Entertaining Angels

 

Three years ago I was released from theological college into an unsuspecting world.  The bishop placed his hands upon me in the cathedral and my life changed forever.

I’d like to tell you that I was instantly transformed into a confident and competent minister at that very moment.  The truth of the matter is that I was a very daunted and bewildered young man wondering what the future may hold.  What was God thinking sending someone like me?  What if I made a complete mess of things?  What if I wasn’t on the same page as everyone else?

One of the first things I did in my mew role as a minister was attend a day long meeting in which we were invited to discuss one of the key roles of the church.  During that meeting I spoke at some length with an older cleric who listened patiently to my thoughts, views and beliefs about the issues of the day.

Those of you who know me will know that I can be quite animated in my dialogue.  It is something that causes me constant internal struggle.  It certainly isn’t what the wider world expect of the clergy in The Church of England ™.  I recall putting forth my opinions about what I believed to be “the heart of the gospel”.   The older cleric said some words that I in my insecurity took to heart;

It is heartwarming to hear you say this.  don’t ever lose the passion that you have for the gospel.  As the church faces the future we need more people speaking out about where the heart of our faith lies.

I thought no more about it but those words have stuck with me.  They offered reassurance as I came to terms with the plastic collar I now found myself wearing.  They have enabled me to develop a sense of authenticity about who I am as a person and the priest that I am called to be.

Forgive me for skipping forward three years.  This morning I was asked to look something up on the internet.  As google pulled up the results I found myself staring into that familiar face of three years ago.  The cleric who spoke words of reassurance at the point where I needed to hear them was staring back out of the monitor at me.  There was of course a notable difference in the image I was looking at.  This cleric was wearing a purple shirt and a pectoral cross, the marks of the office of Bishop.

Be careful when entertaining strangers as you may be entertaining angels unawares.

– Hebrews 13:2

The Wilderness

Sten has come up with a lovely little clip of Jesus in the wilderness using lego.  Bravo!  Encore!

The Big Night Out

Last year we took the yoof to The Big Night Out.  If you have got a small youth group at your church it is a fantastic opportunity for them to see that they are part of something bigger.  The event starts off with the rides and then in the evening there are a few bands.

If you go, I’ll be the one trying to convince the Bishop to go on The Ultimate.  See you there!!

John Cleese Thoughts on “Religion”

From 50 Seconds in.

In The Beginning Was The Word

I’ve never posted a sermon before.  I’ve never thought that it would add a great deal to the ether.  However, 80 people of varying ages were all talking about the incarnation in the hall this morning after I blindsided them with this.

I read out John 1:1-14, prayed and then climbed the pulpit.  I then put on a call centre headset (a relic from one of my previous lives) and then acted this out:

Hello, you’ve got through to the Big Brother research office. My name’s Robb and I’ll be taking your call this morning.  Before we go any further I need to inform you that all calls are recorded and may be broadcast in the final edit of the show… In any order…. and…. at any time between now and the year 2059.

At this time I need to remind you that Big Brother is a reality TV show.  That means that we are looking to show people in their entirety.  This means that we may choose to use any of the material that is recorded and that it is the responsibility of the participants for their own behaviour.

If you are prepared to agree to these conditions then we can proceed with the call.

[pause]

You are?

May I remind you that your answer is legally binding.

[pause]

You’re sure?

[pause]

OK that’s excellent.

Before we go any further it is important to establish that it will be practical for you to come down here.  Will you be able to come down here for an extended period of time?

[pause]

So you are able to leave your Father behind and come down here?

[pause]

You will?

Excellent.

Are there any special arrangements that we need to make for your arrival?

No, you are happy to come down here in exactly the same way as everyone else?

That’ll be good.

Have you seen the programme before?  Things are a little different now that we have moved to channel five.

[pause]

You have?  Great!

It is important that you realise the full implications if you are to come down here.

Let’s start with some of the practical matters.

Coming down here will mean that you will be required to do many of the normal things that everyone else does.  There is no special treatment for people.  There will be times for people to eat and sleep as you would expect.

Do you have any dietary requirements?

