Friday, 31 January 2014

Blue Sky Thought - Can this be true?

Yesterday, in a meeting, this thought was put forward as the answer to a question before us as a group. What do you reckon?



Morning Prayer - Jan 31

Charles, King and Martyr, 1649

Psalm 61
Hear my crying, O God, and listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart; O set me on the rock that is higher than I. For you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent for ever and take refuge under the cover of your wings.

For you, O God, will hear my vows; you will grant the request of those who fear your name. You will add length of days to the life of the king, that his years may endure throughout all generations. May he sit enthroned before God for ever; may steadfast love and truth watch over him.bSo will I always sing praise to your name, and day by day fulfil my vows.

Psalm 65
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; to you that answer prayer shall vows be paid. To you shall all flesh come to confess their sins; when our misdeeds prevail against us, you will purge them away.

Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there. We shall be satisfied with the blessings of your house, even of your holy temple. With wonders you will answer us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.

In your strength you set fast the mountains and are girded about with might. You still the raging of the seas, the roaring of their waves and the clamour of the peoples. Those who dwell at the ends of the earth tremble at your marvels; the gates of the morning and evening sing your praise. You visit the earth and water it; you make it very plenteous.

The river of God is full of water; you prepare grain for your people, for so you provide for the earth. You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; you soften the ground with showers and bless its increase. You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty.

May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness and the hills be girded with joy. May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep and the valleys stand so thick with corn
that they shall laugh and sing.

Genesis 16
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived for ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lordcolle t,  judge between you and me!’ But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her,
‘Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him;vand he shall live at odds with all his kin.’
So she named the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi’; for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Matthew 26.57-end
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” ’ The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

The Collect
King of kings and Lord of lords,
whose faithful servant Charles prayed for those who persecuted him
and died in the living hope of your eternal kingdom:
grant us by your grace so to follow his example that we may love and bless our enemies,
through the intercession of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Blue Sky Thinking: using our brains


I rather resemble this thought - especially when I encounter some of the great theological thinkers on my shelves:

The Bumps are what you climb on

This is the title of a book by Warren Wiersbe I read many years ago. It sticks in the memory because it was one of those books that shine out of the morass of Christian pulp that exists (why is there so much poor quality and thankfully ephemeral dross out there?). This 'theodicy lite' tome was rather useful to a few people I was working with at the time and the short meditations in it helped many.

Pottering along I found a rather good depiction of life as we intend it and the reality we so often experience:


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12

Morning Prayer - Jan 30

Charles, King and Martyr, 1649

Psalm 47
Clap your hands together, all you peoples; O sing to God with shouts of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared; he is the great King over all the earth.
He subdued the peoples under us and the nations under our feet.
He has chosen our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loves.
God has gone up with a merry noise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.

O sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill. God reigns over the nations; God has taken his seat upon his holy throne. The nobles of the peoples are gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For the powers of the earth belong to God and he is very highly exalted..

Psalm 48
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised, in the city of our God. His holy mountain is fair and lifted high, the joy of all the earth. On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place, stands the city of the great king. In her palaces God has shown himself to be a sure refuge. For behold, the kings of the earth assembled and swept forward together. They saw, and were dumbfounded; dismayed, they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in labour, as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.

As we had heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, the city of our God: God has established her for ever. We have waited on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple.

As with your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is full of justice. Let Mount Zion rejoice and the daughters of Judah be glad, because of your judgements, O Lord. Walk about Zion and go round about her; count all her towers; consider well her bulwarks; pass through her citadels, That you may tell those who come after that such is our God for ever and ever. It is he that shall be our guide for evermore.

