Archives September 2009

Creative Liturgy: Mission and Sacramental Worship [a workshop presented to Southwark Diocese Clergy Conference, 30th Sept 2009

Workshop presented to Southwark Diocese Clergy Conference, 30th Sept 2009. Text in red is what is shown on a slide

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

Creative Liturgy: Mission and Sacramental Worship, Fr. Simon Rundell SCP, St. Thomas the Apostle, Elson

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

I usually get in trouble at these kinds of papers because that is when I am at my most unguarded, so if I take a pop at your most sacred cows: Alpha the course we dare not criticise or the wearing of maniples, then I’m sorry, but for the next hour or so, we should expect to see some iconoclasm in this room. But not iconoclasm for the sake of it, just to be different or arty or obtuse, but out of love for the shape and the form and the God which is behind all creativity.

Blesséd (our alt.worship community) is, I suppose a reflection of this: a loose collection of individuals and their charisms that almost on purpose seeks to take what we know and love and do it differently.

Blesséd is an alternative worship community which gathers a dozen times a year in worship, almost always sacramental worship and usually as Mass, shaped by the liturgical seasons; and is continuing to seek (rather haphazardly) to become a more distinct non-parochial, non geographical ecclesial community as it tries to support itself through social networking and other media between gatherings for worship.

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

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

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


It gives me the opportunity to speak on a number of subjects close to my heart: liturgy, mission and creativity and not what many of you were expecting: computers. I find myself in an odd position: much of my ministry, my missional work is in the practice of liturgy, its use as a missional tool, especially to young people and yet, what do most of my colleagues use me for?

my life in ministry

I am, like you, primarily a parish priest: Vicar of St Thomas the Apostle, Elson. An urban parish in Gosport in the Diocese of Portsmouth. I come to this place via a career in Intensive Care and Critical Care Nursing in a number of London Teaching Hospitals and an almost accidental role as a guru in the use of Information Technology to support Nursing which came about from my research into the communication between Nurses and Patients in a particular kind of High Dependency Critical Care. I also worked for a while as a freelance Computer Programmer in the City of London just before my theological formation at Mirfield.



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


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

  • Why should I do creative liturgy? Does it make a difference?
  • Can I do it in ways which are authentic to my tradition? (I will speak primarily to my tradition, but the same can and should be applied across the board)
  • How can I do it when I don’t have any technological expertise?

One of the legacies of the Reformation was the rejection of the sensual and the sensuous. Our engagement with God is much more than simply what we say aloud, or even what we hear, but in sight (spectacle and ritual), smell, taste and touch and through these we are enabled to engage both our minds and hearts in worship: we are creatures created to worship, but I suspect that the evangelical narrowness of sola scriptura cuts out many of our worshiping experiences by restricting our means of engaging with God. God is bigger than that.

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

christ among the outcasts

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

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

Mission-Shaped Questions p31

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

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

Our Primary encounter with God in worship is not an intellectual one, but an emotive one.

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

The last great swell of Anglocatholic Mission was in the 20’s and the 30’s and took place in poor, working class slums where the beauty and transcendence of worship lifted the people of God. It was through the sacraments that encounter took place. When we started to plan worship, a number of our young people involved all said independently “well, it has to be a mass doesn’t it?” “We wanna do that fing with the bead and the wine, Farv” It is intriguing that they sought to define themselves in terms of their relationship to the sacrament and yet not to be constrained by the traditions of it. For them, each element of the mass was seen as being up for grabs, for a radical interpretation and a retelling of the story.

We wanna do that fing with the bead and the wine, Farv


So, in 2002 (long before the Fresh Expressions labels was applied to anything outside of Choral Evensong), Blesséd was born – Eucharist with funky backbeats, Gloria with dancing, Sacrament with Attitude. Blesséd sought to continue its sacramental heritage whilst proclaiming its ancient truths in new and creative ways. This has meant taking what we know and love and asking how its story may be told for new generations.


And I explored this in a chapter of the book published last year edited by Ian Mobsby and Stephen Croft on Ancient Faith Future Mission: Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition51B6N4c2QQL._SL500_AA240_

This is not the place for me to extensively explore the role of the sacramental life in mission [for I did that extensively at Greenbelt this Summer in a panel with Pete Rollins from Belfast suffice for me to leave you with the impression that for our community, it is the fount of all being: all life is sacramental and the sacramental life is the mechanism through which Almighty God and his creation encounter each other.