… ah I see, you want to be treated just the same as everyone else.  That’s good.

As you are aware of the format of the programme, I won’t need to remind you that you will be entering the house with 12 other men.  These people will be your companions when you come down here.

[pause]

So you are looking forward to meeting people.  Great.

In the past we have had some… erm…. interesting people.

So far this year we have already got a banker who would be joining you down here.

We have been a little worried that this may cause some friction.

[pause]

Well some people are obviously concerned about the current financial situation.

[pause]

Well people feel that they have been betrayed by them.

Now that they have received all these taxes as well…

[pause]

So you think that is someone you could spend some time with.  Goood.

We do tend to attract colourful characters down here.  If you remember a few years ago in the celebrity version of the show we had Samantha Fox.  As I am sure you know she had a colourful career in the newspapers.  Obviously if you come down you may well find yourself spending time with people like her.

[pause]

Good… I just wanted you to be aware because people often worry that this sort of thing can affect your reputation.

[pause]

So you’re quite prepared to live with the consequences…

…excellent…

Obviously not everyone is as… erm… exotic as this.

In the past we have found that people often respond well to someone they can relate to… the common man shall we say?  With that in mind we have already signed up a guy from Whitby.  He has spent most of his working life on the trawlers.  He has a really strong accent and he doesn’t take any nonsense.  We’re hoping people will be able to relate to him.

[pause]

Ah, I see… These are just the sort of people you are hoping to meet whilst you are down here.

[pause]

It is our experience that over the time you spend down here you will probably become close to these people.  Obviously some people are more popular than others.

We have found that different groups can form.  Sometimes this happens because of personality conflicts but sometimes over something like race or religion.  Who can forget what happened with Shilpa Shetty.

[pause]

Yes I see what you mean about having to meet people as they are.

[pause]

The problem is that sometimes things can turn nasty.  Sometimes people are forced out of the house.

[pause]

You are aware that this may be a very public experience.

[pause]

Yes

[pause]

So you are happy to follow someone else’s will.

[pause]

Even if it isn’t yours

[pause]

No matter how painful the experience is

[pause]

Sorry sir, I was just wondering if I could take your name?

OK…

Could you hold on a moment.

[Covering microphone]

Christina, Christina. I’ve got another one.

You know…

Come on you know the ones. The religious ones.

This one’s priceless. You should have heard the name he gave.

Perhaps I should ask him if he knows David Ike.

[Uncovering microphone]

Sorry about that sir, I was just having a problem with my computer.

Where were we?

I’m going to need a few more details. It will be really good to have you come down here…

[Leave Pulpit]

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Amen

Alternative Hymnal: Emeli Sandé – Next To Me

One of the easiest ways to amuse me is to throw “I know it’s not your kind of music but…..”  I can only assume that lots of people listen to stuff that Simon Cowell is making cash from.  Here is a song Ruth and I were listening to on the radio in the car yesterday.  She was intrigued by the lyrics and their potential.  So here I offer you, Emeli Sandé with Next To Me.


You won’t find him drinking at the tables
rolling dice and staying out til 3.
You won’t ever find him being unfaithful
you will find him, you’ll find him next to me.

You won’t find him trying to chase the devil
for money, fame, for power,
out of grief you won’t ever find him
where the rest go you will find him, you’ll find him next to me.

Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
You will find him you’ll find him next to me.

When the end has come and buildings falling down fast
when we spoilt the land and dried up all the sea
when everyone has lost their heads around us
you will find him you’ll find him next to me.

Never in my life have i met someone like him
I’m blown away by his love for me
if you ever wonder where it is you’ll find him
you will find him, you will find him next to me.

Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
You will find him you’ll find him next to me.

When the money’s spent and all my friends have vanished
and I can’t seem to find no help or love for free
I know there’s no need for me to panic
cause I’ll find him, I’ll find him next to me.

When the skies are grey and all the doors are closing
and the rising pressure makes it hard to breathe
well, all I need is a hand to stop the tears from falling
I will find him, will find him next to me

Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
Next to me ooooh
You will find him you’ll find him next to me.