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  • Purple Prose?

    This (via BT new sweep) shows just how silly things get in the world of copyright and trademarking.  In short, Cadbury's objected to a small firm using purple choloclate wrappers for their advent chocolates, so the C of E has got a bit hoity toity about Cadbury's using ecclesiastical purple*.  Last time I looked the C of E didn't own purple either.

    * I would have to say I have never seen the Cadbury shade of purple in any ecclesiasatical context.  Think I might look for a preaching outfit in that colour to offend Cadbury's and the C of E equally...

  • Distracted by many things...

    Today's PAYG was the familiar Luke story of Martha and Mary, complete with the response of Jesus to Martha's entreaty that she was 'worried, and distracted by many things'.  Those words seemed to resonate with me.  I have lots to do, and lots of things that distract me both from the immediate tasks and from kepeing my focus where it ought to be, on God revealed in Christ.

    In this story Jesus says to Martha "one thing is needed".  In the story we heard on Sunday, Jesus said to a blind man "what do you want me to do for you?"  I think there is maybe a connection here: what one thing do we require from God; what one thing do we desire from God and how are they related?  Last night's Bible study looked at the John 15 vine imagarery, a favourite of mine, and we spent some time contemplating the part that says words to the effect of 'if you abide in me, ask whatever you will and it will be given you'.  We noted that asking for what we want does not always elicit the reponse we desire, and there are no quick easy answers to that.  Someone suggested that if we truly abide in God's love all else gains its true perpsective, and what we might desire will seem as nothing compared to what God gives us. 

    So then, the one required/desired thing?  It is the constant searching, reaching for the heart of God, the cleaving/grafting to the rootstock of faith, the sense of being somehting bigger, more profound and more mysterious than I can comprehend.

    I could (and sometimes do) blame the various concoctions of drugs and their side effects for my inability to concentrate as once I did but do so is slightly lazy... I do have some control in the matter.  I am easily dsitratced by many things, but what is needed, what is it I truly desire...  This Sunday we are exploring Psalm 90 and maybe that will the prompt for me - and others - to reviist our own rhythms and patterns of devotion, of work, of rest.  Somewhere in all this, despite my fuggy intellect and distractedness, God is speaking quietly yet firmly...

  • All Age Communion Liturgy (2)

    Now and then we have all age services that coincide with communion Sunday, and for the last couple I prepared my liturgies deliberately to be child-accessible.  In our church, children may receive communion at thier parents'/carers' discretion.  I am sharing them here because they might be useful as jumping off points for other people.  All I would ask if you do use them is that you don't pass them off as your own, and that you don't publish them without asking me first.

    This second one was on the day of our harvest thanksgiving...




    When we read the Bible, we find stories of lots of meals Jesus shared with other people…

    He shared picnics on the side of hills, and grand banquets in the homes of powerful people

    He accepted hospitality from religious people and tax-gatherers, lepers and unmarried women

    He even appreciated it when a woman whose reputation was a little suspect washed his feet with her tears

    He cooked fish on a beach and broke bread with weary travellers at the end of a long day


    Jesus shared in ordinary meals and special meals

    Meals that were essential and meals that were parties

    And today we pause to remember and to re-enact as best we can, the most special, simple, religiously significant, celebratory and sad meal of all.


    The Story

    It’s a story we know well, because we have heard it many, many times.

    And because we know it so well, we no longer hear it properly.

    So let’s try to imagine we are there, in the story, standing in the shadows watching and listening…


    This is the time of the Passover festival, when Jew remember how Yahweh brought their ancestors out of slavery in the land of Egypt, led by Moses.  It is a family time, a time to share in food and singing, and to give thanks to God.


    Jesus is coming up the stairs with his friends.  Judas is carrying the money bag, Peter is chatting to Andrew; James and John are squabbling, as usual; Thomas is asking Matthew about something or other…  Soon they settle down and take their places around the low table and the food is brought in.  It smells lovely and tastes even better.


    Jesus reaches across and picks up some bread.  Everyone pauses, and looks towards him.  He holds it up and says a thank you prayer to God.  Then he speaks.  “Do you see this bread?  Look, I am breaking it.  Just like this bread, my body will be broken, so that everyone’s sins can be forgiven.  Each time you eat bread, I want you to remember this.”


    The bread passes round, and everyone takes some and chews it, wondering what Jesus means by his words.


    Jesus reaches out again and picks up a big goblet of wine.  Again every eye is upon him.  After he has said the thank you prayer he speaks.  “See this wine?  It has poured out for you.  Just like this wine, my blood will be poured out, so that everyone’s sins can be forgiven.  Each time you drink wine, I want you to remember this.”


    And so the goblet is passed round, and everyone takes a drink from it, wondering what Jesus is talking about.



    For hundreds and hundreds of years people have carried on remembering this story.  In big cathedrals and mission halls; in tents and on beaches; in hospital wards and in prison cells; with lots of ceremony and fancy words; in secret and in silence. 


    And now we take out turn, so let’s say thank you to God.


