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- Page 9

  • Quiztian Aid

    The pack for Christian Aid Week landed on my desk this week, and I was particularly struck by the quiz idea it contains... a paper quiz you can sell to frineds and neighbours for £1 (or more if they wish).  When I went online to see if I could download an electronic copy of what I assumed to be a Christian Aid-Scotland initiative, I found loads of quizzes for various regions of the UK, that look quite good fun.  Check them out and get raising money!

    Clue for English readers... the first place on the East Midlands quiz is aka Juxta-Dibley in this part of blogland.

  • Lord of all Hopefulness...

    Yesterday our Bible Study group was looking at the idea of 'hope' as it is explored in 1 Peter 1.  We were invited to think about hope in adversity, specifically at a personal level.  How has hope sustained us through suffering or struggle?  I found myself pondering a more corproate view, however, that hope, or hopefulness, can have a communal expression, that somehow even if an individual feels lost or bewildered or afraid, yet the hope/hopefulness of ther wider community of faith sustains and supports them. 

    There's nothing especially clever about this thought, it is merely an expression of what it means to hold to an understanding of the priesthood of all believers or, indeed, the affirmation of faith used in creed saying churches that runs along the lines "this is OUR faith, WE believe and trust..."

    I have a suspicion that the darker side of much individualistic Christianity is that it has the potential to leave us adrift when times get tough, to fill us with guilt when our personal hopefulness flickers or fades, to leave us isolated in our hour of need.

    The old, school assembly favourite 'Lord of all Hopefulness' uses plural pronouns throughout in its request that God comes alongside and brings hopefulness (and other belssings) in the whole of life.  Sometimes I think it is helpful to remind ourselves that we are in this together - that metaphors of bodies and buildings offer something valuable and vital about our life of faith which is less about individual piety and more about corproate hopefulness and trust.

  • Candlemas... and other Associations

    The Presentation of the Infant Christ in the Temple. The official end of the Christmas season.

    The day when candles for use in church (and sometimes in homes) for the year ahead would be blessed.

    The date in 2005 when I joined other women ministers to stand at the end of Downing Street singing hymns and shouting 'Make Poverty History'

    Also the date in 2005 when Dibley BC had a meeting with our much-loved RM to discuss an emergency HM grant to help pay for my ministry

    The date in 2011 when I went into hospital for cancer surgery (the more significant date being the 3rd when the deed was done!)

    The date in 2012 when I celebrate another 'first anniversary' in my personal calendar, and recall other meanings and memories of the date.

    Some of my friends despair of my tendency to remember dates (but only ones that are significant in my tiny world!) whilst others, now and then, share with me their own calendars.

    I like the fact that the Presentation Story is one centred on old people who have waited patiently through the trials of life for the fulfilment of God's promise.

    Whilst blessing candles is not on my radar, I like the sense of gratitude it suggests, rather than taken-for-granted-ness of simply pressing a light switch.

    It is scary to realise it is now seven long years since MPH, and how much is still to be done for that dream to come true.

    And at a personal the last year has flown by - everyday the physical scars act as a reminder of where I've been, but emotionally, intellectually and probably spiritually, I am a very long way along the road from there.

    Looking forward to lunch with a friend later on, then a Bible study with a lovely group of women (a group of lovely women) and then to enjoying the new carpet that was laid yesterday!

    I like that somehow it is possible to make or find conections between the personal and the liturgical, the private and the public, the joy-filled and the troubling. So, I like Candlemas.


    As I pondered, I recalled this prayer from Crumbs of Hope, written for a Candlemas/St Brigid's day/Imbolc service in a teeny church in east Manchester...


    Divine Wonderer

    We praise you for welcoming us into your world,

    For the love and companionship of our families and friends,

    For the people we meet when we're down at the shops,

    For the acceptance and hospitality of our little church community.


    Divine Fire,

    We praise you for the crackles of fires in the hearth,

    For the warmth and beauty of winter sun,

    For the glimpses of new life we see in the streets around us

    For the signs of hope we catch in the faces of people we meet.


    Divine life,

    We praise you for the beauty of winter,

    For the cold glint of icicles hanging form drain pipes,

    For the icing-sugar snow dusting the back yards of our houses,

    For the new green shoots bursting up from the ground.


    Divine Inspiration,

    We praise you for the moments of fun and laughter,

    For children making puppets and telling stories,

    For the energy and imagination of local communities,

    For the dreams and visions we nurture and offer tentatively to others.

    (c) Clare McBeath and Tim Presswood

    From Crumbs of Hope: Prayers for the City, pub. Inspire, page 20

    available from BUGB or indeed, Clare and Tim!

  • When Small Voices Are Heard

    I love tiger bread... I have loved it since I first bought a tiger bread loaf in Safeway's in Cornwall when on holiday there, so that dates me!  However I have never understood why it is so-called.

    Last summer the parent of a very small girl, who didn't understand either 'ghosted' a letter from her to supermarket giant Sainsbury's.  By some quirk, the letter landed in the in box of someone with humour, humility and creativity.  The gentle, courteous reply went viral and now Sainsbury's have renamed their tiger bread as.... giraffe bread.

    I will enjoy munching giraffe bread in the future... a far more appropriate name, it has to be said.

    And I am challenged to reflect on the serendipitous nature of what is heard and how, and what difference that makes. Can't be bad at age 3 to walk into your local supermarket, see a brand change and say "I did that"!

  • Drama and Documentary

    There are two TV programmes I'm half following at the moment.  By this what I mean is that I tend to see them on i-player because they are aired at times I'm not at home or if I am have other things to do.

    Call The Midwife, with some absolutely genius casting (in my view - Miranda Hart as Chummy - perfect!) is a pretty faithful adaptation of the book of the same name which I read a number of years ago when it was first published.  Last year someone lent me the full trilogy which was a superb read.  The dramatisation is funny and sad and informative and, in my view, surprisingly political, with each episode ending with some remark about how the changes in health and social care after WWII worked for good or ill in the lives of real people.  At a time when NHS reforms, especially in England, and welfare reforms across the UK are a cause of such anxiety, it is sobering to realise what life was like not so very long ago.  I find the little political comments in the 'voice overs' at the end quite astute and acute; although they are as per the book they carry extra weight in being broadcast.

    Young Doctors, Your Life in Their Hands, now in its second series follows some carefully selected F1 and F2 junior doctors during their August to February rotation.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first series, which was set in Newcastle.  So far with this second series I am reserving judgement.  Set in London, I find some of my south-centrism nerves get jangled, and I have to work hard to move past the portrayal of some of these doctors as rather brattish.  It is good to watch these young people grow in confidence and competence, but already series two is becoming a bit of a clone of series one - the unsuccessful resuscitation (how many times do we need to be told 9 out 10 won't make it?), the inability to cannulate a patient, the first encounter with death, etc.

    For me it is interesting to compare and contrast 1950's East London, as portrayed in the drama, with 2010's Westminster & Chelsea, as portrayed in the documentary.  What has changed and what is the same...