Archives April 2008

The Benefit of Retreat

I have just returned from a couple of short days away in a religious community on retreat, and having benefited spiritually from such an experience felt that I should share some reflections on it with you. Many people have never experienced a retreat and may wonder what it may offer them, some may just wonder what happens on a retreat and may just regard it as a couple of days holiday for the vicar, but I believe that it is a powerful spiritual discipline and one which can benefit us as both individual Christians and the body of Christ in Elson.

I have been spending my time with a community of nuns called the Sisters of the Love of God, based at Fairacres in East Oxford. The Convent [of the Incarnation is within walking distance of the town centre in a student house-share dominated part of town. The area has a slightly run-down feel and a considerable ethnic diversity. Past its gates however, there is a large, spacious and above all quiet sacred space, as these Carmelite Anglican Sisters do their work of prayer and contemplation.

Retreats differ from one religious community to another, and may be guided by a Sister or a priest or as I prefer, unguided. For most of the two days I spend my time in silence, the only words spoken are in worship (5 offices a day and mass). The rest of the time, once shown in, the mantle of quiet settles and one is able to spend time in prayer, spiritual reading, contemplation and reflection; one potters around with a cup of tea and a homemade flapjack, engaged in the kind of spiritual engagement that normal parish life simply does not afford one.

One must got get the impression that this contemplative work is unconnected with the world. It follows in a very challenging way, Christ’s prayer for us to be in the world but not of it (John 15:19). One does not spend this time of quiet, with mobile phone and television turned off, disengaged with the world, but I immerse myself in the world whilst still in silence. I walk down by the river and through the Oxford Colleges and in the midst of the busyness of Oxford, but in prayerful watchfulness. Absorbing, reflecting and seeking God in the midst of all this. Some might find the town oppressive and prefer the country, whereas I find that latter environment uncomfortable. I suppose we are at heart either country or city people, and I know what kind of person I am.

In this quiet, through time of prayer in the silent chapel and before the blessed sacrament, whole new avenues of spiritual refreshment become possible. In a city, in a community, one discovers that it is possible to rub against one another and form community without formality and our bonding as the body of Christ becomes stronger than ever. Early(ish) nights and sleep contribute to the rebuilding of one’s spiritual strength which one prays will be to the benefit of our parish. New insights to our problems, creative new ways of doing what we already do well and a reassurance of God’s love are made plain in the stillness of prayer, the study of God’s word and basking in his presence.

I was privileged to be asked to celebrate the Mass for the Community on St George’s Day, and it was a wonderful, spiritual experience; although the pace and stillness of their mass takes some getting used to!

So, what good has come out of my retreat this year? Hmmm. Too soon to tell, I suspect. I know for one thing that 3 days is simply too short, and that next time I should spend more days actually in silence, with part of Monday and perhaps Friday given over to travelling. I was just getting deeply into it when I was torn away. The spiritual benefits of the retreat will, undoubtedly, bear fruit shortly.

There is no set cost for a retreat with the SLG in Oxford, you make a contribution, get fed once a day at lunchtime and the rest of the time fend for yourself from a simply stocked food store or a trip to the Tesco’s on Cowley Road. Oxford is only an hour and a half by road or two and a half by a very good train from Gosport. I commend a retreat to you all: time spent with God is time very well spent indeed, and you will find it useful, stimulating and energising.

A beginning point might be a Quiet Day with our Diocese’s own Religious Community: the Sisters of Bethany in Southsea. I am leading a day on the 17th May which comprises of two talks, a mass and some opportunity for quietness and prayer on a Saturday. Speak with your clergy if you are interested.

Another good place to start is the Retreat Association who publish a directory of places (not always Religious Communities) where you can go on retreat. Local(ish) places to us here in Gosport include SLG (where I go), the Benedictines at Alton or Elmore near Newbury, Benedictine nuns at West Malling in Kent, Hillfield in Dorset with the Franciscans or Quarr Abbey with the Romans on the Isle of Wight. Fr Simon, Mother Margaret or Caroline would be happy to advise you further.

May you find Christ in the stillness. Go on retreat. It will transform you.

Do this in Remembrance of me…

Dom Gregory Dix, one of the foremost Anglican liturgists of the 20th Century wrote passionately on the shape and the power of the Eucharistic action, where bread and wine were taken, given thanks for, broken and shared. In Blessed we created a meditation on his text which can be viewed on YouTube:

Bread and wine transformed by prayer into the Body and Blood of Christ is one of the fundamental mysteries of the Church. How this happens, we simply do not know; why this happens, beyond it is of God’s will, we do not know; and in what way this happens is a mysterios [Greek or sacramentum [Latin. We cannot see the wind, but we can see the action on the wind on the trees: so look not for Christ wedged between the crumbs of the Host, but in the words of the Psalmist “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

The Canons on the Church of England, or our rulebook if you like, states that:

The bread, whether leavened or unleavened, shall be of the best and purest wheat flour that conveniently may be gotten, and the wine the fermented juice of the grape, good and wholesome.

Canon B17(2)

Notice that this does not include gluten-free wafers which we can make available for those with Coeliac Disease. These canons were written well before knowledge of such things. We use specially made unleavened wafers, preferably wholemeal, made by an English Religious Community in Burford, Oxfordshire, although we have also used freshly-baked bread made during the mass. The wine must be alcoholic (no grape juice permitted), but beyond that, no specification to colour, sweetness, alcohol content (although 14-15% lasts better once opened), sparkliness (remember the champagne used as a bold statement of celebration this Easter morning) or fortification (my predecessor used Sherry, and we often use Port at Christmas).

Participation in this most sacred meal is not limited or exclusive: Christ ate with sinners and the unworthy like you and I as often as he did with Pharisees, and for this reason, we happily administer the sacrament to all who wish to receive it: confirmation, and sometimes even baptism are not conditions on which God’s saving graces can be bounded, and so as conduits of that grace, your clergy bid everyone to enter into the banquet of the lamb.