    For this bread and this wine, we thank you, generous God.

    For this story and all it means, we give you praise.

    As we eat and drink, and as we tell the story in our lives, help us to remember why we do so




    Prayer Afterwards

    Jesus lived among people like us, telling wonderful stories and sharing tasty food

    Jesus died alone on a hillside; his friends ran away and hid in fear

    Jesus rose again and made a barbecue breakfast for his followers

    Jesus returned to God, but left his friends with a promise that he would come back one day

    Until then, we will remember every time we eat and drink together.



    (c) Catriona Gorton 2012

  • All Age Communion Liturgy (1)

    Now and then we have all age services that coincide with communion Sunday, and for the last couple I prepared my liturgies deliberately to be child-accessible.  In our church, children may receive communion at thier parents'/carers' discretion.  I am sharing them here because they might be useful as jumping off points for other people.  All I would ask if you do use them is that you don't pass them off as your own, and that you don't publish them without asking me first.

    A while back I posted one here and now here are two more.

    This first one was on the day that the beheading of John the Baptist was the lectionary reading...




    Herod had a banquet

    And he invited all the important people he could think of

    And did everything he could think of to impress them

    And in the end he did something very foolish

    Because he didn’t want to look silly


    Jesus spoke of a banquet

    Where all the important people said ‘no thank you, I’ve got a better offer’

    So the host invited everyone else who could be found

    People of other races and languages

    People who might drink too much or say the wrong thing

    People who were too poor to invite him back

    He did something that seemed very foolish

    But God’s foolishness is beyond human wisdom


    Jesus had a small dinner party

    Just him and his closest friends

    They wanted to celebrate how good God had been

    A very, very long time ago

    Jesus said things that seemed very strange, even a bit silly

    But his friends remembered the words

    And passed them on, for a very, very long time

    So that even today we can share in a special memory meal



    One of the first followers of Jesus, called Paul wrote down what he had learned: [read from 1 Cor 11 GNB or other 'easy' langauge version]



    Party-loving God, you gave us this special way of remembering all that Jesus has done for us,

    So that as we take tiny bites of bread and sips of wine it is like being in a great banquet

    To which everyone who ever lives is welcome

    Help us to be thankful for all Jesus has done, even though it seems strange and we may not understand it

    And help us to live like him, giving ourselves for other people






    It seems crazy, God that you would allow Jesus to die

    But in his death we find new life

    It seems impossible, God, that Jesus would rise again,

    But in his rising he shows us death is never the end

    It blows our minds, God, to think that Jesus might come again

    But this is the hope that we live towards

    An upside down Kingdom of justice, peace and joy.


    (c) Catriona Gorton 2012

  • This 'n' That

    Regular readers will probably have spotted that of late I don't seem to have much to say... it goes like that sometimes.  At the same time, people are kind enough to keep returning and reading, some even valuing the mundane and ordinary as a sign of authenticity.  Anyway, after yesterday's great fun service I am still rather sleepy, so the morning so far has been work-from-home doing my tax return and attending to a few admin tasks.

    Tax return... one of those task I always love to get out of the way.  One that is actually the work of a few minutes once I've gathered all the relevant data in one place, because the software I use is just SO easy.  Pay Mintaplan (or someone similar) and then spend the year collating how many coffees and biscuits I give/purchase for how many people all in the interests of saving a few coppers?  Nah.  Amazon for most of my book ordering means a quick flip through the list to tot up what I spent.  P11D and P60.  Pension statement (or pay slips).  Done.  And this year for the first time ever it seems I actually hit 'break even' rather the +/- £100 of past years.  I am remarkably happy!  I'd definitely recommend TaxCalc (Acorah software) which I've used for several years.  I started using it as it was one of the few that had 'minister of religion' pages; perhaps by now some free ones have them, but for ~£30 I reckon it's good value.

    PAYG this morning was the parable of the Good Samaritan, so very familiar and much of the approach stuff I've done before.  But even so, a new-to-me insight ocurred.  The man asking the question 'who is my neighbour' I have always heard as being 'how wide does this stretch?' but PAYG suggested he was asking 'how narrowly may I define this'.  It could be semantics, but these feel like different questions... the first essentially 'who may I count as 'in'?' and the latter 'who may I count as 'out'?'  Perhaps it is the fact I've always heard this as 'how wide' rather than 'how narrow' that shapes my attitdues on inclusion and exclusion, that I am more exercised by 'how can I be more inclusive whilst still true to my core convictions' rather than 'how will my convictions be compromised if I don't exclude on the grounds of x, y or z'.  Does that make sense?

    So, the new work pattern continues... not without it's challenges, because having worked hard on Sunday I am tired on Mondays and have a late finish ahead of me.  Allowing myself to lie-in a little (as much as a moggy will permit anyway) and take sme space at the start of the day is the sensible way forward... Rather than seeing Monday as a very long work day, better to try to cultivate it as a 'late shift' that starts in the afternoon and gives me the morning for myself.  And then to overcome the guilt at not being 'productive' when the rest of the world is busy!