Archives December 2008

Make your own Christingle – What Fr. Simon will not be wearing this year…


I personally prefer a big melon as a teaching aid – with grapes, marshmellows and kebab skewers: I like to ‘go-large’ but not quite this large. I’m not sure it’s the right liturgical colour for either of the seasons, either.

Our Christingle Service at 4pm on Christmas Eve marks the beginning of Christmas proper in this parish: effectively the First Evensong of Christmas – a mad, chaotic, disorganised and utterly child-focused service where I whip them up into a frenzy and yet at the same time provide the biggest ahhhhhhh moment of the year as we drop the lights, light the Christingles and sing the first verse of  Away in a Manger.

Our best innovation, and one I think you ought to consider arose from a single joke. First year here, we beavered away to make 150 Christingles to give to the young people. Somebody joked “next year, we’ll give the kids the bits and they can make their own!!!” So we did. The following year, we still beavered away, but produced a kit in a bag – a ready ‘holed’ orange, a strip of ribbon, some tinfoil, four cocktail sticks ready loaded with dolly mixtures and raisins and a votive candle, Clipped to the outside of the bag is a Christmas Grace which (as it is Christmas Eve) I encourage families to put the Christingle on the Christmas dinner table (probably having replaced the sweets!) and pray the grace before Christmas dinner – a reminder of Christ in our midst this Christmastide and possibly the one chance that a family has to pray together in the whole year.

The benefit of getting the Children to make their own Christingles is enormous – it engages them with the task, and enables me to teach about the symbolism. Standing at the door, I saw a small child go up to a relative and say “Look what I made” – not “Look what they gave me”, but “Look what I made” – the simple pleasure of making stuff, of having a contribution, and something for the dinner table tomorrow.

It is less effort to make Christingle Kits than to make Christingles themselves and you genuinely have something to take away. I commend the idea to you.

Why do I do youthwork again?

Last night of the term: special things – Karaoke, Disco, Funny Hats. Lots of young people.

We come together at the end, I planned to speak of the joy of Christmas, the mystery of the incarnation, the outrageousness of God stepping into our world… and then I caught sight of the state of the toilets.

Water, mud, footprints on the toilet seats; the work of waterfights and I had failed to spot it during my mp3-spinning and karaoke-setup.

[caption id=”attachment_663″ align=”alignnone” width=”404″ caption=”not one of our muddy footprints, but I needed something to break up the text of this moan”not one of our muddy footprints, but I needed something to break up the text of this moan[/caption

My heart sank. This is the level at which they value the youth club; this is how much they think of the only youth work in this area; and I lost it.

How could I speak of His love with this anger, this upset burning within me? What a wasted opportunity. What a shame. How I let them down and let such a little thing overwhelm me. Damn.

At this point, I can’t see the point in continually putting out for them: for spending time and money and effort and putting myself of the line for them. I will probably feel different when the new term comes around after Christmas, but at this moment…

Blesséd – Pregnant with Expectation – Eucharistic Prayer & Gospel

All of the videos can be seen and slowly downloaded from here.

Lots of the videos were in use last week, just tweaked or modified slightly. Not really enough time in this season to go right back to the drawing board.

The Eucharistic Prayer Liturgy is – and you’d better sit down for this – straight Eucharistic Prayer B with the Extended Preface for Advent from Common Worship! No odd Eastern Rites, no strange interlocutions, but set (of course) to music. No messing around with the liturgy for the sake of innovation for its own sake, just a desire to do it well and do it right.

The numbers on the bottom left of the screen are the cues for the following text, and on the bottom right are 15 second cues. It works.


Eucharistic Prayer (Prayer B)

1 The Lord be with you

and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

2 It is indeed right and good to give you thanks and praise,

almighty God and everlasting Father,

through Jesus Christ your Son.

For when he humbled himself to come among us in human flesh,

he fulfilled the plan you formed before the foundation of the world

to open for us the way of salvation.

3 Confident that your promise will be fulfilled,

we now watch for the day

when Christ our Lord will come again in glory.

