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- Page 6

  • Scary

    This is scary.

    For those with even the vaguest interest in Baptist history it is a travesty to discover how it is being abused; for those of us in churches descended from Barton it is embarrassing and shameful.  Even though Barton is now large 'B' Baptist in name only it doesn't do any of us any favours. What would Dan Taylor have made of it all?  And of course, WWJD?

  • God's Dining Table?

    This is probably demonstrable proof I've lost the plot and, if so, I'm blaming it on the army of microspcopic life forms currently sojourning in my pharynx!

    Walking through my dining room this morning and passing a table groaning under items for Friday's labyrinth - palm crosses, bowl and towel, chains, pebbles, purple fabric - and waiting for the postie to deliver the myrrh anointing oil (from a USA Messianic Jewish supplier) I found myself idly postulating the idea of God having a dining table on which items are laid out ready for the big events.  OK so it's nuts, and probably really bad theology, but there's something kind of comforting about a myth of a table with all the elements of creation laid out on it in readiness (and it's actually no more "unscriptural" than hands flinging stars into space (which is a wonderful line) when compared with Genesis 1).

    Ok, I'll go and lie down in a darkened room now until the fog of my mind clears!

  • Resurrection in the Grieving?

    Easter this year is going to be a tough place for my little church to go this year.  We had hoped that after all the sickeness and death last year, this year might be kinder to us, but no.  Sometime in the next few hours the fourth church-connected person in a month will die and another family will begin to grieve a lost loved one.  On Easter Saturday I will be leading as short act of worship as a tree is planted in memory of someone who died last last year - and knowing that another funeral is just over the horizon.  In my own family Easter is a strange time because my Dad died on 'the Wednesday after Easter' (it happened to be 18th April but it is its relative date that seems to be recalled).

    So, there is a good challenge for me in preparing Sunday's service - to acknowledge the pain and suffering of those who mourn, to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and tohold the two together creatively.

    I am so glad I'm using Mark's gospel account this year - with its untidy ending it better serves the needs of my people who must live with the reality of loss.  We are going to have some Easter eggs look for some authentic hope - but we need also to find a place to acknowledge the struggles.

    In God's own mysterious way, someone last week gave me a hint of how I might think about doing this by allowing people to offer to God not only their gifts but their sorrows.  I think I will use some Easter-egg shaped cards and invite people to symbolise their sorrows and struggles on them and then gather them with the regular money offering - by offering to God our pain and our dedication together perhaps we express something of resurrection hope in the midst of real pain?

  • Marmite - and the Geometry of Worship!

    As I introduced today's service I told people it was a bit like marmite - they might love it, they might hate it but they wouldn't be ambivalent about it.  A few people made very positive remarks - such as 'I don't like marmite but I loved this' and no-one was admitting to hating it.  It's perhaps as well Jesus wasn't dependent on us chanting 'hosanna' as it was all rather an effort, but overall it went well - and the fig tree worked out OK too.

    As it is school holidays we don't have to put the chairs away, which is rather nice.  However, for Easter Sunday we won't want to 'street scene' of rows facing inwards so I asked those left at the end what they'd like "round" came the reply, so round it is.  The caretaker arrived to lock up and commented on the change of layout; 'yes,' said one of my folks, 'triangles next.... aha!'  So now I am faced with a Trinity Sunday service in a triangular layout... fortunately one or two ideas are already bubbling up from my addled brain cell.

    One thing that saddened me was that on Thursday we are due at D+1 for a shared service with them and D+2 but unless we gave them numbers today they were going to cancel it as D+2 aren't going.  Perhaps just as well we are going.  Whilst I'm a tad irritated that D+2 have opted out, I'm more saddened that D+1 wouldn't go ahead for just a few of their own - imagine if God took that attitude...

  • Of Fig-trees and Pharisees

    There is a Dibley lurgy doing the rounds and I am trying to ward it off with copious quantities of Beecham's powders at the same time as getting everything ready for tomorrow's service.  I am hoping that my throat lasts out the service - and am decidedly glad I don't have to preach as such!

    IMG_0031.JPGThis, in good Blue Peter fashion is my home made fig tree - I abandoned the inflatable palm tree conversion (I'm sure everyone is relieved!) in favour of cutting down an overhanging branch from next door's tree and adding to it paper fig leaves.  I still don't quite know how the cursing is going to work itself out but I'm sure we'll manage it somehow!

    I have also been busy making palm branches for the crowds to wave/strew and wondering just how low a level of enthusiasm will arise.  I can already hear the mumblings that this is 'children's stuff' and a few scowls from those who refuse to join in.  In one of those rare 'aha!' moments I realised that this doesn't matter as there were miserable people on the road into Jerusalem - good, upright religious people, who thought this was all children's stuff and that Jesus really ought to silence the children.  The mystery or irony is that those who decide not to join in the more creative, childlike aspects are actually participating as 21st century stereotype Pharisees, tutting at anything that isn't neatly religious.

    I think, lurgies and the like not withstanding, that I am looking forward to tomorrow and to discovering how much we can enter in to the experience - even as Pharisees!