Showing posts from 2006

Blog holiday

Am going to spend a week without visiting my study too often as i am trying to take a break for the family, this may well mean that i don't get to blog very much in the next few days, so if I don't add any more before then this is great opportunity to have a browse around the archives to see how much you disagree with :-) And if I don't manage to write before then, have a very happy new year! And may 2007 be a good 'un.

We wish you a merry Christmas

It's Christmas morning so MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE have a great day! PS It would have been 'me wish you a merry christmas' in the post header, but i thought it sounded a bit pastiche patois - so it will have to be the 'royal we'.

Christmas Night Sermon

Got it done! Nothing new, but then what can one say that is new about Christmas? Isaiah 52.7-10 Hebrews 1.1-10 John 1.1-14 The Word Made Flesh I have a love of theology and philosophy. This might come as a surprise to many of you, as i do have this image as a generally genial person who likes a laugh and enjoys being with people! There is an image of philosophers as kind of miserable, slightly depressed, maybe a bit gaunt, and often fond of strange recreational substances, but i obviously buck the trend in this respect – gaunt and depressed aren’t really my way of doing things and the recreational substances I prefer have more sugar or caffeine in them than anything else... But it’s true, i love philosophy and theology. And we’ve done, or will be doing., some of that tonight. The carols that we sing have some very deep, and quite difficult, bits of theology in them. Take this line ‘veiled in flesh the godhead see, hail the incarnate deity. Pleased as man with man to dwell,


A packed Church, and a sense of joyful chaos, were the foundation of our Crib Service this afternoon. We had a wonderful knitted posada set, Mary and Joseph have done the rounds of our parish and the locality since Advent Sunday, and started the assembly of the crib scene which took place over the course of the service. Following a reading from Luke we had the kids singing 'little donkey' and the Holy Couple and our knitted baby Jesus were placed on the scene, then another reading from Luke followed by 'while shepherds watched' sung by the congregation saw three shepherds and a lot of sheep joining the tableau, then after a third reading from matthew we saw the magi arrive to the sound of 'we three kings'. After this everyone in the church was invited to bring a star (which had been handed out at the beginning of the service) with a name written on it (by them), or a picture if they were more 'visually minded', to represent a prayer for someone at

In full swing

or at full pelt, or something like that... Home communions for Christmas have taken up the day so far, then in an hour or so we have our 'crib service' in the local Church which is normally very popular. I need to get to see a few Churchwardens between that and the carol singing at 6pm, then a break in which i need to write a thought for our midnight services (the first of which is at 9.30pm, as i can't be in two places at once!) and when i get back at about 1am i will try to wrap my wife's prezzy (she has organised all the others) and put another thought together for Christmas day services... So, after lunch on Christmas day, I will settle down for the Queen's speech and gently snore my way through the rest of the afternoon! The only reason I am writing any of this is to say that no matter what how busy things get, or how many times i sing the carols or hear the story - I love Christmas! But more on that later! If this is the last time you read this blog for

What a start to Christmas

In amongst the business of trying to take Holy Communion to parishioners unable to get to church for Christmas, of picking up the turkey from our local free range farm, of carol singing and trying to get that Christmas shopping done which is still eluding me, i had a short service this afternoon for the burial of ashes of a young woman who took her own life. We (the clergy and laity of the area) have been, and are, trying to support the family as best as possible. After talking at length we were definite that we wanted to perform this final goodbye before Christmas itself, but it is a hard thing to do, made even harder by the time of year. In the midst of life we are in death...

More stuff I listen to

Been a few weeks since i mentioned any of the music i really like, so here are a few recommendations from another artist that i admire for his musicality and songwriting skills. Having gone through the heavy guitar rock thing in my youth (actually, that's a bit of a fib, have listened to Steve Vai , Yngwie Malmsteen , King's X and Frank Zappa in the past few days) I really appreciate guitar artistry and tend to veer now in my aged state to acoustic guitar based music. I've already mentioned Martyn Joseph in these pages and Bruce Cockburn , so here is David Wilcox . Another great songwriter, both melodically and lyrically, Wilcox's music is passionate, though mellow, thoughtful and spiritual, though not overtly Christian (if the guy is even a Christian, it's not a qualification someone has to have before i listen, see list above!!!!). I love his often understated, but always perfect, guitar playing and his melodies offer the ear something to chew over whilst t


There's a lot of fog around in the south of the UK at the moment - and we are in the thick of it. It's been like this for three days now and it will be like this, probably, for the next few days. It's odd, it changes the feel of everything - the familiar roads I spend so many hours on doing my visiting seem completely alien, all the usual markers are obscured. Everything seems so quiet, and even in the daylight it feels dark. I can see where James Herbert got his idea for 'The Fog' from - it's oppressive and eerie. Shapes loom out as you walk or drive around, nothing is quite as you're used to. (I should say at this point, in an extended parenthetical section that reading James Herbert novels was pretty much my only point of rebellion in my evangelical teenage years, not much of a rebellion, but then I am not the rebellious type - except for being a Christian, which is the ultimate rebellion against the world. I might as well add that I really don'

Diabolical Polar Avian

On browsing through the visitors to this blog i have noticed on a few occasions a link to 'satan-penguin' I have no idea what this is, but it makes me laugh every time i read it...

