I have become like the monarch

(quite what a drunken bloke in front of a giant plectrum has to do with football escapes me…)

A previous boss introduced me to the idea of taking my birthday ‘off’. For various reasons that was not possible yesterday, so today I have become like the monarch (which for a republican is no mean feat) and am having an official bithday which means a whole day off:- a day out, somewhere, anywhere with my wife and an evening watching England Under 21 v Belgium under 21 at the Riverside. Oh yes; I know how to live.

I could get used to being royal….

46-55

It chills the bone doesn’t it? That question that you get on survey forms where you have to tick your age bracket.

Today I tick that box for the first time.

But the upper end of that bracket is beige sweaters, National Trust membership, shining your Rover car on Sunday mornings and reading the Daily Mail as it is the only paper that tells it like it is….

I will be working today, but I may well have time for this:-

and this:-

and this:-

and most definitely this:-

It was the 500th

 It was the 500th Simpsons episode recently and I failed to commemorate here.

I am not going to attach a video- plenty of scope for that on youtube (although the ‘Spiderpig’ song in the movie has me rolling around the floor; always).

This is one of my favourite Simpsons quotes ever. It is from the ‘Bleeding Gums’ episode. Bleeding Gums Murphy is perhaps my favourite minor Simpsons character:-

Homer to Lisa: ‘Go ahead, play your blues if it’ll make you happy’.

Pure Shakespeare…

Your Sunday Hymn

After my usual grumpy old man act at anything new, I have started to appreciate the new official (TM) Methodist hymnbook ‘Singing the Faith’. Hmmm….if my 25 year old self had read what my (nearly) 46 year old self had just wrote, he would seethe….

I like very much the sentiments in this hymn:-

‘Called by Christ to be disciples, every day in every place,

We are not to hide as hermits but to spread the way of grace;

citizens of heaven’s kingdom, though this world is where we live,

as we serve a faithful Master, faithful service may we give.

 

Richly varied are our pathways, many callings we pursue;

may we use our gifts and talents always, Lord, to honour you;

so in government or commerce, college, hospice, farm or home,

whether volunteers or earning, may we see your kingdom come.

 

Hard decisions may confront us, urging us to compromise;

still obedience is our watchword – Father, make us strong and wise!

Secular is turned to sacred, made a precious offering,

as our daily lives are fashioned in submission to our King.

 

It’s not just music, but….

My 8 year old son keeps finding this clip and playing it, so I have revisited it.

Vangelis would not be my choice of tune, but in this case, combined with the film it works. I loved this film when it first came out and my children love this film. I think it is one of the finest British films ever.

I could play this closing scene over and over again and still end up with a lump in my throat. The phrase ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure’ has been one of the phrases that I often repeat; it speaks to me of a God who is involved in the whole of life, not just the ‘religious’ bits. Initially I saw this film as being about one man’s faith and not working on Sundays. As I have watched it again and again, I find it a real parable of ‘missional engagement’ (sorry, jargon) rooted in its 1920s culture and it makes me think. A lot.

I challenge you to watch without weeping.

[youtube]GPB7r0UpNIE[/youtube]

Jargon:1

*Spoiler: I may well display sarcasm and attempt biting satire in this post. Also, I may well fail at doing that…*

A few years back I was in a meeting. I am in a lot of meetings. Occasionally I get frustrated with the amount and the quality of meetings that I attend.

A nadir came a few years back. People from outside the normal meeting clientele had been invited as guests to a particular meeting. My practice whenever this happens, whether socially, in worship, in meetings etc is that the newcomer is most important. This meeting rambled on for nearly 2 hours without the newcomers being addressed until a thorny issue came up. Conscious of the time, it could have been shelved and, belatedly the newcomers involved. Instead of which the leader said ‘Lets have a conversation about this.’ I was too polite to do anything, but inwardly I seethed. This was the moment, when the word ‘conversation’, with the implied meaning ‘A Conversation’ hit me as pure theological (Methodist) jargon. I have seen this used, and perhaps overused in recent years:-

*A meeting that seems to acheive little and where the elephant in the room is never named becomes ‘A Conversation’ viz: ‘A Conversation was held with ecumenical leaders’ subtext ‘we acheived nothing, stayed in our corners, avoided difficult stuff and no one was saved; so lets dignify it with a good sounding word’. The church world, particularly at it’s higher levels, is too full of things like this. Please don’t dignify bad practice with a title: ‘A Conversation’.

*‘Perhaps we might have A Conversation about this.’ Why can’t you just ‘have a chat’- normal people do? Hmmm…why can’t you just come to the point and be honest?

