Archives March 2009

HP G60-214EM Real Life Review Update (Real Life Application!)

In an earlier post I started to review my new laptop – the Hewlett Packard G60-214EM, and promised an update when I had been using it in the field, simply because I have been most frustrated by the lack of original reviews, and those that exist simply copy what others say. This report, like its predecessor, is based upon actual use, and so is biased towards what I use the machine for. I know there is a lot of interest about this machine and its competitors, as I had a conversation last night with someone about it.

dsc_2021This weekend, I have been running the worship screen at the Children’s Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk: 300 young people aged 7-11 years old. I run Easyworship as my principle tool, creating videos in Adobe Premiere Elements and finally Sony Vegas Pro Version 8.0. Other tools punished this week include Word 2007, the Flock browser and the supplied DVD playing program to unwind at the end of the day.

The machine has performed really well: I asked it to do some demanding video crunching, and it was not sluggish (I think Vegas takes advantage of multiprocessors for rendering), the Easyworship ran well, including full motion backgrounds, although it did crash when I tried to preview a video whilst it was running a video on screen (a tall order for any machine, I think)

Again, my only moan is to do with battery life. It doesn’t have a very good warning system for low battery and went into hibernation without warning on the last verse of the last song of the last visit. I got about and hour and a half running video, CDs and two screens off that, which I don’t think is bad.

I was slightly inconvenienced by only having 3 USB ports, as everything these days runs off USB; I had to use a small hub which got in the way of the DVD drive. I’ll use a USB hub on a cable next time. I love having LightScribe on a portable machine, and the card reader was excellent to turn around pictures and video. Keyboard was good, and I like the response of the touchpad.

My feelings about the G60 are very positive: performance, price and features make it a good value machine and I do not hesitate to recommend it to you all.

Prayers and Blessings

Simon


Relevance – what the Church needs to learn from the Advertisers who need to learn from Young People

When Nik Kamen strolled confidently into the launderette to the opening and inimitable riffs of Marvin Gaye’s “Head it through the grapevine” an advertising icon was born. Levi’s Stripping to his boxer shorts to the amazement of onlooking children, housewives and security guards, Kamen demonstrated that Levi’s was daring, original, confident, edgy and unashamedly sexy – all the characteristics youth of every generation aspired to be.

{sorry you can’t see the video, it got removed from YouTube, but I am sure you know which one it is}

The campaign’s audacity achieved massive Reach. The campaign grew from an advert to a newspaper “event”. Gaye’s music touched a new generation of fans and every subsequent chart hit from the Righteous Brothers to Ben E King featured in their adverts reinforced the implicit message that the authentic rock’n’roll era that resonated with the youth of the 80s carried the Levi’s ticket.

The 501 became the choice of the generation with Levi’s selling one in every two pairs of jeans globally in 1987.

Within 20 years however, Levi’s fortunes had changed irrevocably. Levi’s Reach was so pervasive that even your Mom and Dad were squeezing into a pair of 501s. Suddenly Levi’s had all the Reach it wanted but zero Relevance.

The Levi’s legacy represents a turning point in youth marketing. With clients measuring campaign success along the lines of market share, “brand equity” or awareness, agencies are compelled to follow these Industrial strategies.

It’d be imprudent to talk of Reach vs Relevance without mentioning the one brand that has changed the game completely. I’m often asked – isn’t the decline of Levi’s typical of all in its category? From 50% market share, Levi’s now has less than 10%. From #1 it now sits at #7 far behind Diesel and other niche challengers.

To this question I would answer wholeheartedly “yes” if it wasn’t for one brand that threw out the rule book – Nike.

When Levi’s experienced its nadir in 1987, Nike was still an also ran brand sitting behind the aerobics fuelled Reebok. But the brave decision to support a rising and relatively outside star of the basketball scene signaled Phil Knight’s understanding that Reach gets attention but it doesn’t necessarily make you care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95qC1vItLkk

Michael Jordan was everything youth wanted to be – young, athletic, successful, rich, good looking and an outsider. Find me a schoolboy who didn’t resonate with Michael Jordan’s shoes being band from the NBA for being the wrong color.

