Monday, 31 October 2011

Middle Ground - Reading Wider

The first area we consider is that with respect to Bible study and interpretation:

"We will seek to widen our reading (looking at a range of theological writers rather than only those who support our current viewpoint) and we will seek to deepen our understanding, prayerfully seeking God’s revelation through our study."

Dialogue and reading widely are the only way to embrace and understand the issues that challenge and, at times, frustrate the Church (and presumably, us!). To do this we do this we need to understand the intended outcome, baggage and preconceptions on the part of the author, for few write without such, and of the reader who is likewise rarely unfettered or free from opinion.

Problems come when that which is held to be traditional is eschewed on the grounds of God wanting us ‘to be happy’, a warrant that supports many a liberal thinking person it seem! The same is true of those whom I would consider to be fundamentalist ‘book burners’ in that their rigid, joyless and often equally ‘proof-texted’ offerings, being often contextually in the shallows, are more about their reaction than the action to which they respond.

As Christians we are called to be ellenctic – that is to embrace a Socratic form of dialogue whereby one puts their point of view, beliefs and understanding and then the other person puts theirs and offers corrections and issues questions. This done the process is reversed and so the ball passes backwards and forwards across the net until both sides agree or come to a position of respectful disagreement!

Sadly, those who usually seek to ‘read wider’ or do ‘deeper theology’ are often found to be looking for that Philosopher’s stone that will turn that which was previously prohibited into something that bears the warrant of God. There is also to issue that whilst the liberal will seek what might be considered to be ‘liberal’ liberties or extra-biblical revelations (i.e. I was recently in dialogue with someone who revealed that most of the Gospels were the result of editing and by use of form, redaction and other critical methods we could discount about half of the Bible and find that universalism, homosexuality and polygamous marriage were all permitted before the editor’s pen was employed!)

The bottom line is that we should all read widely – I have as many, if not more, books from authors whose theology and views oppose mine and often gain more from those books that find me shouting at them than those that find me nodding.
The passages I find myself coming back to time and time again are (in book order):

Micah 6: 6 – 8
“With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Matthew 7: 1 – 5; 12
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

1 John 4: 19 – 21
“We love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”


The Middle Ground - A dialogue

Well, I hope it will be a dialogue!

I recently received an email from a lady by the name of Jane regarding a number of areas for consideration and discussion regarding the development of a 'Middle Ground' (non-affirming but non-condemning) during the ongoing debates and discussions over the knotty issue of same-sex relationships.

Hopefully we can kick off some intelligent and balanced dialogue on this (I will also put this on the cavedwellers forum - contact me if you'd like a password as there are a few steps to getting in. Keeps the place nice and conflict free).

So here we go . . . Next blog entry will be the first of many on this:

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Mission Shaped Intro

This time next week we will have finished the first session of the 'Mission Shaped Intro' course here at St Francis', something that excites me immensely. That said I'm not sure how many we will get coming and the potential for disappointment (for some) is great - but I'm happy if we get half a dozen and anything over that will be a blessing indeed.

So a request.

Please pray:

+ for those who might decide to come that they will be informed, enabled and released.

+ for the team who will be leading sessions during the course (Reader, Pioneer Minister, Dogcollar).

+ that from those who come we find people discovering vocations that lead to ministries being shaped.


Couldn't Fault a Word - yet

Came away dry and frustrated by this morning's Radio Four worship.

All the right words and a sound sermon and yet dry and turgid to the extent that I lost the will to live as I listened to it.  Don Carson was as you'd expect him to be, the music was solid and professional and yet there was something missing. Hard as I tried it was an uphill struggle and since I am someone who has the opinion that worship is about giving, why on earth couldn't I? What was my problem and why did I struggle?

Everything was there and yet, like an unconvincing painting which although photograph like leaves one cold, the Grace Baptist Mission offering from Solihull aired this morning left me unmoved and whilst intellectually able to say 'hallelujah' left me behind a glass window - untouched and unable to connect. emotionally or spiritually.

Oh dear!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Caption Contest - 23

As so many have asked for this to be continued I thought I'd be just a little topical!

Time to fetch the canons?

I am saddened that some have seen to make capital out of the confusion of St Paul's Cathedral staff and that there appears, on a number of levels, to be a distinct lack of Christian love, integrity and most of all awareness.

The reality is that moves will be made to evict those who are camped outside St Paul's but behind the surface of this is a great deal of double-speak, self-serving posturing and and erosion of the public awareness of just how engaged the Church (universal) and the Church of England (local) is with the causes, and opinions, embraced by those camping outside the church building.

What people are being encouraged to miss is the fact that we still provide care and represent people when they are in times of trouble and tend the broken and much more besides all because of a few bob and a desire, on the part of some, to make a martyr!

Simple answer - STOP IT!

Liked this cartoon from the Mail (Thanks Jon)


Friday, 28 October 2011

Not What Jesus Would Do?

It is sad that today I have heard more about the Church of England, St Paul's Cathedral in particular, today that I have heard for some time. This is not about the actions of one man resigning but the situation whereby the CofE is billed as caring more about the bottom line on its balance sheet than it does about offering the cure of souls and the support of the marginalised and disposed - something that has a deeper ring to it with today's publication of a survey of director's pay by IDS (Income Data Services)!

On a day when it is revealed that directors of FTSE 100 companies have received pay rises in excess of 50% over the past year meaning an average salary (including benefits) of something around £2.7m whilst their employees received between 2.2% - 3.2% and the public sector find their wages frozen! Is it any wonder that people are taking to the streets in response? What makes it worse is that the company's represented weren't doing showing comparable gains?

What St Paul's should have done is open its doors and welcome the people in, offering services and praying around them. If they wanted to be the guests in a home then they should either be welcomed or turned away - the question is, as ever, "What Would Jesus Have Done?"

Opening our church buildings to those who need a place of security is something that has always been the province of the Church. We have tended the ill, comforted the bereft and fed, clothed and housed the poor. Have we lost this in our struggle for sustainability and handed control of the Church to the balance sheet rather than the Holy Spirit?

As for Giles Fraser - he's irrelevant in this discussion and so will rightly be passed by with nothing but this reference to say that I know he's one of the (many) players in this farce and the spotlight for some might only turn out being the light that exposes the guilty!

