Archives August 2008

Today's Top Laugh

I absolutely on principle refuse to use the abbreviation LOL and the like, but I genuinely found myself Rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL) at this one:

One of my blog subscriptions was going through the google terms which people used to get to her blog and found:

Do not stand at my grave and wee
Oh, please tell me they just left off the “P”.

One to treasure, and one which will ensure that the next time I am reading this poem in a funeral, I’ll not be able to keep a straight face. Am I the only person in the world who when confronted with a sign saying “Wet Paint” I always but ALWAYS think “Is that an order?” Or is it just me? Just me then.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

[or Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

Mary Frye (1932)

Blackberry Curve 8320 – unapologetically geeky review

I have been using my Curve 8320 for a couple of weeks now, and have been playing with it an awful lot. I am beginning to work *with* it now rather than against it, and I have to say that frankly I love it with a passion bordering on the indecent: as far as geeky toys go, this is the ultimate; as far as a tool for an always-connected tech-head goes, this is where it is at.

It is not without its annoyances, and I will detail these later, but from its first principals, it is the tool which finally begins to solve the challenge of the final mile: bringing communications into our pockets at all times whereever they may be.

Of course, there is a wide social debate that all this connectivity is a bad thing. Rather than return from holiday to over 1000 emails, I am completely on top of what is happening, and I know what I have to deal with on my return to work – in the past that dread has been almost overwhelming, but now I am on top – I have not actually DONE any work on holiday, but I feel more relaxed because of my awareness. I feel that rather than being a tool of enslavement – always tied to work – it has freed me and made my work more flexible. It might be different in other vocations, but for me, as a Church of England Priest, this works.

The keyboard is small and encourages a thumbs-only typing style. Having used a Treo in the past I find this quite acceptable and fast. Symbols are quickly accesible through an alt-key but numbers are also on the alt list, so you have to press and hold to type in digits: I feel a numlock would have been better. Symbols are limited and I haven’t yet found ë. The trackball is an excellent navigational tool.

The screen is big and bright. It is good for web browsing and although it can adapt traditional html pages, it is best with those optimised for mobiles. The browser supports Javascript but cannot  understand some of the more recent AJAX or dhtml requests. This is a pity because this is the way that pages are developing. Many key players are integrating clients directly into the Blackberry, so Facebook and Googlemail are directly integrated. Sadly no SSH client has been found yet, so I can’t yet telnet into my servers for remote maintenance.

When at home it links into the WiFi network and using UMA calls and texts as well as data are routed over the internet. Occasionally on my lowish speed broadband, this has caused the voice call to be slightly garbled or broken: particularly when the network is busy. If I had better broadband then maybe this would not be a problem.

Of the annoyances, top of the list is the system’s apparant refusal to sync or export or import contact details. Bluetoothing a contact from another phone fails, the desktop has no contact import or export facility and I had to resort to manual re-entry: moving them via the SIM was unsatisfactory as all of these are now marked as ‘work’ and I will have to at some stage edit every one of these.

The phone doesn’t apparantly have a ‘fast-silent’ feature to quickly put the phone into silent mode. This is useful to me as I often have to ‘fast-silent’ in worship when I forgot or a pastoral visit. If you know of this, then please let me know: the ‘mute’ button doesn’t seem to do this.

Other than those issues, I think that both the principles and the practice of the Blackberry Curve 8320 are brilliant: emails in the middle of nowhere, facebook status updates in the middle of a Festival field, web browsing to find cinema times in the pub and pulling up a Google Map to find the way home (accurate to the nearest phone mast, so good enough before you switch on a bluetooth GPS!). With a GPS google maps can track your progress down the road, and there is some rudimentary route planning, but Tom-Tom it ain’t. Such connectivity we could only dream of in the past, and it can only get better: the final mile has been overcome, and the Curve is in front by a long chalk.

(This review written on my Blackberry Curve 8320 on Orange UK, which was a free upgrade on a monthly tarriff – Dolphin 25 (200 mins, unlimited texts) plus a £2.50 a month Blackberry tarriff offering unlimited data. How good is that?)

Blessed: Mass at Greenbelt

The liturgy can be found here

Around 150-160 people came and shared this Mass of Unity. We were gobsmacked. The cafe was full: people lounging around on huge cushions, relaxing in the audiovisual soaking, of multiple screens around the cafe, all showing the same videos.