Now, there may be reasons why one might not be able to fully participate in the full meal: issues with gluten, or alcohol or our physical limitations, but if we are unable to partake of the sacraments in both kinds, we have not missed out: for Jesus Christ is fully, mysteriously present in both. To take only bread, or only wine, or to receive in an ‘irregular’ order does not invalidate it. When I was a nurse in Intensive Care, I was privileged to be caring for a long-term patient who was unable to receive the host: he had breathing tubes and was unable to swallow, so the priest brought the Precious Blood up to the unit, and supervising me, I was asked to administer it through a tube directly into his stomach. This was a key part of that person’s healing, the first time I was able as a layperson to administer the chalice (a 5ml syringe!) and a powerful statement of Christ present in the elements both singly and together. Similarly, it is perfectly acceptable to receive communion by intincture – to ‘dip’. The chalice-bearer will put the purificator towel underneath to ensure there are no drips, but this is acceptable. Do as you will, and if it is with the intention of drawing closer to the Lord, it will be fine. Worry not.

It’s all good. The whole of creation exists interdependently for the glory of God: “God makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” (Psalm 104:14-15).

The Church exists for the Glory of God and his worship and to proclaim the Kingdom of God not at some undisclosed time in the future, but in the here and now. It does not therefore exist for the benefit or satisfaction of its members. To be caught up primarily in concern for the colour of the wine, whilst neglecting the social deprivation within our community; to be more worried about what which chalice we use whilst forgetting to engage with the young people who hang about on our street corners, is to have lost the sense of the Gospel calling.

No decision, particularly related to worship in Church, can please everybody: someone will always be excluded from the table to which the Lord invites everybody, regardless of age, holiness or place on the journey. Whatever your clergy do will wrankle with some and please maybe even less. However, if we refocus our eyes on the purpose of this ecclesial community, and set about making Christ known in broken bread and wine outpoured, then nothing else matters. I invite you on this journey of radical discipleship, and pray that when we do this, these other matters will pale into insignificance.

Written on retreat at the Sisters of the Love of God, Fairacres, Oxford,
April 2008

In our brokenness…

Psachal Candle - now in a million pieces - thanks kids

This is one of those trying moments in child-friendly ministry. I encourage the full participation of children in the Mass – a teaching ministry where they share what they have learnt in their learning ministry (what we used to call Sunday School), participation in the eucharistic prayer, in bells and acolytes, in allowing them space and form to worship.

As a result of their feeling so relaxed in God’s house, they were chasing each other around the sanctuary and now the Paschal Candle is in a million pieces. I am not angry, but somewhat upset.

The candle now represents our brokenness, and the financial perils that we are faced with – for the cost of a replacement Paschal Candle is not insignificant. That it broke at all, in the middle of a moment of silliness is also a metaphor for the risks that we can and should take in ministry, for Christ the Light of the World is not to be shielded from the world, but activity placed in its midst, in the midst of children playing and the people of God in worship. The risk of exposing brokenness is a risk taken because Christ is already out there, where there is no protection for him, for it is He who is our protector.

That the people of God gathered to pick up the pieces is also a significant metaphor; gathered up so that none may be lost, gathered to try and repair the damage, to fix the unfixable, to find a suitable alternative.

Maybe it was a good (although expensive) thing to happen; a lesson learnt by a group of children, a living example of faith and praxis in parish life. Maybe this was God teaching us something about his brokenness.

Maybe I shouldn’t be upset at all.

Fix it and move on. God is here. Make yourselves at home.

Sermon: Easter 5, Year A – Funerals and Death

Text: John 14:1-12

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled”

I have preached on this text quite a number of times. In fact, it is probably the portion of Scripture on which I preach most frequently. I would like to think that it has honed my thinking on it, but there is a distinct chance that many of you will have already heard it; for it is one of the principle texts read at the Funeral Office. Perhaps there may be an opportunity for some of you to join me in the familiar chorus at some stage…

However, I think that many of the things I have repeated at some of the many funerals we have celebrated here, bear repeating again; for there are some familiar stories which need to be repeated over and over again for their significance to be truly revealed.

This passage of Scripture speaks to all of us about that which we have no control. Death will come to all of us, and yet we so seldom speak of it. I heard it said that a hundred years ago, the Victorians were obsessed with death: long periods in mourning, complicated family rituals and a gothic sense of the spiritual – obsessed with death and afraid to talk of sex. Where as today… society is obsessed with sex and afraid to talk of death. Even when Christ spoke of his impending arrest and passion, the disciples could not comprehend it. But speak of death we must, because it is not unspeakable, but an integrated part of life. We begin our lives with God, we travel through this earthly life (which may be only a small part of it) and at this point we return back to God, and that is the promise – the promise made by Christ himself – that we must hold onto whenever this sadness and loss confronts us.

Funerals are sad occasions, and the loss of someone loved is never easy. Bereavement is one of the most unpleasant emotions, but is a necessary one: for bereavement is one of the emotions that make us truly human: to sense the loss of someone in our lives and to seek to be healed emotionally. Christ himself wept at the tomb of Lazarus. However, as Scripture tells us so very clearly, this sadness should be contrasted with the hope that Jesus Christ promises to us in these times of sadness and loss. It is a powerful hope for all of us, whether we actively proclaim our Christian faith, or whether faith is, a private matter, kept to oneself.

The Gospel gives us the consoling words of Christ addressed to his own disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled”. Christ has gone before us and through his experience of death, through his overcoming of death in the triumph of the resurrection, he has opened up the way to eternal life for each and everyone of us.

For death, although a physical loss to those of us here, is very much a part of life: death is not an end, but merely a change in relationship, and a change in perspective which we on this earth find difficult to perceive, but Oh yes, the departed are still very much with us, in our memories, in our love and in our prayers.