Great Sermon for last Sunday of Advent

Not one of mine (I wouldn't be so boastful!) but a good sermon for the Sunday coming. As it is also Christmas Eve I won't be preaching on these readings, we will be going straight into the readings for Christmas as we celebrate 'Midnight Mass' or 'The first Communion of Christmas' in our parishes here. Anyway, Sarah Dylan Breuer has, as usual, come up with the goods - and i must say that 'the Lysol song' is one of my favourites!

Schools, Schools and more Schools

Well, actually, only two schools, but have spent a lot of time in our local primary schools over the past day or two. Unlike in the U.S. there is still lots of scope for 'schools ministry' here in the UK and it is a huge privilege to be invited in to share something of the Christian message in our local schools. Yesterday I was invited also to join the chaos of the annual Christmas lunch in a school in a neighbouring village at which I sat with a little group of kids who were very happy to have a big hairy Vicar with them and to chat constantly to me through the meal! In the evening I went back to the same school to the head-teacher's retirement 'do' and 'thank you' for all she's done for the school. Again, felt very honoured to have been invited. This morning was the annual nativity play by the youngest class in my local school. It was also my first year as 'doting dad' - my little girl was an Angel in the fun, musical version of the nativ

'Twas a week before Christmas

And at the Vicar's old house no one was stirring not even a louse Actually not true, but after the chaos of having to get three carol services done, daughter to a friend's birthday party, sister in law, spouse and baby sorted, and son cared for yesterday it all seems strangely quiet here today. Colleagues came round to say morning prayer and have a chin wag this morning, and in half an hour i am off to lunch at one of the local schools, but other than that the dogs are lying in their beds asleep and i am clicking away on my keyboard as i search through my last few years of Christmas sermons in order not to repeat too much of what i have said before... I have no idea what i am going to say in my Christmas sermons this year - i try and do a different one for midnight mass and Christmas day, but there is only so much one can say to a largely unchurched congregation in a few minutes at Christmas without just saying exactly what was said last year and the year before that and, w

Christmas Carol services sermon

Thought i would give the joy of Christmas as my gift this year! Here's my sermon that i'm preaching at all my carol services today. I must give a nod to Tom over at kindaconfusing who reminded me of the image that i used as from start of this sermon about two years ago and thought I would resurrect it for this year... There is an uncanny resemblance, but i promise you i didn't plagiarize! Carols 2006 'Turn away from the lights' Many of you will know that i am a biker. I do like motorbikes, and take the opportunity to ride whenever i can – and I’m not one of these fairweather bikers, oh no, I will ride wherever and whenever, whatever the weather. Actually, my bike is out of order at the moment due to the battery conking out, and i’ve not rushed to get a replacement due to the slippery roads, but on the whole I will ride most of the year. But, and some of you may have heard me say this before, there is something you have to watch out for in the darker times

More thoughts on 'thought provoking'

In a late night moment of surprise i quoted a David Wilcox lyric here , only two post ago but i will put the link in anyway! I did find it thought provoking - though i had to overcome a personal prejudice to do so... What i mean is that the quote had 'I want to feel what's real' as the third line, and I always have a negative reaction to 'I want' - we live in such an 'i want' culture that seems built on selfishness - a commodity culture that encourages us to reject stuff that we don't like. As someone who tries to follow Christ, this chafes against my own understanding of discipleship, sometimes we don't get to do what we want because we have to do what is right. Despite that, I think the quote is a good one! It was the bit about God being 'pocket sized' that stood out. There is a tendency amongst not only Christians but all people to have a reductionist picture of God. God fills a certain need or desire we have. We make God in our own

All quiet on the blogging front

Due to it being a Friday and it being my day off then today will probably only have this post saying that today will probably only have this post... Spent morning looking after my son whilst wife went off to buy Christmas tree and get her shopping done, so no time for thought, but lots of chasing and having to say 'no Jack, don't do that'... Suspect most of rest of day will be much of same, unless i get a bit of spare thought time tonight then maybe something tomorrow. Although we are off on a steam train trip with the kids in the afternoon...

