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  • Kids!

    So, last night was kids' club again - becoming a regular feature at the moment because the official leader still hasn't arranged any other female help.  Overall it went quite well - though I'd still like to improve the dicispline a bit to make for an overall happier atmosphere.

    Lots to make me smile...

    One lad told me he'd heard on Radio Leicester that there were going to be 18 nuclear power stations built in Leicestershire.  Having checked all BBC websites there was clearly no such announcement - though of course there was something about wind turbines on the isle of Lewis...  I can't envisage one nuclear station in Leicestershire, never mind 18!

    Two of the children announced that they were going out together.  As the other girls quizzed her, the eleven year old counted carefully and then said they'd been going out for.... one week and three days.  Ah, bless.  The boyfriend preened suitably as his peers looked on!

    We ended the evening with a paper aeroplane competition that I'd organised, having downloaded some intructions from the internet.  After ten minutes of industrious folding and colouring we launched all the craft.  Despite all the proud boasts of the lads that their designs were way superior to anything on-line, it was one of the girls with a classic paper dart whose plane flew the furthest.  Of course.  As we were clearing up to go home one of the lads asked if he could take the instructions with him, and carefully gathered up as many different designs as he could find (albeit getting into a squabble with another lad over one set), so I guess that was a successful activity.

    For next week I've found some fun three-dimensional 'monsters' for them to make - so we'll see whether it is kids or construction who are more monstrous!

    I am enjoying getting to know these children better, so will actually miss them once the leadership issues get resolved and I revert to monthly visits.

  • 1 in 4

    One in four of my church members have been to one of our new prayer meetings.  I think that is excellent.  In fact, I think that most ministers would drool at the possibility.  Unfortunately I had to kick today's lot out early as I had a crisis phone call half way through lunch, but even so, it was a good experience.

    On Saturday we were served a breakfast of warm croissants, orange juice and fresh coffee, while we chatted for half an hour before we prayed around fellowship topics.  Today we prayed for half an hour and then dined on enough 'bring and share' food for a small army; thankfully I had made a cauldron of soup, otherwise there would have been one disgruntled punter!

    One or two other people have expressed an interest but couldn't make it, so we could be up to almost a third of the church soon...

    Obviously we have to see if we sustain the momentum or if these go the way of the more traditional church prayer meeting.  I hope not, because as time goes on I get more convinced that it is when we share time and food together that prayer emerges, not that when we pray the result is fellowship.  There is big, tough stuff for this little church to deal with this year and we need to be there for each other in it.  Whether that should mean filling the minister's freezer with left over sausage rolls ready for next time, I'm not so sure, but to share and care leading to prayer - yes, that sounds good to me.

  • Judas and Paul

    In a paper I was reading this morning, which turned out to be not a lot of use, I found this quotation from Karl Barth...

    Paul sets out from the very place where the pentient Judas had tried to turn back and reverse what had already happened.  He begins by doing what to Judas' horror the high priests and elders had done as the second links in the chain of evil.  He fulfills the handing-over of Jesus to the Gentiles: not this time in unfaithfulness, but in faithfulness to Israel's calling and mission; not now aiming at the slaying of Jesus, but at establishing in the whole world the lordship of this One who was slain but is risen.  Judas... begins the true story of the apsotles in the sense of Mt. 28:19, the genuine handing-over of Jesus to the Gentiles.

    Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol 2 Pt 2 p 478


    This intrigues me - and takes my mind off what I'm meant to be thinking about, but never mind.

    Matthew certainly has a repentent Judas (Matt 27:4) whilst Luke does not (Acts 1:18-19); yet while Luke has spontaneous eruption of guts, Matthew requires suicide by hanging to invoke divine curse (Deut 21:23).  Matthew's potter's field becomes a burial place for foreigners (Gentiles), Luke's is simply the Field of Blood.  In historicity we have a mismatch that is not easily reconciled, needing either an unrepentent Judas or a hanging to keep him under curse.  Whether curse = eternal damnation I don't feel qualified to judge, though that is the understanding I've been taught through the years in respect of Judas.

