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Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

In the Film of His Life, Donald Trump Will be Played by a British Actor

Although it is a different country, we tend to forget that this is the case with America. Sharing a language and pop culture, we in the UK do tend to feel we have a lot in common.

But then Donald Trump managed to tell Theresa May not to complain when he retweeted hateful videos from a bunch of British fascists. Including one of a Dutch boy (who is not even an immigrant) beating up another Dutch boy.

And yes among the millions of peaceful Muslims who live in this country, work, raise families, there are a few - a tiny few - who hate the country and wish it harm, or want an Islamist state brought about by force. But we know that, like the IRA in the 70s to 90s, and indeed like Britain First, they do not represent the vast majority of their community.

In the same way, we cannot blame white evangelical Republicans in the States for the actions of rednecks shooting people up in stadia, concert halls, schools, nightclubs, more schools, just randomly in the streets, churches more bloody schools - what is it with the Land of the Free that the main freedom they defend is the right to mass-murder school children? What is wrong with them?

OK yeah. I do blame white evangelical Republicans for that. A bit.

So to show solidarity to our American friends, as they take shelter from the latest freedom-loving white man seeking to express his freedom with an automatic weapon, we are introducing the new Beaker Advent calendar. It doesn't go up to Christmas. Or, at least, not this year. It goes up to the day Donald Trump ceases to be President. At the moment, it's only got a little over three years' worth of windows. But we are aware that in this sad world, it's possible we may have to buy another, bigger one towards the end of 2020.

There won't be chocolate or happy pictures behind our Trumpvent Calendar. Just thoughts and prayers.

And can I just say that we are pleased to announce that, when the story of Trump's life is made in a few year's time, he will be played by a British actor Well, it's a casting policy that worked in Die Hard, Blue Thunder, Star Wars, The Patriot, X-men, Marathon Man, the Jungle Book....



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

15 Signs that it's Advent in Church

"The bells of waiting Advent ring," as Betjeman told us. As pre-Advent comes to an end, we look at the immense tensions in Church between the ones who want to mark Advent properly, in a sober and considerate view towards death, judgement and the last things - and those who want to celebrate Christmas properly before it's all over on Boxing Day. Or, to put it another way, the clergy and the laity. So here are those signs it's Advent:
Father Christmas and tons of bling
Definitely not until the 3rd Sunday in December
  1. The congregation gets round the Christmas decorations ban "because it's Advent" by organising a Christmas Tree Festival, starting in November. 
  2. The Christmas Crib appears - and is promptly put back again.
  3. The annual complaint about lack of carols -  with the liturgical response "There are Advent carols."
  4. The minister develops an allergy to mince pies after the 19th Nativity Play / Carol Service / Carol Concert / Assembly - and mince pies with the post-service coffee since October.
  5. Carol services start in the 4th week of November, with the organisers pleading "everyone is so busy just before Christmas."
  6. Vicar comes up with dozens of ways of explaining why the 2nd Coming will not be a literal event.
  7. The giant "card for the whole church to raise money" is put out in the vestry. Everybody signs it, then buys cards for the rest of the congregation in case they get offended.
  8. House group hosts stock up on mince pies.
  9. The temperature drops so low on Sunday mornings that the pews develop superconducting properties.
  10. (In liturgical churches) everyone says purple's such a nice colour, can we use it more often?
  11. In rural parts, the vicar goes out and buys a new diary. Not for next year - for this year, with bigger pages.
  12. The minister has the annual "whom to buy Christmas cards for" dilemma.
  13. The Sunday School goes into sugar rush when they realise they get to eat a whole week's worth of Advent Calendar chocolate every Sunday.
  14. Somebody googles Betjeman's Christmas but accidentally quotes the Beaker Folk version.
  15. The Easter rota comes out.


Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Liturgy of Baptism, Confirmation and Making a British Citizen of Meghan Markle

Based on this tweet:
And this Evening Standard Article that is so bad it may have to be fixed - currently telling us that Ms Markle will have to be baptised and confirmed "because she is a Protestant" and will need godparents to speak for her.



The Baptism

Bishop: Forasmuch as Meghan is a Protestant, and to enter into the holy state of Anglicanism and being Posh, she must be baptised.  Therefore I ask the godparents to speak for her....

Godparents: Can't she speak for herself? She is an adult.

Bishop: Yeah,  but she's gonna be a Royal. So she'd better get used to keeping her trap shut on matters of importance.

Godparents: Righty-ho. In that case can we just say that we reject sin, the flesh and the gutter press?

The Confirmation

Bishop: Forasmuch as, after baptism, Meghan is still half a Protestant, we'd better Confirm her as well. Make her a proper Catholic Anglican.

Godparents: Can she speak for herself this time?

Bishop: Yep.  Push off.

Godparents: OK. We'll be back as witnesses for the wedding?

Bishop: Whatever.


The Making of a British Citizen

The Queen: Given that  we're going to need Meghan to know where places in Britain are, and that Scotland's not part of London, then her being American is going to be a bit of a problem. So the answer is to make her a British citizen.

Bishop: Is this normally a part of a baptism service?

The Queen: Who's got the job of Supreme Governor, pointy-hat-boy?

Bishop: Good point.

The Queen: OK. Ignoring all the rules, and remembering that I own all the churches because one of my relatives killed any of the clergy that argued, I hereby decree that Meghan's as British as jellied eels and whatever ghastly food Cockneys eat with.

Dick Van Dyke: Gor blimey. Strike a Loight. Lambeff Wark.

Bishop: OK..... if we can proceed to the marriage then?

Duke of Edinburgh: Crack on. I've got some peasants to shoot...