I have, throughout my priestly ministry conducted many funerals: of those of great age, dignity and social standing, with a packed church and a wailing, tearful congregation; of those isolated and alone – indeed where myself and a next-door neighbour were the only ones there at the graveside; of adults cut short in the prime of their life; and of children, died before they had to opportunity to reach their prime. For all of these, Christ says “Come. I shall return to take you with me. Follow”. The dignity of the Christian Funeral is there for all, from the mightiest to the least, the youngest to the eldest. God’s welcome is for all of them, and so are our prayers. This is why I always include the prayers for the faithful departed and those whose anniversaries of death (known as ‘Year’s mind’) occur. Remember the words: “Rest Eternal Grant unto them, O Lord / And let light perpetual shine upon them / May they Rest in Peace / And rise in Glory” is a powerful prayer. Prayer for the departed is of benefit for them, and of great benefit to us, for it provides us with solace and links us with them, whether we knew them or not, God knows them, and they ALL deserve our unselfish prayers for their immortal souls.

Christ himself declared that he was “the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by him” and it is with this sure promise that we meet at a funeral to assist the faithful departed on the next part of life’s journey.

It is with this promise that we gather to re-enact that one full perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction in the mysteries of the sacraments and as we do this, as Jesus Christ assured us, “Let not your hearts be troubled”


Simple Eucharistic Liturgy for an All-Night Event – Collaborative Liturgy – Please Help

For the past few years I have been leading worship at the beginning of the All-Night Bowling Event in Worthing, where 100 or so young people and their leaders bowl through the night. It’s usually been a little alt.worshippy but this year, having spent so much time being Eucharistic with young people this year, I wanted to construct a liturgy based on my “Last Supper” talks, which comprise the Storytelling ministry and a lot of stuff on the Real Presence and the Mystery of the Eucharist. I have tried to make it accessible and yet still imbued with mystery and significance.

In true, I have tried to boil down the Mass to its core elements: reconciliation, scripture, epiclesis, institution and distribution. I am debating whether the anaphora of the eucharistic prayer is needed. There are two options at that point. I need your help to advise me on whether I should include the anaphora or not. The aim is a mass in 15 minutes including distribution: young people sat on the floor and the elements (pitta and a whole bottle of wine) on a corporal on the floor like a picnic rug; distribution by passing the elements around to all present. No technology at all. Many are churched at this event, and some are not. I am going for an immersive and inclusive experience for all.

Any comments, criticisms, changes and suggestions will be appreciated. This is a collaborative work and I open it out to you all.

A Simple Mass for an All-Nighter

(All night Bowling, 25th April 2008, Worthing)

Cel: God is here. Make yourselves at home.

1: Come and stay awhile, take a moment from your busy, hectic, facebook-filled, MSN-clogged lives and pause.

2: Wait for a moment and take the chance to sense he in whose presence we find ourselves.

Cel: Tonight we journey through the night, in fun and friendship, towards the dawn and a new day filled with promise and joy. It’s a long night, and a long journey. For any journey, we must be fed, prepared, sorted.

In the name of the +Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1: Our preparation for this journey means sorting out our kit, getting it in order, and getting on the right track. There are many paths, and many of those paths might look attractive or easy, but they are not necessarily the right path.

2: There are many paths with twists and turns, ups and downs, dead ends and frustrations, but only one true way.

1: O Lord, for the many times that we have sought to take the easy path… Lord have mercy. Lord have Mercy

Cel: O Lord, for the distractions that have drawn us away from you, Christ have mercy Christ have mercy

2: O Lord, for our lack of faith in you, and the direction you draw us to, Lord have Mercy, Lord have mercy

Cel: Almighty God, who loves you, walks with you, guides you and supports you through all the ups and downs of your life, and has given authority to his Church to absolve sins, free you from your burdens and + reconcile you to his heart. In the name of the man who was sent to save us. Amen

Be fed, just as his first followers were fed in preparation for the journey ahead of them, a journey which would take a whole lifetime…

1: St Paul said:

Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Mass and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Man himself and passed them on to you. On the night of his betrayal, he took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.

After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:

This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.

What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you re-enact in your words and actions the death of the Man. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until he returns.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

2: St John remembered:

The Man said: “I am the bread of life; The living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
(John 6:48-56)

Cel: When his disciples, gathered in an upper room to eat a simple meal heard this, they had no idea what he meant: bread and wine become body and blood? How outrageous! It sounded a little like cannibalism – the Man who had guided them through so much, taught them so much, given them a glimpse of heaven on earth in wonderous signs and marvellous healings, was inviting them to eat of him.

And two thousand years later, he still sits amongst us, and invites us to his table. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, or how badly you think you have been in the past: The Man reaches out and offers you a place at this table, this place of encounter, this point of transformation.

The Lord be with you
And also with you

1: For he is with us, now. Supporting, guiding, counselling and comforting. Stirring up the complacent and crying out for justice, transforming lives and making whole.

Cel: Lift up your hearts
We lift them up to the Lord

2: The best way, the only way we can respond is in worship and in this sacred space drawing closer to God to the point where we can touch him, taste him and feel the difference.

Cel: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give thanks and praise

In ways in which we do not understand, or could ever hope to understand, Christ is present in our midst. The many thousands, millions of words of theologians, the prayers of saints, the witness of the apostles: none of them have ever got their heads around what happens here.

1: We can’t see the wind, but we know what happens to the trees.

2: Look not for the wind, but for the effect of the wind.

1: We can’t see any outward change in bread and wine, but we know that something is different

2: Look not for God hiding under an ordinary piece of bread, as St Francis once said, but look for the effect on those who share in the Body and Blood of Christ.

Cel: Bread: Simple. Wholesome. Good. The staple of life and proof in our hands of God’s bountiful goodness to us all.

Wine: Source of joy and gladness, an example of God’s love in a glistening drop of rich, dark sweetness.

Our prayers echo the song of the angels, saints, prophets and patriarchs and whole company of heaven as they say:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your Glory, Hosanna in the highest.

