Thursday, March 31, 2005

Do I really want to go to the stake for these???

One of those ghastly editorial lapses has just occurred, around an article I wrote for the parish mag. I wanted to provoke discussion about the prevalent attitude to children of some in our congregation (who would love to think they had alot of children about the place, as long as "the place" is comfortably distant from where "real" worship is carried out...Junior Church over the road in the parish centre is pretty ideal ;-)).
I tend to be a fairly tactful soul, and I'm all too aware that there are rather alot of major battles ahead if this church is to survive, let alone move and grow, so I had prefaced the commandments below with a few lines making it very clear that these were not necessarily my own essential views, and inviting discussion. The only trouble is that the magazine editors had seen fit to omit this softening-up intro. I guess I would be happy to defend most of the commandments, which is just as well as it happens, since what actually appeared is as follows......

Ten Commandments for Churchgoing Adults.

1) You shall love your children. Your children are part of the Church of
to-day : they are not to be kept in cold storage for the Church of tomorrow. They have not been sent by the devil to distract you, but by God to enrich you.

2) You shall always remember that the friendship of children is as important for your own spiritual development as it is for the children’s well-being.

3) You shall encourage your children to worship with your congregation and value their presence in these gatherings. You shall be open to the possibility that God can speak to you through their smiles, their questions, their wriggling, and their responses.

4) You shall extend to your children a warm, personal and appropriate welcome when they come to worship.

5) You shall allow children to participate in the leadership of worship as frequently as practicable. However, you shall not make an undue fuss over their participation, nor exalt their contribution over that of other age-groups.

6) You shall not allow your children regularly to run riot in worship. However you shall not leave the responsibility of quietening the children to their parent(s) alone. All members of the congregation will, by word deed and spirit, encourage in the children a calm and reverent frame of mind and quiet and appropriate movements.

7) You will make much of the festivals of the Christian year and other special occasions, and will enable your children to contribute to them.

8) You shall not expect your children to be more enthusiastic about the worship in your church than you are yourself. Nor shall you deceive your children by pretending that you listen to every word! Rather, you shall encourage the children to tune in as much as they can and refrain from making them feel guilty when for a while they tune out. They are doing what we all do.

9) You shall not place undue emphasis on peer groupings and the nuclear family within the life of your congregation. Rather, you shall teach your children to think of their congregation as the extended family of Jesus. You shall encourage friendships between different age-groups.

10) You shall countenance neither organisation nor attitude which makes it difficult for children to worship regularly with their congregation.

Kathryn Fleming

Methinks it may be time to man the barricades. In the meantime, what do bloggers think about the commandments (aside from the fact that I would never ever ever presume to be so dictatorial as the magazine suggests!)? It's supposed to be a discussion, see?!

Monday, March 28, 2005


Apologies for the earlier downbeat entry…
Readers may be relieved to hear that Christ IS risen, even in Charlton Kings:-)
All the Easter Sunday services were excellent. Even the 8.00 saw over 50 communicants, who responded surprisingly well to the unexpected “word” from the vicar, and the novelty of being given an Easter egg as they departed. 10.00 was St M’s at its best…pomp and circumstance, yes, but with a packed church filled with joyful singing, it felt OK to be processing about the place in a cope once more. The choir were on top form: Michael and I exchanged glances as we were “un-coped” in the vestry during the Introit (Wood This Joyful Eastertide) and agreed that the words now felt true. What a blessing!
For the first time since I’ve been there, there were so many communicants that M had to re-consecrate…they kept coming, wave on wave, to both altars and administering the Sacrament was pure joy.
The informal Family Service afterwards was just a ball…even though they had had to wait outside for about 10 mins, as there were so many at the 10.00 they took ages to clear…Everyone was very good humoured, and a most un St Mary's atmosphere of relaxed chaos predominated. Another good sized gathering (about 60 all told) joined in with the actions in a responsive Gospel reading…stuck paper flowers on to the cross we’d used in the prayer trail and during Holy Week…showing God at work bringing new life where most needed. Then the children illustrated this beautifully for the benefit of a battered curate. We had given out the percussion instruments promising that we would need to make a lot of noise later on, and in the final hymn they did just that AND danced too.
Risen indeed!
Preached at Evensong, which went well too…and the choir spoiled us with Wesley Blessed be the God and Father
A day of huge contrasts in worship, but characterised by a deep and genuine joy. Perhaps all really shall be well. Even in Charlton Kings!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Wiped out but worth it!

