Saturday, 31 December 2011

TWTYTW- It's over now let it go!

One of the biggest things with the Christian faith is the very important issue of forgiveness.

We have the forgiveness of God who, as Jesus the Christ, comes to earth and pays the price so that we might be declared 'justified' (that is 'innocent'). Our sins are pardoned, forgiven and therefore just as we see the Father doing, so too should we be doing also. This, of course, means that forgiveness is a big part of who we are and how we behave towards one another.

So here, where I am, it is almost a quarter to ten and the church building is reverberating to the sound of music and the tables are full of good things and as we approach the finishing line for yet another year it is time to ask God to forgive us all that we have done wrong and for all that we have failed to do.

It is a time to reflect upon our shortcomings and celebrate on the , many more, successes and blessings that 2011 brought to us (and us to it).

It is a time to reflect on those who might have hurt us, accidentally, intentionally and perhaps without knowing and to lay everything that we might have against them, thinking that perhaps somehow we have the right, at the foot of the Cross praying that they will be blessed and a blessing in the year that is almost upon us.

And so Father God, I pray that you will make me a little more sensitive, a little slower to act and slower still to judge. Help me to be quicker to come alongside those with needs. Help me to be less judging and more caring, less about self and more about selflessness.

As we approach the coming year we look to Jesus, the Messiah and the fact that as we enter 2012 His second advent is that little bit nearer than it was this time last year. We ask that He will help us to be more like Him and that others will see more of Him and less of us than they did in 2011.

May God bless, enable and surround you, and those you love, with His grace, love and mercy and strengthen you to be His witnesses in all that we do in 2012.

And to those who have journeyed with me in church, blog and so many other ways - thank you for your prayers, patience and support. As a friend once said (of the year quite a few years back, but no less true tonight, for tonight) 2012 is going to be a very exciting year! Hallelujah!

Blessings

That Was The Year That Was

And how many of us will learn from it? Well I think I just might.

I am sure that the people who came into my consciousness because of the often repeated mistakes in their life are destined to continue to repeat them in 2012 and this leads me into a few differing thoughts as I pray for them and their situation.

A colleague once told me (paraphrased here), "The idiots, the needy, the frivolous and the useless will always be with us. The key is to look like we are engaged but to avoid getting embroiled with them as much as we can. That way those outside will assume we are doing something and the 'idiots' will believe we'd like to do more but are merely just a little busy!"

Seems to me that this is one of the biggest problems with many people's perception of the Church in general. After all, is it any wonder that we are considered to be a nice bunch of generally ineffective people if the words of my colleague are commonplace? If those who work within the Church are working as hard to look like they are engaged as they do to be engaged is it any wonder that we struggle so much?

Another interesting conversation this year centred around the idea that eighty percent of our energy should be expended to keep us in tune with God and on a well-balanced personal path. The remaining twenty percent was to be used to do services and assist where assistance could be provided without diminishing the 'karma' (my word) of the minister concerned. "It's all about me and my walk first and then what is left is there for the others. What's better, a church that is full of flourishing and happy people or knowing that you have a walk with God that honours, talks with and generally revolved around Him for you? Thriving people or thriving pastor - take your pick!"

An excellent stance, after all being 'right with God' is everything, isn't it? Well it is, but not at the expense of those you (apparently) are called to shepherd.

A third colleague just disappeared from engaging with other churches and their leaders because they wanted to keep away from the 'sinners' and the immoral members, those who engaged in liberal thinking and the like. "Better to expel the immoral brethren," they cried, "Than to fall into their sinful ways!"

A right stance indeed. Better to protect your heart (and the hearts of those you lead) than to expend energy and engage with the people who act, think and live contrary to Scripture as you understand it. That way at least you will be assured of paradise whilst those you ignored will be . . . err, oh yeah, heading for hell with you in tow because you failed to warn them! Perhaps it's not the right way after all then?

Three facets from the gem that is Christian living from 2011 that I will be learning from and which will see me (continue I hope) to:

1. Be engaged with those who are foolish enough to be human and frail,

2. Working to keep my own walk in the footsteps of jesus, the Christ, but encouraging, supporting and enabling those who are church where I am and are Church even where I am not, and

3. Continuing to correct those who have fallen into sin in ways that restore them, gently, and ensure that in so doing I do not sin either.

So here's three lessons from 2011 that I have learned - what about you and the people you have met I wonder. What hat you learned and what have you taught others (good or bad)?

Pax

Friday, 30 December 2011

Church - WTF?

This picture, which was gleaned (ie. pinched) from the Church Sofa is one of those made me laugh out loud (LOL) moments:

It sort of says it all and yet leaves something to be gleaned from those who might otherwise view the Church a little negatively too!


Oh happy day

Pax

Tamworth Borough Council - A tip of the hat

I often find myself frustrated by the actions of government (local and national) and many of the statutory bodies but when you see something done, and done well, it is only right and proper that you acknowledge it. So I am giving a round of applause to the housing department of Tamworth Borough Council (TBC) for their managing to provide a solution for one of the homeless (they do exist in Tamworth despite the claims of some that there are none!) and provide it well.

Not only that but they managed to do it the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) and did a thoroughly professional job in the walk round and hand over phase of the process too.

I need also to recognise the work of Bromford in the whole process.

It is good to see the system work and work well - not always the case I'm sure but when it does it needs to be recognised because after all, the whole area of housing is one of depleted social housing stock, people trying to portray things as they aren't and great competition, all of which adds up to pressure for those who are employed at the coal face. So to them - THANK YOU for a job well done.

Pax

So who's naked?

This morning I heard one of my favourite Warren Buffet quotes used in a news item:

"You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

This erudite observation is one that I immediately took to myself as it concisely acknowledged a reality that I too have noted and also commented on, but less politely perhaps. For I have stood shoulder to shoulder with people in a variety of settings and sat in gatherings (or merely watched or read about them) and thought to myself, "This is someone who is going to fall majestically,"" or perhaps more uncharitably, "Wow, what a snake oli salesman this one is!".

I have watched (and even worked with) some of the 'big hair, big teeth, flashy gold' televangelists and sighed as tattoo-bedecked 'biker' styled preachers peddled their wares. I have seen those wonderfully sound, and controlling, Christians who have folded at the first crisis within their life. I have seen those who preached on a Sunday but for the rest of the week displayed their weakness.

It is an interesting reality that to some degree all of us are naked, but some of us acts as is this were not the case and never give a thought to whether or, more accurately, when the tide will turn. There are so many that I encounter in and out of church life who enjoy today without fear of what might be exposed when that which covers their nakedness is removed.