Nike also had signaled that by supporting a relatively unknown star in marketing circles and not opting for the obvious mainstream choice of Magic Johnson, Nike stood for the little guy and had won a place in the heart of the generation.

Levi’s innovation focused on Reach; from standard issue 501s to pink, green, black, yellow or white variants – the relevance of which was completely lost on a generation who were now seeing Guess, Calvin Klein, Armani and other challenger brands rapidly erode market support.

Nike’s innovation continues to focus on Relevance till this day – Nike Women in Japan, Nike Aerobics, Nike Golf, Run London, Street Soccer, ID – all embody the company’s commitment to becoming increasingly relevant to a growing number of niches. Nike is the largest equipment manufacturer in Golf. Nike has moved from #2 in sports shoes to #1 in a growing number of categories.

Not all brands have the capacity or reason to dominate multiple categories like Nike but all have the need to mean something to someone rather than everything to everyone. As Levi’s has found out to its own detriment, being good is no longer enough – you must be relevant.

So this is the challenge, to seek relevence to young people for its own sake. The problem with a lot of Americanised Evangelism (and not all of it done by Evangelicals, I must emphasise) is that it seeks the glory of its own sake, it’s own message, it’s own mega-churchyness. Not everything needs to be Abundant Life, a Gospel so slick it makes me nauseous, a package so sorted it sounds nothing like what rises from the Scriptures; but must address the local, the organic and meet the needs of the niches that are around. This is how church truely emerges, not as a strategy, but as a response to local mission. This is why coming alongside young people and exploring their needs, inserting a missional story and a ministry which is relevant to them is key. I think I need to go back to Donovan’s Christianity Rediscovered for everything he says about the Masai is significant for mission to that tribe which we call young people.

“Being good is no longer enough” means that no matter how much I love Plainchant or Benediction or Lectio Divina, I must seek to bring these beauties into a relevent conversation with young people. One thing is clear: we cannot continue to do it as we have done…


Exsultet – the high point of the year

exsultetWe have travelled through Lent, have Holy Week almost upon us, and now start to face (with some trepidation) the high point of the year for me and for most priests. I believe that it is the culmination of the Church’s year and should be the high point for all Christians – the annual proclamation of the Resurrection in the Exsultet.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav’ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev’rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Other resources you might find useful:

Real Audio of it sung in English

PDF download of the Plainchant from the STE website

Gary D. Penkala writes on the Cantica Nova site:

The Exsultet stands as one of the finest surviving examples of liturgical poetry in the Roman Rite. Charlton Walker writes,

Here the language of the liturgy rises into heights to which it is hard to find a parallel in Christian literature. We are drawn out of the cold dogmatic statement into the warmth of the deepest mysticism, to the region where, in the light of paradise, even the sin of Adam may be regarded as truly necessary and a happy fault.

According to G. Thomas Ryan, writing for Liturgy Training Publications,

Once a year we are privileged to experience this proclamation, one of the most beautiful vestiges of solo repertoire that has survived the nearly 2000-year history of Christian music. It comes from the tradition of the cantor/deacon office of hundreds of years ago.

The Easter Proclamation, as the Exsultet is titled in the Sacramentary (Præconium Paschale, in Latin), is properly sung by the deacon, as he has charge of the Paschal Candle during the preceding rite. Having lit the Paschal Candle from the new fire, the deacon leads the procession into the dark church, reminiscent of the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the desert. He intones, “Light of Christ,” three times, each time on a slightly higher pitch; the congregation responds to each, “Thanks be to God.” Arriving in the sanctuary, the deacon places the candle in a prominent holder, brings the thurible to the celebrant for preparation, and receives his blessing. The deacon incenses the book or scroll containing the text of the Exsultet and the Paschal Candle in its holder. He then begins the glorious singing of the Easter Proclamation, a song of praise unique and unequaled in liturgical hymnody. If it is not possible for a deacon to chant this hymn, a priest or a layman may do so, although with certain adaptations. The outline below assumes a deacon is singing.