The last 24 hours have featured more church than at almost any period in my life before, I think...Yesterday morning began as always with Morning Prayer...both vicar and curate feeling a bit delicate after the recent alarms and excursions , so this was precious and healing. Then on to the Cathedral for my first experience of the Chrism service, renewing vows that I made only 9 months ago in that very place. It felt strange but rather wonderful to be there with the same group and to see the 3 jugs of oil brought in, knowing that the third caraffe, for the oil of chrism, would be used at our priesting. Certainly made my heart lurch a bit...
Hopeful Amphibian was part of the phalanx of priests renewing their vows, and has a rather different perspective on it, but though I do see his point, it was rather lovely to feel a part of such a positive expression of church, after a bruising week. Catching up with friends over lunch in the sunny cloister wasn't 'alf bad, either....then home for my own programme of furniture removal (those dreaded wavy chairs) and the dotting of i's for the evening's sermon (thanks to Dylan for launching me...) Left home at 5.00 pm....and returned at 4.00pm today...having had wonderful Maundy Service, with first ever foot washing here. Another first was for the final psalm, during which the altars are stripped, to be sung....there had been murmurs from the old guard again, but the senstive singing of the choir in the gathering darkness will probably be my strongest memory of the evening.
I then spent the night in the Parish Centre with the Youth Group, who plug any gaps in the all- night Watch and were also doing a sponsored Psalmathon to Send a Goat to Africa. They were a joy to be with...I did get some sleep around 4.00, but whenever anyone else came in to crash, there was this gentle murmur of psalmody from the stairs (the only spare space, once hall was taken up with silent football tournament, while other rooms were stuffed with kids doing creative things for my Easter service) and a very loud cheer at 4.50 when ps 150 was completed by all who were still awake. Leading prayers with them for the end of the Watch was awe-inspiring...when each of them had spent time on duty in the chapel, they had left a votive light behind them, and walking into that space, made bright by their presence twice over was in itself a good reason for having stayed up all night. Pretty good to spend some time in the silence with God too.
Busy busy Good Friday. Eucharist 9.15 from the reserved Sacrament (and I only got one thing wrong in clearing the chapel and sorted it out without panic...which feels like a real achievement, under the eagle eye of our Sacristan) Ecumenical Walk of Witness 10.30...for which my family were deputed to provide music when the Community Players
presented the Seven Last Words in the shopping precinct. This was a really positive experience, perhaps to counter the effects of the Palm Sunday procession, and it was good that my kids were both willing and able to be involved, as I think they've rather missed being the essential parts of the church community that they were in Great Rissington. G played his flute for some Taize chants, which was a real treat...he's not taken it out onto the streets since we moved here (used to play lots for village carol singing etc).
The Walk wound its way through much of Charlton Kings, with a good sized crowd which was genuinely representative of all 5 churches.I loved the way larger children gave the smaller ones piggy backs, just for fun, and the skill of one Guide Dog and one Hearing Dog who took their owners safely from start to finish. We felt like a community...young, old, healthy, broken, happy, sad...but TOGETHER..and finally we were in real country...walking behind the cross up a farm track to plant it in a field with a wonderful view over the whole of Cheltenham. We stood there to sing "When I survey" and it was a definite "YES" moment.
I left L talking to the Youth Worker from the Baptist Church about Gap Years in Africa and maybe, just maybe, about the possibility of considering (maybe) Youth Work after uni...and cycled at top speed back to church for the 3 hours led by Alan Luff, who proved to be as good a preacher as he is musician.
Finally, I sat in the church and listened as a muffled bell rang 33 times, then picked up my prayer stool and headed home.
Hard to believe, after so much packed into just over 24 hours, that we are only beginning the Triduum. If I survive, I'll report more later...if not, well, I'm hugely happy with my lot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Feeling silly

L and I found this site yesterday and are utterly beguiled by the sheer impracticality of hand painted wellingtons. Do go and look...they are very beautiful, and totally mad. I think I want, I'm sure of it!