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Lament for Mrs Brown's Boys Being on Telly at Christmas

What is this disaster that came upon us?
Surely we have been disobedient and judgement has fallen down upon us.

For when we dreamed of Christmasses gone by
Of the days of our childhood when Christmas was as a dream and the TV was special

Of Morecambe and Wise or Only Fools and Horses
Or Victoria Wood or Last of the Summer Wine

Yet we never imagined that when we awoke we would still be in a nightmare
That though all those great shows are no more,
though Dermot Morgan is dead[1]
yet Mrs Brown's Boys will get two new episodes.

And so we turn to the repeats of The Good Life on Gold.
And we search for the episode where they celebrate Christmas
And we remember how they made Christmas Crackers even out of newspaper
And that one joke about Christmas Crackers was funnier than every joke in every episode of every series of Mrs Brown's Boys.
Ever.

So we vow that we will write to the BBC
and threaten to stop paying our licence
and instead watch YouTube
Even though there's only so many snowboarding bulldogs you can watch and still think it's funny.

Oh I dunno though.
It's still better than Mrs Brown's boys. Even if you watched it from now till Christmas.


[1] Apparently it was the biggest lingerie department in Ireland.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Burying the Good News

Typical of the Government to get the details of the Royal Wedding announced on the same day that Katie Hopkins "left" the Mail Online, and started deleting all her tweets. Except the one linking to news of yet another pile of compensation she's cost. Maybe the legal bills were starting to outweigh the clickbait advertising income.

However it's probably too late to remove the tweets. The people hitting the PrtScr button are as the Recording Angel when it comes to celebrities on Twitter.

Katie is apparently off, from her few remaining tweets, to a platform where, when she tweets something Islamophobic or hateful, people don't call her hateful or an Islamophobe. I take it that, in whatever place she finds herself, people who find the views she expresses repulsive won't be allowed in. Some comments Groucho Marx once made about being a member of a club spring to mind.

Much has been made of the issue of mixed race in the Meghan - Harry Windsor engagement, to which one of Katie Hopkins's tweets refer/referred. And we shouldn't pretend this isn't a problem. After all, he's got a serious mix of Welsh, Scottish, German, Dutch and Greek blood. But the good news is that Meghan, at least, descends from some English people on her dad's side. So that's good.





Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Collect for Cyber Monday

Oh God, whose light drives away the darkness of Black Friday, who told us that six days we shall shop and on the seventh we can only shop until 4pm unless it's online, and who first gave tablets to Moses: guide our thumbs to choose the right deals. That we may arrive at Christmas neither with so little credit left that we can't afford the sales which start on Christmas Eve, nor with so few presents and so little booze and food that we, forgetting Christmas Eve is a Sunday this year, have to venture out to actual shops at the last minute to panic-buy.

Amen



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Formational

The diocese is missional
Our service is devotional.
Theology's intentional
Formation is formational.

We've no idea of what it means
We're being incarnational
We'll be a team to reckon with
When we're all out of vicar school.




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

The Pagan Origins of Advent

Obviously, the pagan origins of Christmas, Easter, Halloween, May Day etc etc have been done to death over the years.  But what about that all-important time of awaiting? Surely, you may think to yourself, Advent also has a pagan origin?

And you'd be right of course. Or at least it has one that is fairly easy to make up. And let's face it, that's as good as a real one in these post-truth, post-caring days.

The word "Advent" comes from two languages - the Flemish "Aarde", meaning Earth, and the French Vent", meaning "Wind". From this we gather that this is an autumnal festival - the time when the great winds blew across the earth. Of course, our proto-Indo-European ancestors would always find any excuse to light a religious fire in these circumstances - hence the ancient English expression "Earth, Wind and Fire."

But - importantly - the ancient Beaker Folk who first created this festival could never agree how early they were supposed to light the sacred flame. Some wanted to wait until Yule - leaving Aarde-Vent as a time of darkness. Others wanted to chase the darkness away as soon as possible: even as early as the Saturday after Black Friday - so named because that was the darkest day, before all the lights got lit. At which point the older Beaker Folk would complain that it was far too long till Yule and nobody understood the real point of Aarde-Vent any more.

We now know that the ancient Beaker Folk of Great Britain made massive pilgrimages to the Stonehenge area ready for the Yule celebration. They brought with them many pigs to eat at the great feast. But what is less well know is that Black Friday is the day that coincided with the Folk from the North and East Anglia arriving on the banks of the Thames at what we now know as London. They would gather at a centre point, on the trackway that led West up what is now Oxford Street. Before setting off on this final stretch they stocked up on new clothing, festive food and jewellery. Occasionally fights would break out as they tried to settle who got the prettiest clothes and jewellery. Some things never change.
Stonehenge
Just an excuse for a hog roast, really

The main feature of the Advent period in Beaker times was the way that Beaker Folk would continually go out celebrating because "it's nearly Yule", then wake up in the morning with headaches from too much mead and fruit wine, realising that in fact Yule was weeks away. They exchanged their normal fur outfits for special woollen outfits, woven with pictures of reindeer and fat men in red outfits - possibly to represent their main sources of wild food, and some kind of fertility god.

Meanwhile, the weather being much milder in Beaker times, it wouldn't snow for the whole of what we now call December, and the old ones would complain that it didn't feel much like Solstice.

Aarde-Vent would come to an end with the feast of Yule. The Beaker Folk would drink mead, eat too much and reflect that having done much the same for the whole of the previous month, it didn't seem that special. A tradition that we continue to this day.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Sheep and Goats - the Alternative

A challenging text, the sheep and goats. I do think that Heather Disher has a point, when she manages totally to spiritualize the story, to the point where it's all about reading your Bible every day, and not at all about loving your less fortunate neighbours.