The Penitential Rite: Kneed Forgiveness – we work our sins into the dough.

Dark and reflective: just the way we like it.

The venue manager was really apologetic when she told me that because of the fault, they couldn’t turn off the smoke alarms and so NO INCENSE. We planned to use incense in the Visual Intercessions and of course at Benediction, so that was a slight disappointment, but only a handful of people knew we had planned it, a few more spotted the thurible at the side and one person notice me lean over to Fr Phil during benediction when it said on screen Incense is offered in worship and I muttered “…but not this time”. I don’t think we lost much by it though.

A Eucharistic Preface based on John 17 written by me (although most of it was written by St. John) and a Eucharistic Prayer based on the Old Catholic Rite and some more of John 17. Liam pulled off an amazing technical feat to keep the timing right and managed to ring bells at the same time.

We wandered through the congregation (which was more than twice the number what we had planned for) administering communion randomly to virtually all. Life is like that, haphazard, random, with a risk that we might not make it, but Christ reaches out to all of us, and the sacrament is there for all in God’s good time. All are welcome. None are turned away.

Feedback was amazing:

“That was amazing the best service I’ve ever been to” (Greenbelt Steward)

“What a brilliant, perfect way to end the worship in here” (Tech at the New Forms Venue)

“The service was something I really connected to, engaged with. Being Deaf the visual media was fantastic. Want more of it”

“I liked! I worshipped”

“Fantastic Mass – what a brilliant way of mixing old and new! Loved the service!”

“Really inspired by your expression”

What more can I say? Liam said it was the best so far. If you don’t count Lancing’s Critical Mass or the Pilgrimages, it was the biggest event we have done.

All of the videos can be viewed on You Tube and if you want a highresolution (ish) version, please visit where you can sloooowwwlllllyyyy download them from my broadband in mpg-1 format.

Thanks be to God for the opportunity. My thanks to the Blesséd team who came and supported the event, kept me calm and sorted: to Fr. Phil (soon to be the vicar of Hove) for concelebrating and walking that loonnggg way with the chalice through the people, Liam for his impeccable technical skill and calm and Emma for taking these photographs. We liked doing it, and hope we can do it again sometime. This may signify the mainstreaming of Blesséd (so subversive we have never even done Greenbelt!, I used to claim) but the experience was so positive and blessed by God. Deo Gratias!

Simple Exposition and Benediction at Greenbelt

From apparently nowhere in the Jesus Arms in the middle of the Greenbelt Festival we produce a couple of crates which are placed one on top of another on a table to produce an impromptu throne. It is draped with a sumptuous white/gold cloth.

Sanctuary bells are rung, and Jesus is brought out in the simple St Thomas Monstrance.

Two balti dishes of incense are laid at the foot of the throne, and two large, squat candles are lit. No-one is in vestments or even clericals, although we will use a humeral veil later.

The team burst into unaccompanied O Salutaris to the tune of “The Day Thou Gavest”. If possible a thurible is used.

O saving Victim, open wide
The gate of Heaven to man below;
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply; Thy strength bestow.

All praise and thanks to thee extend,
For ever more, bless’d one in three.
O grant us life that shall not end,
In our true native land with thee.

Blessed, praised, hallowed and adored be
our Lord Jesus Christ on his throne of Glory
And in the most holy sacrament of the altar

There follows silence. Prayers aloud may be extemporaneous, but may draw from these:

Now as the sun sets in the west,
soft lamplight glows as evening starts;
thus, light from light, God’s Son all blest
comes from the immortal Father’s heart;

We therefore sing our joyful songs
the Father, Holy Spirit, Son,
to whom in every age belongs
by right all praise from every tongue

Lord Jesus, Son of God, from you
all life, all joy come forth this night;
the world, and each soft glowing hue,
reflect the glory of your light.

Phos Hilaron, 2nd Century

O most sacred redeemer,
Give us wisdom to recognise you,
Intelligence to understand you,
Diligence to seek you,
Patience to wait for you,
Eyes to see you,
Hearts to meditate on you
And lives to proclaim you,
Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Benedict of Nursia 6th C

Let everyone be struck with fear,
the whole world tremble,
and the heavens exult
when Christ, the Son of the living God,
is present on the altar

O wonderful loftiness
and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself
that He hides Himself
for our salvation
under and ordinary piece of bread!

