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  • Quieter Spaces for Advent

    Before I vanish again - way too much happening around here, so much that I've lost my booked-and-paid-for Advent Quiet Day tomorrow (2 funerals) - here are a couple of online spaces for a short Advent reflection each day:

    Hopeful Imagination - a group blog (may miss the odd day)

    Northern Baptist College - 10-15 min liturgy.

    Experience.  Enjoy.

    And as I'll be there too - share!


    Updated: if you want to travel through Advent with a URC minister, Craig has some reflections and links worth a look here

  • Sounds Painful...

    In a little over a week's time I have been invited to attend a service where my new Anglican colleague will be 'collated and installed.'  Does that amount to 'sorting her out' then 'plugging her in'?  Glad we just get inducted!

  • Hmmm.

    Last night I was bemoaning the number of requests I've been getting to conduct funerals - I *could* have been (am not) doing four this week.  I said to the person, 'I wish all these people would stop dying.'

    Her reply? 'Well, have a word with your boss then!'


  • Old Lay Preachers

    Next Wednesday I will be conducting a funeral for one of the local Baptist lay-preachers. Nothing especially odd about that, except that he was 101 years old and only last year conducted his own wife's funeral!

    This man was born the same year as one of my grandmothers, and I have to try to think into her story to try to connect with his.

    I am promised a full church (D+1) and a congregation where I'll almost undoubtedly be the youngest by a couple of decades.  It is certainly a strange mixture of privilege and challenge, and I am grateful for various press cuttings and copies of family writings to inform the eulogy.

    One thing I've learned from this experience is the odd blend of help and hindrance that letters stating requirements for funerals are!  This person had left a letter dictating that an early morning private cremation should be followed by an afternoon celebration service - including exact times and venues!  It is not possible to meet these exacting requirements (for logistical reasons) and the real pastoral needs of surviving relative who will have travelled considerable distances to attend have to trump what was stated.  So, after a fairly traditional service, I will accompany the coffin to the crematorium, freeing the relatives to meet and mingle with those who knew, so much better than they, this old lay preacher.  Maybe I'm odd, but whilst my theology says what I'm accompanying is a dead body, my heart won't let me let him go to this last 'appointment' alone - the commendation words will be spoken in church, echoed at the crematorium, and I will, in faith, commit the mortal remains to the elements in 'sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Christ our Lord.'

    And then, of which I think he'd approve, I will dash off to lunch club to play 'Father Christmas' (mother?  elf?) to our wrinklies.

  • Biblical Commentaries?

    I have recently been given a sum of money in my capacity as 'Baptist 'Vicar' of Dibley' (as distinct from to me as a person, even though the reality is that it is mine to use as I see fit, no questions asked).  I'd like to use some of it to purchase some Biblical commentaries to augment my woefully inadequate library.  The tempation is to opt for buying several from one of the popular series, so that I could get a little closer to the aim of one day having a commentary on every book of the Bible (beyond the couple of one volume things I already have).  I already have three or four commentaries on each of the gospels, so am not really looking for these.  But, if you could recommend one, reasonably priced (up to about £25) commentary that's fairly middle of the road theologically and suitable for use by preacher with a smattering of Greek vocabulary and no Hebrew, what might it be?  I'm after the kind that cover a single book of the Bible or at most a small inter-related set.  I'd rather buy less, better, commentaries than a 'bumper fun book of the Bible.'