What is Jesus’ call on our lives?

I am part of an e-group. From time to time it descends into contretemps as these things do (it would be great if there weren’t human beings in the world: no arguments). In the middle of one, someone posted this: I like it.

What is Jesus’ call on our lives?

To love until there are tears in our eyes.
To love until we are on our hands and knees in the dirt.
To love until we accept all people, no matter how uncomfortable that might make us.
To love until people turn their backs on us because they think we’re crazy.
To love until they are shouting insults at us.
To love until they are spitting in our faces.
To love until they nail us to a cross.

Update: the words of the above were written by Ric at http://iaskforwonder.com/ and he gave his permission for them.

Just a lovely day

I admit it; I do tend to be willfully obscure here from time to time and indulge in what I described on a friend’s fb page as ‘inane narcissism’. I think I also use this blog to rant and be unreasonable….just occasionally……. Today I am doing none of those things.

One thing I love about August is the lack of pressure: I tend to ‘fast’ from evening meetings as far as possible and I tend to go back to basics. I had a day like that last week and it was lovely: a morning’s sermon preparation where I stopped using social media, read no reports, arranged no meetings, neither answered nor made any phone calls and generally stayed focussed on that one thing. That is really refreshing: I am sure multi tasking all the time is like a drug; addictive but ultimately unsatisfying.

In the afternoon I went visiting; sorting out a funeral and then going to see someone but ending up walking around a village bumping into random people and making connections, drinking tea and having a conversation that lurched into some really deep stuff from the most unlikely person.

That was how I was told at college that traditional ministry operated. It never sounded that radical or interesting… thing is, it actually was:- I spent time with more people outside/on the fringe of church than ever I would stuck in a study or sat in a meeting making ‘radical’ or ‘dynamic’ (or whatever is the current adjective du jour) plans.

And I loved that day and I love doing that: no mission statement or defined objectives, just doing waht I was supposed to do….

Bank holiday Monday

Bank holidays in Britain in summer are often days where scorching weather turns into rain, hail and sleet or worse.

So here is a video to help you. It is one of my 7 year old son’s favourite songs (he is currently going through a Moby phase: most nights he chooses to go to sleep listening to Moby: Hotel)).

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Blogging through EP

I am not preaching today: last Sunday of the year off (my ‘year’ ends on 31/08/11 though). I have, however, been crafting sermons.

It is both very easy and very hard to write a sermon. To adapt a quote, I think from the immortal St Bono which he may have ripped off from elsewhere: ‘It is simple; you just open a vein and let it bleed’.

I wish I had read this when I started, where Eugene Peterson recounts what he did when he started:-

‘My use of language in the community of faith was a mirror image of the culture: a lot of information. a lot of publicity,not much intimacy’ (p92)

Come to think of it, I could still do with reflecting on that as I seem to struggle with taking the Word made flesh and crafting it back into words, words, lots of words….

Tealights

August: for me it is partly a time of cleaning/getting ready. I decided to have an audit of my bottom drawer: the place where everything gets put until I have time to sort it.

I discovered that I have in excess of 300 used tealights (I didn’t count them: I am not that anal): I can barely lift the bag. It is true: I am a low budget alt worship stereotype……

On being a miserable sod part 2

…… a few days back I got a posting inviting me to be a viewer of a programme on a Christian TV channel (don’t get me started...) called ‘walking in victory’ or something. I pressed ‘delete’ almost immediately.

Here is one of my takes on theology/life- Jesus came to show us God and did that by entering into the ordinary mess and contradiction. He began and begins redeeming the mess.

I guess I used to take the message covertly that he was some kind of gleaming superman who made everything better straightaway. If He didn’t that had to be ignored or there was something wrong in me…… I look back with the great gift of hindsight and see that some people actually taught that and some seem to continue to teach it. If they don’t, well some people of faith seem to feel guilt/desire to hide that they may be broken. ‘Positive thinking’ has a place but it is not the gospel…do not be scared of the dark or grey side.

A blog that I sometimes read once spoke of regret that in a group of churches that he was part of, there was a section of the meeting where ‘Good News’ was an agenda item. He spoke of his dislike of this section due to the pressure to share only good news, suppress the bad or sometimes embroider the truth. I think it is good that we share stuff that has worked or where we have felt the presence of God. However, I also think it is good to share lament or the grey rainy Tuesday afternoons where nothing much has happened apart from staying faithful.

Yes, yes….miserable sod- but then you guessed that from this blog. Enjoy your bank holiday weekend….

On being a miserable sod part 1

A couple of days back I posted this, semi ironically, on my fb status:-

‘…generally prefers status updates that are ironic or self deprecating…..and does not like ones that subtly or non subtly say ‘look at me: I am significant’….’

And a friend, also with a large dollop of irony, called me a miserable sod.