Blesséd is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness.
Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy,
so that they may become for us
the +body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ

Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted,
he took bread and gave you thanks.
He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

When supper was ended, he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

Together, Let us remind ourselves of the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Radical Alternative Traditional
It’s good.
It’s changed.
And through it we are changed.

You won’t find the Man
Wedged between the crumbs,
But he is there,

He gives himself to us
In this way, so we can get our heads around the enormous idea of God stepping down into our world.

He gives himself to us, so that we may become a part of him.

You eat food. It becomes a part of you.

You eat of this, and you become a part of him. A Holy Communion, at one with God.

The only thing we can do is respond in love and joy, awe and wonder.
May all of us who taste this foretaste of heaven be brought together as your Church on this earth, empowered with the power of God.

May we remember all those not with us, and bring us all into your heavenly presence, through the powerful and mighty, saving work of our Saviour

Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

In memory of his death and resurrection
we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup.
We thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.

May all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ
be brought together in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Father, remember your Church throughout the world, make us grow in love, together with John, the Bishop of this Diocese and all the clergy.
Remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest
in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Have mercy on us all;
make us worthy to share eternal life
with Mary, the Virgin Mother of God,
with the apostles, and with all the saints
who have done your will throughout the ages.
May we praise you in union with them and give you glory
through your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

[If the replacement anaphora is not used, it should be adapted here below:

It’s good.
It’s changed.
And through it we are changed.

You won’t find the Man wedged between the crumbs,
But he is there,

He gives himself to us in this way, so we can get our heads around the enormous idea of God stepping down into our world.

He gives himself to us, so that we may become a part of him.

You eat food. It becomes a part of you.

You eat of this, and you become a part of him. A Holy Communion, at one with God.

The only thing we can do is respond in love and joy, awe and wonder.

1: He taught us to pray, so looking forward to when we can share this party again, let us pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Come. Share. Eat at God’s Table.

1: No one is turned away.
2: No one is unworthy.

Cel: All are welcome.

1: Take, Break, Share, and Pass on.
2: Be thankful. Be changed. Be aware that God is in our midst.

[communion is distributed, passed from each and every person

1: By this meal, you have been changed. By bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, you have been healed, restored, reinvigorated and renewed.

2: You have been fed for a long night’s journey with something more than a snack for an all-night event. You have been fed with the stuff of life.

Cel: The food of this earth just makes you hungry again. The food of this meal will last for ever. This bread and this wine is for all time.

May your all-nighter be filled with laughter, joy and friendship
May your journey of life be guided by the Man
May your lives be transformed by this salvation story
And may the Blessing of God Almighty, +Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you, and remain with you, this long night and always.

The mass has ended. Go in the peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

Backups, Robocopy, SyncToy and a Requiem for a Laptop

It was working fine last night. I tried to fire up my battered and bruised Packard Bell laptop and nothing. Charging Light, Power Light, but no boot. External Screen to see if it was the LCD, but still nothing. Fan, but no activity. It’s bust.

They come to take it away tomorrow, but this means (tragically) that I am without a PC to work on during my retreat next week at the SLG. I was hoping to get so much done alongside a lot more prayer and some early nights. Of course, I might be able to persuade Lou to lend me hers, but then again, what’s she going to play Freecell on?

The loss of Outlook data has hit me harder than I imagined, and a new wave of paranoia has taken over. I am currently backing up the NAS [Network Attached Storage Server (a nifty little box which attaches to an external USB Drive and makes WORK available across the network without hassle), to both another USB drive and to a directory on the Linux Server. I’ve used SyncToy since it first came out, and Version 2.0 is currently in Beta, but you have to initiate the “echo” yourself [echo better than sync as it simply scrapes the WORK disk onto another, updating as required. I was looking for command-line options and discovered ROBOCOPY – the ROBustCOPY, and a replacement for XCOPY from DOS.

I ran the help text to a file for your information:

ROBOCOPY :: Robust File Copy for Windows

Started : Thu Apr 17 13:56:16 2008

Usage :: ROBOCOPY source destination [file [file… [options

source :: Source Directory (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
destination :: Destination Dir (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
file :: File(s) to copy (names/wildcards: default is “*.*”).

:: Copy options :
/S :: copy Subdirectories, but not empty ones.
/E :: copy subdirectories, including Empty ones.
/LEV:n :: only copy the top n LEVels of the source directory tree.

/Z :: copy files in restartable mode.
/B :: copy files in Backup mode.
/ZB :: use restartable mode; if access denied use Backup mode.
/EFSRAW :: copy all encrypted files in EFS RAW mode.

/COPY:copyflag[s :: what to COPY for files (default is /COPY:DAT).
(copyflags : D=Data, A=Attributes, T=Timestamps).
(S=Security=NTFS ACLs, O=Owner info, U=aUditing info).

/DCOPY:T :: COPY Directory Timestamps.

/SEC :: copy files with SECurity (equivalent to /COPY:DATS).
/COPYALL :: COPY ALL file info (equivalent to /COPY:DATSOU).
/NOCOPY :: COPY NO file info (useful with /PURGE).

/SECFIX :: FIX file SECurity on all files, even skipped files.
/TIMFIX :: FIX file TIMes on all files, even skipped files.

/PURGE :: delete dest files/dirs that no longer exist in source.
/MIR :: MIRror a directory tree (equivalent to /E plus /PURGE).

/MOV :: MOVe files (delete from source after copying).
/MOVE :: MOVE files AND dirs (delete from source after copying).

/A+:[RASHCNET :: add the given Attributes to copied files.
/A-:[RASHCNET :: remove the given Attributes from copied files.

/CREATE :: CREATE directory tree and zero-length files only.
/FAT :: create destination files using 8.3 FAT file names only.
/256 :: turn off very long path (> 256 characters) support.

/MON:n :: MONitor source; run again when more than n changes seen.
/MOT:m :: MOnitor source; run again in m minutes Time, if changed.

