Monday, October 31, 2005

The Return and the Ministry of Victor

Its funny you have a break and 5 minutes being back you are ready for another.

Kate and I walked to church having been away and we had heard enough to know that there were issues. Ulimatiums, tantrums, projects had collapsed, people were giving up. All in all a tense atmosphere - I was glad that we weren't leading the service. The congregation was ministered to in many different ways no more so than by Victor.

Victor is worth reading up about ( Victor - GBH and living in a soap opera; Victor and his talking flute). If you haven't enough time, it is enough to know that Victor is 'interesting'. If you haven't enough time it is enough to know that Victor is waiting for his court case for GBH. If you haven't enough time it is enough to know that Victor was hounded out of his flat because he is ... well ... interesting!

The last time I sat next to Victor in worship as we sang our last song together he checked to see if anyone was looking then went into his jacket, pulled out a mock Chinese vase and presented it to me on the quiet. 'Thanks Victor'. No one has ever given me a mock Chinese vase before 'in' or 'out' of worship! Now, our 'guest' leader asked for a time of simple prayer. I heard Victor's intake of breathe.... I waited .... with one eye open! .... "We thank you for Jesus, we thank you for our church ... we pray that you will protect it from those that wish it harm" (there or there abouts).

I looked at Victor and his face was one of peace - Victor's moment of clarity ministered to me. Again there is something in being ministered to by the unlikely.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

139 Today!!

Incidently our church was 139 today which probably to my Anglican friends makes us a 'whipper snapper' - but to The Salvation Army - it makes us the oldest in the world!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

My Ancient/Modern view...

I love where I live but it is good to get away. We try and take a meaningful break every half-term. So I'll be trading this view from our front door for a week.

(I struggled to upload the picture but I leave the code incase it is a temporary blogger glick - If it remains a little box with a cross in it please be assured that that isn't actually the view from my front door - use your imagination and think of the oldest remaining building in the East End - St Matthias Church dwarfed and shadowed by the 50 storey Canary Wharf Tower)

5th sentence of my 25th blog...

"The price is commit apostasy and join the fold of Christianity…"

to make sense of that you will have to read the whole quote from "Graceless Mission – what price to pay?" found here

Carl tagged me. Quite interesting to plough through what was written nearly 2 years ago! I tag anyone who wants to give it a go!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Two pictures...

Officers Councils/ Retreat? I've learned to take responsibility for my time and go with an agenda. I've still got some Meditations on the pictures of Sieger Koder - so I go expectant. I find space and find myself over the two days alone with Sieger Koder's pictures. I come away challenged.

The first the unfamilar 'Insight'. The walls dominate but it is the walls that can't be seen that speak. The Woman at the well adept at self protection but at what cost? Associated prose delves deep questioning...
"Over the years we build the walls of self protection,
blocking out light and truth..."
Self protection - not part of me or is it? My mind wanders in the various sessions at Swanwick. Background noise to my thoughts as I wonder. I think of conversations and there is a niggle within.

The second familar 'Real Me!' almost laughably obvious. The clown image, the mask, the title ... oh please? I give a cursory glance over the image then I see something that I have never seen before in this picture. I see what he is sitting on then I read:
"we gather knowledge, build pedestals with accumulated wisdom hoping to perch up high, safe beyond criticism and self doubt"
That niggle floods back and I realise that I'm guilty. Those protective walls they are there. Now what to do - I'm not sure I am comfortable!! Back to the first picture and I look carefully and find that even within the walls of self-protection Jesus is there. A good friend talks to me about being 'ambushed' by God - I feel ambushed!

Thanks Sieger - you've done it again!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Swanwick 2005

Off here for a couple of days to be inspired and refreshed at what is affectionally known as Officers Councils!

I'll be taking some Sieger Koder.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Love's Praxis

Mother Teresa speaks of love's amazing ways in finding opportunities to serve others. She comments, "Love has a hem to her garment that reaches the very dust. it sweeps the stains from the streets and lanes."

Ringma comments:
"...this is no ordinary love. Love in our contemporary world, while it may serve family and friends, is largely understood as self-serving. And contemporary love is more about comfort than the love of risk-taking and towel-taking so that we may wash the feet of the forgotten ones."
Make sure you don't take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship--a different kind of "sacrifice"--that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets. (Hebrews 13:16 The Message)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

He's back...

"do you know the Lord...?"

I hear the voice and see my 'friend' the 'blanket bombing' American Evangelist (strangely having lost his accent!). Read about him (here).

Good relationships take time, there are several groups that we are getting to know us and there is something authentic about the relationships that are growing. In walks my friend - not knowing anyone, no relationship, no context - sits down and while a local street cleaner eats his breakfast - let's fly.

"No? so what are you going to do if you are run over tonight? What are you going to say to the Lord when you stand naked before him?"

I watch on helpless.

"You don't know... you're not interested.....well my friend I was like you until ..." etc...

The street cleaner, the one he was taking to got up and walked away. I watched on helpless.

Did I mention that we were gradually getting to know this guy? Did I mention we were gradually getting to be trusted by him? Did I mention that we were gradually getting into meaningful conversations with him? Did I mention that I'm not sure we have seen him since? Did I mention the potential collateral damage as our community lounge emptied as people ran for cover, to avoid being his next victim?

