Friday, 27 February 2009

Fasting for Lent

This came from a Benedctine monastery via the new e-coracle of the Iona Community:
No-one knows who wrote it
but I wish I had met them for they were certainly wise. Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on difference;
feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness;
feast on the reality of life.
Fast from thoughts of illness;
feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute;
feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent;
feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism;
feast on optimism.
Fast from worry;
feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining;
feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives;
feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures;

feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility;
feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness;
feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Lenten Pilgrimage

Yesterday saw the beginning of Lent ...
today saw me compromise already

arguing to myself that the chocolate flavoured sauce that came with my dessert wasn't really chocolate! I like the Pharisees! I am sure they would have found a way to eat the sauce.

More importantly however is the on-line pilgrimage for Lent that is happening with Christian Aid ...

It's at and promises much food for thought

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

How not to plan worship

Nuff said really.

Can you find the coffee man?

Can you find the man in the coffee beans?

Of course after you find the guy - (he might even be called David) it's so obvious and you think, Why didn't I see him immediately?
Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!!!
If you are still looking after three days e mail me!
And, yes, the man is really there!!!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Irish and proud of it ... most of the time.

Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country's most reckless driver have emerged. He had racked up stacks of speeding tickets and parking fines ... (I wondered if he was our mystery driver from the February 7th blog entry) ... because every time the serial offender was stopped ... he evaded justice by giving officers a different address.

But then the Garda discovered a monumental error ... the man they were looking for - a Mr Prawo Jazdy - wasn't some rally driver wannabe with a death wish and an Eastern European passport ...
in fact he wasn't even a person ...
"Prawo Jazdy'' is the Polish for 'driving licence'

Once the Garda made this breakthrough in crime detection they checked to see if (perchance) the same thing had happened before.

It had
over 50 times.

Ah ... it makes you proud to be from the Emerald Isle.
shattering stereo-types wherever we go!
PS thanks to Ben for the story

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Water water everywhere

There are, so someone told me, 323,600,000 cubic kilometres of water in the Atlantic Ocean. That number of zeros blows my mathematical circuits, but its a whole lot of space both up and down and out. A whole lot of water to get lost in.
Which has got to make you wonder how two nuclear-armed submarines, one from France and one from Britain could manage to collide in all that H2O.
Especially as this was no 'Hunt for Red October' moment ... these are, after all, both allies in NATO. But the scary part is surely not that two ultra-modern fighting machines with more detection equipment on-board than you could shake a fishy finger at, manage to bump into each other in all that space ... the scary part is the nuclear warheads.
A Long time go things were more simple. On this day way back in 1864: The Confederate submarine HL Hunley became the first submarine to sink a ship - the USS 'Housatonic'. Things were relatively straight forward then. One submarine against one ship ... there's alot more to play for today. On board HMS Vanguard would have been between 12 and 16 missiles, each of which can deliver a number of 100 kiloton warheads to individual targets - mass destruction that makes Hiroshima seem like an insubstantial incendiary. Of course the MOD and Admiralty say there was no a virtually nil risk of any these warheads going off ... but then would say that wouldn't they ...
and its the qualifying word 'virtually' that makes me fearful.

But I guess the warheads must be collision safe otherwise we wouldn't allow them to be driven on public roads from Berkshire to Faslane and Coulport in Scotland.
Would we?

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Secret Message of Money

Can anyone find the secret message hidden in the stack of coins on the last post?

So much talk about the credit crunch / economic crisis has been taken up with statements of either 'We never saw it coming' or 'Why did no-one see it coming.' Last week it came to light that some of the insiders who did see it coming were not thanked for their prophecies of doom and were sacked for their trouble.

I've been ill for the last few days but the positive side effect that comes with that is being pretty much unable to do much except lie in bed and listen to the radio. (I did get up for the rugby!) So it was that I caught most of BBC radio 4 output on Saturday, including Any Questions / Any Answers. Listening to the comments on our economic crisis almost made me get up and email a response.

Almost ... Instead 'Mr Angry from Cardiff' let it go ...
but now that I am up and well again I find I need to get it out of my system.

During 'Any Questions' the 'same old same old' about no-one could have predicted this came from the politicians who in turn pointed out (on the basis that the best defence is offence) that no-one in the Media had been running stories predicting the problems on TV or in Newspapers. So it seems that no-one could have possible known what was going to happen.
Well .... no. There have been voices in the Church and charities movement clearly criticising the growing culture of individual and corporate debt and prophetically anticipating the future as it has come to pass. Folks such as Kathy Galloway, leader of the Iona Community who six years ago this month gave the The Christian Socialist Movement John Wheatley Lecture, entitled the
Spirituality of Economics Much of what she said there is still so relevant to the crisis of today ... not the financial one but the spiritual crisis that diseases our souls. Of course there have been many others, raising similar prophetic voices, Kathy's lecture just came to mind as one, and I am sure it gives her and others little pleasure to know that their uncomfortable message was been proven right.

