By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 2

  • Maybe Marlow had a point...

    Last night I spent three hours putting together a list of the hymns and songs, along with authors and copyright details, that had been used on the service sheets I've produced in the last six months so that my CCL records person could update the computerised returns.  I am not sure that all this data is required to enable the task to be done or why the service sheets themselves don't give enough information, but there you are, this is the place it is with its own delightful quirks!

    I pride myself on not repeating hymns or songs too often, and keep my own records of what we sing and when.  A typical Sunday will use between 8 and 10 items, so the six month list was rather long.  I almost envied the churches with worship groups have a repertoire of six songs (all using the same three chords! (miaow)) whose CCL returns must be very simple to do.  I even wondered if Isaac Marlow had a point when he said we should sing inwardly in our hearts and, since he opposed pre-printed forms, therefore negating the whole business.

    This year I'll just have to be more disciplined and match my own records to the CCL person's needs so that I can simply give her a photocopy of my own sheets (which I update weekly) every month or so.  At least this week with a united service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I can put an SEP  (someone else's problem) field around it and it'll therefore go away. 

  • New Hymn

    Recently I was looking for hymns for our Covenant aservice and using the Word 'find' tool on the Songs of Fellowship .rtf files withthe word 'promise.'  In book 3 I found the following hymn which I think is really beautiful.  We sang it to Blaenwern rather than trying to learn the original tune - the advantage of this hymn is that the 87.87D metre is such that many well known tunes can be used.  Apologies for the formatting - I don't speak html so I can't seem to get it to do what I want and had to use a tilda as a verse separator - line spacing I could not get it to do without completely re-typing it! See what you think:


    Lord, we thank You for the promise

    Seen in every human birth;

    You have planned each new beginning:

    Who could hope for greater worth?

    Hear our prayer for those we cherish,

    Claim our children as Your own:

    In the fertile ground of childhood

    May eternal seed be sown.


    Lord, we thank You for the vigour

    Burning in the years of youth:

    Strength to face tomorrow's challenge,

    Zest for life and zeal for truth.

    In the choice of friends and partners,

    When ideas and values form,

    May the message of Your kingdom

    Be the guide, the goal, the norm.


    Lord, we thank You for the harvest

    Of the settled, middle years:

    Times when work and home can prosper,

    When life's richest fruit appears;

    But when illness, stress and hardship

    Fill so many days with dread,

    May Your love renew the vision

    Of a clearer road ahead.


    Lord, we thank You for the beauty

    Of a heart at last mature:

    Crowned with peace and rich in wisdom,

    Well-respected and secure;

    But to those who face the twilight

    Frail, bewildered, lacking friends,

    Lord, confirm Your gracious offer:

    Perfect life which never ends.


    Martin E Leckebusch © Kevin Mayhew 1999




  • Church on the Margins

    Today was an EMBA/Urban Expression/Anabaptist Network sort of study day thingy which had the advantage that you didn't need to book and it was donations only!  It was a good day, lots of interesting stories and things to which I could cheerfully add a hearty 'AMEN' - and some of which would cause the hair of my church members to curl or fall out!  We also discovered that, at least on a crude estimate, outside London EMBA has the highest proportion of small churches (<40 members) and that most of these are declining rapidly.  It was, therefore, quite challenging.

    On the positive side, I feel that my little congregation is beginning to engage in mission, but on the negative that they have yet to grasp that we are in an age of post-everything.  As my previous posts suggest, many are living a pre-1950 worldview despite their centrally heated houses, DVD players and mobile phones.

    What might an 'emerging church' look like in this context?  How do we seriously embrace all that is good and worthwhile from experiments such as Urban Expression without scaring away all the old timers?  Or do I just let them go?  Perhaps this feels a little raw as I've just had two "notes through the door" in as many days, to say nothing of the looks I got at the Church meeting this week when we brought a suggestion from the diaconate about involvement in mission with our ecumenical friends.

    One of my deacons who uses 'spiritual warfare' language a lot sees objections and defections as a sign we're doing the right thing. It's a bit simplistic but sort of reassuring that he thinks I/we are going the right way.

    Living with contradiction is part of being a follower of Jesus, taking risks and risking failure is central to discipleship and mission.  I will continue to ponder what might be the appropriate ways for my congregation to continue our exilic training and try to discern useful principles from the anabaptists of old and the Urban Expressions of our own age.  In the meantime, how do I convince my folk to have tea after services never mind donuts?!

  • New Verbs?!

    I have just got back from my NAM conference with some new verbs - borrowed, invented and remembered.  So here they are: -

    To Nicodemus: largely self evident, seemingly emerging from South Africa; the act of questioning, seeking by night, wondering and maybe even missing the point...

    To Brian: see earlier post; to discover or make connections, particularly between people but also between ideas.

    To Judith (usually passive, one is Judithed): courtesy of a colleague; to be taken at great speed and as a result feel exhausted

    To SCamble (usually passive, one is SCambled): from my industry days, relating to one Mr S Campbell; to have one's faculties reduced to the consistency of scrambled egg (quite a poetic, almost onomatopaeoic verb)

    This is is definitley not erudite, but a couple of days of Nicodemusing and Brianing, neither of which were Judithing or SCambling, provided a welcome change from routine.

    PS I don't think I want to know how the verb 'to Catriona' might be defined!!

  • Six degrees of separation?

    Now this is definitely something that comes under the ‘rubbish’ category but believe me it’s preferable to typing a list of manse defects for the Property Team!

    There is a theory, sometimes called the ‘small world theory’ that any two people can be linked together by a chain with five (or in some versions six) intermediaries.  Some experiments allegedly demonstrate this can be achieved, but the success rate is usually quite low.

    Then there’s the ‘rare event’ stuff that I used to do as a Probabilistic Risk Assessor.  Sometimes people would say to us that something was incredible – you know the kind of thing, it’s their birthday, their goldfish died and the M6 was grid locked at Junction 21 – and we would give it a quick think over and point out that no, it was actually not that unlikely and that ‘one in a million’ events happen all the time (why else are people daft enough to buy lottery tickets with a 1 in 14 million chance of winning. It’s only because >>14 x 1E6 people buy them that it becomes a frequent event).  Anyway, as the sceptics say there’re lies, accursed lies and statistics - and beyond that there’s PRA (what I used to do).

    Lastly there’s the Brian Howden syndrome!  Brian is a dearly loved and wonderful Baptist minister and former tutor at NBC who loves nothing better than to discover connections between people.  Whilst he was my personal tutor we established that his former church secretary had worked for me in industry, he had been ‘senior friend’ to my former minister and that the uncle of my next door neighbour and fellow student had worked for someone who worked for me.  So somewhere the ‘small world theory’ and ‘rare event’ link to Brian’s ‘connectedness.’

    All of which leads me to this week's amusing event (I'm easily amused!).  From my favourite online bookstore (Amazon) I bought a second-hand copy of Esther De Waal’s Living with Contradiction.  When I opened it, it had a label identifying its past owner as one Brian Haymes (not Howden, alas) of Bristol Baptist College.  I know that Brian has long since moved on from there but he was once at NBC, so the chain of connections can be discerned if you want to find it!  I did wonder vaguely how many intermediaries there were between Brian Haymes and myself, what the ‘ten to the minus’ as one of my former colleagues would say, might have been, and even how the theme of the book vaguely relates to the concept of inter-relatedness – then I remembered I was meant to be listing defects.  Ah well!