Genesis 15
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgement on the nation that they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’

When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’

Matthew 26.47-56
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

The Collect
King of kings and Lord of lords,
whose faithful servant Charles prayed for those who persecuted him
and died in the living hope of your eternal kingdom:
grant us by your grace so to follow his example that we may love and bless our enemies,
through the intercession of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Blue Sky Thinking: All or Nothing

This is a quote from C S Lewis that has been stuck to the wall for many years and is one that I try to live by (and encourage others to do also):




In or out - we should do it fully. I'd rather a rampant atheist than a lukewarm (or ersatz) Christian.



Morning Prayer - Jan 29

Psalm 45
My heart is astir with gracious words; as I make my song for the king, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

You are the fairest of men; full of grace are your lips, for God has blest you for ever. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one; gird on your majesty and glory. Ride on and prosper in the cause of truth and for the sake of humility and righteousness.
Your right hand will teach you terrible things; your arrows will be sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies, so that peoples fall beneath you.
Your throne is God’s throne, for ever; the sceptre of your kingdom is the sceptre of righteousness.
You love righteousness and hate iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.

All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia; from ivory palaces the music of strings makes you glad. Kings’ daughters are among your honourable women; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter; consider and incline your ear; •
forget your own people and your father’s house. So shall the king have pleasure in your beauty; he is your lord, so do him honour.
The people of Tyre shall bring you gifts; the richest of the people shall seek your favour.
The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is embroidered cloth of gold.
She shall be brought to the king in raiment of needlework; after her the virgins that are her companions. With joy and gladness shall they be brought and enter into the palace of the king.
‘Instead of your fathers you shall have sons, whom you shall make princes over all the land.
‘I will make your name to be remembered through all generations; therefore shall the peoples praise you for ever and ever.’

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains tremble in the heart of the sea; Though the waters rage and swell, and though the mountains quake at the towering seas.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place of the dwelling of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; therefore shall she not be removed;
God shall help her at the break of day.

The nations are in uproar and the kingdoms are shaken, but God utters his voice and the earth shall melt away. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come and behold the works of the Lord, what destruction he has wrought upon the earth. He makes wars to cease in all the world; he shatters the bow and snaps the spear and burns the chariots in the fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Genesis 14
In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea). For twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the edge of the wilderness; then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner; these were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High,who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the people, but take the goods for yourself.’ But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the Lord, God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, “I have made Abram rich.” I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their share.’

Matthew 26.36-46
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blue Sky Thinking: Friends who Argue

These are some of the truest words I think I have ever read.




Those who I find to be lacking in with are usually surrounding by people who agree with them.

Wouldn't you agree?

We always knew it was there: Psalm 151

Rummaging through the papers in the choir vestry the image below was unearthed.

Seems that many of the congregations, choristers and organists across the land were right after all:


Think I'm going to get the choir to do it on Bible Sunday :-)

Morning Prayer - Jan 28

Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Philosopher, Teacher of the Faith, 1274 

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Look upon him and be radiant and your faces shall not be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is gracious; blessed is the one who trusts in him. Fear the Lord, all you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing. Lions may lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

Come, my children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is there who delights in life and longs for days to enjoy good things? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from lying words. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those who are crushed in spirit. R

Many are the troubles of the righteous; from them all will the Lord deliver them.
He keeps all their bones, so that not one of them is broken.
But evil shall slay the wicked and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

Psalm 36
Sin whispers to the wicked, in the depths of their heart; there is no fear of God before their eyes.
They flatter themselves in their own eyes that their abominable sin will not be found out.
The words of their mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and to do good.
They think out mischief upon their beds and have set themselves in no good way; nor do they abhor that which is evil.
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness stands like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; you, Lord, shall save both man and beast.

How precious is your loving mercy, O God! All mortal flesh shall take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They shall be satisfied with the abundance of your house; they shall drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life and in your light shall we see light.
O continue your loving-kindness to those who know you and your righteousness to those who are true of heart.
Let not the foot of pride come against me, nor the hand of the ungodly thrust me away.
There are they fallen, all who work wickedness.
They are cast down and shall not be able to stand.