Which is good, but not really trying hard enough.

I think the place to start from is realising that this is a really scary and disturbing story about Hell and judgement. And therefore Jesus probably never said it. After that, it becomes much easier to deal with. We don't need to have the problems Drayton Parslow suffers from - assuming the Bible is true, as he does, he has to explain why when Jesus is condemning people for not looking after the poor, he's actually telling them to stop being gay.

No such logical gymnastics for us. Once we've agreed Jesus never said it, we can cheerfully let it mean what we like.

After all, what is Hell really? I've never seen it. It marks the place where a loving God sends all the goats - is that logical? And how do we know the King didn't turn round halfway through the parable - thus putting the goats on his right and the sheep on his left? The Bible doesn't tell us he didn't, which I think is telling.

No, what the Bible is clearly telling us is that judging is a bad thing! Goats are good - and if the sheep are all going to Hell (the King having turned round) then the goats are being praised for their independence and feistiness - just the sort of attributes you need in the Kingdom. But we know from Psalm 23 that the sheep are safe - unless the Psalmist (almost certainly not King David) is imagining he's/she's actually a goat.

So the moral of this parable? Judge not, lest ye be judged. Join me on Advent Sunday, when I'll be explaining why the Day of the Lord will never happen.





Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cotton Wool Saturday

And so Black Friday gives way to Cotton Wool Saturday.

This is the day before the feast of Christ the King features Jesus's parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Thus giving two lots of woolly animals for the price of one. And every Sunday Club, Messyeqsque Church and All Age Service with a Bit of Craft in It realises that the simple, easy and above all reliable thing to do in these circumstances is to do Cotton Wool Sheep and Goats.

I've a bit of a problem with the sheep and goat that the Little Pebbles are going to be sticking cotton wool to tomorrow. They've pinched them (legally - it's copyright free) off Clker Clipart - which sounds like a dating app for Sunday School leaders, but isn't.

In fact, I have no trouble with the sheep.  It's the goat.


Trouble is, that goat is just too cute. I mean, I know it's got a devilish beard. But really?  Who's gonna believe anyone is sending that goat to Hell? 

So anyway. My other problem is how they're using it. They've printed it off on a series of sheets of A0 card, so large it's occupying the entire back wall of the Moot House. Anyone dropping in tomorrow morning is going to think we're a bunch of extremely kitsch Satanists.

And the sheer amount of cotton wool to make that particular creature and its sheepy mate woolly? They've backed a juggernaut full of cotton balls up next to the Moot House, ready for tomorrow's outbreak of sticking. I tell you, there's enough out there to take off the make up of every contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.

So have a happy Cotton Wool Saturday. And don't forget - the goats may be cute, but they're evil. 




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Week of Prayer for Olly Murs

We're all feeling a bit sorry for Olly Murs. The singer only went out yesterday to find some a decent after-shave in Selfridge's.
But either our Olly is a slow shopper or the decent stuff in Selfridge's is well hidden. Because 5 hours later, Olly tweeted to say that he was caught up in Selfridge's and there had been gunshots. NB - other tweets from Olly are available.
In fact, it turns out there were none. Mr Murs seems to have got the wrong end of the stick from rumours of the events at Oxford Circus, where a punch up on the Tube caused mass panic and an impromptu evacuation.

Now I think poor Olly Murs has got an unfairly bad press here. He's a young man with little experience of emergency situations. He was in Central London on one of thr busiest days of the shopping year. The police had reported an incident half a mile up the road and people were flooding out of Oxford Circus and no doubt pouring past Selfridge's shouting "It's a bomb / fire / attack / punch up on the Central Line."

The usual suspects, who would rather have a nice disaster and someone to blame than an explicable misunderstanding, took to their followers. Tommy Robinson, the Right-Wing's shortest man with Short Man Syndrome 2009, said it 'looked like' a jihadist attack. Thus simultaneously triggering his followers and leaving himself the ability to keep his nose clean. Of course, it did look like a jihjadist attack. But then it also looked like an IRA attack, the King's Cross Fire, the reaction to a rumour of free pasties in Gregg's, or someone passing wind having overdone it in that Nando's just off Tottenham Court Road.

Then we have the equally attractive character Katie Hopkins (and I expect Matt Lucas to admit she's actually him under a rubber mask one day, playing the character "Daily Mail Fascist".) She basically said the reaction was the fault of Islamists. Because they have created an environment of fear. Forgetting that she has also created that environment. That in her need to demonize the members of a religion she has become the Islamists' patsy.

 Before you knew it, Social Media was full of the expression " Religion of Peace." The Daily Mail was tweeting old images of an accident that had nothing to do with Black Friday on Oxford Street.

And in the middle of it, poor Olly Murs got the blame. In years to come, he will remembered as the cause of the whole thing. And his only fault was being a scared young man in a strange situation, trying to help others. If you're going to laugh at Olly, laugh at him for his hat. Not for this. Personally I hope he gets the Order of Merit - as then he'll be OM OM - which would be something he can chant, to calm down in panic situations.

So we're holding a Week of Prayer for Olly Murs. Hoping that he comes out of this stronger and more confident in a crisis.

Meanwhile, don't phone him today for quotes or to cheer him up. He's not going to answer the phone, so you'll just have to leave a message. He's going to be recuperating from the excitement. He's just gonna lay in his bed. Today he's not doing anything.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Friday, 24 November 2017

Collect for Black Friday

Give us, O God, elbows as sharp as those of Jonah, who had to pick up a replacement gourd cheap at the market in Nineveh.  Let our eye for a bargain be as keen as that woman in Proverbs who Evangelicals read about at weddings. And let us be as ready for Christmas as the Three Wise Men who, on that first Black Friday, picked up some very reasonably priced Frankincense and Myhrr from an Amazon, and due to her bargain prices still had some gold left over.