/RH:hhmm-hhmm :: Run Hours – times when new copies may be started.
/PF :: check run hours on a Per File (not per pass) basis.

/IPG:n :: Inter-Packet Gap (ms), to free bandwidth on slow lines.

:: File Selection Options :
/A :: copy only files with the Archive attribute set.
/M :: copy only files with the Archive attribute and reset it.
/IA:[RASHCNETO :: Include only files with any of the given Attributes set.
/XA:[RASHCNETO :: eXclude files with any of the given Attributes set.

/XF file [file… :: eXclude Files matching given names/paths/wildcards.
/XD dirs [dirs… :: eXclude Directories matching given names/paths.

/XC :: eXclude Changed files.
/XN :: eXclude Newer files.
/XO :: eXclude Older files.
/XX :: eXclude eXtra files and directories.
/XL :: eXclude Lonely files and directories.
/IS :: Include Same files.
/IT :: Include Tweaked files.

/MAX:n :: MAXimum file size – exclude files bigger than n bytes.
/MIN:n :: MINimum file size – exclude files smaller than n bytes.

/MAXAGE:n :: MAXimum file AGE – exclude files older than n days/date.
/MINAGE:n :: MINimum file AGE – exclude files newer than n days/date.
/MAXLAD:n :: MAXimum Last Access Date – exclude files unused since n.
/MINLAD:n :: MINimum Last Access Date – exclude files used since n.
(If n < 1900 then n = n days, else n = YYYYMMDD date).

/XJ :: eXclude Junction points. (normally included by default).

/FFT :: assume FAT File Times (2-second granularity).
/DST :: compensate for one-hour DST time differences.

/XJD :: eXclude Junction points for Directories.
/XJF :: eXclude Junction points for Files.

:: Retry Options :
/R:n :: number of Retries on failed copies: default 1 million.
/W:n :: Wait time between retries: default is 30 seconds.

/REG :: Save /R:n and /W:n in the Registry as default settings.

/TBD :: wait for sharenames To Be Defined (retry error 67).

:: Logging Options :
/L :: List only – don’t copy, timestamp or delete any files.
/X :: report all eXtra files, not just those selected.
/V :: produce Verbose output, showing skipped files.
/TS :: include source file Time Stamps in the output.
/FP :: include Full Pathname of files in the output.
/BYTES :: Print sizes as bytes.

/NS :: No Size – don’t log file sizes.
/NC :: No Class – don’t log file classes.
/NFL :: No File List – don’t log file names.
/NDL :: No Directory List – don’t log directory names.

/NP :: No Progress – don’t display % copied.
/ETA :: show Estimated Time of Arrival of copied files.

/LOG:file :: output status to LOG file (overwrite existing log).
/LOG+:file :: output status to LOG file (append to existing log).

/UNILOG:file :: output status to LOG file as UNICODE (overwrite existing log).
/UNILOG+:file :: output status to LOG file as UNICODE (append to existing log).

/TEE :: output to console window, as well as the log file.

/NJH :: No Job Header.
/NJS :: No Job Summary.

/UNICODE :: output status as UNICODE.

:: Job Options :
/JOB:jobname :: take parameters from the named JOB file.
/SAVE:jobname :: SAVE parameters to the named job file
/QUIT :: QUIT after processing command line (to view parameters).
/NOSD :: NO Source Directory is specified.
/NODD :: NO Destination Directory is specified.
/IF :: Include the following Files.

So, all I need is a batch file with:


and use the Task Scheduler (hidden inside CONTROL PANEL / ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS) to run it at 1.15am each day, and I have automatic mirroring of all that crucial work. Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the USB drive which contains all my video work – lose that I really am messed up!!

Outlook woes and my final submission to Google – all made possible through GMobileSync

I’ve had a really bad few weeks. It’s been reasonably awful since the new PC with Vista became the principle desktop, and introduced me to the hell-on-legs which is the Windows Mobile Device Center (sic) to link to my iPaq, a bad replacement for the unspeakably bad Activesync which we had to put up with in XP.

For the past couple of weeks, it simply wouldn’t sync, and kept knocking over Outlook; and then on my return from a weekend away, I found the Outlook .pst file corrupted and all my emails consigned to the black hole of never: lost. Irretrievably, lost.

Today the attempted fix involved reinstalling Office 2007 three times, reinstalling Mobile Device Center twice (each requiring a ferret through the registry to properly uninstall the damn thing – these programs are more tenacious than … something unspeakably tenacious), and so in the end I looked elsewhere.

The solution was a Windows Mobile application called GMobileSync which synchs your Calendar with Google Calendar – something I had previously populated with a comma separated variable file, but this does it automatically and once I had got the timezone settings right (I think BST was confusing it and when I set the calendar to “ignore daylight savings” it was sorted), the calendar is there and more importantly, is anywhere I can get an internet connection. Now that I have a mobile broadband dongle, this can be truely anywhere.

EMail configured in Google Mail to look like my address and picked up from my ISP in Google as well, and wherever I am, so is my desktop. Notes in Google Notepad and bob’s your auntie – complete mobile desktopping both inside the house and away from it.

Goodbye Microsoft Outlook and good riddance. Will have to see how to do big imports of data into the calendar for my annual lectionary calendar . I will let you know how it pans out, but on the first impressions, I sense this is a significant step forward.

Sermon: Easter 4, Year A

Text: John 10:1-10

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Two sheep were standing in a field.

“Baaaa” said one.

“Bother” said the other one, “I was going to say that!”

The real challenge of Good Shepherd Sunday is to make it real for an urban and sophisticated congregation like yourselves. I suspect that the flow of this sermon would be made so much better if we were surrounded by sheep and rolling hills, rather than concrete, pavements and the interminable roadworks on the A32.

Sheep simply do not enter into our mindset, and so to fully understand the significance of our Gospel this morning, we need to understand some country ways.

