Archive for September, 2012

I spotted this new gospel outline video from Glen Scrivener recently. I was reminded to post it on here after last night’s Messy Church, where we began a three part (obvs) series on the Trinity. I’m not sure many of us would choose to begin sharing our faith with something we see as complicated, but Glen shows us that it’s actually a great place to start.

Check out the 3-2-1 website for more details.

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There is some good news about our high street. The Indian sweet shop and essential source of Vicarage samosas has not, in fact, shut down. They are just closed on Mondays. Phew.

However, Padda’s supermarket (together with the two other associated shops) is still shut. Theories as to the reason for its closure are still unconfirmed, but added to the speculation about immigration issues and bank woes was the suggestion that the shops may have been closed by Food Standards. A few people thought the shop fridges were not cold enough and also that Food Standards were the only people who could shut a shop down so quickly.

So we are still devoid of a handy source of aubergines, lemons, poppadoms and large bags of onions. You’ll be relieved to hear that we’re just about coping. What happens next remains to be seen but it’s looking like the reduction of retail options in our tow-un is continuing.

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One of the many excellent things about living in the inner city is being close to cheap local shopping. This includes being able to buy 10kg bags of onions and samosas about 100yds from our front door – very handy for this curry loving Vicarage. Paddas is an Indian grocers which sells everything you need for curry and much else beside – there are two shops, either side of the dual carriageway. Then there’s a meat shop ie a butcher which doesn’t sell beef and a ‘sweet’ shop, selling samosas, pakora and eyewateringly sweet Indian treats.

Well, it was excellent. Because this morning I went out in search of onions for tonight’s curry and four shops were shuttered up. I thought perhaps there’d been a family bereavement and went further into the tow-un in the hunt for my groceries.

I asked the chaps in the shop I went into what had happened. Was it a death, or perhaps a raid from Immigration? But they said that the shops had been shut ‘by the bank’. And that theirs might be next to go because Mr Padda is their landlord. They said it was ‘Mr Cameron’s fault’ and laughed like they thought there might be a little more to the story.

I hope their shop stays open. On the way home I saw a lady with a shopping trolley who was walking painfully towards the town. I asked her if she knew what had happened, but she was just aware that the shops had shut. She said she lived around the corner and had found it so convenient to shop there. We’ll miss you Paddas.

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I have kept on forgetting to blog this – I was too tired before the summer and now it seems a bit late. But just in case there’s someone with massive skills in rapid filling of forms, a desire to serve alongside the Vicar in our multicultural inner city parish, and a good appetite for homemade cake, how about checking out the advert on our church website for a Families and Communities Worker. The deadline is this Friday, so you’ll have to get your socks on if you want to apply!

If it’s not the job for you, do please pray that the Lord sends us just the right person, and that God’s kingdom will grow here.

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This summer I was sent a review copy of Emma Scrivener’s book ‘A New Name’. Emma writes a fantastic blog on identity, body image and faith. You should read her blog and her book, whether these particular things are issues for you or not. In them both, she deals with the heart of what it means to be human and where we can find satisfaction for the hunger we all feel deep inside.

The book is the story of her own battle with anorexia as a teenager, and as a grown-up married ministry wife and seemingly sorted Christian. She describes the addictive nature of controlling your eating and how, despite seeming to be outwardly ‘cured’, she was still a captive of fear, pride and self-will. And she describes how Christ met her with grace in her brokenness and showed her that he could satisfy all of her longings and all of her hungers.

Once I picked this book up I couldn’t put it down. Emma’s writing is witty, lyrical and provocative. She doesn’t pull her punches when she describes the ugliness of anorexia, but the book is full of humour and hope. Once I’d finished reading, the Vicar devoured it in a couple of days and was similarly challenged and inspired by hearing how God met with Emma in the depths and brought her healing.

If you long for anything, this book is for you – it’s a must-read.

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How do you go about training a couple of Christian lads who are thinking about possible ordination? We have a programme that includes a bible training course and lots of practical experience in church life. But sometimes the unplanned events are the ones that help to give the deepest insight into Christian ministry.

A messy tomb in poor focus

And here we have a picture of a fenced tomb outside the church. On Saturday morning we had a churchyard working party. Local kids joined adults as we swept leaves and cleared bushes to make everything look tidier.

