Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On 20th April 2005 Abigail Witchells was walking in the village of Little Bookham near her home, with her 2 year old son Joseph. She was attacked from behind and stabbed in the neck, paralyzing her and leaving her son unhurt but traumatized.

A statement was released on her behalf which read, "The staff here are wonderful and I am making progress every day. I have sensation over most of my body and the pain is less now. I can move my head, but as yet I cannot move my arms and legs. I can breathe and speak on my own for short periods. Please pass on my thanks to everyone for their support and prayers. God is doing beautiful things."

Much has been made of the Witchalls' strong Christian faith, and that of the whole family. her attacker was publicly forgiven by her, her mother and her husband. Her mother said, “Just being with her makes me feel better and I am immensely proud of her and her husband, Benoit, and of how much I have learned from them. Abigail's life is a triumph of the Cross. Not the world's usual triumph of strength, but rather one of vulnerability and love.

It seems to me that Abigail Witchells, along with Gee Walker (mother of Anthony murdered in Huyton), Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Gordon Wilson (who’s daughter Marie died in the Enniskillen bombing) - all of whose stories (or parts at least) we have heard this week, have an Easter faith - a faith that trusts God to do, not just the improbable but the impossible. Have we?

Easter to many people is about chocolate, hot cross buns, bunny rabbits and two long over due Bank holidays. Easter is REALLY about Jesus Christ’s passion for a hurting world. In recent days we have journeyed with Jesus into Jerusalem shouting our hosannas, to the Last Supper, to betrayal by kisses in Gethsemene, to trial and torture by Ciaphas and Pilate, and then standing watching the death of a traitor on a cross, dying the death of a failed man. As a we stand close to the garden where the tomb is, where we have been waiting since last night, the sun gently pinking the early morning sky, some figures are seen making their way in the half light.

It’s Mary and the others. These women, have been faithful to Jesus through it all - after desertion and betrayal - and here they are, after the Sabbath coming to the Garden Tomb to anoint his body as is the custom. Although they are doing what they can to be faithful to Jesus, the women like the other disciples never really heard Jesus latterly, not really. Here they are, despite talk of resurrection, coming to embalm a decomposing corpse.

They are chattering as they pass us, who will roll the stone away? The women are clearly expecting to find what you would expect to find at a new grave. The women are still live in a predictable world. If you roll a stone in place on Friday it will still be there on Sunday. These women demonstrate enormous courage and faithfulness coming ot the garden tomb, but they come expecting, despite what Jesus has said, that death still has the final word.

Throughout his ministry Jesus taught and revealed a new order that God was bringing in. A new order where things are not always necessarily one of cause and effect but one where the topsy turvey values of the Kingdom of God break through.

As they near the corner of the garden, near the small outcrop of trees, where the tomb is located, this new order of things begins to break through. As we follow them to the tomb, we all notice that the stone has been moved to one side. Whilst there are many explanations for this, a sense of something just being wrong overcomes us all.

Out of concern? Out of curiosity? The women look, we look too - inside there is only a shroud in the tomb and no body. What is going on? ‘Do not be alarmed!’ says the young man sitting over to one side of the tomb. Do not be alarmed?! They were now terrified - was this the grave robber himself that they have disturbed? ‘Do not be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus who was crucified - he has been raised, look here is the place where they laid him, ‘ he says as he points to the shroud. ‘Go and tell the others he is going ahead of you to Galilee, and there you will meet him..’

If something as predictable and inevitable as death is not longer inevitable or predictable then the world has changed dramatically. Frighteningly so. The body has not been stolen but the grave clothes are lying there as if Jesus has just stepped out of them... If stones can be rolled without help, if Jesus is really alive, what other certainties in life are now up for grabs. Life is suddenly awe-inspiring and terrifying. What else can and will God do in our lives?

One of the women with Mary said it later - that Jesus is now just loose in the world and coming to meet us, not on our terms, with our expectations, but on his. We can no longer deal with Jesus compartmentalized as a dead body in a tomb, as a story told by Mary and the other women, but we meet him here as a living reality and there is absolutely no avoiding him in grief, sentimentality, in liturgy. Business as usual in our day to day or Sunday lives is no longer safe because Jesus is here wherever we are, whatever we are doing calling us to be his disciples again and again and simply to come and follow him.

The women stand, as if suspended in treacle for a second that seems to last an hour, and then Salome screams. She screams and screams and screams. Immediately they are off in the directions of the four winds, running like they are being chased, running to who knows where, but not in the direction of Galilee. Leaving us - at this strange and empty place. They have seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears the truth of all that Jesus taught - he has been raised.