We could explore a lot of stuff about PostModernism and the role of sign and symbol: semiotics in mission, but I think that is better kept for a discussion over a pint later!


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

excerpt from above and from the next one

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

One of the things I repeatedly hear after Blesséd worship, especially from fellow Clergy is “oh, I couldn’t do anything like that – I am so untechnical” as if I am the holder of some kind of esoteric secrets. My friends, the key skills are the ones you already posess: your creativity

For I am convinced that the best multisensory worship does not have to plug into the mains and our key tools: incense, stones, flowing water, bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of Christ are the best tools, and dancing pixels are there to support them.

The best multisensory worship does not have to plug into the mains

In the V&A Museum is this work by Jonathon Barnbrook.


We should be constantly asking ourselves whether the technology we are using is appropriate or indeed is of any use. Ironically, this means any technology: how many people have been forced to wince through the murder of Shine Jesus Shrine played inappropriately on the Organ a full trad choir butchering Taize and a badly set up projector emasculating a worship chorus. The use of a mic, a guitar, a video can enhance worship, but it can also be used to destroy that delicate moment where God and people come together.

We have to recognise that whilst created in God’s image, we are all different and have different learning styles and different approaches to God. Eneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator have backed this up – what works for me will not necessarily work for you.

Our problem has been that Archbishop Cranmer was clearly an auditory learner and our legacy as Anglicans is to be rigidly tied to the prayerbook, the Common Worship Text, to the hymnal and to the written word.


Not all of us are like this. Some are. Good for them. I [as you might have guessed am not. I work best with visual stimulation backed up by the auditory others love ritual and body prayer and have what educationalists refer to as a kinaesthetic bent.

None of this is wrong. I used to think I was a terrible Christian because I was useless at silence: I’d get twitchy before the Blessed Sacrament until I did Myers-Briggs and the wise monk who analysed me said “you need something to do in prayer” and gave me a rosary, and my prayer life was transformed.


However, because we have lost our pre-reformation love of the visual and the ritual, the first thing I want to share is some good practice in the use of projectors.

My worst experience of projection occurred in a sacred space where one should have expected it to be slick and professional: the wildly successful St Aldates in Oxford.


There, amid impressive music, powerful testimony and the sight of dozens being baptised was the most second rate use of a projector I have ever seen. For successful use of a projector does not rely on how much money you spend on kit but the thought and the preparation of what is displayed and the training and liturgical awareness of the operator.

Successful use of a projector does not rely on how much money you spend

…rather the thought and preparation of what is displayed

The major error is one of distraction: the worst thing about Powerpoint (more on that later) in business and especially in teaching (my wife is a newly qualified teacher and the worst powerpoints ever are made by educationalists) – the worst thing is the templates: they distract: fonts, backgrounds, animations (oh! Lord have mercy, animations!).


You don’t need any of them. You don’t need a cross, a waterfall, a sunset behind your words. Use images where words are not needed, but if words are the important thing – use just words.



Similarly, you shouldn’t use too many words. Many Churches (St Aldates included) havn’t grown out of their days with an OHP and acetates with two whole verses and a chorus on screen in very very very small writing.




My tendency is to put no more than 2 lines of a hymn on screen at anytime and to fill the screen with it, so that it may be seen without a distracting background and in a simple clear font. Given, the operator cannot fall asleep but this is a good spur for teenagers for whom the mass is otherwise the most boring thing ever – it keeps them alert because you have to change the [what I will call the slide before the end of the line, so you are up to speed with the text.

An example: (to the tune of St Denio)

(Let’s sing)

Verse 1

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

in light inaccessible hid (change) from our eyes,

most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

almighty, victorious, thy great (change) name we praise.

Verse 2

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,

nor wanting, nor wasting, thou (change) rulest in might;

thy justice like mountains high soaring above

thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

I use simple visual clues:

The Lord be with you

and also with you

We probably all do similar already with bold text in printed sheets, but instead throughout I always use yellow or red (depending on background colour) for congregation responses, and green for directions


(let us be seated)

Or translations: Miserere Nobis (have mercy on us)

People unfamiliar with Church find this simple “say the bright colour” approach easy to pick up and therefore less intimidating that wading through a booklet. It encourages singing and works very well with traditional hymnody.

