Friday, 20 April 2018

Service for Arsene Wenger Leaving Arsenal

Moss: Did you see that ludicrous display last night?

Office Postperson: What was Wenger thinking of, resigning so late?

Ash: That's the trouble with Arsenal...

All: They always want to walk it into the net.

Burton Dasset: I'm sorry, what?

Archdruid: It's football talk, Burton. They're bein' weal geezers...

Burton: What like Kwik Fit?

Archdruid: No. Never mind. You'd never pull it off.

Hnaef: No more will a team in England have a name that's just like the manager's.

All: And if they do, it won't be so liable to satisfyingly rude jokes.

Hnaef: 1-0 to the Arsenal....

All: They'll be lucky these days.

Lament

The Professor of Holloway has resigned. How are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Walthamstow. Publish it not in Blackhorse Road. Lest the daughters of Tottenham rejoice. Lest the Bishop of Willesden triumph.

Ye heights of Hampstead let there be no dew. Let there be no rain. On the pleasant allotments of Islington let there be no soft fruit to make jam. For Wenger has fallen. With only 3 Premier Leagues and 7 FA Cups, he has failed. Yeah he might win the Europa League and qualify for the UCL next year. But he's clearly failed.

Will Brendan Rodgers do better? Will any other manager bring glory back to the Emirates while they still try to pay for the stadium? Or will the next manager be another schmuck brought in to balance the books while taking the blame for the board's need to keep the money rolling in without spending?

Fallen! Fallen is Arsenal the Great....

Continues till next season

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Liturgy of Removing St Morrissey's Day from the Beaker Common Prayer

Archdruid: He was looking for some eggs and then he found some eggs

All: And heaven knows he's miserable now.

Archdruid: Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to rip St Morrissey's Day from the Beaker Common Prayer. And be it known that, though I would love to amend the version on Lulu, I've lost the password so I can't.

All: Easy done, your pointy-hattedness.

Archdruid: We are now to rip the appropriate pages out of this book, not because he is a vegetarian, but because Morrisey is a right-wing apologist and total wingnut.

Ken Livingstone: You know who else was a vegetarian and a total right-wing wingnut? Hit....

Archdruid: Bag him, Hnaef.

Red Ken is put into the Big Sack to be put outside. 

Archdruid: And so we display the horcruxes of Morrisey. A punctured bicycle. A bunch of glads. A hearing aid. And...

Ken Livingstone: Hitler?

Archdruid: OK Hnaef. Did you forget to tie the bag up?

Red Ken is put into the Big Tote and chucked on the conveniently-just-installed conveyor, o be put away in the Automatic Storage and Retrieval Mechanism in the car park. 

Archdruid: And the last horcrux is... oh, hang on. It's Johnny Marr. That ain't happening. OK. Let's rip the pages out.

The pages are ripped out. 

 Archdruid: OK. Place them in the Pail of De-Morrisseying.

The pages are placed in the Paul of De-Morrisseying. 

All: Are you going to burn them?

Archdruid: Certainly not. I'm going to soak them in milk. That will really annoy him.

Hnaef: Anyone for a barbie?

Archdruid: Meat is murder.

Hnaef: Yeah, but a nice juicy steak, with a bit of mustard, the blackened edges crumbling in heir own...

Archdruid: Oh go on. Just the one. For Morrissey's sake.

All: It won't make him happy.

Archdruid: But then nothing ever does. Let us join in the eternal response. Hang the DJ.

All: Hang the DJ.

Archdruid: Hang the DJ.

All: Hang the DJ.

Archdruid: Hang the DJ.

All: Hang the DJ.

Archdruid: Hang the DJ.



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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.

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In Which The Archdruid Shows Her Soft Side

Was wondering what to do about Lozzinge. She's been really sad since her cat ran away. Which I can understand. That cat was her only real friend. Which I can also understand. But you know, it's sad to see someone so upset.

And after all I'm the Archdruid. It's my job to take pastoral care of people. Even the ones who fill up their Facebook pages with endless pictures of the dearly escaped dumb chum in question. Even if she put the thing in mittens on cold days. Mittens, I ask you. No wonder it couldn't bury its droppings.