This easter story does not have a happy end so that we can all heave a sigh of Lent-is-over-relief. Jesus’ Easter story ends where it began, in Galilee - back in the ordinariness of the everyday routines. Our Easter story ends where it began, in Leverstock Green - back in the ordinariness of everyday. But it is now the Risen Jesus meets us in the ordinary and everydayness of things - on his terms, whenever and wherever he wants to, calling us to follow him.

The disciples abandoned Jesus to death in the garden as he was arrested and then crucified, and these women abandoned him in as yet unseen new life. There is only one group of people who can take the news that Jesus is risen, back into the ordinariness of every day life - us. But will we?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Here with a version of today's Good Friday address...

Just over a year ago, a bright, vivacious young man was waiting at a bus stop with his girl friend. Some lads appeared over the other side of the road shouting racist taunts. The young couple decided to avoid confrontation by walking down to another stop. The lads followed. The chase ultimately led into a park where the young man was confronted and beaten to death with an ice axe. The young man was Anthony Walker.

As she left the court flanked by her daughters following teh tiral of her son’s killers, Gee Walker said, ‘Do I forgive them? At the point of death Jesus said, ‘I forgive them because they do not know what they do’. I have got to forgive them. I still forgive them. It will be difficult but we have no choice but to live on for Anthony. Each of us will take a piece of him and will carry on his life.”

I knew a couple once whose son had died in a tragic military accident several years ago. They never spoke of the detail of what happened but the emotion was aleays only just beneath the surface. Years later, their son was still spoken of very highly, he could still do no wrong. Both parents were so caught up in the tragedy of the past that they failed to see that their focus on their dead son was alienating them from their other children and their friends and they remained locked in the angry and bitter past, unable to move on into the future, our present.

Today is about the grief of a parent, whose cry of anguish at the death of their son still resonates in the empty caverns of eternity. Today is about the grief of a parent - not just at the death of their son - but that they willingly allowed them to die feeling abandoned, alone, in the darkest abject hell.

Today is about a father that knows the depths of unimaginable grief in the death of a child. We underplay the horror of what was going on for Jesus and his father on this day at our peril. Jesus’ cry of ‘My God! My God, why have you forsaken me?’ is not the cry of a child who knows that despite having been lost in the supermarket, a call for their father has been put out on the tanoy, and he is on his way. This is the cry of someone completely alone. This cross is a dark and desperate place because here we witness the distance between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus has known and people have witnessed the pressence and power of God in him throughout his life and ministry. But here at the cross, God is torn in two. The distance between God and humanity normally present because of our fraility and sinfulness is revealed on this cross in Jesus the man as an unimaginable gulf in God himself. Today God stands speachless with Gee Walker, and millions of other parents worldwide who’s hearts have been torn from their bodies in the death of a unique child, their love, their flesh and blood, gone...

The cross is the ultimate darknes. And yet according to the Gospel, that darkness is not tragic. The gospels show Jesus not as a tragic figure haunted by fate, but as a faithful and trusting though at times terrified figure who moves towards his death with courage and conviction. He enters this darkenss of his own free willI and in full awareness of the outcome.

In the cross, we discover a God acting with finality and surety, yet with a tear streaked face. The cross is not God’s last ditch rescue mission of humanity, but part of the mystery of salvation for the whole world, formed in the mind of God since before Creation itself was and there was only God. The cross also does not explain away the suffering of Gee Walker and countless others. But on the cross God bears in his broken heart all wounds. So desperate and dark is our situation that God has to it enter to begin to see it transformed into a place of healing. Christ’s wounds are ours; his pain is mine. Our Father loves this hurting world this much - there surely must have been a calvary in the heart of God before it was planted on Golgotha’s hill.

Today we are called not to imitate Christ. Today he imitates us. He enters our suffering, our brokeness, our pain, our death. Until we meet the forsaken, sorrowful, and mutilated Christ of Good Friday here there will be no facing up by us to the sorrow, forsakenness and mutilation of real people in society, nor will we be capable of a passionate love affair with a God who really knows us.

The cross is a paradox - 'para' meaning near to and 'doxa' meaning glory because somehow through the cross we are innaugurated into the new life of God. The cross stands between our fallenness and our fulfillment, between the dust from which we come and the glory towards which we move, between Eden and the New Jerusalem, between that which is good and that which painful and broken in us. And yet we know too well that these are not different places: for sin and grace, hate and love, dust and glory, Eden and Jerusalem make up each one. The cross of Christ meets us at these points of conflict of our own fragmentation and longing for wholeness. It is the point of our most profound brokenness, at the shaking of the foundations of our being, that Christ’s cross becomes for us forgiveness for hurt and hope in the face of brokenness and death. Here we are indeed close to glory.

