Sunday, February 19, 2017

Appointing a Vicar



over the next few days we will be mostly doing this.

Prayers appreciated, if you're that way inclined.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Time to Talk Day

CS Lewis experience in his grief still strikes a chord.

“An odd by-product of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t. Some funk it altogether. R. has been avoiding me for a week. I like best the well brought-up young men, almost boys, who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get it over, and then edge away to the bar as quickly as they decently can. Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.” ― C.S. LewisA Grief Observed

Today is 'Time to Talk' day. If you know someone who's struggling, message them and say hi. If you know someone who you suspect is struggling, but has never actually said so, message them too. So many people with mental illness fear what others will say if they admit to it. That's part of what the illness does to you. It's a hard thing to open up about mental illness, lets make it as easy as possible.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jesus' Border Policy; A Clarification

I'm prepping for Sundays sermon on Matthew 19, whilst the world debates border controls. Struck by the fact that the Kingdom of God has an open border policy for the poor in spirit, children, persecuted and those who express their faith through kindness, and stringent border controls for the rich and those who ignore the needy. 



Boycott this blog if you don't agree with it

If Chinese new years were named after cricketers, 2017 would be the Year of the Boycott. A few weeks ago an American chat show host disinvited a potential guest because of the comments they had made about homosexuality.

Ewan McGregor then disinvited himself from a chance to promote Trainspotting 2 on Good Morning Britain, after seeing what Piers Morgan had tweeted about the US Womens March.

Now over a million people want to stop Donald Trump coming to the UK, after his dreadful (and cack-handedly executed) executive order on immigration.

Making statements is all fine and good, but I worry about the boycotting bandwagon. Despite becoming more globally connected, its very easy to use social media to surround ourselves with the voices we agree with, and then imagine that this represents the world. I don't often side with Russell Brand, but this is what you do with people you don't agree with. Jesus never shied away from his enemies and the people he disagreed with. He engaged with them, exposed them, loved them, and gave them the chance to change. Retreating into right-thinking silos may feel virtuous, but in a fragmenting world, we need more loving engagement and respectful debate, not less.

If we close our borders to Trump, then we borrow his weapons. We can do better.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Alpha film series - 'who is Jesus?'

A few months ago Alpha redid there materials into a new 'film series'. These are good - nicely presented, a move away from the lecture style, to something a bit more varied. I've used the clip on the reliability of the new testament (from 6:40 in) and folk found it really helpful.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

'Setting God's People Free' - ministry on the other 6 days of the week, and who does it

A great opportunity lies before us. It is the same opportunity that has presented itself to the Church in every decade for the last 100 years. It is an opportunity that arguably has not been fully grasped since the days of Wesley. 

Will we determine to empower, liberate and disciple the 98% of the Church of England who are not ordained and therefore set them free for fruitful, faithful mission and ministry, influence, leadership and, most importantly, vibrant relationship with Jesus in all of life? And will we do so not only in church-based ministry on a Sunday but in work and school, in gym and shop, in field and factory, Monday to Saturday?

A new report 'Setting God's People Free', has just been published by the CofE in advance of next months General Synod. It tackles head on the need to equip all the members of the church, not just clergy, for full-time ministry:

According to a survey of 2859 respondents conducted in 2009 (82% had been Christians for over 10 years, 67% in some kind of leadership role in the Church, 1204 were Anglicans):
- 59% of those in working age said that the most challenging context to be a disciple of Christ was the workplace. 
- 62% of those in full-time paid employment experienced little, not much, or no help/preparation from the life and ministries of church to deal with the issues they faced at work.
-  47% said they did not have a story to tell about how God has worked in their lives (Note 82% had been Christians for over 10 years). 
-  59% (of Anglicans surveyed) said that their church does not equip people well for life in today’s world at home, work, or elsewhere.

This is shocking, but at last its being noticed and taken seriously by the whole church, not just by a few voices in the wilderness like the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, whose insights are a key part of this report.