So I knew it was incumbent on me. And, let's face it, I've a soft heart somewhere down there.

So I told her to get a grip. That sadness is rebellion against God's goodness. I like to think it helped.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Service for the Installation of a New Photocopier

Archdruid: OK lads bring it in.

Barry Chuckle: To me.

Paul Chuckle: To you.

Barry Chuckle: To me.

Archdruid: We thank the God who has delivered unto us this shiny new photocopier. And yet, like unto the Good News which lay hidden for many a generation hid in God's foreknowledge, it is still under wraps. Therefore by the power vested in me I ask the Wrappers and Unwrappers to remove the packaging.

Wrappers and Unwrappers: Behold! For we have with us the sacred Wrapping and Unwrapping Tools, with which shall we reveal the glories of the new photocopier.

Archdruid: Do you bear in your hands scissors and pen-knives?

Wrappers and Unwrappers: Indeedy Doody!

Archdruid: Then take them from hence and deposit them in an dark place. For does it not say on the bubble wrap, "Do not use sharp objects with which to use this bubbly bubble wrap?"

Wrappers and Unwrappers: Then shall we take away these steely devices and return with the plastic shrink-wrap safety cutters.

Hymn: I Want to Be Like Jesus Christ

*** 3 hours later ***

Archdruid: Behold! For the photocopier is revealed in all its glory!

Millennials: That printer hasn't got a USB port!

People Who Remember the War: Where do you put the powder in that washing machine?

Archdruid: People of Husborne Crawley, and you who live in the Great House, this is neither a printer nor is it a washing machine. For it is a photocopier! Behold, will it not both view the image of an sheet of paper, and also print off a very facsimile of that sheet - even unto many?

Millennials: So like a scanner printer, but without a USB port?

Archdruid: Yeah, but it does A3 as well...

People Who Remember the War: Which side is the drier?

Archdruid: OK. Load up the toner, Hnaef, and let's get this baby running!

Hymn: The toner's black, the paper's white (or any other colour you choose) 

*** 3 hours later ***

Archdruid: And now before we make the first copy, the most important ritual of all on a photocopier.

All: Sprinkling with blessed water?

Archdruid: Nah. Exorcism.

Drayton Parslow May Rush In

Drayton: A Photocopier? This is going to need a lot of exorcising. Therefore I cast out the demon that makes the paper get stuck in damp weather, and the one that crunkles the paper up on the drum, and the one that makes the ink smudge, and the one that makes you accidentally photocopy the blank glass because you forgot to put the paper in, and the one that makes you photocopy portrait on landscape, and the one where it breaks ten minutes before an important service when you have not prepared the service sheet in time, and the.....

*** 3 hours later ***

Archdruid: Let us pray. May the copier light ever shine, and the toner always be crisp. The reproduction perfect, and not as dodgy as an analogy with a photocopier on Trinity Sunday which you never think you're going to get away with, do you Hnaef?

Hnaef: I'll delete it immediately.

Charlii: Does it separate separate copies of a document so they're ready to staple?

Young Keith: Oh yeah. This is an installation and collation*.

Archdruid: OK let's get going.  I've a lovely page of the Methodist Hymn Book to put through it, my favourite hymn, "And Can it Be", and.... hang on, what's that in the catch tray?

All: It's.... a photocopy of someone's bottom.

Burton: I'm sorry! I snuck in last night after the Train Spotters' Monthly Real Ale Night, and saw it, and just couldn't....

Archdruid: OK Drayton. You'd better do some more exorcising.  A gallon of mind bleach ain't gonna get that out.

*** 3 hours later ***

Archdruid: Go into the world, to make perfect copies of disciples.

All: And not of Burton's bottom.


* Anglican joke



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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, 17 April 2018

Can a Christian Be Friends with Atheists?

Brothers and Sisters, it has been a while since I last wrote to you. The soi-disant "Archdruid" across the Park has cut off my access to the Internet. Albeit I was not totally disappointed. I believe that Marjorie may have been watching Frankie Boyle performances on Netflix again. And she says it always makes her so disappointed in me.

But Eileen is away preparing her exorcism service for the coffee filter machine. And therefore I have been able to access the blogging machine for a short period of time.