Donkeys, human and otherwise

On a displacement trawl through blogs near and far, I found that Lutheran Chik had enjoyed a sermon on our affinity with the donkey on the first Palm Sunday…there just because “The Lord has need of him”.
This brought to mind a story I’d loved when reading it to my children about 10 years ago, The Donkey’s Tale by Margaret Gray. A quick hunt on Google produced the joyous discovery that, though the book itself is out of print, the whole thing, complete with pictures, can be found here.

I was so happy to find it. Now I'm wondering if you have to be old friends with it not to see it as twee or doubt someone will tell me! For me, though, in a week when it’s too easy for clergy to feel themselves essential to the smooth running of Easter, it was definitely helpful reading. See what you think? and then remember to laugh at yourself :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I think I need a whinge....

Having taken maggi's advice and visited Brodie's blog I was interested by his thoughts on "what a blog's for" which includes a reference to blogs as places of vulnerability.
So.......OK...this is the curate being vulnerable.
I am finding it next to impossible to focus on the unfolding drama of Holy Week, because I have an unfolding domestic drama of my very own, involving my daughter, UCAS and assorted universities.
L applied to read English at Cambridge, and 5 other universities; her teachers had (possibly generously, but who's to say at this point?) predicted A grades all round, and earlier exam results suggested this was a real possibility. Her personal statement read well...She is someone with wide-ranging interests, who pursues them with passion, and has gathered assorted evidence of this along the way through her teens. She writes well, so it was an interesting read, I truly believe. She is not, though, the world's most self-confident young woman, so I was not unduly surprised that she was not offered a Cambridge place...there is no way she will have given of her best at interview. However, what has really removed the ground from beneath our feet is the fact that 3 other universities also rejected her...leaving her with offers from Aberystwyth and Lampeter. The situation is now further compounded by the Head of English announcing that neither of the courses at these universities is challenging enough for her & that he only allowed her to put them down at all because it simply didn't occurr to him that she might need to take up offers from them.
So, here we are, with only a couple of weeks in which to make the decision, suddenly cast back into the mires of uncertainty. Does she hope for great things through Clearing (not perhaps the wisest move in a year when there are so many too many students for the places available:Bristol had c3000 applicants for 91 places on its English course)?
Do we swallow hard, try to ignore the horrors of "variable top-ups" and opt for a Gap Year (as she had originally planned, before said top-ups were invented) though it is rather late to arrange one, and she will certainly not be able to take up the teaching post in Uganda she had originally arranged?
Do we ignore the advice of the Head of English and say "thank you kindly" to Aberystwyth, whose students speak fondly of it....?
I simply don't know what to do for the best...
Have asked God for sky-writing, but thus far it seems conspicuous by its absence, and while we deliberate, fret and worry, L is busy seeing herself as "the one nobody wants" and her fragile self-esteem is more bruised and battered than ever.
I'm probably not helping her by posting thus, but vulnerability and community both seem to suggest that I should. Prayers very welcome.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Hands...a reflection for Holy Week.

The vicar asked me to find something to read at the end of our service of Readings and Music for Passiontide, and this is what I chose. I don't know where it came from...Someone photocopied it for me a long time ago, and I've hung onto it.
Last night, in a silent church, it was very very real.

Do I see your hands
Master Carpenter of Nazareth
Play upon that wood,
Feel the grain,
Test the joints,
Admiring finish and design?

Here are hands
Strong from the bench,
From saw and plane,
Chisel, mallet;
Artists in wood.

These hands held a child in blessing
Gave back to grieving parents
A daughter from the dead;
Caressed unseeing eyes in gentle love
Till Bartimaeus saw again.

These hands touched lepers;
Traced figures in the sand
While the adulterer’s accusers
Slunk sullenly from sight;
Broke five small loaves
And made a feast
Five thousand places set!


These hands,
Christ’s hands,
His hands:
Break bread,
Pour wine;
Reach up in anguished prayer
To take the Cup that is his Father’s will.

And in the flickering light
Do these hands hold Judas
In a final grasp of love
Before the fatal kiss?