The Exsultet is structured in three sections. The first is a poetic “fanfare” with three exclamations, each beginning with, “Rejoice,” (Exsultet in Latin). Then follows a sort of “Preface,” making up the body of the hymn, wherein the parallels between the Old Testament Passover and the joyful Resurrection of Christ are extolled. The Exsultet ends with a prayer that the Almighty Father accept the offering of the Paschal Candle and the Church’s “evening sacrifice of praise.”

Examining the introduction more closely, we see a tripartite structure. Three groups are exhorted to “Rejoice!”: the angels together with all the heavenly host; the earth and all creatures, and finally the Church, “echoing the mighty song of all God’s people.” The appropriate theme of darkness shattered by the glorious light of the Risen Christ makes its first appearance early in the hymn: “shining splendor…the brightness of your King…glory fills you…darkness vanishes forever…the risen Savior shines upon you…” The music, repeated for each of the three sections, helps delineate the structure.

The Preface proper follows. In the Mass, a preface always precedes the singing of the Sanctus at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. It enumerates the motives for our thanksgiving, often relating them to the feast being celebrated. Likewise, in this Easter Proclamation, the great events of God are presented, beginning with Old Testament Exodus from Egypt, and continuing through the marvelous salvific acts of Jesus, the new Paschal Lamb. In what might be called an expanded litany, the text proceeds to several statements beginning “This is the night…” (Hæc nox est in Latin). These phrases answer the question, “Why is this night special?,” with obvious parallel to the Jewish Seder meal practice. The answer comes, “sin is destroyed…Christians are washed clean…the chains of death are broken…evil is dispelled…guilt is washed away…innocence is restored…mourners are made joyful…hatred is cast out…peace reigns…earthly pride is humbled.”

In a poetry uncharacteristic of the Roman Rite, the Proclamation has us ponder: “What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?” “To ransom a slave, Father, you gave away your Son.” “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” “Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled with God!”

The Exsultet concludes with a prayer of offering. “Accept this Easter Candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.” The deacon beseeches that the candle flame mingle with the heavenly lights, and that the Morning Star (Christ) find this flame still burning.

The music is powerful, derived from the ancient chants for the Prefaces. The version with Latin text (Exsultet iam angelica turba cælorum…) can be found in Roman Missals dated as late as 1964. It has been adequately adapted to the English text (Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!…) found in the 1985 Roman Sacramentary. The beautiful text painting, the rising fifth on the words Tuba insonet salutaris, is only slightly misplaced in the English, “Sound the trumpet of salvation.”

Practicing the Exsultet has always been a cherished experience for newly-ordained deacons. It remains a text that is truly theirs. It is the deacon, not the celebrant, not the priest, not the bishop, not even the pope, who is given the opportunity to first announce the joyful news of the Lord’s resurrection, as well as its practical ramifications for our new life. This “servant-deacon,” lowest among the ranks of ordained ministers, is exalted in his glorious proclamation that the universe is changed forever — Christ is risen! What a wonderful paradox — “O happy twist!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ0IOMHKLL0

This table translates the Latin.

The Exsultet, sometimes seen as “Exultet” and also referred to as the Praeconium Paschale, is an ancient chant sung during the Easter Vigil. It is traditionally sung by the deacon after the Paschal candle has been lit and the clergy have processed to the altar. The lighted Paschal candle contains a twofold symbolism. First, it represents the pillar of fire that went before the Israelites during their flight from Egypt. Second, it represents Christ, who is the light of the world. The procession likewise has a twofold meaning. It symbolizes the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt, and also the arrival of Christ who is the Savior of the world. The Exsultet sings of this symbolism and recalls for us the history of our salvation; from the fall of Adam, to the events of that first Passover held by Moses and the Israelites, and then finally the events of that last Passover at which Jesus suffered, died, rose from the dead and by which mankind was redeemed. The tone of the hymn is very much one of joy at having received so great a gift as our redemption and eternal life.