A conversation today made me feel guilty for being annoyed at this guy's blanket bombing approach to evangelism. Am I copping out of evangelism? Sarah Dylan at Sarahlaughed helped me.
"I believe that God's love and blessings are so rich that the whole world can't entirely contain them. The great urgency I feel (and believe me, I feel it!) as an evangelist (by which I mean a person called to enflesh Good News in the world such that people experience Good News in the world -- it's a shame that the word 'evangelist' has come in the popular usage to refer to someone who yells at everyone within earshot about Bad News) is to build communities of mercy, love, and justice broad enough to take in the fullest extent possible of God's passion for Creation."
The rest is here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

pictures of reconciliation...

Nothing much stereotypical about it really. Patronising? Offensive? I'm not sure. I wish Anon had been there. (Check the comment slap here).

I wish he'd/ she'd seen the picture of reconciliation that 'Lift Him Up' International represented. I wish he'd/ she'd seen the picture of deep love and respect - to be honest I am sure that not everyone who was there wanted to be there really - but there was an identity that goes beyong tolerance which speaks of a deep love and respect. I wish he'd/ she'd seen the picture of oneness.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

and for Patrick's next trick...

After the beauty of yesterday... the storm.

It hasn't been a good Patrick day. I had to stop half way through my sermon to have a conversation with Patrick to try and stop him talking at the same time. It culminated after the service with him throwing cake at Kate before storming out - me raging in hot pursuit!

:o)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blessing through the unexpected...

Another Story of Patrick...

It had to be a quick call. Our evening of cultural unity 'Lift Him Up' International had come to a close. I'd given a benediction to an evening of beautiful chaotic multicultural worship. Then Patrick chirped up with "Can I sing 'now the day is over...?'".

A lot of eyes were on me. I made my call "You know Patrick I think you can..."

He came to the front, took the mike, and sang.
Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Jesus, give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tend’rest blessing
May mine eyelids close.

Grant to little children
Visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing
On the deep, blue sea.

Comfort those who suffer,
Watching late in pain;
Those who plan some evil
From their sin restrain.

Through the long night watches
May Thine angels spread
Their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed.

When the morning wakens,
Then may I arise
Pure, and fresh, and sinless
In Thy holy eyes.
With clarity, style and timing that is Patrick's he gave us a glimpse of the kingdom. I'm not sure he got all the verses in the right order, he may not of sang them all, some of the words were fuddled - but he blessed us and we all knew it.

When he finished - I was moved. Quite choked.

I wish you knew Patrick, he'd drive you insane but when you least expect it God'll bless you through him.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Off Road Faith....

Prodigal Kiwi(s) point to an interesting article by Alan Jamieson - who wrote A Churchless Faith - on faith development stages as described by Fowler - here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"I'm Adolf Hitler..."

"I'm Adolf Hitler..." I sigh. "No... you're not Adolf Hitler, he was white, Austrian and male... you are firstly a Somalian and secondly a woman." I'd been called into the Charity Shop there was an issue!

Her crack crazed eyes look into mine, she smiles and her alcohol drenched breath breaks across me. "I... AM... ADOLF HITLER!"

I look back and say "Did I mention he killed himself in 1945?"

She rips her head scarf off and throws it across the shop "Can you see it now?"

"no"

She ruffles her hair - goose steps around the shop saluting and saying 'Heil Hiter' "can you see it now?"

"urmmmmmmm... no!"

"Well may be you'll recognise this" with this she pulls up her dress and exposes herself!

I have to say at this stage of our inner city ministry there is not much that shocks me anymore. I was stunned. I was shocked. I hadn't been trained for this moment! I also have to say that my eyes remained fully trained upon hers and didn't wander south! But the gasps and shrieks from our charity shop workers left me in no doubt that she wasn't in the shop looking for underwear! ( not even red shield variety... John :o) )

I beat a hasty retreat calling for Kate. With no luck I return to the Charity shop - a little nervous - and managed to coax her out while she sings 'I'm Mr Boombastic' - this time I am careful not to disagree with her.

As she wanders off down the street I think 'you know she probably never remember today but I'll probably never forget it!'

Monday, October 03, 2005

Salvation Army Grid::Blog [reprise!]

I'm not sure it has worked as I thought it might.

I figured typing "Salvation Army Grid::Blog" into google would list everyone together - what would I know!? However using a mixture of 'googling within the blog' and also 'technorati' I guess the grid::blog has thrown up roughly thirty sally bloggers from the UK to Canada and from Austrailia to Latvia which is kind of fun.

Original thought here

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Boring Boring Chelsea...!

(Alexlivesey/GettyImages)

More here

Patrick's 10 Seconds...

Patrick has been nonsense all week. But today for a window of 10 seconds he stunned everyone.

Chuntering, muttering, giggling, pointing to some imaginary adversary all service apart from 10 seconds when we our small congregation this afternoon were invited to suggest why we should want to praise God.

"...because he came back after three days - a real person!"

If you are new to Patrick go check him out in my key blogs and be stunned with us. He may have threatened Kate this week, he may have sworn at me more than once this week - but Patrick is the best gift God could've given Poplar Salvation Army.

What's more he for 8 years has given us papers to read always weeks out of date. Tonight he gave a paper dated 2 October 2005 - what a day!!

My new watermark...

I got bored on friday and started playing around with my template.

I've added a watermark of a graphic I built for the Mission Studies course handbook that I teach. An image of Christ superimposed on a fragment of the area we are called to minister in. You probably wont recognise the docks and the bend of the River Thames but that is us.

For the watermark I darkened it and blurred it. What I need now is a bit of HTML that will centre the graphic in the background.

Any HTML geeks out there? Help!