Saturday, 23 December 2017

#GodWithUs


I have a shocking confession to make, before I became a Curate, I never kept Advent. I know right, how can I be a Priest?




Well as a family we often went to Grandparents, who didn't go to church on Christmas day, yet it wasn't the Anglican church alone which made me appreciate Advent and Christmas (though it certainly helped marrying into an Anglican family). I think there were 3 things:

1. Happy Birthday Lord Jesus- My parents are Christians and Christmas was never about Father Christmas, we celebrated Jesus' birthday. So though we didn't always attend church on Christmas day (This varied depending on where we were) Jesus was always central. We appreciated what we had been given and not just getting. My children are not bothered by Father Christmas, they get excited they enjoy it without having a view of God something like Santa (are you good enough to earn God's favour, does God actually care or he is dispenser of stuff that we want). God is far more generous we get his love and forgiveness which we don't deserve.

2. 12 Days of Christmas- No not 12 days of bargains before Christmas but the 12 days starting on Christmas day. This is something Cath continues to remind our children, it isn't over on Christmas Day, which is good news for them as they live in a vicarage. It involves having family to stay with us and going to see other family, enjoying a break (Subject to weddings and what day Christmas falls on I usually have a week off after the Christmas service is over). Which reminds us that it isn't all about a big meal and presents. God's generosity is bigger than we can imagine, so generous he comes to our world and gives himself.


3. Christmas is for sharing- It was my time at Bangor Community Church. The church I was part of as a student at University. I used to stay around to help with the Christmas meal, we held this at first at Bangor Cathedral, I haven't always been part of this, but this year we are helping with the Christmas meal here at Christ Church. Christmas day service is usually a small gathering, people away at family, or having attended midnight services or Christingles or Crib services on Christmas Eve. Yet for me I have felt a longing to serve on Christmas day (yes the day when I am literally exhausted), can I sit down and enjoy this feasting while others are alone or hungry? I don't have a big enough hall or facilities to feed everyone, but lets give what we can and not what we can't. The good news of Jesus' coming was for sharing, Angels shared it with Shepherds and was Good News of Great Joy! It truly is for sharing, that we can know Peace, with God, with each other and know peace in our own lives.

Advent has become a need for me. Christmas season is a time of countless services, school visits, and visiting. If I don't have advent the time of preparation then when Christmas day arrives I can become resentful, I sit here today with little voice, and low energy. You see Advent reminds me again and again I need to carefully prepare myself, not by buying presents for my nearest and dearest, writing cards (sorry if I missed you out), but by checking my heart and life, am I responding like Mary who said "let it be", Joseph who named the baby Jesus, the shepherds who left flocks (there livelihood, income and purpose in life), the Wise Men who journeyed long (yes they don't arrive till epiphany but there's always one or two of us who are late). When I do check my heart and life I realise how much I am in need of the Saviour born that Christmas morn.

I also spend a lot of time listening to music over Advent and this song spoke to me:



It is the lines:

From seed to Sequoia
and
From Bethlehem seed to Calvary Sequoia
The Sequoia is a huge tree many of which are very old, they are strong and  seem when you stand below them to stretch to the heavens. Christmas stretches from that first Advent to the final Advent through the cross.

For me then Christmas is a great gift, the Son of God come to earth, but one labelled with a cross of love, with a message, yes you can know peace, yes you can know forgiveness, but one day we will meet face to face, be ready.

So this Christmas may I say "Merry Christmas" but also get ready.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Bookaid

I have been on placement this week, and having completed my Common Purpose course (more on that another time), I thought I would take a look at some local charities and see where the church, public, private and not for profit organisations work together.

You can never have too many books just look at my house:



On Monday I spent time with BOOKAID in Ranskill, I bought some books too:

  • Vol 1 & 2 of Simon Shama's History of Britain
  • Can't Swim, Ride, Run- Andy Holgate (Brilliant book, review coming soon)
  • Trianing Techniques for Cyclists- Bicycling Magazine  
  • Eden Project- Matt Wilson
  • The Bible Jesus Read- Philip Yancey
  • Hello I love you: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood- Ted Kluck
  • James: Mercy Triumphs (DVD)- Beth Moore
Thought I would list them to let you know some of the range of books available (I almost bought Calvin's Institutes's but I have a better copy of Vol.1 and want a set).

BOOKAID is a very simple charity established in 1987, they want to provide Christian books to serve the church in the UK and abroad. People travel from miles around to buy books and drop books off, yet it is not very well known in the area, I find it a brilliant resource.



It is however a difficult charity for those who have no faith to get behind on first glance, but this is where management of a shop (even by Volunteer's) makes a difference. I spoke with Russell and Stuart and they have begun to transform the shop, it now has a children's area, Complimentary tea and coffee (it doesn't give you nice comments, but is nice), with comfy chairs to sit on. They have opened up one of the back rooms and have a packing area to show what they do with books which come in and go out.

They want to make the venue a haven for people to come in, where they might be able to have prayer and relax. It's great, maybe a book club, or reading group. The venue could have many uses and it's rare to have parking for a project like this. You could easily have a computer club or conversation group, but it will need to work with the church opposite and others in the community to achieve this, always work with your neighbours! I know St John's in Bramcote where I trained support it and many other churches and Christians. It now has a good fiction and non fiction section too, though not sure where the Lance Armstrong Biography should go...