Look at these hands, still quick to heal –
Red raw, rough wrapped by rope.
“Security” they say.
The Prince of Peace, secure!


upon a cross.

No playing now upon this wood
No feeling of the grain
In silent admiration –

But searing agony.

This is the work you came to do
Lord Christ
Through wood and nails.
Hands held wide in love.
Jesus, my hands need washing.


Praying hands?
Too often idle.

Generous hands?
Too often grasping.

Useful hands?
Busy with the world’s work, not yours.

Take my hands
Into the hands still scarred
By nails
I drove
At Calvary,

And teach them
Like yours
To love.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Desert Planet

I'm certain that everyone who visits will also be regulars at jonny's blog, but just in case you weren't going there today, please do. He's posted a wonderful meditation by Sue Wallace of Visions here
which struck so many chords with me, I'm resonating away like a harpsichord on holiday. I'd not thought of our desperate rearrangement of the deckchairs on the Titanic as a "stones into bread" quick- fix, but it does make disturbing sense.. Go read...

Charlton Kings goes alternative???

Just back from church, where I sadly demolished “Into the Wilderness”. Actually, I wasn’t so much sad as deeply, deeply thankful at what happened in the course of 5 days.
I’d been so worried that nobody would actually come, but when I rescued the pebbles from the font there were 28 there, which feels pretty stunning for a first attempt on anything outside the standard liturgical box here.
There have been a lot of things to treasure this week. On Wednesday, when I went in to lock up just before the Annual Parish Meeting, I found a group of 4 teenage girls, none of whom were known to the church, quietly working their way round the stations. The thought of their presence kept me going through the inevitably fraught proceedings that followed in the parish hall.
Yesterday, I came in to say the Office and found the (very traditional) Sacristan sharing some bread in the “Holy Space” with the (even more traditional) Verger…
This morning, a friend dropped in to tell me that her husband, who is known for his preference for the safely conservative, had told her that she ought to go along because “It makes it look like a church where things happen”. Rather startlingly, there was approval in his voice at the time!
Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that this IS a church where things happen…but maybe God's working more beneath the surface than we tend to recognise. Thank you, those who prayed for the week.

Superstar revisited

It's that time of year, I guess. Maggi had also attended a production of Jesus Christ Superstar (as the guest of another menacing High Priest) and has blogged about it here, while Dave of The Grace Pages also has something to say.... Last night was the final performance of the school show, and I volunteered to help with the bar to get another chance to experience it. This time it was even more powerful. Apparently the guy playing Jesus (remember the whole cast is aged 15-18) was so engaged by it that he wouldn't go to the greenroom in the interval, but chose to remain quiet backstage. Luci was asked by one or two at the pub afterwards how she'd found it from a Christian perspective, and there was some surprise when she said that her mum the curate had thought the whole thing was great...
I'm wondering what is going on here. Is the assumption that anyone involved in "church" will be uncomfortable with the human Jesus? That our raision d'etre is to keep God safely in the boxes we've built for him? How did we get to that place, when our task as ministers is surely to facilitate encounters between people and God? The total silence that accompanied Jesus' death on the cross was of the same order of concentration that is occasionally reached during the Eucharist, and I didn't feel as if I was the only person there consciously praying into it. Not sure that consciousness is an essential part of the deal in any case. God reaches out and touches people when they don't even think they are looking for him....and uses whatever is at hand.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"the greatest of these is worship."

It may not have escaped the notice of astute readers that, with all my reading of "Repitching the Tent" and excursions to study "Creating Uncommon Worship", I'm in the business of looking long and hard at the way we do things here...Just before I arrived, the parish had undertaken an audit called "The Way Ahead" and much of our time and energy is currently taken up with translating the hopes, fears and longings that emerged from this into some sort of workable picture of the church in this place, that may carry us through the next few years and even help us to engage with the vast mass of unchurched around us.
Currently, I would say that our worship is rather angst-ridden, with a huge concern that we should "get things right", which too often intrudes and prevents us from connecting with God. So, it did me huge good to read this post from someone who is exploring the same sorts of concerns in a rather different context, on the other side of the pond. He quotes Tom Wright's adaptation of 1 Cor 13, where "love" becomes "worship"..and the results of this substitution definitely bear consideration.
" So now our tasks are worship, mission, and management, these three; but the greatest of these is worship"
Go read the passage in full: it really is worth it....