None of this is to encourage smug I told you so's
but it is to encourage the rest of us to listen again to the voices from the radical margins ...
on economics,
on ecology,
on matters of violence and justice ...
because these may well be the days that belong to the prophets.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Stay cool

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
The more I watch it the scarier it gets ...
especially when you think...
what happened to the person recording it all?

Just as Strong but Smaller

Anyone following Mark's gospel this year will probably have been recommended Ched Myers monumental work Binding the Strong Man. But monumental it is ... 400 pages plus. So, enter this wonderful book ... not so monumental ... more statuesque ... but well worth the read if you want some help getting to grips with the subversive nature of Mark's work.

An ecumenical team led by Ched Myers has produced an incisive and easy to follow commentary that is broken down into different sections of Jesus' ministry. Each section begins with a contextual introduction and then some detailed analysis. Of great help to preachers out there, each section ends with suggested implications for living as disicples of Christ in our contemporary world. Only problem is ... if you come to Calvary Baptist Church in Cardiff and you've read it ... you might begin to find you recognise bits of the sermon!

Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Jungel and Barth ...all on the web

If you want to check up on your Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Jungel or Barth but aren't close to a library, Arnold Neufeldt-Fast at Tyndale Seminary has a series of links through google books that will help you access on line a lot of what you might be looking for ... you may even find a few unexpected surprises too.
Just go to

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Where's the ground beneath my feet?

Two of my heroes came to mind this morning as I witnessed a parable or two in motion. During World War Two, as the church in Germany seemed ill equipped to challenge Nazism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about there being 'no ground left beneath their feet.'

Surely, he said, 'there has never been a generation in the course of human history with so little ground under its feet as our own. Every conceivable alternative seems equally intoler­able. We try to escape from the present by looking en­tirely to the past or the future for our inspiration, and yet, without indulging in fanciful dreams, we are able to wait for the success of our cause in quietness and confi­dence. It may be however that the responsible, thinking people of earlier generations who stood at a turning-point of history felt just as we do, for the very reason that some­thing new was being born which was not discernible in the alternatives of the present.

I thought of that this morning as I watched my 18month old daughter try to walk in the snow.
Given that she's only been walking at all for a few months now snow was going to be a challenge. You could see that puzzled look as she slipped around 'what's happening ... this ground used to stay where it was ... now its moving around?' Her look resembled that of many a merchant banker last year when they discovered that their employers had no money. Their world too had changed forever. The ground had gone from under them. Who knew ( knows) what may yet be born from our financial crises. But my daughter wasn't worried about things like that:

There she was, just trying to stay upright ...
in her slipping and sliding there was surely something of a parable of the difficulty faced by the Church as our world and culture changes so quickly around us, and we look around in panic around desperate to get a grip on anything.

And yet what she discovered was another parable I believe.
She stuck to what she knew ... to all she had learnt in the last few months about putting one foot after the other and quickly adjusted to the new environment and once that was done she repeated it over and over until she was sure she'd sussed out her new context. And i thought to my self, for all the books I've read on post modern society, emerging church and cultural engagement mostly it comes down to remembering what we've learnt in the past, being steadfast in prayer and scripture, loving God and loving others, walking justly and with mercy ... sticking to what he know and doing it over and over in a new context, until it works there too.

All that put me in mind of George MacLeod, who in 1938 saw the big changes afoot in society and wrote ‘Is the truth not that the old cultus has splendidly served its day and generation; it is our modern environment that has rendered it outmoded. It is not the old Reformation timbers that are in criticism, it is that they survive from a day of wooden houses. It is not the building of the old channels that has rendered them faulty, but the shifting of the subsoil of this evolving world’.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Anything is possible ... until God exhales!

In anticipation of receiving Barbara Brown Taylor's new book, An Altar in the World I went back yesterday evening to re-read her little gem on preaching, When God is Silent. I didn't really get past the first page where she offers the challenging statement: Anything is possible until God exhales.

Later on she adds this:

'While the scholars of deconstructionism insist that even our best, most carefully chosen words are not sturdy enogh to bear the truth, most preachers wield words such as God or faith
as if they were made out of steel instead of air.

It is not hard to understand why.
Like the rest of us, those speakers rely on such language to pin down the flapping edges of the universe, even when it does not match up with all that we know to be true.'

Pass the mallet please ...
I've got a sermon to write.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Faith in a bus

There's a fast growing trend (well three others that I know of here, Polly here,Wonder and Wondering and here Baptist Bookworm) to carry on a fine atheist tradition and post messages on the side of buses. You too can have a go at Atheist Bus Slogan Generator,
For what it's worth here's mine

Although looking out the window this bus might not get out of the depot tomorrow
its snowing!

Just goes to show you can't trust people who stick things on the side of buses

More New Hymns Vol 2!