So as we head towards a new year can I be a little cheeky and ask you what the tide is covering for each of us?

As we preach, pontificate and puff ourselves up can I ask what there is that we would rather is not exposed to the gaze of all should the tide turn and can I suggest that we seek to clothe ourselves in righteousness to redress the paucity of our own reality?

Now I know that that which is past is past but we can learn from it, repent of it, as forgiveness for it and resolve never to repeat those past follies. I know that we are 'all weak' but that is merely acknowledging a reality not embracing an excuse which provides a caveat which allows us to continue.

The tide is turning - what's covering your nakedness I wonder?

Pax

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Looking to Epiphany

St Stephen's Day has passed and as we move towards Epiphany, via Holy Innocents tomorrow, I have been sitting thanking God for the waning year with the Wurzels singing 'White Christmas' in the background (R4 'Loose Ends') and thoughts of triumphs, tragedies and confusion aplenty.

The Wise men, Magi, three Kings (or is it four?) are still journeying and have another thirteen days before they reach the holy infant (you don't have yours in the nativity scene yet, do you?) and as I think of them I think of the whole business of making Christ known to those who have no relationship with God. Let's be fair there are quite a few of them so we, potentially, have our hands full.

It was this that got me thinking about the numbers of people out there and their needs. Not just that but the reality that we have more people, numerically and percentage-wise, who are unevangelised now than when Christianity first hit our shores. This thought led me back to the 40-40-20 situation:

I find the 40-40-20 representation of the population quite helpful:

40% being 'unchurched', that is having no understanding or experience of Church.

20% being 'dechurched' (which means may have had churchgoing in the family, usually Grandparents, been to wedding, baptism, funeral or Christmas/Easter and not warm towards the Church to the point of being negative and antagonistic towards it.

20% being 'dechurched' (like those above) but are generally warm (or at least not negative) towards the Church.

10% attend but are perhaps not committed or understanding what Church is (come because they have always come perhaps?).

10% attend and have an understanding and are engaged with Church (also known as 'members' and are the troops in this campaign of making Christ known).



So Epiphany, the time when those not knowing are made aware, could that be true for some now because we are aware and active?

Pax

Monday, 26 December 2011

Cavedwellers forum - a response

The forum that is to be found at http://www.cavedwellers.co.uk/forum/index.php was supposed to be a place that provided people with the ability to discuss things without the awful name-calling and finger-pointing that I have encountered in so many other forums (not all Christian either). nb. It is 'forums' and not 'fora' according to the clever Oxbridge language type on R4 a few years back) of a supposedly Christian nature.

It has a few members but hasn't really taken off for a number of reasons, perhaps the biggest being that unless there is a secure-looking email address (and I check the addresses with various of the anti-spam utilities) the person applying just doesn't get in.

So in answer to the comment posted today (or perhaps yesterday, not sure which but it was one of them) the answer to your question is "Yes' we'd love more people to come and play but unless you can be validated (SaucyFrenchUnderwear is not an account name that likely to make the cut) and don't have an email address ending in .ru or some gibberish name, chances are you'll get in! Of course I might well have messed up the approval thing as some days there are a great many weird and wonderful names and addresses applying and if this is the case, I wholeheartedly apologies.

And if you want to, what will you find?

It's a place where liturgy, theology, sport, general stuff, prayer (about and for each other) and many other things can be found. It's a place where we can disagree but we do so politely and reasonably such that we learn, teach or merely work from a place of common understanding. It's not liberal (although we have some who would consider themselves liberal) it's not fundamental in the worst understanding of the term. It is a place where people across a wide spread of church can discuss and engage and from that dialogue be both blessed and a blessing.

Who on earth could ask for more?

So there you are anon - an answer for your question. I have posted it today as a blog entry so that it might come back onto your radar (assuming you might look at this blog as you wrote on it) and perhaps to answer others who might have tried, or thought of trying, and wondered what happened.

I hope this helps,

V

Wowan the Barbarian

Seems that the image on the right  (posted as Christmas Cards - 1)
has touched just a few nerves if the comments I have received thus far are anything to go by:

i. That is a DISTURBING photo

ii. DO NOT post this picture again. It's Christmas. I shall post the antidote in my news feed for any disturbed ladies

iii. Yuk! :(

iv. The same lady returned later to add: In fact, double double double YUK!

v. The worst thing about this photo is on the preview on my phone all you could see was the chest, so you think "oh hello there" and click and then... No, just.... No, NO, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

vi. The worst pic of the year, not a good thing to see, should come with a warning x

vii. This picture has made me suffer. I laughed so much I spilled my coffee in my lap!

ix. Somehow it rings true as the altar ego of this intelligent and humble man. Bet he would love this.

x. If only - I love his brain and with a body like that I'd be camping outside Lambeth Palace!

So it seems that whilst you can't please everyone, you can at least please some (hallelujah?)

As for comment the second. She followed it up with:

For any ladies disturbed by Vic's photo manipulation of the Arnie Conan the Barbarian, I give you the scrummy Jason Momoa (Conan 2011).

But what's he like theologically I ask myself?

The Ultimate Christmas Clerical Creation?

One of the local minister popped in to our building yesterday to wish us a happy Christmas and, as is the case each year, he was wearing his latest Christmas Clerical Creation and, as is the case each year, it was something quite out of the ordinary. That said, I think this year Heather, the creator and stitcherer, has reached the pinnacle.

Take a look at our Model, Henry (sorry girls, he's taken), and this year's wonderful offering:



So this lays down the gauntlet, can you equal of better this (I'd be very surprised if the answer is 'Yes' but who knows, perhaps Mary Quant is a church member! I'd love to see what others have done because next year I might just move up a notch from my usual, in the light of Henry's shirt, 'boring' position and engage in a more festive manner.

I trust everyone had a great Christmas Day and that today will be one of recovery and continued celebration.

Pax

Sunday, 25 December 2011

And so it IS Christmas

Up before seven and bed around two but there's nothing that can take away from the fact that it is indeed Christmas morning and even though the house is quiet and still (if you ignore Mrs Vicarage sorting out the first stages of today's Christmas Lunch that is), a far cry from the days when our children were little.

The church building has been given a final tidy and the burner (Frankincense) lit, it's warm (19 degrees) and the table is laid awaiting the first worshippers of the day and so, as i drink my tea and do daily office and fold service sheets (all six of them - powerpoint is the order of the day here) my mind turns to those people who will be experiencing the difficulties of a first Christmas without a loved one. That empty chair forlornly proclaiming the absence amongst the family to all who might see it.

