Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Great Preacher

I am hoping the title of this post might attract some attention in the same way that the person it talks about caught my attention
I was flicking channels on TV the other night and came across a shopping channel featuring a juicer type thing and decided to watch for a couple of minutes as I have been thinking about increasing fruit and veg intake.

I ended up watching almost an hour because the second person in the presentation was to coin his own words ‘evangelical’ about this particular product. He said he had bought one at Christmas and stared using it in the New Year and had used it every day since – he said he was feeling the benefits in lots of ways and there had been some weight loss which he thought was due his change in diet.

He was so excited about the product and I could see where the evangelical comment had come from as he talked with a high degree of zeal and fervour about this marvellous product, and it got me thinking.

I thought to myself is this what is missing in much of the preaching in our churches – we don’t always seem to grasp what a marvellous product (I know you might not like that description but it works for this) we have – the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet much of the preaching I hear is so lack lustre and almost apologetic.

I am keenly aware that my fiercest critic is my wife and I am thankful for that because I think she helps to keep me sharp in my preaching but I am also grateful that like the guy selling the juicer I firmly believe in the product I am encouraging people to try in the same way he believed in the juicer.

I think that all too often we are very wishy washy in our faith and our preaching and are frightened of offending someone – it didn't seem to bother Jesus!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sunday Special

In an online conversation with a friend yesterday we were talking about a number of topics one of which was the Revised Common Lectionary and the limits it places on preachers where it is followed almost slavishly. It does have to be said though that I can see how it can be helpful to some preachers as a starting point and am not suggesting doing away with it.

The upshot of this was it got me thinking about Special Sundays and the designations given to Sunday in the lectionary. I have for many years held the view that every Sunday is special although according to the lectionary we are in ordinary or proper time at the moment, and I am never sure about the term ordinary in this respect – the definition of ordinary in the dictionary is: - with no special or distinctive features; normal. What a shame if that is our experience of Sundays!

Apart from the festival dates like Easter, Pentecost, Advent etc., there are also a number of other special Sundays throughout the year marking both ecumenical and Methodist related events and activities and I suspect many of us celebrate these quite happily. It is often the case too that it gives preachers an opportunity to break out of the lectionary and use some different texts (I know we can do that anyway but it does seem to me that is some places it would seem to be almost rebellious).

In our conversation last night we mentioned a number of books that we very rarely hear anyone preach on and the suggestion came up that we have a ‘Preach from a neglected book Sunday’ and I jokingly said we should send a memorial to conference suggesting this.
I am not sure if this would prove to be a popular idea but may well raise it at our next preachers meeting as an idea and a bit of a challenge to us preachers to give some consideration to whole swathes of scripture that we never look at and possibly never think of if we are tied into the lectionary.

I would welcome any thoughts from those reading this blog and who knows maybe even some support for the concept.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Hymns and Arias

Hymns and Arias
I have to admit to pinching the title of this post from Max Boyce’s song of the same title where he sing’s ‘And they were singing hymns and arias, Land of my Father, Ar Hyd a Nos, and as you might have already worked out I want to share some thoughts on the hymns part of this.

I have been following for some time now discussions in the Methodist Recorder about one line in one hymn which seems to cause a lot of people difficulty and all sorts of suggestions have been made about leaving the verse out of changing the words and to be honest I would not favour either suggestion but then I have no problem with seeing the wrath of God satisfied.

In this week’s Methodist Recorder there are two letters about hymns that I found quite interesting. The first one was about the choice of tune for a particular hymn and the other was about the words of a different hymn and I find myself at odds with both letter writers.

The first hymn is Glorious Things of thee are spoken which is usually sung to the tune ‘Austria’ and the writer is suggesting a change to another tune because of the militaristic tone of ‘Austria’. I think it carries the words far better for me that ‘Lux Eoi’ and wonder if the objection may be more because the tune ‘Austria’ was also the German National Anthem – ‘Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Allies’.
The second hymn is ‘How great thou art’ and the writer of the letter is questioning the line ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die I scarce can take it in’ and is in particular questioning why if God sent Him to die he didn’t let Herod finish the job when Jesus was a baby. Now I am not sure how that might have worked given the amount of prophecy about the coming of Jesus and of how he was likely to die – by His stripes we are healed etc.

