Sunday, 24 February 2008

Venerable Bead.

No the spelling isn't wrong - I really did men to say bead rather than Bede. I led worship this morning at my home church (Pleck in Walsall) and we had the service cafe style with us sitting round tables and having a break in the middle for tea, coffee and biscuits.
The service was marked on the plan as a Family service so it is always possible to try something a little different, not that I need an excuse to do something different. We managed to squeeze in 8 hymns/songs as well as two readings, a short sermon, an activity the break for coffee and the offering as well as prayers.
I had seen something on another blog about ideas for prayer on the Methodist Church Website and thought the idea on there called 'Venerable Bead' was something we could try. I went to Hobbycraft and got the beads and tried one at home which worked pretty well considering I am not a person who gets on well with craft. I then redid the notes that were on the website by having coloured circles on paper to match the beads with the words of each prayer typed at the side of the coloured circle. We sorted the beads and put them in small bags along with the string to thred them on and gave each person a little bag. I then talked them through what they needed to do and everyone made their own 'Venerable Bead'.
When we had finished making the beads up we sang 'What a friend we have in Jesus' and then after an explanation of how to use the bead chain we had our prayers of intercession which everyon joined in with by using the beads and the prayers that accompany them.
I was very pleased with how this went and there were lots of positive comments from people afterwards - all of them took there beads and paper home and many said they would find it useful to help them pray at home.
I suppose my reason for posting this is to encourage any one else who had seen this on the website and were contemplating trying it. From my point of view it was a good experience and will be something I will use in the Beach Mission I will be leading later in the year.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

This Sunday!

This Sunday I am involved in two services that will be very different! On Sunday morning I will be at Pleck Methodist Church (my own church) taking a family service and we will be having it cafe style - I am looking at using the venerable bead idea from the Methodist Church website - I have one here I made earlier and I have produced a leaflet to go with it for members to take away. I found it quite interesting that the last time we did a service in this style the people who seemed most appreciative were the older ones.
In the evening I will be going to Bethesda Chapel in Witton Lane, Hill Top, West Bromwich which is where I think my experience of Christian things began at the age of four when I started going to Sunday School there. It will be 50 years in June since I started going there and it has been a really great thrill to go back there after all these years. I am hoping my wife will be able to get off work early so he can come to and then we can sing as well as just preach.

New Vicar in Pleck.

It was a great privilege to be part of the congregation at the induction of the new vicar at St Johns, Pleck and Bescot yesterday evening. The church was full with local people, civic dignitaries, representatives of various organisations and more clergy in one place than I have seen other than when I went to the Methodist Conference in 1983.
It was a great service to welcome the new Vicar Gennie Evans who was previously in Moss Side, Manchester and there were two coachloads of folk who had travelled down from there for the service.
We sang four hymns - To God be the Glory by Fanny J. Crosby; When I survey the wondrous cross by Isaac Watts and two hymns which I suggested to someone were really Methodist hymns - And Can it Be by Charles Wesley and God is here, as we His people (sung to Blaenwern) by Fred Pratt Green.
I really enjoyed the service and what a boost it was to the batteries in the middle of the week.
We have a joint service once a month (Methodist/Anglican) which we take on alternative months and we are looking forward to working with the new vicar.

Am I bovvered?

Hope I don't get into trouble using this comment but it struck me when I was looking at the blogs I read fairly regularly and read a peice and six comments relating to George Washington and whether or not he was a Christian! I just wonder why people have written copiously on the point of what his status in relation to the kingdom of God might or might not have been.
If my memory of history lessons at school serves me right he must have been dead around 200 years so is it of any importance or interest to the majority of people.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Buzz Off!