And so we join our voices with angels and archangels

and with all the company of heaven

to proclaim your glory,

for ever praising you and saying:

4 Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

5 Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;

grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit,

and according to your holy will,

these gifts of bread and wine

may be to us the +body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,

took bread and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:

6 Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me. +

7 In the same way, after supper

he took the cup and gave you thanks;

he gave it to them, saying:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me. +

8 Praise to you, Lord Jesus:
Dying you destroyed our death,

rising you restored our life:

Lord Jesus, come in glory.

9 And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,

his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins of the whole world;

rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension,

and looking for his coming in glory,

we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.

10 As we offer you this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,

we bring before you this bread and this cup

and we thank you for counting us worthy

to stand in your presence and serve you.

11 Send the Holy Spirit on your people

and gather into one in your kingdom

all who share this one bread and one cup,

so that we, in the company of Our Blesséd Lady,

Saint Thomas the Apostle, Saint John the Baptist

and all the saints,

may praise and glorify you for ever,

through Jesus Christ our Lord;

12 by whom, and with whom, and in whom,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,

for ever and ever.


The Gospel is similarly challenging: the distillation of Luke and John, which actually (despite how it looked at Coventry) was not my idea, but the splendidly creative Fr. Wealands Bell. I can take no credit, other than making it a reality. It was Fr. Carl Turner who turned the idea and the original scripture (I think it was the Birth Narrative in Fr. WWB’s version) into the Annunciation.


Gospel: Two Gospels for the price of one: John and Luke Redux

As  two readers begin their Gospels, a foetus on shown on screen. Audio: Foetal heartbeat begins very low and rises in volume.
The Lord be with you

And also with you

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Hear the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke

Glory to you, O Lord

Hear the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

Glory to you, O Lord

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
And Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.”
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
There is an almost imperceptible pause

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

The audio cuts out suddenly


This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, O Christ

The audio of the foetal heartbeat is quite oppressive. I think in the right environment it will have great impact.

The set-up of the Church promises to be hugely interesting. I have a vision of a womb (with a view?) into which we will all huddle and celebrate with projection around the outside. Photos will illustrate afterwards.

Fresh Expressions Pilgrimage to Coventry with ++Rowan of Canterbury

Well, I am back home after a long drive down from Coventry and have now the space of 12 hours to think back over yesterday’s pilgrimage to Coventry Cathedral, a product of Round Table 5 for the Catholic & Contemplative Traditions and led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. He was accompanied by other bishops, including  the Bishop of Reading, Stephen Cotterill and the Bishop of Pontefract, Tony Robinson; both of whom I have a particularly soft spot for; as they have shown their real support and commitment to catholic mission and evangelism.

[caption id=”attachment_646″ align=”alignnone” width=”480″ caption=”++Rowan, in front of one of Blesséd's most common opening lines”++Rowan, in front of one of Blesséd's most common opening lines[/caption

It was a big gig: nearly 500 people came. Lots more had to be turned away. No pressure then. You might recall the challenges we had creating the liturgy – no arguments, but constructive engagement; it was more of a philosophical chalenge to merge the many different styles and approaches and then fit it in a more constrained ‘Anglican’ tin – as there are obvious limits that having the Archbishop of Canterbury saying Mass. It was never going to be as radical as I would like, but I think we showed what was possible.

The Cathedral were great, and really accommodating. We turned the Cathedral upside down and then set fire to it.

The integration of Blessed and Visions video styles came off, and despite the failure of the video at the end of the Mass – we had audio, but not video (never, never, never use MPG2 again, it’s back to good solid and dependable MPG1 forever!!!), it all came off.

My Blesséd Prayer Stations were really well received, as people took mp3 players and did 3 of my stations: Love & Self Control from Stations of the Spirit; Let My Prayers Rise from Firebox and Reflect from Blesséd Belong.