Still, ignoring the sideshows once again we find ourselves living in troubled and troubling times indeed.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Vocations for Mudbloods

Supporting vocations is one of the most challenging and rewarding areas I find myself engaged with. Having recently organised an event for ministers I was surprised when someone spoke of what had gone on from a 'Muggle point' of view as I'd never thought of clergy and laity in those terms. The parallels are quite striking for I often come across people who are looking for me to come to their church building to do the 'magic words' over the elements. Now I have to add that the 'magic words' observation is not mine but really does appear to be how some regard the epiklesis (invocation of 'calling down' of the Holy Spirit.

The Potteresque image also appears to extend into those who are ordained in the fact that there are some who are 'purebloods' whilst many more are truly to be considered 'mudbloods' and this has an impact (note - not 'impacts upon'!) on the path to ordination that quite a few I have met take. Confused? Let me explain . . .

For those whose father, and generally it is still father at this time, was or is ordained there is feeling that following in the family business is not such a surprise (although it quite often is!). For those who come from a long line of families where the common family occupation is, "Anything but being a Vicar," it all comes as a bit of a shock. This is especially true in households where having 'a faith' of any kind is the exception rather than the rule.

Many years back, whilst visiting a hospice, my potty-training group were engaged by the outgoing bishop of somewhere or other. He entered the room where we were gathered and spoke of the privilege of ministry and the fact that, despite the fact we let 'anyone' in these days', the Church of England was still, "One of the greatest gentleman's clubs in the world!" It might well be true that the public school/Oxbridge, parent is a priest (or better still a bishop!) candidate will find the path to ordination natural, simple and encouraged/supported. nevertheless, the fact is that I have every confidence that those 'mudbloods' who put themselves forward will also find their vocations recognised and endorsed.

So, for those of you out there reading this - be encouraged, if you have a calling to ordained ministry look to discerning what it and take it to someone who can help you progress with it. Contact your DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordinands) or a Vocations Advisor and take the first step on a journey that will help you be who, and what, you are called to be in the Church.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Predictive Text and Language Abuse

BBC's Phil Dawkes raised me from my slumbers with his report of a goal to Everton in their battle against ten-man Chelsea. What stirred me wasn't the football but the confused use of the English language. Here's the offending piece:

"Everton goal: Just when it was looking like Everton we're heading out of the Carling Cup, Louis Saha drags them back in. Seamus Coleman's cross is headed in at the near post by the Frenchman and Goodison erupts. We could well be looking at an extra half hour here."

The 'were' and 'we're' confusion seems to be more and more prevalent and it beggars the question, "Is this predictive text (PT) at it's worst?"

Perhaps the Phil is sitting, adding content on his iPad, and in the frenzy of the game misses (just like me at times) the failings of PT. Either way - early night postponed :)

Just for fun, if you have PT have a go at entering a few random keystrokes and see what you get. Here's my message to the world:

Gumshoe Rhein wickets

Hot nightie

Footprints or Stonecatcher?

Many years ago Me and Mrs. Vicarage found ourselves sitting in a service where a young lady earnestly walked up to the lectern and read the words of the massively familiar 'Footprints'. With serious tone the account of being carried through the tough times was communicated to us and at the end, looking up, the reader said a loud 'Amen'. Shaken, as it looked like the poor love thought it was from the Bible, I could only give thanks that she hadn't ended with, "This is the Word of the Lord," as I would have to have said, "Is it?".

Later I struggled with the 'Prayer of Jabez', a mantra designed to make sure that God gives us what we want and so, refreshingly, the image below has no Bible verse attached; No Scriptural story paraphrased, just a précis of Who, What and How Jesus functions in our life is we would but let Him:

I hope I can remember to Thank God for the brickbats that haven't reached me because Jesus stands between me and them - being justified comes at a price that I have never paid but gratefully depend upon.


Monday, 24 October 2011

The Vicar does Tenby

This year's Summer holiday took in what I called 'the walled city of Tenby'. A great holiday with much to celebrate and memories to treasure!

Having arrived on the Monday we happened across Tenby Salvation Army's citadel and all commented on the things that went on there. We were especially attracted to their Sunday evening 'café church' service. Every time we parked in Tenby we passed the sign and looked forward to Sunday, 6pm and 'café style topical worship'. Sunday arrived and, unusually for us, we arrived at 5:45pm and were greeted with a notice:

Well, we were disappointed but we went looking on the Esplande and eventually, finding nothing, gave up!

Assuming the open-air thing wasn't a spur of the moment happening it would have helped to have put the notice up after the previous Sunday's services were done. The cherries on the cake were that we'd left a great day on the beach to be frustrated and we'd also fancied a beach worship in Saundersfoot but as it was same time as the Sally Ann café we kept to our original plans and ended up with nothing :-(

A lesson in communication for us all I hope, for I'm sure we have all had similar happenings in the churches in which we find ourselves, or have we?


ps. Tried to post images but no joy - blogger still having niggles!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Find a church building

But no one is home!

The problems with the (closed) rural churches I have happened across are:

1. The church building was closed and there was nothing on view to tell the would be worshipper (WBW) when it was supposed to be open.

2. The church building was locked but there was a notice informing the WBW of the date and time but sadly I was there on the right day, and at the right time, but was alone! (I later found out that there was a special joint service to celebrate something and they didn't think of posting the news because 'everyone knew')!

3. The church building was locked and a notice telling the WBW where the service that day was BUT it just said (as a 'for instance' - St James'. Problem was, it didn't say where St James' was!

4. The church building was closed and the rota of which church, when, was posted in the porch, behind a closed (and locked) wooden door!

5. The church building was open and I had a great time, hopefully others might also experience that if they persevered. Sadly, I fear, many do not!


ps. UKV, tried to post this as a response to your post but can't get system to let me comment. Your solution would have been very welcome.

A Sunday off!

Today is a rarity in the Vicar household in that we have a Sunday off!

Children number one and two are away with the Air Cadets and three and four remain in bed. So what do we do on a day off? Easy answer - we go to church!

When on the narrowboat I always try to do a Sunday service and yet increasingly find church buildings that are locked and empty, a sign informing the would be worshipper that the place is only used every other week, or at eight, ten or eleven on various days (see rota in the [locked] porch!!!). Seems that the issue of sustainability, shrinking clergy resources, ageing congregations and other challenges all come together to make church-going for the casual attender up there with winning the lottery.

So today the question isn't 'where shall I go?' but more like 'where can I go '. Of course this could be addressed by increasing use of non stipendiary or ordained local ministers but then there is the question of managing and paying for the upkeep of the bricks and mortar.

Solve one problem and find another one lurking behind it!