Genesis 13.2-end
Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastwards; thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northwards and southwards and eastwards and westwards; for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring for ever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Matthew 26.17-35
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
   and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

The Collect
Eternal God,
who enriched your Church with the learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas:
give to all who seek you a humble mind and a pure heart
that they may know your Son Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life;
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Blue Sky Thinking - Ignorance

Saw this in a slightly different form and thought I'd post it as a bit of 'Blue Sky Thinking' as it's something I wish we, as Christians, did a lot more of and would love some of the 'I'm a thinker and I'm a scientific sort' to engage in a lot more! After all so many people out there claim to be thinkers and yet their assumptions and glib off the cuff comments show them generally to be better sheep than the Christians (who are supposed to be after all!!).

Anyway, enjoy yourself with this one:





Would be good to think that there were more willing to dialogue across the strata that exists in Christendom and with those outside who claim - wouldn't it?

Made me Smile: And then the telephone rings . . .

And it's another one of the awful calls that you know you want to hang up on, but then again the urge to play is just too great and after all, what's three minutes in a whole day?

And so it goes like this:



I know - I'll repent later

Bad Vicar

Morning Prayer - Jan 27

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me out of the roaring pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a rock and made my footing sure.
He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many shall see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not turn to the proud that follow a lie. Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God. How great your designs for us! There is none that can be compared with you. If I were to proclaim them and tell of them they would be more than I am able to express.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire but my ears you have opened; Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required; then said I: ‘Lo, I come. ‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me that I should do your will, O my God; I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’ I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I did not restrain my lips, and that, O Lord, you know.

Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth from the great congregation. Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord; let your love and your faithfulness always preserve me, For innumerable troubles have come about me; my sins have overtaken me so that I cannot look up; they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed
who seek after my life to destroy it; let them be driven back and put to shame who wish me evil. Let those who heap insults upon me be desolate because of their shame. Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad; let those who love your salvation say always, ‘The Lord is great.’ Though I am poor and needy, the Lord cares for me. You are my helper and my deliverer; O my God, make no delay.

Psalm 108
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise. Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn.
I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens and your glory over all the earth. That your beloved may be delivered, save us by your right hand and answer me.

God has spoken in his holiness:
‘I will triumph and divide Shechem and share out the valley of Succoth.
‘Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre.
‘Moab shall be my washpot, over Edom will I cast my sandal, across Philistia will I shout in triumph.’

Who will lead me into the strong city? Who will bring me into Edom? Have you not cast us off, O God? Will you no longer go forth with our troops?
O grant us your help against the enemy, for earthly help is in vain.
Through God will we do great acts, for it is he that shall tread down our enemies.

Genesis 11.27-12.9
Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages towards the Negeb.

Matthew 26.1-16
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’
Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, ‘Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Collect
Almighty God,
whose Son revealed in signs and miracles the wonder of your saving presence:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Paper Plane (Jan 27)

A nice little craft with all the weight forward making it fly like a rocket (terrorising cats and dogs in the house!). Youngest family member made this one:


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Paper Plane (Jan 25/26) - P51 (Mustang)

Well not quite the P51 - Mustang I was thinking of but nevertheless it's not a bad effort (even if it doesn't fly as well as some of the others.

It still looks rather cool I reckon:



Voting? How do you do yours?

Having just read a brief note on the voting habits of people of faith I have to issue the results of the brief straw poll regarding the places I have lived and done church (as BOP* or Minister) I too have conducted on this matter and the findings are quite shocking in that:

Those who belong to the more blue collar denominations were more likely to vote Labour

Those who came from the minorities, especially in the more down at heel London Boroughs voted Labour

Those who lived in an affluent, leafy suburb, were likely to vote Conservative (even though their views tended towards Labour)

Those who lived in an extremely affluent, predominantly middle class area voted Conservative

Those who lived in an aspiring part of a London Borough voted Conservative (those in a friend's church in the poorer part oddly voted Labour)

It's interesting that some would continue with the CofE as the 'Conservative Party at prayer' line when this hasn't been the experience of those who I have conversed with this morning. Mind you, they almost were because they we firmly in bed with New Labour (which was barely Labour at all, was it?)