[caption id=”attachment_650″ align=”alignnone” width=”480″ caption=”Fr. Edward poised for action”dsc_0313[/caption



[caption id=”attachment_653″ align=”alignnone” width=”480″ caption=”Mother Sue Wallace and the ministry of Pixel Pushing”Mother Sue Wallace and the ministry of Pixel Pushing[/caption


Now the official report:

Archbishop leads pilgrimage

An Advent day of prayer and pilgrimage led by the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Dr Rowan Williams, in Coventry Cathedral yesterday, cemented already strong links between Fresh Expressions and the catholic tradition of the Church of England.

Over 500 pilgrims joined Dr Williams for a day focused on worship and devotion, marking the feast day of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was an extraordinary day in so many ways.

The bishops of Coventry, Pontefract and Reading were amongst those bishops present.

Bishops, priests, religious and lay people began the pilgrimage to the sound of a deep drumbeat as baptism vows were renewed in the exhilarating sacred space which is Coventry Cathedral.

Innovatively, the Creed was reaffirmed as pilgrims shouted “Yes!” to simple questions asking them to reaffirm their faith. Traditional and modern evocative music, accompanied by computer generated electronic presentations continuously beamed on large screens throughout the Cathedral, gave the liturgy a fresh feel.

The day was structured around a central eucharist, stations for prayer, the litany and benediction.

The Archbishop relayed what “a great joy it is for me to be with you today and to share in this experience.” He stayed for the whole day and seemed to genuinely enjoy every minute.

In his address before the Eucharist, Dr Williams said that “a good catholic theology of the Church starts well back beyond any issues around institutions; it starts by asking how a community embodies, practically and visibly, some of the things we’ve been thinking about”.

Seeing the church as an event was key: the church as a calling together of different people: ” and that when this calling together has happened, what follows is a set of acts and words that get us walking in step with Jesus, praying his prayers, living his life, not as a matter of historical reconstruction but as a kind of singing in tune with his eternal relation with his Father.

Dr Williams said that the challenges for mission were huge but he was sure that “a genuine catholic vision of the Church can give us indispensable resources for seeing the Church in its fullness, flexibly and hopefully, because it makes us see it in and only in the light of God’s own action”.

There were plenty of workshop opportunities in the afternoon (ranging from “Body Prayer in the Christian tradition”, “Looking with Mary to God’s possibilities and “Monasticism, New Monasticism and the Contemplative tradition”) and time to mingle over coffee, lunch and tea.

Affirming Catholicism were a sponsor for the day: “We were looking forward to a pilgrimage where we could experience the richness of our tradition in a fresh way,” said Jonathan Clark, Chair of the Board of Affirming Catholicism.

Dr Steven Croft, Leader of Fresh Expressions and soon to be Bishop of Sheffield, said: “It really has been a great day. We have looked forward to it for some time and the whole Fresh Expressions initiative is strengthened and emboldened by today. Mission is about the whole of God’s Church and our focus today has been on renewing that ministry through prayer for mission.”

The day drew on the expertise of a number of fresh expressions of the catholic and contemplative traditions including Blessed, Contemplative Fire, Feig, Glorious, mayBE, Moot, Nightchurch and Visions.

The organizing group for the day (Fresh Expressions Roundtable5) have pledged their ongoing commitment to developing initiatives, sharing good practice, encouraging the catholic constituency and furthering theological reflection in the area of mixed economy of church.

Images (by Norman Iveson of Fresh Expressions) are available via this link:


As usual: God delivered. His Blessed Mother was honoured and we were reassured that the Grace shown to her would be shown to us. Deo Gratias!

"…definately a rising star…"

Despite the cynical tone of BBC Radio 4’s interviewer this morning, I have always been a fan of the Churches Advertising Network campaigns, right back to “Meek, Mild. As if.”

The new radio ads have come out – “Be a part of the action this Christmas. Come to Church.” I don’t think the horse-racing one is as good as the football radio ad, which I want to share with you…

Be part of the Action this Christmas. Come to Church

They had a competition which amused me as well, I will try and find the video for that, but in the meantime here is the link to the stream.