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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Imposition of Pancakes

Ah, the old traditions are best.

Every Shrove Tuesday we rediscover that Barney, our cook, just can't make pancakes. It's like it's something pathological.

But once we've mixed in a bit of lemon juice, the remains are dead handy for Ash Wednesday.

Monday, 27 February 2017

George Herbert's Day

Great piece of luck, Hnaef meeting the man himself in the road like that.

To give Hnaef his due, ignoring modern advice, he merely listened to George's last words. It seems that working through illnesses, and doggedly looking after your people at the cost of your own health, bring you a feast day and an eternal crown.

Before he went, Herbert showed Hnaef his diary. That's seven pastoral visits, three governors' meetings and six committees that ain't gonna be blessed by his presence today. Nor will he achieve the ten minutes between 1am and 1:10 labelled "write brilliant hymns".

Sunday, 26 February 2017

When the Vicar Says "We must put a meeting in the diary"

2017 March      MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY 27 28 01 02 03 04 05 "Confirmation Class PCC Ministry Meeting" "Deanery Synod Pancake Day Party Bible Study" "Lunchtime Ashing Service Cake-making group Evening Ashing service" Mother's Union emergency reconciliation meeting. "Music Group  Vicar's Day Off (meetings)" "Flower arrangers (morning) Spring Fayre (afternoon)" Services 8am, 9am, 10.15, 11.30, 4pm, 6pm 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 "Confirmation Class Vicar writes the Rota Home visits" "Planning the Good Friday Workshop Bible Study" """Wednesday at One"" Lent Course Sidespeople training" "Governors' meeting  Men's Group (Speaker: The Vicar)" "Music Group Vicar's Day Off (Funeral visit)" "Mothers' Union Communion (Morning) " Services 8am, 9am, 10.15, 11.30, 4pm, 6pm 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "Confirmation Class Care Home Services House Group Leaders' meeting" "Clown Workshop Bible Study Ministry Group" "Sunday Club Planning Meeting Lent Course" Archdeacon's Visitation (fear and trembling) "Music Group Vicar's Day Off (St Patrick's Day Meal)" "Photography Group Vicar sees her family" Services 8am, 9am, 10.15, 11.30, 4pm, 6pm 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 "Assemblies (am and pm) Confirmation Class Building committee" "Finance Committee Bible Study Deanery Service" "Standing Committee Lent Course Fundraising Committee" "Wedding interviews Ladies' Bright Hour (Speaker: The Vicar)" "Music Group Vicar's Day Off (Outreach Committee)" """Songs of Praise"" ""Churches together"" service" "Mothering Sunday Services 8am, 9am, 10.15, 11.30, 4pm, 6pm" 27 28 29 30 31 01 02 "Baptism interviews Confirmation Class Curate's Reflection Ministry Meeting" "Needlework group Bible Study" """Wednesday at One"" Lent Course " """Churches Together"" Committee Deanery Chapter" "Music Group Vicar's Day Off (Youth Group)" "Pet Service Communion Assistants' Training Day" Services 8am, 9am, 10.15, 11.30, 4pm, 6pm
Regular services omitted for brevity

Moses Reaches the Promised Land

As we are told in the first chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus called James and John. And then Andrew, who brought his brother Peter.  And so you'd expect those first four disciples to be pretty close to Jesus.

Except. James, John and Peter. Absolutely. But Andrew - never invited to be one of those closest. The other three - off they go. Not Andrew. What, Andrew may have wondered, do I have to do to be part of the inner sanctum? Peter's a blockhead who makes rash promises. John and James are hotheads who want to blow up Samaritan villages. But I keep getting left behind...

You can imagine the scene before the Transfiguration.  Jesus - "OK - I just need those disciples closest to me - Andrew - what you doing? Can you just stick around?  Somebody... erm.... someone needs to keep an eye on  Simon the Zealot. Otherwise he just goes around being all zealous... OK Andrew? Thanks.  Big responsibility, you know.

Another person who never quite made it where he maybe most wanted to go: Moses. He took the People of God out of Egypt. Led them through the desert. Took them to the edge of the Promised Land - and then died. Just got a glimpse of it, laid out before him.

But Moses now stands in the Promised Land. Not through his own efforts, but by the gift of God. On a mountain, of course - where would Moses and Elijah be if it weren't for mountains? But he's now here. In the place where all his struggles and holiness couldn't bring him. With his feet on the holy ground to which he was called, and which his own strength could never carry him.

