Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tears of St Lawrence

Knew this was a mistake. The "Wonders of the natural world" bunch wanted to sit up and watch the shooting stars last night.

Lots of quoting of Psalm 8. Lots of "when that lonely speck of dust, having flown around the cos-moze for millennia, dies in beauty, we want to be there for it."

 Lots of running around the kitchen garden at 3 am under the influence of Pimms, shouting "Wheee! I'm a meteor!"

 They're all out on the front lawn now, , faces still eagerly pointed upwards, fast asleep in their deck chairs.

It's pretty unlucky for them really. Despite the rain we've had the last few days, the automated sprinkler system is still about to come on.

I should really switch it off.

I really should.



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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.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Boris Johnson is a Dangerous Idiot

I'll be honest. I was worried.

The thing about Boris Johnson is, he plays that likeable toff so well. So when he does a really good act of being simultaneously a racist, and yet that lovable racist who isn't really a racist, he's standing up for women's rights, I worry. And I think - have we been nice to him in the past because he's dead good about being the thinking person's Roderick Spode?

Nope. All good. Boris Johnson is a dangerous idiot. And an idiot's idea of what an intelligent idiot looks like. We're OK.

Boris Johnson  is a dangerous idiot. Carry on.


Want to support this blog?
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.

The New Services Board

Bad news re the new services board.

We'd thought it would be good to have a services board. You know, like proper churches. All the regular acts of worship painted up. Weekday services on the left, Sundays on the right.

Got contentious though, didn't it. Because the people who work during the day, and mostly attend on Sundays, they wanted the weekdays on the right and the Sundays on the left.

Then some people said isn't it a bit occidocentric to assume all people read from left to right. So we got the mirror-writing suggestion.

And then someone said they thought the Sundays should be at the top and weekdays beneath. And somebody of a more fundamentalist nature asked whether we had begun marking special days and new moon festivals again.

And then someone said good point- where were the monthly services going?

And after a nine-hour Moot Meeting we finally reached a compromise.

So I'm pleased to say that the eight service boards have finally all been painted and screwed into place.

And I'm less pleased to announce that this has taken so long that we've actually already changed our pattern of services.

Still, as we take them back down, at least that means we can repaint them in different colours. When they went up, a lot of people complained about them all being blue. And I can't face another meeting.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Clerical Invention Looking for In-vestment

Life's not always easy for Young Keith. In his role of Assistant Deputy Executive Druid, he is always kept busy hoovering up glitter and cleaning up the Children's Area. While in his other role as Charlii's husband and father of their children, he is kept busy hoovering up glitter and mopping up milk vomit. And nobody ever asks him how he copes with both jobs, saving that particular question for Charlii. And then again, everyone still calls him Young Keith when he's now in his thirties.

So with such a busy life, he has realised he needs to get back to his hobby of creating unusual - indeed, some would say unnecessary - inventions for liturgical use. But he seems to be onto a winner here. In fact, we're hoping he might be able to get the Church Commisioners to provide some funding.

Keith is inventing a range of machines that will automatically put vestments onto Anglican clergy. It will, he says, be a godsend to those ministers that really don't want other vestry-dwellers fussing round them and adjusting their albs, balancing up their stoles, and generally making unwanted contact with them. A wardrobe-sized, humidity-controlled contraption that keeps the robes in perfect condition, the minister only has to stand on the right spot, and be beautifully accoutred in the correct liturgical colour for the day.

Obviously there's a lot of different formats of garment. And he's not rolling out the chasuble module until he's corrected the flaw that took the head off the department store dummy he used in testing. But he's managed to perfect the system for putting on the robes that are open at the front, and can automatically fasten up the  clasp for the wearer.

So as I say, I'm really happy for Keith. He's got a busy, stressful life. But he's developed a coping mechanism.


Want to support this blog?
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.

Friday, 27 July 2018

This is How Abusers Work

The papers report that the Prince of Wales supported Peter Ball when he was accused of abuse.

This is how abusers work. They don't just work on children and the vulnerable. They work on the strong and self-reliant. The Prince of Wales is no idiot. But he was groomed by Peter Ball. Every abuser has to pull the wool over the eyes of the strong as well.

So
If you think "I can't believe X would do that"
If you think "X isn't the sort. X is married with children."
If you think "X has admitted X was wrong in the past. I'm sure that will never happen again...."

You are putting yourself into the same position as Prince Charles when he couldn't believe what mean things people were saying about Peter Ball.

This is how abusers work. 

They groom the strong too.



Want to support this blog?
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.

Rain Dance Postponed

Apologies. We had to cancel the Rain Dance this evening.

Those tin foil suits we made just looked a bit too... how can I say this.... attractive.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

A Pure Woman (John 20.1-18)

I was thinking about the subtitle Thomas Hardy gave to Tess of the d'Urbervilles.  "A Pure Woman". And how it upset the respectable Victorians - one publisher hav
"Noli me Tangere" - Correggio , Public Domain
ing already paid Hardy the advance for the novel then refused to publish it. Not just because of the sub-title. But it really underlined the way that Tess is a story of a woman who's constantly let down by men. OK, stabbing her lover to death in a Bournemouth boarding house was wrong. But she'd been pushed a long way, before she snapped.

Mary Magdalene has suffered a bit at the hands of men as well. Pope Gregory used as a helpful example of a repentant sinner - based solely on the way that she is mentioned in Luke 8, a chapter after a "sinful woman" that anointed Jesus with oil. And let's not worry about Dan Brown, eh? Or for that matter Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. It doesn't help that so many women in the Bible are called Mary, as we try to work out whether Mary Mag was or was not (probably not) Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha.

