Saturday, 30 April 2011

Come Awake!

Come Awake
we bought this and showed it on Easter Sunday ,a number of people commented on how it helped them to see the relevance of Easter to their lives now
thought I would put it on here in case it helps you!

Sermon for a Royal Wedding

For anyone who missed it here is a transcript of the Royal Wedding  sermon given by the Bishop of London.
It is not really my style but reading it I think he makes some very important points about marriage  and I like the Chaucer quote
Any thoughts on the sermon Bishop of London's royal wedding sermon

Friday, 29 April 2011

Missional Manifesto

Was interested in this.It has certainly been compiled by some very capable people

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Royal Wedding -an opportunity?

People have been asking me whether I am going to watch the Royal Wedding?
I am not sure how to answer, as others in the family will be watching and it is, I suppose at least theoretically  possible, I could get caught up in the excitement of it all. Who knows?
In the end though I will probably just watch the highlights on the news.
While I could personally do without the hype that surrounds the event,  I am delighted they are getting married and I certainly wish the couple every happiness in their future together.
As a church we didn't see this as a major evangelistic opportunity to be honest, but looking around the web some Christians have done so Krish Kandiah's royal wedding plans
More locally one church, not too far away, seems to have decided to make a festival of the whole occasion which seems extremely ambitious Shifnal

I hope it works out well for them all

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter changes everything!

We sang some great hymns and songs this morning as we celebrated Easter Sunday,  but one we didn't sing (maybe because its  more often associated with All Saints Day) is Bishop How's " For all the saints who from their labours rest"  which is a great biblical hymn usually sung to Vaughan Williams lively tune. Nevertheless it is  that hymn has been on my mind since I got up this morning .
The later verses express the New Testament teaching on death and life beyond death wonderfully well

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

 But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

The Christian church is amazing in it's diversity ,people from every tribe and tongue and nation but also from every generation.

So today I thought  of so many of the people whose funerals I have taken down the years, from the retired police inspector and  the elderly pioneer missionary,  to the young student ,to the children and still born babies and many many others,and how Christ's Death and Resurrection changes everything for them,  and means "we sorrow not as others sorrow who have no hope"
Easter is an incredibly hopeful time
As I parked my car on arriving home from church I noticed this  young apple tree in full blossom in the garden.

It is a tree generously given to me by the parents of a fine young Christian man killed in a road traffic accident not so long ago, and whose funeral I took part in .From the depth of a harsh winter new,beautiful and hopeful life has sprung.!
From death comes life .
In the words of Stuart Townend's great hymn which we did sing this morning "Death is dead love has won Christ has conquered!


Saturday, 23 April 2011

John Updike poem for Easter Day

John Updike 1932-2009

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday?

A very thoughtful service for Good Friday this morning led by Steve.
We sang some powerful songs and hymns,read the familiar readings  and thought again about the cross and God's awesome love before sharing communion together.
We are certainly not going to appreciate the Easter message fully without thinking a great deal about Good Friday and the crucifixion

I was moved by another of Sally's poems on Good Friday.
Good Friday?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Saltmine Theatre Company

Tonight The Saltmine Theatre Company came and performed "Who Moved the Egg?" in our church building.
 Saltmine Trust
This was a  production,suitable for all ages,that told the story of Easter all the way from the Last Supper to the Ascension. The set was excellent and the three person company told the story in a way that was sometimes humorous, and sometimes very moving, but always in a way that engaged and involved  the audience and that was faithful to the Bible.
It certainly was a very helpful way to reflect on the events of the death and resurrection of Jesus.and prepare  myself for Easter.and from chatting to people afterwards that seemed to be a pretty universal reaction

In a low key way it was also a good evangelistic event,that we can certainly build on in the future.

Monday, 18 April 2011


Enjoyed worship yesterday morning. We celebrated Palm Sunday with a baptismal service.I spoke though on Luke's account of the crucifixion
Read this poem out (with permission) from Sally's blog  which speaks to me of the perseverance of Jesus  poem
I always think perseverance is a very underrated Christian quality, but it was something Jesus demonstrated throughout his life and especially in the first Holy Week as he goes through Gethsemane to Calvary.
 Perseverance is  something all of us who call ourselves his followers need to demonstrate as well.
There are times when it is not easy to follow but that is exactly what we are called to do.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Paris in the Spring

Just back from a very enjoyable few days in Paris.
We were told that the city was on high alert after a law was passed banning the wearing of the burka in public and the police, and indeed the army, were very visible in all parts of the city, though we saw only one very small demonstration against the new law.
We visited most of the popular tourist haunts and the city looked great, far better than I remembered it from my last visit in 1991.
There was very little sign of an economic downturn,though there were more beggars on the streets than I have seen in other cities recently.
It is hard to measure the spiritual temperature of a place in a few days but  Paris  looks even more materialistic than other places and from all I read the church in France appears  weak, and seems to have little influence.Although still nominally Roman Catholic less than 10% of  those who describe themselves as Catholic attend church.

We visited some stunning church buildings including the Notre Dame and the Basilique du Sacré Cœur with its amazing ceiling

These churches were crowded with tourists but looking around I was also struck by the number of people praying and lighting candles and also the number of people writing down prayer requests in books that had been provided for the purpose.
Even if we assume that only a small percentage of these people attend worship regularly ,they do at least provide evidence that human beings have real spiritual needs and are in some way reaching out and looking for Gods help in their lives
I know UK Christians who have worked in France for many years and found the going very tough, but I was left wondering what more the church here could do to help the church in France?