And Peter, James and John see there the revelation - that the Jesus whose feet gets dusty, who becomes tired with walking, who eats and drinks and sweats and excretes just like them - is also so much more.

He is revealed as the one the Law and the Prophets look forward to. The one Moses, without even knowing it, was called to - looking for a Promised Land and yet hoping for something beyond that. Jesus is the fulfilment of God's promises to Abraham and Jacob. The God of the living and the dead. And - it is soon to be revealed - God's one pure sacrifice.

So the disciples quake there, between earth and heaven, between all the faithfulness and hope of the past, and all the promises of the future. And they understand much more who Jesus is. And they know they are part of God's plan to save Israel - and the world.

Later on, sworn to secrecy till after Jesus comes into his glory, they go down the mountain. And there's Andrew, faithfully leading a bit of a Bible study. And he looks up to Peter and says, "anything happen up on the mountain?"

"Oh, you know," says Peter. "Just Jesus and stuff."

Friday, 24 February 2017

Beards Must Stop Now

"It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments", saith the Psalmist.

But King David had not considered that Aaron might be using the "Huntsman's Beard Co Beard Oil" I found in the gentlemen's convenience in Bogwulf chapel this morning.

I believe this is called an unintended consequence.  Who would imagine that encouraing men to be more manly would lead to this kind of behaviour?  Beards must stop now.

Atomised Bible for a Hyperconnected World

Good stuff from Pete Phillips in this BBC piece about "how smartphones and social media are changing the church."

But there's stuff I don't quite get or would want to expand on. Knowing Pete's views, I'm expecting it's the focus of the article and the explanation from its author, Chris Stokel-Walker.  The comparison of using a smartphone app to read the Bible versus reading an old-fashioned paper Bible, for instance. People having a neatly ordered Bible they can read at home, which starts at Genesis and ends at Revelation: that idea has been a reality for the educated classes for only 500 years, and for the working classes for maybe 150. In parts of London it never happened at all. The person sitting reading the whole Bible with its context only really applied to the well-educated, and the clerk.

Before all that - the Bible was something you would have heard read. And if it were in Latin you'd need the pictures on the church wall, the statues, the stained glass, to tell you what the story was. There was a problem that you couldn't really lug the stained glass home with you - so maybe you'd be telling the stories orally, alongside folklore, local history and the family news.

Before the NT canon was first formed, you'd encounter the stories of Jesus as passed on by the saints, and remembered by the elders, read out in awe and surprise. And just individual letters or - amazing thing - individual Gospels. The context wasn't the place in the Bible, but the living community and the Jewish scriptures (normally in their Greek translation) - often a collection of scrolls, not a neatly ordered anthology.

The rise of smartphone apps doesn't just mean we can read chunks of the Bible out of context - though it does, of course. It also means we can hear it read again - in a way we've not done since the Enlightenment broke us all down into nuclear families. You can use Pray as You Go and get the day's text read to you with some appropriate music and reflection. You can get websites that provide video, images, things to contemplate. You can post a link up on Facebook and get feedback from your mates.

In short, smartphones and SocMed don't flatten the Bible text out into contextless chunks - they give us the chance to expand the context To bring the text out into a worldwide culture, get challenged by other views, embrace others' ideas and the insights their culture give. As the Philosopher said, "Of the tweeting of memes there is no end." Go thou and do likewise.

Very Very Very Dark Blue?

The Guardian, in an article about the appointment of Philip North to Bishop of Sheffield, reports a very odd comment from Colin Podmore, of the Society of Ss Wilf and Hilda:
“You could tell by looking who was a priest whose ministry we could receive, and who was not."
Which gives me a very disturbing image of a row of priests, naked except for their dog collars, as their - ahem - credentials are checked.

Though I suppose they could have just been checking the colour of their socks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Manning Up on the Heath

Drayton's latest "manly leadership" kick a bit of a disaster to be honest.

A four mile route march round Aspley Heath. Thankfully a couple of our Beaker Folk were out on a stroll, and able to apply instant treatment to poor old Trafford when he collapsed.

Albeit Bach Flower Remedies aren't much use for acute exhaustion and dehydration though. Turns out science is better

MK General say he should be off the drip tomorrow.