The Bishop’s Announcement

The Reverend Robert Sutherland, currently Assistant Curate, Morley Team Parish to be Vicar of Illingworth and Mixenden.

Details of Robb’s installation and induction will be announced at a later date.

In many ways this past week and today have been a bit of a blur.  The announcement was made by the church warden this morning and I am a little overwhelmed by the support that everyone has shown Ruth and me.  We have loved being part of the community here in Morley throughout my curacy and we are ever thankful for the immense love and support that we have been shown.

I’m looking forward to the challenges of my new role as we become part of the community in north Halifax.

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The Positive Priest Movement

Dear reader, please bear with me for a moment as I take you on a flight of fantasy into the annals of my mind.  Imagine for a moment that we are in the board room of Coca-cola looking at the strategy for the future.  Around the table is a much smaller group of executives than a decade ago looking at their new advertising campaign.

“Coke, it just doesn’t taste like it used to.”

I spend a large portion of my life trying to marry up the experiences I am having with those around me.  Within “The Church” I predominantly hear negative voices decrying the end of “The Church”.  I remember being asked 7 years ago if I “knew what I was getting myself into” offering for ordination in the Church of England in my early twenties.  What with “these guys over here” or “those guys over there”.  Then of course there is “the institution” and “the structures”.  “Do you really know what you are getting yourself into”?  Certainly this is the predominant narrative that everyone seems to be currently telling.

Within this domineering public narrative I guess I must be doing it wrong.  I became a follower of the way as an adult 15 years ago.  I was introduced to this guy who spent a few years in The Middle East walking from town to town declaring the coming Kingdom of God.  He said that lives could be changed!  There is something better than this!  We don’t have to accept the way the world does things.  We can be different.  I was told that if you follow this guy, communities will spring up that transform the lives of the places in which they live.  Communities that are gifts to the towns, estates, villages and cities in which they live, work and play.

I didn’t become an Anglican by accident.  I wasn’t born into a family who worship with the Church of England.  I didn’t even begin my Christian journey within it.  I chose to join my local Anglican church after university because I passionately believe in the local church and The Church of England.  We’re not a large gathered people but a people who are spread out far and wide in small pockets within every community in the land.  A place with room to explore theology with a range of different people of differing viewpoints as we strive to discover more of the mysteries of God through wrestling with scripture, tradition and reason (and often one another).

Over a glass of wine in a mildly moist marquee the other night I was talking with a colleague.  We were both rather passionately espousing about what we do, the people we do it with and the places where we do it.  During the course of the conversation he turned to me placed his hand on his chest and said,

“I’m sorry, I’m a positive priest”.

With a sharp blow from with a 4 pound lump hammer he hammered the square stake into the round ventricle.  We have spent so much time huddled together saying “Coke:  It just doesn’t taste like it used to” that we’re asking why everyone is now drinking Pepsi.  I implore you, dear reader to remember what we’re here for.  Remember those words of the revolutionary guy you all inspired me to follow 15 years ago.  Look for the Kingdom he is inviting us to declare in the communities in which we live.  Go and be the good news in the communities in which you live.

It is amazing life that we lead as Christians.  We follow an amazing guy and it is a great privilege to be invited into his mission.

It is time for a Positive Priest Movement.

Metanoia at Greenbelt

Greenbelt 2012 is fast approaching and Metanoia are going to be involved in two of the services there.  Blesséd  are once again providing alternative sacramental worship and we have been asked to collaborate with Fr Simon and the team once more.  This year we are doing the opening act of worship in the Big Top at 5pm on Friday.  What the organisers were looking for was a ‘charismatic’ service of benediction.  Needless to say it will have a distinctive @metanoiauk feel to it.

There was also a request for a live band who would be able to help Luminous stage a U2charist.  Fr Simon suggested that we would be able to help out as we played a couple of U2 numbers in the big top last year.  Not quite sure which venue the U2charist is in yet or at what time but I’ll keep you up to date!

So who is coming then?

Today’s Message

Religious Nerds

Please don’t think I’m turning into one of those overly critical Christians who spends all of their time beating up their brothers and sisters.  I know that the last thing I put here was quite bleak in its outlook or as Pat commented, “somewhat depressing listening “.  If you read my Big Bible blog about the afternoon Ruth and I spent in a cafe in Keighley you will notice that what I have been aiming for in the last couple of weeks is encouraging Christians to positive action and reclamation of the good news lived out.

So what has this above clip got to offer this debate about public perceptions of Christianity?  How does that bear out in the reality I experience of the people I live and work amongst as a minister?  If you watch the clip, you will notice a parody of Christianity that may or may not speak to you.  As a Sci-fi and Fantasy fan, the references resonate with me – they may pass you by.  If you read the comments on YouTube you will notice that many people have risen to the bait and begun the process of proving the clip right.  In some respects it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The clip may as well contain the line, “Some Christians are likely to treat you like this, just read the comments for the proof”.

It would seem that the criticism here is not of faith itself but of the way in which people hold their faith.  Unfortunately it is often those that shout loudest in small numbers that are perceived to speak for the majority.  You will notice that the two positive…. ok, ‘neutral’ views of Christianity were given a mere second in a clip that lasts for three minutes. 

I must hurry up and finish the rota for next week before my Dungeons and Dragons group arrive…

Jesus Vs Christians

I came across this video whilst I was sorting out tomorrow’s service.  I think it is quite interesting following the discussion I kick started at the Big Bible Blog.