Showing posts from 2013

What I've been up to....

It's been a good, thoughtful Advent.  The Advent Doors project which I talked about in my last post have been very well received and highlighted a lot of creative ability within the members of St John the Divine, Victoria . I've also been writing for the staff blog - including a tribute to Nelson Mandel a, some thoughts about changes we are making/have made at the Churc h, about the process of choosing a Bishop for British Columbia (a very different affair from Episcopal appointments in the Church of England) and some reflections on Social Media and retelling the Christmas story . I keep on preaching, with sermons podcast each week, which you are welcome to listen to and comment on.  As an Arch-liberal I a surprised I don't have quite as many responses as I thought I would!  Lots of support here in the congregation! If you want to have a catch up on the Advent Sermons, then here they are embedded... Advent 1 Advent 2 Advent 3 Advent 4

Advent Doors Victoria

Doors of Victoria We are, at St John The Divine, Victoria, offering our own twist on the Advent Calendar.  Thinking about our context, in the heart of this city, and as those who wish to ask questions about meaning, hope, faith and love we are offering online reflections every day through Advent.  Each day sees a picture of a door from somewhere in the Downtown area (or nearby) with a thought based on what the door may represent.  It's a chance to consider some of the delightful and difficult, the festive, the grimy, the thought provoking, the disturbing aspects of our city.  It's not always a comfortable experience looking at ourselves like this - or indeed asking questions about doors which are opened or closed to the most vulnerable, the needy, the privileged, the comfortable, the rich or poor.  Please join us in our reflections.  Here's an introduction to the series .  Also findable on Twitter #AdventDoorsVictoria.

Making space for creativity - silent thoughts from a Quiet Day!

The original title of this post was "Entering Deep Time' - which was the title of a Quiet Day here at St John the Divine today.  It was a day to introduce us to Advent and there was more in it than I could write in a post lasting anything less than a day!  So I just want to give a couple of reflections of my experience today.  And to consider how this is a good start to Advent! First to say that we were treated to a lot of silence - and as those of you who have read this blog for any length of time will know, this has previously been a difficulty for me, but is now a delight!  A previous posting and explanations of my dislike of silence (from way back in 2007) can be found here and  here .  The great revelation of silence being, indeed, somewhat golden can be found here . I have discovered, and it struck me today, that entering into silence can create different reactions at different times.  This may seem obvious to most people, but I hadn't really reflected on it

Jesus is Lord, or King, or say what??!?!?!

We use words, titles, images and ideas in our Christian lingo that perhaps don't mean what we think they mean.  Or what they used to mean.  Or what we want them to mean.  Or what we are afraid they mean. This Sunday is the festival of  'The Reign of Christ', at least that is how it is known in the Anglican Church of Canada. In other traditions it is know as the 'Festival of Christ the King'.  The idea of calling God 'King' is fraught with difficulty, as is the use of so many of the images that many of us who have been immersed in Christian culture for some while tend to use. So I felt the need to preach on some of the difficulties with the image of Christ as King, to touch on the issues of gender and power that come with such a title, to consider exactly what type of ruler we might consider Christ to be, and to respond to a conversation (some might even call it an argument) that has been taking place on my Facebook page following a status I posted a fe

Book Review - Awakening Faith

Every now and then I get books to review - and I am very glad I got this one!  Have enjoyed, and am enjoying it very much...  Here's a copy of the review I added to Awakening Faith - James Stuart Bell Interesting insight into early Christian writings and an inspiring devotional So often, as was the case in my own studies, introductions to that group of bishops, theologians, monks, writers etc that we call 'The Church Fathers' (not so many women, unfortunately) are only found in dense, dry, academic collections; so this gathering of devotions is a pleasant alternative which gives some idea of the breadth and depth of the Church in it's formative years. With a substantial, but not overly taxing, amount of writing for each day (one page) along with a verse of Scripture, there is the opportunity to see something of what these early Christian's were wresting with, considering, praying over and formulating. Remembering that the Bible

A Sermon which upset someone

So, I'm not a theological conservative.  That probably comes across in pretty much everything I write, but I thought I should say it.  I believe myself to be orthodox, however, and hold to those things which the Church expresses in the catholic creeds.  I also have a relatively 'high' theology regarding the inspiration of Scripture. But I am not a Biblical literalist, nor do I hold to a doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture. I can't.  The Bible is too rich, too deep, too difficult, too flawed for that.  And by flawed I mean I understand it to be the record of human beings trying to make sense of God at work.  It has the breath of the Spirit blowing through it's words and on every page, but when we try and make sense of God there is a chance we will go awry.... 'Hey lets condemn (and or murder) pretty much everyone who isn't in our tribe, that's obviously what God wants' kind of awry.  And if we study this book carefully then we see that ideas