We often think of Shepherds as people who drive sheep, from the rear with their snarling but canny sheepdogs, pushing the flock of sheep to where the Shepherd wishes them to go: to safety, or to the market or even the abattoir. I recall watching on holiday once a demonstration of shepherding. One man and his dog, a whistle and a large field, it was amazing to see man and dog working together as one to guide and drive these sheep. If only my own dog, Ruby, were so obedient!

However, it would be quite incorrect for us to assume that when Christ spoke of being a shepherd, and we in the language of Psalm 100 as the sheep of his pasture, he was thinking of driving us poor creatures to where we didn’t want to go. That is a metaphor for the west, and the modern age, not the Middle East at the time of Our Lord.

Out there, a shepherd does not have the advantage of a sheepdog, and so rather than driving his sheep forward, from the rear, a shepherd leads his flock, leads from the front. Indeed, the text of the Gospel makes explicit reference to this:

“The sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. He goes ahead of them and the sheep follow because they know his voice”

With this metaphor in mind, we can see the role of Christ much more clearly: to lead us towards God, not to drive us; to guide and inspire, protect and save rather than to coerce, bully or harass.

The Good Shepherd is a challenging illusion. We tend to think of Shepherds as being part of the biblical scene, as they are referred to frequently by Christ; they were witnesses of his birth, we recall. We grace them perhaps with the dignity of the working man, and see them as perhaps a representative of us, the common people.

That is, however, not how the original hearers of Christ’s words would have interpreted them. Shepherds were required to spend long periods of time away from their homes. They lived uncomfortable lives in the semi-wilderness confronted by the dangers of wolves and thieves. They did not have the luxury of a day off, and so Shepherds were seen as disreputable and scandalous because they had to break the Sabbath Law. We have lost our awareness of how scandalous it would be for Christ to liken himself to one who broke the Sabbath – would Christ today say “I am the Good Prostitute?” – would we be equally scandalised by such a suggestion? That sounds outrageous doesn’t it? It would have had the same impact in the first century.

And yet, time and time again God proves to us that his ways are not our ways, and many of our concepts of scandal are misplaced. King David was a shepherd: a loyal, good and effective shepherd as well if his prowess with the slingshot was anything to go by. His descendant, Our Lord identifies himself with the scandalised, he was revealed to these poor-quality Jews at his birth, and uses them to teach us something very significant about his mission.

Christ, of course, was frequently the subject of scandal: he ate with sinners as well as likening himself to them, and he died a criminal’s death. The lamb of God is not an image of a pastoral ideal, but the image of a sacrificial victim – the lambs sacrificed for the Passover on the night we call Maundy Thursday.

For Christ be the Good Shepherd to us, we need to accept being his sheep. Today is also Vocation Sunday; a day when we pray not only for vocations to the sacred priesthood or the religious life, although that is both necessary and welcome. We pray for the discernment of a vocation for all of us, to respond to God’s call to be whatever he leads us to. The Good Shepherd has a vocation in mind for all of us, a ministry for us all to perform, a response to Him as one of his flock.

When we think of vocation, we usually focus on priesthood, on the religious life. But what about the other vocations that being a Christian is all about. We so often only think of vocations in terms of actual work in Church, and let’s face it, I am sure the Choir would welcome others to join them, and I am always wanting to train up servers (of all ages), a music group, intercessors and readers – there is so much that we can collaborate on and for which you might be being called to…

But what about visiting that otherwise lonely elderly person. What about enabling a harassed single mum have an afternoon to herself. What about the friendly smile to the disaffected youth on the street corner? These are all part of our vocation as Christians and vocations that we can all aspire to.

In participating in God’s holy sacraments at this altar, and doing God’s work here on earth, building the kingdom of God, we are responding to his call, the lead of the Good Shepherd: our vocation as Christians is to be the Sheep of God’s pasture – to follow where he leads us, to be protected from harm by him, to be nourished through him, to join with him as one body.

There can be no greater vocation: the vocation to be a Christian, to be a sheep for the lamb of God.


A Vision for Mass-Shaped Mission – A Seminar Given at Critical Mass Weekend, Lancing College, Sussex, 11th April 2008

Opening Prayer

Let us pray…

Open our hearts and minds, O Lord. Give us vision and confidence in your mission. Bless us with your presence and inspire us with your Holy Spirit. Enable us, as your unworthy ministers, with grace to sing your Easter praises. In the powerful and thrice-holy name of the living God. Amen.

We gather in the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


I’ve never been conventional: always been in trouble, always been at the back of class irritating the authorities who tell us how it should be done, and why it has to be like it is.

And Blesséd (my experience of creative, or in this diocese, Critical, Mass) is, I suppose a reflection of this: the loose collection of individuals and their charisms that almost on purpose seeks to take what we know and love and do it differently.

On one level, Blesséd is solidly traditional – deeply sacramental, unashamedly Anglo-Catholic, soaked in gin and the cycle of the daily office, and on another it seeks to blow that world apart – to declare the whole of creation as sacramental, and our approach to God as immersive, multisensory and wildly, rabidly inclusive.

Blesséd is, as I am sure you are, steeped in values which have been passed down to us from the apostles and the saints, moulded by Holy Mother Church and shaped by the weight of theological consideration, liturgical practice and the pastoral needs of the pilgrim people of God.

This seminar seeks to build on our shared Catholic heritage, to re-emphasise our mission and the proclamation of the Gospel, and for us to be reminded that we already have the principle tool of mission to hand: the mass.

I am, like many of you, a parish priest: St Thomas the Apostle, Elson. An urban parish in Gosport in the Diocese of Portsmouth. I was a Mirfield-trained Chichester Ordinand, who found my vocation through youth work and especially the youth camps in this diocese under the wing of Fr. Stephen Gallagher (who preached at my first mass 6 years ago – and surprisingly we are still speaking!).

