Monday, March 31, 2008

No Bible Bashers...

As I rang the door bell the sign unmissable laid out some ground rules - scribbled with venom with blue biro it declared "No Bible Bashers...".

I stood outside Janine's door. Janine had become a good friend with Eryn and the inevitable invite for tea had come. As I rang the door bell the sign unmissable laid out some ground rules - scribbled with venom with blue biro it declared "No Bible Bashers...".

I smiled to myself as the door opened. Janine's mum - Bev - beamed and brightly said "come in...". ..."I'd love to ... but I'm afraid I can't..." .... "Oh why's that... are you in a rush?" Bev enquired.

"Not really .... it's just that you obviously have rules and so I would hate to break them... I'm not allowed to come in" Bev started to look quizzical "Rules what rules...?"

I look at the poster on the door "you say no bible basher's and I am a minister of religion so I guess I had better wait here...!" Bev laughs with Dave who is now at the door and I am welcomed in.

That was two months ago. Last week the cadets band take Good Friday to the bandstand in the park opposite college. There sat at one of the picnic benches are Bev and Dave - they beckon me over to sit down "we came to support you guys" he looks over to Kate busy telling the Easter story down a mic. I sit down and Dave looks at me and says "so ... have you always been a believer...!?"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mid Term Interviews...

Mainly a week of interviews this week. While very very tiring - there is something very stimulating about sharing with people in this way; something special about journeying with people while at college.

I love hearing people's insights whether implicit or explicit; I love hearing how cadets are feeling they are being shaped for ministry. I love sharing in the highs, lows and vulnerabilities and teasing out the lessons therein contained. Above all I love the contact and being able to learn from other people's insights - there is a real privilege in this process.

"I see preaching as a special part of my worship to God..." I'd not thought of it in that way before - I learned something about myself today, something blindingly obvious - thanks to a day of interviews!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Amy Stock one time member of the mother of all Sunday school classes with yours truly at the helm has asked me to give a shout for a new website and and useful resource she is involved with...


Towards Vision 4/4

Joe Noland a Salvation Army Officer with a wealth of experience writes a provocative blog called slightly irregular -I pop into now and then. I missed his little series called Doing Church in the 21st Century: Rediscovering the Mission. Seems to me that his thoughts are helpful to anyone thinking through mission and future direction for their church! (Thanks GR for the tip off).

Following is an outline of “mission distinctives” from my POV, preceded by their “institutional distinctive” counterparts (in italics):

1. Slumber------Awaken: An obvious precursor to relevant mission.

2. Status quo---Attack: “GO!” Aggressive. “…wherever people were to be got at.”

3. Exclusive----Attach: Embrace the culture inclusively – “bind emotionally” (Encarta).

4. Traditional--Adapt: “pas de deux with the culture”- “The law of adaptation.”

5. Irrelevant---Attract: “…convey it by such mediums, as will arouse their attention and interest their minds.”

I think several books have influenced Joe - in particular Mcneal, R. (2003). The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rediscovering the Mission: Conclusion (6)

Here is Joe Nolands Litmus test
1. Is my church going (attacking, sending out) “wherever people were (are)to be got at,” or does it tend to be building-centered and status quo oriented?

2. Has my church taken on an air of exclusiveness (club, membership mentality), or is it embracing (attaching to, inclusive of) the culture it has been called to reach?

3. Is my church hanging on for dear life to its “stereotyped forms” (traditional ways), or is it adapting its methods in pas de deux (link step)with those desperately in need of the Gospel (including those who might be geographically isolated from the center)?

4. Are people being attracted exponentially to the Gospel without forced conformity to our own institutional, cultural biases?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Welcome to Canada..."

As I picked my lonely bag from the carousel I thought back over an hour where I felt vulnerable, pushed to new place where I for those moments knew alienation

My bag was the last on the carousel, sadly making it's circuit in isolation. As I made the long walk to retrieve my bag it came to a shuddering halt - it had been a long flight but the last hour had been particularly interesting...!

The flight to Canada had given me plenty of time to crack on with Volf's Embrace and Exclusion; plenty time to explore the identity of 'other'; to engage with what it was to be excluded; to be alienated; what it is to be pushed to the margins; to understand where true reconciliation comes from. Eight hours later I was in an immigration side room alongside a flight from Jamaica and Pakistan finding context with what I had just read - apparently there was something wrong! I was learning what it was to be alienated.

"Welcome to Canada" flashing around the room seemed an ironic message while I watched the unfolding carnage as immigration officers hungry for lunch questioned with increasing impatience suspected illegal immigrants. I felt uneasy at the discomfort of the young mother from Pakistan struggling with two tired toddlers. I felt uncomfortable with the tired and fearful body language of those waiting in front of me their confusion unanswered. I shared a strange but tangible sense of unfounded guilt, a sense of shame for something completely unknown.

Eventually, "next ...NEXT!" indicated that I was to approach for my interview. 5 minutes later stepping over the tired toddler's I left the carnage behind; the young Pakistani mother still waiting; the vacant and empty eyes; the impatience and intolerance. Apparently I wasn't Taliban, Hezbollah or even Al Qaeda - just Salvation Army! As I picked my lonely bag from the carousel I thought back over an hour where I felt vulnerable, pushed to new place where I for those moments knew alienation - which of course I could and did walk away from.