Ho- sanna, hey- sanna

Just back from the first night of the production of Jesus Christ Superstar for which my beloved son sacrificed his hair...and I have to say it was worth the sacrifice. There was something incredibly powerful about watching teenagers live through the agonies of the Passion, and my suspicion is that 90% of the cast had forgotten they were acting long before we reached Gethsemane.
It was stunning...even without the emotions of a mum realising that this is her daughter's last ever school play. Inevitably the rest of the run is a sell out,which is rather a shame as I'd love to go back for another dose later on...can't think of anything better to help me focus on the Holy Week ahead.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Don't judge a boy by his cover...

Came home from Woolacombe to a strangely unfamiliar middle child. Giles, whose last hair cut was sometime before Greenbelt 2003, has had all his hair shaved off to enable him to act a more convincing Annas in the school's production of Jesus Christ Superstar this week.
The child was born with lots of hair...I've never ever seen his scalp before, and it looks disconcertingly as if he has had a rough time with chemo. Not quite sure why this is so disturbing,given that I know the real explanation, though I had a similar feeling the first time the kids borrowed Caroline's electric wheelchair...
But we are all wondering how the new look will impact on the rest of the world. G has threatened to become a Mail reading, Union Jack brandishing antithesis of himself for the duration, since he imagines that this is how he will be generally regarded. I must admit, I'm uncertain how the congregation will cope when he puts in one of his rare appearances in church on Easter Sunday. His protective covering, (egg cosy to the rest of us) will clearly not be whatever else, he'll be jolly chilly.
And all for his Art!

And another good thing...

For some months, I've been trying to get hold of a copy of Mass Culture
Given the distinctly catholic ethos of this parish, it seemed only sensible, .but repeated forays onto Amazon and elsewhere suggested that I was unlikely to find a copy at a price I was willing to pay. It may be a great read, but over £60 for a paperback feels a little excessive.
So, imagine my joy when I spied one solitary copy sitting innocently amid the resources jonny had brought with him for the w'end...I fell upon it with cries of delight, and for a mere £5 it is mine. Mine, I tell you....My preciousssssss.
What's more, it seems to be a remarkably good investment, in terms of talking sense into my current context. One happy Kathryn heading upstairs to read now.

That lovely weekend....

more than lived up to expectations. Escaping from home and parish was such a tonic, and jonny's input was everything I'd hoped for, and helped me to reflect on some important issues, specially in his use of the lectio divina in the Eucharist.
I'd rather failed to notice my struggle to worship when leading worship until it was, blissfully, taken away completely as jonny gave us the opportunity to simply engage with God exactly where we were...
One friend pointed out that in their recent interregnum some clergy had come to lead worship for them, while others had come to worship with them....something to ponder and attend to in the weeks and months ahead.

Lots of excellent material; very interesting seeing how others who'd not experienced alt. worship before related to it, were enthused, and looked for ways to connect it with their local contexts. I think even those who were most defensive ("alternative worship is for alternative people" said one woman rather tartly over supper on the first evening) found things they could appreciate and take away to work with....certainly I came home wishing I had time to rejig "Into the Wilderness" but rather happy that, even in its unimproved form, it will be available for the people here...we so need new ways to encounter God.
Lots of fantastic was the sort of hotel I can't imagine ever staying in in any other context, and made us all feel thoroughly pampered
Lots of lovely empty sand just crying out to be written on (so of course, I had to oblige) and huge vistas of sea and sky...the sheer generosity of the landscape paralleled what was going on for me on so many fronts.
Lots to be thankful for :-)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Let Joy be unconfined (yes, really)

This is just a post to make sure that the blogosphere is suitably envious :-)

Those nice people who sort CME for Gloucester have arranged for us curates to spend the w'end at a seaside hotel learning about alt. worship with jonny baker.