Thought provoking

I can't stand to sit there Where their God is pocket-sized I want to feel what's real And will not compromise David Wilcox Silent Prayer (from the Turning Point album)

More 'Church-y reflections'

I may give the impression from my posts, and from many of my sermons which I post, that i believe the Church shouldn't be involved in the political world or that Christian faith is a personal affair. This is not the case. In part my reluctance to be drawn into 'issues based Christianity' is because I believe that we can lose the dynamic, challenging aspect of being a Christian community and having a relationship with Jesus Christ if we become too bound up in the issues which threaten to divide us. I also think that the most authentic expression of Christian faith comes not from proclamations about moral or social issued but from Christian communities committed to the Gospel and living out the values of the kingdom (or reign) of God. I believe that authentic faith is rooted in community, the fellowship of the Church, and we can only realise that when we are committed to one another in faith, love and service. So many of my sermons are calls to again consider our calling

A Picture

Makes a change, doesn't it? Been a bit wordy around here recently Me and offspring - they get their good looks from their mother.

Don't want to give the wrong impression

Despite my enthusiasm for many aspects of the life of the church, and in my experience that is the Church of England. I wouldn't want anyone to get the idea that I have an unquestioning, naive or uncritical view of the church, either my own chosen expression of it (the Anglican church) or the church at large. The reason I often speak or write so enthusiastically about the church is not because I think it is perfect, far from it, but because in my experience the Church as an institution exists somewhat separately from the church as local fellowship. And my experience of the church in local settings is, overwhelmingly, positive. Of course there are tensions, disputes, fears, worries (often over petty or seemingly irrelevant issues) but I am constantly reminded as i go about my ministry of teaching, worship leading, pastoral ministry etc of just how incredibly loving and self-giving christians (indeed all people) can be, and how the church fulfills an important social and spiritua

Why I like Church discipline

Slightly provocative title to draw attention! What I am about to say, though, shouldn't be terribly provocative itself, just a reflection... What I mean about liking Church discipline, is appreciating the discipline of the Church liturgical year. The C of E, of which I am a member and minister, follows the ancient discipline of 'lections' - set readings for every day of the year, Sundays on a three year cycle using the 'Revised Common Lectionary' as its base and weekdays on a two year cycle. We also follow the seasons of the Church year, which is more than obvious in my past few postings as I have majored on 'Advent' - the time of preparation which mirrors Lent in encouraging prayer, fasting and reflection in the lead up to the major festival of Christmas. As a child, growing up in non-conformist traditions, there was no real observance of any structure to the church year - Christmas was observed as a matter of 'every one else is doing it so we prob

Good stuff

Further to my comments a few weeks ago on Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What: Bearded Women, Alien Philosophers, Lovesick Teens, and the Gospel of Jesus I have just read a chapter in the book which I thought was spot on - it was about morality and how the church has often prioritized morality and living by a set of rules over an encounter with the living faith which comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Miller phrases things beautifully and I am not going to quote large chunks of his prose but commend the book again, despite the shortfalls i mentioned before. One of the things that really struck me was the way he pointed out that the writings of Paul and the early Church don't give the idea that the purpose of the Gospel is to condemn the lifestyles of those outside the church, but to call those of us who are followers of Jesus to live lives which reflect the values of the kingdom of God. Those of us who are Christians are called to live by higher standards, of f

Had something to say but can't remember

Last night, as i drifted off to sleep, I thought of something very interesting to say - at least it was interesting when i thought it - but can't remember it. I would keep a pen and writing pad by my bed for these kind of things, but me turning on the light to write random thoughts would cause great pain, due to me being elbowed by my wife who (rightly) values her sleep without light-based interruptions....

A sermon for advent

Not a sermon written for today, but for the same Sunday three years ago - my sermon slot for this morning was ably covered by some puppets!!!! Readings: Philippians 1.3-11 Luke 3.1-6 Year C Advent 2 Preparing The World Christmas approaches, the shops are packed, decorations are going up, turkeys are being chosen (or nut loaves depending on your preference), carols are being sung, parties are happening, presents are being wrapped, postmen (and women) are complaining, plans are being made, TV guides are being searched for all the best programmes - and into the middle of all this comes a voice: “Prepare the way of the Lord…” It’s not a very loud voice, compared to most of the noise of Christmas, in fact it’s easily missed. It seems to be the quietest voice of all in today’s Christmas - but that doesn’t mean it’s not there - “Prepare the way of the Lord…” It’s so quiet, but it’s insistent, it keeps on calling, even when hidden it keeps calling, even covered in wrapping pape

