Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Is there a green hill still?

Last week was a busy week with so much interesting stuff happening that I didn't get a chance to do much reflecting, let alone blog about it.

Last Tuesday the Evangelical Alliance, Tear Fund and UCCF met together at our church for a conference around the theme of 'Does God Believe in Climate Change?'

Thankfully the answer was Yes .. and not only that everyone seemed pretty convinced that God was asking the church to respond with a prophetic voice and to change how we live as individuals, families and church communities.

We were of course playing catch up with many environmental groups. (why is it that the church nearly always lags behind like this ... with God speaking through those outside the perceived sanctorum communio .. could it be that heaven had tried telling this to the church but in desperate the Holy Spirit had to go elsewhere to find someone who would listen? ... and what else are we not hearing ... on matters of justice, equality, inclusion etc)

Anyway the conference gave us both challenge and hope.

The Key note speakers included Sir John Houghton who started us off with Joseph's dream of seven fat and seven lean years encouraging us that God warned old Jospeh because he cares about people and wanted them, to be prepared ... and likewise the warnings coming from a changing climate are trying to say the same thing ... especially as it is the poor who will suffer most.

Sir John was followed by another John, (no knighthood yet but he is BUGB president) who talked about humanity's calling not just as stewards of creation, but as co-creators and more interestingly co-redeemers with God.

Later on it was a joy to see students from Cardiff and Swansea CUs engaging with the topic and with scripture ... the future feels a little brighter after the day. Maybe there is a green hill far away (or closer to home) that will stay both green and above the water line for a longer. I wonder what are the five things that people would most want to change in the life of their congregations to be more eco-friendly and keep the green hills green?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bah humbug

I don't wish to be accused of being an unseasonable grouch, but in a week where Archbishop John Sentamu did a Radio 2 'Thought for the Day' on the angel visiting Mary with words of 'Do not fear', I also received my first Christmas card (from another notable Anglican).

What's going on ... It's still the middle of November!
We are still well over a week away from Advent, they must have been a fortnight away when the scripts and cards were written. The Anglicans are supposed to be the ones who understand the Church's Year, but it seems even they are being pulled further into the premature culture that see mince pies and charity cards in the shops long before All Hallows Eve.
Why are we in such a rush to get to Christmas and then in so desperate to leaver it all behind again just a few days later? It's not a day .... its a season ... and we are nowhere near it yet.
There is, says the Bible, a time and season for everything, maybe we Baptists out there could start a movement to reclaim the proper time and season of Christmas.

I guess this means I can still be accused of being a grouch but at least I'm not not an unseasonable one! The church in its wisdom has allowed four weeks of preparation for Christmas ...
surely that should be enough.
Unless of course God is coming early this year and only the Anglicans know about it.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Yesterday we gathered together to celebrate communion in our church and today we shall do the same among those of our fellowship who are scattered around our area but, who because of illness or infirmity, were unable to share with us as we came together.

We shall visit one lady today where I never know what will happen next.

She lives in a Care Home and like many other residents she is distinctly hard of hearing. Hence when we go the TV in the lounge will be at volume setting 11. To compensate for this, the other folk will shout to one another and the frequently ringing bells for telephone and front door are amplified in every room.

Into such a melee we bring scripture reading and the bread and wine to an elderly woman whose memory is now such that she may remember the eucharistic purpose of the elements (but not recognise any of us who go), or she may know who we are, but be bemused at the paucity of our picnic. Rarely will the two collide in their most positive potential.

The last time we visited, (I do not make this up) there were builders doing renovations with power- tools and an resident observer who shouted obsenities from the touchline of a neighbouring chair.

I can't believe there were quite so many audio distractions on the night he was betrayed, but these visits do remind me that the first Last Supper was probably not conducted in pious silence either.

It also reminds me that, as George MacLeod once said, Jesus was not crucified on a Cathedral altar between two silver candle sticks but on a nosiy rubbsh dump between two thieves.

Perhaps we need more space for public Eucharist as prophetic acts and mission in a busy, noisy world .

Saturday, 15 November 2008

I thought I'd kick off this blog with one of my favourite views: its taken from the library window in the Abbey on the island of Iona.

The title for the blog, 'Gathered and Scattered' is taken from the liturgy of the Iona Community, http://www.iona.org.uk/ a dispersed group of Christians living by a Common Rule. The members of the Community and the Island itself have played a significant part in my life in the last ten years ... after all, it was there I met the woman who became my wife and then I spent over four years of my life writing a theology PhD that drew heavily on the work and worship of The Community.

Anyway, even though I have a wonderful view across the local park from my home computer, this is often my electronic wallpaper ... somehow I see life the better for it.