See the humility of God, brothers and sisters,
and pour out your hearts before Him!
Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him!
Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves,
that He Who gives Himself totally to you
may receive you totally!

St Francis of Assisi 12th C

Hail to thee, true body born
From Virgin Mary’s womb!
The same that on the cross was nailed
And bore for man the bitter doom.
Thou, whose side was pierced and flowed
Both with water and with blood;
Suffer us to taste of thee,
In our life’s last agony.
O kind, O loving one!
O sweet Jesus, Mary’s Son!


Lord Jesus Christ, present before us in this Blessed Sacrament,
Stay with us today, and stay from now on, every day, according
to the desire of my heart, which accepts the appeal of so many hearts
from various parts, sometimes far away… Stay that we may meet You in
prayers of adoration and thanksgiving, in prayers of expiation and
petition to which all those who visit this place are invited…

May all those of us who take part in the adoration of Your Eucharistic Presence attest with every visit and make ring out again the truth contained in the Apostle’s words: ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Amen

Pope John Paul II

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgements
and how inscrutable his ways!
`For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
`Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (NRSV)

Lord Jesus Christ, present before us in the most holy sacrament of the altar
you are the sun that always rises but never sets.
You are the source of all life,
creating and sustaining every living thing.
You are the source of all food, material and spiritual,
nourishing us in both body and soul.
You are the light which dispels the clouds of error and doubt
and goes before me every hour of the day,
guiding my thoughts and my actions.
May I walk in your light,
Be nourished by your food,
be sustained by your mercy,
and be warmed by your love.

Erasmus, 16th Century

Heart of Jesus, think on us.
Eyes of Jesus, look on us.
Face of Jesus, shine on us.
Hands of Jesus, bless us,
Feet of Jesus, guide us,
Arms of Jesus, hold us,
Body of Jesus, feed us,
Blood of Jesus, cleanse us,
Make us, Jesus, your own, both here and in the world to come. Amen

Sr Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC

My God, and my all

Francis of Assisi, 13th Century

We pray before the Blessed Sacrament
For the sick
For the dying
For the alone
For the afraid
For the refugee
For the homeless
For the oppressed
For the abused

Christ is the comfort for all of these

We pray before the Blessed Sacrament
For the joyful
For the comforted
For the blessed
For the bountiful
For the healthy
For the contented
For the hopeful
For those at peace

Christ is with all of these.

SPR, 20th C

Shout to the Lord, all the earth Let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

My Jesus, My Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord, all the earth Let us sing.
Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

Darleen Zanesh 20th C
(This is at its most powerful when proclaimed as poetry and not sung)

He is the bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the Flesh, moulded in his passion, baked in the furnace of the sepulchre, placed in the churches, and set upon the altars, which daily supplies heavenly food to the faithful.

Peter Crysologus, 5th C

More silence followed by the Divine Praises

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most spouse most chaste.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.

And the Tantum Ergo to the tune of “Let all mortal flesh”. The balti dishes are restoked and if possible, the thurible is used.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
honour, might and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever too his love confessing,
who from Both with Both is One.

The Humeral Veil is placed over the priest giving benediction

Thou gavest them Bread from heaven, alleluia;
Containing within Itself all sweetness, alleluia.

Let us pray.

O GOD, who in a wonderful Sacrament
hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion:
grant us, we beseech thee,
so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood,
that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption;
who livest and reignest with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen

The Priest gives benediction to the stunned people in the Jesus Arms as bells are rung.

At Reposition, the people sing:

Blessed and Praised be Jesus Christ in his most holy sacrament
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in excelsis

Jesus is taken down, the candles, balti dishes, crates and cloths are removed and we scarper for a pint.


It took a couple of hours for it to sink in, but the parable in action of taking Jesus into the pub, and performing benediction there is significant. Reaction to the ‘spontaneous worship’ was great and a number of people really appreciated it, and spoke to members of the team afterwards. The setup was rapid and the looks on people’s faces as the bells rang out was just what I was hoping for.