I think education, aspirations and demographics play a much greater part in the voting patterns than any faith or denominational indicative. That said, it has always been pushed that the Methodists were Liberal/Lib Dem/Unelectable and that is more towards Lord Soper and others at the helm (historically) as those I know also vote according to their background and not their denomination.

All in all - I have to say look at the people a church grouping or denomination attracts and that will give a good idea as to the voting patterns you might expect.

There - that was quick, cheap and of as much worth as longer term studies.

Mind you if someone was to ask the question, 'How has being a Christian changed or influenced you voting?' Now that might be interesting.

Are we preaching socialism (as me Dad used to say) and Jesus as the 'first true Communist' or do we advocate industry, affluence and a leaning to the right.

In all it's an interesting topic but it's not an easy win (although if it gets some the oxygen of publicity to sustain their existence perhaps, for them at least, it is). All things are interesting - just not always useful).

Have a great Sunday :-)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Morning Prayer - Jan 25

The Conversion of Paul
Last Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 66
Be joyful in God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; sing the glory of his praise. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great strength your enemies shall bow before you.

‘All the earth shall worship you, sing to you, sing praise to your name.’

Come now and behold the works of God, how wonderful he is in his dealings with humankind. He turned the sea into dry land; the river they passed through on foot; there we rejoiced in him. In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him.

Bless our God, O you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard, Who holds our souls in life and suffers not our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but you brought us out into a place of liberty.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings and will pay you my vows, which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer you fat burnt sacrifices with the smoke of rams; I will sacrifice oxen and goats. Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul. I called out to him with my mouth and his praise was on my tongue. If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me, But in truth God has heard me; he has heeded the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, nor withheld his loving mercy from me.

Psalm 147.13-21
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.
Alleluia.

Ezekiel 3.22-27
Then the hand of the Lord was upon me there; and he said to me, Rise up, go out into the valley, and there I will speak with you. So I rose up and went out into the valley; and the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. The spirit entered into me, and set me on my feet; and he spoke with me and said to me: Go, shut yourself inside your house. As for you, mortal, cords shall be placed on you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people; and I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be speechless and unable to reprove them; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

Philippians 3.1-14
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Collect
Almighty God,
who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul:
grant that we who celebrate his wonderful conversion  may follow him in bearing witness to your truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Paper Plane (Jan 24) - Cool Fighter

And it looks great

Flies brilliantly

and was an easy construction too:


Blue Sky Thinking: Slippers

Now here's a question that I've never been asked before (and if I had been, I'd have been as stumped as I am now!):


And I would hazard a guess that someone has the clever answer to it.

Still, another great discussion starter perhaps?

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

Yes, I know the actual day is January 27 (the day Russian troops entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 1945 and liberated those within its fences). But I wanted to lay down a marker so that those who will be in church this weekend make sure that it is remembered in the prayers (or a candle lit or whatever you do where you are) and marked.

Today I find myself talking to people of varying ages over the SHOAH - the Hebrew word for 'desolation' which is preferable to 'holocaust' ('burnt offering') in that those who died under the Nazi German regime. Alongside this will be dealing with the (too) many acts of genocide before and since that awful event and the eight stages of genocide and some 'Journey' stories.

Not too late to do something or get involved - you can visit here


There will be a service or event somewhere near you (we even do one on the Sunday evening service slot at 6pm)

Morning Prayer - Jan 24

Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Teacher of the Faith, 1622
Seventh Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not be afraid, and though there rise up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him. One thing have I asked of the Lord and that alone I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to seek his will in his temple.

