Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Narrative Preaching...

We have been looking at how to preach in one of my classes and this week we looked at how to preach a narrative sermon. Though these are not something you can do all the time, occasionally turning the message into a story can be a really effective way of getting the message across, especially at Christmas and Easter when you may well be treading a well worn path of readings that everyone has heard many times before. I have never done a sermon in this way before as quite frankly there were some absolute masters of this form of preaching in my sending church and I would never have dared to put myself within range of comparison. With this in mind I rather panicked when we were sent away with a bible passage and 20 minutes to put together a sermon. But you know, it was rather fun and my fellow classmates came back with some absolutely stunning work. Mine was less so but nevertheless for a first attempt I was quite pleased. You can judge for yourself below….

Matthew 28:1-10

I go down to the graveyard ever week. I wish I could go more often but there is just no time. I seem to be endlessly busy trying to make ends meet these days. It’s been 9 months since my Joseph died – 9 months I can’t believe it’s been so long. It still feels like it happened just yesterday,

It was different going there today, well for a start there were the guards. Guards, I ask you! Did they think anyone was going to escape from there? “We’re guarding the tomb of Jesus” they said, “There are rumours people are going to steal the body” they said. They were all set on keeping me out but there was no way that was going to happen! That preacher Jesus had already prevented me from coming to see Joseph last week, I couldn’t get through the city the crowds were so big. Well he was not stopping me again, I just pushed my way through, the guards didn’t stop me.

I had been there awhile , just chatting away as you do. Not talking about anything in particular. Joseph always used to say I rabbited on to much, he would laugh that I still am doing it…still he has an excuse not to listen now.

Anyway I had been there awhile when I became aware of a group of women who had come in. It was hard not to be aware to be honest, they were wailing and sobbing so much, holding each other up as if they would collapse any minute. They must have lost someone very recently. I know that kind of grief, so raw its as if you can’t breath, so fresh that the world has ceased to make sense.

Well I was watching them, remembering what that was like, re-living a little the days after we buried Joseph and then – you will never believe it, there was this massive earthquake, here in Jerusalem! The ground was shaking every which way I though the tombs themselves where going to collapse and yet in the middle of this came a man, calm as anything, and rolled the stone away from in front of a tomb. I say a man but I am not sure. I couldn’t look at him properly because he was so bright, the light poured out of him. I know it sounds stupid but its what happened. The guards where terrified I can tell you. They think they are such big men but they were crying out for their mums I can tell you!

The women though, they had stopped wailing and were standing there enraptured, the man was talking to them. I strained to hear, I thought I had misheard. Jesus wasn’t dead, he was alive. How could that be! I had seen him die, most of Jerusalem had seen him die, his body beaten and bloodied taken away. No one could have survived that, could they?

The women ran off so quick as the message ended, they dropped the herbs and bundles they had been carrying. As they ran though they stopped short for there on the path ahead of them stood a man, a man who greeted them. It couldn’t be, could it? That voice, that face, it can’t be! I saw him die!

The women knew though, they fell at his feet, clutching at him. They knew… I then I knew. “Don’t be afraid” he said and you know something I wasn’t. For the first time in 9 months I was without fear. Jesus wasn’t the only one to come to new life that day. I realised truly for the first time that death is not the end, just a point on the continuing journey.

I had new life that day – do you?

Thursday, 22 November 2007


I was browsing photo sites on the web and came across this photo...

Something about it really appealed to me. I think it’s the sheer quirkiness of it, it looks so innocuous and yet when you really look at it and read it its bizarrely strange.
Also in the bizarrely strange category I also came across a wonderful series of photographs at by Julia Fullerton-Batten

She has created some startling images by placing young models against a backdrop of miniature villages. The oddness of relationship between the people and the buildings is really accentuated when the relative sizes are reversed. I think its definitely worth a look.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Me church...

In today’s consumer based society is this reality far away??

Thursday, 15 November 2007

best blog?

Its official I have found the bestest blog in the entire world here at to-do list Yes its an entire blog about to-do lists, and there has even been a companion book published :o)

Now anyone that knows me knows I love to-do lists and usually have several on the go at once. Currently I have 3 (well 4 if you count my Christmas present list, to which the to-do list book has just been added!) My general things that need doing list , my things that need doing pretty soon list and the scrap of paper that constitutes the mega urgent, must get done today list… which does not of course have blogging about to-do lists on it – ho hum.

But seriously have a look at the blog its great (but remember to add it to your to-do list first!)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Global Poverty Prayer Week

As part of Morning Prayer this morning we were shown Tear Fund's prayer film which they have made to highlight Global poverty prayer week. It can be seen on their website here.

I found it really moving, thought provoking and was a good reminder that when we feel hopeless in the face of so much global need we always have the power of prayer. It ended with that wonderful quote from St Augustine

“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”


Tuesday, 13 November 2007


On Mondays and Fridays we have Morning Prayer in staircase fellowship groups rather then as a whole college in chapel. Monday’s prayers were led by K from our staircase who, through the use of music and reflection, enabled us to spend time thinking about who we are and how much of that identity is found in Christ. As part of the reflections we were each asked to bring an object that represents us and to say a little about why they had brought it and why it was important to their identity. After much debating I decided to take my cross necklace and being a good Anglican I had three reasons why!