On Tattoos, Twitter & Being a "public person"

I have, in the past two days, had some excellent conversations with some very good, creative, thoughtful people.  This is one of the perks of my job, on a good day, the other is that I got to have these meet ups in two of Victoria's best coffee shops (competition is great here, so when I say they are the best, they have to be really good!) - the two shops are Serious Coffee and 2%Jazz - Vancouver Island based purveyors of excellent caffeinated beverages! (No tis not a sponsored post, I just believe in credit where it is due!) It's a huge privilege being able to make time to talk to people about their story, to hear about just how much they have experienced, the skills and talents they have and what they have given and are giving to the life of the Church and community.  And these meetings were humbling examples of that privilege. At one of these coffee based encounters I spent some time talking to one of those responsible for the St John the Divine Twitter & Faceb

As if by magic

Here's Sunday's sermon It kind of links with last week's on grace, plus my post on 'sin', plus my last post on suffering, plus pretty much everything going on in my head at present... Blurb from website: The parable commonly known as the 'unjust steward' is one of the more tricky and difficult of Jesus' stories. Or is it? We wonder what it says about God, but perhaps it isn't trying to say anything. Perhaps it is just an interesting story to ponder. An exploration of the power, purpose and point of parables.

On Suffering

There are some days I really wish I had all the answers. Or just a few more. There have been a number of people who have responded to my blog post last week on Sin, and to my sermon on lost and found on Sunday a week back, and just in general discussions, and a few conversations people have requested.  Most get stuck at the question - how does God allow suffering?  If God is as gracious as I would (boldly and wholeheartedly) proclaim then how can God allow people to suffer? It's not a new question. It's something Theologians and Philosophers have been struggling with for centuries.  Our Hebrew/Christian Scriptures also wrestle with it - as is entirely appropriate for books which contain God's revelation of Godself to humanity.  But there are no easy answers, no pat response.  At least not from where I am sitting. Some traditions will say 'It's all God's will, so it's a mystery'.  I get the second part of that, but I (like so many) don't get t

Back into the old routine (with some help from the Holy Sky Cactus)

This was yesterday's sermon - returning to the Audio Digital age thanks to Chuck! Some background might help with one mention.... We've brought back an 'introduction' to the theme for the day which the young people stay in for (rather than leaving for their own activities/learning/worship during the processional hymn). Yesterday Craig, our Families Minister, carried on the lego theme from last week by updating the 'parables of the lost' to include the lost lego piece - where the nave was searched diligently until the holy sky cactus was found... (see picture of last week's creation below to view the holy sky cactus in place - rh side, in the gap, just below the chap dressed in white, though it has ascended since that picture was taken). So I mention lego in the sermon, at some point, if I remember correctly....

Kickin' It Old Skool

Ok, a made up title to get some attention :-) But there is a reason - since moving to St John The Divine I have had my sermons podcasted, which has meant even less attention has been paid to New Kid Deep Stuff than usual, and attention was, admittedly, pretty minimal anyway. This last week our Sermon poster was beset by tech difficulties and then was away for a few days (well deserved, the guy does TONS of stuff around St John's) so it is time for me to revert to posting my sermon online in the tried and true method. Some background - we handed everyone who came to church a block of lego, and then by the time we started the sermon I asked what they had built... With one block Then our young people gathered the lego together and made this by working together. That might help.   Proper 18 (2013) Year C RCL Principal Jeremiah 18.1-11 Psalm 139.1-5 & 12-18 Philemon  verses  1-21 Luke 14.25-33 Count the cost.  Or not. OK, how’s the lego – have

Whatever happened to sin?

Well, my first post for the Times Colonist went live on the website yesterday .  Those of you who have looked back through these hallowed pages will have read a version of it before a few posts ago, I thought it a relatively good introduction to myself with some reflection on who we think we are and who we project ourselves to be.  But you know what it's about if you either followed the link above or read ' Who Am I? ' below. There was at the time of writing this only one comment, and it is one that has caused me much thought in the past few hours.  It was a response that said 'I see no one who needs fixing or forgiving in any way' and made a case that grace is such that we are who we are and who we are meant to be - at least that is how I read it.  Go look, see what you think and let me know. Whilst I would identify quite strongly with a more liberal understanding of Christian faith, and would consider us to be graced rather than cursed, blessed rather than