Today we are called not to imitate Christ. Today he imitates us. He enters our suffering, our brokeness, our pain, our death. ‘I have got to forgive them. I still forgive them.... It will be difficult but we have no choice but to live on for Anthony. Each of us will take a piece of him and will carry on his life. Gee Walker may have imitated the Christ of Good Friday in her forgiveness of her sons killers. Today God imitates Gee Walker and others, knowing the pain of the loss of a son, forgiving and in the face of death offering life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Here's tonight's third address on forgiveness...

In a speech, shortly following the setting up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela said, ‘The feeling of freedom that infuses every South African heart at last liberated from the yoke of oppression underlines the fact that we have all in one way of another being victim to the system of apartheid.... In no activity is this more lucidly captured than in the heart rendering evidence being led at the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission... It is only natural that all of us should feel a collective sense of shame for the evils that as compatriots, we have inflicted upon one another. But even in the few days of these hearings we can all attest to the cleansing power of the truth. It is to this that this Commission is committed. We are committed to the truth so that we can all be free. We are committed to the truth that we can all become reconciled one to another. There is a very long road ahead. We are only just starting...’

In the forward to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, ‘We have been privileged to help to heal a wounded people, though we ourselves have been, in Henri Nouwen's profound and felicitous phrase, ‘wounded healers’. When we look around us at some of the conflict areas of the world, it becomes increasingly clear that there is not much of a future for them without forgiveness, without reconciliation. God has blessed us richly so that we might be a blessing to others. Quite improbably, we as South Africans have become a beacon of hope to others locked in deadly conflict that peace, that a just resolution, is possi bl e. If it coul d happen i n Sout h Africa , then i t can certainly happen anywhere el se. Such is the exqui site divi ne sense of humour...’

Very powerful words reminding us that forgiveness is not just to be given and received between individuals, but if brokered carefully can be for the benefit of all, for the greater good of all, and freeing for all concerned into the future.

On Monday evening evening we reminded ourselves that Jesus teaches that forgiveness is something that must come from the heart - it must be freely given - over and over again. It is not just a matter of forgiving or loving those whom we like, because even ‘sinners’ do that but forgiveness must extend to those whom we object to. We must not judge or condemn, but forgive and we will be - not by our enemies - but by God. We also remembered that the majority of the time Jesus talks of forgiveness in relation to sin. Sin being the things that we do and say that build barriers between us, God and other people. Jesus came not to rescue humanity from sin, but to complete God’s work of creation, as in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection the barriers that we build between us and God come down once and for all. Forgiveness for Jesus it seems is about receiving assurance of that fact, repenting, and living this new way.

Last night we recognised that forgiveness is sometimes very hard to give. We cannot do it under our own steam even though we know we should. Thinking in relation to the story of the rich young ruler we remembered that we can forgive no one, but for God all things are possible. We looked again at the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, where he offers her living water springing up and giving eternal life. We remembered that Jesus refers to this living water again in John 7 - whoever believes in Jesus shall have ‘streams of living water flowing from within them,’ clearly that Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit which believers would later receive. The forgiveness of which Jesus speaks in the Gospels, which we are to give, must flow from us like streams of living water - the new life of God. In that sense forgiveness is not ours to give, but God’s forgiveness flowing through us because of the presence of the Holy Spirit given in the living waters of Baptism.

Living the new way that Jesus inaugurates and allowing God’s forgiveness to flow through us is freeing and liberating for all.

In John 8, Jesus has been debating with some Pharisees about his ministry and teaching and some of them clearly believe him. He assures them that if they follow his teaching they will know the truth of the presence of God in his ministry, and that will free them from the legalism of their own traditions into living the new life that God offer. Jesus makes a clear link between seekers after truth and freedom - those who search out the forgiveness of God, the new life that Jesus inaugurates are freed from the effect of sin - from guilt and from pride, and freed to be people through whom God’s forgiveness can flow, not just to us but from us - reconciling us to God, but also us to each other.

Later in John 14, speaking to his disciples of his immanent death, Jesus links this search for truth to the idea of journey and of life. If the truth of God, revealed in Jesus is to bring forgiveness and freedom to blossom in us we need to be ready to change. As searchers after truth we are on the way towards God, moving from being the people we were to the people God is making us to be - forgiving, being forgiven, and free to live life.