I carry all of the pressures and anxieties that you do: a heavy pastoral load with sixteen and a half thousand souls in my cure, a small, struggling and (I have to admit it) poor parish; a desire to proclaim Christ made present in a particularly Catholic spirituality.

So, I suppose the key questions you want to have answered in this session are:

  • Why should I do creative liturgy? Does it make a difference?
  • Can I do it in ways which are authentic to our tradition?
  • How can I do it when I don’t have any technological expertise?

Angela Tilby last year spoke of the challenges of a Catholic Missionary Spirituality, in an age when it would appear that the only mission in the church is undertaken by the Evangelicals: where Hope08 would appear to be only youth ministry focus in the church (Hope08 is important, but it’s not the only thing happening this year) and where, according to some, if it doesn’t happen at Soul Survivor, it’s not authentic mission.

We know that the timeless and yet deeply relevant spirituality of anglocatholicism has so much to offer the church, offering depth as well as breadth, context and relevance as well as a proclamation which speaks deeply to the hearts and souls of many.

Dr Tilby suggested that Catholics might have lost the missionary focus, but I suspect that Catholic and especially Anglocatholic mission is alive and well: flourishing in the hearts of parishes like yours and mine and small villages in northern Norfolk. It is found wherever an encounter with God beyond the superficial is needed, and where the Church knows that an authentic spirituality still has so much to say to people of all ages: not just children and young people, but those past their first flourish and beyond.

One of the legacies of the Reformation was the rejection of the sensual and the sensuous. Our engagement with God is much more than simply what we say aloud, or even what we hear, but in sight (spectacle and ritual), smell, taste and touch and through these we are enabled to engage both our minds and hearts in worship.

Paul Bradshaw remarked in last week’s Church Times that we are creatures created to worship, but I suspect that the evangelical narrowness of sola scriptura cuts out many of our worshiping experiences by restricting our means of engaging with God. God is bigger than that.

Catholicism is a fundamental way of looking at the incarnation and the world as affected by the incarnation, and therefore our sacramental life is crucial, central even to the work of mission. Being authentically Catholic means being multisensory and opening ourselves to the outrageous and audacious possibilities which the Incarnation offers to us.

Bishop Lindsay, in an article on the sacramental ministry in fresh mission, suggests that:

“One might argue that in a culture saturated with trivial, unmemorable and unreliables words, Christ-filled symbol and action might have more chance of breaking through [and being heard”

Mission-Shaped Questions p31

The original multisensory worship was the liturgy celebrated in the Basilica of the 8th Century: a place where sight, sound, smell and taste ensured that the people of God sought to engage with God’s wondrous creation and to try to express the inexpressible.

When words run out, and they always run out when we are in an encounter with the indescribable, we turn to symbol and sign. Society is surrounded by symbol and sign, not to control us, but to enable us to engage with that which is beyond our experience: from the burning bush to the body and blood, our encounter with the sacred cannot solely be through word alone, for the soul encounters God on so many more planes of function.

Fundamentally, I believe that our primary encounter with God in worship is not an intellectual one, but an emotive one. Worship is one of the first ways that seekers of faith encounter Christ, and when asked about their first dip in the worship ocean, they do not reflect on worship in terms of reason or logic: whether they were convinced by the argument, but how it made them feel.

The experience of Blesséd in Southsea, shows how it is worship, and fundamentally sacramental worship is a key tool in breaking through the mundanity of everyday life. In urban Portsmouth, we stepped out in mission to an extremely mixed group of teenagers. Not having any money, resources or (quite frankly, any clue), my first solution was simply to introduce these largely unchurched young people to the Church: the Lady Chapel in particular. In the dark: lit only by candles and swathed in incense, around a cross, or an ikon, projecting some words on a blank wall or the altar frontal: something wonderful happened and these young people who only months before were the ones vying to knockout as many quarterlight windows as they could were able to grasp the presence of God in their midst. Truly effective mission simply allows people to encounter God, and the missioner simply turns up for the ride.

The last great swell of Anglocatholic Mission was in the 20’s and the 30’s and took place in poor, working class slums where the beauty and transcendence of worship lifted the people of God. It was through the sacraments that encounter took place. When we started to plan worship, a number of our young people involved all said independently “well, it has to be a mass doesn’t it?” It is intriguing that they sought to define themselves in terms of their relationship to the sacrament and yet not to be constrained by the traditions of it.

For them, each element of the mass was seen as being up for grabs, for a radical interpretation and a retelling of the story.

So, in 2002, Blesséd was born – Eucharist with funky backbeats, Gloria with dancing, Sacrament with Attitude. Blesséd sought to continue its sacramental heritage whilst proclaiming its ancient truths in new and creative ways. This has meant taking what we know and love and asking how its story may be told for new generations.

In mission, context is everything. One of the challenges of a creative Catholic Spirituality is concerned with making this happen and remaining authentic to a heritage with people for whom heritage is meaningless and outdated. The Gospel proclamation is eternal, but the wearing of maniples is not, and our liturgy must not be seen as the truth in itself, but a way of communicating that truth.

For this reason, we need to move away from a slavish following of a set text, regardless of whether that comes from the Liturgical Commission or the Curia and a focus on the missionary purpose to express that story in any given context: a mass for youth is very different from a mass for the elderly bereaved, but both are deeply missional.

The rubrics and the shape of the mass are therefore much much more important than the words we actually use, and the Liturgical Commission’s work needs to be refocused on getting an Anglican Shape right and leaving those engaged in that mission to find the right words to express it: to strengthen Canon B5 ad pick up on the suggestions of the Fresh Expressions Round Table on Catholic and Contemplative Spirituality within which I am engaged. (I am pleased to report that there are some positive signs from some members of the Liturgical Commission on this suggestion).

The Gloria is tap-danced. Bread is kneeded. New prefaces are said and wine is consecrated by the bottle-load in unspoken action. Blessings are scribbled on a rocket and exploded in the night sky over Gosport. These creative, expressive ways are as real to these missional communities as were the first Eucharistic prayers of Hypolytus.

