Showing posts from April, 2012

Saturday Supplement

After the brief triviality of last week's supplement, here are a few beefy posts for this Saturday. Two of the most controversial items in the contemporary church are evolution and homosexuality. One of my favourite bloggers, Rachel Held Evans, pointed to posts on both in her own weekly round-up last week: first a superb series on biologos aimed at helping us to understand evolution, which are both scientifically and theologically literate, and then a heart-rending piece in the Huffington Post by  Maria Burnham about the time she "came out" to her Bible Study.
In evangelical (and Methodist) circles, the only thing that could run evolution or sexuality close on the controversy stakes is alcohol, which is perhaps why I, as someone who enjoys the odd pint (some of them very odd) also enjoyed this piece from Hull concerning a Beer and Cider Festival hosted in a church that ran out of beer... It reminded me of a certain story in John's gospel concerning a wedding that ra…

The Political Price of a Pinta

A slightly longer (and less politically neutral) version of this morning's Thought for the Day on Good Morning Ulster. "Two posh boys who don't know the price of milk".  A splendid soundbite slapdown of our Prime Minister and his mate next door, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. which was only surprising in that it came from an MP from their own party, Nadine Dorries.
She went on to say
"they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime." This then prompted laughable comments by David Cameron defending his man of the people persona by saying
"‘I go to Sainsbury’s in Chipping Norton on a Friday or a Saturday. I do a lot of the family shopping. Sam does a lot of it on the internet."  Before asserting that he pays just under 50p per pint.
But this is no more about the price of a pint of milk any more than the great Cornish pastie de…

When God Goes AWOL

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Matthew 27:46-47 (ANIV) We all go through dark days... some deeper and darker than others... even the most righteous. Jesus himself cried on the cross "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" quoting the Psalmist. There have been whole twisted theologies pinned on this one line (not to mention a few controversial hymn lyrics), and it is a potent point in the passion narrative... But I think it is telling that those standing nearby misunderstood Jesus' quotation of the Hebrew for an appeal to the prophet Elijah... either they weren't very familiar with their Psalms in general, or else this is not a Psalm that they heard much in synagogue... I suspect the latter... That then, as now, there was a reluctance to acknow…

This is the Day...

A short responsive call to worship, that we will be using this morning in Dundonald Methodist Church.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day when Christ rose from the dead. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. This is the time of God’s favour, this is the day of salvation. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Saturday Supplement

A very brief supplement this week as
1) there hasn't been much that has caught my attention on t'internet this week
2) life has been a little hectic...
First, I'm one who frequently has complained about the lack of sportsmanship within the round ball variety of football, but not only was I encouraged by the positive response to the condition of Fabrice Muamba following his neear fatal collapse in an FA Cup game (and thankfully this week we hear that Muamba is out of hospital) but especially by this story concerning IFA minnows Dungannon Swifts... It was so newsworthy that I actually picked up the story in Scotland, probably the first time that the Swifts have made the national news, and all for the right reasons.
Second, and finally, Kim Fabricius once again offers us his wit and wisdom with more Doodlings over on Faith and Theology - plenty there to stimulate, wind-up and/or amuse (delete as applicable.) Shalom

Revictimising Victims

As I said yesterday I was in the BBC Radio Ulster studios to do Thought for the Day, and whilst there, I heard an interview with Charles Awoyelu concerning the fact that his family have been turned down for a SPED scheme repurchase of their house in Ballybeen, following the racist attacks on them earlier in the year... I had to force myself not to comment on air, as I had already had a conversation with Charles Aweyelu the previous day, and had witnessed his distress first hand... a distress that almost matched that which I witnessed shortly after the actual attack that had hurt his daughter. A few brief comments: 1) Hats off to the efforts of local political representatives, especially Alliance's Chris Lyttle and DUP's Sammy Douglas, who in different ways have championed this family's cause, and to local Housing Executive Officials who have done all that they can to see that the family are appropriately housed. 2) Equal plaudits to members of the Awoyelu's church, CF…