Amen.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Minister for Having Your Euro Cake and Eating It

Across the border in Milton Keynes South, the MP is revolting.  I mean, against the tyranny of the EU.

Milton Keynes was competing to be the European City of Culture. Which seems fair enough in one sense- it has a cracking "Theatre District" - and yet in another sense it's odd. After all, it isn't even a city. But maybe that isn't important. Anyway, what is important is that MK can no longer be the City of Culture. The clue why isn't the word "City". It's the concept of "European".

You see, the UK has voted for Brexit. And City of Culture is an EU scheme. And you can only be the European City of Culture if you're in a country which is in the EU, or a candidate for it, or in the EFTA or EEA.

None of which apply to the current plans for Brexit. So poor old MK - which voted out of the EU - can't be the European City of Culture. You may wonder about the state of a town which votes to leave Europe but wants to be the European City of Culture. But not the MP for MK South, who tweets:

I'm looking forward to Iain Stewart getting the portfolio as Minister for Cake. And explaining how his policy is that we should both have it, and eat it.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Thanksgiving Goes Bad

Thanks to Hnaef for his special "Thanksgiving Liturgy."

In which we gave thanks to God that the Pilgrim Parents: the most boring, annoying, pushy, generally joyless group of Christians these islands ever produced, went off to America.  We got Hnaef to do the service as he spends most time there, selling red hats.

Hnaef's creative liturgy was based around those two birds most beloved of Americans: the Thanksgiving Turkey and the Bald Eagle.

Yeah. It turns out that, unlike in the Prophet Isaiah. this is not a time when the turkey will lie down with the eagle.

I mean, it's not like the turkey is the natural food of the bald eagle. But "Sam" was hungry after being borrowed from the wild bird exhibition. And a bit edgy about being delivered into a Moot House full of Beaker Folk who all went "oooo" when they saw her.

So poor old Tilly the Turkey. You could say feathers were flying. But not for long.

So we swept up the feathers and put what was left of Tilly in the compost. Waste not want not. And we asked Hnaef if he could do something that would perfectly capture the spirit of today's USA.

So he blamed a black sportsman and went off to play golf.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Low Attendance at Husborne Crawley Church

In 1851, the famous Religious Census was carried out across the nation - producing a result startling to the Establishment, in that only 40% of the population actually went to church.

Husborne Crawley church had its census (presumably the now-gone Methodist chapel did as well). After numbering the people present, the census noted ""The weather being unfavourable, the attendance was rather below average".

Well, at least that's the excuse the church wardens gave.



Pre-Advent Bingo

Time like an ever-rolling stream carries us ever closer to Advent.

Ah, Pre-Advent! That time of expectation when we get ready for the next 5 weeks of relentless Christmas, until we get to Christmas and start thinking about buying new couches on the debt we can't afford and next summer's holiday to a place where, for one last summer, we won't have to queue for ages to get into a country we have decided we don't really want to be friends with anymore.

But to while away the time till Advent gets here, why not play Beaker Advent Bingo? Just look out for the signs of the times, and listen for the catchphrases of the Scrooges de nos jours.  If you get five in a row, downwards across or diagonal, award yourself the first crafty swig of the Baileys you put on top of the high cupboard in the kitchen so you weren't tempted.  If you get a full house before Advent Sunday, just give up and put a Santa hat on.  Christmas is clearly already here.

"Not even Advent Yet"
"We used to put the tree up on Xmas Eve
First article by an uninformed Guardian journalist saying that Christmas was originally a pagan festival. And making some disastrous philological mistakes.
"What do you mean Black Friday is a week?"
Seasonal reminder that the White House Turkey will be dead of inbred medical conditions before next Thanksgiving
"55 quid for dinner on Xmas Day at the pub? I'll cook it myself."
"Couldn't get in the pub for people in Santa hats and it's not even December".
Reindeer Horns on Bar Staff
Stores playing 10 seconds snatches of Christmas music to advertise their "CD Jukebox" which won't last till New Year.
A load of people you don't recognise on "I'm a Celebrity."
Realising Children in Need has gone past and being relieved you never even noticed.
You run out of the cheap booze you bought in France to save for Xmas and New Year.
Rotary Club advertising their Father Christmas is coming round but you don't know why. Charity maybe you reckon?
Mince pies with a "best before" date before Christmas 
"Is it Cyber Monday or Blue Monday?"
You hear "A Spaceman Came Travelling" for the ninety-third time.
Freezer is full of the thousands of pounds of onions your relative with an allotment gave you before the frosts struck
Realising you're getting old and overweight when someone asks if you can be Father Christmas.
What do you mean Black Friday is a week?
German Christmas Markets pop up in English provincial towns like a love for all things German has been gripping them the last two years.
Adverts for after shave are following you round the Internet after you had a quick look for Uncle Ron's present on Amazon.
Daily Express forecasts that it's going to be the coldest winter ever.
Bling you could see from outer space
Sunday Morning church readings getting increasingly threatening. Vicar coming up with caveats for God. Like none of it will really happen.
Warnings that it's going to be a bad Christmas on the High Street. Whatever a High Street is.




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Going Fundamentalist for Christmas

Typical innit. No sooner had I confined all Beaker Folk to their rooms for worship in the interests of convenience and tailored worship experiences, than the Guardian tells me that I've got it all wrong.