What does the Bible tell us? That Mary was rich and independent enough to support Jesus. That Jesus had cast demons out of her. That when nearly all the brave male disciples had run away, Mary stood there at the cross, with Jesus's mother and with John, and watched her Lord die. She's not the supreme image of a repentant sinner - she's the embodiment of faith and love for Jesus. She's one who stuck with him - when all the others had fled. She is persistence and love and dedication personified.

And then very early on the first day of the week - Mary, among those who saw Jesus's last breath, who heard his last words - she's there again. Down at the tomb with a random selection of women and disciples. And she's the one who sees Jesus first.

She may have suffered at the hands of men through history. But not at Jesus' hands, as he gently says, "why are you crying?" And then, "Mary". And looking through her tears she sees her Messiah, her Saviour, restored to life but beautifully changed.  Though you wonder about the hurt of those words - "do not hold onto me" as he makes it clear to her that things aren't the same any more. This isn't just a restoration of the relationships he's had with his friends on earth. There's far more to do now than just hit the road again.

But Mary's going to be the first to take on the new job of what will now become the Church. She leaves the gardens, finds those useless, terrified disciples and becomes the first one to tell greatest news on earth to somebody else. "I have seen the Lord."

And so Mary Magdelene - among the last to see Jesus at his death. The first to see him alive. The first to tell out the Good News. The first apostle - sent to tell the message to the apostles. And the pattern of how the Church should always be. Faithful to Jesus, steadfast in despair, forever loving her Lord. And full of life, as it brings the Good News.


Want to support this blog?
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.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Immigration Policy of Heaven

Intrigued by a tweet by a Fox News presenter, Carla D'Addesi:

"Heaven has a wall with strict immigration policies. Hell has open borders."

Now obviously this got me thinking about Heaven's immigration policies.

First thing to consider is that heavenly wall, of course. It's definitely there in Scripture. What Donald Trump might call a bigly, beautiful wall. Except that while Trump's wall still only exists in his imagination, the heavenly wall is studied with precious stones.

Of course the heavenly city has walls. A wall is what defines a first-century city. A wall is uncontroversial. Let's talk about the gates. Those bigly, beautiful gates. Made each of a single, huge, wonderful pearl.  Goodness knows where God found oysters that big. But then God's creativity has no end.

The gates have a flaw. Well, gems often do, don't they? These gates have the same problem that my old nan's gate used to have. They don't close. My nan's gate just used to warp in bad weather. But these just don't need to, as there is no night. And when there is no fear, who needs to shut the gate? Heaven is, apparently, like the houses of old London Town, where you could all leave the doors open and nobody would ever thieve. The gates are always open, so you can just wander in. In my Nan's street this was actually because nobody had anything of value. But here - it's because everything's free.

But there's obviously an immigration policy. Because St John tells us who's not in the city. Now it's not a racial exclusion policy. Because "The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." That's right. Including Mexicans. But you can't get in if you're deceitful, or apparently if you're an adulterer. Hard words for some.

But Jesus also gives us an illustration of the entry processes. And first up, it feels a bit like those channels at the airport. One says "EU, EAA and Swiss Citizens" or some such  and the other, is for the others. Obviously after Brexit the signs will say "People who are like us" and "People who aren't". And one channel will be empty because British people will no longer be able to afford to fly. And the other will be empty because who would want to come to a bitter, self-hating, others-hating, impoverished place? But I'm sure the Executive lounge will still be busy. But I digress. That's Brexit Britain. Let's talk about the New Jerusalem.

So there's a fast-track into the kingdom of Heaven. A lovely passport for the natural born citizens. Maybe it's even blue. And those that get the fast-track are, we're told, tax-collectors, prostitutes, and children (who seem to get their own, native, representatives in the immigration process). Unprotected women, orphans, refugees get favourable treatment. Immigrants and refugees just wander in - after all, God used to be one. Maybe God still is.

And then - funny thing, a bit like some tax havens. You can be a citizen if you've large amounts invested in heavenly securities. Basically it's an exchange rate thing. Build up your treasure on earth and it's subject to a sudden depreciation. But if your treasure is invested in heaven they'll let you in. And if you've looked after  the Lord of Heaven on earth - whether he was hungry, thirsty or in prison - he'll let you in. But be careful. He may not have looked too kingly.

And I know what you're going to say. Just wander along with your "Salvation by Faith" visa and you'll be through the executive lounge before you know it.  But do you know how many questions St James will need you to answer before you get through that way? Forget St Peter and his keys. It's James and his clipboard you'll have to worry about.

The nasty tweet that inspired this has a nasty response. A cartoon of a line of well-ordered Americans waiting to be checked off by St Peter, while a Mexican goes over the wall. Well  apart from the hint that Trump's wall is gonna be no use if he ever finds someone to pay for it - that's what Jesus says happens as well. They'll (we'll?) all be queuing up neatly to be let in for being nice and white and respectable - and those who get  nothing in this world  will go over the wall, sneak through the gates - even clutch on the coat-tails of a scruffy Jewish prophet.

Oh yeah. The Jews. Did I mention how you've got to become a part of them to get in? It is the new Jerusalem, after all.

Me? I'll be praying to get in as one that escapes from fire. My claim to citizenship will be that I know the king and he's paid my fare for me. And I pray he nods me through on that basis. But here's my conclusion.  Hell has open borders, because someone broke the wall down one Friday night. But it's a free country, is Hell. You don't have to leave if you don't want to. And the gates of Heaven are wide open. The immigration policy is terribly lax. But you've got to be prepared to love your fellow-citizens. And God knows, they're a disreputable lot. Maybe some would rather stay in the other place.