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  • Liturgical Haste...

    Now and then I check out the BUGB website to see what's new.  I did this morning, and noticed that the header bar has been changed from 'Lent' to 'Easter.'  I am not sure which liturgical calendar the webmaster is using but my response was 'not yet.'  We don't even get to Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday for any RC readers) for almost a week yet.

    For me this haste is unhelpful.  Easter is a process, an experience, to be entered into and felt deeply, painfully, gut wrenchingly, heart breakingly... and only then do we dare celebrate its other side.  Too many churchgoers will omit Holy Week - to date from my congregation there is just me going to a joint Passover Seder at D+2 on Maundy Thursday, several have said they will be 'otherwise engaged' on Good Friday  - and many won't even turn up for Easter Sunday, being off on holiday instead.  We seem to like 'happy church' with Jesus either safely alive and well or risen and ascended.  This is to our detriment spiritually and emotionally.

    Recently I read a very profound post by Kez on death and Easter.  For my family Easter is always linked to death because my Dad died just three days after Easter 1990.  He had been ill for a decade so there was a mixture of release and relief when it finally happened - but it was, and is, a firm reminder that Easter needs death at its heart, and that skipping too blithely from Palm Sunday to easter Sunday isn't an option.

    So slow down a bit, dear old BUGB, take the time to go the place of darkness - for unless and until we do, there is no true resurrection joy.

  • ASBO spot on yet again...


    True to form, ASBO Jesus has something worth saying.

    Where do I find church?  In the people of course!

    I find church in a school hall on a Sunday afternoon, in a pub on a Thursday evening, in a garden centre cafe on on a Wednesday lunch time, in my house at various times, in other people's houses now and then...

    I quite like the dotted outline of the church building - there is a delightful (maybe unintentional) humour that joined up thinking knows the church is not a building (though buildings are useful, don't get me wrong) but simply joining the dots in a childish fashion gives us a church = building picture.

  • WWDP Reflections

    Doing the WWDP service twice today - once as speaker, once as leader - meant I got two very different experiences of it.

    The first one was the one where I preached - and people seemed to enjoy and understand what I was saying.  I even got away with saying 'sometimes life's a bitch' - but then I was literally six feet above contradiction in a church that may not have a pulpit but does have a two tier stage with a high up preaching lectern.  After the service someone came and said I'd just told her life story (Job-Mary-Martha) and it was 'just for her.'  A couple of other people said it was 'wonderful' - and though maybe they say that to everyone, I was pleased.  Forty or so mainly middle class women, some with lovely county accents, and ranging from my own age to I'd guess about 80.  The dramatisation was really well delivered, the singing strong and overall it was a good experience.

    The second was in one of the sheltered complexes here in Dibley.  A dire old piano that hasn't been tuned in donkey's years, a funny shaped room and the interruption of the weekly fire alarm test - but it was a good time.  23 of us - apparently they have to report numbers back to the hierarchy of WWDP - aged 45 to 102 sat on an assortment of chairs with people walking by every couple of minutes.  The dramatisation was well read but the positioning of readers all over the place meant its impact was lost.  The singing was superb - even of a song none of us knew, and the atmosphere really warm and loving.  The speaker was over long - 30 minutes! - but she held people's attention quite well and we finished the service in 1h 15.  For me the biggest thrill was to see the 102 year old - one of our lunch club ladies - who has no church connection joining in with us.  It gave me hope for our service there in a fortnight - if we can get two or three lunch club folk along the enterprise will be demonstrably justified even to the cynics.

    I would have to be honest and say that this year's WWDP material was not the most inspiring I've ever used, but I do continue to see the worth of an international commitment to pray without ceasing for one whole day, and to facilitate practical support to others via the freewill offering.  Here in Dibley, from our 23 folk we got £56 - the highest they've ever managed to raise.  A drop in the bucket maybe - though an extra £2odd/head given away by people most of whom are on state pensions is no mean feat - but multiply that up across the UK, and then the world, and it's a big splash!

    The day you gave us, Lord, is ended

    The darkness falls at your behest

    To you our morning hymns ascended

    Your praise shall hallow now our rest.


    It would not be WWDP without this beautiful, old, evening hymn.  As we sang it I found a stray though crossing my mind that, you know what, I wouldn't mind it being sung at the end of my funeral - though hopefully not for a very long time yet!

  • Jenga, Uno and Bumps-a-daisy

    Tonight our 'thing in a pub' had a social evening.  We were a few less people than usual but we had a guest - a minister from darkest HEBA (joke, honestly, I'm sure HEBA is not dark at all) who joined in wonderfully - and we had a great time.

    We discovered how the two ministers had spent our 'youths' - so the other one can do a proper casino shuffle of Uno cards, whilst  I am more successful at Jenga (as taught to me by some Mancunian Anglicans!).

    Our best success was a Jenga tower 32 storeys high - no mean feat for those who've played this game.  But probably the funniest moment of the evening was when I won the first hand of Uno - and promptly fell backwards off my stool into the coal skuttle!  And I'd only been drinking J2O honestly.

    I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and we did have bar staff watching our Jenga tower growing higher and higher.

    Just before the end of the evening a couple of men wandered into the lounge where we meet, apologised and started to back away unti we invited them in.  We were mid-hand of Uno at the time and one said 'what's this then, a seance' which (fortunately) caused us all great hilarity.  Perhaps as well they didn't come earlier and see the fallen Vicar of Dibley?!

    I really hope our folk were encouraged that someone had travelled to see us in our unusual way of being church.  Next month we have a minister who does family history coming to share something of his work and story... hopefully with some laughter too, but perhaps I'd better take up beer to stop me falling off the chairs!!

  • Evangelism in Greendale...

    Eee bah gum, Postman Pat got religion!  Thank to Andy J for pointing me to Christian Pat and his Charismatic Cat