The final verses from both the 1962 Missal and the 1975 Missal are given below.

Exsultet iam angelica turba caelorum exsultent divina mysteria et pro tanti Regis victoria, tuba insonet salutaris. Let now the heavenly hosts of angels rejoice let the living mysteries be joyfully celebrated: and let a sacred trumpet proclaim the victory of so great a King.
Gaudeat et tellus tantis irradiata fulgoribus et, aeterni regis splendore illustrata, totius orbis se sentiat amisisse caliginem. Let the earth also be filled with joy, illuminated with such resplendent rays; and let men know that the darkness which overspread the whole world is chased away by the splendor of our eternal King.
Laetetur et mater Ecclesia tanti luminis adornata fulgoribus: et magnis populorum vocibus haec aula resultet. Let our mother the Church be also glad, finding herself adorned with the rays of so great a light and let this temple resound with the joyful acclamations of the people.
Quapropter adstantes vos, fratres carissimi, ad tam miram huius sancti luminis claritatem, una mecum, quaeso, Dei omnipotentis misericordiam invocate. Wherefore, beloved brethren, you who are now present at the admirable brightness of this holy light, I beseech you to invoke with me the mercy of almighty God.
Ut, qui me non meis meritis intra Levitarum numerum dignatus est aggregare luminis sui claritatem infundens cerei huius laudem implere perficiat. That he, who has admitted me into the number of his Levites not on my own merits, will, by an infusion of his light upon me, enable me to celebrate the praises of this light.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium suum, qui cum eo vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Through our Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who with Him and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
V. Dominus vobiscum. R. Et cum spiritu tuo. V. The Lord be with you. R. And with thy spirit.
V. Sursum corda. R. Habemus ad Dominum. V. Lift up your hearts. R. We have lifted them up to the Lord.
V. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. R. Dignum et iustum est. V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. R. It is fitting and just.
Vere dignum et iustum est, invisibilem Deum Patrem omnipotentem Filiumque eius unigenitum, Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, toto cordis ac mentis affectu et vocis ministerio personare. It is truly fitting and just to proclaim with all the affection of our heart and soul, and with the sound of our voice the invisible God the Father almighty, and his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
Qui pro nobis aeterno Patri Adae debitum solvit et veteris piaculi cautionem pio cruore detersit. Who paid for us to his eternal Father the debt of Adam: and by his sacred blood canceled the guilt contracted by original sin.
Haec sunt enim festa Paschalia, in quibus vere ille Agnus occiditur, cuius sanguine postes fidelium consecrantur. For this is the Paschal solemnity, in which the true Lamb was slain, by whose blood the doors of the faithful are consecrated.
Haec nox est, in qua primum patres nostros, filios Israel, eductos de Aegypto, Mare Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti. Haec igitur nox est, quae peccatorum tenebras columnae illuminatione purgavit. This is the night in which thou formerly broughtest forth our forefathers, the children of Israel, out of Egypt, leading them dry-foot through the Red Sea. This then is the night which dissipated the darkness of sin by the light of the pillar.
Haec nox est, quae hodie per universum mundum in Christo credentes a vitiis saeculi, et caligine peccatorum segregatos reddit gratiae, sociat sanctitati. This is the night which now delivers all over the world those that believe in Christ from the vices of the world and darkness of sin, restores them to grace, and clothes them with sanctity.
Haec nox est, in qua, destructis vinculis mortis, Christus ab inferis victor ascendit. This is the night in which Christ broke the chains of death, and ascended conqueror from hell.
Nihil enim nobis nasci profuit, nisi redimi profuisset. For it availed us nothing to be born, unless it had availed us to be redeemed.
O mira circa nos tuae pietatis dignatio! O inaestimabilis dilectio caritatis: ut servum redimeres, Filium tradidisti! O how admirable is thy goodness towards us! O how inestimable is thy love! Thou hast delivered up thy Son to redeem a slave.
O certe necessarium Adae peccatum, quod Christi morte deletum est! O truly necessary sin of Adam, which the death of Christ has blotted out!
O felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem! O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!