Happy Sunday

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Oh dear - I'm still here!

And I'm assuming that everyone else is still around by the telephone calls and emails I've had this morning!

So once again we find Harold falling short with his predictions and although fewer seemed to be concerned, more seemed doubtful of him and the possibility that Christ will ever return. I can cope with the first but am troubled by the capital many have and probably will make from this.

But at least we get to see the World Series out and see the Manchester club and United play tomorrow (unless of course He comes today!).


Friday, 21 October 2011

Today, is it gonna be the day?

I rather liked these words when they first came to be in the early seventies, still do:

He shall come as a thief in the night,
At a time that no man shall know,
A time known only by God in heaven,
He'll come to take those who to Him belong.

Up in the sky, He will take His own,
Those who've rejected Him, He'll leave behind.
For those taken, praising, rejoicing,
Nothing but sorrow, for those He's left behind.

So be on your guard, be watching and waiting,
Follow the Lord in all of your ways,
Live as He calls you and love all regardless,
For He will come again, perhaps today!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Camping - Last day before paradise?

Nope - don't think so, but just in case:

Why not tidy the study and make sure that you have clean underwear on all day tomorrow. After all the thought of leaving behind dirty underwear would leave my Mother (and so I assume the same for yours) mortified.

I've returned all the library books and intend to read my Bible tonight as an indication of my being a really good, worth taking, Christian and won't watch Question Time tonight so that I maintain my sanctified position.

I have agreed with everyone today so that they will feel good about me and will put a good word in with God when they pray and I've been nice to those who I reckon have no chance of being taken so that if I end up with them their boss might go a little easier on me (or should I have been wicked so he knows I'm one of his?).

So that's it - going out for a curry with a friend and then back home to hang out my stocking, check the pumpkin patch, and trim the tree!

So all that's left for now is praying for the world and a quick check to see if the dolphins are still there!


Dale Farm - What's Christ got to do with it?

The image of flames, a blue sky and the silhouette of a woman waving a cross all combine to beggar the question, "Dale Farm - What's Christ got to do with it?" For some the answer will be 'nothing' whilst for others the response will surely be 'everything'!

The imagery of the powers of darkness (the police, bailiffs and Basildon Council) being repulsed by the powers of light as seen in the Cross of Christ (but made flesh in the residents and protesters of Dale Farm) is powerful indeed. If only it were as simple as that, but life just isn't is it (or is that just my life)?

The facts are clouded and misrepresented by many factors but my understanding is:

i. The site was illegal,

ii. Appeals were made to the legal system to keep the residents on the land.

iii. The same legal system, when it failed to support the residents claim, has been thrown over by the
residents and their 'supporters'.

iv. The police aren't going to come out with anything but bad press, especially as it seem the 'observers' are there to ignore the actions of the Dale farm supportes and focus purely on the police and bailiffs.

v. Basildon Council could have elected to help the residents with a new site but chose not to (which is their right - they could say their only concern is their own patch, everyone else does!).

I see a local RC Priest, Dan Mason, has spoken out critically against the police action yesterday saying that, "The police were not due to lead the operation but ensure that there were no breaches of the peace on either side," something that I think their action actually did. I have little doubt that the bailiff's men would have managed to set the condition for removing those illegally occupying (and they are, according to law, illegal) the site. In fact I have to say I think the police were amazing yesterday; Criticised for using tasers when rocks, stakes, urine and other stuff was thrown at them (didn't see anyone vilify those who did that) and patient in removing people from the precarious places they had placed themselves. Applause - not brickbats is the order of the day from where I watched!

The problem is that this is descending into a 'them and us' situation. Nice people against the pikeys and all that. I see that one poll has 93% of its respondents in favour of the evictions and the attitudes against travelling folk will be hardened as a result. Basildon loses money but I think the travellers and Gypsies (not always the same) will be the biggest losers at the end of the day!

So where is Christ in this? He is on the side of the marginalised, the oppressed - the weak, poor and abused and the problem is that lost within the actions of muppets with face-masks, hoods and helmets are people who are vulnerable and about to lose their homes. The problem is that lost within the desire to be right and the desire to keep certain types away from 'nice' and good citizens we los the fact that travellers are people too.

Where I am, we had an influx of travellers some time back and the rise in petty theft, violence and other community-unsettling happenings was all pretty much attributable to this presence. The same people who broke the law used it to enable them to walk free and act against those who were protecting themselves. The law was a friend when it aided their cause and ignored when it acted against them. The parallels with Dale Farm are real and obvious. But still, these people are exactly that - people and to deny them that is to deny the visible image of the unseen God before us and thus remove any Christian warrant from our actions and removes any hope of a Christian response within it as well.

Where is Christ in this?

As close as those involved wish Him to be.

Standing next to the oppressed waiting to be involved with them - not throwing bricks or waving sticks, but covering the downtrodden with His love and seeking for them to act as He would have done. Whether this means turning the other cheek or the tables - that's another question for another day perhaps, but I know which of the two is right here.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Camping - Two days to go?

May 21st saw a 'spiritual' rapture and Friday apparently sees the physical rapture! The interesting thing for me in all this is that Harold and his crew appear to be rather unsure about it and the world, secular and spiritual, are playing their part in this remake of the story of 'the boy who cried "Wolf" '.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned here.

When I was at school we had a boy who was obviously bright and yet always failed to come through with homework and results. Every now and then he'd resolve to up his game, but never did! Eventually the teachers looked to lesser mortals, who responded and rose up the (streamed) classes, and left him to mediocre results and a life in the exciting world of civil service pen-pushing (nothing wrong with that but he wanted science as a career).

I regularly encounter a Christian whose lifestyle denies the Christian message they proclaim. The result of this is that they, and Christ, become the focus of jokes and our evangelist sows seeds of ridicule rather than life.

Camping is billed as being a 'nutter' and stories abound of a man who has lost the plot on a number of levels. Many now discount his words and have put Jesus' return into the tray marked 'never going to happen' or 'wishful thinking' or worse!

So, as we draw nearer to 'R Day' can I challenge us to think about where the continued and obvious failings, the lack of fulfilling our promise or living the Christian life, act against the kingdom of God and its increase.

So, don't sort Camping out - start closer to home with the person in the mirror and see how we can help them, and others, be fit for heaven.


Dale Farm

Finding myself an exile from my native London, in what is pretty much the very centre of England, it felt rather strange that yesterday a couple of people asked me what I thought about the Dale Farm situation. Now this isn't what I would call a 'Church' issue in that the Church is not obviously involved in the situation but of course, it is very much a 'Church' problem in that it is an area of pastoral and moral concern.

