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Showing posts from April, 2007

A thought for this week

This week's sermon, for your delight and delectation. Or rather, as usual, the start, with more if you wish to follow the link at the end... Easter 4 (2007) Year C RCL Principal Readings Acts 9.36–end Psalm 23 Revelation 7.9–end John 10.22–30 Feeling sheepish In the songs that we sing in Sunday club and in our all-age services we sing a lot about animals, and a lot about what kind of Animals we’d like to be. There’s lots to do with ‘strong as a lion’ or ‘graceful as a bird’. There’s the great chorus ‘If I were a butterfly’ which contains the wonderful line ‘if I were a fuzzy-wuzzy bear, I’d thank you Lord for my Fuzzy-wuzzy hair’. Anyway, the natural world has often inspired Christians to write hymns or poems that use images of animals to describe our human characteristics. But no-one, as far as I know, has ever written a song called ‘if I were a fluffy sheep’. Sheep are not the most inspiring of creatures, in lots of ways, for most people, but they remain an enduring i

A lesson here somewhere?

It is interesting to note (well, it's interesting to me to note and as I am doing the noting that means it is interesting per se) that the most comments I have received for a post recently came in the post where I posted how little time I had to post and how little I had to say! Thank you to the gracious bloggers who said not to worry about posting. And to Jennyhaha for the nomination for a thinking blogger award - I may well do the same thing again when i get around to having time to link to five more bloggers! Thanks too to Quilly for the comments on this morning's post - I did notice the typo but decided to ignore it and not edit the post in the hope that some clever person would think of something to say about Easter Europe! Quilly gets the unofficial award for smartest blogger on a Saturday Morning, a round of applause everyone, please!

Vroom Vroom

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Amongst all the other joys of this week, which as you might have guessed seems to have filled up with a fair amount of busy-ness, my car decided that the Lord was calling it home, probably to offer assistance to a couple of Archangels who needed a big chunky Volvo to get them about the celestial spheres a bit. After a rather embarassing 15 minutes which saw it stuck across the road outside my driveway - blocking traffic and refusing to start again! I decided this wasn't the kind of reliable car it once was, and having done quite a lot of work on it over the past few months the cost of continuing to repair stuff until the next thing went wrong was just a bit too much. So we bought a new car I went down to London yesterday to a massive 'car supermarket' called Cargiant which spreads over 23 Acres in West London and chose, then bought, a Skoda Octavia 1.9 Elegance TDi - not a car most folk outside of Europe would be familiar with, but built in Easter Europe by a company wholl

Nothing to say and no time to say it in

It has been a very busy few days, and I know I say that a lot, but I just want to say why I'm not blogging much at the moment. Also I made the mistake of going to the local gym and exercising frenetically after Church on Sunday which has given me a bit of neck ache, which doesn't help on the 'thinking clearly front' so rather than post lots of pointless moany posts I thought it better to just leave things for a few days. Who knows, I might even have something to say...

It's Sunday

...so there must be a sermon about somewhere et voila, c'est ici ... (well, the full text is, a taster below so you can decide whether or not it is worth the effort of clicking to go to my 'new kid deep stuff' page to read the whole thing.) A quick note, though, to say that this is a very contextual sermon, I wrote it (I think with some help from God) for my service this morning with something of our vision and calling in this fellowship in mind. From the feedback I got, I'm pretty sure it was the sermon I was meant to preach this morning - and it's not always that i can say that! ‘Do you love me’ There are two ways in which we could interpret Jesus’ question to Peter from our Gospel this morning ‘Do you love me more than these?’ Firstly Jesus might be asking Peter, as many translations seem to suggest. ‘Peter, do you love me more than the others here do?’ Perhaps asking him if he is able to bear the responsibility placed on him when Jesus said ‘You will be

Can't believe I missed Tom

Should have put Tom in my list of thinking bloggers! His site is great, often funny, thoughtful, deep and also relevant. he is also cool due to being a biker and giving me the opportunity to use the phrase 'wind and rain in yer nads' in a public forum... Out of context that might seem a bit rude, so read the post and the comments here ... Actually, just go and read the blog , it's great. I really enjoyed his most recent post , and felt very affirmed in my vocation with his comments on 'laymen, pastors and the great unwashed masses' (Is that last one some kind of Holy Communion for Roman Catholics who don't bathe? Hope a whole post dedicated to the kudos laden being that is Tom makes up for skipping him in an almost inexcusable way from my list of Thinking Bloggers...