And so I pray that God will touch all those who mourn and will soothe the pain of loss and bring comfort and cheer.

Then I think of those who are serving in our forces across the world. For their safety and for the families who will have an empty space because of their service. For them as they down yet another ration pack and patrol the streets, catch up on sleep and attend services and carry on life as life is whilst away. For those who will make calls home today to expectant and hopeful families and for those who won't have the chance.

I pray that they will kept safe and that those who have sent away their loved one to another place in pursuit of peace will find the peace of God in their activities today.

Next there are those who will be waking this morning to a life that is shattered by broken relationships. Some will be in their own home or in the home of a friend or family member, these are the fortunate ones, and others will find themselves in hostels, B&B or perhaps homeless.

For those who will not have a family to spend their day with, are not going to see their children and will find their Christmas solitary and hard-going.

I pray that God will touch them with His message of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.

For the families of those who are ill or suffering at this time, the parents of a young boy whose story I heard of last night who is ill in hospital from life-threatening head injuries, for those who have 'been sprung' for a couple of days to enjoy Christmas with family, for those who remain in hospital.

I pray for them that they will find within their situation an oasis of God's compassion and healing, a moment of peace and some joy amidst the difficulties that surround them.

And I pray for those who will be working today, the blue light services, medical personnel, utility workers and the so many others who will be in their workplace just like any other day that they might have a quiet day and a day where God's love and the magic of Christmas and its message touches them.

And for each and every one of us I pray that we will find some time and space to make Christ the reason for today and the source of peace, joy and delight.

Blessings

Christmas Card - 1

And for the final Christmas Card, here's one to wow both the ladies, the theologians and the Wowan the Barbarian fans in one fell swoop as we celebrate Christmas is style (well, a sort of style):


A most splendid Christmas indeed

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 25

Huzzah - we've reached the end of the trail as we enter Christmas day and what better way to finish than this Jeffrey John (Dean of St Albans, or was it Elton John? Never quite sure as they are so very similar) lookalike kit:

Mind you, could be Edna Everage as well!

A very blessed and joyful Christmas to you all

Blessings

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Card -2

I rather like this understated card design as it brings with it the opportunity to include inside a brief account of the journey toBethlehem, the birth and the babe who is Jesus, the Christ.

Not only that but it is a great change from the usual run of the 'trying to be clever' artworks in that it is visually enjoyable and theologically full of potential:


Pax

(Getting excited yet? We are having got the church building ready and all the spuds, brussels, carrots and the like ready for lunch tomorrow (no, wasn't me what did it) and it looks like we could have 55 coming tomorrow!).

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 24

OOh, a Christmas gift that has it all - we've had Jesus and Santa together but now we've reached the pinnacle of Christmas Kitsch with The blessed pair, a snow globe (to remind us of that cold winter's night in Bethlehem) and music too!

Pity it's too late for the Christmas post - would have been happy to see the Post Office, break, lose or otherwise do something naughty with this one (or would I? I am, after all, only human)!

And so it is Christmas (well Nearly)

And where are we I wonder?

Are we in awe of the miracle that is God made man as we enter the last twenty-four hours or are we merely treading the same annual path that leads us to the singing of 'Yea Lord we greet thee, born this happy morning'? It is so easy to lose the fervour, wonder and awe that we once had for the Christmas feast just as it is easy to forget the excited giggles as you and your cousins settle down to await the coming of the gentleman with the sleigh. The wonder of an eight year old turns slowly into the duty of one with an eight year old (or in our case 11,13,15 and 17) and the realisation that as much as we try, we cannot relive our childhoods no matter how we try.

Can I explain the virgin birth? No, not at all. Parthenogenesis is something I cannot claim to have gotten a handle on, but as I approach the time set aside to remember our Saviour's birth (and to be fair, it doesn't matter when it really is. What is important is that we celebrate the fact that He came and that we do it with all the others who call themselves Christian. We could do it in July, which would be handy as the shops are a bit quieter them, it wouldn't matter for what is important is that we keep the feast!

Can I prove that it happened? Well I can point to the conjunction of stars, constellations and planets and extrapolate back to show that the 'bright star in the sky' was a reality and that a bloke called Jesus apparently came into the world in the right place at the right time and in the right whatever to make so many prophecies that had been made (and not recent prophecies) all come together. Then again I don't need to prove it for it is up to those who would deny the existence of God, the reality of Christ and whatever to bring to me the concrete evidence that it didn't - this is their right and duty if they wish to make such claims. Mine is merely to stand in that which I understand to be true and enjoy it until such time that someone can prove me, and it, wrong.

Can I look at the services, written, run through and meticulously prepared for and see them as merely 'another service'? No I cannot, for the excitement, the joy and the waiting for the Christ and the expectancy of His second Advent are all goosebump-tinglingly a reality within me.

So here we, and so it is Christmas (nearly) and we look to the Peace of God to be taken up from the Prince of Peace, for Christ's coming brought it into the world as God made man and His death on the Cross made acceptance and relationship with God a reality too. All that is required is for those who wish to live within this reality to reach out and take it.

And for those who say there is no God? Well for them they might be right but of course this is the same as a man living in the desert who says, "There is no sea!" Of course there isn't, it isn't part of his reality, experience or hope. But were he to move and seek the sea it would be found. The same is true for Jesus and those who seek God and His peace.

So I pray that those who have no hope in the Christ-child, the crucified king, the risen Redeemer, the coming Lord of all creation will perhaps move just that little, for it is in the slightest of movements that the Christ is to be found.

may God bless each one of us and those we love, those we live amongst and those whom we have no knowledge of and assist them in the slightest of movements such that Christ may be found.

Pax

Friday, 23 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 23

By now some people will have perhaps picked up that I like things with clocks on (although some will be asking, "Why? He's always late!"

In fact I'm not late, I always make my appointments on a fluid basis where possible because there are always people to be engaged with on the way to almost everywhere (funerals and other services are always the exception).

So here's one of those rather nice gifts that is hust a little weird unless you:

a. Like clocks

b. Like films

c. Like a. and b.

d. Just like things that are a little different from the norm.

Well this, for me at least, fits the bill:

Having a bit of a relax Vicar?

It seems that opinion oscillates between, "This must be your busy time," and the even more frustrating, "Must be nice only working for an hour on Sunday!"