By Sunday afternoon a bunch of children (including some of those who’d helped tidy up) had dragged a bunch of stuff they’d found in some bins inside the fence round this tomb and were dancing on top of it. The rubbish collection included bits of wood, a couple of old chairs and some plastic ride-on toys. The black plastic chair that was on top of the tomb had been cleared away by the time I took this picture.

The kids weren’t very receptive to my request that they clear up, but Radiohead and Sweet Tooth headed out to sort things out and managed to get the kids to help tidy up the mess they’d made. It took a while and some swearing (and not from the grown-ups), mind.

Afterwards the new MTs were able to spend some time chatting with parishioners who been watching the hooha (and helping to persuade the kids to take responsibility). Not necessarily what you’d choose for a training opportunity, but valuable all the same. And quite a way to meet the neighbours.

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The other thing this week (which I bizarrely forgot to mention earlier) was a short-lived campaign online to get Next to withdraw from sale a grim t-shirt showing a woman in a sexually provocative pose. Alongside the picture of the woman were extracts from a book which included a bible verse, taken from The Message. So not only was it demeaning women but there were also possible copyright issues about the bible text used. This is not what I expect from Next, where I bought some socks for the Joker (aged 9) only this morning.

The campaign was short-lived because Next withdrew the t-shirt from sale in the space of an afternoon. People were alerted to the issue through a couple of blogposts, Twitter and Facebook. They then contacted Next through Twitter, Facebook, email and by telephone. And Next responded swiftly.

It’s always worth complaining.

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So, this week

  • The Queen started secondary school. We are all quite enjoying the early mornings but are considering investing in coffee producers and matchstick makers. She is having fun meeting lots of new people and being all grown up and responsible. She has not missed the bus nor lost her phone. Yet.
  • A house for sale about 100yds from our front door was raided by the police. They found it full of cannabis plants. The police took the plants and left the pots outside the house. Might see if we could use some!
  • Our new Ministry Trainees, Radiohead and Sweet Tooth moved in. They have survived so far – even with the children bouncing around all over their attic home. We are very much looking forward to getting to know them as they serve in the church and experience Vicarage life close up.
  • The Vicar spent a long time at a Deanery Standing Committee and nearly everyone on Twitter suggested that those meetings would be a lot better (ie shorter) if the committee did stand and not sit.
  • The Queen has been asked to give a short speech at the local library when they officially celebrate their refurbishment. The mayor will be there and everything. We are just waiting for permission from the school to come through.
  • We played tennis at the local courts. All the courts were being used, something I have never seen before. It was the last day of the holidays, and sunny, but I also suspect an Olympic/Paralympic effect. Good for Lord Coe.
  • Our friend Nick Barr-Hamilton was featured in a post on Archbishop Cranmer’s blog. You should read it.
  • Gone has not been seen here for nearly two weeks now. So we have thrown away the mouldy and smelly blankets he was using to keep himself warm when he slept under our hedge. I expect he’s either in prison or has managed to find some housing (a housing person came to the door and spoke to Rocky a few weeks ago, looking for Gone, but we don’t know anything more than that). It’s rather strange to have someone so much in your life, but no real means of finding out what has happened when they go. Do pray for him.

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Sent the Queen off to her new school this morning. We were all up *very* early. And now all I can think about is drinking some coffee and maybe staggering to put some laundry on. Blogging is a bit beyond me for today. So instead, I’d like to recommend a blog that you might not have come across – One Little Drop – it’s written by a young woman we knew when the Vicar was training at theological college. Ruth’s dad was one of the lecturers and we saw her and her sisters regularly around the campus.

Ruth has just celebrated her first wedding anniversary, but her first year of marriage has not gone as you might expect. Do go and read her stories and be challenged and edified by her hope in God in the face of suffering.

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Ah. Blog. It’s been a while. What with parish life and a bonkers end to the school year and everything I feel I’ve neglected you. So much to say, but such a feeling of inarticulacy. Too many real life things to get on with. A perfectionist streak which insists that there’s not quite enough time to communicate anything worthwhile in the time available. And then there were the Olympics and the holidays and that.

Anyway, sorry Blog. I’m here again. I’m going to try again this term. I love that new term new start thing. My head is full of stuff so I am just going to get on and blog. Even if it’s not brilliant. Even if it’s pretty rubbish. Better something than nothing. Better a few words than none.

Thank you Blog that you’re forgiving and merciful, full of grace and always ready to hear from me, no matter how long it’s been. Or am I getting you mixed up with someone more important?

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