At the actual act of benediction, I climbed onto the bench and gave the blessing from there: another risky strategy which paid off. Nor did my greatest fear materialise: I was not bludgeoned to death by my own monstrance by angry protestants. Sue commented “they are very forgiving at Greenbelt”, and that was both true and a wonderful tribute to the event.

The ale was sold out, but they sold a lovely Dark (Bock) Lager which was a perfect end to that act. I was interviewed holding a pint by the media team who had filmed it (I hope we see the film sometime) and they asked me whether I would do it again next year…

“Next Year? I think I’ll do it in the pub at home next friday!”

6pm New Forms Café, Greenbelt 25|08|08

If you are Greenbelting and are around on the Monday evening, then 6pm in the New Forms Café will see Blesséd’s debut at Greenbelt with … wait for the original title … Mass  !

There seems so much to organise still, so much to get ready. Unfortunately, due to parish commitments, I can’t be there until the Monday at all, and so I will miss a lot of what I wanted to see: Transcendance, Moot, Contemplative Fire; it’s all good stuff and I am conducting weddings!

We are also this year required to do “spontaneous” worship – the idea is that it will break out in some random public place. Obviously, I could not give anything away, although if you want to find out, send me a text anytme between now and monday lunchtime on 07976 802123 and I will give you 15 minutes warning on the Monday when and where some simple and yet glorious act of devotion might break out (flash mob style). We might need some protection from the Protestants, after all.

In the meantime, I loved Kathryn’s comment about blowing grant on dead Germans, and then she asked my about my favourite Assembly resources.

Obviously, there is no one book which fits all, but the ones I return to for ideas and a springboard are:

Groden & O’Donnell Assemblies  Vol I – For Liturgical Seasons and School Occasions AbeBooks Link Vol II – Feasts, Mary & the Saints  Amazon Link

and for quick ideas based on short devotionals, I was given this South African Book: Skateboards, Scooters and Scriptures by Anne McFarlane ISBN 1-86920-578-2 (sorry, but I can’t find a link for it)

For Key Stage 1 (Infant) Bible Stories, I use Listen by A.J McCallen Amazon Link which is simple and clear and good for readings done by children

I also love for that age group Bible Stories to Draw and Tell by Petras Amazon Link which you can do on an overhead, whiteboard, interactive whiteboard or a reveal bit-by-bit powerpoint.

There are others, but I want to get this posted… more after Greenbelt. Add your own suggestions in the comments.

Sermon Notes: 21st Ordinary, Year A

Text: Matthew 16:13-20



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

I love books. I have lots of books. My Study is overrun with books. My Study is overrun, frankly, with the detritus of parishLife, to the extent that you often can’t see the floor.



So this week, Lou and I embarked on a task equivalent to the cleaning of the Augean Stables when we reordered my study.


Lots of books, millions of words of theology, of piety, of devotion.  Among those books I found two volumes of a set I had started to collect when I was at theological college. It is a serious volume for a serious subject: Christ in the Christian Tradition. It is about the theological speciality of Christology: the academic study of ‘who do you say that I am’.


This major work by Grillmeier is incomplete on my shelves. It is, when I started looked for other parts, incomplete. Not only are major parts of this book out-of-print, but the life’s work of the Jesuit Aloys Grillmeier is incomplete.


All those words. Millions of words. And the answer is still not complete.


Who do you say that I am?


From the deliberation of theologians to the response of simple fishermen, from the Ivory Towers to the very pews of this Church…


Who do you say that I am?


It is not an academic question at all, but a personal and direct question.


Who do you say that I am?


A question asked directly of Peter and asked directly of you. And you. And you.


Who do you say that I am?


All of those books can only answer in part. The thoughts of Grillmeier, of the Church Fathers, of the Saints, of the Gospels, of Schillebeeckx, of Barth, of Hans Urs Von Balthazar do not really give an answer. The answer, the only answer, the answer that Christ is only truly interested in is YOURS.


Yours alone. Peter answers for himself. You answer for yourself.


Who do you say that I am?


How do you respond to this simple, direct, unrelentless, unavaoidable question.


Who do you say that I am?


Saint Thomas, after doubting, responded with “My Lord and My God”. But blessed are those who believe without seeing.


Who do you say that I am?


It is a question that will not go away.


Who do you say that I am?


CS Lewis wrote in his great apologetic work Mere Christianity:


I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ This is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else He would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”


Who do you say that I am?