For in the day of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter; in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me and set me high upon a rock. And now shall he lift up my head above my enemies round about me; Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy upon me and answer me. My heart tells of your word, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me, nor cast your servant away in displeasure. You have been my helper; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.

Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of those who lie in wait for me.
Deliver me not into the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and those who breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 149
Alleluia.
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in their maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord has pleasure in his people and adorns the poor with salvation. R
Let the faithful be joyful in glory; let them rejoice in their ranks, With the praises of God in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands;
To execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains and their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the judgement decreed: such honour have all his faithful servants.
Alleluia.

Genesis 9.8-19
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’
The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.

Matthew 25.14-30
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Collect
Holy God,
who called your bishop Francis de Sales to bring many to Christ through his devout life
and to renew your Church with patience and understanding:
grant that we may, by word and example,
reflect your gentleness and love to all we meet;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
AllAmen.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Paper Plane (Jan 23) - Square Wing

Whilst the name might not be the most inventive, the shape (and the fact it flies) certainly is.

I don't think I've ever made a square winged aircraft before - and it is cool!


Think this is one I will be making again :-)

Blue Sky Thinking: Dialect

This is a great conversation starter.

When I first encountered it, all of the people in the room went, 'Ooooh!'

Give it a try:


Morning Prayer - Jan 23

Sixth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Psalm 76
In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. At Salem is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. There broke he the flashing arrows of the bow, the shield, the sword and the weapons of war. In the light of splendour you appeared, glorious from the eternal mountains. The boastful were plundered; they have slept their sleep; none of the warriors can lift their hand. At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot fell stunned.

Terrible are you in majesty: who can stand before your face when you are angry? You caused your judgement to be heard from heaven; the earth trembled and was still, When God arose to judgement, to save all the meek upon earth. You crushed the wrath of the peoples and bridled the wrathful remnant. Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all who are round about him bring gifts
to him that is worthy to be feared. He breaks down the spirit of princes and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 148
Alleluia.
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you his angels; praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you stars of light.
Praise him, heaven of heavens, and you waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of the Lord; for he commanded and they were created.
He made them fast for ever and ever; he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and mist, tempestuous wind, fulfilling his word; Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing; Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and women, old and young together; let them praise the name of the Lord. For his name only is exalted, his splendour above earth and heaven. He has raised up the horn of his people and praise for all his faithful servants, the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
Alleluia.

Genesis 8.15-9.7
Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelt the pleasing odour, the Lord said in his heart,
‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night,shall not cease.’

God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind. And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.’

Matthew 25.1-13
‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Collect
Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Some Blue Sky Thinking

Which I rather like as a challenge to people of all viewpoints and faiths (and non-faiths too) - No one escapes this statement and the more one considers it the more it seems to develop discussion and the odd bit of polarisation (especially when they point at you and say, 'That's what your lot do!').

Give it a try and get talking (try it on the train too perhaps!):





Showed it to someone recently and their first response was 'Let's get them!'

Still trying to find out which 'them' it was and hoping I'm not part of it!

Tried it again and was met with the response, "So . . .  What is truth then?'

As if I know, I have difficulty separating fiction and real-life at times [have to go, Noddy ands his mate has just parked outside]

:-)

Paper Plane (Jan 22) - Orion


This has loads of weight at the front and so gravity being what it is there's some good flight to had with this one.



As a fan of the M42 (Orion Nebula) I find it becomes a favourite for other reasons too :-)

There you are, busy, busy, busy and . . .

... The telephone rings!

So, of course, you pick up the handset and (me in bold):

Hello, this is Microsoft Supports. I am calling because our system show you have a problem with your computer. You have a problem with your Windows.
Really? That sounds very serious, is there something I should do?

Yes, you need to connect to our system so that we can repair it please?
Gosh, that sounds very difficult, where are you? Do I have to bring it in to you?

Is your monitor turned on?
Yes, it is.

