Monday, 31 December 2007

Lectionary - Methodist or otherwise.

Regular readers will know I placed a post here the other day applauding the work that Methodist Preacher has done loading the whole years worth of lectionary readings onto his blog. I made a statement that this type of resource was not available on the internet and was quickly advised that my statement was incorrect. In view of this I pulled the post to give me an opportunity to research the facts before making further comment, and having done this I intend to make comment based on my research.
Before I do make comment though it may be worth saying that in the Walsall circuit preachers are 'encouraged' to use the lectionary readings (or some of them) and some are reproduced on the circuit plan each quarter. I have listened to members of congregations as I have travelled around the circuit and a fellow preacher who had moved to this circuit from one where there was no great emphasis on lectionary readings shared some of the comments he had received as he started to travel around this circuit. There were a couple of comments that struck me which came from those quite rare people who attend both morning and evening services, and these were that they got the same readings morning and evening, the same hymns and sometimes even the same illustrations or stories in the sermon. Some of this may be down to the use of Roots Magazine by a number of preachers.
From a personal point of view when preaching in an evening I would look at the plan and if fairly confident that the morning preacher would have used lectionary readings I made the decision to consider using the readings allocated for a second service - thus giving congregations something different. I know to that my colleague who shared the comments he had picked up was also looking at using these readings when he was planned in an evening.

I decided to go back to the internet and typed Revised Common Lectionary into Google and decided to look at the first ten items in the list to see how good the internet was. I have to say that the results were not entirely different to what I had expected and with the exception of one they were nowhere near as comprehensive as the list in our worship book or as what can be found on Methodist Preachers blog. I will list my findings below but have to say that I still think that what Methodist Preacher has done is an excellent piece of work and should prove to be a useful resource to many of his colleagues.

Results from Google.
Vanderbilt - only listed one set of readings.
Montreal Anglican - Links to Vanderbilt so only one set of readings.
Textweek - only listed on set of readings. - received an error message 6 times (3 each on Mozilla and Internet Explorer)
LM - pdf file would not download on either Mozilla of Internet Explorer( and yes I do have Adobe)
CofE.Anglican - one set only.
Wikipedia - explains what the lectionary is. - only one set.
Lectionary Commentary - Probably the best resource except it took around 7 links to actually get to the lists of readings - and then there are lots.
The tenth one was Vanderbilt again and then after that the next 8 or 9 were a variety of booksellers and publisher items with books containing the lectionary.

Having spent the time doing this exercise I have come to the conclusion that with the exception of Lectionary Commentary the Revised Common Lectionary in the form we have in our worship book does not appear on the internet as readily as the comment would seem to suggest, although I would perhaps have to acquiesce in respect of the 'Principal Service' readings which were available on 6 out of the 10 results from Google.
I still hold the view that at the very least a link to this resource on the Methodist Church website could be useful to preachers both lay and ordained who may wish to have a computerised version of them, and realistically this would only take a couple of minutes to do. I have to say that I do use resources on the computer whether in programmes I have purchased or the internet for my preparation of services and find the range of resources that are available quite excellent and any addition to these resources can surely only prove helpful to those of us who prepare and lead worship on many occasions each year.

In closing I make no apology for the length of this post but felt that I needed to check my facts and to ensure that readers understood why I pulled the original post and what my findings were after doing the research on the internet.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Carols for cadets (3)

A comment on my previous blog struck a chord as we had the same conversation at work this afternoon - about youngsters not knowing the carols like we did when we were young. It was interesting on Monday when we sand the 'angel Gabriel' because the vicar decided we would teach them it a line at a time and I have to say they responded very well to this and then sang the rest of the carol with a great amount of gusto.
Dave H is also right about not hearing carols on the radio or in shops these days it does indeed seem to be all the secular songs and while i like them it would be good to get some carols as well. He mentioned one song and I have been tempted to use this as my text on Christmas Day at my home church. 'And so this is Christmas and what have we done?' It has been mulling round in my mind for a few days now and could well end up being used for the Christmas Day sermon (short I promise).
I haven't commented on Methodist Preachers blog about Hark the herald angels sing, but I have to say I get very annoyed when people change the words to old hymns - I often get a poke in the ribs from my wife because I tend to sing the words I know which of course are not always the ones in the book - To God be the Glory is a hymn this always happens in especially the last verse because I always sing rapture and in some books it says transport.
Perhaps we should have a campaign - leave our old hymns alone!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Carols for cadets (2)

Well the Carol Service for the Army Cadet Force went pretty well last night.Loads of young people who seemed a little reluctant to sing at first but got warmed up as it went on and when we got to the third carol they really seemed to get going. I found this a little strange as the third carol was 'The angel Gabriel from heaven came' and unfortunately the music the Vicar had got was a four part harmony arrangement over 3 pages with the melody moving around the parts. He taught them the carol a line at a time and then we went for the whole thing. He said at the end of it there is one thing he must get and I said a decent pianist - the kids thought this was quite funny but he said no a proper arrangement.
It was a good service with a solid reminder of what Christmas is really about and included a little humour which the youngsters seemed to appreciate and a story from America of how we got the fairy on the top of the Christmas tree - the youngsters liked this one.
By the last carol - Hark the Herald Angels Sing - they were in full flow and gave it some welly as we say in Walsall.
I hope to have some voice left by the weekend as I am preaching at Moxley on Sunday morning and then at Pleck on Christmas Day - perhaps I better not sing any more carols between now and then.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Carols for Cadets

I had one of those phone calls last night the start with 'Is that?' and the go on with 'You won't know me but' and I always wonder who has volunteered me for something or put my name forward to a friend of a friend for some obscure meeting or group who are looking for a speaker. Anyway this turned out to be an Anglican Vicar who is the new Chaplain of the army cadet force in Walsall and he had been told that I played for their carol service last year. He was ringing to see if I could play for the service this year and after checking my diary I agreed that would be fine.
Anyway the point of this blog to ask those who read it to pray for this service which takes place next Monday (17th) at St John's Church, Pleck, Walsall at 7-30p.m. when around 300 young people will gather to hear the Christmas story in word and song. Please pray that this will be an opportunity for them to hear the real story of Christmas and the good news of the Saviour born in Bethlehem.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Christmas! Bah Humbug!

No not really - just wanted to attract attention! I have just read an interesting blog on Turbulent Clerics blog about nurses having to move beds - it is really interesting but it reminded me of something that happened where I work a couple of years ago. I should explain that our workforce is quite mixed and we have colleagues from a number of religions including, Sikh, Hindu and Islam. A suggestion was made that we have a Christmas Carol event as part of our office Christmas celebrations and straight away I thought this could be a bit dodgy and might cause offence to our colleagues from other religions. I went round and spoke to every colleague in individually and asked what they thought of this idea ands they all said they were happy for it to take place and so it was arranged.
I found it quite interesting on the day that the people who joined in the most fervently were the colleagues from other religions - I just wonder if sometimes we get too worried about causing offence when in actual fact it is often not the ordinary adherents to a particular religion who might be offended but rather the Political Correctness and Race Relations industry - if there were no unrest and we all lived together in harmony they would be out of a job - dare I suggest that sometimes they stir up issues to keep themselves in a job!