As far as FB goes, it led to quite a lot of posts/discussion.

I guess this post is something of an apologia…

I love hearing news- I love hearing good news; things that my friends have done, good experiences that they have had and things that have pleased them about their family. ‘Rejoicing with those who rejoice’ is something that, as I get older, comes easier: life is short and celebrate the good when it comes. That is one reason why I am part of Facebook; it is a shorthand way of catching up and a good background noise when I am online.

But…. But…… some postings seem to me to be so  unremittingly positive; I guess that may well be the poster’s character. I wonder sometimes if the poster is scared of admitting anything less than positive.

 I long for some light and shade; I love your joys- I even love your rampant self publicity (mea culpa) you don’t have to go so far and be embarrasingly confessional all the time, but just let us know that sometimes your children annoy you, you get sad, you long for more, some experiences make you miss people and occasionally you wonder what it is all about. If you don’t, your joys don’t seem like peaks to me, but rather your life seems like a blissed out and unobtainable plateau to the rest of us….

And if that makes me a miserable sod, then so be it.

I loved this response from another friend to my original posting:-

‘…has enjoyed a wonderful day with his beautiful wife driving his convertible Merc to his villa in Tuscany. Looking forward to a meal in the local Michelin restaurant to celebrate another successful business flotation and the 4 A* grades his son has got at A levels to get in to Cambridge. Looks like it may not be quite as good olive harvest this year as last from my private grove’.

Puy Du Fou

 

I’ve included this post for no deeper reason than it is one of my favourite places.

I don’t like going where everyone else goes just because it is popular, I tend to avoid the ‘you must do this’ attractions and I really don’t like rushing around to tick things off on a list………

But…… I like this place. On paper it should not work for me: large theme park staging historical reenactments of fictitious French pseudo history, wildly overblown dialogue, 100 of your euros for a day for a whole family, lots and lots of people.

I really like it: roman arena half the size of the one in Rome, medieval castle that moves and an improbable story about a magic lance, a staged Viking fight on a lake and lots more, all with an improbable sub Catholic story line.

Each year, amidst lazing about, a chateaeux or two and long walks, I have made a visit here.

Maybe, just maybe, as someone posted about me on Facebook yesterday, I am not such a miserable sod after all….

We are being swamped.

They come over here and live in our country, yet they never learn to speak our language properly, they don’t always pay taxes, they have their own TV stations that promote values that are not our own, if they are ill they expect the state to support them and they only ever mix with each other….

….oh yes, the British expat community abroad…..

I met a few of them when I was in France. Except it wasn’t ‘them’, it was ‘us’. Being British, I understood why they did that. I also heard how many are trying to integrate whilst retaining their distinctiveness and trying to contribute to French society and learn a differnt language. It was easier to understand as I was British, had sympathy and was open to their nuances, ways of expression and communication….as I was from their culture.

It did get me thinking of large sections of British public and press who are prepared to dismiss other human beings as ‘the other’. For example if I read regularly the Daily Mail or Express , with theit constant drip drip of asylum seeker stories, I would find it hard to view that term neutrally. I had similar thoughts after I had left Oldham , where I had lived for 12 years, watching the rise of the BNP and the constant casual and overt racism amongst many white people about ‘them’ . I moved to North Wales and encountered many white people who did not speak English as a first language and wondered how the more vociferous advocates of racism would cope with fellow Brits who were not comfortable with ‘our language’.

Maybe, maybe, I am just an irreperable middle class lilly livered do-gooder….

A well used video….

This video is doing the rounds (HT: http://elizaphanian.blogspot.com/):-

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In the words (altered) of Frank Sinatra: ‘Regrets, I have a lot’….perhaps the biggest is that I have not managed this core activity very well.

I spent some time recently with another minister who said they were trying to ‘squeeze’ a meeting into a weekday in August as they had so much to do. ‘Squeeze’? ‘In August’? If anything, this time is a gift to do the neccesary, catch up, have space to pray,dream and plan and face uncomfortable issues like the above.

What if we were more like this?

Good point: we have raised a Circuit committee on this to plan and effectively vision this. Tuesday night is a District Purposes envisioning group to sketch out some preliminary strategy to this end, Wednesday night it is a Joint Circuits’ Implementation and Vision brokering group on how we can make discipleship more effective…..D’oh….

Sometimes it seems to me, in the lines from ‘1984’ that much of our work is predicated on ‘Don’t do it to me, do it to Julia’ principle……..the core activities like the above are so personal, so threatening to our personal sensibilities, or we feel we know so little of them and are scared of saying that….That it is best to do something that is ‘neccessary’ and ‘safe’ to avoid having the time. Hell, it might mean carving out large chunks of time to spend with people with no hope of ‘results’ or ‘busyness’ we can point to to buttress our own personal sense of worth…

Sorry-that was a rant. Just enjoy the video and ponder…