Yes, I know. I can't believe my good fortune either...but jonny's blog clearly says that this is happening, so it really must be true.
Wildly hyped up at fourfold prospect of exciting input, time with some very special friends, brief escape from the chaos of the curate's house AND seeing the sea as well. I don't need to leave till after lunch, but I think I'd better go and pack now. Then I can sit on the edge of my seat and count the minutes :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Encouragement to beleaguered liberals...

Our highest truths are but half truths;
Think not to settle down forever in any truth
Make use of it as a tent in which to spend a summer's night,
But build no house of it, or it will be your tomb.
When first you have an inkling of its insufficiency
and begin to descry a dim counterf-truth looming up beyond,
then weep not but give thanks;
It is the Lord's voice whispering
"Take up thy bed and walk"

It's far from great poetry (Arthur James, 1st Earl of Balfour....hmmmnnn....not someone I spent alot of time with during my Eng Lit days) but I do love the images of provisionality....and it helps to support my deeply held conviction that it's always best, as Oliver Cromwell so eloquently put it, to "Consider, in the bowels of Christ, that you may be wrong"

So there, Ruth Gledhill :-)

Oh dear...

Finally found time to read Saturday's Times yesterday, and now rather wish I hadn't. Ruth Gledhill reported on survey of 20,000 church-goers and church leavers, " an idictment of modern preaching and worship, illustrating how how excessive liberalism and lack of conviction are driving worshippers from the pews".
No surprises, maybe, but I was still saddened to read it all in black and white...
"Because people believe that God will continue to love them no matter what they do,
[kf...can't argue with that]
...... they no longer see any need to go to church to confess their sins or seek guidance on how to changer their lives"
Hang on, are we only supposed to go because we are fearful of the consequences if we don't?...have I been missing something? What about that hymn "My God, I love thee, not because I hope for heaven thereby".That's surely one of the old familiars whose disappearance the report condemns by implication (there is a fair amount of complaint about dumbing down in family/all age worship...). Isn't there something rather important about our need and desire to respond to Love with love,- which brings us to worship? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear....
There's a sad little graph showing the rapid decline of church attendance; that shouldn't worry us that much ( I don't care a jot where people encounter God as long as they do, and are changed by the experience) , perhaps, if only there was more understanding of why we might want to attend anyway. Oh, go and read it, please...I need some thoughtful responses to it.

Wisdom from the Bruderhof

Apologies to those who already get the Daily Dig but today's offering is so fantastic I don't think it will do anyone any harm to read it more than once....

Fruitfulness by Henri J. M. Nouwen
We are called to be fruitful, - not successful, not productive, not accomplished. Success comes from strength, stress and human effort. Fruitfulness comes from vulnerability and the admission of our own weakness.

Read more here

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Are you ready?

In recent rounds of the Interview Game, maggi has been asking fellow bloggers Rhys and Mark (both of whom seem unimaginably grown up in ministry to me, as I'm not yet one year old ;-) ) whether they feel that selection and training for ordained ministry works well (read their answers here and here ). They both travelled the more traditional route of a 2 year full-time residential course whereas I, with exam-ridden older children and a self-employed husband not keen to relocate his business , opted for three year's part-time here in Gloucestershire. For the most part I loved it. Academic study was sheer bliss after too long a holiday to rear the children. I relished the the fact that we were perhaps a more eclectic bunch than I might have encountered if I'd opted for a college to match my own churchmanship. The disjunction we experienced through only being together one night a week, plus assorted residential weekends and Easter schools each year was mitigated by many a midnight email, and I'm confident that I have soul-mates for life among those I trained with.
However, at times I felt very frustrated that time constraints meant that I could only read for a specific essay title, with no chance to explore other roads along the way. I was still trying to earn a living and do the essential mothering bits, so despite my best efforts at juggling, there simply wasn't time for more than a minimum,- and I was more and more excited by theology as the course progressed. As someone who depends on deadlines to get anything done at all, I was always trying to read that "one more book that would make all the difference"....and always aware of those other volumes that remained sadly on the shelf. Nothing was ever quite finished to my satisfaction, despite the extremely positive responses of my tutors. I always wanted a chance to do more, do better.
Now, 8 months into full time ministry, I'm so aware of all that I don't know, all that I've failed to read, all the areas there simply wasn't time to touch....but I'm also aware that the sense that there's so much more I could do was perhaps the best preparation of all. At the end of the day, nothing will ever feel quite enough. This extraordinary calling is one without boundaries, where it will rarely be possible to say "that's done and dusted", or "I've done my stint". Fortunately, it's not down to me to finish the job.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Into the Wilderness....reprise