The Hymns they just keep coming this week:

David W Congdon is a Princton Doctoral Student blogging at He has recently posted a new Hymn written by Wales resident Kim Fabricius. The context for the hymn, was Kim's thoughts on John Bell’s new book Thinking Out Loud: Collected Scripts from Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ (2008). It concludes with a reflection on “Politics, Passion and the Human Soul” in which John comments on the 'heresy of dualism.' He observes: “Undoubtedly religious vocabulary exacerbates the situation... I mean when did anyone ever sing ‘Praise to Jesus in the kitchen’?”

Kim decided to rectify this with a hymn!
It apparently goes to the tune 'Oh My Darling, Clementine', which as a melody for a hymn I must admit sticks in my throat a little, but for all that (and maybe a different tune?) here it is:

Praise to Jesus in the kitchen,
in a mansion or a flat,
pitch or pub or children’s playpen –
where we are is where he’s at.

In the boardroom and the City,
on the dole and in the slums,
here in judgement, there in pity,
suddenly the Saviour comes.

With the sick, and sad, and lonely,
in the hospice, on the street,
Servant Son, the one and only,
kneels and washes weary feet.

Concentration camps and prisons,
scenes of torture and despair,
sickening sights on television:
pick a place – the Lord is there!

Into death and hell descending,
Christ the fellow-sufferer goes,
purges pain that seems unending,
knots the fire and the rose.

High in heaven, Christ ascended,
far beyond the farthest stars,
no one, nowhere, unbefriended
where he’s at is where we are!

PS Can you spot the Health and Safety dangers in Jesus' Kitchen

More New Hymns

And while we are in the business of discovering new songs, Helen Dare found this one this one while out preaching this week. These are great words for any congregation at any time but it certainly looks a likely contender to me for next year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
We need each other’s voice
to sing the song our hearts would raise,
to set the whole world echoing
with one great hymn of praise.
We blend our voices to complete
the melody that starts
with God who sets and keeps the beat
that life and love imparts.

We give our Hallelujahs to the church’s common chord.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Praise, O Praise, O Praise the Lord!

We need each other’s strength to lift
the cross we’re called to bear.
Each other’s presence is a gift
of God’s incarnate care.
When acts of love and tender speech
convey the Saviour’s voice,
then praise exceeds what words can reach
and we with song rejoice.

We need each other’s views to see
the limits of the mind,
that God in fact turns out to be
far more than we’ve defined,
that God’s one image shines in all,
in every class and race,
and every group receives the call
to sing with faith and grace.

We need each other’s voice to sing,
each other’s strength to love,
each other’s views to help us bring
our hearts to God above.
Our lives like coals placed side by side
to feed each other’s flame,
shall, with the Spirit’s breath,
provide a blaze of faith to claim.

This one sounds much less likely to get me into trouble.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

ASBO Jesus is often too close for comfort. (and rightly so).

Today I was continuing a sermon series on what makes Baptists Baptist ... and this week we reached Communion / Lord's Supper. I towed the theological 'party line' as best I understand it for much of the twenty minutes but then at the end, began some speculation on whether or not we'd got it all a bit wrong. If Jesus is the Child of Humanity /Son of Man, and all his previous meals with people were about breaking down religious boundaries so that he stood in solidarity with us all, maybe the supper is given for all ... ??? It is, after all, his table not that of the Church and he invited some dubious folk to eat with him without prerequisite of belief or behaviour. Maybe this bread and wine is for us to share with the whole world but to have their share they need at least to be welcome at the table. If our hospitality were as generous as heaven's who knows what angels we may be entertaining unawares.

However even as I announced the next Hymn I sensed the prophetic edge of the above cartoon would be waiting for me at coffee with the more orthodox opinions of 'Communion for Baptised Believer's alone' placards ... or at least one that had in brackets (well ... Christians only at the very least.)

So much of me wants to agree with them
but I have a niggly feeling about all this
Anyone else getting niggled too?

Good is the flesh

Contrary to what so many of us were told so often ... the flesh is good!

Over at Christian Century is a thought provoking article on bodily function from someone who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor. Her various collections of sermons are solid nourishment for those who have to 'serve up' every Sunday. And this comes from her latest offering (just ordered it now) An Altar in the World.

Read the article ... its good stuff on incarnational life but incase you don't here's a great hymn I'd not previosuly know that she quotes from Brian Wren ... (although given what can happen with me and church and introducing new songs that challenge us to think as we sing, I might wait a week or two just yet.

Good is the flesh that the Word has become,
good is the birthing, the milk in the breast,
good is the feeding, caressing and rest,
good is the body for knowing the world,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body for knowing the world,
sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground,
feeling, perceiving, within and around,
good is the body, from cradle to grave,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the body, from cradle to grave,
growing and ageing, arousing, impaired,
happy in clothing, or lovingly bared,
good is the pleasure of God in our flesh.
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh,
longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell,
glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell,
good is the body, for good and for God,
Good is the flesh that the Word has become.

I love it.