If I want successful worship experiences, I've got to become a literal believer in the Bible. Only in this way will I ensure a growing church - and therefore a decent revenue stream.

Though needless to say it's not that straightforward.  I've listed the signs of growing and non-growing churches below, from the Grauniad, and some notes.
Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches. 
So basically if you think you're in the job of growing new Christians, you'll be more successful at growing new Christians than if you don't. This is not really a literalist / liberal distinction per se. More a statement of the bleeding obvious. If you think it's very important to learn to drive a car, you're more likely to drive a car. If you think that it's important that people who have been let down by the Government's safety net are still fed, you're more likely to give to a food bank. If you're one of the 50% of clergy in declining churches that don't think it's important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians, I do wonder what on earth you think you're doing as a clergy, however
71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
Well, yeah. A clergy will read the Bible daily if they think it is worthwhile. And if they think it's worthwhile, they'll probably be in the realm of thinking growing new Christians is a good idea, they might give the impression they think what goes on on a Sunday is worthwhile, and that might make their church a more attractive place. Although what it doesn't do is tell us that the Bible reading is a literalist or non-literalist activity. Plenty of us can read it and believe it in non-literalist ways - especially around Genesis, Revelation, Psalms and what have you.
46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
If they're at a growing church they are likely newer, they'll be keener, they'll be generally more wanting to find out the Good News they've just heard of. So causation and correlation could be interesting on this one.
93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
As the clergy that read their Bible every day know, if Christ is not raised from the dead then everything else is in vain. You can hold your food banks, preach against racism, welcome people of all genders and none - but if you don't believe Jesus raised why should anyone come to church?
100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.
There's a pattern here. In growing churches, clergy believe more than their followers. In declining churches, clergy believe less. If you believe less than your congregation, I wonder why you're a clergy. But let's  move on.
The study also found that about two-thirds of congregations at growing churches were under the age of 60, whereas two-thirds of congregations at declining churches were over 60.
Hate to be brutal here, but this is a bit cart and horse isn't it?  ie what is causation and what is correlation. If your congregation has two thirds over the age of 60, then they're going to be dying quicker than they are breeding. And vice versa. The alternative, that being part of a growing church makes you younger, would possibly be the best reason on earth to start going to a growing church.

So my conclusion? Based on the definitions in these questions, I'm a literalist. A bit of a shock, but I suppose the Guardian knows what it's talking about. Though I do wonder why the Beaker Folk aren't growing, in that case. But - if you believe Christ rose, you believe God can work, get on and worship. Preach the Gospel. If necessary use verbs. Don't count the numbers - keep the light alive. That's what you're called to.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Litany of Anglican Woe for the New Church of England Website

Woe are we! For the Church of England has changed its website
into a funky new mobile-looking format.
Where now are the links I made?
In vain I search for the Collect for the 3rd Sunday after World Tartan Trousers Day.
For Google is like unto a false prophet
that searcheth only lies.
I google the Eucharistic Prayer B
and end up on the "Join us in Daily Prayer" page.
For "Baptism and Confirmation without Communion."
I end up on the "Join us in Daily Prayer" page.
For the Advent "O" Antiphons I look in vain.
Oh no, that one worked. Well done. As you were.
And for the "Service of the Word"
it sends me to the "Join us in Daily Prayer" page.
Does the C of E suspect we're only taking services on Sunday, and it's trying to persuade us to worship midweek?
For seven whole days, not one in seven, we are supposed to praise Thee.
Or are the C of E really needy
and desperate for us to "Join them in Daily Prayer?"
If so can we suggest a podcast
so commuters whose eyes are tired and worn out
can listen instead of reading
Lest they lose concentration
and return to Twitter.
(Assuming they're on a bus or train. If they're driving they really shouldn't be using an on-screen text-based liturgy.

One thing consoles me as I flounder around
Two things comfort me.
That Google, which seeth all things, will sort out its algorithms
And in 6 weeks we'll be moaning about something else entirely.
And that in the meantime I've got no problems finding Morning Prayer in Tradition Language.

Amen


(Public service announcement: Law and Religion UK have published a handy set of shortcuts while the SEO gets itself sorted out.)



What some are calling "quite a funny book which would be good for Aunt Ethel for Christmas. She's always writing to the Vicar.
Though she never signs them.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Liturgy of our Deepest Expressions of Self

I've got to say, I've ever seen a well-rounded act of worship as last night's "Liturgy of our Deepest Expressions of Self." In many ways it was the outworking of the vision we had when we set up the Beaker Folk.

In this postmodern world, we know that the deepest expression of  anyone's self is going to be tailored, self-curated, basically deeply individual. So to do this in the context of an act of collective worship - which is by its nature corporate - we had to break up the act of worship into a number of "Me Stations."

The "Rainbow Station," for instance, was a joyous place dedicated to the idea that I don't have to be like you; and I also don't have to be like you. A celebration of diversity, love and difference. Where you don't even need to encounter other people.

While the "Truth Station" was dedicated to the hard Gospel Truth - that everyone has to be like me. Or possibly you. A clever piece of software took the worshipper's face and projected it onto everybody in a virtual congregation, while the worshipper listened to their - or more likely his - favourite piece of Worship music.

The "World Worship Station" led to some confusion.  Some Beaker Folk thought it was about worshipping in the style of the Rend Collective or some Peruvian folk base community. But no. It was pantheism all the way down.

And then the authentic Good Ol' Boy American Midwest-Style station. Who would have thought that shooting at tin cans and handling virtual poisonous snakes while being sneered at by New Yorkers could be such fun?

And it's given me some real pause for thought. If we can provide such immersive worship experiences why does the congregation need to get together? All that co-ordination, compromise and unwanted hugging can he avoided.

