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  • Disappearing under Literature

    medium_big_pile_of_books.jpgThis picture is how I feel, even if I bear no resemblance (beyond the glasses) to the person in it.

    Writing my literature review is taking way longer than I feared and I now need to make some 'swingeing cuts' to get anywhere near the word limit.

    I guess my problem is that I have only two ways of expressing myself (i) consise (ii) extremely and unashamedly verbose.  I could write the whole thing in a dozen sentences or I could write it in an epic.  In between is tricky.

    So, I'm going to be a good girl and try to take a break from blogging until I have a complete draft - course I might need a distraction now and then... 

  • Not Exactly Green

    Loyal readers will be used to the endless references to my essay - still in the writing, still loads to do to get a first draft and already w-a-y too long.  I keep typing away, cutting out the adjectives, rephrasing the sentences to get less words in them and think, well, hey, I might get it down to 12k if it says not a lot at all about anything. 

    Then I check the university requirements: 2 copies, single sided, double spaced, wide margins.  I do understand the logic: two markers, space to write comments (if they're allowed to now, for a while they weren't) big enough writing for them to read without their microscopes etc, etc.  It just isn't very green.  My 1.5 line spacing draft is over 60 pages already (OK so it includes some diagrams and it'll come down a bit after editting) - that's a lot of paper one way and another.  If the final version is a mere 50 sides, that's still one heck of a lot of paper and just not very, well, green.


  • Pentecost Part II

    Rain, rain go away, come again another day, you can't won't stop us celebrating, God's precious Holy Spirit (after the style of, and even less profound than 'Wind, wind, blow on me', which we sang today).

    We had fun - about 60 of us - celebrating, singing, listening, watching, tasting, smelling and worshipping.

    Despite my worse fears, it did not deteriorate into a circus with so many participants - I think my folk are now well trained to move during hymns or look out for a nod rather than waiting to be announced, and the musicians swapped round quite efficiently.

    I know not everyone will have enjoyed every part of the service, but I hope they went away encouraged that in God's sight they are precious, that God is always with them and that God inspires them to share the good news in a language (of speech or action) that others can understand.

    It was good to have young people leading some of the singing (interesting combination of piano accordian and saxophone plus percussion) as well as the Methodist worship band (guitar, flute and organ) and some traditional organ music too.  It was good to have the vicar's mini-expository sermon on Ezekiel to balance my talk on balloons and candles (and chocolate!).  It was good to have some liturgy and some extempore prayer.  It was good to have drama and a 'join in please' activity. In short, it was less Babel and more Pentecost, less uniformity and more unity, less denominations working together and more Church in diverse expressions.

    As I packed away the left overs, I found myself pondering the enormous journey we've travelled in three and a half years and the grace of God that has permeated even my ham-fisted and sometimes downright bizarre attempts to guide my folk along the way.

    It is still raining here in Dibley, but we celebrated, and that seems good.

  • The Sun Always Shines in NT...?

    It is a very soggy Pentecost, and so far this morning I have made about 40 phone calls to ensure people know we are now going to hold our service in the Methodist Church.  I think God has been very generous - it was dry yesterday when it really mattered and pouring with rain today when it doesn't.  Those who prayed for sun are fairly happy, those who feel we shouldn't are not feeling too guilty! But it got me thinking about my mental images of Pentecost in which it was definitely not raining and the temperature in the morning was warm enough for folk to be out and about listening to spirit-crazed apostles.

    The more I think about it, the more I realise that my mental images of Bible times are very Hollywoodised.  Apart from some theatrical darkness on Good Friday and a brief storm on Genessaret (but somehow without the apostles getting cold, wet or miserable) the sun always shines.  It has to, Jesus likes picnics, gathers crowds when he goes through towns and people come to find him to get healed - I mean, no one objected to the rain coming in after the roof got ripped off, did they?!  Perhaps the days when it poured with rain and Jesus and his mates trudged along muddy roads getting cold and meeting nobody much just weren't worth recording.  Undoubtedly my sunshine images owe a lot to Sunday School material or Ladybird books.  (Oh, in good Pauline tradition,  there were also the storms that led to his shipwreck, I can't remember if there was any other bad weather...!)

    medium_singing_in_rain.2.jpgI wonder, in part, if this almost Disneyised version of the Bible is why people 'grow out' of faith because their own reality is that, literally or metaphorically, the sun doesn't always shine.

    I wonder what it might mean if I image that the apostles were gathered in the room that Pentecost morning with rain lashing the streets, with the temperature almost wintry and their spirits as gloomy as the grey clouds that filled the sky?  I wonder what it might mean if they rushed out into the street despite the rain because they were now supercharged with enthusiam (theological and otherwise)?  I wonder what it might mean if we spoke more of the 'God of the wind and rain' rather than 'gentle Jesus meek and mild' ?  I wonder if God might be speaking to me today not in hurricanes and flames but in a quiet whisper that cannot be damped by a deluge?

    We will have fun this afternoon - that's an order!  We will enjoy being together out of the wet and in the warm.  But if out of this we could emerge with a renewed ability to tell the Good News in a language that people understand, wow, that trully would be Pentecostal! 

    (Oh yes, despite repeated requests yesterday, we will NOT be singing 'Send the Fire' (unless praying for it to come via Kez for special purposes; in joke, sorry) because we don't "need another Pentecost," we just need to tune in to the first one.)

    [Picture from www.soundofamerica.org]

  • Pentecost Part I

    Well it stayed dry - until literally the moment I pulled on to my drive at about 5:30 when it began to drizzle and then to rain.  Since then I have unpacked, cleaned and put away the things from the car, counted the money from the stalls, checked the stock for returning to the shops and finally plonked myself by the PC before I crawl to bed after the second of three insanely busy days!

    It went well, I have to say, even if less people came than last year (but it was a lot cooler and this time coincided with the Bank Holiday).  I'd guess we had about 100 guests and about 25 stallholders/volunteers.  We managed to erect a dozen or so tents/gazebos and get them all laid out looking superb by 1p.m. (we began at 9 a.m.) and people started to arrive before the designated 1:30 start.  Apparently the local MP came but he obviously did not want to get his face painted!  However, he did spend money at the Fairtrade stall and chat to a few folk.

    It was a good day.  People were genuinely touched that we weren't charging for most activities and certainly a lot of young families came along and stayed all afternoon.  We sold about £250 worth of Fairtrade stuff and took about £30 on the Christian tat stall, so people certainly spent some money.

    My slight disappointment, but not surprise, was the absence of support from the parish church.  The vicar from St Smells & Bells (which closes soon, and he moves to another parish) came and helped us pitch tents and returned with his grandson for a bit in the afternon, but from 'The Parish' only the vicar came along briefly and he spent most of his time talking to some from the County Council.  I feel that they missed out on a great opportunity and that what is now starting to happen is that the Baptist and Methodist churches are working together almost despite them.

    It is looking likely that tomorrow's service will be at the Methodist church (Plan C) as the rain has set in and no one thinks the 'Great Hall' is sufficiently 'great' to hold us!

    The good news - I think - is that the Methodists are already talking about next year...