And I have found this article in the Christian Today website. Asking the question, "Can a Christian be Friends With Atheists?"  (NB: As Judy points out, the link is down. So use this cache....

I hear what you are already thinking. What a ridiculous question. Irresponsible, some would say.

Clearly the answer is "no". How could one risk even talking to them in a context without strict delimiters between the sacred and profane? Who would take such a risk?

The correct question should surely be: how do we ensure that we are yoked under no circumstances with unbelievers, while simultaneously letting them realise what they are missing in friendship with ourselves and, of course, Christ?  The answer is to be friend-ly, while making it quite clear that only when they are like us will they be allowed to be friend-s.

I normally hand them one of these cards to ensure that would-be-friendly unbelievers know where the boundaries have been drawn. This helps to bring any undesired pleasantries to an end: I hope they go off to reflect on how far they have fallen.



It may be best if I show some examples of dealing with over-friendly atheists and other devilish surrogates through the medium of role-play scenarios. I recommend you try these out in your youth or Bible study groups, or ministerial training college, in case you unexpectedly fall among atheists or, worse, Anglicans.

SCENARIO 1: WALKING THE DOG

Passing Atheist: That's a lovely dog. What's his name?

Godly Christian: Belteshazzar. And what is your dog's name?

Passing Atheist: Stan.

Godly Christian: That is not a Biblical name. Do I presume you are an atheist?

Passing Atheist: Well, I've never really thought of it before. But I suppose I just think that when we die...

Godly Christian: No more! Read this leaflet, "The Cries of the Damned." And when you are ready to repent, come back to see me and then  we can see about taking our dogs for "walkies" together.

SCENARIO 2: The WORK MEETING

Godless Boss: That's me just about done in. Look, you've all worked really hard today. Let's go down the pub and I'll get you all a drink.

Godly Christian: I am afraid that I will not be able to accept your offer, leading as it inevitably will to sin and the gates of Hell.

Godless Boss: OK, you're busy then, Godly?

Godly Christian: Were I a lying heathen such as yourself - no offence - then I would reply in the affirmative. But as I am a Godly Christian and therefore a speaker of truth, I must instead inform you that I have no activities apart from some praying and sitting quietly planned. But I will not be inveigled into this place of alcoholic temptation with you and your spawn of the Dark One, otherwise known as Accounts Payable.

Godless Boss: Maybe another day then?

Godly Christian: There may not be another day. How do you not know this is your last? Flee from your foul bibbing and REPENT!

SCENARIO 3: AT THE SUPERMARKET

Till-Operating Jezebel: That'll be £23.45, please.

Godly Christian: Here you are. Please be aware that, in passing you these coins, I am merely rendering to Asda what belongs to Asda.

Till-Operating Jezebel: Would you like change?

Godly Christian: Know that we will all be changed! At the last trumpet! But unless you change your heart, then the laser in this till will not be the only red light you will be dealing with - for all eternity!

Till-Operating Jezebel: That will be 5p back then.

SCENARIO 4: AT A FOOTBALL MATCH

Godly Football Supporter: You're going to Hell in the Devil's Ambulance!

Manchester United Supporter: Here, are you in the wrong end, mate?

Godly Football Supporter: I hope that is not a reference to the Sin That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Begone, foul minion with your true "Special One" depicted on your club badge.

Manchester United Supporter: OK lads, we've got a right one here.

Godly Football Supporter: Know then that I am happy to suffer blows and be persecuted for righteousness' sake. But please stop throwing pies at me.




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.

Liturgy of an Almost Spring Like Day in England

Archdruid: Rejoice! For Spring is springing!

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

All: The lambs are skipping! The birds are singing!

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

Archdruid: The breeze is light, the fields are green.

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

All: The cruël frost's no longer seen.

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

Archdruid: The bunnies skip, the robins' eggs hatching.

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

All: And in the fields the Beaker Fertility Folk are matching...

Hnaef: Barbie! Barbie! Barbie!

Archdruid: Hnaef, are you trying to suggest we have a Beaker Barbecue tonight?

Hnaef: Well, now you mention it...

Archdruid: We now sing hymn 43...

Hymn 43

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things fat and protein-full
We like to eat them all.