Its response has shaped Continents, Countries, Lives.


Its response has done untold good, and unspeakable bad in its name.


Who do you say that I am?


It has transformed people, made Saints, given US here in this community, life and vitality.


Who do you say that I am?


“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”


My Study is a metaphor for my life: disorganised, cluttered, jumbled and haphazard – blown from one extreme to the next, seeking order and peace.


Christ is within that clutter, amidst that mound of books, underneath that chaos. He is there in the midst of my life, work and witness and he shines through.


I will never complete that collection of Christ in the Christian Tradition simply because the answer is not yet complete in this world.


But Christ is complete.


Who do you say that I am?


“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”




Working the Augean Stables

Sadly, there will be no photos to accompany this post, as I think the pictures will go better in your head…

I am one of those people who strive to be tidy: I crave order, I love lists, and make them obessively. Major events like the Summer Fayre, Holy Week and Christmas are planned down to the last detail on a big flipchart and I love to tick things off as they go along. Nothing gives me more satisfaction. Those who worked with me at the National Youth Pilgrimage will identify with this obsession with ‘keeping ahead’

Unfortunately, into this life of order and zen-like calm there comes a reality of little things which don’t have a home, great masses of stuff that are between places and a whole life which is for the most part, a little to busy to have time to be put away.

And it ends up in my Study.

There is nothing more scary than venturing into my study in the run up to a Walsingham Children’s or Youth Pilgrimage, nothing more terrifying than immediately after a Parish event, when you simply can’t find the floor because of all the crap that I dump in my study. It then takes ages to get put away.

There are, of course, millions of books. I love books: I treasure them, I love to read them, and I delight in simply owning books. A visit to a secondhand book shop is almost as exciting as a visit to the Pub. My books are not just theology, liturgy, youth work books, but comedy, art, poetry, literature and sometimes just plain old trash which deserves ‘one more read’. I nearly studied English at University (before God and the Nursing-bug took charge of my life) and I still harbour that love of writing.

Some books havn’t seen daylight for years; some books are useless; some I know, simply know, that I will never read again, and yet it seems heartless to simply throw them away. And yet, there is no more shelf-space…

One piece of advice I would like to give, especially to those Ordinands and proto-Ordinands out there who scrape past this blog is about the difference between books in theological college and books in ministry. If I had known what I really needed, then I would not have blown my Cleaver grant on all those heavy-duty systematic theology texts: Von Balthazar, Barth and the big boys all of whom sit in an impressive array on my dining room shelf, rather than actually to hand in my Study. They are only useful for impressing people, as I never touch the damn things. All that money I blew on Tillich, Pannenberg, Kung and Schillebeeckx is worth nothing compared to a decent book of ideas for Assemblies, a range of commentaries on the Gospels and the lives and witness of the Saints of the Day (‘Exciting Holiness’ for example). THIS is what you will need and use in your ministry, THIS is what will help bring the People of God closer to Him, THIS is what will make of you a better priest than all that ‘proper’ theology. I am not against theology: it is my delight (and systematics is my particular field) but it is background to the wider task of Apologetics; it provides context for Mission, but is not missionary in itself. The interpretation of Scripture, the explanation of the lives of the Saints, the application of the right prayer and the best possible whizz-bang Assemblies you can provide (the major mission-field, my dear friends) will be what makes the best-read priest. There is a priest I know of who still believes in theology after mattins, lunch, and then parish visits but I ask ‘does this communicate the Gospel? The simple truth which came out of a direct experience of God and was articulated by the inarticulate, the simple, the direct?’

So, I have to put it simply, too many crap and useless books collected on the way and not enough space. No provision for the detrietus of ministry and a desperate need to have some degree of organisation. The task was therefore begun yesterday to sort, to clean (for Zanet the cleaner does not dare enter … the Study!! …) and to chuck: to recycle, to shred and to donate. It has so far taken more than 12 hours (broken only by a decent takeaway and an episode of Spooks – Code 9 on iplayer) to be almost sorted.

Masses of bin bags. Oxfam Books have done very well on this. eBay will be buried under a mound of kit that needs to be sold on. Lots of dust raised and tamed and through it all, the small sense of achievement: there is a Study underneath all this. The network has been completely recabled and tamed, the ikons can now be set out and prayed before again; Jesus looks out over the room with a renewed smile (if that reference is lost on you, I have been re-reading The Little World of Don Camillo and I highly recommend it to you).

