Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Blogging feast or blogging famine

The heading of this post suggests two possibilities and those reasonably regular visitors to this blog might think I have gone even madder than I normally am. As you will see I have posted vestry prayers for the next four weeks and this post so five in one day seems like a feast - I would say that there will be a further prayer in the next day or two for the 25th October which some churches may be celebrating as Bible Sunday.
Now to the famine which will not last for seven years (I hope) but rather for two or three weeks as I expect to receive a number of assignments to mark in the next few days and these will take up much of my spare time. on top of this I am putting the finishing touches to a book I have been writing very sporadically over the last two years and would like to get into print to give to some of my friends as a Christmas present (lucky people). This one is not another book of vestry prayers but memories of my childhood in Hill Top, West Bromwich.
I trust my readers will bear with me and I will try to post during the next few weeks if I am able.

Vestry prayer for October 25th Ordinary 30

Ordinary 30.
Readings: Mark 10 v 46-52; Psalm 34 v 1-8 & 19 – 22;
Heb 7 v 23-28; Job 42 v 1-6 & 10-17.

Jesus Son of David have mercy on us as we gather today for our act of worship.
As we sing, pray and read may it be that we will not be fearful because you are at work in our lives.
May we have the faith of Blind Bartimaeus as we gather today. Open our spiritual eyes and ears and help us to see and hear you in our time of fellowship today.
Bless your servant N and take us from here rejoicing because of our fellowship with one another and more importantly with You. Amen.

Vestry prayer October 18th Ordinary 29

Ordinary 29.
Readings: Mark 10 v 35-45; Psalm 104 v 1- 9 & 24 & 35c
Heb 5 v 1-10; Job 38 v 1 – 7.

Lord Jesus who came as a servant to all mankind we thank you that we can proclaim with creation that you are Lord.
We thank you that we are able to gather as a body of your children to sing your praises and lift your name on high.
As we bring our worship and prayers today remind us of the friend we have in you, a friend to whom we can bring all our prayers.
We pray for N today as they lead our worship, use them we pray to speak to your children gathered here today. In the name of Jesus the friend of sinners we pray. Amen

Vestry Prayer for 11th October Ordinary 28

Ordinary 28.
Readings: Mark 10 v 17-31; Psalm 22 v 1-15;
Heb 4 v 12-16; Job 23v 1-9 & 16-17:

Living God the source of everlasting life we thank you for the assurance we have in your Son Jesus; and we are grateful for all you have done for each one of us through the sacrifice of your Son.
We come Lord realising that we do not need the world’s riches to have richness of life.
In our worship today help us to take in the words we sing, pray, read and we ask that as your servant ministers your word we will listen for you to speak to us.
We ask all these things through Jesus our Saviour, prophet, priest and King. Amen.

Vestry Prayer for 4th October Ordinary 27

Ordinary 27.
Readings: Mark 10 v 2 – 16; Psalm 26; Job 1v1 & 2 v 1-10
Heb 1 v 1-4 & 2 v 5-12:

O Lord God we come to you today recognising your power and greatness, the power that could put the stars in place and make day and night.
We ask Lord that we can approach you like the children of old, and, remember that you said we needed to be child like in accepting you.
Help us Lord to lift your name on high in our worship and praise today and speak to us through your servant N as they share your sacred word with us. We ask these things in the name of the triune God. Amen.

Friday, 25 September 2009

This week's Vestry Prayer

Here is this week's Vestry Prayer
Ordinary 26.
Readings: Mark 9 v 38 - 50; Psalm 124:
James 5 v 13-20; Esther 7 v 1-6,9-10 + 9 v 20-22.

Lord God, our helper through all the ages we come into your presence today as deer panting for water. We ask Lord that through the words we sing and read, and through the preaching of the word, we will be able to drink at the streams of living water that are found in you.
You are our strength, shield and heart’s desire and we come to worship you today.
Bless us all O Lord we pray. Amen.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pulpit or no pulpit?

I have just returned from our District Local Preachers meeting and the district chair posed an interesting question towards the end of the meeting in respect of the use of pulpits.
He told the meeting that in a number of churches he had been to recently and used the pulpit for the sermon people has said to him it was the first time the pulpit had been used for ages.
Now before anyone stones me I have to admit it was not a thing I had really thought about and from what other were saying there has been and still is in some places that if the person leading worship did so from the lectern or other place in the church they would then move to the pulpit where a church has both.
Our chair asked us to see what people thought/did so over to you readers - what is your experience?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Sunday Evening Services - What's the point 2?