Think again

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Nick, of Nick's Sanctuary has nominated me for a thinking blogger award. Despite not getting a shiny trophy or financial reward I am very pleased to have been nominated. It's a kind of compliment wrapped up in a meme, the origins of which can be found here . In return for being nominated I am expected to link to five other blogs which are deserving of the award. As anyone who reads regularly will know i hold a number of bloggers in very high regard, even if I might not agree with them! I believe Dr John and Jenny haha have been nominated before so from my regular links and from the world of blogging generally here are five blogs that make me think Brian comes in first, despite the fact that he told me he's already feeling bored of blogging... Or doesn't want to get sucked into it too much. I still like what he writes and there's plenty to think about in his posts. Next is Jeff , who may think this a dubious nomination, but i love reading his blog, even when

Blog talkers on time!

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Hooray, blog talkers for the week it was intended... Do you think it’s the government’s responsibility to take care of the people? Why or why not? Hmmmm, this is obviously posted with whatever is going on in the USA election wise at the moment in mind, though we will be having local elections in a month or so. As far as I'm concerned it's everyone's responsibility to take care of everyone else! I believe this to be not only a biblical imperative but a human one. We live in community, or we should, and we separate ourselves from others to our own detriment. Obviously Jesus said we should love our neighbours and in the famous parable of the good Samaritan extended that beyond religious and racial grounds - the same parable has a very practical side to it, as the Samaritan actually takes care of the injured traveller and pays for his rest and respite. I have a left wing streak that compels me to say that those who have money have a responsibility to use it to care for those

A quick thought

I am grateful for Andrew's comments on my previous posting, and hope everyone realised that my heading was somewhat tongue in cheek! I think that debate and disagreement is a good thing, and i know that much of my thinking has been inspired, and many of my attitudes challenged, by those with whom i thought I disagreed. That doesn't mean, I hope, that I am blown about by every wind of doctrine (!) (cf Ephesians 4.14) that pops up, but that i listen, and hopefully am in the process of discernment of where God wants me to be. So, thank you to Andrew , and to Nick , and to Tom for comments, and for the opportunity to think a bit more about what we believe. I'm not sure it is a theological hair-splitting, but perhaps says something more about our approach to God - though obviously when it comes down to it God is unknowable, unsearchable and beyond definition! Fortunate that God has been good enough to share something of himself through Scripture, really, and made manifest f

Hello everyone

After such a bold, and rather negative, heading at the start of my last post, i thought i should replace it with a nice cheery greeting (see above for details). It is three in the afternoon here in blighty and i am certainly back at work! The morning was spent in a meeting with colleagues trying to sort out exactly what needs to be done over the next week or so, until our next meeting when we do the same thing... At least, as I've mentioned before, i have great colleagues who are all very humourous... Favourite joke of the morning is 'why are churches like helicopters - because people keep away in case they get sucked into the rotors' (rotas, geddit) What made it even more amusing was that in a fit of not being connected to reality I said 'because people keep away in case they get sucked in to the the blades....' that did cause great amusement amongst my workmates. Since the meeting ended i seem to have been on the phone or sending/receiving emails constantl

I am a liberal heretic...

apparently just read on another blog that due to agreeing with Jeffrey John I am a dodgy liberal... it's a new one on me, my nickname at theological college was 'the evangelical'. I may have a broader understanding of the nature and shape of scripture than some, but i do try to keep things biblical! Well, in times of persecution (tongue in cheek, I thought Andrew's words were a well expressed counter to my post and certainly wouldn't want to condemn them, it's a view I held for many years and one i am in the process of thinking through biblically, I may yet come back to the same place as him) I remember the words of Karl Barth (my favourite theologian) who, when asked to sum up all of his great works over many years in the Reformed Evangelical Church, said 'Jesus loves me this I know, 'cos the Bible tells me so'. Amen to that brother! Until God sorts me out, i will continue to 'preach Christ, and him crucified'.

Blog talkers last week

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On the catch up again, i like this one, partly because it is so easy to respond to... ...harder to live by. What three main rules, standards, or morals do you live by? Well my answer is straightforward and comes straight from Jesus! This is not to try and sound all 'high-fallutin'' but because as one of the first Bible verses i ever learnt off by heart this has had a profound effect on my life for as long as I can remember. Mark 12.29-31 29 Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 31 The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ This was Jesus' response to the question 'what is the greatest commandment' but i do think it breaks down into three parts (rather handily) Love God - with everything you are, no limits

Away again

I have been away for a few days recharging my batteries and spending lots of time with my wonderful family and fantastic in-laws. Sun, sea, sand, sausages and all... So that's why I've not been blogging. thanks for those of you who have been visiting anyway and reading some of my previous posts. I have lots to say, but as I've only just got back will not be saying it for a few days. Will catch up with you later! On thing worth mentioning is that I am reading this excellent book... Lots I want to say about it, it was the ABofC's lent book 2006 (that's the kind of up to date guy I am) and is very good indeed. I'm not going to go into details now, maybe later. Check it out, though, it is well worth it.