O vere beata nox, quae sola meruit scire tempus et horam, in qua Christus ab inferis resurrexit! O truly blessed night, which alone deserves to know the time and hour when Christ rose again from hell.
Haec nox est, de qua scriptum est: Et nox sicut dies illuminabitur: et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis. This is the night of which it is written: And the night shall be as light as the day, and the night is my illumination in my delights.
Huius igitur sanctificatio noctis fugat scelera, culpas lavat: et reddit innocentiam lapsis, et maestis laetitiam. Fugat odia, concordiam parat, et curvat imperia. Therefore the sanctification of this night blots out crimes, washes away sins, and restores innocence to sinners, and joy to the sorrowful. It banishes enmities, produces concord, and humbles empires.
In huius igitur noctis gratia, suscipe, sancte Pater laudis huius sacrificium vespertinum, quod tibi in haec cerei oblatione sollemni, per ministrorum manus de operibus apum, sacrosancta reddit ecclesia. Therefore on this sacred night, receive, O holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this sacrifice, which thy holy Church by the hands of her ministers presents to thee in the solemn offering of this wax candle made out of the labor of bees.
Sed iam columnae huius praeconia novimus, quam in honorem Dei rutilans ignis accendit. Qui, licet sit divisus in partes, mutuati tamen luminis detrimenta non novit. Alitur enim liquantibus ceris, quas in substantiam pretiosae huius lampadis apis mater eduxit. And now we know the excellence of this pillar, which the bright fire lights for the honor of God. Which fire, though now divided, suffers no loss from the communication of its light. Because it is fed by the melted wax, which the mother bee wrought for the substance of this precious lamp.
Ending according to the 1962 Missal: Ending according to the 1962 Missal:
O vere beata nox, quae exspoliavit Aegyptos, ditavit Hebraeos nox, in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur! O truly blessed night, which plundered the Egyptians, and enriched the Hebrews. A night, in which heaven is united to earth, and God to man.
Oramus ergo te, Domine, ut cereus iste in honorem tui nominis consecratus, ad noctis huius caliginem destruendam, indeficiens perseveret. Et in odorem suavitatis acceptus, supernis luminaribus misceatur. Flammas eius lucifer matutinus inveniat: Ille, inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum: Ille qui regressus ab inferis, humano generi serenus illuxit. We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated to the honor of thy name, may continue burning to dissipate the darkness this night. And being accepted as a sweet savor, may be united with the celestial lights. Let the morning star find it alight, that star which never sets. Which being returned from hell, shone with brightness on mankind.
Precamur ergo te, Domine, ut nos famulos tuos, omnemque clerum, et devotissimum populum, una cum beatissimo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N. quiete temporum concessa, in his paschalibus gaudiis, assidua protectione regere, gubernare, et conservare digneris. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, to grant us peaceable times during these Paschal solemnities, and with thy constant protection to rule, govern, and preserve us thy servants, all the clergy, and the devout laity, together with our holy Pope N. and our Bishop N. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ thy Son : who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever.
R. Amen. R. Amen.
Ending according to the 1975 Missal: Ending according to the 1975 Missal:
O vere beata nox, in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur! O truly blessed night, in which heaven is united to earth, and God to man!
Oramus ergo te, Domine, ut cereus iste in honorem tui nominis consecratus, ad noctis huius caliginem destruendam, indeficiens perseveret. Et in odorem suavitatis acceptus, supernis luminaribus misceatur. Flammas eius lucifer matutinus inveniat: Ille, inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum: Christus Filius tuus, qui regressus ab inferis, humano generi serenus illuxit, et vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum. We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated to the honor of thy name, may continue burning to dissipate the darkness this night. And being accepted as a sweet savor, may be united with the celestial lights. Let the morning star find it alight, that star which never sets: Christ Thy Son, who came back from hell, and shone with brightness on mankind, and who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.
R. Amen. R. Amen.