An inability to forgive rests like a yoke on us, as individuals, as a community. Yokes are used on animals and people in traditional communities when working the land. They are heavy, and their burden restrains and directs us to walk one way or another. The power of forgiveness is to lift those burdens from us - and if you have ever been forgiven you will know what a relief that feels like. The forgiveness that Jesus offers - God’s new life - frees us from the oppression that divides us. In Matthew 11:28ff Jesus offers to the weary, the sinful, those feel that they are unforgivable, another yoke in exchange for theirs - a light one - of love for ourselves and others. This yoke of forgiveness, of new life, frees the wearer. Instead of being bowed down with the weight of our burdens, only able to focus on them, constantly dwelling on their impact on our past and present, God’s forgiveness in Jesus liberates us to focus on God, and on our present and future with each other and Him.

We are all a work in progress - Christ’s forgiveness, his new life in us, enables us to be Christlike - to be reconcilers and to use Desmond Tutu’s words ‘to help to heal a wounded people, though we ourselves have been, in Henri Nouwen's profound and felicitous phrase, ‘wounded healers’. When we look around us at some of the conflict areas of the world, it becomes increasingly clear that there is not much of a future for them without forgiveness, without reconciliation. God has blessed us richly so that we might be a blessing to others.’

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Here is a version of tonight's second address on forgiveness...

On July 7th 2005 bombs ripped through trains and a bus in London. Jenny Nicholson, who was 24, had boarded the eastbound Circle Line train at Paddington station. Moments earlier she called her boyfriend James White on her mobile. Minutes later the train was blown up by suicide bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan.

Her mother, Julie Nicholson was unable to speak at her daughter’s funeral, but someone read on her behalf - "There are few human words that can adequately express what we feel about people who indiscriminately carry out apparent acts of senseless violence against innocent civilian populations and, unbelievably, do so in the name of God. Such delusion, such evil, is impossible for us to begin to comprehend." Since then she has been unable to forgive; unable to move on. Her plight is all the more moving when you realise that she is ordained.

Rev’d Julie Nicholson has resigned her post in Bristol as since 7th July she has been unable to preach forgiveness. She said, "It's very difficult for me to stand behind an altar and celebrate the Eucharist... and lead people in words of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness when I feel very far from that myself ... So for the time being, that wound in me is having to heal..."

On the same day, Maria Williams lost her son Anthony. Reflecting on how she felt after the realisation that he had died sunk in, she said "Lord okay, I'm all done, and like you say good will come out of this, I leave it in your hands". And that's how I feel. He's a prince of peace and Anthony was a peace lover, he loved people, he loved to help, he was charitable, and as a test of tests I gave him up to God and I said "Lord take him to yourself and then use me as a vehicle of your peace. Use me Lord, lead me, I put my hands in your hands, guide me, shield me and show me the way to go".

And all that I'm doing at the Anthony Williams Foundation for peace is the fallout of that.... and I'm saying why don't we wake up as well and act for peace, not by just sitting quietly, by doing? Because we can't give out what we don't have. Let's work out how we can make peace...

That's why my guiding philosophy is to recognise and have a common humanity. I'm working for peace. For as long as we don't recognise our common humanity and let our difference separate us and create this yawning gap of self and other ... so long will we have a problem.

Two grieving mothers responding to the same situation in different ways, demonstrating clearly how difficult it is it forgive as Jesus calls us to - even for Christians.

Yesterday evening we reminded ourselves that Jesus teaches that forgiveness is something that must come from the heart - it must be freely given - over and over again. It is not just a matter of forgiving or loving those whom we like, because even ‘sinners’ do that but forgiveness must extend to those whom we object to. We must not judge or condemn, but forgive and we will be - not by our enemies - but by God. We also remembered that the majority of the time Jesus talks of forgiveness in relation to sin. Sin being the things that we do and say that build barriers between us, God and other people. Jesus came not to rescue humanity from sin, but to complete God’s work of creation, as in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection the barriers that we build between us and God come down once and for all. Forgiveness for Jesus it seems is about receiving assurance of that fact, repenting, and living this new way.

Living this new way is impossible without God - we cannot try and do it under our own steam. Look at the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19. He asks Jesus what good thing he needs to do to get eternal life. Jesus as usual turns the whole thing on it’s head - if he wants eternal life he should obey the commandments. The man replies that he has done this; what else does he need to do? Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and give to the poor. The man leave downcast. Astonished at this exchange, a little later the disciples ask, who can be saved? Jesus replies that in our own strength no one, but with God all things are possible.