When it comes to the sighting of screens, I have to confess that the DAC can sometimes prove a challenge [although I am sure your DAC is lovely. The solution lies in the moveable: we created an 8ft high tressel upon which a standard [and very cheap projector screen is G-Clamped. No faculty is required.


The most effective position for projection is immediately behind the altar so that the screen does not distract from the focal liturgical activity, but rather encourages, points, focuses on the real liturgical action, as seen as Walsingham. This works well when you pull the altar into the Nave as you can back-project from the Chancel, but this does tend to annoy the Choir [as do most things, let’s face it



(for this Advent worship we build a womb inside the church)

Other solutions involving temporary hangings, banners, or even multiple projectors or LCD TVs but I would counsel care that they do not become the focus of worship away from what is taking place on the altar. In a big space such as Walsingham, we concentrate during the consecration of the elements on the priests hands and the elevation.

I have already spoken of Powerpoint and for many it would be the first choice of software for projecting words and even embedded videos in worship. One piece of advice: don’t.


It’s like using a bicycle in the Isle of Man TT Races: you would get round but after a lot of wasted energy. It doesn’t have the flexibility or the speed to display liturgy effectively. There are a number of applications which are available ranging from Open Source [ie Free solutions such as DreamBeam through to very effective commercial applications such as MediaShout or my personal choice Easyworship

Product Cost Comment
Dreambeam 0.8 FREE I can’t get this to work on my systems, but I am told it is very good
SongView FREE Very basic
MediaShout 4 $429

Express: $249

Very comprehensive, popular but a bit complex
Easyworship 2009 $399

Upgrade $99

Powerful yet simple interface

What they offer is a complete integrated system for scripture, images, video and even web pages with the ability to respond dynamically to the worship environment which a linear system such as Powerpoint, even using Presentation Mode cannot live up to.



Beyond words, we should consider the use of video and image, both as a creative tool and as a supportive tool for liturgy. We could speak of all kinds of places for this kind of work, and today’s session has been littered with gatherings, penitential rites and even Eucharistic prayers, but for simplicity, I will speak only of the development of the Visual Intercession. It wasn’t my idea, but I believe that Blesséd has taken the concept further than many.

Many years ago, my wife and I, as simple Sunday School teachers introduced a session of prayer (for a Harvest festival if I recall) using pictures photocopied onto OHP acetates as someone played piano (now that dates it, doesn’t it. I think it was the early 90’s).

Later we stuck some pictures together on a Powerpoint Slideshow and pressed play on a CD… and later still as a simple video made on a PC and at last we were able to pray with others rather than be tied up with the mechanism to help others to pray without words, guided by the images seen on screen.

Not everyone responds to visual intercessions as I have mentioned earlier, but it allows many more to explore intercessory prayer in a creative response as an image will guide two different people to have different foci of prayer: they are individual and I believe that this makes the Baby Jesus smile.

In videos generally there are two distinct styles, philosophies even which need to be noted:

The Visions Style

based in York, Visions is an alt.worship community which arose from the 1990s club scene, it uses video loops as an immersive process, as wallpaper around the scene (often using multiple screens) so the worshipper can just drop back and absorb the vibe from short repetitive loops

The Blessed Style

tends to use longer, less looped videos which drive forward the liturgy – which support direct liturgical action and have a distinct beginning and end.

At the Dec 8th Pilgrimage last year it was quite difficult conceptually to merge these two quite distinct approaches and I (for one) was not convinced that we succeeded.

These days the tools of simple video making come shipped as Standard with every PC or Mac.

Product Cost Comment
Windows Movie Maker – PC FREE Comes as standard. Basic but easy
iMovie – Mac FREE if your Mac is bundled with iWork package Comes as standard. Basic but easy
Adobe Premiere Elements 7

Premiere CS4



Mix of complex and wizards to help home users. Limited video layers.


Sony Vegas

Studio 9

Pro 9



Only 4 layers of video but very powerful still.