Rorywood and Other Name Changes

Back to to the desk and back to blogging, tho I probably won't be as regular as during Lent... But this morning I'm posting a slightly adapted piece that went out as a Thought for the Day on Good Morning Ulster. If you want to hear my pre-breakfast growl, then you can find it at 25 minutes and 84 minutes in to this morning's edition, for a brief period.
Before coming into the studio this morning I had get up at stupid o’clock to drop my eldest son to school in Holywood, as he’s heading off on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition… But I notice that they’ve now got signs outside the town pronouncing it to be Holywood, Home of Rory McIlroy… Now given that our Rory currently spends more of his time closer to the other marginally more famous Hollywood… you know, the one in California with 2 L’s and sunshine… there are those who suggest that this is a bit much… But at least they didn’t go the whole hog and actually change the name to Rorywood… Yet... 
We’ve got a thing about renaming …

Saving the Titanic...

In the midst of a busy Holy Week Sally and I were due to go to a film premier in the Thompson Dry-Dock, or Titanic Dock to give it it's popular title in this season of all things Titanic, to see the premiere of a film about the aforesaid big boat...
Now given that  a) I'm just about sick to the back teeth with the Titanic,  b) Holy Week is clerical chaos,  c) My leg was hurting (Awww!) and  d) the weather had changed from being summer-like the previous week when we were invited, back to mid-winter by the Tuesday we were due to go... I was seriously thinking about crying off... But a friend we haven't seen for ages, who was acting in it, had kindly offered us the tickets, so I felt bad about even contemplating this... Then they moved the venue from the open-air to the Great Hall in Belfast City Hall, removing one of my gripes, and we made our way there in good time... And I was glad we had made the effort... The event, unusually, began with the audience standing for a minut…

Chaplains Again...

Just incase anyone interested in the issue of chaplaincy missed the comment which Dr. Presswood appended to the post prompted by his appearance on the Today programme, you will find his comments on chaplaincy here. He protests loudly about not being anti-religious per-se but his tone is (as in the aforementioned Radio 4 appearance), patronising, using terms like "credulity", accusing chaplains roles as "morphing" while he portrays the attitudes of others in healthcare as "improving". His reference to scripture is not only extremely selective but misleading, both in terms of actual referencing (it is 2 John chapter 1 verse 7 rather than John chapter 2 verse 7, which would have been a reference to Jesus turning water into wine... which chaplains only rarely do...) but also emphasis, as the context of " John 1: 2  for example is not about heathens or non-believers but about "super-spiritual" individuals who regard physical existence as unimpo…

Wearing and Bearing

I tend not to comment negatively on the public pronouncements of other church leaders here (trying my best to abide by the Methodist mantra of "friends of all, enemies of none" and all that jazz, but reports of Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Easter message, which got an early airing in news briefings on Saturday, didn't sit easily with me... For those who missed it, he was arguing that Christians should proudly wear the cross as a symbol of their commitment to Christ and his gospel, and that refusal to allow such expressions of faith are an erosion of the place of Christianity in the public square. Now, I do think that there is a concerted effort to marginalise the church in modern Britain, though I don't think it is as organised as some of the bleating would have you believe, and to be honest, I'm one of those who believe that the church is closer to the faith of the Christ of the cross when it is speaking from the margins, than when it is making pronouncemen…

The Dawning of the Day

In the midst of my preparations for last week's reflections on John's Gospel and how it echoes the first chapter of Genesis, I came across the following piece which was produced by similar cross-fertilization a few years ago when I was writing some material for New Irish Arts. I didn't use it last week, but thought it was worth another airing. 