So from now on all Beaker worship is being provided via the BeakerWeb. People can stay in their rooms and take part.

And I can flog the Moot House off for redevelopment.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

A Liturgy for Gun Safety in Church

Archdruid: And so we as we stand in unity with whoever has suffered the most recent mass-shooting we give thanks for those who carry their guns to church, to ensure everyone's safe and nobody gets hurt.

81-year-old Bloke from Tennessee: Indeed, the Lord has given unto me this gun so that I can protect myself and my wife from harm.

The 81-year-old Bloke from Tennessee accidentally discharges his gun, injuring himself and his wife.

Archdruid: And even as we pray that the 81-year-old Bloke from Tennessee and his wife are healed, we cannot help but reflect that irony is not dead.

Local NRA Rep: See if somebody else had had a gun, they could have shot the 81-year-old Bloke from Tennessee's gun out of his hand, before he managed to shoot himself and his wife.

Charlii: Is that realistic?

Local NRA Rep: No, not really. Oh - look! A murderer! Quick! Shoot him!

Archdruid: Put the gun down you idiot. It's just Burton Dasset.

Local NRA Rep: No there!  Look!

Charlii: That's a squirrel.

Local NRA Rep: A murderous squirrel?

Archdruid: And so, as we pray for the United States to overcome its terrible addiction to guns capable of mass slaughter, we reflect that the only thing safer than an American with a gun....

Local NRA Rep: Is a load of Americans with even more guns!

Archdruid: They put people on the moon. You've gotta wonder.



Saturday, 18 November 2017

Keep the Sheep

"Time to lose the sheep", says Ted Harrison in a clickbait article in the Church Times. Yeah, I took the bait, didn't I.

Ted Harrison's argument is that we shouldn't use sheep as metaphors any more because lots of people don't see sheep. Which might be fine but, let's face it, it's what Jesus and the Psalmist said. You can't easily drop another metaphor in because it would have to be about some other pastoral caring situation, and the same problem would occur with cows, goats, salmon farms and Aylesbury Ducks. Sheep are as good as anything else. Using some urban analogy like "teacher" or "pub landlord" or "supermarket manager and their staff" just ain't got that sense of interdependency.

And most people, at some stage, do see sheep. Even if it's from a car window or out of a train - there they are, all over the countryside, looking sheepish. It's what they do.

But then, if you lose the sheep, then Jesus's links to Passover are lost. And if you try to take the lamb out of Passover, you've got an inter-faith incident on your hands.

And if not sheep and shepherds what good are "fishers of men/women?" Barely anybody ever meets a fisherperson - probably even fewer than see sheep. How would you render Jesus' comment that even the Pharisees would untie their animal and lead it to water on the Sabbath? "Even you would drive your car to the Tesco filling station on a Sunday morning?"

Ted Harrison closes with the comment that it's unpalatable to refer to sheep because, after they've been cared for by the shepherd, they will be slaughtered in anger and eaten with mint sauce. Well, guess what? Same in Jesus' day. In the 1st Century people understood that metaphors have limits - that analogies break down. Why does Ted Harrison think we don't? Just how down would we be have to be dumbed for this to happen?

Basically, it's about incarnation, innit. Jesus was born and went about this earth at a certain time and a certain place. He encountered sheep, shepherds, fishers, Pharisees, Zealots and tax collectors. Replacing them with cars, traffic wardens, opinion pollsters, grumpy Archdruids, members of ISIS and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will not help. Because Jesus wasn't born in 1986. He was born a few years BC. Live with it, work with it, and understand it. Cos anything you do with it will be well-meaning, hippy-dippy, modernist and - let's be honest - rubbish.






The Perfect Reading for PCC Members (advertorial)

After two months on sale, "Writes of the Church" has found itself an "Often Bought With" buddy on Amazon. 

But it's quite a strange one. I know that algorithms can be odd, so I'll share the screen shot in case you get something else.

See, I'd expect that "Writes of the Church" would often be bought along with something from Dave Walker's fine selection of cartoon books. And indeed sometimes that is exactly what happens.

But the perfect buddy for "Writes of the Church?"


That's right. "The PCC Member's Essential Guide."

Now, strictly speaking this title is wrong. I can confirm that no guide is actually essential to being a PCC member. You can just turn up and say the last vicar was better, without any training at all. But I think the link marketing here is really key.

If you are on a PCC, buy "Writes of the Church." If nothing else, it will give you something to read during the meeting.


Friday, 17 November 2017

Talents

Getting my thoughts together on the Parable of the Talents.

And the often-excellent Roots on the Web site is focusing on the ideas of risk-taking. What is it worth risking, what is the reward? The question we all ask ourselves all the time - albeit quite often with very poor analysis. Take voting "Yes" to Brexit. The risk - is - trashing the economy and upsetting all our natural allies, leaving ourselves friendless in a world that increasingly is dominated by big players like the US, China, India. The reward was sticking fingers up to all the career politicians running the country, and all the establishment businesses - thus seeing us run by a different bunch of career politicians, while the establishment businesses head abroad taking jobs and taxes with them. You can see why it was attractive.

But then we do it in other areas. We know that driving is more dangerous than staying at home. But think the reward of getting to work is greater than that of starving to death. Statistically, cycling everywhere is safer than driving everywhere. But we think about the danger of an "accident*" and get in the Prius.

And in Church?

There's always a safe option. Get those talents nice and safe. Stick to what we do. Maybe tweak what we do, better to accommodate those who already do what we do. Clean the monuments, buff up the woodwork. Keep everything tidy, ready for when the church is ready to be just visited as if it were a museum, looked after by a trust and never open on Sunday. Nice and safe. But it's the route to death.

