Time and cricket….

The days have got longer and cricket is in the air. Both my children play it and the oldest is already a better batter than I am. Both are learning spin: entirely of their own volition and the youngest is starting to bowl a ‘mystery ball’ and can confuse older children. They have rejoined the local club and tonight they play in the same match.

My head is so full, too full to focus on much at the moment, but some evenings before the inevitable meetings and on weekends, I have been their net bowler. On these evenings I forget things and time seems to go on and on…

These are the best days

When you don’t

Think

You just

Are

And when you look up

A dozen years have gone. 

The way we argue..

You may notice a severe lack of ‘we have to take this nation back for Christ’ postings on this blog. You may also notice no ‘standing with’ or ‘partnering with’ (a jargon phrase du jour I loathe) any of the personal morality campaigns that typify certain sections of evangelicalism, often under the ‘Christians are being oppressed’ banner, on this same blog.

It is not that I don’t have views on any of these subjects; I do. It’s just that…. well…. this article from an American perspective gives his reasons:-

http://storylineblog.com/2013/04/22/talking-points-for-the-pro-life-movement/

It needs some translation for a British audience, but I found it to be really good: particularly point 2:’lose the self righteous tone’. These two quotes give a flavour:-

‘I remember, years ago, when I was in high school, sitting at a picnic table at a park near my home reading Martin Luther King’s Letters From a Birmingham Jail and being moved by the love Dr. King had for his oppressors. He was willing to cause tension, for sure, but he was also willing to die as a martyr. He was willing to die for those who he saw as lost in darkness’.

I love how he ends:-

‘Jesus died praying for the forgiveness of His enemies. I don’t think it’s too much of Him to ask that we simply have a conversation with ours’.

He doesn’t mention this, but one reason why I don’t post on ‘those’ subjects, is that I have regrettably found that a sizeable group within that constituency stops listening, labels and demonises the minute any nuance or ‘I am not sure about this’ is expressed. I have grown tired of watching thoughtful people labelled as ‘heretic’ or ‘liberal”…even sometimes myself…

Hymn

I sometimes think that the most profound prayer is ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.’ I know that everyone is made in the image of God (no Calvinist ‘total depravity’ here) but we do mess up don’t we? The older I get, the more aware I am of my own limitations and errors: often painfully so.

I have had this hymn for two weeks in a row. Ignore the dated masculine imagery; it is a child of its time, but it expresses something that I feel deeply. Amidst the vast ocean of Christian hymnody, it is part of the diminishing puddle that I can sing easily.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

 

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

 

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

 

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

 

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Banksy@synod

Of course he is not. However, I have never quite ‘got’ Methodist Synods. I know a lot of  people do, but after 14 years of trying, it is something that I have to do that I do not get a lot out of. Also the thought of being inside for 6 hours or so on a Saturday is not something that fills me with a lot of joy. This feeling gets worse: maybe it is at least partly due to my perception that the Methodist Church is highly variable (I am being very diplomatic here in that choice of words…) on consistent ’employment practice’ (in inverted commas as we are not ’employees’ but ‘office holders’) of its Ministers. Currently, with reinvitation or moving, this is a live issue for me.

Ooops…. sorry- Christian blog. Must remember not to be too honest or downbeat in public.

I have the above picture on my desktop- I often look at it and it lifts me. I will try and think on it today.

Friday Music

It could have been Bowie, but today it is:-

[youtube]ip0cqwGaaTc[/youtube]

..and that is beacuse I am going to see them tonight for an evening of exquisite misery. So miserable that I could not get a friend from this village to join me.

Still, I get to spend the whole day with a very good friend and we travel together to watch Low and be amazed….

Rapid delete

I was on the phone a couple of days back, trying to sort out with someone an email that I had sent. As I went into my ‘sent’ box, a message flashed up which went something like ‘You have 5000 sent messages: please delete some or file them in a seperate file’. I spent the rest of that phone call deleting about a year’s worth of messages. That in itself says something about my inability to be truly present.

A year’s worth of messages:once those words meant something- quick notes, confirmation of arrangements, carefully worded treatises or words to simply say ‘keep going. All those words gone forever (Although I have met people during meetings who store everything, sometimes as ‘evidence’. I mostly edge away from those people).

It made me think: I really do get worked up about stuff, that in the big picture is rarely important, sometimes I need to get out more, or the words of the Psalmist that I use sometimes in funerals: ‘we are like grass…the wind passes over it and it is gone.’

And I wish I could sometimes do a ‘rapid delete’ of large things that I have done and strat again….

 

Bowie at the V& A

(not quite the proper liturgical dress for the 3rd Sunday after Easter)

I have already bored several people rigid with seeing the Bowie exhibition at the V&A….

I confess- I have never been a true fan, but the combination of a gap in a schedule and the thought of going somewhere new just to lose myself in seeing something different was too tempting.

I loved it: I loved the way the Exhibition was curated as a totally immersive experience with sound and vision (see what I just did there…), I loved the way you moved around at your own pace and direction, I loved the chance to interpret things for your self, I loved the mix of sacred & profane, major and trivial and I loved the journey of discovery. Most of all, I thought ‘This could not happen now’; I gained an appreciation of someone who was an innovator and perhaps the first person to see music as the possibility of performance art. It was good towards the end of the exhibition to sit and watch the video wall and watch how some of the themes that I had learned about were played out.