I am not advocating the throwing away of our carefully honed heritage in favour of some spiritual supermarket of technical wizardry and gimmicky mass, but rather a creative and free-flowing use of the entire tradition of the church: tradition which is not static, but dynamic and as engaging as the Incarnation. To the other extreme, this creative flow should not be restricted to just “youth services” or “children’s services”, but as we find at St Thomas the Apostle, creativity starts to infuse and cross-fertilise: the penitential rite we will be using later today was used at a Harvest Festival service in mainstream worship and many other elements of the mass take on new forms. We must be one of the few anglocatholic parishes to use a projector at each Parish Mass, and we benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectivness of projecting the entire liturgy and hymnody on screen each and every week.

One of the things I repeatedly hear after worship, especially from fellow Clergy is “oh, I couldn’t do anything like that – I am so untechnical” – a statement which usually comes from someone brimming with Liturgical Creativity, but no self-confidence. The next seminar I will present will be a little more practical and hands-on, but the core message I need to convey to you today is that the best multisensory worship does not have to plug into the mains

The means of engagement with God are at our very fingertips: stones, water, flames (and the marvellous variety of different ways that we can set fire to things). Mark Yaconelli has written an excellent book on contemplative youth ministry, and this evangelical (the son of the famous Mike Yaconelli) has discovered the power, effectiveness and beauty of silence, an ikon, and Lectio Divina. It is an inspirational book which I commend to you.

When we are sometimes unable to move mountains and need to bring an audiovisual experience into our churches, this can be done very cheaply and simply and most of you, if you own a Mac or a PC have the very equipment to hand. My second paper today will deal with that in much more detail for those who want to engage with those practicalities

Does what is produced enable us to tick the box marked “Fresh Expression”? I am not so sure, because so much has been given to the corporate branding of “fresh expressions” that I, and I am sure, many of you, now view it with little more than cynicism. But:

  • I would want to argue that if anything we are doing is stale, tired, weatherbeaten and not-really-very-dearly loved then it is a waste of time, effort and misson.
  • If anything we do does not stimulate the heart and soul for Christ then it must be ditched.
  • If anything that takes place in Church does not stretch and challenge the faith then it is not Gospel-Shaped and has no place in Church.
  • If each-and-every mass that you say is not a fresh expression of faith then I would want to challenge you to go back to your ordinal and remind yourself of your ordination charge.

The Mass is the freshest of fresh expressions.

As Pete Ward discussed in his book Mass Culture the mass is an evangelistic opportunity and a missionary tool. It provides a unique opportunity for expressing the salvation story and the joy of the resurrection in word, song, action and ritual.

The mass provides both fixed points of reference and an ever-changing cycle of encounter with God, and this mix of the familiar and the challenging provides a framework on which to hang new explorations of worship; rather than being a limit to fresh expressions of worship, it forms a skeleton upon which a new creation is formed. No community which seeks to be Christian can be said to be authentically so unless it gathers to break bread and pour wine and see that Christ is in their midst.

The Catholic spirituality might layer more over that and see much more (quite rightly) into that, but essentially each community, regardless of what it calls this engagement with Christ, regardless of its explicit sacramental theology, one thing all actually agree on is that Christ in some way is here amongst us

So, my dear friends, what are we to make of a paper which seeks to say in new and radical ways “Go and carry on with what you are doing”. So often Catholics are prepared to beat themselves up about mission and their lack of activity in this area. But, to you I say, the tools of mission are in your very hands – broken bread and wine outpoured are far more effective tools than an expensive and limited missionary pack. The fan-the-flame missions are Eucharistically centred for a reason, and the message of freedom, challenge and radical hospitality of the altar has so much to say to a society which is broken and confused by messages which say little to their context.

The Mass cannot be simply set down in a place and expected to do the work itself The concept of priest as conduit of that sacrament has much to say about how we bring about that sacred encounter. Getting bodies over the door is not the end result, but the beginning, and the sacramental encounter is the source of transformation and the cradle of faith.

If all this seminar has done is make you consider how Mass can be retold in your community, and offer you a possibility to unleash your creative and missional juices to that end, then I will have done my work.

So, Go and make mission, and proclaim the Gospel afresh to each and for each generation!

Thank you.

Walsingham Children's Pilgrimage 2008 – Tree of Life

Photo by Jane King

A weekend which promised snow, and had everything from hail, frogs, sun and rain. It was a weekend in which some young person climbed into the loft of one of the residences and put his foot through the ceiling, and in which nearly 200 children aged 7-11 gathered to speak of Thomas, the Cross not as a tree of death, but as a Tree of Life and a weekend at which I was truely proud of the work and mission of my children: the technical, dramatic and worship skills of Liam and the artistic and creative skills of Emma as well as the good natured exuberance of Zoë.

First Visit Video: Tree of Life

Doubting Thomas Story animated by Emma

Photo by Jane King

Playing St Thomas in the Reconciliation Chapel with St John (Fr Tim Thorp) and Jeremy Kyle (Fr. Philip Barnes)

It was a wonderful weekend. Lots of creativity, lots of laughter. The Disco was so feral, I nominated it as “Lord of the Flies set to Music” as 200 children ran riot in a marquee and fought with sword balloons, trampling on one another to get a bag of crisps. The worship and teaching was amazing: contextual and relevant and the technology sort-of behaved itself. I was glad Liam was on hand to remain calm in the face of adversity and a video mixer which misbehaved.

Young People reaching for the Lasers, and the Crisps.

We also buried a time capsule. I filmed it and stuck it to an edit of Bowie’s “Little Wonder”. Fr North was marvellous with the kids who were pulled out of a hat to bury the thing. Inside it was archive material, a DVD of Children’s and Youth Pilgrimage Videos, letters from the Children (but Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. I’m from the Past, and you smell of Poo was excluded for some reason) and other Shrine archive materials.

Watch the Time Capsule event: nice hard hats.