The alternatives can be - alternative. Maybe you need to do what you do, but better? Though you might upset those who always liked it as it was. Not too challenging. Not too much change. Excellence is awful.

Or maybe the right thing to do would be completely to change. Get rid of the Latin Mass and replace it with Messy Church. Or vice-versa. Depends on the locale, dunnit? Chuck out, or bring in, the electric guitars. Introduce long, disturbing times of silence. May  not attract the crowds- but maybe some people will be closer to God than they were when it was all words, words, words.

Or have an art exhibition, a drop-in centre, a food bank, a place where people can just sit about. They may bring their problems. They may fail - some things do. But you're offering a place of connection. A hope. A use of your talents, whatever they may be.

Or maybe just throw it all up in the air and go and tell people what Jesus means to you. That, regardless of what smug positivists (who were debunked by the people who invented their stupid philosophy) may say, there's reality in God. That you can touch the divine if you take the time and set aside the space and just bloody look for something beyond the mundane. That if you get past everything reductionist, there's something that embraces the universe waiting for you.

They're high risk strategies. But I'd compare them to cycling. Statistically, cycling improves your life expectancy. Sure, if you take a chance, you run the risk of getting run over. But then what's the alternative? Sit there. Sit there safe. Don't do anything too much. And let yourself run gently down. Run gently down. Run gently down.

And die.



* act of stupidity by a motorist



Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Comfortable Ecumenical Service

Thanks to all the various groups that attended our non-offensive ecumenical service this afternoon. We were really keen, at the planning stage, that we should not include anything that could cause anyone to take offence or be uncomfortable. So we put together a really comprehensive service and then allowed people to say if they had any concerns.

The Lord's Prayer had to go, as we couldn't agree which version. The Nicene Creed because we divided into three groups - "Filioque", "Non-filioque" and "Compromise Nobody Likes." All the other creeds were rejected as not containing enough theology to be worth agreeing on.

"Onward Christian Soldiers", given we're just past Remembrance, had been kicked out by half of them because it was too militaristic, and by the other half to avoid offending any that didn't identify as Christians.

The actual legal form of "In Christ Alone" caused discussion because of the lines that preach substitutionary atonement:

"The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid"

So the alternative "the love of God was magnified" because how can you magnify something that is already infinite? Three weeks of mathematics went into that debate. While the alternative "the love of God was ratified" was rejected because nobody else could work out what it meant.

A confession was a no-go. Because one of the priests of Catholic persuasion wanted to pronounce an absolution and the Plymouth Brethren wanted to know why he thought God would let him have that right.

Then all responsive liturgy was rejected by non liturgical churches. Written prayers by the Methodists. Ex Tempore prayers by everyone else. And there was no way even the Sermon on the Mount would get past that vetting committee uncut.

So anyway. The service ended up being quite short. Just the Grace. Sure, the Christadelphians walked out over the Trinitarian formulation. But it didn't matter, as everyone else was heading out for coffee.



"Complaint about Remembrance of the Year" Competition Winners

And so we reach the end of that blessed time when good patriots have an excuse to do what only Labour politicians and student radicals do the rest of the year - complain other people are doing everything wrong.

Some of the complaints below were really made.

Some of them may have been.

And some of them, you can feel free to use next year.

You're welcome.

1. "I timed the Silence and it was only 1 minute 47."

2. "Her poppy leaf was at half past 10, not 11 o'clock."

3. "If the Queen could not get herself down to the Cenotaph she should be charged with treason."

4. "One of the Scouts clearly had a woggle askew."

5. "A baby cried all the way through. He should have more respect."

6. "There were Polish people there. What do they know about the War?"

7. I stood on the M1 at 11am trying to get the traffic to stop and would they?"

8. "Michael Foot didn't even bother to attend this year."

9. "I saw some people still wearing poppies on the day after Remembrance Sunday. Do they have no respect?"

10. "Marks and Spencer had Christmas advertising up. A tableau of the Somme would be far more appropriate."

11. "Despite in being Remembrance Sunday, the Vicar still insisted on preaching about a "Prince of Peace." What sort of traitor is she?

12. "Silence started 4 seconds early. They should have used my Atomic Clock."

13. "I wear my poppy from Michaelmas onwards. Why does everybody else have such a slack attitude?"

14. "I insist the BBC present nothing but poppy-based programming for the whole of November."

15. "Don't Beavers learn to drill these days? Those 6 year olds were terribly sloppy on parade.

16. "Not only did we not sing "Onward Christian Soldiers." We didn't even get "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans."



Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Amazon Tolkien Leaked

Amazon to produce a "prequel" to The Lord of the Rings. Which presumably doesn't mean they'll be recording The Silmarillion, as the Creation would be so tricky for CGI - but more likely something just after The Hobbit. Which is another prequel to Lord of the Rings.


Bilbo: Bit of pipe weed, Gandalf?

Gandalf: Don't mind if I do. Your birthday tomorrow, isn't it?

Bilbo: Yeah. 98. No bigs.

Frodo: Uncle Bilbo - can you show us The Ring of Power again?

Bilbo: No, I've just wrapped it up. Drop of ale?

Frodo: OK.

Sam: Broccoli's got whitefly again, Mr Bilbo.

Bilbo: Blow some weed-smoke on it, Sam?

Sam: Right you are, Mr Bilbo.

Frodo: You heard from Saruman lately, Gandalf?

Gandalf: Yeah. We made up a four at bridge with Elrond and Galadriel.

Frodo: Nice.