I feel richer for just having been there. And like all good art, it takes weeks/months to assimilate what you have just seen. And I am going to dig out my handful of Bowie albums.

Ok, Bowie had another side: at times ruthless to those around him and to his own self, but here was someone who thought deeply about the impact his art could have and the role of the artist as irritant, as an outsider questioning the mores of his society.

Fill in this space for the parallels for the Jesus follower, the Church…..

From yesterday’s post….

When I posted what I did yesterday, a youth worker for a Christian organisation asked me, via facebook, what I would put down for a youthworker. This was my stab at a first sentence:-

‘I am a youth worker I am: I drink coffee in the Youth Centre. I see God in the lives of people miles away from any church, I dream dreams, see visions, talk about Jesus and people still ask me what I will do when I get a proper job’.

I could have written more (and written better); I could have written something like ‘I am a youth worker I am: you get paid- part of my job is lobbying other people to pay my wages’, I suppose. But what I wanted to underline was the importance of someone who hangs around and is present. I pity youth workers who are forced to justify what they do and list the activities that they have initiated- not that these are unimportant- most of the point (at least in my friend’s job in a large comprehensive school) is that they are just ‘there’. And there are no short cuts to being ‘there’- in fact the more you ‘do’ the less you are there.

….many of us sponsor workers like that. The vast majority are graceful and giving. A small minority talk about ‘the bottom line’ and ‘results’ as the sole determinant of ‘worth’. Me; I just marvel at their ability to be totally exposed and around those who are miles away from any kind of faith or church- it gives me hope…

I am the vicar, I am

A poem, a thought stream from http://theblogofkevin.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/i-am-the-vicar-i-am/. There is also a poem called ‘Priestly Duties’ from Stewart Henderson that covers similar territory.

I love what I do and am frequently tired- there I said it. This is a helpful reflection: I am not alone and not (too unusual)

I am the vicar, I am.

I am the pastor, the carer, the listener

the one with the time to drop everything and

I also understand global politics and immigration and

I am the one who knows about Afghanistan

and cares about ‘our boys’

and I care about speed-humps

graffiti

litter

and the positioning of zebra crossings near schools.

I am passionate about school assemblies

council meetings

mums and toddlers and also

I am good at one-to-one and small groups and

I listen and empathise and at the same time

I am the one who plans and strategizes and

I am the one who understands budgets and decides if we can buy any staples

or replace the heating system.

I am the vicar, I am.

I am the quiet reflective prayer and

I am the speaker, the enthuser, the motivator, the learned teacher and

I can engage a room of 10, 50, 300 people with no problem because

I am the one who relates particularly well to children

older people

the middle-aged

the jobless

the employed

the doctors

teenagers and

I am the one who is always one step ahead and

I am the one who is endearingly disorganised.

I am the vicar, I am.

I care passionately about church politics

I care passionately about domestic abuse

I care passionately about the plight of Anglo Catholics

women priests

gay clergy

evangelicals and

I listen to the pope

the archbishop and

Rob Bell.

I am up-to-date with theological developments.

I understand the history of the reformation

the armed forces

the war

the government

the deanery

the Jewish background of Jesus and

I care about the excluded and

I manage my admin and

I know how to access children’s services.

I am the vicar, I am.

I am the one in whom trust is placed

I am the one in whom grumbles are placed

I am the one who is always talking to everyone else

I am the one who models worship

marriage

family

gardening

conversation

baking

prayer

listening

talking

planning.

I often get it wrong.

I am the one who has to keep my doubts under wraps and

I am also the one who is vulnerable and

dependable

stable

trustworthy.

I am the one who chairs meetings

I am the one who manages group discussions

I am the manager of an organisation that employs only me

I am the volunteer co-ordinator

the opinion co-ordinator

the trespasser on the territory of people who have been around a lot longer than me

and will be there after me.

I understand the heating system

the financial system

the rota system.

I love committees.

I drink tea with older people

And coffee with younger people

I listen to stories of bus routes and hospital visits and

I believe in transforming our community through the power of Jesus.

I am the one who is very tired.

I am the one who hates wearing dresses but still smiles

and would love to be muddy all the time.

I am the one who only works one day a week.

I am the one who loves this job.

I am the one who is making it up as I go along.

I am the one who would not swap this for anything.

I am the vicar, I am.

Strangeness

Another ‘miracle’ story this morning from; thi time from Acts chapter 9. You can, I suppose, take the view that these things are embarrasing and stop grappling with the story and the difficulties therein and adopt a slightly superior ‘well these were primitive people’ attitude. Or you can talk about ‘literal truth’; reprosing poetry and making ‘Word’ understandable ‘word’.

I increasingly do not know what I believe when I encounter these stories, but I am more open to the mystery and the strangeness of them. I think we need to recover the strangeness and shock of the Bible…. and that may not mean 3 predictable points that alliterate, ‘good sermon preacher’ and home to normal life.

“The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young” (James Hollis Finding Meaning in the Second Half of  Life).