Last week's blog talkers

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The question for discussion, a week late, but Holy Week was too busy and I really like this question ... Tell us something significant (either a memory, something learned from that time period, a person who made an impact on you, an event, etc) about your teenage years. It has to be a person, a guy called Peter Halse. This man wasn't a superhero or anything, he was a normal chap, a successful businessman, a family man and a member of the Church I grew up in, Honiton Congregational Church. Peter took on the youth and children's work with his father, John Halse. By the time I started attending Sunday School John was quite old, though continued with his ministry until he was very old! Peter took on the mantle from his father, and took on the older 'lads group' - the Covenanters. This was an 11-16s group and took place alongside the usual Sunday Church services with a social evening during the week. Peter was a shining example of a normal Christian - someone deeply ded

Seems like a bit of a step backwards but.....

i read the text of a talk given recently by Jeffrey John , Dean of St Alban's Cathedral, which was one of a series of Lent talks - so having had Easter it seems a bit odd going back to Lent! This talk deals with the obsession with penal substitutionary atonement that has become a mainstay of certain wings of the Church - the belief that on the cross Jesus was being punished (by God!) for sin. I have to say that I don't think this is the only way of looking at what went on in the crucifixion - nor has the Church always seen this as the only interpretation. And it is there that the crunch comes, when wings of the Church cannot accept that there is any other way of looking at the Scriptural material that we have been blessed with. It is a mixed blessing, because there are so many that say 'my way' or 'my tradition's way' or 'the founder of our denomination's way' is the only way to see Scripture... I believe that Jesus paid the price for sin, b

Happy Easter!

As you may have guessed, things have been a little busy around here, but i have had a fantastic day and we have been celebrating Christ's resurrection in style! Well, in an Anglican style! I have had the chance to rush around being late for services, trying to fit too much in, then had a great afternoon and a good british roast with good friends, including a new friend, my mate Jem's fiance!. A relaxed evening with an episode of Dr Who (continuing theme of resurrection there) and now just a chance for a quick blog to wish you all a happy Easter! Jem said something about the service this morning reflecting a commitment to everyday faith, filled with joy but recognising the hardships of serving these communities, but still showing a commitment to ministry in these places. What a great reflection of what we try to do, from someone who's wisdom i respect and value. Affirmation indeed. I hope the reality of the risen life of Christ is yours today and always. Alleluia, Ch

Good Friday

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down fro

Lack of devotion

sorry, that should read Lack of Devotion s It is Holy Week, in case anyone was in any doubt about that, and it is the time of year when deep thoughts should be thunk and spiritual things should be dwelled upon, but I've not got time to think about that as my HW observances mean that I'm taking a service every night alongside the usual meetings and visits which I am trying to keep up. Oh, and a funeral which i finished a couple of hours ago (hence previous thoughts). It's all going well, but there hasn't been the time for meditation and stillness such as we encourage our congregations to indulge in over this time. The service last night (a Holy Communion with prayers for Penitence) was moving and powerful, tonight's Holy Communion with prayers for healing is always a valuable and thoughtful service, so I am feeling spiritually well nourished, but as for quiet and devotional time that's lacking a bit, so if you want some deep thoughts for Holy Week you'll

What's the most important thing about funerals?

Now, I wonder how many bloggers talk about funerals ? Perhaps its something I should google when i have a few minutes to spare? I guess as they are such an important and striking part of life that a number of people talk about them, but I do wonder how many of us who actually end up doing them talk about them online? There was a conversation about them at Dr John's place recently, and I was impressed by the approach some Churches have to this ministry, though things are very different in the U.S. to what we can do here. Enough speculation. Back to the question at the head of this post. It's not an entirely rhetorical question so comments are invited! My answer will follow below. I'm not going to go into much detail, as the bereavement ministry us ministers offer is a very personal one (or should be) and it's enough to say that I've had a run of funerals lately, some of which have been easier than others to put together and to lead, all of which have taken a

Managing Expectations

I didn't post a sermon this week because I didn't actually write one, but preached 'off the cuff' (or 'by the Spirit' depending on your level of faith!). But it struck me reading the Gospel of the Palms at the beginning of our service and then the Gospel of the Passion in the middle (this was the main morning service) how the expectations people had of Jesus were seriously thwarted and how this led to their major turnaround between the entry into Jerusalem and the the calls of 'crucify him' on that Good Friday morning. Many expected Jesus to be a sort of religious Rambo, blasting into Jerusalem and ridding the nation of the hated Roman Occupiers. Jesus didn't satisfy their expectations at all - no riding on a warhorse, no shiny chariot, no rousing speeches. Many expected him to be a miracle worker, with a trick for every occasion - but when there were no blind who could see again, or walking lame people, or revived dead folk, on the road into Jeru