    I don't quite know why I have a soft spot for Judas, and I don't know quite why I keep trying to find a loop hole for him.  Perhaps it is because I know that there have been times when I've behaved not a million miles differently from him.  Perhaps it is because I've always intuitively believed in general, not particular, atonement.  Perhaps it is my secret yen for God to be a universalist even if I'm not.  Or perhaps I'm just an incorrigble heretic.

    Whatever the truth may be, I find Barth's perspective intereting.

  • Linguistic Irritants

    After being entertained by the responses to one word in my last post - which I dare not repeat, even in quotation marks and with formal Chicago 15th B referencing, for fear of the wrath of Sean ( ;-) ) - I began thinking of the words, phrases and grammatical inaccuracies that really niggle me and wondering what does the same for other people.

    Two words which really irritate me are 'methodology,' used when the intent is 'method' rather than its correct usage as 'the study of method,' and 'problematise' (or 'problematize' more often because we absolutely must use American spellings at every opportunity) which seems to be used pretty loosely to mean anything from critique to analyse to trying-to-sound-impressive-when-i-don't-quite-know-what-to-say.

    I'm not keen on 'unpack' used when someone means 'could you explain that to me in more detail' and never really got to grips with using 'over against' which seems to be theological speak for 'as opposed to' or 'in contrast with.'

    More generally I get annoyed with people saying 'different to' when correct English is 'different from' and 'similar to' and when people merrily interchange colons, semi-colons, commas and full stops saying "I never really know which to use."  Simple.  Use short sentences!  Or, simple: use short sentences. Or, simply use short sentences.  You get my drift!

    I am told that it is now acceptable to boldly split infinitives; quite how one 'boldies' in a splitting manner, I have yet to grasp, and I continue to be irritated by said practice.

    Some colloquial idiosyncracies that grate include double negatives, as in "I ain't got none" (ergo you must have some), the use of 'them' when the correct word would be 'those,' as in "them chairs" when it should be "those chairs," and adjectival poverty, such as the midlands use of 'nice' and Warrington use of 'gorgeous' for anything positive (or, worse, in the negative 'not gorgeous' - as I once heard said to a misbehaving child, "that behaviour is really not gorgeous.") .

    But top of the irritants has to be the north west, and especially Warringtonian/Mancunian confusion of the words 'lend' and 'borrow' - expressions such as "can I lend your book?" or "I borrowed you my pen."  The correct answer to "can I lend your book?" would, presumably, be "to whom do you wish to lend it?" As for borrowing someone my possessions, that is just plain nonsense!

    Anyone want to add what annoys them?

  • Pastoral Care as "Ladies who Lunch"

    By default, this is becoming a new modus operandum for 2008.  I have a number of women who work part time or are younger retired, and a number of others who are currently off work with long term medical conditions.  The former have cars, time and flexibility, the latter have empty days, cabin fever and lots of anxiety.  So, the plan is simple - get a car load of them, find a cheap cafe or a pub with a good lunchtime deal and take them out.  No holy holy stuff, just practical caring (I just remembered I didn't say grace today, oh how evil a minister I am!  Not.).

    I also from time to time do home communions, always taking someone with me because it is the church (fellowship) not the minister who. theologically, does this.  Yesterday the person I was visiting invited me for lunch, which was, afterall, far more communion than a bit of crumbly bread and a sip of juice.  We chatted about this and that, and support and love were shared.

    What I hope, as I build and extend this model a bit, drawing in those for whom an evening meal or a weekend brunch might be better, is that rather than building little cliques, people will begin to do the same for each other, building relationships and growing in community.

    I have never liked the cup of tea with the old lady model of pastoral visiting, which feels artificial and unhelpful.  The host, on their best behaviour gets out the china cup for the 'vicar' and after the designated 30/60minutes including a prayer of the 'we four and no more variety', the vicar leaves.  Whilst I do appreciate that good pastoral relationships can be built from regular, cyclic visitation, I was never, ever, visited by a minister, and it isn't something that I find in my gifting.  But getting groups of folk - 2's and 3's - to talk and encourage each other on an ad hoc basis, seems to me a workable middle course.

    Of course this could prove disastrous for my waistline, such as it is, but it seems a good cause...