To add to this there is the, "Does the Vicar have a drink problem?" joke which usually accompanies our restocking the church with port oft communion (it's not a bad port and comes in quite a bit cheaper than buying the 'proper' stuff).

So far today the relax has seen me with a day that just hasn't stopped yet and won't for at least another couple of hours so be warned:

Ask me if I'm enjoying my 'bit of a relax' at your peril

:)

Christmas Card - 3

Here's something cute and annoying in one go:


It's 'Happy CHRISTmas'!

2012 - the year my kids stop watching Glee and all the other naff American television, stop calling 'lifts' 'elevators', lose the word 'Movies' and return to the wonderful word 'Film' and so much more. We gave the world English and the naughty colonials have abused and misused it to the extent that, were it not for a failing economy, naff foreign policy (sorry, 'foreign means Mexico' - a quote from a former Federal Insurance colleague) and the fact that they have a man at the helm who has, a bit like Blair, been elected by promising much and delivering little.

I couldn't go, they have enough problems - why add to them by having me too :)

I love you America (really, I do)

Now where was I?

Of course - Happy CHRISTmas!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Football and the race rows

I don't know about other people but I am becoming a little alarmed that Luis Suarez is handed am eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra when the only evidence that appears to have been prersented is from Evra himself! Now I'm not questioning Evra's account but am questioning the fact that he apparently abused Suarez (in his own language and by his own admission) such that it elicited the response for which he (Suarez) has been punished!


It seems to me that both players need to be facing bans for their behaviour and the FA, whilst trying to make a grand gesture are on the road to making yet another spectacle of themselves. Mind you, if the Crown Prosecution Service are successful in their forthcoming court appearances with Chelsea and England Captain John Terry, also on racist comment charges, I can only assume he will lose his place in the England squad and face an even lengthier ban. Ironic when you consider that the English FA went and appealed against Rooney's ban (for a blatant and ridiculously typical'rooneyesque' foul which merited the punishment given) because it was in their interests. But what about the interests of fair play and integrity? No even a hint of such things :(

Seems racism is not OK (which is the right position to take) but cheating and behaving contrary to the laws of the game is. Double-standards or what?

Yes indeed - a game of overpaid, loose-moraled, prima donnas with even more dodgy types gracing the governing bodies (or was FIFa just a blip) who set duplistic standards and somehow still manage to fall short of them.

Still, the good news is that it will help to rekindle the almost maniacal hatred between the two teams involved which has to be good for the next meeting of the two (if you like to see police officers kept busy that is).

we need to be robust about dealing with bad behaviour, all bad behaviour, not just that which suits us or benefits us at the expense of integrity.

Pax

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 22

I'm always on the lookout for Gucci Vicar kit and this is one of those weird and wonderful items that gets my gastric fluids going, the portable lectern! In fact there's two of them:



Something that one might think of as a little over the top until you actually have one, and then you'll wonder why you didn't before, so don't scoff at the suggestion (well, not until you've tried one anyway).

Christmas Card - 4

Found this interesting take on Christmas Greetings at  dolphinboy2000:


Quite provocative at a number of levels which makes it rather good as I see it.

Pax

Church - where crisis and failure take on flesh

Government and statutory bodies legislate over homelessness but it is, more often than not, Church that engages with the reality of it.

Public opinion pontificates about the state of society, the demise of values and standards and the breakdown of the family but is, more often than not, the Church that finds itself engaged in and with the places where the rhetoric becomes flesh.

When the tutting classes are unfolding their newspapers and talking cobblers about the homeless getting what they deserve and how there is always work to be found if someone really wants it, the Church, once again, is to be found dealing with the realities.

In a week where temperatures have soared such that we will see less homeless people die over the Christmas period (something that demonstrates how little 'those people' care for the sensitivities of nice people) we ill still be living in the reality that across the UK there ar still around a quarter of a million homeless people and although many of those will 'bed hop' or find some form of accommodation (albeit perhaps very temporary) there will still be something around five thousand people sleeping on the streets of our capital city!

The figures this week speak of a life expectancy of 43 for homeless women and 47 for homeless men.

Now I am sure some reading this will point to alcohol, drugs and other 'brought upon themselves' conditions fort such an early demise, but there are other influences and factors behind the obvious and if we were to but take just a little time to understand them we would find that the underserving homeless are often anything but.

As we pray in our churches this Christmas Eve perhaps we might care to think of those who are homeless. Those who are on the streets because of:

+ Abuse - mental, physical and sexual

+ Mental Illness - Homeless people present double the symptoms of mental illness than those who are 'homed'

+ Military Service - the Military Covenant is to become law, but for the many (almost 25% of London's homeless as an example) medals, combat experience and having served their nation makes no difference at all - in fact it is a major factor for where they are now!

+ Folly - There are people on our streets who have made the wrong choices (haven't we all at some time?) but in each one of these people the image of the invisible God is made visible and in each of them is the potential to show God's grace and effect, potentially, restoration - we just need to be wise about it?

And so, this Christmas as we speak of a Saviour born in poor circumstances, sleeping in a stable, let's remember those for whom a stable would be luxury.

Pax

Be the Best - Army

Just in case you need to revise your attitudes to homeless, Here I have reposted a little graphic to help:


click image to see full size

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 21

This has to be one of the top weird and wacky gift ideas - It has it all - it's the desktop USB fishquarium:


USB Power Connector
Multifunction penholder
Nature sounds
Multicolor interior lights
Adjustable overhead light
Under-gravel filtration system
Low voltage pump
LCD Calendar with time/date; week/temperature
Alarm clock with snooze feature and countdown timer
Includes gravel and decorative plastic plant
Fish not included
Clock and Calendar uses 3 AA batteries (not included)

Comes from one of my favourite (please buy me something Mummy) places 'ThinkGeek.com' (it's up there with IWOOT) and has to be the weirdest thing you could use to grace your playpen!

Mind you, there's no room on my desk for one :(

Christmas Card - 5

Know someone who refuses to have buy Christmas cards with penguins, Santa and all the other 'non' Christmas icons on them? I do and it is for her that today's card is presented!

Ho Ho Ho and all that sort of thing :)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 20

Ever been walking down a dark country lane and found yourself encountering a Vampire?

No, I haven't either, but with one of these 'glow in the dark' crosses you can be sure that you'll be able to find the icon that results in the demise of the neck-biter. Much cheaper than taking them out for a stake I guess.

Best hurry though because posting ends today if you're going to make Christmas!


Pax

Whose fingerprints?