1) It was given to me by my paternal grandfather at my confirmation and my name and the date are engraved on the back. My family is really important to me, both my current family but also the many generations before me. Up until a few generations ago my paternal family had all lived in the same village for hundreds of years. I have been thinking for a while about the importance there is in being known, really known, by other people and the value that we can gain from that. My family’s longevity in the village would have given them such a strong sense of who they were and where they belonged in a way that’s almost unimaginable in the modern world where we all move so much… and yet as Christians I think that we can have that sense as well. My cross reminds me that I am known by God more deeply and truly then I even know myself and that he calls me by name, the name that is engraved on his cross just as it is on mine….

2) That its worthless but means so much to me… My cross was probably bought for a tenner back in 1981 and is probably not even worth that now, but its one of my most precious possessions. This is a constant reminder to me that even though I am worth little in the global scheme of things I am incredibly and infinitely precious to God. It helps me to always remember that no matter what lack of value we place on ourselves or the world places on us we are loved by God as if we were the only one to be loved.

3) It’s incredibly fragile looking but is surprisingly strong. For many years I was reluctant to wear my cross as it’s very delicate on a thin chain and I was worried about breaking it or loosing it. As an adult I decided that this was silly as it was bought to be worn and I started to wear it and now wear it most days. Its been through a lot with me, travelled all over and put up with some rough handling and yet its still there, a few knots in the chain maybe and a bit worn around the edges but essentially still the same cross as it was all those years ago. Again this reminds me that no matter how fragile I feel, and there are some days when I feel like a thin piece of glass that can’t possibly make it through in one piece, that with Gods help even the most fragile things can be strong and can and will survive.

So that’s my object, anyone care to share theirs?

Monday, 12 November 2007


Its been a weekend of celebrations and congratulations here in the community

First up was S from our staircase who celebrated two years of hard work by attending his BTh graduation ceremony on Saturday. He looked very spiffing in white tie and fur trimmed robes and I was a little jealous that ARU have nothing so posh – well that was until I read the regulations for the ceremony he posted on his blog – bizarre doesn’t even begin to cover it!

Second up was the wonderful news that one of the ordinands S, has become engaged to the lovely J. I was just about to go to bed on Saturday night when I heard an absolute racket outside my window. The sound of popping corks led me to go down and investigate where we heard the good news from the couple who had just come back to college after a celebration dinner. Once again I felt so blessed to be a part of this community. There was such a sense of genuinely shared joy, as more and more people came out to celebrate in the freezing cold. The champagne glasses were passed around, the chapel bell ended up being rung and the wedding march was heartily played on the chapel organ (apologies to all local residents for the lateness of the hour!). I do think the two people doing handstands in the organ loft may have been taking the celebrations a little far though…

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Following some comments I have been sent on my last posting I feel I need a few points of clarification…..

No the falling off my bike was not related in any way to the wine tasting… hic!

And its been commented that I seem to be rather over proud of my pink Minnie Mouse bell. Well I don’t see it as over proud rather as justifiably proud because it’s a fantastic bell … See for yourself if you don’t believe me…

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Feeling “proper” Cambridge…Part Deux.

Well I have been cycling round Cambridge for a few weeks now and I am actually really enjoying it! This is somewhat surprising to me as I like walking and so thought I would be a confirmed pedestrian. Its so great being able to get places so quick as walking everywhere, even in a city the size of Cambridge, eats into your day. I was somewhat nervous as I haven’t ridden from years and so set out with some trepidation on my first ride. But its amazing how quickly the old skills come back its like…. well it’s like riding a bike to be frank, you really don’t forget :o)

Funnily enough I thought it would be the cars and lorries that would worry me when riding around the narrow streets but I rapidly realised that they were not the problem. The real problem is the, quite frankly, suicidal pedestrians that appear to be infesting the city. You would think that in a city that probably has more bikes per head of population then anywhere outside of China people would expect that the odd bike might be passing by, but oh no, the roads belong to them alone. Ok the best angle for taking a photo of Kings college chapel may be in the middle of the Kings parade road but its really not a great idea for the whole coach load of Japanese tourists to take the picture at the same time! As for the young students who step out whilst staring at the screen adjusting their ipods, you would think that since they can’t hear anything that it would therefore be wise to look! But oh no….. Most of the time you can see them doing this in enough time to take evasive action but sometimes it happens so swiftly there isn’t even time to ring my lovely pink Minnie mouse bell. At these times a loud OI has to suffice (and occasionally another word or two that are probably not suitable for an ordinand :o) I haven’t hit anyone… yet, but I sense its only a matter of time!

What I have done though is perform that rite of passage known as falling off for the first time. I wish that I could say that it was the result of some amazing near miss or other daring do but sadly not. I pulled up at a red light and decided to get off my bike to push it across the pedestrian crossing (I am still working my way up to crossing the really big junctions on the bike) got my foot tangled in the bike lock which was attached to the frame and topped over into a heap on the pavement with the bike on top of me. My ego was more sorely bruised then my knee and I dread to think what the line of car driver must have thought because it was ridiculously silly. A very nice lady rushed over to check I was ok with her small child in tow. The look on his face was priceless – there was this look of “what are you doing? I am five and I can ride a bike better then that!”

Ho hum, hopefully I will say upright from now on…