My view was that what the people occupying the site had done was illegal and that the Council had every right to apply for and, if the application was upheld, ask those living on the site to vacate it. The problem is that there are a number of factors involved here:

People - public morality - lawfulness (and lawlessness) - public money.

My view was that surely there must be a packet of land somewhere near that could have been set-up to accomodate the residents of Dale Farm and that developing and moving the residents to this must be cheaper than the cost of paying the salaries of the british legal profession.

I was (and still am) under the impression that the threat of cost, poor publicity, manipulation of the legal elements and violence were all brought together by the residents (along with the so called 'protesters' who bring their violence and civil disobedience under the guise of supporting the residents) to scare Basildon Council off from clearing the site.

This view was confirmed by a resident of the site on this morning's Radio Four News programme who told listeners that by the time they'd finished clearing the site, the violence and their response would herald a new era of Gypsy and Traveller rights as no Council would dare to go up against them again!

I am sorry, but the threat of violence must never be allowed to overthrow the rule of law and such thinking must be dealt with fairly and with the minimum of violence, but the rule of law cannot be thrown aside because of fear. It is a great shame that common sense (on all sides) has not prevailed, but now there is no option left available to either side and we can do is pray that some commonsense and a minimum of force used (or required) will prevail and that those vulnerable residents are engaged with properly.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

If . . .

If you were to come today
What would I do - what would I say
Who would I meet - who would I see
How many would be surprised at seeing me?

The things I've done
The man I am
The life I've lived - the pious sham
You saw through that and loved me still
Thought just of me as you climbed the hill
Bloodied hands around the cross,
My greatest gain your greatest loss!

But if you don't and no trumpet sounds
Keep our feet from sinking ground
And help us in our daily grind
With holy hands and holy mind
To live in love - to look like you
Until our daily grind is through.

A prayer for this, and every, day.

Camping - Three days to go?

I have been trying hard to get people to think about what Harold Camping has predicted regarding the New Revised Rapture (NRR) date of October 21st and hoped that people might at least learn from the surrounding bits and pieces and refrain from getting around to some form of vehement or vitriolic (alliterative excellence noted) rejoinders, the problem is that Christians are getting fed up with the 'Ready to Go?' and the 'didn't happen last time, won't happen this time - in fact it's never going to happen!' comments from non-Christians.

Watching the ITN report (below) I was most taken up by the word 'probably' - seems to me that this isn't a place for probably. The word that we need to use is 'definitely' with the suffix, 'but we don't know when'!

I'm not expecting the rapture this Friday (but I'd welcome it) but I know that the day is coming when the Lord returns. I look at the things that are going on in this world - natural and man-made - and see the 'birth pangs', the contractions appear to be closer together and deeper and pray for the day when war is no more, when death is done with and all created things live as they were intended.

Today - if you feel like abusing Camping (the man, not the hobby) turn that into a prayer for those who mock the man and deny that Christ will ever return.

Today - when you feel that you've given all you can, think of those who have given all they have and sacrificed themselves (and their families) on the altar of this sad and misplaced campaign and thank God for the place you are in and pray for those who (once more) will be confounded when the rapture doesn't happen.

Today - take the opportunity to share the Gospel because of the publicity that Camping and his crew have gained. After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity and the opportunity to speak of Christ, the Cross and His return may no be as strong as this week.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Camping - stop calculating and be ready!

"“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, 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 when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master 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 hour you do not expect."

These words are the cherry on the cake really - not much need to say more (so I won't).

Therefore you must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect!

People get ready there's a train a comin' - you don't have to worry just . . . .

There’s a Train A Comin’ from Chinle Miller on Vimeo.

ps. why not share this with your man Jude?

Camping - Four days to go?

One of the people leaving comments on this blog mentioned that the Rapture is set for the Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish feast of Rosh Hashanah, which takes place in the seventh month (Tishrei) which due to the way the Jewish calendar works means sometime in September/October in our (Gregorian) calendar.

This means that some Messianic and evangelical types (especially the people who want to rebuild temples and help God along with getting stuff right for the return) will be looking to the same time as Camping but will see it as the right place on the calendar but with the wrong year attached! Perhaps someone needs to work out when future feasts of Rosh Hashanah fall on a 21st October and encourage those who wish to set the conditions for prophecies regarding the end-times to get their finger out and build (or whatever it is they have to do) to head towards that time (wonder if God has a Gantt Chart on His wall?).

For those who wonder where some get the 'feast of trumpets' date from, it is derived from 1 Thessalonians 4: 13 - 16:

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."

Don't see how this relates to Rosh Hashanah but this is the place I was first taught that the rapture (Parousia) will take up the 'dead in Christ' first and then the living in the twinklinh of an eye (i.e. pretty darned quickly!).

We have many more Bible passages to consider and will continue along that path some time later today when life lets me.

Happy Monday - Be ready, He will return - but in His own time, not ours!


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Camping - Five days to go?

Part the third - Sunday 16th October

Got a Bible hand? Good stuff!

So let's look at the Bible bits regarding the return of Christ and in doing so, beginning with 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 4, we find:

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you bare not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief."

So the day is going to come upon us as a bit of a surprise (and for some a shock) and as such tells us that we won't know when. Mind you, not knowing has never stopped people from trying to find out or posturing as if they have some esoteric knowledge has it? But words that make the process of trying to predict it seem, perhaps, a little futile.

Luke 12: 35 - 40:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, heh would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

A bit of a pattern emerging here in that we shouldn't be wasting our time scaring the goats but should be working at making sure there were as many sheep as possible and ensuring that those sheep were prepared to go when the 'Day of the Lord' comes upon us!

Matthew 25: 1 - 13:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For 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, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

"For you know neither the day nor the hour," sort of sums it up.

So here's the first bit of thinking - more tomorrow.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

The things people say - 2

Listening to the Liverpool vs Manchester United match today the commentator exclaimed that Manchester\s defence were, "All at sixes and sevensies!'

Thursday night saw me being taken to an open evening at a college where, asking about one of the 'A' levels on offer were told, "Forty percent of the final mark is based upon coursework and the other seventy is taken from the exam results." Fortunately the course wasn't mathematics!

Earlier still in the week whilst asking after the health of one of the old folk in the patch I was candidly informed that the Gynae had told her that things were quite bad 'down below'. In fact, as she rightly told me, "You wouldn't want to see the inside of my womb!"