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day", and the darkness he called "night". And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Genesis 1:3-5 (ANIV)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5 (RSV)
I’m grown up now… but I’m still afraid of the dark… I pretend that I’m not… But then adults are good at pretending… Children play “let’s pretend” but they’re only practicing for the serious pretending that goes on in adulthood… Pretending that w…

The Eighth Day - In the Garden

After an Easter sabbath rest from our reflections on Genesis 1 & John's Gospel, we return for a final time, based on Genesis 2-3 and John 20: 18 two stories which culminate with a woman in a garden...

I saw him… with my own eyes… although I didn’t recognize him at first… it must have been the tears… I thought he must have been the gardener, and I gave him a hard time about where they had put the body… I can’t imagine what he thought… I gabbled on until he said “Miriam”… My name… though you know me as Mary… Whatever way he said my name cut through my distress and confusion and I saw him as clearly as I see you now… my dear teacher… “Rabboni” I said as I rushed to embrace him… But he wouldn’t let me… Something about not holding him back from returning to his father… So I didn’t… But he asked me to go and tell his friends and family that he had risen and was returning to his Father God… So I did… to a mixed reception… but they saw that I was right in the end when they saw him themse…

Easter Saturday Supplement

We're taking a break from our reflections on the New Creation, just as the Biblical narrative has God resting on the seventh day and Christ's body is pictured as resting in a tomb on the Saturday of Holy Week. Which gives me a chance to do my usual round-up of stuff that caught my eye this week. And I suppose it is appropriate that I start with this piece in the Huffington Post about an attempt by a small group in the United Methodist Church in America affiliated to Answers in Genesis to rewrite that denomination's position on "Creationism" and science. Currently the United Methodist Church affirms scientific method, seeing nothing in conflict between science and Biblical Faith, and it expressly opposes the teaching of creationism within the public school system. The fact that they had to make such a ruling in the first place speaks of the depth of polarisation in the US on this issue, and should be a salient lesson to us on this side of the Atlantic about the d…

The Sixth Day – The Man

We approach the end of our Holy Week reflections on the new creation, focussing on Genesis 1: 24-31 and John 19: 1-16.
Opening Liturgy And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds..." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over every living creature..." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of…

The Fifth Day – Water

We continue our reflections on the new creation that can be ours in Christ in the words of Genesis 1: 20-23, John 2: 1-11, John 13: 1-17 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning the fifth day. Genesis 1:20-23 (ANIV)
Reading On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve …

The Fourth Day – Sun and Moon and Stars

We continue our reflections on the new creation that is ours in Christ, using Genesis 1: 14-19, John 1: 43-51, John 9: 1-5 and John 12: 35-36 Opening Liturgy And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19 (ANIV)
Reading The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and to…

The Third Day – Seed

We continue to look at the new creation that is to be found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus using Genesis 1: 9-13, John 1: 35-42 and John 12: 20-27. Opening Liturgy And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land", and the gathered waters he called "seas". And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning the third day. Genesis 1:9-13 (ANIV)
Readings The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of Go…

The Second Day – Above and Below, Water and Spirit

We continue with our Holy Week reflections based on the theme of the new creation within John's Gospel. Today's reflections are based on Genesis 1: 6-8, John 1: 29-34 and John 3: 1-13. Opening Liturgy And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky". And there was evening, and there was morning the second day. Genesis 1: 6-8 (ANIV) Readings The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on …

The First Day - The Beginning

This is the first in a series of prayerful reflections we're going to be sharing in at Dundonald Methodist Church throughout Holy Week under the title of Endings and Beginnings. Come join us at 9.50am this morning or 8am from Monday to Friday if you are within travelling distance, or if not, share in them as they are published. They're based on the widely held thesis that John's entire Gospel paints the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the initiation of a new creation, hence the strong parallels in the prologue, the 7 signs and 7 "I am" sayings, the early focus on "the next day" etc. This morning's reflection is based on Genesis 1: 1-5, John 1: 1-13, and John 12: 12-19. 
Opening Liturgy In the beginning God…
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning.
In the beginning God created…
Through the Word everything was created; without the Word nothing was made that has been …