Latin from the 1962 & 1975 Missal. Tr by Abbot Cabrol, OSB, 1934.

I wouldn’t want to inflict on you a recording of my Exsultet, but may your preparations for this most key part of the year’s liturgy be joyous!

Exsultet iam angelica turba caelorum!


Front Page on YouTube – how cool is that?

I’ve been an Internet user since a dial-up shell account on a Unix mainframe back in the early 80’s, when gopher was as good as it got, and Mosaic was a long way off. I’ve coded webpages with notepad, but today you might allow me a little bit of excitement.

I didn’t think my assembly went too well last week, but I wanted to film it for posterity, for the benefit of someone wanting to do it better. Checked today and found that in 3 days, over 900 people had visited it – 25 or more commentsm as well – strange? Once I’d filtered out the abusive “*** Christianity” posts, many people were nice, and someone sent me a message saying “well done for getting featured…”  What?

Check the standard front page of YouTube (I have mine customised) and…

youtube_22march2009_frontpage

there it is: my assembly is on the front page!

It will have gone tomorrow, so if you want to catch up: the link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7E9drNRm4

I might not get this privilege again, so for now, I’m going to be happy…


Mothering Sunday Intercessions – read by young people

The young people will lead the prayer of the faithful tomorrow. As three 8 year-olds and I will pray these, some younger ones will fill the nave with bubbles:

Fr. Simon:  Our prayers are like bubbles that float around this sacred space. These prayers appear to be so fragile, so ephemeral, and yet are so beautiful, so lovely, so individual. Our prayers float to heaven as we pray for the Church, the World and we thank God for his goodness.

Reader 1:  We pray for our Mother Church, for Kenneth our Bishop, for Father Simon and Mother Margaret and all who lead us. We pray that God will guide them so that we may all follow Jesus together. Lord hear us Lord graciously hear us

Reader 2:  We pray for our own Mothers, and give thanks to God for all they do for us. We remember all those who look after us and love us. We pray that God will look after them all, either in heaven or on earth. Lord hear us Lord graciously hear us

Reader 3:  We pray for the world, for all those places in the world where there is not enough food, or freedom. We pray for all those in Elson, and pray that all here may come to know Jesus as Lord. Lord hear us Lord graciously hear us

Reader 1:  We pray for those who are sick, those listed on our notice sheet and those known to us. May God make them all better. Lord hear us Lord graciously hear us

Reader 2:  We pray for those who have died, and those that we love but don’t see any more. May God comfort all those who miss them and bring all those who love him into his kingdom

Reader 3:  Rest Eternal, grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them

Reader 1:  May they rest in peace and rise in glory

Reader 2:  We join our prayers with all those around the world, all those in heaven and the Mother of All Christians, Mary, our Blessed Lady of Walsingham as we say together:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Fr. Simon:  Let us listen to what God is saying to us in a moment of quiet…

All:           We make these prayers in the name of Jesus, our Lord, Amen


Youth Club Talk – March 20th 2009 – The Cross

Due to the nature of the school and youth club term, this is a Lenten talk given now…

The Cross.

It all begins and ends with the cross. Symbol of Christian Faith, carried high in procession, bedecked with Jewels on our altars, worn around our necks as a sign of – what? – of fashion? Of belonging? Of salvation?

194

I wonder if we thought for a while about the Cross, we would choose to have this fashion statement in quite the same way?

After all, the cross isn’t glamorous. It isn’t cool. It isn’t sexy in any way shape or form.

The cross is an ugly, horrible, shameful way to die.

Not a pretty piece of jewellery at all, the cross is a 12ft high killing machine – a rough instrument of torture reserved by the Romans for the execution of criminals, terrorists and political enemies.

No glamour there.

