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  • Reference Needed!

    Help!  I need a reference for a paper I am about to submit and can't find one because the concept is one I've been aware of for a decade and have no idea where it comes from!

    Can anyone give me a reference for the literary theory concept of the 'Ideal Reader' NOT the 'implied reader' (I have heaps for that!)?  I think there's a subtle difference between the two and that's all I'm wanting to say but without a reference I'll be in big trouble!!  Alas none of my literary theory books seem to mention it.  Pah!

    Thank you kind people.

  • Liminality: Ministry in the Meantime

    So, this is the 'now and not yet' period between pastorates when I am still the minister of Dibley and the minister designate of a place whose online name has yet to reveal itself to me.  It's a liminal place - a threshold between what is and what will be, between what was and what is now.  As a result Karen Smith's talks on 'ministry in the meantime' at the NAM conference are a helpful resource for thinking a bit about how to manage the next three months or so.

    It is a time for laying down - stepping down from various committees and positions of responsibility locally and nationally.  A time for accepting that what happens with them from now on is not my responsibility and (which is often harder) not my concern.

    It is a time for untying ties and tying up loose ends - a mysterious tidying up and letting go.  A time to pass over all the paperwork to others having got it in order first.

    It is a time for saying 'no' with impunity.  How freeing to able to decline invitations to speak at Lesser Nowhere's women's meeting without feeling guilty!

    It is a time for slowing down and letting all the pervasive thoughts slip out of my mind (how crowded it is with pastoral and practical stuff).

    A time for saying goodbyes and preparing to say hellos somewhere new.

    There are still things to be done - a wedding in a fortnight, shut-ins to visit, coaches to book for lunch club and an essay to tidy up and submit for 6th July (ulp) to say nothing of five year's worth of minutes etc for shredding - but I am actually looking forward to some space simply to be.

    I'm not terribly good at doing nothing, and part of this period has to be devoted to getting a second essay written, but right now I am tired through and through and will be glad to attempt the meantime ministry of small things and gentle waiting.

  • Cutting it Fine

    This afternoon I took a young couple to the Registry Office in County Hall for a 3p.m. appointment to complete their wedding paperwork.  I knew they were cutting it fine - and did not appreciate the fact that the registrar told me off!  This was my fault how precisely?!  The date was fixed a year ago but due to their personalities they left everything until the last possible moment which meant our local registry office had no appointments left and the one I took them to (because they have no transport) could only offer the last slot of the day... on the last day they could register to marry on their chosen date.  I know I don't do late (big time) but surely for something this important it was cutting things just a bit too fine by anyone's standards - what if there had been a hitch (and there so nearly was)?  I dunno, the youf of today...

  • Justice Issues

    Just spent two days on the BUGB racial justice training course.  It's important stuff and the content was good, if at times a little intense with inadequate time to reflect and a quite a lot of closing down issues if the temperature rose slightly.  I came away not quite sure how to feel really - justice issues operate at so many levels and impact so many people.  The danger is that they seem to set one group of 'victims' over against another as they vie for who has it worse.  I think I'd have liked an extra day, some more time to reflect and smoe proper space for in depth conversations.  But then someone else said it could all have been done in one day...

    In the evening I was at GB finishing off a series of 'stories that Jesus told' and used the Good Samaritan and some of the ideas from the course.  I was impressed by the natural sense of justice my girls expressed and the oh so open vulnerability of the one who gets bullied at school because she has incontinence problems.  I hope they know we love them and value them in all their diversity.  Most of these girls grow up in relative poverty on a sink estate where drugs, alcohol and incest are prevalent.  Who will be their voice?  At least we can welcome them and encourage them.

    Courses are safe, hypothetical and clean; life is messy and dirty.  So long as it feels like a battle to see who is more unjustly treated we are getting it wrong.  Only when we all admit we get a lot of it wrong but that we are trying to get it right will any real progress be made.

    It was good whilst at Hothorpe to catch up with a few readers/bloggers putting faces to names and sound to image.  Now back to the mundane of everyday ministerial life.

  • Rainbows need rain!

    One of the threads in yesterday's service was about rainbows - how I got there from Jesus sleeping in a boat and Paul's catalogue of character forming suffering is not immediately obvious, and certainly it came via my chocie of 'O love that wilt not let me go' as for post sermon hymn.

    Somewhere along the line, it struck me that you can't have a rainbow without rain.  Yes, OK, everyone else thinks that's soooo obvious now I've said it, but have you ever thought it?  OK, you had, so it' just me.  Storms are (part) of what makes rainbows possible: no storm, no beautiful colours in the sky.

    Using an electronic concordance and the word 'rainbow' I landed in Ezekiel and found my link: 'beholds, the brightness of God's glory is like a rainbow after the storm.'

    Our opening prayers picked up something of this rainbow theme.  A quick internet search found a few ideas which I adapted and extended.  This isn't great poetry or even great liturgy but hopefully you can see what I tried to do...


    Ezekiel 1:22b, 26, 27b-28a

    I saw something that was sparkling like ice, and it reminded me of a dome.  I then saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure in the shape of a human.  The figure was surrounded by a bright light, as colourful as a rainbow that appears after a storm.  I realised I was seeing the brightness of the LORD's glory!


    Behold, the brightness of God’s glory is like a rainbow after a storm.

    Glorious God we approach your presence in awe and wonder, afraid to behold your face because we know our own unrighteousness.  And yet, in mercy, in grace and in tender love you reach out and draw us close, like a mother lifts her child to the security of her lap.  And so we bring you our prayers, rainbow coloured reflections of thanksgiving and praise.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all things red – the ladybird’s back and the rose’s velvet petals; the fragile poppy and the sweet flesh of strawberries.  For lips to speak and to kiss; for life-blood coursing in our bodies; for hearts of love.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things red.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all things orange – the crunch of carrots and sweet stickiness of satsumas; the marigold’s flower and setting sun’s glow.  For tropical goldfish; for wild dandelions; for the warmth of flames and the value of gold.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things orange.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all things yellow – the curve of bananas and the mellow flesh of melons; the fur of the lion and the butterfly’s wings.  For golden-haired toddlers; for the summer sun; for sandy beaches and ice-cream cones.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things yellow.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all things green – for tiny shoots peeping through the earth in spring and summer’s tall grasses; for cabbages and broad beans, broccoli and peas.  For budgerigars; for traffic lights; for forests and meadows.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things green.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all things blue – for the bright summer sky and the kingfisher’s shiny plumage; for tiny forget-me-nots and mountains streams.  For the muted blue of elderly eyes; for the lights on emergency vehicles; for ocean waves and millpond seas.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things blue.

    We thank you, oh lord, for all things indigo – for midnight skies spangled with stars, for juicy blueberries; for shiny aubergines.  For the comfort of denim jeans; for exotic patterns from far away lands; for mystery and wonder.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things indigo.

    We thank you, oh Lord, for all thing violet – for tiny crocuses defying the winter’s cold, for mountains in the twilight, for the scent our grandmother’s wore.  For old women who wear purple, and old men who whistle; for evening stillness and morning dew.  We thank you, oh Lord, for all things violet.

    We thank you, oh Lord, in whom all things hold together, for your countless blessings to us each day.  As we offer our rainbow-hued prayers, may we become more aware of your glory surrounding and embracing us, and may our worship be acceptable to you as we offer it in the name of Christ.  Amen.