Each chicken in the garden
The little lamb at play
The pigeons in the meadow
They'll never get away.

All things bright and beautiful....

The turkey that makes twizzlers
The cow makes steaks so rare
Don't look out for the piglets
Cos they're no longer there.

All things bright and beautiful...

Archdruid: So light up the fire.

All: And let the meat burn.

Hnaef: Go in meat.

All: We'll get the beer in.

Monday, 16 April 2018

APCM Survival Kit

All round the Church of England, the season for Annual Parochial Church Meetings is upon us. My good friend Revd Nathan has five in five days. And the big question is: how can anyone, cleric or laity, survive?

Obviously it's worse for multi-parish ministers. They, after all, have two, three, fourteen or more. But it can be bad enough if there is just the one or two. And even for the laity it's hard to put up with.

And the nature of the church, the minister and the tradition can have a lot of effect. Some ministers can canter through in ten minutes after the main service. Some ministers build the APCM into the structure of the liturgy, presumably with the choir chanting "Any Other Business" and a solo for the Treasurer's Report.  Some, nuclear winter sets in during the "Thanks for Everyone in the Parish"  part of the vicar's report.

So let's consider some simple survival guides.

  1. Don't volunteer beforehand for anything. If you put your name down on the sideperson's list before the meeting itself, people are gonna think you're the sort of  ambitious go-getter that has always wanted to  stand around on Sunday mornings wondering what your job is. Much better to be pressed into it and smile,  martyr-like,  as you plot whatever world domination  can be achieved from the South Aisle.
  2. If you think it's going to be a long meeting take coffee. If a very long meeting take beer. If there's any kind of building changes proposed take a tent.
  3. On which point. If the vicar insists that the term is "sidesmen" because it's always been that  and it's a non-gendered term, ask him (for it will be "him")  how he managed during  the Little  Ice Age.
  4. Don't let Aggie be Treasurer again. Not after the year of the "Gin Budget".
  5. Announcing the diocese has decided to convert the church building into a Georgian Theme Park is best slipped into "Any Other Business", rather than put on the agenda in advance.
  6. Pet goats do not have voting rights.
  7. Though it's tricky to work out who does. Basically you've got to be on the Electoral Role. And to do that you have to be living in the Parish or worshipping there. And an Anglican. Or another Christian. Though if you're worshipping at the church how come you're not an Anglican? I mean, what are you? A lobster?
  8. The dead rector from the 50s always comes up. Not literally. I mean, he doesn't claw his way out of his grave... Oh, he does in your parish? Well he's still clergy so he can't stand as Churches Together rep. Even if he's got more life in than most of the members.
  9. Even in the unlikely event of a tight election for PCC membership, if you're that desperate you can always stand for Deanery Synod and get on that way. And believe me, when I say desperate...
  10. You've a choice with how to manage reports. Either issue them all beforehand, and ask only for feedback. Or read them out in full and waste an entire afternoon of everyone's  life. Do not do both. Not if you don't want paper airplanes.
  11. Any Other Business should be tabled in advance. And in full. No deviating from the precise words. No sudden bright ideas. Though see above re Edwardian Theme Park.
  12. The Incumbent's report can sound a bit like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. Why not try doing it in the form of interpretive dance?
  13. If there's only two people at the meeting it's no good suggesting Jeb should stand down as Church Warden after his 54th glorious year.
  14. On the other hand if there's over a hundred at the meeting it's best to find out who's in the Clique, who's in the Cabal and who's in the Faction in the advance.
  15. You know in the Psalms when David talks about having to deal with the Lockers? He'd just run the Jerusalem Annual Church Meeting.
  16. You can always get your way at an APCM, though it always takes a year. Just wait for the reading of last year's minutes and say "That's not how I remember it..." Nobody else will be able to remember so they can't argue. For best effect, take out some notes.
  17. The meeting should start with prayers. And end in recrimination.




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.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Not Just a Conjuring Trick

"And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 
They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them." (Luke 24:40-43)
The arguments always rage over the nature of the Resurrection. It's more than 30 years since David Jenkins said that the Resurrection wasn't just a conjuring trick with old bones. And everybody suspected what he really meant was that it wasn't even a conjuring trick with old bones. And everybody still remembers it. But the trouble is, some people insist on believing that Jesus's body was resurrected. And some - the more spiritual - think it's more spiritual.