An interactive Prayer Trail for Lent and Passiontide

St Mary's, Charlton Kings
Thursday 17th March
7.00-9.00 with music and candlelight

or follow the trail any time from noon Monday
to 6.30 Friday, except at regular service times

Go at your own pace; you might want to allow
up to an hour to make the best use of the resources


npower, God bless them, are offering green electricity at no extra cost at the click of a mouse.
It's called juice and the Good in Parts household has just this minute signed up. I'm probably aeons behind the rest of you, but am hugely cheered that something so worthwhile is so amazingly straightforward to achieve. Large cheer for npower, unless somebody tells me otherwise.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

It made me smile...

Just back from an Assembly at the junior school. It began with about a dozen earnest small girls playing 2 recorder pieces, "Be groovy" and "Be really groovy" . Each piece had jolly rag-time piano accompaniment, which was possibly just as well, as the recorder part consisted of endless variations've guessed...the note "B".
The mismatch between the aplomb of their performance and the notes themselves was simply breathtaking and, fittingly, brought the house down.
In case you're interested, the assembly was for World Book day, and I left the children queuing to explore a huge Victorian family Bible I rescued from a skip when working at Mowbrays a long long time ago.

The interrogation continues....

More questions...this time for Dave, Dylan and Giles. Some of them are duplicates, partly because I ought to be writing my talk for Women's World Day of Prayer tomorrow, and partly because I really like hearing the answers...sorry if you feel I'm being uninventive.

1) What do you most enjoy about your work at the moment?

2) Tell us about one thing you hope to achieve before the end of the year (apart from clearing your desk)

3) Given unlimited funds, how would you choose to celebrate your next birthday.

4) If planted in a new city tomorrow, what would your criteria be for choosing a church?

5) What gives you hope for the Church, if anything!

1) Tell us about your favourite poem. What is it and why is it special for you?

2) You have the chance to interview ANYONE in the world, living or dead, for an in-depth feature. Who do you choose and why?

3) Tell us about one thing that really made you smile this week.

4) You've suddenly found a gap in your diary, an unexpected day to yourself. How do you spend it?

5) What is your favourite part of worship? (I know this isnt an original question, but I really enjoyed answering it myself for reverend mommy)

And finally, Giles
(let me tell you, it feels seriously weird setting out to interview your own son :-) )

1) What book do you think has had most impact on your life so far?

2) You have the chance to introduce one new law to the UK statutes. What is it?

3) What would YOU rescue if the house went up in flames? (assuming you could find it in the chaos of your bedroom....oh no, hang on, sorry, that's your sister!)

4) What makes it hard for you to find God in church? (Is that an unfair question?....if it is, then tell us where you find Him most easily)

5) I'm planning a special meal for your next birthday. Who would you like me to invite, assuming that anyone asked would be bound to come.

There we are, folks...I'm now putting away my clipboard and returning to the construction of a creative 10 minutes on "Light for the world", thanks to the women of Poland. Must, must, must stay away from blogdom till it's done.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A bit of nonsense part 2

Wow....I'd not expected to have all 5 places "filled" by bedtime, and will take a minute or two to think of half decent questions for all of you.
Here are the starter questions, first for John

1. Who is the person in your life who has most influenced you, and why?

2. Tell us about one thing in the past week that has really made you smile.

3. What one luxury would you take to your desert island?

4. What makes you happy about your local church,( if anything)?

5. You have a dream ticket to anywhere in the world...where do you choose to go?

Now Liz (being gentle, of course ;-) )

1. Tell us your favourite old film for a wet Sunday afternoon.

2. If you were not involved in your present career, what would you choose to do with your time? (aside from the inevitable "voluntary"full-time committment to a certain Festival of our acquaintance)

3. Your house is on fire. What one thing do you save, and why?

4. If you could spend a day with one person from the past, who would it be and why?

5. What makes you believe in God, on a good day?

And Sally
1. What CD are you currently playing most regularly, and why?