Christians recognise that forgiveness is one of the hallmarks of the new life that Jesus inaugurates. So often we find that we cannot just give it, even though we may wish to.

Look at the story of the Samaritan woman again in John 4. In their discussions Jesus asks her for a drink of water from the well, and offers her ‘living water springing up and giving eternal life.’ Jesus refers to this living water again in John 7 - whoever believes in Jesus shall have ‘streams of living water flowing from within them.’ Here John tells us clearly that Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit which believers would later receive.

The forgiveness of which Jesus speaks in the Gospels, which we are to give must flow from us like the streams of living water - the new life of God. Forgiveness is not ours to give, but God’s forgiveness flowing through us because of the presence of the Holy Spirit given in the living waters of Baptism.

Why is it sometimes so hard to forgive? It is understandable after what these and countless other mothers have been through. It might be to do with those we need to forgive or what they have done. In times like these we can become the camel trying to pass through the needle - like the rich young man - we may know what God asks of us and yet be unable to exercise it.

More shockingly though it might be to do with us. In times like these we need to become like the Samaritan woman listening to Jesus, and to ask God for living water to flow out even through us.

So who can forgive and be forgiven? Jesus assures us that in our own strength, no one. But with God, all things are possible.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Here is an early draft of tonight's first sermon on forgiveness...

On Sunday 8th November 1987, as people gathered round the Enniskillen Cenotaph, and IRA bomb exploded. Eleven people died; there was extensive damage. Gordon WIlson and his daughter Marie were buried in the rubble. As they held hands, waiting to be freed, Marie died. That same evening, Gordon Wilson gave a spontaneous and memorable interview to a BBC reporter. Some criticized him for what he said; others were amazed. Later he wrote:

I’d like to think that it was the real Gordon Wilson who spoke to the BBC’s reporter... on the evening of the bomb, when I said, ‘I have lost my daughter and we shall miss her. But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back.. She was a pet. She’s dead. She’s in heaven. We’ll meet again. Don’t please ask me for a purpose. I don’t have a purpose. I don’t have an answer. But I know that there has to be a plan.... God is good and we shall meet again.’

I did not use the word ‘forgive’, in that broadcast nor in any later one, but people understood that my words were about forgiveness. Our Lord taught us to pray, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ We ask God to forgive us, but we are always subject to his condition that we must forgive others. God’s forgiveness is ultimate, ours is the forgiveness of man to man. To me the two become one. It’s as simple as that. My words were not intended as a statement of theology or of righteousness, rather they were from the heart, and they expressed how I felt at the time and I still do’

The call to forgive comes over and over again in the pages of the scriptures and is found many times on the lips of Jesus himself. Jesus calls his followers are to forgive over and over again. Jesus says that Christian forgiveness must come from the heart - it must be freely given. It is not just a matter of forgiving or loving those whom you like, because even ‘sinners’ do that (Luke 6: 35ff) but forgiveness must extend to those whom we object to. We must not judge, condemn, but forgive and we will be - not by our enemies - but by God (see the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23ff)

Forgiveness for Jesus is not some sort of social project, but linked inextricably to God’s work in the world, especially in and through his life, death and resurrection.

Jesus talks most often about forgiveness of sins (at the Last Supper Matthew 26:28 and the healing of the paralysed man in Mark 2.) Sins are the things that we do and say that build barriers between us and God and other people. These barriers go up because we are proud and don’t acknowledge we need God. We get into such a mess and despite knowing that God wants to lift us out - we shut God out. We sometimes wonder whether God can forgive us, the guilt eats us up - we shut God out. In circumstances like these, we realise that God asks us to change, and yet either feel powerless or unwilling to - so we shut God out. Sin offends God. It separates him from the thing that he loves more than anything else in the whole world - you - and it breaks his heart enough to send Jesus; not in some sort of rescue mission, but to complete what he had undertaken at the beginning. God acted so that we might fully understand him. Jesus tells us all that we need to know about God and all that we need to know about ourselves. When Jesus talks of forgiveness then, what does he really mean?

It is not about being a member of a religious community that worships a loving and forgiving God. Christianity is the end of religion and of forgiveness. Look at the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. She asks him about the right place to worship God, seeing Jesus was clearly a prophet. Jesus’ answer turns the whole thing on it’s head, he says - it doesn’t matter where you worship, but about how you worship; worship will be in spirit and truth and God seeks out people like these. Christianity is not a religion. Religion is only needed when there is a wall of separation and sin between God and us. Christ in his life, death and resurrection breaks down that wall and inaugurates new life not new religion and does away with continued forgiveness.