Mind you, talking to a diocesan officer this week my telephone battery chose to turn the telephone off such that I ended up telling the bloke that I loved him! Good job the feeling is mutual :-)

I just love the way people (me included) say the most awful and awfully funny things and still shudder at some of the candour adopted by people as they get older. That said the first place has to be the child who, a couple of days after Shrove Tuesday, informed me that his Mum had given him his dad's pancake because he'd given Auntie Pauline one! The look on some of the assembled faces was magic - and we just went down the road of 'Two pancakes, wow - you were lucky!" and carried on without flinching.

The dog-collars lot is rich and varied indeed.

Happy Saturday - commiserations to Wales fans!

Camping - Six days to go?

Part the second - Saturday 15th October
Hopefully you've had a go at validating HC's calculations, or better still derived your own date, so now you can move on to the next stage. If you haven't managed to do the calculations then HC's own effort will do.

There are two ways of doing the next bit - Get the telephone numbers of two or three leaders of local churches or fellowships (have you got your Yellow Pages?) or go up the chain to someone higher and telephone them with the date and ask them whether you should be worried (that you probably are or are not going) and what they think about the situation.

I've asked a couple of people, one from a mainstream denomination and one from a trickle and got told that there is nothing in the predictions and that there might be (respectively). I've also tried this on a JW friend and he thought the issue was more about HC than the date or predicting (mind you being a JW doesn't encourage you to make predictions about the world's end now, does it?).

It is handy to drop in a few of the numerology bits as this was questioned by the mainstream person and totally taken onboard by the other, which is perhaps the development of a litmus test for wackiness (a serendipitous event indeed)!

I have found this exercise rather useful in that you get to understand just how ridiculously difficult, if not impossible, the whole idea of calculating the date of the rapture is (and that's without getting into the Bible - which is next) and has given me an ability to both challenge and enlighten others from a place of understanding of the complexity (and futility) of the task. The numerology was fun to see how many I could remember from a series of lectures that dealt with it from a Biblical and misapplication stance.

Hope those who are playing this game are finding it equally enlightening and enjoyable.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Camping - Seven days to go?

Seven days to go and today's occupying exercise requires a Bible, calculator, paper and pen (or pencil if you haven't got your pen licence yet!), a copy of your local yellow pages and a telephone. As most of us are buy buying T-shirts and writing lists I have (kindly) decided to spread the exercise over a few days, so here goes with the first part:

Friday 14th October'
Have a go at checking and validating Harold's prediction. For this you will need a brief understanding of the key bits of numerology. For those of you who are new to this exact science, here's the first ten (plus a bonus) to get you started:

ONE - the number of God, who is UNITY (as the shema [Deut 6:4] tells us, the LORD our God is ONE)

TWO - the number of DIVISION - good and bad, light and dark, hot and cold, sheep and goats, Man Utd supported and everyone else! You can use any example you wish for they (like, apparently, the choices we make) are all valid!

THREE - the number of PERFECTION or COMPLETENESS. 3/4 time used to be called 'perfect time' and was denoted by a circle (4/4 is 'imperfect' hence the broken circle). Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the most commonly cited here but I also like starter, main and sweet!

FOUR - the number of CREATION. The four seasons, the ordinals, North, East, South,and West, the fourth commandment (about God's creation - earth) all fit this.

FIVE - the number of GRACE. David's five stones when he fought Goliath, the number of atonementand errr, knocking-off time?

SIX - the number of MAN. Man was made on the sixth day, six days of creation (and man is a created thing) and (according to some) if you start with 36and then add the next number below it until you get to zero, you get 666 and this proves that this is the number of the antichrist (some people don't have much to do with their lives, do they?).

SEVEN - is the number of SPIRITUAL PERFECTION. Seven days, seven churches, seven Spirits of God, Seven golden candlesticks, Seven stars, Seven lamps, seven colours in the rainbow, Seven trumpets and seven buttons on a shirt!

EIGHT - is the number of NEW BEGINNINGS. Eight people on the Ark, circumcised on the eight day.

NINE - is the number of JUDGEMENT. Nine Greek words for judgement (not at all tenuous)

TEN -is the number of DIVINE PERFECTION. Tithe (a tenth), ten commandments, ten plagues, ten virgins (must be a posh area!) all fir the bill here.

SEVENTEEN - the number of HEAVEN. You will need this!

So there we are - a glimpse of how number have meanings. Now Harold uses numerology and key dates so you will also need to know the following:

Date of Crucifixion: first of April 33AD

Number of days from first of April to end of april = 30

Day of the month (thirty days have September, April, May and November, all the rest have thirty-one excepting February which has twenty-eight days clear and twenty-nine each leap year!) - so you can work out the number of days between April and October dates.

Number of days in a solar year = 365.24219

Now all you have to do is use multiples of the above numbers to get the right answer. I suggest that you consider Camping's method (using Atonement, Completeness and Heaven) and see where you calculate the date to be. (I'd check on the crucifixion day, my Mum remembered it as being nearer my birthday - 10th April)!

Here's Harold's earlier (incorrect) workings to compare your results with. I think the problem is that he's left out MAN, GOD, UNITY and both the perfections ( (6, 1, 3, 7 & 10).


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Camping - Eight days to go?

I'm sure it's right this time!

Eight days left - so to help pass the time today:

Make a list of all the Christians you don't really like and pray (really hard) that you get 'Taken Up' and they get 'Left Behind'.


Make a list of the people you would really like to see raptured and pray (even harder) that they are taken up next week. If you're struggling, here's a few suggestions which might help:

1. Richard Dorkins,
2. Ed Milliband,
3. Stephen Hawking,
4. Wayne Rooney (sorry God!),
5. England Rugby Team (all of them),
6. Christopher Hitchens,
7. Dan Barker,
8. Ken Ham (He couldn't do any more damage to 'scientific' Christians then!)

Feel free to add your own!

Happy Thursday - off to do harvest assembly, Chaplains' Day and College thingywotsit!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Camping - Nine days to go?

Nine days left and here's today's top thing you can do to pass the time (after you've enjoyed the new billboard):

Buy an 'I survived the Rapture' T shirt.

If Camping is right (did I really write that?) then you can leave it as a gift for a non-believing friend as a parting Christian gift and if he's wrong ('if' - there I go again) you can wear it and look like you are a hip and cool type who knew it was bunkum all along.

A 'can't lose' situation!


ps. I understand that the October day is also available!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Why the Army Covenant must be law!