Volf leads us to a place where we learn that to truly reconcile we truly need to understand alienation - I'm not sure that an hour in immigration qualifies me to comment but while the immigration carried out their necessary role - I thought about the concept of making space to embrace the other.
"There can be no justice without the will to embrace – to agree on justice you need to make space in yourself for the perspective of the other, and in order to make space you need to want to embrace the other". 1996:220
Volf, M. (1996). Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.

Monday, March 24, 2008

PS ... He Has Risen

I was out all of yesterday at Hove SA - so didn't get chance to say in blogosphere ... He Has Risen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Coping with Saturday...!

And so we took him down
(Or thought we did),
Wiped off the sweat and spittle
From his face,
Washed the dried blood,
Threw out the crown of thorns,
And wrapped him once again
In swaddling clothes.

A tomb can be a cramped,
Confining place,
Far smaller than a stable.
We laid him there
(Or thought we did).
We were not able
To comprehend
The infinite contained.
For us it was the end.
Only the harsh realities
Of death and stone
Elizabeth Rooney

I've kept this picture and poem saved from Kathryn's blog last year.

It is to easy to forget this day - but it seems odd to miss the sense of isolation, loss and alienation of the disciples that first Easter Saturday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday...

"At the heart of the cross is Christ’s stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in himself for the offender to come in". (Volf 1996)

Volf, M. (1996). Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Resources...

Emergent Kiwi points to a good resource from sgmlifewords

For You....!

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying,"This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which is poured out for you. Luke 22:19

To enter this scripture through Lectio Divina was interesting for me today - Maunday Thursday; to fast from the proof texts of a polarised and perhaps tired debate in TSA and to meditate on what shone for me revealed something of an obvious surprise.

"For you...."

I wonder what shone for Albert Orsborn the General who penned My life must be Christ's broken bread, originally as a song? To me he got it, he understood the sense of "for you..." To reduce these words to a Salvationist apologetic for its position on sacraments is a disservice to the sentiment of mission that Orsborn captured long before mission became a euphemism for evangelism or was introduced as a trendy word to sell books. The sacrament is Christ himself; his life that was the Reign of God. Perhaps church needs to capture and dare I say 'remember' the sense of "for you..." that Jesus modeled and calls us to.

With this going through my head we sang Matt Spencer's reworking of Orsborn's classic.

My life must be Christ's broken bread,
My love His outpoured wine,
A cup o'erfilled, a table spread
Beneath His name and sign.
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share His life through mine.

My all is in the Master's hands
For Him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook His winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love's demands
To give, for His dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of Thine
Wherewith Thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with Thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.

Lord, I would wash my brother's feet,
and meet my sister's need.
Obedient to Your command to share
Your love in deed.
My life abandoned to Your will;
a living, breathing creed.

O, let me be a sacrament,
from self and sin set free,
A holy mystery of grace;
the life of Christ in me!
Complete surrender! I am Yours!
I would faithful be.

(Verses 1-3 Albert Orsborn copyright TSA
Tune & 4&5 Copyright 2008 Matt Spencer)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nicola's Funeral...

We borrowed a satnav to get to the crematorium in Merton, we didn't want to be late struggling to make sense of an A to Z, so it seemed a good idea. There must be was something unnerving about driving into a crematorium to be informed by a very friendly but informative travel companion "you have reached your destination...!!"

Monday was a remarkable day of celebration of a remarkable life. As we drove home after Nicola's funeral, I felt guilty in that I had had a thoroughly good time, more than one farewell conversation seemed to be inappropriate in that they finished with a sentiment of 'we should do this more often!!'. But such thoughts and feelings were totally appropriate in that it was plainly obvious to all there, Nicola has not reached her destination, and that as Phil put it on the family blog.
"Our life together has been a great adventure as we have attempted to follow in the power of the Resurrection. Nicola has taught her family and many others I suspect how to live well and how to die well and for her now the Resurrection adventure continues beyond death..."
Nicola was a total inspiration in life and remains so in death. Her faith in Christ, her example, her life as a symbol of hope pointing to something of what New Creation will be - oozed through her family on Monday and will remain an indelible memory for me. To join with such a celebration was a privilege that I will never forget, nor I suspect will anyone else who was there.

We were asked to recall our memories - I'll always remember Nicola as a tutor who together with Phil moved my understanding of mission beyond that of a mere euphemism.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the indelible essence of embrace...

It was good to meet some new people this week while doing some teaching in Toronto; to make friends and find kindred spirits!! I loved being with a crowd that were just so eager not only to serve but to discover what that means. It was great to be invited and to be able to get caught up with the vision of the regional youth guy Nathanael Homewood and to support him inspiring young Christan's to be active in mission to a depth I've not seen in that generation.
The essence may not have been uniform, brass bands and guersey's; nor was it a self indulgence of video loops, coffee, Coldplay and candles - it was a love for the whosoever.