But the Gospel writers weren't that spiritual, apparently. Three of the Gospel writers go to a lot of trouble to tell us that Jesus, after the Resurrection, was physically all there. John tells us about Jesus on the beach, cooking a fish barbecue. Matthew has the women that found Jesus outside the empty tomb grabbing onto his feet. And here Luke has him eating fish.

To a good Jew, this is really important. Jesus isn't just a ghost, a spirit, a lovely spiritual extract of Resurrection. He's the same physical Jesus that has walked the roads and hills of Galilee and Judea. Who was physically dead on the cross - dead of shock and blood loss and exhaustion. And here he is raised - with holes in his hands and side - living, and speaking, and eating.

And if it's really important to Matthew and Luke and John, then it's important to us as well. We are not made up of a spiritual and a bodily side, with one just the vehicle for the other. We are whole beings - spirit and body.

The Portugese have a great range of foods, I always think. Being a vegan in Portugal would be no fun. They just seem to eat fish and meat, and eggs. And their egg cookery is great. Their most famous dish was on the Great British Bake Off the other week - Pastéis de Nata, an egg custard tart. They had a lot of yolks to use, you see. The Portuguese are still more religious than the English, but once upon a time they were far more so than now. They had lots of nuns, and therefore they had lots of whimples. And whimples needed lots of starch - which they produced from egg white. With the result that they had lots of yolks left over - because to produce lots of egg white they needed lots of chickens. And so they specialised in cooking with yolks. The Portuguese production of eggs perfectly combined the spiritual with the body - the yolks looked after the body, and the whites looked after the spirit!

The English, of course, don't have great egg-custard tarts. We have the hymn-writing of George Herbert. One of  his more famous hymns has the remarkable line:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
         Makes that and th' action fine. 
And yes, it does tempt you to make jokes about "sweep the floor for Jesus". Well, it does me, at any rate. But the point Herbert is making is that you can't separate the spiritual and the physical. The beauty and terror of the world in which we live is shot through with the beauty and terror of God. The pains we suffer in our bodies matter to God - because our names are written in the points of nails in God's hands.

Christian religion has never been great when it's raised the spiritual above the physical. If it floats around, regarding God and ignoring the world, then it's not much use to anyone. But when we focus on the crucified, physically alive God - then we can remember our own neighbours, not just to wish them well, but physically to attend to their needs. To open up a church as a night shelter, to gather food for those that need it - these are spiritual acts just as much as physical ones. St James tells us how these things go together:
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
The combining of spirit and body builds us up as human beings as a body. So take marriage as a metaphor - in a wedding, two will be united as one. Spiritually they learn to dependent upon and support each other, and physically they are one. Humans aren't divided up - we're whole. This is an image of how we are - as human individuals, and as society. As spirit and body, we're one. As wives and husband, one. As the Church - we're one. When we see suffering across the world and people in need, we know those that suffer are one with us - made of the same flesh, bearing near-identical DNA, loving and caring and fearing and suffering like us.

Jesus, raised from the dead - not just spiritually but physically - is a promise to us all. It tells us our whole selves will be one with God. It tells us that God cares about our physical state as well as our spiritual one. It promises us a greater life in the future than one we can even imagine. The Bible describes a future world as one that is full of life, and sounds, and smell. Where there is a river running through the New Jerusalem. Where the Tree of Life has leaves that are for the healing of the nations. Where there's a feast to eat and wine to drink and we are wholly, thoroughly, fully, forever alive with God.

And it starts with just that one man. Raised to full life. Raised body and spirit. Totally human, and yet totally God. And totally alive forever.



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.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Worship in the Swedish Lutheran Style

I have to say, I quite enjoyed our Swedish Lutheran Worship today.

In keeping with the tradition, only 2% of the Beaker Folk attended.

Which was me.

But I got to charge everybody else for the privilege. No arguments, no stress, no tricky pastoral situations afterwards. Just a nice plain worship environment, me and God. And even God was optional.

I reckon I could learn to live with this.



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.