To show how easy it is to create a basic visual intercessions, we have a small number of workstations around this room (mostly PCs but one Mac, depending on your inclinations, but we are an inclusive Church and I won’t mind if you are an abnormal Mac user) and I think it might be nice if we can have a go at producing a simple visual intercessions.

But before we do that, I know that the issue of copyright might be lurking in the back of your mind. After all, it’s important that we uphold the law…

Speaking personally, the Gospel is more important than any manmade law and honouring God comes before honouring financially any person. I inhabit a culture where intellectual property is seen not as an end product but as a tool for further enhancement: the growth of sampling or the mashup video and the development of the download as the key method of music distribution in the past 2 years has reflected modern youth’s disregard of copyright as a concept and the embracing of other forms of intellectual property which ensure proper attribution, reasonable recompense and creative freedom. Sharing files is not seen as a crime by young people.

Sharing files is not seen as a crime by young people.

Having said that, we should respect an individual’s creativity. Thankfully the performing rights society think the same as I do: they have stated that they will not pursue copyright on a creative work if it is being used in an act of divine worship for which no charge is being made

The PRS will not pursue copyright on a creative work if it is being used in an act of divine worship for which no charge is being made

As we never charge for the Mass (which probably explains why Blesséd is constantly underfunded, starved little urchin of a group – no official or central FE funding for us, I must say!) we are safe. However, stick a video with a piece of copyrighted material on YouTube or on a DVD on a book or charge entry for an event (a collection doesn’t count, thankfully) and you’ll find yourself taken down or worse, sued. Thankfully more and more companies are seeing YouTube as a means for generating awareness of their music, linking to the option of downloading the music from iTunes and letting you keep it, with the notable exception of TimeWarner, who just remove it.

Luckily there is so much stuff available that the use of Copyrighted Material is seldom wholly necessary. Material can be found on the internet that is in the Public Domain – a work in the public domain is free for everyone to use without asking for permission or paying royalties. The phrase “public domain” is a copyright term referring to works that belong to the public. Works can be in the public domain for a variety of reasons: because the term of copyright protection has expired; because the work was not eligible for copyright protection in the first place; or because the copyright owner has given the copyright in the work to the public domain. Often video placed on sites like YouTube by their creators are considered to have placed them in the Public Domain (and I will explain later how to obtain those videos)

Public Domain

There is other material which is available freely for use but still remains the property of its creator. This is the marvellous Creative Commons works allows free use and reuse but asserts certain rights, ranging from requiring credit to be given to the originator (attribution) or restricting its use to non-commercial uses – such as worship. The Creative Commons website details this much more readily.

Creative Commons


Of course, the best material for you to use is stuff you have made yourself. The quality of digital still and movie cameras is now amazing. £150 will buy you a camcorder which records onto a small memory card – no tape or disk anymore and an 8Gb card costing £30 can record six to 8 hours of high quality video on it.

Your own stuff

A still camera can be used to take successive still images and a free program used to ‘stitch’ these together into a stop frame animation. I have the habit of ‘borrowing’ my daughter’s Barbie dolls to film bible stories with a Sacred Heart statue playing Jesus.

Google Images is a marvellous source for finding still images, but care must be taken to ensure that you don’t simply select the first image you come up with, and you choose carefully for image quality as a web image is often much poorer in quality than an image on screen and when put on a 6ft screen will look very blocky…

YouTube is a great source for video images, but the site (and many others) uses a compressed video format called FLV or Flash Video to stream the video. You need a converting tool. This can be done online at sites like ( or there are standalone programs such as the excellent Save2PC, all of which can convert to a variety of other useful formats, from which you can use your video editing software to shape and change, maybe removing the audio and replacing it with something else, or just chopping out a little bit that you want.


Whatever you are gathering, throw nothing away. 1Tb of Data Storage in an external drive can be got for £80, and you’ll always want to trawl back for something useful.

So, now: how to make a video using Windows Video Maker…

{demonstration follows}

Concluding Remarks

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


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

The Mass is, let’s face it, the freshest of fresh expressions.

The Mass is the freshest of fresh expressions.

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


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

No community which seeks to be Christian can be said to be authentically so unless it gathers to break bread and pour wine and see that Christ is in their midst.

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

God is here. Make yourselves at home.