I have just been reading on 'Connexions' about the move to ban a device called the Mosquito which is used to dispel gangs of under 25's (those of us older can not hear the piercing noise apparently - obviously a bit like dog whistles).
It would appear to me after almost a quarter of a century working in social housing and indeed living in social housing that there have always been difficulties relating to children and young people playing or gathering in the streets. I can not count how many complaints I have had over the years about children and youths but I do think that there appears to be an increase in these type of complaints. On balance however I have to say that tolerance levels seem to have got lower and here is an example that happened in our street just last year.
There is an alley way that runs between our street and the next street and at the end of this alley way are two stone bollards. During last spring/summer a group of about 6 or 7 youths started using this as a meeting place - as far as I can tell there was no noise, very little litter and no real difficulties other than their presence at the end of this alley way. Within days people were moaning and some even came and sought my advice as they knew I had worked for the local authority before we were transferred to a new organisation. I gave the same advice I would give to our own tenants in these sorts of situation with the rider that unless they were actually causing any trouble there was not much that could be done.
Within a few weeks a temporary camera was fitted to one of the lamp posts to monitor the activities of these youths and it would seem the youths thought they should move position - not that they went away just moved to stand under the camera.
The result of this was that we now have notices from the police saying 'No Loitering'attached to a couple of the lamp posts and essentially the youths feel aggrieved because all they were doing was gathering and talking.
I have to say that I never heard them, never saw them doing anything other than sitting talking and they were not the sort of youths who wore hoodies and looked very intimidating and while I do not dispute, because I know for a fact that there are some very naughty, aggressive young people out there, I feel the danger with the mosquito is that it could be used indiscriminately on any body at any time and while i do think there is a great degree of silliness in the human rights claims we hear about this appears to me to be a recipe for lawyers to make even more money out of claims for damaged ears etc.
I noticed in our local newspaper last night that a local pub had been ordered to stop having entertainment because local people had complained about the noise - I just wonder which was there first the residents or the pub and surely if you live near a pub or any other entertainment venue you can expect some noise and even a little nuisance. Perhaps the moral to this one is don't buy a house near a pub!!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Archbishop in trouble!!

I have been watching with much interest the dabates going on in the blogosphere about what the Archbishop of Canterbury may or may not have said or meant in his recent speech. I have also tried to read the speech and failed dismally, but that may be because I am an ordinary working class lad who went to a secondary modern school and do not have the intellectual prowess of the Archbishop and some of the other bloggers who have commented on this.
What does seem to be missing to me is the reality check that can possibly only be done by those who live in areas with a high BME community. I have lived and worked in Walsall in the West Midlands for almost a quarter of a century in fact almost half of my lifespan to date, and it is an area that has a fairly high BME population with concentrations in certain parts of the town - in the area I live almost 30% of the population are from the BME communities. In fact within a few doors of my home I have neighbours from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the Caribean and there are Sikhs, Hindus, and at least three strands of Muslims as well as Christians and those of no particular religion. For some of my neighbours and colleagues I work with the thought of introducing Sharia law brings great distress and if ( and please note I said IF) the Archbishop was suggesting this in his speech they would be very concerned.
Another issue for me is the 'newspapers' that people read in Walsall and how they believe that anything in the paper is gospel truth. It is a statistical fact that the average reading age in Walsall is 8 years and it is also fairly well accepted that this is the age that papers like the Sun are written for.
I am not sure that there are many people in Walsall who would actually be able to read the Archbishops speech and therefore their only source of information is via the tabloid newspapers whose writers are probably as unable to decipher the speech as i am. I did read on one blog that it is reasonable to expect commentators on theological matters should have some knowledge of their topic and this is probably more than correct - after all I am sure the writers of the back page are very well versed in their subjects.
This may well be an issue that will be around for a while and perhaps the important thing here is that the Archbishop was talking to lawyers in language that was appropriate for the audience and not necessarily for the ordinary man in the street, hence it may not be understandable to most people.
I remember that great comic duo Flanders and Swann talking about language and saying that if you say good morning to a scientist he will say 'the reciprocal of pye to you'proof if it were needed that some people speak in language that only they understand.
It will be interesting to see where this issue ends up and how near the truth some of the thoughts of the commentators will be or become.