Last Sunday we did our annual Candlelit Carol Service and this meant lots of preparation. In fact it meant:

Putting together the candelabra

Getting the candles (literally - I mean getting in a car and going to the wholesalers because we couldn't find the candles!!!)

Putting the the candleabra up

Providing and putting out minced pies (and handing them round after the service)

Making the mulled wine (and passing it round after the service)

Cutting and putting out cake

Setting out the chairs

Making the building presentable

Making tea and coffee for those who didn't want mulled wine

Doing the powerpoint transitions and sound

Singing the carols

Doing the readings

Doing the prayers

Playing the piano

Chatting to people and being available for questions and the offering of help

Washing up, clearing away and making the room generally presentable again

The service went well and at its close someone said to me how nice it was to come to a church service that was so easy to be part of and to set up. I guess the image of the serene swan gliding across the water whilst underneath the legs were paddling furiously holds true.


So Thank you all those who did their part to bring Christmas to others where I am and across the Church (universal) for without so many others giving what they do we'd be in a sorry place.

Pax

Christmas Card - 6

Here's one for those 'Young Earth, Intelligent Design and wiggle the science' folk among us.

The evolution of Christmas


Surely not I hear some say!

Pax

Monday, 19 December 2011

Social Network Christmas


Thanks to Chris for pointing me to this excellent offering,

V

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 19


Saw this and thought what a great outfit to buy so that one could go to the next Clergy gathering as the Holy Spirit (doesn't John say that He's the Parakeet?)

Pax

Into the Final Straight

Monday afternoon - two assemblies left and the last Christingle of this year done and dusted. A great experience made all the better by using glowsticks rather than candles for the youngest children's service.

I used the candles which were still in place from last night's candlelit service:


A great idea as it added to the effect of the glowsticks and made it all just a little more special:


And so that is the preparation for Christmas almost done and dusted and a very sincere 'Thank You' to all who have helped to make the services work so well.

Pax

What's a Glowstick?

Ray asked me what a glowstick was and so I've done a quick video to demonstrate the beastie in operation.

It's merely a stick (4" in this case) which when bent causes two chemicals to mix and give off a light. This one is blue but they come in many colours:

video

I hope this answers the question.

I buy them at £30 for 100 (inc delivery) and they last about 36 hrs at most, but are great for services where I'd like to have a candle but the potential for damage or harm (i.e. with smaller children) is great.

HTH

Christmas Card - 7

Here's a card for all those hardline fundamentalists who'd like to mix theology and Santa:


After all, not even Father Christmas is universalist, you get what you deserve with him too!

;0)

Kim-Jong-Dead

No longer Ki,-Jong-Ill, that star of Team America has finally loosed his mortal coil and passed over the reigns (sic) to his son, Kim-Jong-Un (let's hope he's going to be a good 'Un).


Whilst so many of us might wonder what this has to do with us, the potential for a show of force from the new leader (or perhaps more so the military might who may make him a puppet) with nuclear or missile tests and other silliness might just spill over into something to take up the reins from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seems that there is a need to pray for peace, wisdom and stability in what is, potentially, something quite worrying.

Pax

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 18

This is one of those gifts that will cause hours of fun and considering the ageing clergy population it will provide a few laughs either at Christmas or perhaps the Vicar's next birthday party.

It's an inflatable Zimmer frame - you know you know someone who would really enjoy getting one - go on do it :)

Cameron and a 'Christian' Country

Despite those who will undoubtedly continue to tell me that being a 'Christian Country' is something that is no longer I have to say, faith position not withstanding, that indeed it still is. But only by its fingertips.

If our nation were to eschew the values and standards of Christianity like many of those in mainland Europe we would see intolerance, lack of social action an increase in extremely stupid court rulings and worst of all, the demise of religious freedom. Of course this is the road we are on and many of those who proclaim secular or humanist values do in fact seek the demise of 'religion' for the ascent of their own non-religious religion, a place that will benefit none, not even themselves if it were to become the dominance they so desire.

It's ironic that Rowan speaks out on so few issues and yet manages, as a rule, to say even less about faith issues. Advice to investors, bankers and an inaudible lead to those camped outside St Pauls and a strong lead to those who reside within. More ironic is that Cameron has indeed given the whole Christian community, Anglicans in particular, a challenge to maintain and even recapture the position of faith communities when not that long ago Rowan was accusing him (and his coalition) of acting without a mandate and yet here we are with the tables turned and Rowan being accused of having a mandate and failing to act!

A Christian country supports the right fr people to believe other than Christians.
It supports the right to live as one choses, within the law, but also reserves the right to not be forced to bless it and to show 'better' ways.
It protects the weak, enriches the poor and comforts the broken.
It is the 'Big Society' and always has been.

So here's a gift for Rowan from the Prime Minister of our nation - let's hope (and pray, you do pray don't you?) that he and the Christians of this land take it.

Pax

Christmas Card - 8

One of the struggles I have with Christmas cards is the snow-capped stable and the plethora of penguins, reindeer, robins and the like and so I guess we could call this card 'where's the sheep?'.

Ho Ho Ho


Happy Advent 4 - Go Mary!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 17

Another thing I'd really like for my study - a bookcase that can be used (once the owner and the books have departed) for another purpose!

I'd love one of these (and a study with more room to house it please bishop).


This fantastic Kenneth Grange piece comes from an equally great blog (it's called Bookshelf so how could it be anything else?).

I can think of so many people I'd like to get one for!!!

Pax

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

video

A brilliant offering indeed from Christ Church, Fairfax I believe.

Pax

Christmas Card - 9

Found this really excellent cartoon and comment and thought it made a few good points in a fun sort of way and so it goes on the blog.


Pax

Friday, 16 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 16

Weird & Wacky Christmas stuff meets weird & Wacky clerics today!

For, having read of the Royal Holloway College's Christmas service  which, embracing the spirit of calamitous ChrIslamity by choosing to take their reading from that well-known Christian book (the holy Qur'an 3:45-51) today's item would definitely be up the street of the College (Charlie) Chaplains I would assume.

So without further ado I present the 'multifaith' plate, see if your faith is there on this all gods are one faith statement. Not only that, it's a great way to endorse the views of the late Christopher Hitchens in proposing that religion is merely a man-made con.



And for those of you who fancy a bit of ChrIslam at your midnight service, here's the text for you too:

"Behold! the angels said "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity and he shall be of the company of the righteous." She said: "O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan He but saith to it 'Be' and it is! And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom the Law and the Gospel And (appoint him) an Apostle to the Children of Israel with this message: I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave; and I heal those born blind and the lepers and I quicken the dead by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. I have come to you to attest the Law which was before me and to make lawful to you part of what was before forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight."
(Qur'an 3:45-51)

Whatever next, they'll be telling me Jesus is Jewish!