The Study now starts to look a little but more welcoming and wedding couples may once again venture inside. Documents may be found readily and trip hazards reduced. This is a good moment.

But it is not quite over. Another espresso and back on with the task, I think…

Well, it was only £3 a year to register the domain…

Fellow Readers (if there are any of you!), I present to you

for all your bitter and twisted liberal catholic ranting and unpleasantness, commonly known as “my blog”.

I know I have a habit of collecting domain names like some people collect empty beer glasses left on the step of church, but sometimes one seems to be right, and as I keep accidentally typing “parishlife…” instead of “” it seemed to be calling me.

If it helps you remember, also, then please update the link to this bizarre collection of stories, homilies and moanings about the state of the Anglican Communion. The old address will remain constant and ever thus, so you don’t have to do anything…

Sermon Notes: Ordinary 20, Year A

I have decided to change my preaching for a little while, to draw closer to what works so well midweek and is so much more Spirit-led. I am planning to stop writing Sermons (stop cheering at the back) and preach more openly and for a distinctly shorter time. I suppose my model and inspiration is Frs North, Barnes and Bell; it just needs prayer, confidence and preparation. So, just so that you don’t assume I just make it up on the spot, here are my notes for this Sunday.

Matthew 15:21-28

21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

  • Three nuns were travelling on their rounds, visiting the elderly when their car ran out of petrol. They walked a mile to the nearest petrol station. “Can you help us?” they asked the owner. “Unfortunately,” he replied, “I don’t have any petrol cans left. But if you can find any old container, we can put some in that. The Sisters remembered that they had in the car a bedpan which they were taking to an old lady. So they went back for the pan and filled it with petrol and the nuns very carefully began the long walk back to their car.

    Just as they reached their car and began pouring the petrol into the tank, a truck driver pulled over to see if he could help. Upon seeing what was happening, he yelled out the window, “Sisters, I wish I had your faith!”

  • Not having enough faith
  • God doing marvellous things in my life, and kicking myself when he pulls it off
  • Inevitable guilt when I realise I don’t have enough faith
  • Faith is needed here more than ever
    • In our building project
    • In our ministry to the young AT Fridays and Sundays
    • In our discipleship (especially Confirmation)
    • In our growth as Christians and as a Church
       More interested in Spiritual Growth than filled seats
  • Christ always has time for us, to respond to our cries, to hear our prayers
  • He will not turn us away, no matter what our background
  • The greatest conceit is that we are beyond God’s love – “I’m not good enough to come to Mass”
  • God’s love reaches out to all of us, touches all of us and heals all of us

Walsingham Administrator – Rumours Multiply and then are found to be well founded!

(this bit written earlier)

The Assumption tomorrow is, of course, significant for us all as Catholics, but it takes on further significance as it is expected to be the announcement of the new Shrine Administrator.

They have played it very close to their chest, but one name kept cropping up, a name well known to the Shrine, to the Youth Pilgrimage and to myself. Today, my wife met someone who also repeated the name, and she is currently in an adjacent diocese; so these rumours are now coming in from all quarters and they all say the same person. It was mentioned that it was “all over the internet”, but I haven’t found it anywhere.

Of course, I have to declare an interest in the outcome of the appointment; the Children’s and Youth Pilgrimages I now consider to be an essential part of my priestly ministry, and although I also long for the day when I can take groups of my own to these events, all the whilst I feel I have a contribution to make to the Audiovisual Ministry, I hope to do so: I would love to be superceded by some firey, skilled young deacon, but until he or she makes themselves known, I shall be stuck with the ministry of button pushing.

If the name hopefully announced tomorrow is the one I am hearing, then the Shrine and Ministry there to Children and Young People will be safe; which is my prime concern; whether I myself will have a part in that future remains to be seen, but with this youth-focussed person in charge then these key evangelistic pilgrimages will have an important place. It will certainly mean a change from the wonderful, inspirational style of Fr. North;but a change, especially in a place of tradition, can be a good thing: I suspect things will be a little more arms-length, and the hands-on involvement of the Administrator in the Children’s and Youth Pilgrimages might change. If it is who I believe it to be, then the Shrine will be in the hands of a great pastor, a wonderful preacher, a holy man and an inspiration to many of us: my applause will be one of many.