Can you type 'URL given? {action: Typing noise heard from my end]

Can you see the box in front of you on the screen. I need you to type the following  . . (I interrupt)
No, I can't see anything!

Have you typed [URL]?
Yes, I typed that - still can't see the box.

Are you in an internet browser?
Err, no, I don't think so.

Can you open Explorer or Chrome and type in the web address?
I don't think I can.

Why not?

Think it's because I only have the monitor turned on, should I have turned on the computer too?

Yes, you will need both turned on for your computer to work.
Excellent - thank you I will remember that for the next time I have a problem.
So you're saying I have to turn on both the monitor AND the computer to make it work.

That is correct.
Well done, you've solved the problem - Excellent stuff  [hang up]

 This is one of the (very many) ways I have dealt with the Microsoft Tech Support Phone Scam.




Whilst visiting a retired clergy friend, being unable to answer the telephone I answer for them and got the , "Hello, this is Microsoft - you have a problem with your windows' routine.

My response was simple (for I was visiting): 'Yes the person who lives here did have a problem with their windows but we have taken them all out and boarded the place up. You're a little late,  Thank You. [and hung up]

Now, what was I doing before that pesky call?

The Bible: Inerrant?

 'You don't believe the Bible is true do you?'

And it was with those words that our conversation begun - and what a conversation it was - and the day became just a little more interesting. After all, who believes the Bible is anything more than a collection of good thoughts and some wisdom wrapped in a bit of poetry that might help us to live a bit better? It's not like it is the actual word of God is it?

Now before I go any further I think I should let you know my convention regarding Bible and 'word'. Bible is 'word' and Jesus is 'Word' - that is  logos and Logos - the written word and the living Word. Simple innit?

The conversation spun a bit and there were two words that kept coming up, from them not me I hasten to add, and these were: inerrant and infallible. So I let them talk to (for that read 'at') me for a bit and kept smiling - and they talked and I smiled, I smiled and they talked and . . .

Well actually before we get to the 'and' let's freeze frame and think what the two words mean first shall we, because (to be brutally honest) most of the people I find using them rarely have a consistent or even accurate definition to inform or legitimise their views. The problem is that (like sex and gender) the two words are used interchangeably and (as Alice in Wonderland shows) words can mean whatever you wish them to mean (and perhaps not mean too)!

I realise that within the time I have I can only do one word a day and so, if you're sitting comfortably, the words is:

Inerrant: Has no errors - does not 'err' (have error) or wander from the truth or facts. It is what the Bible is - that is not just 'not wrong' but 'unable to be wrong either - I liked the thought that it is not, and cannot, sin! In a nutshell - it is Truth.

There is a struggle here for the Bible is seen as a mirror to who, and what, and how, God is. If He is Truth (and 'All-knowing truth' at that) in all its forms - then that which comes from Him and reflects Him and speaks for Him and (well, I'm sure you get the picture) has surely to be true also. If it's not then conversely neither can God be. If it's a light to our path (psalm 119) then it's a true light and if not then it is surely a stumbling block and needs to be consigned to 'literature'.

Break the mirror and you only see fragments of God*


This is a real biggy when you think about it because taken to it's ultimate consequence we can but see God disappear in a puff of self-serving, God-crunching, pronouncement.

Our first problem is that we can translate stuff wrong (through ignorance and by design) and this can have a great impact on what is written and how we understand it.

The second problem is that we can take things out of context and apply our own assumptions (like 'they're primitives and we are sophisticated') which colour the way we interpret it - after all, most I find with a view on something in the Bible hold that view to deny something others or permit themselves to act under the warrant of the very same Scripture they would otherwise deny.

Indeed the Simon and Garfunkel gene is active and virulent in Christian world - so many of us hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest!