Keeping stress-related mental illness, homelessness and those in need in the foreground a little longer I offer you this for your personal reflection and your understanding of why we need the Army covenant to become part of British law;

Click to see this full-size

Please tell others - feel free to pass this graphic on - thanks

Camping - Ten Days and Counting

But not expecting!

World Mental Health Day

Yesterday was World mental Health Day - A day which hopefully raises the profile, and awareness, of mental health issues and encourages full, frank, open and honest discussion about this often problematic topic.

I was going to say that I struggle with my Christian faith at times, especially when it comes to mental health, but as soon as the words appeared on the screen I realised that in fact my struggle isn't with my faith or with God but with those who call themselves Christian. My reasons for this are easy to understand and simple to speak out (I hope). So I will try and explain them using some stuff from the Bible (it is what Christians do!)

James 2:14 - 17 (NLT):
"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless."

This is the big problem with the issue of Christians and the poor, the homeless and the mentally ill (often, it seems, one and the same) for a number of Christians (and even more with other or no faith label). They walk past the focus of their pity and mumble, "God bless you," and hurry on by! But there is some help to be found in the Bible - Read on:

Micah 6: 6 - 8 (Revised Vic Version):
"What can we bring to the LORD?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God with offerings of direct debits?
Should we offer him our debit card numbers and our Argos catalogue of gifts?
Should we sacrifice our children to pay for our sins?
No way people, the LORD has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

What God wants is us up close and personal. We are made in His image and this displays itself in creativity, in coming alongside (parakletos - just like the Holy Spirit does with us, bringing God into our daily reality), in finding out our names and listening to our stories. I struggle with people who merely give those who beg a coin and rush by for in doing so the neither resolve the problem nor help the person!

When we see a beggar we need to stop and find out their story, engage them and come alongside. This done we provide an answer to their need - a sandwich and a drink if they need food is the fulfilling of the most basic need. Giving them the money to buy it themselves is perhaps to just fund that which supports their problem and thus is a curse rather than a blessing!

If the problem is homelessness - then there are people who deal with that (I found out the numbers of the local hostels and places of help and would give those who claimed to be homeless or with specific needs a card with the relevant numbers (and a 'phone card to ring them). So often we fail to do what is right because we are too busy or just don't know the answers - but if we keep seeing the problem can we use this as an excuse? Obviously not because the Bible has that covered too:

Matthew 7:12 (NLT)
"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."

This is up there with the 'Judge not . .' passage (beginning of the chapter). If we lived our lives on the basis of treating others as we would like to be treated then we would see a very different world and as Christians, isn't this where we should be now? I see Christians expel people because of their actions and yet in the same breath tell me that those actions were initiated by the person's mental illness! As my dear old (long departed) Mum used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I!"

She understood that the line between those who have and those who don't is fine and fragile (especially in today's financially challenging times) and to afford people the dignity that we would like to be shown is surely the conferring of a basic human right let alone a Christian duty!

So three gold-plated rules from the Big Black Book of Life (BBBoL) - Three little things that would benefit our society, help support the mentally-ill and touch the weak, marginalised and oppressed (and that's before we bless those who have!).

Easy to explain - simple to do - so why aren't we doing them?

You may turn over your papers!

Not in our churchyard

Yesterday morning after a couple of visits I found myself back at the church (charmingly referred to as the 'cardboard cathedral' by one of my friends) in time for lunch (bangers and mash). As things were drawing to a close we were visited by a homeless person who had been camping nearby and returned to find all their stuff had been stolen.

A couple of hours later, re-equipped, we looked for somewhere to put the person for a night so we could get some focus and plan a way forward. Apparently there was the potential for a local housing association to get involved and so the problem was that of finding a pitch for the night. Now plonking them on private land was not a goer and so, after seeking the opinion of a few people (none sadly much help) I found myself setting the tent up in a corner of a nearby churchyard (in a corner with no graves where someone's obviously camped before) out of the general public gaze. A modern day application of the Church giving sanctuary (or so I thought).

Sadly not, for some of the good burghers of that place wasted little time in ringing the police informing them that 'vagrants' had occupied the churchyard and others engaged in their own version of NIMCY (Not In My Church Yard). As today is world mental health day (apparently) and on the same day that the predictions of the greatest decline in family income and the greatest increase in child poverty since the 70's I despair for society and Church in equal measure.

The person in question will be gone today but the attitudes highlighted will undoubtedly remain :-(

Perhaps we need to play this to all those who call themselves 'Christian':
And when the Son of Man comes, and all the Holy Angels with him,
Then shall he sit on His Glorious throne,
And he will divide the nations before Him,
As a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
And she shall put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left,
And He shall say to the sheep; come ye, blessed of My Father,
inherit the Kingdom I have prepared for you from the foundation of the world,

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink,
I was naked, and you clothed me,
I was a stranger, and you invited me in,
I was sick, and I was in prison, and you came to me.
Thank you! Enter into your rest.

And they shall answer Him, yes, they shall answer Him,
And they'll say, Lord, when?
When were you hungry Lord, and we gave you something to eat?
Lord, when were you thirsty? I can't remember. And we gave you drink?
When were you naked Lord, and we clothed you?
And Lord, when were you a stranger and we invited you in?
I mean, we invited lots of people in Lord. I could never forget that face.
And Lord, when were you sick and we visited you?
Or in prison, and we came to you? Lord, tell us?

In as much as you did it to the least of my brethren, you've done it unto me.
Oh yes, as much as you've done it to the very least of my brethren,
You've done it, you've done it unto me. Enter into your rest.

Then He shall turn to those on His left, the goats.
Depart from me, you cursed ones, into everlasting fire,
prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was naked, out in the cold, in exposure, and you sent me away,
I was a stranger, and I knocked at your door,
But you didn't open, you told me to go away,
I was sick, racked in pain upon my bed,
And I begged, and prayed, and pleaded that you'd come, but you didn't,
I was in prison, and I rotted there,
I'd prayed that you'd come.
I heard your programs on the radio, I read your magazines, but you never came.
Depart from me!!!