I loved what I saw at the FRWY and I captured something of the indelible essence that is undeniably 'salvation army'; the way that community comes together whatever their background to support and nurture their own versions of 'Patrick' was beautiful. While to some perhaps unorthodox and even a threat - I'd say look at the essence and see how TSA in these kind of contexts embrace the excluded and engage with the broken in ways that the em. ch need still largely to learn. The essence may not have been uniform, brass bands and guernsey's; nor was it a self indulgence of video loops, coffee, Coldplay and candles - it was a love for the whosoever. I loved spending time with Pernell and his family and hearing him articulate what it is to blur the encounter of church with community through mission in the 'third place'.

I loved what I saw at Regent's Park and the 614 ethos in action. It was good to hang out with Geoff Ryan and trade thoughts over a breakfast of bacon and egg (easyside over - whatever!!!) and to see the context of his theology. Again the indelible essence of embrace was tangible. I loved ending up in a conversation with a guy - with the longest teeth I've ever seen - once homeless who now sees himself proudly as a member of the 614 family.

I loved the snow and even the black squirrel's; what I didn't love was the immigration service who must have thought I represented the Taliban or something and held me over for further interview - that is a story for another day!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

Nicola Garnham..

"Earlier today, after a courageous battle with cancer, Nicola Garnham died. Over the past days family and friends had gathered at Nicola’s bedside to share words from scripture, songs of praise and prayers of hope. At one moment Nicola removed her oxygen mask and prayed, thanking God for the full and miraculous life that he had given her. To the end, her life was marked by the presence and power of the risen Christ. Consequently, while we mourn the loss of a wonderful wife, mother, sister. leader and friend, we celebrate a life well lived and commend Nicola to God in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life."
Nicola with her husband Phil inspired a generation of officers as to what it was to be missionalTSA. She taught mission to twelve sessions of cadets and her impact in the UK territory was and is immense. She encouraged me to develop my mind, recommended books, invited me to teach, taught mission with her when we first came to teach at WBC. Her mind and passion for mission was a gift to TSA and the legacy of her impact will probably never be known - she will be missed by many.

Please remember and pray for the Garnham family - Philip and the children Rebekah, Abigail, Hannah and Sam.

"I don't know..."

What I do know is that Adrian went home with a new set of trainers and in his complete and utter confusion I think he felt listened to, loved, respected and embraced

For half an hour I watched him picking his nose, while I tried to concentrate on a pretty mad conversation - how to sound proof your house against jumbo jets. It's been a while since I met someone whose conversation was quite as disjointed as Victor's (Victor and his talking flute); but this week at FH I met Adrian who most definitely is up there with people whose conversation comes from a mind that is either not firing on all cylinders or firing on far too many cylinders.

His catch phrase which punctured the evening frequently was a slowly drawn out "I don't know..." which really you need to hear to appreciate its humour. It started before he came in, being early and being asked to come back, disgusted he could only reply "I don't know...". It carried on when I asked his name "I don't know...!" and went down hill from there! Nevertheless we were keen to try and understand something of his story; but like with Victor I think it will take sometime before we understand anything of what Adrian is about.

I listened to another conversation this week that I think in the light of the kingdom is pretty disjointed, I've heard it before and no doubt will hear it again - it goes something like this: "as Christians we waste our time with doing good things, there are loads of people doing kind and good things so lets just preach the gospel because anything else is a distraction to the work proper..."

"I don't know..!"

What I do know is that Adrian went home with a new set of trainers and in his complete and utter confusion I think he felt listened to, loved, respected and embraced; I don't know how love of neighbour can be a distraction.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Poverty and Justice Bible...

I found out about this fascinating and challenging reprint brought to us by the bible society. Here is the sales pitch if it were needed:

"A groundbreaking Bible that megaphones what God has to say about poverty and injustice. It's a Bible to surprise a watching world. To engage compassionate young adults. And to enrich your own life.

  • This new Bible highlights more than 2,000 verses, revealing God's heart for the poor and oppressed.

  • Easy to follow, accessible and fresh Contemporary English Version Bible text.

  • Includes a unique 32-page guide with in-depth studies from equality to education, wages to water and practical suggestions on what to do next.

  • Builds on issues raised by influential Christians and public figures including Bono, Rob Bell, Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo"
Amazing that it took Bono to point it out...!

Buy it here.


Not totally convinced by the name but the resources look good. Talking with James Catford the Chief Executive of eth Bible Society he suggests that this could be a lighter version of the excellent Renovare Spirtual Formation group material.


Theos the public theology think tank...

Theos looks like a potentially interesting site; particularly the media monitoring. This is what they say about themselves:

"Theos is a public theology think tank which exists to undertake research and provide commentary on social and political arrangements. It aims to impact public opinion about the role of faith and belief in society. It was launched in November 2006 with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Frost on Mission...

Fellow mission tutor Nick Coke put me on to this a little while ago and it has been lurking in my drafts. 51 minutes good ironing listening!!

Grandad Leed

I never knew my Grandad so it is odd to hear his voice 40 years after his death! Is it the maternal grand father side that dictate future baldness? I am going to be soooo shiny! Shiny Headed Prophet you may have some competition,