But we have a high degree of confidence in the manuscripts - and many who will tell me they were deeply edited and added to to sell 'Coca Cola' and support political and cultural views and are totally untrustworthy. There is a chasm extant between the word of god and the way we interpret it - one is 'holy writ' and the other (at times) is more like 'Holy Cow!' One is to be considered inerrant and the other just ain't and this is where the 'Let's revise the Bible for today's language, culture, and [implied greater] more sophisticated society' tumbles into error - for the Bible becomes 'Bible Lite' rather than the 'Full Fat' version that is inerrant.

When I posed this I was asked whether I believed 'Each and every word in the Bible was true?'

My response was that every word was true, because it is after all just a word. The question of truth only becomes valid when we put words together because it is the construction, materials, attitudes and the like that make the untruths appear. It is the heart and the intention that chooses the words rather than the words themselves.

'I do believe that sentences and clauses, when read and taken contextually point to truths (even when we don't want them),' was my summation. Something which was not as well received as I might have hoped! In fact it brought back the response, 'So you take it all literally?'

This in an invitation to greater joy in that in those few words more doors are opened, and even more lunatics enter, to make the circus just that bit more fun. The reason for this is that I don't take it all literally and, if Donald Guthrie (whose every word I used to hang on) is to be believed, we shouldn't! It is true in that it is true when I say I boil an egg for three minutes I am not employing a scientifically, to the millisecond, timing but what I say is indeed true. It isn't 'literal' but it is correct and this is where I find myself with the Bible.

Creation: Years, days or what - I know there are in the narrative distinct periods and these 'aeons' might have an arbitrary delineation and yet the delineation exists (and don't get me going about the order because I go from bang which would be light followed by sound and struggle from there depending on what book I've read!).

Literal or accurate: two sides of extremely different coins I would have to say and struggle to examine, critique, define and pack away everything and you end up with something as clumsy and confusing as the Athanasian Creed ;-). There's a middle of the road approach (but then again being part of the 'via media' that is the Church of England I would say that wouldn't i?).

Being Christian is about brains, faith, reason and tradition too (we call this 'orthodoxy') for we need to read the Bible contextually with regard to the author and the focus of His dealings (us) and to reduce it to equations, rigid 'literal' stuff is to make a sterile and impotent thing of the Bible. Conversely, to read it with stalled breath and hushed tone - as if each word itself was made of crystal and needed kid gloves and falling on the knees would be to render it overwieldy and underimportant.

Emphasis, context and balance - that's the way to do it (who let that parrot in?).

Seems to me that in the final analysis the problem is that some of the stuff in it we just don't want to understand, accept or live by - do we?


*discussion for another day - debilitating or delivering?

Morning Prayer - Jan 22

Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon, first Martyr of Spain, 304
Fifth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Psalm 81
Sing merrily to God our strength, shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Take up the song and sound the timbrel, the tuneful lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, as at the full moon, upon our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob, The charge he laid on the people of Joseph, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

I heard a voice I did not know, that said: ‘I eased their shoulder from the burden; their hands were set free from bearing the load.
‘You called upon me in trouble and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place of thunder and proved you at the waters of Meribah.
‘Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
‘There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god.
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I shall fill it.’

But my people would not hear my voice and Israel would not obey me. So I sent them away in the stubbornness of their hearts, and let them walk after their own counsels.

O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! Then I should soon put down their enemies and turn my hand against their adversaries. Those who hate the Lord would be humbled before him, and their punishment would last for ever. But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock would I satisfy them.

Psalm 147.13-end
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion; For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them; he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.
Alleluia.

Genesis 8.1-14
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.

In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

Matthew 24.29-end
‘Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

‘Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”, and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Collect
Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Some days it's a Struggle . . .

You know what it is like when Sunday comes around - you're faced with those difficult choices:



Sundays

How do you do yours?

Christians and Social Action: Tamworth

For indeed we, Church, are the 'Big Society' (always have been to be honest!).