Lord, there must be some mistake, when?
Lord, I mean, when were you hungry Lord and we didn't give you something to eat?
And Lord, when were you thirsty, and we didn't give you drink?
I mean, that's not fair, well, would you like something now?
Would one of the Angels like to go out and get the Lord a hamburger and a coke?
Oh, you're not hungry, yeah, I lost my appetite too.
Uh Lord uh, Lord, when were you naked,
I mean Lord, that's not fair either Lord,
We didn't know what size you wear.
Oh Lord, when were you a stranger Lord,
You weren't one of those creepy people who used to come to the door, were you?
Oh Lord, that wasn't our ministry Lord. We just didn't feel led, you know?
Lord, when were you sick? What did you have, anyway?
Well, at least it wasn't fatal; oh, it was?
I'm sorry Lord, I would have sent you a card.
Lord, just on last thing we want to know,
When were you in prison Lord? What were you in for anyway?
I had a friend in Leavenworth..


In as much as you've not done it unto the least of my brethren,
You've not done it unto me.
In as much as you've not done it unto the least of my brethren,
You've not done it unto me. Depart from Me.
And these shall go away into everlasting fire.
But the righteous into eternal life!

And my friends, the only difference between the sheep
and the goats, according to this scripture,
Is what they did, and didn't do!!

As a postscript, I have to point out that the tent was in a corner behind clumps of trees and was pretty much invisible (unless you took the trouble to seek it out) so those who took offence did so with some effort. Would be funny if it wasn't so very sad :-(

Lyrics: Keith Green - Sheep and Goats

Monday, 10 October 2011

Out the window at the wedding feast

Yesterday we had the parable of the Wedding feast (Matt 22) and the story touched me greatly in the parallels and instructions contained within it.

First the Father invites the guests to His Son's wedding feast - but they don't come.

Then He send out messengers and they are abused and killed.

So, He invites the rest of the people 'Good and bad' to the feast.

Then, arriving at the feast, seeing someone incorrectly dressed, the King has the man bound and thrown out the window into the darkness where there is a weeping and wailing and a gnashing of teeth!

Now the parallels between the Jews and the Gentiles, the former being invited first and failing to arrive and the later being invited as substitutes, is obvious and much like the vineyard owner story last week, must have caused som angst amongst the religious at the time.


1. EVERYONE is invited to the banquet. This is because Jesus died for EVERYONE!

2. The person who turns up and is improperly dressed is ejected from the party into the outer darkness.

Now point the first seems to say that we need to adopt universalist thinking, because ALL are invited. But the second says that unless we turn up properly dressed, wearing the garments of righteousness, then we are not going to get in! It seems to me that this passage tells us that we need to respond (getting clothed properly is a response, isn't it?) in the right way to live within the salvation that was won on the cross (the invitation is the Cross isn't it?).

So, my previous thinking which was:

Jesus dies for ALL and ALL are therefore given access to heaven - we just need to walk up to Him, look Him in the eyes and take our ticket from Him seems to have yet another confirmation in the Matt 22 parable.

So here's today's big question:

Are we sowing seeds of righteousness today, seeking to clothe ourselves with righteousness or are we going to live our own way trusting in a God who, father Christmas-like, will just open the doors to all?


Happy Monday

“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honour. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Sunday, 9 October 2011

English Sporting Icons

What a nation of sporting heroes England is fostering! Our football team cannot beat Montenegro even with a two-goal start but can put on a masterclass in foul and abusive behaviour (a more technically demanding speciality of course!).

Our Rugby team can't beat France because of its indiscipline (should have been 22:0 at half-time) on the pitch and continues to bring embarrassment off the pitch (as tonight's swimming escapade clearly shows!) with their drinking, abusive language and other antics.

Seems to me that the time is coming when people who can't wear an England badge with pride, and make people proud of being English, should be binned. It's time to make those who wish to represent our nation take some responsibility for their actions and show some real commitment to their sport and to the nation they seek to represent.

So Messrs Capello and Johnson, man up and cull the moronic cretins, the foul-mouthed, those who would rather abuse women, get drunk and party on, please. Give us people we can take pride in and people our kids can look at and emulate for the right reasons.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

I have to applaud a bloke by the name of Barry Lower who has Twittered the following to the BBC:
"So do I watch all the rugby or turn up late for my wedding !?!"

And can only reiterate the BBC correspondent's response:

"Bad planning Barry, bad planning!

Don't know about you but I think recording the games might be the safest option :-)

Heroes or zeroes?

I really struggle with a culture that puts some on pedestals when it is obvious that they are just a little too flawed to be there. I watch our children (society's, not mine personally thankfully) emulate and idolise these 'heroes' and despair. How do we help them see things as they are rather than as the hype would have it?

In football we hear the Football Association speak out about the bad language and poor behaviour on the pitch, promising to 'get tough' and yet the reality is that we can be sure that watching some teams is sure to reveal torrents of foul language, and this needs to stop. Ironically we have a world cup going on at the moment and I would have little problem letting my children watch the games for there is little bad language evident and no dissent visible.

If only I could say the same about football (soccer for you ex-colonial types :•) ), but I can't can I? I have stopped watching England and have found myself increasingly struggling with the game at most levels and apparently I'm not alone.

So those of us who have a public voice need to encourage parents to address the issue with their children and perhaps also write to the FA and tell them that they are part of the problem that is damaging our kids.

Let's take these faux heroes off their pedestals and applaud those who contribute to our society, demonstrate what is good and make a difference.

Time to show our over-paid 'heroes' the red card!


Friday, 7 October 2011

Paul to the fillipians (3) posse

Hey Crew, Yerright? Be happy coz Jezuz is the Geezer innit like I keeps tellin yuh!

But yah gotta keep yor eyez peeled coz sum want yah to do the circumcise bit and be like them Jewz but we dohnneedit see cos we is in Gods posse. It aint what we do but what Jezuz did when he creamed the devil, right?

As for me, well I totally own their assess, They try dissin me but I was cut o when I was eight days and they cant be dissin my family cos I is pedigree Jew - I got benjamin as a grand-daddy and that means I is fit when it is Jewz right? I ran with the Farisee posse and did the stuff, well dark I was, and no matter what they bring on - I was never mank - I was was true blud! They is just trying to dis my family cos I totally own them!

Cos now I sees their stuff as wack and trus God and Jezuz, we'r better than tem wit Him - so remember everyfing else is wack cos jezuz is skeen!

Innit it?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Farewell Steve Jobs

Visionary co-founder of Apple. A man who didn't sell computers - he offered a lifestyle and a life with style.

As one whose computing life includes life with a ][e and never looked back, the man was more than a charismatic computer wizard, he was the promise of things to come (always). From my desktop through to my iPhone his fingerprints are evident in every bit of my work and social life and yet I probably wouldn't recognise him if I'd passed him in the street!