So, my dear friends, what are we to make of a paper which seeks to say in new and radical ways “Go and carry on with what you are doing”, for all this messing around with pixels are only an extension of the central act of worship which it supports: the breaking of bread and the proclamation of the resurrection.

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

Mission is Mass

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

Mass is Mission

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

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

Thank you

Death by Powerpoint

Whilst preparing my workshop, and railing against the misuse of Powerpoint, I found these excellent videos which make some of my points excellently. Although designed for business, they translate effectively for teaching (and the worst slides I have ever seen have come from educationalists) and sermons, and to an extent act as a warning for those using Powerpoint in Worship, for which my executive summary is:DON’T.

Multi parter:

Part 2 best, I reckon. I applaud their destruction of clipart. Clipart should be removed from the system.

I note with interest that someone in our diocese is offering a workshop on “worship using powerpoint” – Gaaahhhh! No! No! No! Powerpoint doesn’t have the flexibility or power to support worship.

I plan to release my presentation here, shortly, but it will take bit of time to get the videos together. Bear with me.

Death by Powerpoint

Whilst preparing my workshop, and railing against the misuse of Powerpoint, I found these excellent videos which make some of my points excellently. Although designed for business, they translate effectively for teaching (and the worst slides I have ever seen have come from educationalists) and sermons, and to an extent act as a warning for those using Powerpoint in Worship, for which my executive summary is:DON’T.

Multi parter:

Part 2 best, I reckon. I applaud their destruction of clipart. Clipart should be removed from the system.

I note with interest that someone in our diocese is offering a workshop on “worship using powerpoint” – Gaaahhhh! No! No! No! Powerpoint doesn’t have the flexibility or power to support worship.

I plan to release my presentation here, shortly, but it will take bit of time to get the videos together. Bear with me.

ID cards or the retreat of my hairline

In Wayne’s World, Wayne says “I’ve not really had a career to speak of, but let’s just say I have an outstanding collection of name tags and hairnets”. In my case, it is a variety of ID cards which I have kept together, but which when viewed only seem to document my hair loss over the past 20 years.

I plan to use this video when I introduce myself at a presentation.

Technical Tips for Clergy: Go Web Mail!

beveled_whiteFor the past 18 months I have solely used a web-based mail account using Google. It has meant freedom from the tyranny of a single desktop: complete integration with my blackberry and a unified mail, contacts and calendar system which is highly functional and makes we wonder why I ever thought the bloated and over complex Outlook was ever the right solution.

I can check email on the road, home and office can update my calendar and I can pick up email from whereever I can see the web: cafes, parish homes, my webbook – it really works! It is also 98% spam free so I don’t have to waste money on other spam filters.

You can configure Google to disguise itself as another account, for me this is which I have owned for years and no-one knows I use Google. You can configure your old account to forward all your mail to Google and then just forget about it, so if you are better known on say MSN and want to keep that, you can just set it to forward and you are sorted. You can export your contacts from Outlook as a text file (usually CSV) and import them into your Google Contacts and hence the Blackberry!

If you have a smartphone, then the Google Mobile Apps application can take things a step further, not only giving you complete Blackberry access to your mail, synchronising mail and contacts but even giving you access to Google Maps (very useful if, as we did yesterday, you get lost in Brighton).

Once you are logged into Google, you can create a customised or iGoogle home page, which is my home page where ever I go. It contains widgits for my mail, calendar, Twitter and Facebook as well as access to the National Rail Timetable and other stuff that interests or amuses me – you can have what you like on it. It really frees you from a single point of contact and in the fluid form that is parishLife and ministry, it is the way to go.

Give it a go!

Sermon: Ordinary 26, Year B – Inclusivity

Text: Mark 9:38-50

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

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That must be why there is no other community quite like ours, praise the Lord!

Today, we hear the intriguing story of Christ’s disciples trying to stop a man who had been casting out demons in his name. Remember, names have power in biblical times. They seem to have become especially upset because the offender was not one of them. In the eyes of the disciples, he was not part of the inner circle, and he was acting differently from what they considered to be the norm.

As soon as Christ heard about it, he turned the tables on his closest followers and rebuked their blind, unbending exclusiveness. He told them not to stop the man, because whatever good is done in Christ’s name would put him in a situation of not speaking evil of the Lord. And tellingly, Christ concluded, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Christ made it clear that he and his disciples were not a little clique, working in a corner of life, fenced off from others. His world view, his God’s-eye view, made him well aware that God’s actions are not limited to the forms with which his disciples were familiar.

Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Don’t Christ’s words ring true as a rebuke of our often blind and unbending exclusiveness, our arrogant assumptions that God’s action among us is limited to forms with which we are most comfortable and most familiar? Just because we like worship like this, or like that, with choirs or guitars, with incense or tambourines … or dare I suggest like here with a combination of all that and more besides… we should not precociously assume that God only hears our worship, our preaching, our interpretation of Scripture: God is bigger than all that human pettiness.

We cannot fence ourselves off from others who have different ways of following Christ or of finding God. The one who is not against us is for us. The one who is not against Christ is on the side of Christ.

In this, our Lord gives us a model for a broader view. There is an issue of tolerance. Doesn’t Christ’s message to the disciples help us stop short when we fall into the all too common trap of thinking in terms of “us” and “them” – seeing life only from the perspective of our own groups?

Intolerance of the other is certainly an attitude that Christ rejected in today’s gospel reading. Possibly, he realized that the disciples considered the man casting out demons as a threat to their inner-circle status. He was an outsider, so they tried to stop him. Jesus rejected this by making it clear that only in a more narrow sense can one be an outsider.

What was true for the disciples has been true throughout history. The world and the church have fought for centuries in such a fence-building frenzy. The stories of the past schisms and divisions are legion. And living out the tendencies of the same human nature, we still act this way in our time, don’t we? Even in this day and age, there are people (and I’m afraid to say this includes Bishops as well as Churches) who threaten to split the Church and take their ball home over trivial, yes trivial issues over sexuality when the call of the Gospel lies ahead of all of us, and makes this squabbling look, well, petty.

Christ’s words remind us that Christianity is not the preserve of a privileged few. He reminds us that no one seeking to do the Lord’s work is an outsider. He reminds us to welcome all people who are willing to join the journey, following our Lord. Over and over again, Christ’s words remind us to be including – not excluding. Over and over again, Christ’s words rebuke us when we turn against others because they are different. Over and over again, the life Christ lived and the way he taught his first disciples remind us of the scandal of our divisions.

There is another side to this, of course. Sometimes, conscience and practicality dictate that we separate ourselves from others, but the message here, at the very least, is not to do so lightly – not to draw a line in the sand except as a last resort. Christ helps us work against the subtle temptation to think that “for me to be right, anyone who disagrees with me must be wrong.” For in that you judge, and that is not YOUR job, but Christ’s (Matthew 7:1)

Christ seems to be telling the disciples and us: “Look for the commonality. Recognize that there are many among you who might work or think differently, but don’t jump to the conclusion that that makes them against you – or against me.

He warns us against simplistic solutions to complex problems. He causes us to see that truth is always bigger than any one person’s, or any one group’s grasp of it. Christ cautions us against inflexibility of thought or deed. He helps us embrace tolerance of a variety of actions and viewpoints. He helps us re-learn what is so easy to forget: that diversity is not only good; it is absolutely essential for the health of the Body of Christ.

Today’s gospel reinforces a belief that what we need in the church is less “either/or” and more “both/and.”

Where do we find commonality? Why not begin by looking to our earliest roots? Those who can declare that “Christ is Lord” are not against us, and therefore are for us, and for Christ. Those who can follow the steps of Christ, taking up their crosses and denying themselves for the sake of God and God’s children are not against us, and therefore are for us, and for Christ.

The story of today’s gospel is about the disciples’ attempt to draw a circle around Christ and themselves – shutting out the one who was casting out demons in Christ’s name. Perhaps a concise, powerful poem by early 20th Century American Poet Edwin Markham can help us remember that Christ ordered the disciples not to exclude that man and to recall that those who are not against us are for us.

In his poem “Outwitted,” Edwin Markham writes:

“He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.”

We draw circles, big circles of wit and love, and that encompasses everyone…

In Christ’s name, we all will do powerful things…


Electronic Lectionary Ordo 2010 released

a075c076a0Each year I compile for my own benefit (and for the benefit of my parish) a Liturgical Calendar or Ordo and as usual release it into the public domain for the benefit of anyone who would want to use it.

