginnings are important"

This statement came to mind again when a Twitter friend, Revd Robb Sutherland (@changingworship) mentioned that he was writing a post for the Digidisciple section of the Big Bible website which is working through Genesis at the moment.  It's worth wandering off there when you finish this, by the way, or even now if you are starting to lose concentration!

There are so many arguments about Genesis, about historicity, science, creationism, translations, words used about God, different documents being combined to create one book, redaction criticism etc etc.  The big argument is, of course, the six day creation one, which a very loud and very significant minority of the Church are obsessed with and for whom it represents the touchstone for whether one is saved or not - by which I mean if you don't accept a six day creation account then you obviously don't "believe in the Bible" and therefore can't be a Christian.  It's nonsense, obviously, but that's not what I want to say...

I think the arguments about Genesis, along with the concerns of where Jesus came from, and the many stories within the Bible about origins, foundations, the nation of Israel, the start of the Church, are because we as human beings need stories which root us and give us meaning.  In my undergrad theology days (too many years ago for me to count) we were encouraged to think of the stories of Genesis and 'The Fall' (for want of a better title) as 'Aetiological Myths" or 'stories which give us meaning'... So when a child asks 'hey why did God make snakes with no legs' there is a story that says they once had one but they were removed as a punishment.  That is obviously a very simplistic reflection, but the principle is there - "why is the world like it is?" is the question - the stories of Genesis offer a rich mine of meaning as an answer, though many of us would think of them as allegory and metaphor rather than literal accounts.  That's a discussion for another time perhaps.

We all need stories which give us meaning - the stories of our families, our ancestors, our communities, our nations. For me, my journey to faith is an important story I hold on to and re-tell. My ongoing faith story is one which I invite others to share and to join in.  Jesus himself was a consummate storyteller and preferred to give his hearers stories and parables to grapple with and find meaning in and from rather than a more didactic or dogmatic approach. Cultures survive by sharing their stories and passing them on, they die when the stories of meaning and origin die and identity is lost.

So often Christians find themselves 'selling Doctrine' rather than 'telling stories'.  We are obsessed with 'right thinking' or 'right teaching' rather than allowing people to encounter faith through the stories of and from Jesus.  We risk losing our identity if we don't hold on to the stories of our faith and share them, and if we are unable to see that sometimes these stories are meaningful and true, without being literal.  (There is some more thought on that from the excellent Liturgy website, the particular post which caught my attention is here and a follow up post is here.)

This post is a long way from the reflections on Genesis that had originally inspired me to write something about stories.  I wonder, though, if the obsession some have with creationism/literalism doesn't actually allow the story and its meaning to truly blossom and grow, for the stories of our Scriptures are significantly more nuanced and contain much more depth than the simple 'it must be literally true to be true' argument could ever allow.

I'll leave you with that bit, maybe another Thought For The Week from our local Midweek Herald later :-)

Back with a quick thought

My mind is racing with all the possibilities of things I could be writing, but for now I thought I would just post a quick Audioboo of my Thought for the Week from 8th January from The Midweek Herald...