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  • On Prayer...

    Today's PAYG is one of the best reflections on prayer I've ever listened to.  Unhurried and uncomplicated, it simply asks the right questions and opens avenues of thought...

    Listen to it here

  • "If you are the Son of God..."

    As I was preparing for yesterday's sermon, one of the many things that struck me about the recorded temptations of Jesus was that it began with self-doubt, a questioning of identity... If you are...  My light bulb moment was when I imagined the thought running through Jesus' mind, "Am I who I am?  Am I the Son of I AM?" and the way this temptation is a cruel parody of the self-revelation of God to Moses that I AM who I AM; I will be who I will be.  "Am I the son of YHWH...?"  "Am I I AM?"

    Probably everyone else has spotted that and played with the idea yonks ago, but it was new for me.

    Today I saw this photo meme thingy on social media which shows scant knowledge of the scriptures (don't recall Jesus saying this) and possibly misses the whole I AM (ego eimi) thing let alone what YHWH tranlates to.  Or perhaps it's so subtle I missed it!!  It made me smile, and hinted that my thoughts on the tmeptation were probably not so wide of the mark!


    not quite jesus.jpg



  • Parables and Possessions

    The people who lead our evening services are once again using the CTBI Lent material as a jumping off point for our musings and worship.  Two weeks in, and I am very much enjoying what we have shared, which is refreshingly different and deeply challenging.

    The first week we were invited to think about our finanical resources in the light of the parable of the sower.  Although this was not the intent, I found myself wondering what it might mean if I saw my money as the 'seed' and what it would mean to emulate the sower who broadcast the seed knowing that not all of it could or would yield a return.  I think that maybe such a view is quite liberating - allowing us to 'scatter' some of our wealth in less 'productive' areas of life without feeling guilty.

    This week we were invited to use the parable of the tenants in the vineyard to reflect on our attitudes to the money we have.  A question that struck me especially was 'in what way or for whom is your bank statement good news?"  It's a fantastic question, and one that made me think very hard (last month's is mostly huge outgoings to hotels, tourist attractions and shops in New Zealand, though there are assorted planned and spontaneous charitable donations, gifts to others and payments for basics.)

    I find myself wondering, then, how to hold these two thoughts together... like the sower to cast my resources widely, knowing that not everything will 'work' and to do so in a way that is as good news as possible for those who need to hear good news.


    Good news for the shareholders of airline and hotel, supermarket and chain store

    Good news for the manufacturer of packaging and product

    Good news for grower...?  Well I hope so


    Good news for the coffee shop, the cafe, the book shop, the charity shop

    Good news for the public transport provider and taxi driver

    Good news for the employees or volunteers...?  Well I hope so


    Good news for the charities I choose to support

    Good news for the university bursary schemes and religious organisations

    Good news for the students, the misison partners...?  Well I hope so


    Good news for my conscience, my pleasure, my health

    Good news from my choices...?  Well... I hope so

    I hope so...

  • Lenten Laughter... a Link

    This week's blog link is to that of a Baptist minister called Jo who I first got to know 'on line' and subsequently met a few times as she went through her NAM period.  She has blogged intermittently for many years, and this year it looks as if she is challenging herself to some Lent blogging.  I don't want to pressurise you Jo, but I do want to share your post on laughter.

    We can make Lent such a solemn affair (with good reason) but there should still be space for laughter (remember what Jesus said about behaviour during fasts).

    Here's the link to Jo's blog post

    I saw a post on social media that made me smile.  In resposne to the pious Christian suffering caffiene withdrawal God says "did I ask you give up coffee for Lent?"  Today's PAYG focuses on Isaiah 58: 5 - 9a and the kind of 'fast' God desires... release from oppression, not self-flagellation.  Giving up can be a good disicpline but it can also be a pious trap.  Laughter is good for the soul - I'm sure it says that somewhere in Proverbs if only I searched hard enough!!

  • Seeing and Looking

    Looking Through the Cross, by Graham Tomlin, the Archbishop(s) of Canterbury's Lent book (commissioned by Rowan Williams, endorsed by Justin Welby) begins by inviting the reader to reflect on the difference between seeing (~ unconscious observation) and looking (~ deliberate, conscious observation) (paranthesised definitions my precis) before beginning to explore ways of looking, specifically looking 'at' and looking 'through'.  He then introduces the concept of an icon as the believer looks 'through', a bit like a window, before applying this idea to the Cross (or perhaps more accurately, the 'cross event').

    Not, for me, anything vaguely new there.  Likewise the description of what Roman crucifixion actually entailed or the observation that crosses have been reduced to articles of jewellry not instruments of torture (with Nicky Gumbell cited if not by name!) is all stuff that to me is extrememly familiar.

    This makes me wonder if he is assuming a very different starting point for his readers than mine.  Whilst I can appreciate that some more conservative, evangelical Christians might be slightly wrong-footed by the idea of 'icons', confusing them with idols (a distinction he is at pains to note) and even that some (maybe many) readers will have given little thought to 'types' of seeing, the need to eplxain what crucifixion really was is worrying... what are churches and Alpha courses actually teaching people?  Or am I being unfair, is he reflecting (another kind of seeing/looking) that there may/will be readers for whom none of this is familiar?

    I am looking forward to getting into the book proper, at exploring how he envisages (seeing again) the cross as a lense, or even a pair of spectacles, through which to view aspects of human experience, I think it is a good and promising premise.  I guess that the first 30 odd pages have just left me distinctly underwhlemed.