Last Sunday night we in Tamworth got to celebrate tha treality as Rev Dr Steve Jonathan (Tamworth Elim) spoke of the work of the Tamworth Foodbank, outlining how since it began some two years ago how it has provided some seventeen tonnes of food and how this represented the feeding of fourteen people every since the work began. Steve went on to explain how those who came were not homeless but were generally families who have hit hard times, been made redundant, suffered from illness or were experiencing benefit delay: these represent a good cross-section of the UK’s hidden hungry.  He continued by celebrating the work of the many volunteers and the coordinator: Lynn Le Worthy. The Rev Graham Criddle, minister of Tamworth Baptist Church, prayed for the work of Foodbank:


Next up was Jean Taylor who spoke about the work of the Starfish Project – a work that began in March 2006 to provides support for those who have been troubled by addiction and other issues. The work has expanded to three sites – St Editha’s in the centre of town, St Andrew’s in the Leyfields area and St Martin’s in Stonydelph and sees a number of people helped by a wide volunteer base representing all the churches. The Rev Ian Howarth prayed for this work:



Following on we heard from Rev Mike Harris (St Editha’s, Amington) who spoke about the TCHA (Tamworth Cornerstone Housing Association) which, since the early nineties has provided accommodation for thirty young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five years of age and has recently, with the support of Tamworth Borough Council, gained Housing Corporation financial support.

The work has recently expanded in the shape of the ‘New School’ which offers education to exam standards (GCSE) for those who don’t ‘do’ school.  Essentially it is a small independent school (OFSTED approved), which takes in secondary age pupils who are struggling in mainstream education and are considered ‘non school attenders’.  They come from many of the secondary schools and Academies in Tamworth and often flourish in this environment.  It is a privilege to attend their Leavers Assembly along with parents (some) to witness the steps they’ve taken and the awards they’ve achieved.

This is a key work that re-engages young people with education and a future and gives them the opportunity to live in safe and supportive surroundings to re-establish themselves on the home front too – The work was prayed for by the Rev Hugh Baker, former Vicar of Fazeley:



The final work represented was that of Tamworth’s Christians Against Poverty and Sue Silcock who is the lead for this ministry delivered this.

Working out of Tamworth Baptist Church’s building in Belgrave Sue spoke of some thirteen years of ministry working with people in their homes to help families establish budgets and discharge their 'debts. Sue told of how one family with debts of £53,000 had been helped and how, six years on, they would be debt free by the summer. This is one of the seven hundred families helped over the thirteen years of this ministry. The Rev Adrian Argile prayed for the ministry:



Having celebrated the work of the Christians in the town the congregation was led in a confession of faith and a reaffirming of the covenant to work together by Fr Noel N’tungu, one of the clergy from the team serving the Catholic churches of our town:


 THANK YOU one and all for a great service and for a fantastically engaged bunch of Christians

Tamworth Street Angels Commissioned

Last Sunday (19th Jan) Paul Blakey MBE, the founder of Street Angels came to Tamworth Covenanting Churches (TCC) Celebration and gave the address, during which he spoke of the opportunities Street Angels presented to change our community and to help those who might otherwise struggle to be kept safe as we shared in an expression of God’s love to the community. He pointed to the many areas of social engagement that were changing the lives of those in Tamworth and celebrated the work that Christians can do when they work together.


The Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill who prayed for and commissioned the Street Angels followed the address and as he did he also challenged the Christians of Tamworth to pray for and offer support for this valuable work.




After the service, some of the Street Angels took the opportunity to have a photograph with the various representatives present:

L-R: Rev Ian Howarth, Chris Pincher MP, Rev Adrian Argile, Wendy Van Den Bergh, Andrea Treadwell, Carol Higgs, David Cooley, Andy Bradshaw, Rev Vic Van Den Bergh, Martin Johnson, Emma Cooley, Mary Wilson, Rev Tim Flowers, Fil Comley, Paul Blakey MBE, Michelle Bayley, Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, The Wp John Garner 
 In all a great evening was had by all - Thank You - to all who make it such a success