Pax

So Long Christopher Hitchens

So it's goodbye to Christopher Hitchens
With sharp mind and shrivelled soul
With fluid tongue and a fluid lifestyle to match
A literate Victor Meldrew in looks and tone
Proclaiming religion as merely man-made
But life is surely God given
Now Hitchens is no more yet God goes on
How funny and how sad in equal measure

Christmas Card - 10

Here's a great card for those Star War fans (did you know, I've never seen Star War?s.)


I am your Father Christmas Luke!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 15

Here's something that I truly do like. I would love to have one of these really cool clocks on a wall, not that I have any wall space in my study thanks to books occupying just about every bit of available space!

Feast your eyes upon this most remarkably wonderful timepiece and drool along with me:


Find it here

Want one :)

Pax

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wedding Encounters of the Breast Kind

Chatting to colleagues about 'those' things that happen I happened to remark about weddings, basques and boobs and the potential for disaster that they presented. As the conversation progressed I realised that I was in a minority of one for having experienced, as I have on more than one occasion, the wayward breast and thought I'd pass on the experience in the hope that someone else reading it might tell me that I an not in a totally unique position (and it's sort of a fun vicar tale too!)

During my wedding practices I always take great care to ensure that the couple know how to kneel and how to get up from the kneeling position. I've had a bride 'flump' down onto her haunches and split the seam of her expensive 'designer' dress and so I take them through the use of knees rather than merely dropping (potentially expensive in terms of money and modesty) downwards. I also take them through getting up because the sound of a dress tearing because the groom has stood on the train or any other part of it is equally frightening (and I have had both).

The man gets up and takes his wife's hand, helping, leading and protecting the dress all in one action. So, thought I, all bases are covered with regard to the kneeling, praying and getting up part. Well, I thought so until (scene shimmers and we're are taken back to a day now long gone) . . . .

There we are in the wedding service, all is going well, the Father of the Bride has said the non-existant words "I do" and given the woman away into the custody of the Church, the woman has been passed on and the vows made, the kiss applauded and we're on the downward leg, the blessing of the marriage.

Time for them to kneel, not a problem - been through it, practised it, here we go . .

The Bride drops to her knees but misjudges the distance and as she makes contact with the ground her body gives a little jerk and there, right before my eyes, is a pair of breasts! Struggling not to respond I look up and realise that the sight lines mean that the groom is vaguely aware thanks to peripheral vision, but the congregation are totally unaware that anything has transpired. Only I, the bride and perhaps the little house (a reference for the Bill and Ben generation) know anything is going on.

She goes to jump up and sort her dress but I tell her to stop because it will draw attention to it and continue with the first prayer, "Blessed are you O Lord our God for you have created joy and gladness . . ." and aware than we are still in the clear (thank the Lord they didn't have a video recordist or the choir) I stand and tell the congregation that the couple will now join me at the high altar as they make their first journey, leaving friends and family, as a new family unit.

As we walk the Bride manages to shove the unwelcome visitors from sight and we complete the prayers and then vanish from sight to complete the registers, everyone unaware of the drama that had taken place.

A few months later I was stopped in the street by a woman who introduced herself as the 'breasts' Mum. Apparently only she and a couple of others had been told of the happenings that day and she wanted to thank me for my care of her daughter's modesty.

Who says the ministry is a boring place?

These days I don't only check on veils when I do practices, I ask about the dress and where necessary issue a cautionary note to Chief Bridesmaid or Mother of the Bride.

Pax

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 14

This has to be the one to buy (and then chuck it in the bin and save the world from something almost too awful to think about)!

This handcrafted, injection-moulded plastic masterpiece comes complete with flashing LEDs and a full (electronic synthesised) orchestral rendition of "Ave Maria' that will set your eyes running and your teeth gritting.


Know someone who's pious enough to deserve one of these?

Get buying, you know they deserve it ;)

Pax

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 13

Our reader brought this into church on Sunday and I just fell in love with it instantly!

This is most definitely one of those 'want one' toys and is wacky (and perhaps weird) enough to warrant inclusion on this blog.
video

Enjoy!

Pax

ps for those who have been emailing me regarding Christmas cards, I will be adding one a day as a countdown to Christmas so you can stop nagging me :)

pps For those who ask why I'm not doing the 'spiritual' stuff as we approach Christmas, I am but what's the point of yet another 'Advent exposition' or clever (theological wordy) statement when so many others are doing it so well. Me? I'll stick to being where I am doing what I am called to do and that way we are all (hopefully) blessed

December - Housing Month?

Looks like this is going to be my housing month as I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get hold of people on the telephone, writing letters relating to benefits (or more accurately, lack of benefits) for people and trying to unravel numerous issues relating to how those who have little appear to:

a. Have it taken away,

b. Not have it offered in the first place, and

c. Find themselves at the very back of the queue in what, to my perhaps cynical mind, appears to be an exercise in making the homeless so stressed out that they either throw their bid for housing or benefits in the bin or flip out and behave such that they get binned as a result of their actions.

One of those I am working with has been offered accommodation and was under the impression that the keys would be handed in a week ago and then they would be able to have a look and if acceptable, move in. The keys have apparently been handed in today and the relevant people are saying that it will take something like four weeks before they can make it available. When I pointed out that this means that there will be a homeless person on the streets over Christmas it was evident that the person dealing with the case wasn't in the slightest concerned and mumbled about 'heavy workloads and doing it according to their procedures' and that there wasn't anything that they could do about that.

I am stunned that such rigid attitudes exist at a time when we find so many properties sitting vacant, the weather is getting increasingly Winter-like (at last) and the potential for a death over Christmas (by weather or other means) becomes an increasing likelihood.

Mind you, an improvement from some dealing where I have been told that the council is doing< "Its statutory minimum!" ie. Nothing, other than give the homeless person a few bob and send them off to be one of the most invisible things in the world, 'someone else's problem'! Or as one councillor recently boasted, "We don't have a homeless problem in our town!" Of course we don't, we send them somewhere else and come up with reasons to move them on.

I struggle with this and as we approach the sixth anniversary of the death of a local character who froze to death in a bus shelter (Mick Weir, 7th January 2006) I am saddened, appalled and shamed by the attitudes of those who serve our community and the community itself (church and secular) in their complacency. When Mick Weir died the locals put their hands in the pockets and raised £1k as a tribute - the next person who dies because they aren't housed (and want to be - not all will accept or want a bricks and mortar home) will be the next tribute to him!