Christian Education Canada

A local parish, St Peter & St Paul, Esquimalt, has undertaken to provide, from a number of sources, an online resource of Education for the Anglican Church called Christian Education Canada.  It's a big name, with a big aim, and is just taking shape around online discussions and a Google+ page they are constructing. At the moment videos and records of G+ hangouts are being hosted by the Parish page on Google  - though I think there will be a G+ page for CEC. Well, I have put my two cents worth in and made a pilot video which I hope to expand into some talks on the Creeds.... Actually my gifted and energetic colleague and friend, Craig Heibert , St John's Family Ministry Co-ordinator has.  This has been accepted by CEC and I am just planning to get my head around the idea of how to address the Creed, or indeed which Creed ... I suspect my thoughts will be based on work previously done with colleagues from the Papworth Team Ministry on the Apostle's Creed. Anyway, v

Sunday's Sermon...

Here's Sunday's sermon from last week, I will get around to writing something sometime soon... seem to be rather busy at present.... The blurb for this sermon: Do we make 'Christ in our own image'? Or do we allow Christ to transform us into his image? Following on from the Gospel encounter with a 'daughter of Abraham' in the Synagogue we consider Jesus' relationship with the law, his Jewish roots and a 'true and lively faith' of grace and compassion. 

The Sermon for this week

Another sermon...  This one a bit of an interaction...

The sermon - podcast version

This is me saying what you might have just read if you followed the link from the last post!

My first sermon for St John the Divine

Well, this is it, my opening sermon.  Don't get too excited, it won't win any preaching awards, nor lead to revival in BC, but I wanted to be clear and straightforward for my first Sunday serving in this place.... It will be available as a podcast soon (oooh, I hear you say, or maybe not) Warning, I may have used the opening story before.... Hosea 11:1-11 Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:13-21 Eat Drink and be Merry  ? A priest takes up his new role as rector of a parish. All seems well during his first Sunday service and as people start leaving the minister says goodbye at the door and has the usual 'lovely sermon', 'thanks for joining us', 'welcome', 'glad to have you on board' etc from those leaving, until about ten people along a dishevelled looking man says 'long winded', and 'dreadful voice' and then wanders off back into the church. A few more folk shake hands and say farewell with 'thank you for your words for tod

Who Am I?

What Am I After All What am I after all but a child, pleas'd with the sound of my own name? repeating it over and over; I stand apart to hear--it never tires me. To you your name also; Did you think there was nothing but two or three pronunciations in the sound of your name?                                                                                                       Walt Whitman   (1819-1892) What complex things we human beings are.  At any given moment we combine layers of experience, belief, fear, hope, love, truth, deception and so much more as we present ourselves to the world around.  I love Whitman's poem above, which seems to express something of that complexity of our identity, and encouraging us to consider who and what we are, and not just our external, but our internal complexities. In moving not just from one Parish to another but to another Diocese, and another province, another country, another continent, I have been mulling over this question of

There's no place like....

We're here - Victoria, British Columbia. At least I have an excuse for not having been active on Blogger for a while, I have had no access to a PC for over a month.  This has been a joy and a trial. I have been missing writing generally (which I find much more agreeable with a keyboard and screen) and writing about faith, for sermons, newspaper articles and the (very) occasional blog article particularly! So here we are in sunny Victoria (I am assured this will not always be the case but we are making the most of it while it lasts) and have settled in to our new little home... much smaller than the Vicarages we have been fortunate enough to have since we were married 20 years ago but we are still very fortunate to have..... and I have sworn my Oaths of Alliegance to the Bishop, the Crown, and the Doctrine and Worship of the Anglican Church of Canada. This means I can start work tomorrow I am at the stage where following send off from Five Alive Mission Community, a joyful

The things that make us think...

So, we're leaving the country soon to go to the land of Maple Leaves, Beer, Ice Hockey, Mounties, Moose, Mountains, Bacon, Snow and lots of different stereotypes than those to which we are used... stereotypes which seem to be drifting sadly towards intolerance, racism, poverty and a dismantled social welfare system...though I prefer the Tea, Vicars, Cucumber Sandwiches and lovable Cockerneys of bygone eras! Such a move is bound to create lots of very mixed feelings and the odd sensation, more so than previous moves, that things are being done 'for the last time' in this particular context. For example, as an Anglican Clergyperson in England I am legally bound to perform the weddings, funerals and baptisms (colloquially known as 'hatch, match and dispatch') of anyone who lives within the borders of our parishes - though there are some conditions on these things, it is pretty much an expectation that the local 'Parish Church' will perform these function