The Cross was such a terrible, painful way to die that eventually even the Romans thought it too cruel and stopped using it.

The images we sometimes see of the Cross are, much like TV before 9pm, sanitized: made easier to deal with. It doesn’t look very painful. It doesn’t look like much of an ordeal.

nice_crucifixion

But, my friends, the reality is very different.

Massive nails, driven not through the hands, for the hands are not strong enough to bear your bodyweight, but driven through the wrist, supporting your whole weight.

Stand for a while, with your arms outstretched. I know you won’t be able to do it. You will start to moan and gasp and fidgit, and yet this is nothing compared to being hung by your wrists. No platform to stand on, just you and gravity.

I doubt if any of you can do what those gymnasts do on the rings, after years of training and in the peak of physical perfection, they can support themselves for up to a minute. No more. But they haven’t been beated, whipped, tortured beforehand; they havn’t been weakened by loss of blood or have the deal with the pain of the nails.

Each nail forced in by the blow of the hammer. Each blow echoing around the desolate hill and reverberating through time. Each hit forgiven by the author of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

isenheim_altarpiece_crucifixion

It’s not the twinge in your shoulder of course that kills you. When you are suspended on a cross, you die by choking to death. The pressure on your chest in this position means that you can’t breathe in. That is why they nail your feet to the cross, across the ankles. In order to take a breath, in the panic of asphyxiation, you find yourself forcing your weight onto your feet to relieve the pressure on the chest, only to have the pain transferred to the nails in your ankles, you fight to take yet one more breath, but the pain is so great that you give way and the pain transfers back to your chest and you are once more unable to breathe.

You see-saw between excruciating pain in the chest and in the legs until you are exhausted and your heart gives out, filling with fluid: red and white blood cells separating into what looks a little bit like blood and water. If they are kind, they might have had enough of your torture, and the soldiers might break your legs for you, so you can’t support yourself and you die quicker.

And die you had to, for the punishment for letting someone get away with this most severe punishment was to be crucified yourself. It was in the soldier’s interest to make absolutely sure that the criminal was dead, even up to skewering the lifeless corpse right through the heart, and seeing those red and white blood products flow.

Three hours. You havn’t lasted three minutes with your arms outstretched, bearing nothing and yet Christ hung on that instrument of torture for 3 hours.

Why?

On one level: Politics. Fear, Greed, Power and the unwavering knowledge that human beings knew the mind of God better that God himself. The Romans saw the Man as a political threat, and feared a rebellion; the Jewish leaders as a challenge to their immense power; the people saw the spectacle of someone being killed for their entertainment – a bit like reality TV but with a more predictable ending.

On another, deeper level, it was to make things right. The Man was not being punished by God, not the victim of some sick form of cosmic child abuse; he was never deserted by God because he was God himself. The man did not get put on the cross to make up for the bad stuff we had done, not to take the punishment for us from God, but to take on the sins of the world as God.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that all who believe in him may not die, but may have eternal life.

The creator of life, of you and of me, overcomes sin and death on the cross, to win us.

After 3 long hours he cries “it is complete” – it is won, it is sorted.

He sorted it. For you and for me.

This Good Friday, when you eat your hot cross but, you will see that it is more than just a piece of cake: not a piece of cake at all, but a reminder of something very hard won for you: eternal life with the Father who loves you, loves you enough to give of himself for you.

Wear your cross with pride. It shows that you respect what means. Never forget. Never think of it as just a piece of jewellery. It is the sign of your salvation. Your life.

Amen.