A couple of stories from the report, to illustrate the kind of ground it covers:
I teach Sunday school 45 minutes a week and they haul me up to the front of the church to pray for me. I teach in a school 45 hours a week and the church has never prayed for me.”- Comment from a teacher

Curt is a policeman in his 40s. At an evening for 15 Christian men they are all asked, “What are you good at in the Lord at work?” No one says anything – Southern reserve perhaps. So the leader asks them to 14 write something down on a post-it note. “Well, now you have done that, you might as well read it out.” Curt goes first. He speaks hesitantly, “I work at No 10 as part of the Diplomatic Protection Group. It’s a pretty macho team.” The people in the room don’t find it hard to imagine why. These are men and women wearing Kevlar and toting submachine guns and Glock pistols, people who are prepared to shoot to kill and put their lives on the line for others. Curt continues, “Over the years there’s been quite a bit of conflict in the team but I’ve found I’m quite good at bringing people back together.” That’s all he says. And he looks a bit embarrassed and looks down at the coffee table. And then someone says, “You’ve got a ministry of reconciliation.” And Curt breaks into a smile the width of the Thames. And then someone else says, “You’re a peacemaker”. Blessed are the peacemakers. Here’s a Christian teaching people to forgive one another, teaching other police the ways of Jesus at No 10 Downing Street. But Curt hadn’t been able to read his own life through the lens of the Biblical and so he hadn’t realised how God had been working through him. Lay people don’t just need theological resources to grasp the range of ways they can be fruitful for Christ in the world, they need the theological imagination to see the ways they already have been. 

I've not managed to read it yet in full, but its excellent stuff if the CofE can actually get to grips with it. With the track record of the current leadership, I have no doubt it will - one key culture change in the CofE is that it no longer thinks that you change things by producing a report. Releasing all Gods people in ministry, all the time, will mean a big change in the way that clergy and the employed leadership of the church operate, what we prioritise, how we preach, and how we see ministry. Good. Bring it on.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ministry in Urban Priority parishes - day conference in Taunton 22/2/17

Coming up soon, this looks good:

Mission and evangelism in ‘priority parishes’
In March 2016, the Archbishop of York with Bishop Philip North, convened a consultation in York that looked at Church of England’s ministry and evangelism in parishes that had concentrated areas of deprivation. This day conference provides an equivalent for the South West, helping to inform and continue thinking, looking from a perspective of dioceses where ‘priority parishes’ (both urban and rural) are in the minority.
Who is it for?
- Clergy and lay people who work in parishes which have significant areas of deprivation.
- Representatives from diocesan synods, rural deans and lay chairs, diocesan advisers (evangelism, mission, vocation, discipleship)

Day outline includes
Keynote address - Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of BurnleyTheological reflection: The story so far - Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, Archbishops’ CouncilStories from clergy on the ground - including Tanya Lord (Diocese of Bristol) and Wendy Ruffle (Diocese of Gloucester)‘Jesus Shaped People’ - Revd Andy Delmege (Diocese of Birmingham) on the ‘Jesus Shaped People’ resource, from his perspective as new chair of the National Estate Churches Network

Booking and more information here .

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The vicars 12 days of Christmas

12 bright christingles
11 visual aids
10 dentious sermons (can be swapped for 10 uous links)
9 lessons and carols
8 all the pies
7 choristers
6 seats remaining 
5 more sings!
4 shepherds and 
3 wise men
2 Bethlehem
And the Holy Nativity

Christmas clips: hate cannot drive out hate



short and powerful vid from the Churches Advertising Network, very good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kid Stuff

Kid Stuff

December, 1942
The wise guys
tell me
that Christmas
is Kid Stuff . . .
Maybe they've got
something there——
Two thousand years ago
three wise guys
chased a star
across a continent
to bring
frankincense and myrrh
to a Kid
born in a manger
with an idea in his head . . .

And as the bombs
crash
all over the world
today
the real wise guys
know
that we've all
got to go chasing stars
again
in the hope
that we can get back
some of that
Kid Stuff
born two thousand years ago—

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ian McCaskill - a musical tribute (of sorts)



There should be more musical tributes to Ian McCaskill, but for the moment this will do (need to watch to the end). Still time for it to make Christmas no.1.  

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Christmas Clips: No Pressure (nativity factor winner)



brilliant pair of angels "Remember, Gods son, no pressure..."

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Christmas Clips: He Came Down

'If you've ever felt rejected, excluded or a stranger
Remember the One who came down in the manger.'

this is lovely

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Christmas Clips: Christmas in a Nutshell



There's a bit of a trend for this sort of thing in Christian circles (e.g. This is Discipleship, which is also very good)