Friday, 25 December 2009

We will!

9am from St Pancras on Boxing Day! Yippee.

Taxi arriving early at house (no tubes - but hey you can't have everything).

Should be in Paris just after noon. I so can't wait.

I shall wander down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and know that life is good.

Should have lots of piccies to upload when we get back and lovely memories. So watch out for some lyrical waxing with a slight French accent.

Blessings all!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Will we or won't we?

It serves me right for not feeling appropriately sympathetic towards BA passengers who would have lost their flights if the strike had gone ahead. I remember thinking 'I'm sad for them, but really glad we booked to go to Paris on Eurostar'. I feel the Bah Humbug angel may just have bitten me!

We are due to go to Paris on Boxing Day for two nights and three wonderful days. None of us have been to Paris before, apart from Sandy doing a mad dash between Gard Du Nord and Gard Du Eoust (whatever East is in French) so that doesn't count.

The hotel we hope to be in is just across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower and I am holding dearly to my longing to sit in a boulevard cafe, drinking hot chocolate and watching the world go by.

So I do hope the lovely people at Eurostar get it together - not just for us but for all who will otherwise not have the Christmas they hoped for.

Meanwhile, I wonder what I should include for Christmas Eve Communion and the Christmas Day services. Carols, readings, prayers and maybe a story about not being where you want to be at Christmas!

What are you hoping for this year?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Rachel gets creative again

Here's a reflective poem from the very gifted Rachel Parkinson, who says, "which is a fruit of a "Retreat in Daily Life" which we've recently run as a Circuit. It was a great experience and, despite the fact that it was a group of only 12 of us from across the Circuit, I hope that the ripples will continue to spread. Would recommend it as a Circuit initiative.
The poem came out of a reflection on John 1 which is suitably seasonal."

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.” John 1 v.10

Did I recognise him?

When the well-spring of life

turned water into new wine

did I catch the foretaste

of a heavenly banquet yet to come?

When the hour he spoke

proved the hour of recovery

did I choose to see

healing or coincidence?

When a mat picked-up

meant a man could walk again

did I worry only

that it happened on a Sunday?

When the Bread of Life

broke bread for thousands

did I hear the echo of manna

as I ate my fill?

When he came to me

across a storm-crossed sea

did I grasp he ruled the waves

as well as walked upon them?

When the mudpack cleared

from the beggar’s eyes

did the scales fall from mine -

or did he alone see the Light?

When Lazarus

was bandage-bound

did I turn away before the

unwrapping promised new Life?

Did my eyes slide easily over his surface?

Or did every atom of my stardust-being

recognise the One

who had been there at their creation?

Based on the seven signs of the Messiah in John’s Gospel:

the wedding at Cana (2 v.1-11); the healing of the official’s son (4 v.46-53); the healing of the paralytic (5 v.2-9); the multiplication of the loaves (6 v.1-13); the walking on water (6 v.16-21) and the raising of Lazarus (11 v.17-44)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

5 things I love about Methodism

'The Road to 'Elder' ado' has a blog about 5 things he loves about Methodism and he isn't even a Methodist! Sometimes it is good to be reminded of our value and the gift we are to God's whole Church by someone who looks in from another place.

So I'm going to suggest 5 things I love about Methodism - what's on your list?

1. The people. Okay there are a few that drive me demented but I daresay that is more about my lack of grace than it is about them. But my experience of Methodist people is that they are loving, hospitable, gracious and tolerant. It was just such people that accepted me unconditionally as a struggling young person and helped transform my life.

2. Social Holiness. If we forget this we will have lost our identity. Engaging with the world in all it's messiness is truly incarnational. So we march for climate change, hold hands to end poverty, run soup kitchens and neighbourhood care schemes, engage with the principalities and powers and buy fair trade produce. This is the out-working of the personal holiness, which we also forget at our peril.

3. Attention to detail. I know, I know we all groan about the amount of pages in CPD - but it does represent more than institutional anxiety. The way we do our work is part of who we are and is the distilled wisdom of many people over many years.

4. Connexionalism. Who would want to be part of a Church which is all about 'me in my small corner'? Not me - I want to live on a large map, be part of an expression of the body of Christ that helps expand my horizons, shares oversight and mission and helps me understand the world of which I am part.

5. Wide doors - metaphorically! Being part of a church which is not defined along narrow lines of theological difference is important to me. I learn by being part of a church where not everybody thinks the same, views the Bible in the same way, sings from the same hymn sheet.

So - go on then, why do you love Methodism?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Looking for glimpses of glory

It was in the middle of summer that I was asked to write a short reflection/poem about any aspect of Christmas. Mind you not such a challenge as one might think because the shops were already filling shelves with chocolate Santas, plastic trees and nuts galore. My Mum often buys nuts early for Christmas to put away, inevitably she has to buy some more by about 20th December because she has succumbed to nutty temptation, and who can blame her?

The reflection is part of the 'Christmas in Your Pocket' booklet which has been produced by the newly formed Methodist Publishing - which is now looked after within the Connexional Team. It has been a scorching success - selling out within a couple of weeks and being reprinted to meet demand. We do need to have things to give to people - little easily offered gifts, with ideas, reflections, Bible quotes. But we also need to wrestle with the most profound questions of life and death that Advent and Christmas pose.

The Bishop of Croydon, who seems like a sensible and happy chap, has been pilloried in the press for daring to suggest we might sing Christmas songs that have some content and take us back to the Biblical origins of the story. How dare he! Well I for one am very glad he dare - please can we get past the sentimentality and look closer at the divine vulnerability and passion of Christmas. Yes sing carols devoid of meaning and enjoy doing so but don't let that be enough.

Behind the Tinsel

Within the tinsel shimmering, gift-wrapped

sentimentality a dim light catches my eye.

I follow the light to a messy shelter,

a simple coarse place where animals eat.

The stench of the beasts rises like a sour incense,

blending with sounds of struggle.

Here behind the cheery cards and artificial snow

is the hard, flesh-bound reality of love.

Here is the greatness of the small,

God’s risk-taking life-giving love.

In the weakness of a new-born child

is hope in the face of despair.

Here is the very essence of Christmas, Christ – holy,

God with us, Emmanuel.