First Impressions of the G60-214EM – Real Life User Review

There are so many websites out there that simply parrot the manufacturers blurb about a given laptop, phone or car simply because they havn’t been allowed to play with one. Consequently, I hope that I can do you all a service by writing a review about my new Hewlett-Packard laptop, the HP G60-214EMhplaptop

This is an entry level laptop, whilst not at the bottom of the pile, it certainly isn’t priced as a screamingly fast or powerful machine, but has some fairly useful specs: a Dual Core Althlon Processor (the QL-60), an nVidia Graphics Card, 3Gb RAM, a lightscribe DVD writer and a 250Gb Hard Disk: all of these made it an attractive package over my other choice – the Compaq CQ60218 which only boasted a Sempron (single core) processor. It comes in at £429 at PCWorld, which isn’t a bad price for this spec, I feel. It also has that difficult to emote sense of security that comes with using a big name laptop: Dell, Toshiba, HP etc have a slight sense of reasurrance that, forgive me, doesn’t come from an Advent, Novatech, Packard Bell (which I know is really the big and bold NEC, but loses something in the rebadging I fear).

It is a wide laptop, so although it is only classed as a 15.4″ machine, it has a much wider screen, thus taking advantages of the Flock sidebar fully, and for me can hold two documents side by side with comfort (or a browser and a debugging window).

widescreen

The Graphics Card appears to perform well. One of the key demands on this laptop is as the main engine for Blesséd Masses running Easyworship and putting stuff out of the external VGA port as a second monitor. It runs Easyworship well, and even shows video as a background, which I have not ever been able to run before! So far I have not seen any flickering which affects the Dell Inspiron 1525 we use in Church, but I won’t have properly road tested that until the end of the month when we use it at the Children’s Pilgrimage and at the next Blesséd (Palm Sunday, make a date in your diary 😉  )

The screen is bright as well as wide, and the width is best played out by the full size keyboard, which includes a numeric keypad, so it is easier to do alt-137 -> ë which I realise might not be a major problem for many of you, unless you have a daughter called Zoë. It has a webcam, but I suspect that is just a bit of a gimmick. It won’t get used that much.

Running Office Software has been a breeze, and it has handled quite large Word documents packed with images with no problem. Likewise, Paintshop Pro, Dreamweaver and Fireworks as well as Adobe Photoshop Elements. I have also been impressed by its video crunching using Sony Vegas. Many people might think it slow, but it compares favorably with the desktop I currently use as my workstation. I am a real-life user and can’t afford the cutting edge machines that ‘professionals’ use, so I accept a moderate render time as an acceptable price to pay for only having a quarter of the budget: it works, and when I am in the field (by which I usually mean Norfolk) it will be fine.

Wireless connection was good in terms of range and signal strength, although I didn’t think that its throughput was very impressive when I transferred a lot of video down the wire (in fact I gave up and connected it to the network using a wire for that task in the end). A couple of days later and the speed is fine… I wonder if it was my wireless network?

The video and audio performance is more than acceptable. DVDs play well and sound quite loud through the inbuilt Altec Lansing speakers, so I can watch iPlayer in the bath (from the other side of the room before you throw your hands up in horror – it isn’t a waterproof machine!). The memory card slot supports SHSD and I have read an XD card as well, and it pulls stuff from my video camera well. A good machine to support your photography.

But what isn’t good? I’m not so impressed by battery performance. I think I get about an hour and a half at moment, and this is a new battery. My wife’s Dell is still better after over 9 months. It is also not quite so good at sleep mode. Pressing the button or closing the lid is effective but waking up is a full restore from hibernation and not a straight “here I am!” that you get with a Dell.

So, what are you looking for? Portable word processing? Internet access in a cafe? Downloading your photos on the move?  Certainly? Watching DVDs in bed or iPlayer in the bath? It will do it well? Creating video, it will be fine for a budget. I have yet to install Red Alert 3, but I’ll let you know about that…

Overall, a good machine for the money. I have had no regrets about its purchase and would happily recommend it for people who want to use it like me. Although I am not a power user, I make considerable demands on my machines, not least because I use them on the road – in Church, in School, in Costa’s and it is on my back between all those places. That’s what laptops are designed for, and if they can’t cope with that, then they are as useless as trainers sold as “fashion accessories” which can’t cope with running or exercising (are you listening, JJB Sports?).

UPDATE:

I have now used it at a Children’s event, and given it a thorough real-life use test. See here