Thank you

Last post of the year.

thank you bumper

(there is a slight touch of irony in that picture….)

This blog began this year (It’s predecessor http://diggingalot.blogspot.com/ ran from June 08- Jan 09), so in a very real and literal sense, this has been the best year in the history of this blog (in fact the only year).

Thank you for reading this, leaving comments or rating this blog.

I started it as I had so much going on in my head I wanted to find a medium to refine and record it. Plus I thought that there might be a space for a Christian to blog that had the same level of randomness as I have and the same doubts and questions without straying into the territory of ‘Don’t ask me; I haven’t got a clue.’ I have been so fortunate as I have discovered many like minded souls- this has helped me where I am at right now.

So a big big thank you: I thank you from the heart of my bottom: you have made a happy man very old. If next year is half as good as this year, then it will only be 50% as good……

 

If you are still full…..part 2

Alternatively- you may not feel like blissful, introspective tunes. You may crave the pure simplicity that is to be found between lead guitar and bass, laced with apocalyptic lyrics.

Well, I have just the thing for you:-

retributiongospelchoir1

I just like the title ‘Retribution Gospel Choir’. I also like the music: 10 tracks and just over 30 minutes. As any fule kno, it is a side project of Alan Sparhawk of Low (I am inordinately and incomprehensibly fond of Low) and seems to feature at points all of the 3 members of Low.

Music to blow the cobwebs away coupled with the kind of lyrics that if someone spoke them to you, you would want to walk away from them. Plus another ‘steal’ pricewise for me. I read somewhere that it is ‘poppy yet visceral’ and I would concur with that. Any album that thanks various people and ‘God’ is either good, scary or cheesy.

Stop press:…new CD out next month….. I’m like the man who tried to pack himself into a small suitcase: he could hardly contain himself…. I’ll get my coat…

…and another thing: it is between Christmas and New Year: why on earth are you still accessing the web?

If you are so full…

…and cannot bear another mince pie, roast turkey,turkey sandwich, turkey curry, sausage and chips (with turkey) and just want a bit of space….

…then you need music…quiet, thoughtful, mournful music. I have just the thing for you.

Ida

My ‘steal’ when I was doing Christmas shopping (one actual visit to a shop- the rest on the net) was finding a copy of ‘Ida’: ‘Heart like a River’ (2006) for £1.99 including postage. Pure, pure bliss and an antidote to even the fullest stomach.

I saw Ida a year ago, supporting Low and they stopped me from chatting (mostly) whilst watching the support band.

If you can’t find that and are full of gift tokens and don’t know what to do with them, then go for ‘Lovers Prayers’ from 2008. On it you will find a cover of the Richard Thompson ‘For shame of doing wrong’…you would have to have a heart made of something stronger than stone not to be moved by that.

…alternatively, there are lots of interesting recipes for turkey fricasse, bean and turkey stew or turkey and brussel sprout risotto on the net…

Nativity

nativity

Ok, I’m having to do a lot more child minding right now. One of my major ways of doing this is to go to the pictures.

Last week I went to see ‘Nativity’.

I’m biased: when I saw ‘BBC’ before the film, I thought it would be quality…it was.

It might be the time of year; open to warm sentimental films, but I loved it. It was better as the cinema was about three quarters full: I have never been in as full a screening as this for a while. And never been in an audience at the cimema that laughed together, cried together and even, before we remembered we were British, began to clap at the end.

Really simple idea for a film but well done and wiped my jaded cynicism out and bypassed my ‘crap detector’. Lots and lots of powerful motifs of redemption, forgiveness, grace in unlikely places. Plus set in Coventry- I cannot think of another film that has been (or would want to be…I’m biased…I come from Leicester- we look down on the West Midlands).

Some films aimed at children make me feel cheap and empty (I could name a hatful of American blockbusters- you know…model family, vast house, consumerist lifestyles etc)- this one didn’t.

Take your children or if you haven’t, borrow some aged 5-11, at least then you can hide your tears by pretending to look after them…..

Sometime this week my children want to go and see ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: the squeakwal’….. I wanted to leave the cinema the moment I saw the title…

Back to church…

bed

I used to take this Sunday ‘off’, but then as I get 5 Sundays a year and the most I would ever do on this day would be one service, I figured I would be ‘wasting’ a Sunday. So I’m working this Sunday.

Is it heretical, but I’d just like to sleep in today…… I’ve celebrated in numerous places and with numerous people this fantastic story and I want a break……. or an early morning traditional Anglican eucharist (after all the food and numerous all age services… I want something a little more ‘still’)…or if I’m really bold (and it is a united service, all age, of all the Methodist Churches in the area)……an all age service around the massacre of the innocents.

