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  • Easily Pleased?

    Maybe I am easily pleased, I do not know, but I am feeling happy this morning having just ordred some shiny new books from Amazon.  Well, actually slightly grubby secondhand books from Amazon market place, but the feel is still good!

    This week I had an intial meeting with one of my prof. doc. supervisors and am looking forward to meeting the other tomorrow.  The first meeting was good - productive and enjoyable (I promised I'd say something nice ;-) ) and I came away feeling clearer about the way ahead with this year's work.

    Since then I have spent all of about 2 hours playing with library catalogues, 'Athens' to access journals and yummy Amazon to find books to buy.  I am a happy person, waiting for the postie to bring my books and lots of interesting reading ahead.

    And now that my PC is fully upgraded, and Norton 2007 finally behaving properly, my next thrilling task is to investigate the 'Endnote' software which allegedly makes doing bibilographies a breeze...

  • God's Grannies

    We are now almost at the end of our series on Jesus' 'mother roots,' the women in the Matthean genealogy.  I have enjoyed working with the stories and discovering new insights from them.  It was one of those series that could have gone in umpteen directions, perhaps depending on the aims/preferences of the preacher.

    If your thing is (social) justice there is plenty to go at - Tamar being treated like baggage, Rahab and the issues around prostitution, sex tourism and trafficking, etc, Ruth (or at least Naomi) with economic migrancy and (im)migrant labour and finally Bathsheba with all manner of things around marriage, family, adultery.  Indeed any/all of the stories raise intriguing questions about society as a whole and faith communities in particular.

    If your thing is God working beyond our expectations, beyond the church or even beyond professed faith, it's all there.  Foreign women, adulterous relationships, decption - you name it, they do it along the way. 

    You could also use these stories to question some of our nice churchy attitudes - I even found one commentary that said it was fine that people lied, so long as it was for God's purposes - interesting!  Oh, and of course one church member re-defined Rahab's occupation in a way beyond even what Matthew Henry does so unconvincingly! 

    In part, I chose to consider how knowledge of these umpty-great grannies might have influenced/foreshadowed Jesus' own attitudes to marginalised people.  The woman in adultery, the woman at the well, the Roman centurion, the lepers, the tax-gatherers... If you know that your forebears were (or relatives/friends are) refugees, migrants, 'sinners' etc, maybe your attitude is different?

    Now, as the series draws to its close, and because I am running out of time, I am looking at links and parallels between Bathsheba and Mary and between David and Joseph.  Bathsheba does not even get named in Matthew 1, Mary is (according to tradition) 'ever blessed.'  Both women knew great personal suffering, including death of their first born sons.  David, the man 'after the Lord's heart' acts like a right **** while Joseph takes on another 'man's' son.  I'm not going to push the connections too far, that's silly, but it is interesting.

    Gods' "choice" of Grannies for Jesus is as fascinating as you could wish for.  I am glad Jesus' forebears are diverse and 'colourful', I am glad that they include people of many races and statuses, I am glad that they challenge our nice churchy norms.  I am glad, above all, that God is not constrained by our theology, doctrines or expectations.

  • Getting Older...

    Tonight for the first time in 25 years as a Girls' Brigade leader I had to call the police to deal with abusive youths and realised I am getting older...

    ... I was not intimidated by the youths, as I once would have been, and gave them my best icy stare - not very effective in the dark, granted, but it made me feel better...

    ... then when the police eventually arrived they looked about the same height and age as the youths - who had of course left by then!

    I'm getting older!

  • Words Worth Pondering

    Today Advent began in Dibley, technically a little early, but the only way to get four prayer lunches in before 25th December!  We are using some of the reflections in the Hilary Faith Jones book Awakenings.  Today we focussed on 'The Visitor.'  In the 'story' - a meditation (reflection really) these words really struck me:

    And Gabriel saw the tears roll down [Mary's] cheeks

    And forgot for a moment,

    To be glorious

    And ethereal


    Wow!  What amazing imagery, what imagination.  How it speaks to us/me about the cost of disicpleship and the impact of human emotion on the celestial heart.  I love the image of Mary weeping as the enormity of what is being said hits her - how real.  I love the idea of a flustered angel forgetting to be glorious and ethereal!  I love the image of God this whole piece gives me.  I look forward to next week and the next reflection - which I will resist the urge to read in advance!


  • Defining 'Alt Worship'

    Today I have been to church three times - what a creep I am, though my father's generation knew nothing other.  Ah well.

    I sat through a traditional Methodist service this morning, led our own service this afternoon and went to something called 'Alt Worship' this evening.  Trouble is, I thought our service was probably more 'Alt' than what I went to, and ours definitely wasn't, at least not by my definition.

    I enjoyed the evening service, and along with three others of a similar age who'd also gone out of curiosity, was one of the youngest by a good 30 years.  So, taking that into account, perhaps this service, in the school room, in the round, with only two hymns from the hymn book and the rest on a sheet, was quite 'alt.'  The singing was divine - this congregation includes many former members of the local male voice choir who could harmonise anything.  The liturgy (i.e. printed words, and there was rather a lot) was mainly thoughtful and thought-provoking.  The meditation could have been stunning, with a little more advance preparation, and I did keep a copy of it (everything was printed - one of my betes noir about other traditions actually being of use for once).  The whole things lasted just under 30 minutes and after it finished someone came round for the offering which had been 'forgotten.'

    If these had been my poeple doing this for the first time, I'd have been proud of them for the way they coped.  I certainly remember the comments the first I tried something 'alt' with my evening congregation (when we had one) - let's just say they were less than appreciative!  We have come a very long way in three years - so far in fact that we coped with the school burglar alarm ringing all through the first 15 minutes of our worship - our fault one of our folk ignored the 'go no further' signs and triggered it.  Good job I wasn't wanting silent prayer to begin though.

    So, I still don't know what constitutes 'alt worship' but maybe it all depends from where you start?