What's happening where you are?

Who's getting the stuff that's arriving at our door if it's no you?

Our communities need churches that are engaged, involved and not only being the difference but 'encouraging' those who work for (and represent) us to do what is right in a timely fashion.

Pax

Monday, 12 December 2011

Someone Ought To Do Something!

Ironically, coming on the day that I have realised that I hate someone, I find that they might be the same person who builds our church, brings relief to those caught up in debt, resolves all the ills of the global banking excesses and counsels those people who tick us off by their errant lifestyles.

I've had a telephone call from a lovely Christian person who has rung to tell me that they have noticed a new person begging in the centre of town. Apparently they looked really cold this morning as they sat in the covered shopping area begging.

I asked what the caller had done regarding the new addition to our community and asked what their name was.

"Oh, I don't know, " was the response, "I didn't talk to them. I just noticed they were there and thought that someone needed to do something about it, so I rang you."

Well, the good news is that 'someone' will do something about the new arrival (going to have a look now) but it's sad that people can identify needs but don't set about addressing them but pass them on to someone else.

Perhaps the Good Samaritan needs a rewrite whereby the hero of the piece merely phones someone who then takes care of the battered Levite?

When you see a need this Christmas (and after Christmas too) could you do more than just pray - because good as it is, there's something more that needs to be done. Mind you, it wasn't that long ago that one of our beggars (Mick Weir) froze to death in a bus shelter and despite all the good intentions, determined words and posturing, we haven't moved on from the attitudes and haven't made any provision for people such as him.

Perhaps we're waiting for someone to do it?

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 12

This morning's offering is one of those wonderful novelty items which at first glance, or perhaps more accurately hearing and wearing, feels like a really great idea. You put on the relevant item of clothing and have a sly chuckle to yourself at the merriment it (or they) will bring to everyone you meet.

Yes indeedy, it's the musical Christmas socks and tie! They play a random Christmas medley and the tie even has flashing LEDs embedded within it it. How could this fail to be anything but the item that gets you voted 'The Jolliest Christmas Person' in your workplace?


Well, they are fun but having worn such a tie on the same day I was called in to an ad hoc Senior Manager's meeting I can tell you that the novelty very quickly wears off and one's stock with those upstairs slides quite rapidly. The same was true of the sock which were great fun when I first sat in my normal seat on the train but were, by the time we'd reached Broxbourne (three stops), starting to drive those struggling with their morning crossword just a little bit over the edge.

So, this is the ideal gift for that person with whom you are vying for promotion. Get them a pair of socks or a tie )or make sure you really take the lead, buy them both!). If you're competing for the office beauty, buy the competition something musical and watch yourself grow in favour! (get them here)

I was going to say that, thankfully, you can't get musical dogcollars but I was wrong as the tiresome cleric with one that played ar random intervals those Christians standards of 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' and 'Jingle Bells' demonstrated only too well. To make things worse, they were wearing a shirt that looked like it had been designed by the Pavement Pizza company!

Yeuk (on both counts)

Gotta go, need to order a couple for the Wardens ;)

I hate someone

Someone has fallen out of favour with me to the extent that I have realised this morning that, having always boasted that I hate no one, this is no longer true! Yes indeedy, I hate someone and for good reason. Let me explain:

Consider what happens in our house around half past eight each morning. I walk into the lounge and find at least one child without socks, shoes, lunch box, homework, coat, hat (include or exclude whatever you need to so this fits your reality).

Trying not to get frustrated I ask the questions, "Where are you socks?"
The response (usually) comes back as, "Someone has moved it/them!"

Someone, if you're reading this I hate you for moving things from the (proper) place they were left and always making our kids late for school. Stop taking shoes from the designated place and hiding them in bedrooms, stop hiding socks, uniform, lunch boxes, homework, instruments and all the other stuff and we will get on well. Keep it up and there's going to be a price on your head (and I'm probably going to be on Child Line's 'Most Wanted' list.

You have been warned.

Now, who's moved my keys? Someone has ;)

Pax

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 11

Advent 3 is with us and what better gift to consider on this Sunday than one which not only protects your Bible and allows you to take it everywhere but makes a statement?

Personally I just get my Bible recovered and take it around as it is. Mine is now on its third cover and each time I get a new one I've gained four extra pages too, so the notes not only stay with you, but grow - what a bargain (and my finger know where things are ;) ).

So here's today's offering. Why not consider one for someone you love (or perhaps don't) and it's a great gift for those people you suspect don't read their Bibles - with this you'll easily spot whether they have it with them or not.

Pax

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Making money from the poor - Pt3

Standing in the queue at our local convenience store I became engaged in conversation with the woman in front of me as she purchased a packet of twenty cigarettes (£6.97). I expressed my surprise at the cost to which she told me that she 'needed' two pack of them each and every day, "Just to get through it!" Quick as a flash I thought to myself, "That's £13.94 a day which is just over £5,000 a year."

Having paid for her cigarettes (she buys the morning packet and hopes she can scrape the money for the second when it's needed) she raked through her coins and put £10 on the electricity card. Apparently that was going to be all she could afford until the next cheque came (I assume this is a benefits cheque). I asked her what she did when the electricity ran out and was told she'd go and stay at one of her children's places or perhaps a friend.

As we got deeper into the conversation she told me that she'd had, "One of them instant loans which meant she was struggling." Delving into the subject it appeared that she'd taken up an 'instant cash' loan of £1,000 from someone who'd knocked at her door last Christmas and the interest rate had turned out to be so high that, with default charges, she now owed a sum whose principal figure was something in excess of £4k. She'd managed to take out a loan from a 'proper' company and was paying it off at £25 a week. Now I don't know the term or the interest rate but I get the feeling that she, like my would-be car buyer, is paying something punitive.

When I got back I rang someone from the debt counselling business and was told that she'd probably be looking at one of the local companies whose rate would be around 20% and that this would make the time needed to pay off the debt would be five years and the charges would be around the £2.350 mark. This means that for a £1,000 'instant' loan on the doorstep, our poverty-stricken heroine was going to end up paying around £5,500 when all was said and done.

Now I know some will say she's the victim of her own folly and that she should pay off the whole thing in a year if she would but stop smoking but I get the feeling this is the easy answer. What I am more interested in is the tough questions, like:

How do we handle the fact that people can knock on a door, offer money and charge high interest and punitive default amounts?