The real meaning of Advent - apparently

Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

ropey advent sermon?

this is the text of the sermon previously described as 'ropey' - perhaps just reading it back makes me feel less confident about it's structure and style. Actually it is the expanded version, i chopped out all the stuff about cultural change when i preached it, but i quite liked that bit - it just didn't feel like the right thing to say at 8.30am this past Sunday morning... The Urgency of Waiting We've had a lot of weddings in this past year. And there is always a moment in a wedding, and yesterday was no exception when people go from ‘hanging about’ before the start of the service to ‘waiting’. It’s normally just a moment or two before the bride enters (depending on how late the bride has decided to be, of course). There is a sense of expectation, of anticipation – and, no matter how sure we are that there is no chance of the bride not arriving – there is still that feeling of ‘is she coming?’. Of course she is, her decision to be married was made, as was t

Next in line for e-posada

Here's the link for today if you are following the e-posada, see what Lydia has to say and take some time for reflection... Although it's coming up to 10am here in Blighty, Lydia is writing from Canada, so the post might not appear until later... It also gives me the excuse to say 'get thee to a nunnery' (see blog name!)

e-posada for Advent

As part of the e-posada for Advent here are my reflections for my 'hosting day' - following on from Jem's typically thought provoking offering on his blog yesterday - yet at the same time completely different! Faith is better described as a journey rather than a destination. Mary's journey was arduous, painful, and within it came the pain of childbirth and the anxiety of homelessness. And the birth of Jesus wasn't to be the end of her pain, as Simeon said to her 'a sword will pierce your own soul also'. But she was also one of those who saw the resurrection first hand, and knew the joy of bearing the one who brought life to the whole world. Our faith is filled with struggle, with the unknown, with the uncertainty of life. We hold on to the promise of what is to come, and that through this difficulty will come joy. What is crucial to us now is to remain faithful on the journey, and to remember that the end of our searching is Christ. The Alternativ

Not so grumbly - or at least not grumbly about the same things

Thanks for your comments about my last post, it certainly made me feel better. What also made me feel better is that the day yesterday went really well, two Christingle services and a traditional Holy Communion... I thought my sermon was pretty ropey for the HC but the rest of the day was fun and we saw lots of people who wouldn't normally come to Church joining in with all the fun... On top of that the person who grumbled at me on Friday was also the one who called me on Sunday to let me know just how wonderful she thought the service was. I was pretty chuffed to get that, and i think it was a sort of 'implicit apology' thing going on... We brits are pretty bad at actually saying what we think, and would rather just not mention any unpleasantness, thank you very much, ahem. Will post the ropey sermon sometime later. Have felt slightly grumbly today, but only because i have spent the last 24 hours or so trying to get the setup on my new computer sorted (new pc, wahee

Tired and slightly hacked off

An opportunity to let my grumbly side out... Had a very heavy day yesterday, with a really important pastoral event which saw me putting lots of time and a huge amount of energy into a situation which has been going on for a couple of weeks now. It was worth the energy, but left me yesterday feeling very drained - tired out physically, emotionally and spiritually too. I then called someone to talk about one of our Children's services on Sunday, a Christingle, and cheerily said 'i've got everything sorted, collected the collection boxes for charity from the local school, sorted out music & service sheets' and then asked 'do you have any idea who I could ask to do a short reading - i've got the main reader sorted out, but thought a child or two might want to read a short prayer' i was then moaned at for not having done this two weeks ago (co-incidentally when the pastoral event began, as the speaker knew) and despite my protestations that i didn'

NaNoWriMo Failure

So much for getting a Novel written in November! Everything went pear-shaped at the start of the month and i never really recovered, so i am stuck with 1500 words going nowhere and the month is over, c'est la vie. Expressions of sympathy and/or berations will be accepted...

Can't un-learn!

Having read: and really enjoyed it, thought it was nicely written, down to earth style with wit, humour and warmth, accessible, a few things i wouldn't agree with regarding the way he thinks about details of Christian belief, but overall definitely a good to very good book. I thought i would try: Now i can't decide whether i like this or not, it has the same style, but seems to be trying to be clever in a more self-conscious way and (i think) fails - particularly when it comes to Biblical Critique, the idea that the pentateuch and Job was all written by Moses seems to me to be a rather clueless approach to Biblical authorship (though i may well upset some folk by saying this). Anyway, with regards to the book, i still like much of the style, and there are sublime moments in the chapters, particularly the one headed simply 'Jesus', there are still bits to be enjoyed and savoured and there are moments where Miller's turn of phrase is perfect, and he says somethi