2. If not an engine driver, what did you want to be when you grew up?

3. What things in life make you really want to get up in the morning?

4. Tell us about a time when God felt specially close to you.

5. What book has had most impact on your life?

Hope you can all cope with's surprisingly difficult to come up with things that are interesting but not intrusive. Clearly, if any of these feel wrong for you, there's no obligation!
Will try to come up with suitable interrogations for Dave and Giles tomorrow. Bedtime now...

A bit of nonsense

Blogfriend the reverend mommy offered an interview game to her readers a few days ago, and, in a burst of sermon evasion I asked to play. She has posted 5 questions for me to answer here on my blog, and the idea is that if anyone else wants to play they post "interview me" in the comments here, and I dream up 5 questions for the first 5 responders in turn. They agree to continue the process by answering on their blogs...and so it goes on, and on, and on.
Here are my questions and answers. What's that? You have a pressing engagement with some drying paint?? So be it....

1. Why only good in parts? What parts?
"Good in parts" because I started blogging just after I became a curate,- and the main thing that many people seem to know about curates over here is the sad tale of the curate's egg. A rather nervous young cleric, anxious to offend nobody, found himself confronted by a less than fresh egg for breakfast while he was an overnight guest. He managed to force it down, and when his hostess enquired how he'd found the egg he replied diplomatically that it was "Good in parts..."
Also, even when I began blogging on the crest of a newly-ordained wave, I realised that this mad job was unlikely to be unadulterated joy from dawn to dusk. "Good in parts" reflects the reality of peaks and troughs. As to which parts are good...they are too numerous to post, but reading the blog might give you a few clues here and there.

2. What is your favourite part of worship? I think that depends on the needs I bring with me when I come into God's presence, but to distribute/receive Communion is always so very precious. To find myself involved with others in intimate encounter with God, week by week,- it's mind-blowing.

3. What is the hard part for you about being a woman in ministry? Not the work/family balance, as I might have expected....but rather the realisation that when I am ordained priest this summer I will by my very presence force some dear and lovely people to leave a church where they have been at home and happy for many many years. This isn't because they can't stand me, not because I preach things they don't want to hear, but because of something I have no control over i.e., I am a woman. Believe me, the knowledge that I am de-churching anyone hurts so much.

4. Tell us about your kids, in general or specific. It's a rash friend who invites a mum to blah about her children....I hope you're sitting comfortably :-)
My kids...make me sing for joy. Lucinda (18) is a poet and dreamer, a singer and musician, and is probably the person who understands me best on the planet. On the verge of flying the nest for university, to read English...I can't imagine how life will be without a girlfriend to giggle with and watch weak films on lazy afternoons (though it does seem a while since lazy afternoons were part of the programme anyway)
Giles (15) reads this blog, so I won't embarrass him by saying too much. At the moment he resembles a walking haystack (though I'm sure I'll miss the hair when its all shaved off in a couple of weeks, so he can be a high priest in Jesus Christ Superstar) but he still makes me so happy. He's the one with whom I can discuss big ideas late at night, the one who challenges me when I try to get away with sloppy thinking (his brain is scary....just as well that he's cuddly himself ;-) ) but he also has a mad mad sense of humour and can usually make me laugh, even on wet Wednesdays..
Jack (12) is still working out quite who he is. For the moment, he's warm hearted, loud and enthusiastic, grabbing opportunities by the scruff of the neck, a natural joiner (since we arrived here last summer, he has become chorister, server, youth group member and scout...every single group that he can belong to in our church!) Very much the baby at home, he's sensible and considerate beyond his years at school. As the child least like his mother, he's also the greatest challenge to parent....but full of (mostly) delightful surprises.

5. Dogs or cats? Both, please. We currently have 2 terriers (Mufti and Dillon) and 3 cats (Teddy, a 3 legged ginger, and Chloe and Tallis, mother and son, both black) . There has only been a 3 year period in my life when I've had neither, and that was not a happy phase. I guess only inner-city ministry might force me to consider a change of approach,- but I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.