The Nativity Set Parable – A Post Script

015A brief comment on The Parable of the Nativity Set

This was an experiment in a different way of preaching from Christmas Morning.  It was inspired in part by the book, “The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop” which contains some weird and wonderful modern parables.  Continue reading

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The Parable of the Nativity Set

nativityThere was once a woman who loved Christmas with all her heart. She had just one wish, to own a beautiful nativity set of her very own.

The neighbours would deck their houses with lights, more and more impressive each year. There was a Christmas tree in each window, with decorations and artificial snow, but her house stayed dark and undecorated. She was saving up for her nativity set. Continue reading

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The Day after Christmas – Mary’s Diary

Dear Diary,

I thought this week couldn’t get any stranger, but I was wrong. Giving birth to my first child, that was life changing, though I would never have chosen to have it happen in an animal shed, but he’s here, and he’s healthy, and that’s all that matters. The thing with the angels and the shepherds was….a bit overwhelming, but they were so kind, and so keen to hold him, but so awkward, with their big grubby hands, it was really rather sweet.

But this morning the neighbours started to come round, keen to offer advice, and some really….odd questions. Continue reading

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Getting Off The Treadmill

Wheel-treadmillWhen I became a Vicar, I thought I was setting off on a wonderful journey, to do great things for God.  I was prepared for it to be scary and difficult.  I was up for that.  But I was not prepared for it to be boring and repetitive.

I thought I was Frodo, a small, insignificant person, setting off on a Grand Adventure, on a Quest that really mattered.  Instead of a pilgrimage, I seem to find myself on a treadmill.  I walk and walk and walk, but never get anywhere, the scenery never changes. Continue reading

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What Type of Hero Are You?

types of heroNo, it’s not an internet quiz, to tell you whether you are Frodo, or Katniss Everdene, Wolverine or Princess Elsa. The world has enough of those to be going on with.

Instead, it’s an invitation to wonder about the stories we tell of our own lives.

Let me tell you about a few people I have met over the last 20 years or so. Continue reading

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Church Growth makes me Grumpy.

church growth coffeeChurch Growth – surely, given I’m a leader of a Christian church, it’s beyond obvious that I’m in favour of church growth? So how is it that whenever I hear the phrase, I am filled with a sense of dread and start looking for the exits.

I am passionately in favour of people knowing Jesus. I want his followers to learn to follow him more closely, and I want to see new people start on that journey. I became a Vicar because the privilege of helping people in that process matters more to me than most other things I can think of.

It’s not that I don’t want churches to flourish and grow. But there is something about the way the subject gets treated right now that troubles me more and more. Continue reading

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Mindfulness – from the inside

It’s been my intention for a while to write something about mindfulness meditation – what it’s like to actually do it – partly, I’ve found it really helpful, so I’d like to share what it’s about – and partly because often when I read articles debating the phrenologypros and cons of mindfulness, it doesn’t always sound like something I recognise. I came to mindfulness in the form of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy – so that’s where I started from.

I find a comfortable, but not too comfortable, place to sit. The aim is to be settled and still, but without the risk of falling asleep. I set a timer on my phone, and close my eyes.

I start by concentrating on my breath – not controlling it, or making it especially slow or deep, but just being aware of breathing in and out, however it comes. I notice what it feels like. Continue reading

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Confessions of the Class Swot.

"Grade me. Grade me"I’m good at exams, me. That’s what I do.

I’m the kid in your class at school who came top of every test. I’m the one who got 98% in her Woodwork exam, despite having no practical skills at all. I’m the kid who was congratulated by the Head Teacher for being “a Credit to the School”, when I got a string of A’s in my GCSEs.

Do you hate me yet? Are you feeling the desire to call me Swot, or Speccy Four-Eyes or (worse) Teacher’s Pet? Continue reading

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Super-Vicar: My least favourite Super-Hero

Superman-3My least favourite super hero is one you may not have heard of, despite his marvellous talents – Super-Vicar

He is a man of vision, with a clear, bold yet realistic vision for the future of the church – shaped by his excellent collaborative team work and eagerly signed up to by his church members.

He never forgets a name, and is never at a loss for that important detail that really needed to be remembered. His psychic powers accurately tell him who is in hospital, who is pregnant and who needs a visit.  His diary management skills means he always finds the time.  His faculty applications are things of beauty. His sermons are just the right balance between warmth, wisdom, scholarship and humour. And never, never a minute too long. Continue reading

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“She’s Given Up”

bouquetShe was a woman who made me wince, every time her name came up on my phone.  It would always be a long, long moan. Round and round and round it would be go – and she would expect me to sort it all out, whatever “it” was.  But not until I’d heard about all the other people who had failed to take her concerns seriously enough. We were trustees together of a housing charity and wouldn’t have met otherwise. “Don’t give her my phone number” said the other trustees. Yeah, thanks for that. Continue reading

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