I have to admit to be a little curmudgeonly when it comes to hymns and tunes – I am sorry I am not very keen on changing words when the result is that they do not scan and present problems for many of our  congregations who know the words sometimes without opening their hymn books. At one church I preach at there was a lady who I never saw open her hymnbook and I felt a challenge to find a hymn that she had to open her book to sing every time I went there.

There are also in my opinion some hymns that you cannot really change the tune to as it is almost as if tune and words were written to complement each other and of course many hymns were. Fanny Crosby’s great hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’ was written after a friend had played her some music.

I remember playing at a service once where the preacher requested a tune change to ‘Abide with me’ and unlike the old joke I am an organist you can negotiate with so I went along with it. Unfortunately the tune change did not work at all well and meant that the rest of the service however good or bad the elements were did not register with a congregation who were very upset at the change of tune.

We have a hymn tomorrow morning and the set tune in Singing the Faith is not the tune that I have normally heard this particular hymn sung to – could be quite interesting if the preacher goes with that tune – I will of course offer my advice but will go with the preacher’s wishes. The hymn for those who may be interested is ‘Christ triumphant ever reigning’ which I am used to singing and playing to the tune ‘Christ Triumphant’ however in Singing the Faith it is set to ‘Guiting Power’. I have to be honest I think I prefer the tune that is not in StF.

Maybe readers have a view on this!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Been a good day

Sundays are always quite busy for us and today was no exception with me taking a service at a local United Reform Church and this evening was our Second Sunday at 7 where we shared in a time of Holy Communion.
In addition to this I spent some time during the afternoon completing the powerpoint for this evening (it was really a keynote presentation).
I also checked out a new blog and have added a link on the sidebar - check out Meaditations as there is some interesting stuff over there.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Onesie? No-sie!!

I am at a bit of a loss to see what the attraction of onesies are - they remind me very much of the boiler suits that I used to wear many years ago when I started working at the Patent Shaft Steelworks in Wednesbury. Apart from keeping your own clothes clean I never saw any practical use for boiler suits and going to the toilet was a nightmare as you had to get almost undressed. I have seen a conversation over on facebook about the difficulty of going to the toilet when wearing one.
I also thought they were for wearing in the house for a number of reasons - to keep warm, to be comfortable?, and to kill passion as I am sure they would work very well in that respect.

I was in town the other day and could not believe my eyes when a girl who was possibly late teens came walking up the main street wearing a onesie and getting lots of strange looks from the people she passed - mind you the outfit was topped with one of those woolie hats with flaps on in a totally different design and colour.
I would not be seen dead in one and have warned my wife that if she dared to get one for me when I am dead I will come back and haunt her.

Monday, 6 January 2014

DIY service and other things

We had a do it yourself service at Church last night and as is often the case people had brought a hymn suggestion or a reading or story and it all fitted together extremely well. Sometimes I wonder whether we ought to be brave and try this at least once a quarter in most of our churches and see how it goes. It would give members a real opportunity to be involved and would keep leaders on their toes.
Afterwards we had refreshments and a number of conversation were going on around the room and the group that I was sitting with were asked by one of the people if we were watching 'The Bible' on channel five. The result was that out of seven people most of us weren't and said that the main reasons were the amount of violence and the level of it in the film - we all know Bible times would have been quite violent - the missing out of some excellent parts of the bible such as the story of Jonah and the fact it was too American.
From my perspective I watched ten minutes and it did nothing for me at all so it was turned off - I wonder what anyone reading this blog might think about the program me and the do it yourself worship idea without actually planning it but just turning up.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year

I know this is a day late but as my Mother used to say 'better late than never'.

I have now completed the tidy up of links to other sites and have lost some and gained some as some are no longer live and some are either new or have been updated.

I was contacted yesterday by an old school chum who said he hoped I was going to start blogging again soon and I said I was intending to on a more regular basis than I had been but not sure how often that will be.

I am not sure which direction the blog will go - it may do a number of things and may change from time to time but hopefully it will keep readers interested and keep them coming back.

Keep checking back to see what is happening.