If you think this is a good idea one simple change could make a difference. It is likely that many popular Christian titles are in stock here, and more than likely some which are rarer, before you go to Amazon or the like you could come here instead...if you were in the building trade could you give time, could you volunteer? All you need to do is like books and be friendly (the second of which is the harder skill in my experience).

I like to buy a book, sit down with a cup of tea, maybe a cookie (OK, yes always with a cookie), and enjoy 30 minutes of peace and quite, so maybe it is already a haven...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

5 reasons to blog

Well I have had a bit of a break from blogging, deliberate at the start (needed to finish my dissertation) and also I have felt that I couldn't justify the time (it takes me a lot of writing and rewriting- with and without mistakes). So why return after this break:

  1. I want to!
    www.velcrosuit.com
  2. blogging is one way of crystallizing my thoughts
  3. I am wanting to map some of my journey
  4. maybe it could be helpful to you?
  5. I am entering uncharted waters
So you will see some more posts coming up over the next few weeks. I have plenty in draft form but I abandoned for various reasons. My future content will probably cover Triathlon, Dyspraxia, being a Priest and following the call to follow Jesus.

Enjoy!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Just another day?

Today was a surprise to me, it was quite emotional .  I'll talk about that another time. As you walk around you are surrounded by stone. Buildings are built out of it, you walk on it, sit on it, and it shelters you from the sun.

We saw the Jewish cemetery with the piles of stones to remember the dead, and I thought about the stones which were picked up to stone Jesus.

Then we visited the potential site of the high priest's house and Peter our Archdeacon took us to the courtyard ... where the rock petros failed...

There is so much more to say about this thought about stone but I'll leave it for now. Still getting used to camera so pictures will have to wait...

Shalom

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Happy but tired Is the way I feel. A day of travelling but a warm reception once we were out of the airport! St George's Cathedral guest house is clean, restful, hospitable and beautiful.

It feels special to be here.

Journey to Israel

Travelling today to Israel has meant an early start. At least I'm not driving. I'm not sure what I am expecting yet. Absorbing some of the place, worshipping with Christians and hopefully understanding some of the challenges that christians face in this part of the world. I must also say as the rain has been pouring down, that some sunshine will be nice too, l have brought my running gear in expectation !

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Subversive Liturgy?

"The day the "world changed" was not September 11th but way back in 33AD. The most significant event in our pasts is not our most shameful transgressions but the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our pasts are defined not by our sins but by Christ's victory. God's story is the lens through which we understand our current world..." (Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)

A few months ago i spent some time with my fellow curates in looking at Worship. I thought a quick read of this book would be helpful in continuing the conversation. As a priest in the Church of England, I spend a large chunk of my week planning the service, either the sermon series, the music way in advance, the All Age worship, Collective Worship, or the service looming in a few days. I feel a pressure in this to always come up with something creative and new, to keep the services fresh. Yet our said communion and evensong have a set format which has some seasonal variation but no scope for wholesale change. There is something good about this too. We have four services (Sometimes 5) on a Sunday, if each of them needed to be constructed from scratch then this would be unmanageable. Even if the framework was used from Common Worship.

In worship we join in the communion of the saints, which reminds us of our place as inheritors of the promise from those who have gone before us, but also reminds us of our calling to tell another generation too of the hope within us, we stand in-between those who have gone before us and a generation not yet born, but are also tasked with sharing the good news to all.



It is easy to restrict ourselves to a reduced diet, by that I mean both liturgically and scripturally. Think about it for a minute, it is easy to stay within the gospels(though obviously you can edit out the bits you don't want to preach) when it comes to our preaching and it is easy to say familiar words each Sunday (whether you have set liturgy or not). During our session at St John's one thing that came up time and again is that liturgy should help us remember we are part of the big story. Just as it is easy to preach David and Goliath as a moral tale, the bully got his comeuppance, do we then conclude by saying that by our own skill and cunning we too can slay the giant we are faced with? Is David a moral example to follow or is the story so much bigger than that?



Here's a link to the companion website for the book
http://commonprayer.net/about

Leitorgia- Is often translated "the work of the people" or "public worship" both express part of it, however what I enjoyed about Shane Claiborne's introduction is the way he asks us to overlay our annual calendar with the liturgical calendar. It helps remind us that though January the 1st is the start of the calendar we use in this part of the world, the liturgical one begins in Advent. The working week begins on Monday, but Sunday is the beginning of the liturgical week. Though Easter floats around because of the moon (why do we still do this?), Easter itself asks us to look at the one who made the Sun and the Moon and is the source of all life. The liturgical calendar is in fact subversive. It asks us to look at our lives and see them as part of the big story. We centre ourselves upon Jesus Christ, As we pray and read scripture we are drawn into a story, the stories of the children of Israel are our stories. We too wander in the desert, turn away from the grace of God and forget who we are. Just like the disciples we too reject and abandon Christ, but just like the disciples and the children of Israel we too experience the grace and mercy of God who calls us "chosen and dearly loved". We too can join in the family prayer:
Our Father
Who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one
For thine is the kingdom the power and glory
Forever and ever
Amen