When Jesus talks of forgiveness then, what does he really mean? He means that new life which is about repenting. Repentance is where we feel totally alienated from God, from real life. It is about realising through my actions that I have defiled my spiritual beauty, that I, like the Prodigal Son, am far from home, and that something precious entrusted to me is hopelessly broken in the very texture of my existence and my deepest desire to return home.

When Jesus talks of forgiveness then, what does he really mean? He means new life which is about receiving assurance that God has (past tense) broken down the wall of separation between God and us through Christ’s death and resurrection once and for all, and having received that assurance, sharing that news, that ‘forgiveness’ with others.

‘I did not use the word ‘forgive’, in that broadcast nor in any later one, but people understood that my words were about forgiveness. Our Lord taught us to pray, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’ We ask God to forgive us, but we are always subject to his condition that we must forgive others. God’s forgiveness is ultimate, ours is the forgiveness of man to man. To me the two become one.’ Gordon WIlson is right in that sense. Forgiveness can only come from an awareness of God’s new life in us, which God longs to give, if we would only return home.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The family visit went well - just a shame that one person lived up to expectations... Oh well..

Today's 10am service went well. 8am left a little to be desired. The Liturgy of Palms outide was shorter than I was expecting, but S read well. In church, litugy went on at a pace. Really good choir anthems. We tried a new way of telling the passion narrative - through a 'sound montage' which required a bit of explaining but captured a little of the noise and emmotion of Calvary. Very moving...

The service finished up a little earlier than normal but with the bit outside it all seemed to happen on time.

Good comments. It felt a good and fitting way to enter Holy Week.

Let the sermon writing begin!!!

:-)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Well we survived being invaded by the outlaws and their kids...

Still no further with Mon-Weds sermons. At the moment I am toying with the power of forgiveness which will run through into Good Friday. I have been particularly moved by the 'witness' of people like Anthony Walker's mother and Abigail Wytchell's who have publicly forgiven those who have caused them hurt and harm. So I am currently wondering whether doing a series of four sermons with Good Friday being the high point - the ultimate act of foriveness... We'll see...

Still need to finish preparing for the passion gospel tomorrow and stapling the service sheets, so I'd better get to it...

More tomorrow

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hi! Sorry I haven't posted for ages but this baby lark takes all the other time that I had to write this...!

Life as five is great and Peter is wonderful and loved very much by us all... We're adjusting well if not sleeping brilliantly but I guess that goes with the territory!

Had the last session of the Lent course last night which was really good. We watched and were deeply moved by 'Secrets and Lies' and spent some time last night talking very menaingfully about forgiveness and how hard and yet necessarry it is and how it is something that we can only truly give and receive if God is involved... We'll do more of these 'Reel Issues' sessions - they've been great...

As I write we are just on the cusp of Holy Week. A busy and emotional week lies ahead of us. I am leading 3 eucharists on Monday thru Wednesday and as yet I have no idea what I am supposed to be preaching about! I feel like something on trust and faith (and commitment) might be good. We'll see. For Good Friday I want to get under the skin of the emotion of what God was going through - as a father. Easter day, well, that'll be something on living the Christian life and commiting to that.

We had a great end of term service for the school in church. Gave a little address as is my wont, mentioned FtF and several people took info away with them which is really good.

I am just finishing 'The Kite Runner.' I didn't think too much of it when I started, but I have become really engrossed in the story - thanks Laura good call!

Well the new Archbishop of Sweden has been elected - Anders, previously of Vaxjo diocese. He is good news I think for the church certainly internationally. Must pray for him...

Good AGM - short. I used the sermon slot at the eucharists to shar a vision for HT. Appartently people were talking about it afterwards - esp. people who did not come to the AGM! Another good DCC elected though for which I am ever thankful...

UPDATE ON CYNTHIA - following her stroke she has now moved to Gossham;s End (sp?) The best place for her other than home poor love. What a year she has had - bless her. What faith and determination though too...

I get the sense from something that someone has said (ta A!)that people are in not ambivalent to FtF but are scared of relinquishing control to God... Hmmmm... maybe. Either way I think I need to make some time for some Q and A sessions perhaps as coffee mornings and in the context of worship too for some serious explaing to be done and for people to air their 'concerns.' Watch this space...

Well that's it for now - best clear up the tea things

:-)