How do we get those who would jump at such offers to get involved with their local Credit Union (and if there isn't one, how do our churches set one up?).

How do we provide debt awareness and debt coaching for those who have fallen into the debt trap?

How do we make our fellow church members aware and get us mobilised and motivated to act to resolve the situation so that we can truly set the debtors free?

Pax

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 10

Thanks go to Bob who emailed me with this extremely wonderful gift idea a partnership with Benny Hinn. All you need do is go to the site and pays your money and wait for your blessing. Bob points out that for a 'one-off' gift of $500 and a regular commitment to pay a minimum of $30 a month you'll get, totally free, the 'I need thee every hour' CD. Pay that little bit more ($1,000 one-off and $30 a month) and you get a free 3CD set of hymns.


Just in case you fancy this for yourself (or a loved one) the partnerships available are:

Covenant Partner: I will give my monthly seed-gift of at least $30 by Web, mail, or phone.
Global Impact Partner: I will give my one-time gift of $500 and my monthly seed-gift of at least $30 by Web, mail, or phone.
Global Impact Team Partner: I will give my one-time gift of $1,000 and my monthly seed-gift of at least $30 by Web, mail, or phone.

What are you waiting for? The telephones are manned and waiting for your call or perhaps you'd rather use the web-based system?

Don't miss out on that blessing - act now and get yourself (or someone you love) on the path to blessing!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 9

Never again wonder what to do when people drop in and you haven't got any food in and the drinks cabinet looks just a little empty with your Jesus Action figure (complete with miracles!). Yep, loaves and fishes and water into wine beginners kit - start your children off the right way!


Makes me yearn for the days when I got an empty Action Man box (Dad told me it was a limited edition 'Action Man deserter' kit ;)

Happy Daze

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Making money from the poor - Pt 2

Following on from the visit to the car sales outlet the company has now made two telephone calls. The first of them tried to sell the car they'd originally gone to look at by trying to convince them that they were getting a good deal.

Our hero asked what the 'book price' of the car was and were given a figure that was quite a bit lower than the price it was being offered at. They then asked how much they would receive for their current vehicle and were told that this would be something lower than the book price. Adding the differences meant that they were effectively paying about £2,000 more than was warranted using the figures given in the trade valuation guides (which are of course only guides and not set in concrete).

When this was pointed out the salesman accentuated the fact that they would have a newer car and that it would cost them less as they'd reduced the interest rate for the purchase as well.

"How much is it now," asks our heroic would-be (or perhaps not) purchaser?

"It's 48.5%, gone down from 49.9%," comes the reply.

So let's stop for a moment to consider what we have before us

Let's say the car is going to cost the customer £6,500 and they're going to pay over five years at 48.5%

This means that paying around £300 a month will result in them handing over almost £17, 400.

This in turn means that they will be paying almost £11,000 for the privilege in interest rates.

Now, were our hero to go to a bank or some other reputable (that's if we still consider banks to be reputable) finance provider we would find that the rates ate somewhere between 6.1 - 7.9% and staying with our car priced at £6,500 (but from a more reputable dealer I would hope) the same car over the same period at 8% would run out at a total outlay of just under £8,000, a measly £131 a month and interest of under £1,500.

Those of us who have been 'collared' or work with people in our community need to get a bit savvy to companies who specialise in CCJ and poor credit history operations such at the one discovered here.

I never realised how much the poorer (and sometimes just merely unfortunate in terns of redundancy and other impediments to paying) side of our community is preyed upon by others and just how much they pay for the privilege of being abused.

The car salesman was working hard to get the would be customer so desirous of having a 'new' car that they'd sign up just to fill the craving that had been created.

What a disgrace and what an opportunity for us to come alongside and work to protect these people.

Pax

Belt and braces

Having just compiled the listing of Christmas services for the churches in our area (all forty-one of them) I was amazed at the number of people who felt that they had engage the belt and braces approach of writing 'Christmas Eve (24th December)'. Unlike Easter (Good Friday is the 6th April 2012 by the way so time to get planning) the Christmas dates are fairly well fixed!

I mentioned this to one of my colleagues only to be told that they did it because it was 'belt and braces' and made sure that in case people didn't realise it was Christmas day they could go by the date and that they always used both on their communications.

Special prizes will also be given to those churches who submitted their service details in Comic Sans.

I'm also giving an award to the person who submitted:

Christmas Day (Sunday 25th December)  10:30 a.m.  Christmas Day Communion Service (Come and celebrate the birth of jesus, bring your toys, mince pies and mulled wine after the service - suitable for all ages - all are welcome (with choir)).

Has to be the most comprehensive service announcement I've ever come across.

I'd go but I wouldn't be welcome as I don't have a choir!!!

Pax

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 8

Never again wonder where to hang your cassock!

Not only that but you can make a faith statement too with these wonderfully crafted 'nailed hand' hangers!


Who says Christians don't do stylish?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 7

Who said Christians don't have balls?

Visit here to see a range of Christian golf balls.

This is my favourite (for there are many verses available):


'Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge' Psalm 31:4

The ultimate gift for the busy minister who likes to play a round (I guess they could call it evangelism?

Hey Ho(le in one)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Weird & Wacky Christmas Stuff - 6

Ducktivity - one of those 'must have' Christmas items.

Not sure why, but the top of my Apple Computer has a row of ducks along the top. Now I don't know why this started and I'm not sure who started it, but there they are!

Already ordered my set of these, suitably decorated, ducks.


Pax

Monday, 5 December 2011

'H' - the defining Christian sin!

Yes, I've come to the conclusion that the 'H Word' is indeed the worst, perhaps being THE defining, Christian sin that there is!

It is to be found at the root of schism and self-serving thinking.

It is the reason that there is so much grief in the Church.

It is the principle reason that the world judges the Church badly.

It is something that we need to deal with NOW, decisively and at all levels (beginning with me and you - we can deal with the others later!).

I am surrounded with various theologies and am faced with so much sound evangelical teaching on sexual issues and just as much more, but in an opposite direction, from our liberal-minded brethren (and sistren too!). So what are we going to to with the 'H Word'? How are we going to legislate such that those who embrace it are forced to recant of are expelled from our congregations because of their thinking and the resultant actions?

Yes indeedy folks, it is time to make a stand. So let's decide that we are going to stamp out 'Hardheartedness' in our own life, the life of our church and across the whole Church once and for all.

And then we can start with the world hoping that they will like what they see and rush to emulate us!

Pax