Yesterday's sermon

seemed to go down well, though i am not sure it's one of my best, at least written down - it seems to go better when i speak it, as a number of people mentioned how 'enthusiastic' i was, or even 'passionate' according to one member of the congregation... Christ the King (2006) Year B RCL Principal Readings King of All Today is the last Sunday of the Church’s year . Officially the Church year begins on Advent Sunday. But on this last Sunday of the year we have a theme to crown the year, indeed something which brings our focus back to the central belief of Christian faith. Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. So what is this feast? Why do we celebrate it? What difference does – indeed what difference should – it make? In a way it is a celebration that echoes Ascension Day, which marks the end of Eastertide. This long period that we mark as the Sundays after Trinity in the Prayer book and in our lectionary – we call ordinary t


Rumours is a weekly email list which sends stuff out about the readings for the next week. That sounds really boring, its not, it is funny, thought provoking and well worth getting, all you need to do is sign up and you will get Ralph Milton's thoughts for the week, a joke or two, a look at the Psalm for the week, some funny stories, and a variety of bits and bobs which are far more interesting than the usual blurb in the electronic mailbox! Here's his instructions for joining and leaving: To Subscribe: * Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe[at] * Don't put anything else in that e-mail To Unsubscribe: * Send an e-mail to: rumors-unsubscribe[at] * Don’t put anything else in that e-mail I've put [at] instead of the usual symbol to keep those ever present spambots from picking up the address easily... Thanks to moog for that tip... The other thing to remember is make sure your spam filters let rumours in! If you want to see a copy of rumo

Posada for advent

Posada is a tradition of taking figurines of Mary and Joseph home for a night over advent - we're trying it with the kids in our Church fellowship this year, but there is an electronic twist to the tradition being offered this year by Andii Bowsher over at Nouslife blog, sign up for a chance to take part in the first (as far as I know) e-posada ...

Christian Bloggers

Just been asked to join Christian Bloggers, worth a look at...

Greetings and thank you

My sitemeter registers very few details about who comes to this site (you will be glad to know) mainly only numbers, time you stayed and whereabouts you come from - and I'm always glad to see the diversity of visitors, and the different places you're visiting from. It's great to have people from all over the world who take some time to browse these thoughts, I've not travelled much, but I've learnt plenty from all the international friends and colleagues I've had over the years. So greetings to you all wherever you're from and thanks for stopping by. And if I've not had the chance to update things for a few days please do feel free to mooch around, there's plenty in the archives, even some pictures! Mi casa, si casa (or however you spell that!) Oh, and do leave a comment if you have a mo...

A quote

My 'Rural Theology Association' conference on Saturday was excellent, because it was all concerned with Mission... I know that 'Mission' is the in-word in British Christian circles at the moment, but there was a great reminder from the Bishop of Exeter who (quoting someone i can't remember, so anyone who can attribute this please let me know) said 'It's not that the Church of God has a mission, but that the God of Mission has a Church' Apologies if i got that wrong, but the gist of it is clear...

Busy again

Remember how i said in the post about the discipline of 'slowing' that i would probably be posting in a couple of weeks about how busy i am, well this is it. But i thought it worth posting about some of the stuff i've been caught up in doing because i had the interesting and valuable experience of going into the local primary school this morning (on top of visits, meetings etc as usual) and talking about 'death and funerals' with a group of ten year olds. It was interesting to observe how kids get a handle on death in a way that adults don't necessarily manage. They were concerned about what happens to someone when they died, and keen to share what had happened to grandad's or auntie's ashes after they were cremated or where so and so funeral's took place and what happened. I never ceased to be amazed with children's capacity to learn and to deal with things - of course for many the reality of death hasn't yet really 'come home'

More thoughts for this Sunday just gone

As part of our Sunday evening series on 'Jesus and....' - an attempt to get back to basics with looking at what Jesus said and did, i ended up covering for a poorly colleague who was unable to speak on 'Jesus and the Law'. It wasn't a subject i planned to speak on when i chose the titles for the series, in fact I thought that it would be an interesting talk to listen to - but as you'll see in the text below the fact i had to prepare this was quite rewarding in itself. Unfortunately because of other pressures i had to eat into time spent with my friend at Hook over the weekend, and with some of my time with my mum in Devon. In the end, though, i thought what was said came out OK, and the work it took to get it to this stage was very rewarding. Comments welcomed... Been a bit short of comments lately, so here is some incentive to get involved folks! Team Evening Worship Jesus and the Law Two things struck me in preparing this evening’s talk - firstl