Gandal: Yeah, but I really don't get on with the way Galadriel uses a weak 2 opening. Not the Stayman I grew up with.

Bilbo: Anything on the palantir?

Gandalf: Game of Thrones.

Frodo: Can we watch it?

Bilbo: No. You're too young.

Gandalf: Got to be more exciting that this though.



Greggs Hits the Offence Jackpot

You can't knock Greggs. It's practically impossible to go in to buy a lukewarm VAT-free cheese and bacon puff without luring yourself into buying a slightly-above-room-temperature sausage roll to go with it. It's a kind of universal law. Even if you walked in to Greggs to identify to police the bloke who just mugged you in Taunton Castle Green, you'd be hard-pushed not to walk out clutching a cheap and cheerful sausage roll to accompany you on the way to give evidence.

But they've really gone for it. Jesus as a sausage roll. I can only assume this is simultaneously offensive to three religions - Christians (for whom God can only adequately be represented in bread and wine); Muslims (as Jesus is one of the prophets of their religion) and Jews (as Greggs have, when all is said and done, managed to represent the most famous Jew that ever lived as a non-kosher pastry-based product).

I shall shrug and assume it was a terrible mistake by some 12-year-old marketeer who hadn't thought very much. But maybe keep a wary eye out. If they decide to crucify bunnies on Hot Cross Buns next spring, we'll know it's deliberate.



Monday, 13 November 2017

New Dress Code for Beaker School Children

The Daily Mail reports that boys will be allowed to wear tiaras at school. Reading the Church of England's actual report, it is clear that this is part of Church of England guidance on reducing bullying on the basis of real or alleged gender and sexual orientation.

I won't bother to tell you much about the Mail's article - you can read it if you really want. But it's using a scare headline, obviously. And then sets out bullying of minorities against the C of E's rules on marriage. As if it thinks the ban on gay people marrying each other somehow means beating up gay children is alright.

The actual C of E report is here - but in order not to be trashed by the Daily Mail, we have decided to create a new dress code for the Little Pebbles so they can avoid any kind of gender confusion.
Boys' Uniform 
Hobnailed boots, camouflage trousers, tops in the style of an appropriate masculine super hero (Superman, Spiderman, David Davis etc).  Caps in association with appropriate football teams.
Girls' Uniform 
Sparkly shoes - high heeled, as they may as well get used to them early. Outfits to be either Elsa or Anna from "Frozen". Tiaras.
Gay Children 
As for their identified gender, but with an appropriate triangle.
 Transgender Children / Those with indeterminate gender
To be taught in a special room on their own, so as not to confuse anybody else.
I hope this is clear. We will not tolerate bullying under any circumstances. So it is important we are rigidly clear in our definitions, so we know what bullying we are not tolerating at any given time.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Atheist Convention Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest

Apparently the 2018 Global Atheist Conference has been cancelled.

Questions that spring to mind from the cancellation page:

Why did the Victorian Government think it was a good idea to invest in a clearly sectarian event that was on unsure financial foundations?

Given their not being sure about when people get refunds - is the Atheist Foundation of Australia a bit short of the readies?

What are all the atheists that have paid for their air fares gonna do in Melbourne for 4 days? (I say "all", I realise that there's a good chance that's "both").

Did the normal attendees' mums say they weren't allowed to go all the way to Australia?

Was the cancellation just an unfortunate event? Was it incompetence? Or was it an act of God?



The Faces of Wisdom

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought. (Wisdom of Solomon 6.12-16)
Bit of a reflection on Wisdom, if you don't mind.

Wisdom is found in the Old Testament, and in the Apocrypha, as a person. A female character. The sort of woman that can keep people on the straight and narrow, by teaching them how to live. Wisdom popping up as a kind of divine personification is quite odd, as the Old Testament isn't always that keen on having entities that look a bit like gods. So you've got to presume that she's like a metaphor, to the Jews at least.

And for the most part, the way she tells us to live is: calmly, being rational, keeping your nose clean, being prudent but also generous. Guarding what you say. Worshipping God. Quietly. Like being a good Anglican really.

Jesus takes the idea of Wisdom further - the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes (Blessed are the...) are the same concept of what do you have to do to be blessed. But he kind of expands out from the calmness of it all - blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness is a lot less moderate.

Now the Greeks had a concept called the Logos - the rational thought behind the Universe. And there was a Jew called Philo, who looked at the Greek Logos and described it as a first-born of Creation. St John in Chapter 1 of the Gospel equates Jesus with that Logos.

And St Paul equates Jesus with Wisdom: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16).

So if you know true Wisdom, you know Jesus. And if you know Jesus you are in a relationship with the Logos - the One who is God, and is with God, and was with God in the beginning.

The Wisdom of Solomon tells us how to know Wisdom. Get up when it's quiet. Wisdom will be waiting at the gates - not in the noise and bustle of the town. You will meet need, and human connection, in the town. Or the Internet. Or the news on telly. But when you get pace and quiet you can hear God's Spirit whisper.

The Psalm says, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." Again sometimes you need to be away from the bustle to hear God's Wisdom.

Doesn't mean you should forsake the towns and the company of others forever. Or you can't love your neighbour. But sometimes to find Wisdom you have to get away. Clear your brain. Pray and be rested. Jesus, after all, did much the same.

And if you take the time and space, and meet with Wisdom, that logic that founded the Universe and keeps every star in motion and the heart of every child beating you find that's not just a disembodied principle. God's Wisdom is the Son of God - and you meet with him in prayer and in God's word.

So seek Wisdom. Not the world's, which tells you to pile up riches and stay forever young. But God's, which stays with you forever and is your friend, your companion and your Saviour.