Friday, 20 September 2013

Catching up

I realised today that I haven't updated this blog for about 2 years!  How time flies!  Our garden is completed and looked gorgeous over the summer (more about that in another post).

More importantly, another cohort of new deacons were ordained this summer. Here are 9 of the 27 new curates on the day of their ordination with the Bishop of Oxford. Together, to me, they are a source of great joy, hope, and interest, as I get to know them, and find out their gifts and strengths. May God bless their ministry now, and forever.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

New job - continuing vision

I started a new job on July 1st.  I am now responsible for curate training, still in the Oxford Diocese.

The Bishop of Oxford recently wrote to the diocesan clergy that ministry in this diocese, as in many, I guess, will need to be re-imagined in the light of the expected 'bulge' in stipendiary clergy retirement over the next few years.

I often wonder why it is that locally deployed parish focused associate clergy aren't clearly in the frame when we think about ministry in the future.  These people, particularly if they are formed as mission-minded ministers (as I hope that the 100 or so ordinands I have seen through to ordination on this and the earlier OLM track in this diocese were), are a huge resource to local churches.

In my mind, as I worked with them, I held (and hope that I communicated) a vision for them to be missional leaders in their local parishes, working with a team, and having a heart for initiating and leading new congregations. I know of several who have responded to this call from God, although I am concerned that  such initiatives may be curtailed somewhat if a new vicar is appointed who does not see the potential, or who perhaps feels threatened by colleagues who are 'apostolic' in this way.

I am looking forward to plenty of opportunities in my new role to encourage our curates, whether they are paid or voluntaryand self-supporting, nationally or locally deployed, to be open to new ways of thinking about mission and ministry.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New media training day

Our department at work are having a day learning about using facebook, twitter, blogs etc. I haven't tried twitter yet - I can't quite see how it could be useful in my work.

One question was about the way that some people can't access the new media as they can't afford or get broadband. My colleague said that this meant that there were 'pools of privilege' which had the effect of disenfranchising those who aren't broadband enabled. So this means that rather than being a way of flattening society and getting rid of hierarchies, the 'flat society' is limited to those who have rapid online access.

My sister is a farmer in deeply rural Herefordshire.  She can't get broadband, and if she could, wouldn't necessarily be able to afford it.  So her ability to communicate by anything but her mobile phone is stricly limited. When will things change?!!!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Designing our 3rd garden

After being at our new house for a year, we have had our garden (very steep, falls towards a stream) landscaped. Unfortunately, we didn't employ landscape gardeners, but a local builder instead. That has meant that we have had to do the gardening bit by ourselves, and to do that we are digging out 14 terraces which the builders filled with rubble and lumps of granite hardcore when they constructed the terrace walls of recycled railway sleepers. All good fun, if backbreaking!

It does get me in touch with nature - there is a friendly robin and a blackbird, both of whom wait till we finish work and dive down on the worms which we are bringing to the surface.

Doing this rather penitential task in Lent reminded me of the way in which the Holy Spirit works (if we are open to God working in us this way).  I find myself praying as I dig, "Lord, what are the hard lumps in my life that you want to 'dig' out?" How can I become good gound for you to cultivate? I am reminded of Hosea 10.12 - a hard verse, especially in context, and the parable of the sower.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Poetry and prayer

Today I started a new blog, mainly to ensure that the work I have been doing on my father's translation of Evagrius of Pontus's book How to pray can be kept together rather than each chapter being separated by random jottings in this blog. The book has 153 chapters, all succinct to the point of terseness. But  Evagrius chose to write 153 chapters as a reference to the 153 fish caught by the apostles in John 21. Evagrius wrote that he has 'published them in a basket of love', so I have subtitled the blog 'The basket of love.'

Saturday, 26 June 2010

An overarching vision for the Church?

Some one recently asked me what my vision for the Church in the next 15-20 years was. It is interesting thinking about such things which are normally the purview of bishops, but perhaps should be in focus for us all, even if we might be dead and gone to glory before the vision is achieved! I waffled a bit, knowing what I wanted to say, but having too severe a headache to be coherent at that point. After rest and migraine tablets, my answer is:

Centred on Christ, in 15-20 years, the Church will be

Growing in depth of love for God and other people, in discipleship, and in numbers,

Giving financially, and in using our God-given gifts to serve the purpose of God (‘if everyone does a little, no-one has to do a lot!’)

Gathered, and going out in the power of the Spirit: gathered in worship and koinonia, and going out in love and service to communities: local, national and global.

Some people might feel that this leaves out a great deal, but for me, as a minister, as Paul Avis says in his recent book Ministry shaped by mission, all ministry is engaged with the missio dei, even leading worship, preaching the Word of God, and pastoral care. So my vision for the church has mission written right at its heart, and just like a stick of rock, every 'bite' needs to reveal the message!

In future blogs, I hope to look at some strategic steps to achieve such an ambitious goal, while recognising that these will differ from place to place and context to context.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Roman archeology and theology

Our younger daughter Claire is a primary school teacher. Julian and I, together with Claire and Simon, our son-in-law, had a week this month staying in Frascati to visit nearby Rome to help inform Claire's teaching about the Romans in history and RE . The highlight of the visit, for me, wasn't the Catacombs (though I thought it would be), or the Coliseum and other Roman ruins and remains (sites where many people died make me feel physically sick, so I didn't hang about for long there!), but the Vatican. We had a wonderful guide called Vincenzo, who shepherded his large group of touristi with grace and godliness, making our visit a gospel experience. Speaking to us through his throat mike and our headphones, he patiently and gently led us through the courtyard of the pines, the Vatican museum, the Sistine chapel, and into St Peter's. Here, almost at the end of our tour, he showed us a large sculptured tomb above a door, made of three different kinds of marble, in contrasting colours. Under the deep, carved folds, we could just make out the carving of a skeleton. He told us that this represented death, and that the doorway signified that death is not the end, but simply the doorway to the future, and life in eternity, life in all its fullness, if you had faith in Christ. I'm pretty sure that there were quite a number of people in our large party who were not Catholics, and who weren't Christians at all, and I realised that this could be a moment of conviction for some of them, so I was praying pretty hard. I hope the visit was even more special for them than it was for me.
Go Vincenzo!

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