Another review - Next Generation Leader

I've been enjoying listening to audiobooks as I have travelled around lately, and am fortunate to be a part of ChristianAudio's reveiw panel, so here is my latest review: Andy Stanley - Next Generation Leader After spending a fair amount of my Masters reading books on leadership I can honestly say I wish I'd had this one to refer to! A warm, practical and spiritual guide to what makes a good leader tick and a good grounding for all of us called to any form of leadership in business or ministry. One of the pleasant aspects of this book is how Stanley's advice, rooted firmly in Biblical narrative, is transferable between 'sacred' and 'secular' occupations. It's makes clear yet unforced connections between our own integrity as Christians and our ability to function as effective leaders. Many books of this type seem to try and shoehorn Biblical examples into contemporary living, whereas Andy Stanley uses the stories and characters of Scripture to b

Pentecost Thought For the Week - audio

Here's my bit for the paper, and for the first time ever... it is in advance! listen to ‘Pentecost thought’ on Audioboo

A Sermon for Pentecost!

Woohoo - it's celebrate Church day! Here are my thoughts and words from this morning, at least the script - there was a fair amount of departure from said script! Year C Pentecost (2013) RCL Princpal Acts 2.1-21  Genesis 11.1-9 John 14.8-17,25-27 Celebrating Church Today is a celebration – a day to celebrate Church!  Not a phrase we use very much – hooray let’s celebrate Church is not the usual attitude I have experienced in my years of ministry.  And for those of us in the business of leading within the Church our minds are more often than not on ‘how’ we are doing Church in any given week and how the component parts are going to fit together when we get there! It’s not often, I suspect, that any of us really think about what it means to be Church and why we ‘do’ Church.  We just get on with it – sometimes struggling, sometimes anxious about what is going to happen. So to hear the stories of Scripture – the amazing start of the Church at Pentecost,

A Thought For The Week - on Clutter and distractions!

The title says it all :-) listen to ‘Clutter thought’ on Audioboo

A Review of Sinner's Creed audio Download

This is a surprisingly honest, thoughtful, reflective account of the Creed frontman's experience. From the vivid opening statement of a 'fall from grace' (and from the balcony of a hotel) through the rollercoaster of Scott Stapps life this is an honest, intelligent reflection on the story of a creative, thoughtful, troubled soul. A more cynical listener might dismiss this as Stapps trying to explain his reasons why all of the criticisms levelled at him are unjustified. If one listens carefully, though, there is an almost brutal honesty about his own failings, the pain he has felt and darkness that has often been overwhelming in his life. The big surprise is how articulate Stapps is about his own faith and life - obviously he's a creative singer and writer, but the way he is able to talk openly about an abusive father, substance addiction, his own 'hero complex' and rejection of narrow Church experience is a revelation. This six and a half hour opus i

It's all about the blogging baby...

Well, it does seem that today I have overdone things...  Whilst I have the impetus I am making the most of it... So here is a thought for the week listen to ‘Mindfulness and love’ on Audioboo

We Have Been Away For A Little While

.... but now we are back A little bit of Trek humour there, with words from the Romulans in Star Trek The Next Generation.... Though we might question the merits of bringing the Romulans back anyway... but I digress... Yes yes yes, it has been a while, amazing how time flies.  The irony being that this Lent, during which I didn't managed to blog once, I set out to have a slower, more reflective approach to this season of penitence and praye. It turned out that it was my busiest most frenetic Lenten season ever so all of my hopes of thoughtful blog posts disappeared, as have the weeks!  Now we are nearly at the end of the Easter Season and once again the time which seemed to abundant weeks ago has slipped by. So much for all my 'mindfulness' practise, my 'slowing' and indeed my 'praying'.  Not that I haven't been praying, but not in the centred, reflective way I was expecting to.  Which leads me again to question both the wisdom of my own model

Too good not to post

It has (again) been awhile, I could have spent hours writing up the experiences of the past few weeks but have been processing them rather than proclaiming them.  Maybe I'll come back soon, but for now, this moving piece of poetry is too good to miss.  It was taken from The Blog of Kevin and comes from the remarkable Saying Goodbye Charity that is there for those who dealing with the loss of a baby.  There is lots in this short video that deals with the theme of loss for any of us, and it is beautifully put!

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

listen to ‘Proud of my children thought’ on Audioboo

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   Genesis 15.1-12,17-18 Philippians 3.17  -  4.1 Luke 13.31-35 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]

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