And yet still, it gives me another opportunity to have a go at my radical proposal for Adoremus – an 18-30’s pilgrimage which speaks to young people and not old fogeys dressed up as young people (let the prospective Staggers ordinands go in Ordinary Time, I say, for the current Adoremus is dully traditional). My vision for Adoremus goes the stage beyond the Youth Pilgrimage: no morning religion bar chilled beats in the Orangery, using the Bull as a venue for Biblical exploration and teaching: Blesséd in the Shrine, effectively, and fellowship around a sacred altar and a profane bar: all of which speaks to the majority of 18-30s who do not want to be ordinands but need to live life in the parishes beyond an artificial ‘big-top’ soul survivor experience. I don’t do cafe church, but here is an opportunity to do something seriously sacramental and experimental, and at present, it is simply too much like, well, every other pilgrimage each week. Too radical a suggestion for many, I expect.

Still, it will be funny to have a pointy hat permanently in the shrine. Ooops!

A text from the Precentor of Lichfield confirms that it has been announced tonight: the next Shrine Administrator is he whom I was not quite descreet enough about just now: the Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin, Bishop of Horsham.

Deep, deep joy and a sigh of relief. Deo Gratias. Back to work and pray that I have a role to play next year.

and I have pleasure in quoting the press release (courtesy of James Bradley and the Online Cell in Facebook)


Bishop Lindsay Urwin (presently Bishop of Horsham) is to be the next Priest Administrator of the Shrine. News of the appointment was announced by the Master of the Guardians early on Friday, 15th August – the Feast of the Assumption. Bishop Lindsay will succeed Fr Philip North, who leaves the Shrine at the end of September to move to a parish in London. (See below)

The Master (Canon Martin Warner) said in his announcement that “The Guardians are delighted that Bishop Lindsay has agreed to accept the post of Priest Administrator. He is a wise and experienced pastor whose enthusiasm as a Christian communicator is profound and infectious. Under his leadership we are confident that Walsingham will continue to play a vital role in our church and nation.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams commented: “I am delighted about the appointment of Bishop Lindsay to the Shrine at Walsingham. He has exceptional gifts as a pastor, a teacher and a human being and all who come to the Shrine – not least the young – will be very well cared for. I send my prayers and good wishes for him in this next stage of his ministry.”

Lindsay Urwin (pictured here at the 2007 Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage) was born in Melbourne (Australia) in 1956. He arrived in England in 1976 and began training for the Church of England ministry at Cuddesdon (now Ripon College, Cuddesdon) in 1977. After being ordained priest in 1981, he served in south London as a curate in the Walworth parish before being appointed Vicar of North Dulwich in 1983. He quickly gained a reputation for evangelism and communication – being able to express the great mysteries of faith with simplicity and enthusiasm. The then Bishop of Chichester, Dr Eric Kemp, recognised these gifts and took him south to be his Diocesan Missioner. He was appointed Bishop of Horsham in the Chichester Diocese at the age of 37.

Bishop Lindsay has developed many international links around the theme of evangelism, spirituality and hospitality. He organised the first post-Easter retreat conference at Caister in 1996, attracting 200+ people initially. Held more-or-less annually since then, recent conferences have seen over 700 – 1,000 delegates attending. He is a member of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd – a world-wide detached order for those who try to live the religious life within the apostolic ministry in the world. Membership involves one hour’s silent prayer a day and total consecration of life.

In May 2006, Bishop Lindsay was installed as a member of the College of Guardians at Walsingham, following a long association with the Shrine. His contributions to the Youth Pilgrimage in August have been much valued.

The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Revd John Hind, commented: “This seems a providential moment for Bishop Lindsay to be appointed as Priest Administrator . . . for England’s Nazareth to have such a mission-minded at its helm will be a source of great confidence to many.”

Dr Stephen Croft (Archbishops’ Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions team) warmly welcomed the appointment: “Bishop Lindsay is one of the most inspiring and creative missionary thinkers in the Church of England committed both to the traditional church and to fresh expressions of the church. His appointment is good news for Walsingham and for the whole church.”

Bishop Lindsay will take up his new post early in 2008.