Thoughts are with his family and those close to him (as always) and as an Apple fan my gratitude is there for the great ride he took us on.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hallowe'en - We don't do it, do we?

Many years back when our youngest was really tiny the family were engaged in a discussion over 'light parties' as an alternative to hallowe'en. We were explaining that we didn't think that putting on an alternative worked as all that happened was the kids were dropped off by their parents to a party on what everyone was calling Hallowe'en. They were dressed in outfits that (despite requests) looked like Hallowe'en costumes and the next day the parents told everyone what a great Hallowe'en party the church had put on!

The final shot in the conversation was, "I'm sorry, but we just don't do Hallowe'en!"

Up piped a wise little four-year old with, "But we do do Jesus, don't we?"

We do indeed - but this is an issue that will soon be upon us again and so I wonder how you will deal with this event, trick or treating and the other stuff(local supermarkets already crammed with merchandise)?

And a cautionary note. Alcohol and Hallowe'en don't mix either!


Ecumenism - A view from the shelter!

Being 'Churches together' (CT) appears to be a rather variable feast in that it brings a plethora (oooh, what a nice word) of benefits, hindrances and neutral happenings.

One of the biggest strengths of being in fellowship with other Christians has to be the fact that this is putting flesh on the 'See how these Christians love one another," thing! The unity that can be developed by having an effective, and real, go at being Church together is worth its weight in banane chips.

The downside is that having a go at ecumenism means that we end up in bed with some theologies and thinking that we might otherwise maintain an otherwise healthy distance from. There are even some groups, if the stories are true, who have opened their doors to groups I regard as decidedly not Christian (Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and Quakers to name but three).

There are benefits in bringing together the whole spectrum of Christian, from rampant liberal to ultra-orthodox, high-church to happy-clappy, bicyclng, nutters (a quote from a self-professed happy-clappy nutter!). Anabaptists, paedobaptist, pro and anti, informed and confused or unthinking. When there is diversity of thinking (and belief) there is also the potential to learn and understand the what, hows and whys.

The problem is that we tend not to share what makes us different and so before we know it we have a large mass of material that we dare not discuss lest it has an impact upon our unity. If we don't talk about it and carefully avoid referring to anything contentious we will survive, but the question is, what as?

The good thing is that is we work together for the benefit of the whole Church then we don't find ourselves regarding others as merely being in the business of self-interest and sheep-stealing. When we lose the unity we bring in the distrust of each other and lose collegiality for competition and this is where the Church really starts to lose out.

One of the key things of the Churches Together group where I am is that they covenanted together that where something could be done as a corpus then it would. The churches acted to work together and by so doing, they brought about relationships and trust which benefitted all. The problem is that in these financially challenging days we have the situation where within some of the Churches Together groups, and even within multiple benefice entities, clusters, circuits, parishes and the like, some are looking to pull up the ladder and look to their own, rather than the wider, interests of Church.

Where you find yourself today, in the church, fellowship or gathering that you are part of, what is the relationship with others who call themselves Christian. How are you working as a parish, cluster, circuit or whatever? How are you seeking to bless the others in the place you live and how are you blessing those other Christians around you?

We need to be careful lest we find the words of Tertullian (Apologetis ch.26) be made true:

"Vide", inquiunt, "ut invicem se diligant" - ipsi enim invicem oderunt - "et ut pro alteruto mori sint parati"; ipsi enim ad occidendum alterutrum paratiores erunt.

"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other" (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Francis of Assisi

Poor old St Francis. I have an overwhelming desire to paint a statue of St Francis with bird droppings on his shoulders and a goat munching at his brown habit. He's always seen with birds on his shoulders, sheep at his feet and other animals nuzzling and generally milling around him and because of this so many people miss the bloke for who and what he was.

Francis (AKA Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone) is more than this. A rich kid who touched a leper, bothered a bishop during his mealtime, gave away his clothes and walked home naked, gave up a rich and excessive lifestyle for a life of poverty and service. This bloke has it all and is for us a rich and demanding example should we but examine his life.

So why not look past 'All creatures of our God and King' and the 'must have' rendition of 'Make me a channel . . ' and take some pointers from the man and his life:

Dare to touch those who are outcast (this means get involved - don't go and poke the first Big Issue seller you see!).

Dare to challenge the possessions that possess and control you (we all have them).

Dare to take God at face value and live as He calls us.

Give thanks for a man whose life inspires and instructs should we but allow it.

Happy Frankie Day

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Angular Myrtle

Talking to some schoolchildren last week, one of them told me the ‘Lady who owns Germany is called Angular Myrtle!” I was pretty impressed because, spelling apart, I’m not so sure many of the adults I meet every day would get as near as that. The problem was that I wanted to praise the child for knowing the answer but felt an overwhelming desire to correct them too!

This is a problem we all encounter on pretty much a daily basis, the “Yes, but . . “ moments that we have where we want to affirm and reward and yet feel the need to offer correction too. When I was a schoolchild we had a teacher (nicknamed ‘Moonbeam’ because of his bald head) who boasted that he never awarded an ‘A’ because there was always a ‘but’ or an ‘and’ attached to every essay. No matter how hard we tried to please the man, he never wavered and would always point out how much further we could have gone.

The problem is that many of the people I meet seem to have the same idea when it comes to God. That no matter how much we change and regardless of the effort we put into our lives, He’s never happy with us. This, I am glad to be able to report, is not the truth.

I often hear children say, “Harold be thy name,” when saying the Lord’s Prayer. I guess this means we’re on first name terms with God! So let me tell you what Harold wants from you and wants to give you.

Harold has your pictures on His ‘fridge. He cheers when we get it right and celebrates every minor triumph that we have. He weeps over our tragedies and is, if we but reach out to touch Him, but a fingertip away. Yes, God takes pleasure in us and wants, like every good parent, the very best for us. But He wants relationship, not religion – for religion only tells you that you are wrong regardless of how far you’ve come. Religion tells you to give more, be more and then tells you that you are still wrong. This isn’t Christianity, for Christianity is about relationship with God.

So why not stop for a moment and thank God for your friends, family, successes and the things you are proud of – because God loves to celebrate with you. Now think of the things that trouble you - the problems, the people who are struggling and the things that need to change. Give them to God, because He is with you as you face them and will, if you ask, give you the strength, and the means, to overcome them and be blessed and a blessing to others.

In the Bible God says that He will be with us, by our side, to the very end – not a hollow promise, so why not give Him a try and find out how much Harold loves you today?