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  • Computer Upgrades - whose call?

    I am just about to upgrade my PC - no, don't get excited, not a shiny new, or even refurbished, sleek laptop or Mac thingamajig; just a bit of software that will, hopefully, transform my steam driven Windows 98 into XP allowing me to add new software I need for my academic work which will not run under Windows 98.  I got it for just over £60 on Ebay (new, sealed) which is a good price.  Then I thought, hang on, this is for work, not pleasure, so who should pay?

    I try not to envy those whose churches supply all their needs (and a few wants it sometimes seems) but am conscious how much time and effort I spend on saving my lot money and/or just providing stuff myself.  I guess if I ever manage to get hold of the tax man (whose phone is always engaged) I could offset against tax - indeed, I suspect, despite the small amount of funeral income, Mr Taxman would end up paying me.  So, is it reasonable to ask the church to pay £30? £10? £50?  Answers on a post card (and big donations to HMF!)

  • Seven Sayings for Remembrance Sunday

    Somehow in my preaching plan, I managed to forget Remembrance Sunday.  It is not my favourite event but, here in Dibley, it is something people like to keep.  Last year I was quite pleased with what we achieved - it was creative and it was challenging: trouble is I had set myself up to fail this year as I didn't want to reuse that material but it was so wide ranging I struggled for new ideas.  The CCTBI and Britsh Legion websites - and even the alternatives from more pacifist perspectives - seem to suffer from the unhelpful face of traditional anglican-style liturgy.  In other words, even the 'new' service is very much a civic service with the same old hymns and words, and expectation that the national anthem will be sung.  There is a place for that, of course, but not three o'clock on Sunday afternoon, and not singing the national anthem in a Baptist church.

    medium_shot-dawn3.jpgEventually I settled on the 'The Seven Sayings from the Cross' and am fairly eager to get my head around how I can reflect on them in relation to both remembrance and the horrors of war and violence.  I am also intending to use a sequence of images with the Barber Adagio for Strings as accompaniment - war photos, terrorism photos, local soldier killed this year photos - and then a montage of some of them as a cross.  I think it sort of works.  And at eight minutes plus it cuts down the time I need to talk!

    Is there maybe a place somewhere for sharing alternative ideas for Remembrance services?  I cannot believe I am alone in finding it difficult to know how to handle them.

     (Photo is 'Shot at Dawn' memorial at National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas)

  • A New Thing Springing Up?

    I think I am quite excited today!  I had a meeting with one of my deacons who is an absolute star.  Quiet, lacking confidence, but capable and creative (though claims not to be!) she combines strong loyalty with honest reflection and has real depth of faith and spirituality.  We talked about all sorts, finishing up with the 'New Thing' the church has agreed to start in a pub next year.  The ideas were flowing and suddenly I began to see a shape for this rather nebulous 'thing' that God might be doing.  I have to wait to see what the church folk think but this is where I've got to...

    We are hoping to attract the 20-40-ish agegroup - which given I'm nearly 44 and the youngest member of the church...  Some folk thought we should 'do' Alpha but it really isn't the right starting place for people for whom 'church' or 'Christianity' aren't even on the radar.  Why did Jesus die? Well someone executed him - it's not a question that has meaning beyond the walls of Christian community.  What I am suggesting is a three-stranded approach with different 'entry points' which might appeal to different people.  I would be interested to 'hear' the views of those who are younger and/or involved in this kind of 'stuff'

    The three strands are, crudely, 'relationship', 'faith' and 'spirituality'

    'Relationship' will begin with food (Alpha gets some things right!) and chat at each monthly event.  It will extend to a couple of socials a year but hopefully also deepen into real friendship.  It seems that actually the granny generation relate well to the 20-somethings, so let's give it a go...

    'Faith' will be not be about doctrine or theology, but about trying to explore how faith is relevant to real life.  We hope that by inviting in outside speakers we can look at 'faith and sport,' 'faith and health,' 'faith and politics,' 'faith and science,' even, quite brave for my lot, 'faith and faiths.'  Trying to avoid the Christians setting the agenda for discussions could be interesting but it has immense potential.

    'Spirituality' will run alternate months to 'faith,' not because they are separate but because the styles will be vastly different and rather than a hotch potch I'd rather do each well.  Also it gives two different entry points for people who might be interested in different aspects.  Without hymns, without a sermon, but with lots of multi-sensory 'stuff' it will endeavour to create a space for encounter with God, for praise, thanks, admitting struggles, finding strength for tomorrow, reflecting on scripture and responding to what is heard.  A bit like 24/7 prayer things but not quite.

    Finding a name that does not include 'Dibley,' 'Baptist' or 'Church' is essential - but it needs to be something people will live with too.  Accepting that this venture may lead people to faith but not membership of DBC (or any other church in Dibley) is tough for my oldies but is part of the ethos.  Commitment to disappointment, a long slog and endless criticism - well, hey, what's new there?

    Right now, I am excited at the prospect - I hope my deacons and others can catch the dream!