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hope and death- Sally's poem

There is a lot I would like to blog about if I had time, but I was really struck by this poem on Sally's blog
Hope and death
It took me back  16 or 17 years to a time when I was a part time assistant chaplain at a hospice.
I found it a difficult but enormously fulfilling role.The people I tried, imperfectly, to minister to knew they were dying.
Many wanted no spiritual comfort from me,others wanted a miracle of healing,still others accepted their situation and simply wanted someone to walk with them on the journey.It was my immense privilege simply to be there
I can still remember many of them Bill,Jean and Joyce among others. They gave me so much more than I gave them and a number renewed a long abandoned faith, and some found faith for the first time.

 I especially love the line in Sally's poem  "She was the spiritual giant in the room" because it sums up what I so often felt.
Opening a door into a room where a patient lies dying is a tough thing to do . Perhaps I was not very good at it.Sometimes people were angry ,sometimes inconsolable,sometimes simply frightened but occasionally they were full of faith and joy knowing they were beginning a new and great adventure into Gods closer presence
They were the spiritual giants in the room!

The hospice also taught me the value of listening  and the value of being vulnerable. I may not be good at these things but I would be a lot worse without this experience

After a few years with the demands of a growing church and family I gave it up but I am always glad I did it   To be honest I learned more about pastoral work there than in 7 years of theological education!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Weekend Away.Pioneer Centre- Roger Sutton

Roger and Lesley Sutton were our main speakers.
The first session they told us a bit about themselves and the way God had worked and indeed was working in their lives.Peter described  their story as "thrilling ,inspiring and challenging" It was certainly a powerful testimony to the difference a relationship with God can make.
On Saturday Roger told that he and Lesley had recently become grandparents and they had begun to reflect what kind of church their grandaughter Pearl would join in 2030AD and what kind of society she might live in.
Roger then described a journey that he hoped the church in the UK would make in the next 2 decades,indeed he felt that in many places the church had already begun to make this journey
Roger kindly gave me permission to quote his powerpoint headings
The Church must journey from

  • Control to reliance
  • Independence to interdependence 
  • Institutional to Personal
  • Isolation to Incarnation
  • Timidity to Confidence
  • From the rich to the poor
  • Disregard to respect
  • The Ghetto to the town hall
  • From security to adventure
  • Predictable to surprising
Roger unpacked each point individually and applied it to our situation at Shrewsbury Baptist Church.
I think what was enormously encouraging was that we felt that (even if in very imperfect ways) we were already on this road and it gave us not only confidence that this was indeed the way to go but also a determination to keep going!

Mothers Day.- Pause for Thought. Radio Shropshire

The shops and adverts have been telling us for at least a month that today is Mother’s Day
My inbox has been inundated with offers of cheap flowers, discount vouchers for a tasty mothers day lunch out, yummy  chocolates and a host of others goodies for mum
Now as it happens I  have the best mum in the world.  (besides my wife and mother of our children who of course who is also the best mum in the world!) Today she deserves to put her feet up, relax, and glow in the warmth of the love of her children and grandchildren and enjoy the gifts we have lavished on her.

Despite this I still get the feeling that Mothers day is over commercialised and we need to be honest and acknowledge many people find Mothers day a day to be endured rather than enjoyed.

Over the years those who have lost their mums or those mums who have lost children or those who longed to be mums but were unable to have children, have told me when Mother’s day is over they breathe a sigh of relief ,knowing it is a year till the next one comes around.

But being a mum is not easy it is time consuming and demanding
One mum wrote you know you are a mum when

  You start spending regular half hours in the bathroom…just to be alone!
• You start hoping that tomato ketchup is a vegetable, since it’s the only one that your child eats.
• You find that, without thinking about it, you’ve cut off the crusts of your husband’s sandwiches
• You hear your own Mother’s voice coming out of your mouth when you say “NOT in your best clothes!”

Being a mum can be tough being a single mum can sometimes appear almost impossibly difficult. You do an amazing job just to keep going!

But mothers day isn’t really mothers day  it was originally called mothering Sunday a day when people would return to their mother church a nearby large church or more often a cathedral to gather with other Christians to be in community together

There’s a clue there about how to keep going in tough times .Find strength in community- that might be a sure start centre or a toddlers group or at the school gate or a fitness class
Human beings were made for community .It is in community that we should find love ,encouragement and support

The greatest community I know is the Christian church and the best churches are not holy huddles but ones who keep the 2 greatest commandments to love God and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves

If you can find a church that does that it must be worth giving it a go!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Promise Auction!

The town centre building is coming on.
We have enough resources to get it built but not yet enough to fit it out
We are very keen that the building will be for the community The Hub.To achieve that the building needs to be accessible and attractive .If it is going to be useful to all sections of the community it needs to fitted out with great technology.and this doesn't come cheap!Consequently we are in the process of raising more money.To this end we will have an Easter Gift Day,we are exploring grants,and having some fundraising events.

On Thursday night we had a promise auction where people promised a whole variety of things from a days fishing on the river Severn ,hampers for Mothering Sunday,a weekend in the Lake District, flower arranging,trips to the airport,a days sailing, a ride on a Harley Davidson and a whole host of other wonderful things!
I was amazed by the creativity  and generosity of the donors, and the enthusiasm of the bidders, we raised not far short of two thousand pounds.The best thing about the evening though was not the money raised but the great sense of community there was.It was just great fun!  One person  put it  this way;" a fantastic evening I was just bowled over by the diverse mix of those who both gave promises, and also those who bid for them."

I just  love the diversity,the creativity,the generosity of the Christian church at it's best!