It is my birthday today. It is my single birthday:45 (45rpm….geddit?…nevermind).
I haven’t a clue what I will do today (although 6-7pm leading a noisy Beaver Scouts troupe is possibly not the best way to do it), but I hope I will catch something of this spirit:-
I may have disporoved my thesis that you cannot write good, happy rock songs.
I have their new CD on order as a belated present…bliss….
I could have chosen any one of many Martyn Joseph songs (especially ‘Turn me tender’…that is one of my funeral songs).
This was the first of his that got through to me beyond the mere appreciation stage and made me blub. It is the line:-
‘Sometimes it takes someone else’s life to make us see what we are worth’
…that always does it for me… but as I age
‘Sometimes it’s more important to love than to always get it right’
also does it.
I also love this as I was there at this gig.
This is my worship song for today.
Rule 4 of study spring cleaning: regrets I’ve had a lot.
I have never been someone who has disallowed people from having particular music at a funeral. I wonder about the level of pomposity, self-importance and insensitivity that would be be needed to say to people whom you have generally only met once before, are in distress and have invited you to share in that time: ‘Sorry- I know best’.
One piece of music that is very popular but which I don’t think I have ever been asked to include in a funeral service is ‘My Way’. I’m not sure what I would say if someone asked: I could not have that as one of my epitaphs: ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention’. I have lots of regrets and sometimes struggle with the mistakes I have made and hurts I have caused ‘through ignorance, weakness and our own deliberate fault’ (as the liturgy goes).
It is the same cleaning up my study:-
‘the plans we had but couldn’t start,
everything in heaven comes apart’
…the half formed schemes, the hare brained plans, the views trenchantly held, the reports written as a substitute for action….. I could go on. Of course there is a lot of good stuff that has stayed, but I’ve never been a fan of braying loudly your acheivements to conceal what hasn’t worked.
That is why I need to tidy from time to time: apart from giving me space it helps me to hold myself to account.
That’s enough tidying for a while: now for a few days of music….
Rule 3 of study spring cleaning : throwing out things is catharctic
This is a confession and I will say this only once:I confesss to a sense of catharctic relief every 2nd Wednesday night. This is because I can scurry around the house and clear all the rubbish out ready for the arrival of the refuse collectors. There, I have said it: I am Graham, I’m nearly 45 and I like rubbish bins.
It is similarly catharctic to throw mounds of rubbish out of my study. The sense of relief, of a slate wiped clean and a new start is immense.
I did once encounter a minister who kept everything in case it enabled them to prove that someone had said something that they later said they had not. I neither have the space or the inclination for that and if I get like that….well I could do with taking myself less seriously, getting a life and learning that keeping good records is no raison d’etre.
So now I feel free.
This moment lasts until someone asks me for something that I have thrown away. At this point rule 3a comes into play. I cribbed this rule from the penguins in the film Madagascar:
‘Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave’
…that seems to work on most things.
We interupt this mindless burbling with some serious textual criticism. This one has been doing the rounds for a while.
One to chew on when anyone says fervently (Christian or athiest or all the shades in between) ‘O of course, Jesus meant this’.
(ok, it wasn’t quite as bad as that)
Rule 2 of study spring cleaning:
‘So much which seemed of consequence at the time was actually of little consequence’
When I’m cleaning my children’s bedrooms (actually I prefer not to- far better to get a skip when they reach 18 and go to university and have the trauma/misery all at once) I generally find broken bits of toys in the jurasssic layer under their beds: something once fought over and desired has become non-biodegradeable landfill.
It is the same with studies: books that seemed to be the ‘next big thing’, massive reports, careful notes etc. At the time they seemed so important and life consuming. Now they nestle in bits at the bottom of a plastic bin sack.
So I’m trying to live a little lighter and give more time to important stuff. Hmmm…so that will be another massive clean up this time next year then…
(those gloves do not suit me: I know I should never have allowed that picture to be published)
I’ve been tidying up my study: simplfying stuff. Partly this is because I have become aware of a number of bits of paperwork that have to be done and my workspace feels, well, cluttered: I work better when I can feel ‘space’. Also it is because I can barely get a cat in it, let alone swing one…
So a series of thoughts on spring cleaning/tidying.
Rule 1: There will always be something that can’t be neatly filed or defies any filing system.
I’m ok with this: any life that has everything neatly filed is no life at all and is totally dull.
However, it would be an advantage if I did not stuff unfileable things in random corners of the room/drawers/shelves/horizontal surfaces…which means that the next spring cleaning comes very soon.
I do however prefer life in general to have unfileable stuff: it makes things so more exciting and so more, well, provisional. I hope when I leave this planet I will not have left everything neat, in order and properly filed…
It is Monday morning, and following the challenge of Jo a few days back when I blogged on ‘Appalling CCM songs’, I want to start a meme ‘Your best contemporary worship song ever’
(Just for once, I will make no comment on the title ‘contemporary’ worship…ooops I just did).
I admit that my knowledge of this field is poor. I also think that saying ‘best worship song’ is like saying ‘best sermon’, because it depends so much on what is going on for you at the time.
I’m guessing that I can’t include ‘From Heaven you came (the Servant King)’ or ‘Meekness and Majesty’ as they are too old. Although I am always moved by singing them and both words and tune are excellent (IMNTHO= In my not too humble opinion). I’ve already mentioned ‘My Jesus, my saviour’, which depite being excessively personal always gets me.
So I’ll go for ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’ as it has light and shade and a few weeks ago I played it when I joined a worship band for a day (I would recommend embracing that which you are not comfortable sometimes) and I stopped noticing the music and went someplace else….
This versrion is too smooth, and perhaps cheesy, but it has the words on.
I tag the originator of the meme and two others who may struggle with this (as I did):-
I’m preaching in another church today, miles away from where I live. A lot of people go there on Sunday: more than I would normally see in a whole month round these parts.
They have told me they want me to speak on prayer. When I was was told this I felt like the guy who had been asked to play guitar in a band and when asked to play in D, said ‘What is ‘D’- is it some type of uniform, or a different room…no don’t tell me, it’s a song isn’t it? Hey what are these things on the guitar? When I play Guitar Hero there are buttons on the guitar: this one looks like it has 6 pieces of wire on- what are they?’
The minister told me to use Luke 11: The Lord’s Prayer. When I read it, re read it and read it some more it didn’t look much like the prayers that I pray. Here is a quote, a bit extreme perhaps:
‘I have come to the conclusion, not least from personal experience, that prayer is a way for Christians to be narcissistic with both a good conscience and public approval’.
I think I’m going to learn more this morning than most. But then I do not find assertions by preachers along the lines of ‘I gave them the Word’/ ‘Boy, did I preach today!’/ ‘These people needed to hear what I said’ etc etc very truthful at the best of times….. (that is partly why I rarely post sermons, but generally admire those who have the courage to do so).
Just because I like this film so much and each time I watch it I get something more out of it….
‘This isn’t life, it’s just stuff and it has become more important to you than living.’