…don’t laugh…. I’ve never really been part of a service- especially all-age on Matthew 2:16-18. Might help to salt some of the saccherine that has been around (yes, even in what I have led).

Wake me up…I’ll be in the 2nd pew by the back door…

Boxing Day and full of food….

A day for lying around in the warmth, with the heating full on and falling asleep…..

asleep

A cautionary, yet good quote:-

‘Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life’.

Brian Andreas

And I thought that Angels a la Robbie Williams were there to just keep you warm and feel snuggly…..

(HT: http://miketodd.typepad.com/)
 

Christmas Eve

christmas card twee

….. I managed to write Christmas cards (some) this year.

I even wrote a Christmas letter.

I actually like Christmas letters….. I don’t mind receiving them. One friend sends one that is a work of art- I really look forward to that one in particular.

The ones I don’t like come from planet smug- they are mercifully few. You know the ones- ‘Life has no problems thanks- we are all well and high acheiving; no doubts here (apart from the vexed question of whether to have a blue or a red aga in the kitchen).’

A blog is where you can do things you wouldn’t normally do in polite society- I’m going to quote myself. I will leave out all the stuff re: family, but this is what I wrote about where I’m at. I’m sticking it here, at least partly so I can think about it:-

‘I’ve just re read what I’ve written- it sounds smug; it is not meant to- like you, this year has been full of both light and shade- new friends made and some good ones moving away- some good experiences and some hard ones. I’m still a Methodist Minister and a Superintendent Minister (shared) – knowing more clearly what I enjoy and what I don’t. I really like living in a place where I can be part of a community and not just being inside a church looking out. I would hate to be in situation where I’m solely employed in driving a church and once I thought I would love that…that would kill me now. For the first time in my life I know more people who have no connection with church than do have a connection and that feels so good.

   Increasingly as I get older I have wilder and wilder dreams about mission and connection – some of which I am able, with others to try out; I’m really grateful for that. I still wonder what I will do when I get older.’

And I mean all of that; I don’t think I wrote it for effect….

Waiting:7

Advent is waiting.

Group.

jesus

(because Jesus was white and as a Good Galilean peasant he always washed his whites whiter than white)

I have been doing carol services for fun the last few days/weeks. And it is fun; I love it. Yes, many carols are mawkish (but then I like a rock group who managed to include the line ‘like a mole, digging in a hole, digging up my soul’ in a song and I’m supposed to take that seriously?…) and talk about Christianity in a way I wouldn’t: I don’t believe ‘Christian children all should be, mild obedient good as he’ for example….. but it is the feelings that they evoke. People come together and reach out for a Christian memory or just, well…..something.

People come together: group. I have been struck this year in the Christmas readings how much the idea of ‘group’ , ‘together’ and ‘all’ is there. I have again been struck, even among the most devoted, how much ‘my’ faith has been spoken about; ‘I’ believe this, ‘I’ have lost ‘my’ faith etc etc

And I’m wondering, wondering, wondering, if Western culture over 100s of years has fatally corrupted a communal thing and bastardised it into something purely personal, where you don’t really need anyone else? Heck you don’t need a church ‘cos it is just what you believe..

I wonder if God’s design was to call people into groups where they would lean on each other, be dependent on each other and be with those who no-one else would be……. is this why the Kingdom is spoken of as a party? It is after all pretty hard to have a party as an isolated individual…

Perhaps too deep/intense 2 days before Christmas Day; but I still wonder….

the last of an occasional series through advent…

An unbelievably smug post…

sneckliftersite_i000001

Friday teatime : the streets covered in snow- few cars going. A walk out to the pub to meet up with a new friend. Two pints of unbelievably good beer….. an open fire…lots of conversation with people in the village.

Friday night is steak night at my local (those words sound strange: I have never had a ‘local’- but I seem to have one right now). Get rid of the notions of ‘Eh up luv…do you want chips with them chips?’……quality stuff where they know the name of the field, the name of the cow and what football team it supports.

Potentially perfect….. but wait…there is a problem….. the first steak is not served until 7pm…I promised to be home by 6.45….I knew the cook…taught me a cheat on how to do minor barre chords on the guitar ‘No problem….. I’ll do it for 6.20… no wait…6.15…you need to savour this’ the rest of the 30 minute wait was punctuated by visits from the chef describing what he was going to add to the meal….

Ladies and Gentleman….. we have a contender for the finest Friday teatime ever….

Walking home through snow covered streets, agreeably full of a good meal, fully rounded real ale and good conversation (funny how God talk happens when I stop trying) in a rural village.

Back home to smiling family. Thinking: only one thing could make this better- a beyond smug blog post. Shall I? I can’t…ok I will…