Beginning in Advent 2009 and running until the eve of Advent 2010, this calender is designed to be imported into a calendar program, such as Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook etc and from there can be synched to your PDA, iPhone or (in my case) Blackberry.

You can download it without charge from All I ask is that you undertake to pray for me and our ministry and mission here at S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson – call it Prayerware if you like!

I have included in the zip file three versions a) the .ics iCalendar file for most programs b) the .vcs vCalendar for Palm, although this will be the last year of this subfunctional version and c) a Version of .ics optimised for Windows Calendar for Vista. I have not included this year a hack for versions of Outlook 2003 – it really is time you upgraded!

As I mentioned earlier, this calendar is primarily for me, so you might find it a little too Roman for you, but STE is a Roman Rite AngloCatholic Parish, and you have to accept that devotion to Our Lady, Saints and the RCL Lectionary (as used by the Lutherans as well as the Romans) is what this is. It coincides 90% of the time with the Common Worship Lectionary anyway. Alternatively, you might consider it too Anglican for you because there are references to some Anglican divines and extracts from the wonderful Exciting Holiness book. These are the people who write and tell me that my holy orders are invalid and that I am a layman in the eyes of their church.If either of these scenarios trouble you, I suggest you compile your own.

(If Anglican orders are invalid, why did the Pope send the Archbishop of Canterbury a Pectoral Cross, the same one sent to all the Bishops of the Roman Church? A funny gesture to make towards a layman, eh?)

In the Calendar, each day contains information about daily mass readings, the divine office week and other useful liturgical information. Certain festivals also feature information from Exciting Holiness, for example for the 4th Oct:

Francis of Assisi – Memorial
Anglican Calendar: Trinity 18

Today is a Feast
Colour: White
Lectionary Year: C   Weekday Readings:2

Divine Office:3


First Reading:First Reading: Galatians 1:6-12
Psalm: Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 111:1-2, 7-8, 9, 10
Second Reading:
Gospel: Gospel: Luke 10:25-37 or From this reading First Reading: Galatians 6:14-18

Biography of the Saint of the Day from Exciting Holiness (first edition):

Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor
4 October — Lesser Festival — Religious — White
Francis was born in Assisi in central Italy either in 1181 or the following year. He was baptised Giovanni but given the name Francesco by his father, a cloth merchant who traded in France and had married a French wife. There was an expectation that he would eventually take over his father s business but Francis had a rebellious youth and a difficult relationship with his father. After suffering the ignominy of imprisonment following capture whilst at war with the local city of Perugia, he returned a changed man. He took to caring for disused churches and for the poor, particularly those suffering from leprosy. Whilst praying in the semi-derelict church of St Damian, he distinctly heard the words:  Go and repair my church, which you see is falling down.  Others joined him and he prepared a simple, gospel-based Rule for them all to live by. As the Order grew, it witnessed to Christ through preaching the gospel of repentance, emphasising the poverty of Christ as an example for his followers. Two years before his death, his life being so closely linked with that of his crucified Saviour, he received the Stigmata, the marks of the wounds of Christ, on his body. At his death, on the evening of 3 October 1226, his Order had spread throughout western Christendom.

O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself
to the child-like and lowly of heart:
grant that, following the example of the blessèd Francis,
we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness
and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the prophecy of Micah.

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

This is the word of the Lord.         Micah 6. 6-8

Responsorial Psalm
RThe Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
[and his faithfulness endures from age to age.
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song. R

Know this: The Lord himself is God;
he himself has made us and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. R

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and call upon his name. R         Psalm 150

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians.

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule — peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

This is the word of the Lord.         Galatians 6. 14-18

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

Jesus said to his disciples,  I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you — you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This is the gospel of Christ.         Luke 12. 22-34

Post Communion
Lord God,
you made your church rich
through the poverty of blessèd Francis:
help us like him not to trust in earthly things
but to seek your heavenly gifts;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

compiled from a variety of Liturgical Sources for his own use by Fr. Simon Rundell SCP
( and made available to others as PRAYERWARE: Available without cost or charge except that your prayers are asked for Fr. Simon and the Parish of S.Thomas the Apostle, Elson
see Other worship resources available at

I hope you will find it useful.

Pray for us…