* Worst of all, in the field where I work there are few things that are definite and fixed. A minority are and lend themselves to concise and logical thinking with agreed outcomes. However, put this in the context of a ‘pastorally trained’ brain and consistent thinking disappears to be replaced by ‘A Conversation’. I don’t want ‘A Conversation’ thank you very much; I’d like consistency, agreed outcomes and some yes and no’s please….

At worst ‘A Conversation’ is nothing more than fuzzy thinking, hot air and no progress. There are places and spaces for long conversations (small c) that raise difficult stuff, involve deep honesty and are open, but please, please stop using ‘A Conversation’ with the frequency that it is used and making it an ‘entity’ . Learn to speak like normal people….

I’ll stop there. I’m frothing at the mouth….

Some thoughts about thinking and being radical

Don’t think about it, do it. Don’t blog about it, do it (ah; did you see what I did there…I blogged about it…clever, eh?).

A commenter to one of my regular reads http://elizaphanian.blogspot.com said this (quoting from an old book by Colin Morris):-

‘Revolutionary Christianity is so uncomplicated in comparison that it is almost embarassing to have to put it into words. It is simply doing costly things for Jesus’ sake.”

and then I had this quote by George Cadbury going around my brain:-

“We can do nothing of any value to God, except in acts of genuine helpfulness done to our fellow men”.

You have to remember that the latter guy built a business; a large one and whilst he was doing it did a phenomenal amout for his employees and those who had nothing. Acts like this are not unique to those of faith, but those of faith disproportionately do them.

A lot of stuff I used to argue about I don’t any longer. In fact, a lot of stuff I used to argue about I now just get bored with. These quotes get to the heart of what it is all about: Deuteronomy 6:5 or Isaiah 1:17 as a test of your orthodoxy anyone?

Discipleship

(because most days you will find me in a robe, kneeling in front of a skull and with a yellow plate stuck to the back of my head)

I got a link to this site a few weeks back. It is not from my usual ‘gotee wearing, pierced, AppleMac, organic, ground coffee drinking emerging church’ sources,  but from something that is more Orthodox and ‘high’. That alone makes me think. It perhaps sets up too many ‘either/or’ dichotomies (life is greyer), and I don’t agree with all of it, but maybe because of that it provokes a deeper reaction.

‘A crippling blow to Christianity over the centuries, and to our time in particular, has been the whole-sale adoption by the Church of membership-based Christianity versus discipleship-based Christianity…..

So what’s the difference between discipleship-based and membership-based Christianity? Well, in a nutshell, discipleship based Christianity is about a way of life, whereas membership based Christianity is more of an event-based religion (i.e. going to church). Let me illustrate the differences between these two by some general truths about disciples and church goers. This list was compiled by an Episcopal priest who has spent thirty years studying the differences between discipleship and membership based Christianity.

1. Church goers are more influenced by culture; Disciples are more influenced by the Kingdom of God.

2. Churchgoers are more connected to God by ritual and the institution; Disciples are more connected to God by a relationship.

3. Churchgoers tend to be autonomous in their faith journey; Disciples tend to be held accountable in their faith journey.

4. Church goers view their faith as a matter of individual convenience; Disciples view their faith with a high level of commitment.

5. Churchgoers remain individualistic, independent, and self-centered; Disciples pursue community, interdependence, and are Christ Centered.

6. Churchgoers focus on church work as the major emphasis; Disciples focus on the ministry of the church in the world.

7. Churchgoers are governed more by the natural realm; Disciples are more governed by the supernatural realm.

8. Churchgoers are content with maintance; Disciples are driven by mission and the great commission.

9. Churchgoers are dependent on clergy for ministry; Disciples are dependent on the body of Christ for ministry.

10. Churchgoers look to develop programs; Disciples look to develop ministries.

11. Churchgoers consider themselves owners of material possessions; Disciples consider themselves stewards of material possessions.

12. Churchgoers are content to give according to their own standard; disciples are committed to the tithe and get there.

13. Churchgoers stop with Jesus as Savior; Disciples follow Jesus as Lord.

14. Churchgoers are Sunday only Christians; Disciples are lifestyle Christians’.

http://anglicandominican.blogspot.com/2012/01/membership-vs-discipleship-based.html

Something to move me as Monday starts

(the world needs more beards and moustaches…)

I have had a few days off to spend time with my children, to decorate and to attempt to pause. Some questions from my review are kicking round my head and a birthday is coming up; time again to think about what I am doing and why I am here (without straying into the ‘bring it on’ and ‘Yo; go for it!’ territory...)…. here is a quote to do that:-

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

 Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)