Following on from my previous post here is more on our conversation last week.
We discussed circuit services and whether we should perhaps have them on a regular basis say once a quarter. I have to say that we tried this a couple of years ago and I was fully supportive of the project which had majority support at the Circuit meeting. I think in a number of ways the project was doomed to failure: one church opted out from day one;other churches did not communicate the project effectively to their members; the organising group did not communicate the project effectively (and I was one of this group); people arrived expecting a traditional 'hymn sandwich' circuit service and didn't get that;fairly tight guidelines were given to those leading the services - no music older than 30 years (excludes lots of fantastic hymns)- service must be no longer than an hour ( I find that one quite difficult as did at least one other person who was constantly looking at their watch).
In case anyone thinks I am having a go at the project let me redress the balance and say that other circuit services are not that well attended either - we had one a couple of weeks ago to welcome a new lay worker and a supernumerary minister who is taking charge of two churches and the congregation drawn from 10 churches was around 90 people - when you consider that two of the churches the lay worker will be attached to each have morning congregations that could match this you would have hoped that there would be a better turn out.
There is of course always the argument of transport, but in the case of the circuit service project mentioned above we had offered to arrange transport and I am not aware of anyone taking us up on the offer.
I think it has to be said there will of course be those who think they know what is going to happen at the type of service that was organised during the project and decide it's not for them - how do they know if they haven't been to one? At least dip your toe into the water.
I have to say that from a personal point of view the circuit service I dislike the most is the circuit carol service which in my 10 years in the circuit has often seemed more like a performance than an act of worship, and woe betide anyone who tries to introduce any new ideas. I tried a couple of years ago and was very firmly shot down. I had dared to suggest that we have a couple of more modern songs and that instead of all ten churches organising it we move it around the sections in the circuit and just have the churches in the section of the circuit doing it. Apart from saying that people thought it would not then be a circuit service(????) I will leave you to imagine the reaction to the idea of some more modern songs.
A group of us did arrange an alternative carol service on a night in the week which although it had a poor attendance people who came thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well it's the witching hour as they say and I have to get ready for work so I am signing off for now. Look forward to any thoughts or comments dear reader!!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Evening Services what's the point?

We had an interesting conversation at our Local Preachers meeting last week around the topic of evening services. One of our members had asked for this to go on the agenda and I am not really sure any of us knew where it might go.
It turned out that it was quite a good conversation with a number of very good points coming out of it and I suspect some food for thought.
I think it would be true to say that along with many churches and groups of churches (circuits) there has been a decline in Sunday evening services in our circuit in recent years and there are often good and sensible reasons for ending this particular event. Conversely there are places where the service continues and struggles to do so due to declining numbers of attendees but we carry on because Mrs Bloggs wouldn't get to church if we closed the evening service.
In our circuit there is quite an emphasis placed on the use of the revised common lectionary and I was interested to hear that someone had said they don't come at night because it is more often than not a repeat of the morning even down to the same hymns. It would seem that preachers are taking the lectionary readings for the main service whether they are at a church morning or evening and I suspect use the same sources to plan their service. I am aware of one preacher who deliberately uses the readings for a second service if he is out in the evening.
Perhaps there is some value in preachers talking to one another so that there is less of this happening, or heaven forbid that I should be controversial here but let's not have quite so much concentration on the lectionary and let preachers have a degree of freedom to choose. I know someone might come back and say they have that already but it does seem to me that they may not always realise that and they certainly don't apply it.
Anyway there is a little taster but I have just realised the time so must go and get ready for work - I will return to this topic as there were other things said that may be worth sharing - if you do have any thoughts on this topic so far don't hesitate to comment as I believe it would be very helpful.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Vestry Prayer Ordinary 25 year B

Ordinary 25.
Readings: Mark 9 v 30-37; Psalm 1;
Proverbs 31 v 10-31; James 3 v 13 - 4 v 3 + 7-8.

Servant King we ask you to be with us in our time of fellowship today, remind us of the good news of the gospel and our need to be childlike in following you.
We pray that we will hear again today stories of you that will speak to us and take us into the week ahead rejoicing in our knowledge of you.
Help our Brother/Sister to bring your word to us today, challenging and encouraging us in our walk with you. In the name above all other names we pray. Amen.


Last Saturday was our district synod at Lye in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and it was quite interesting on the way because we came across some signs in Halesowen that said 'SYNOD' and started following them much to the disgust of the sat nav. After the third sign I said to the folk in my car that the signs didn't look like the signs for our synod as ours are very well made and include the cross and orb logo. We decided to follow the sat nav and arrived safely at Lye.
It turned out a little later in the day that at least one group of folk had gone to the other synod and had coffee and that one of the ministers from our circuit had also gone there.
It appears that the Birmingham Synod were having there meeting just a couple of mile away from us - not sure what the odds of that are. For me if I had gone to the wrong synod apart from a different chair I am not sure I would have realised I was in the wrong one.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Writer's block

You may have noticed that my posts have been a bit thin on the ground, other than vestry prayers and this is really because I seem to have had bit of a writers block.
I do sometimes at work think of something and say to myself I ought to blog about that and then when I sit in front of the computer nothing happens - it is almost as if my head is empty (I know some people think that is normal.
Any way perhaps the start of a new Methodist Year and the usual round of exciting meetings might prompt me to write something or of course this weeks Methodist Recorder might have something in that I really feel strongly about and will sit and write something about here.
If not I could always just keep posting vestry prayers as I am sure someone finds them helpful out there! I seem to get a lot of people visiting who have come because they were looking for vestry prayers on good old google.
Well it's that time when I have to get ready to go out and earn a crust so I am signing off now.

Vestry Prayer Ordinary 23 Year B

Here is this week's prayer:-
Ordinary 23.
Readings: Mark 7 v 24 - 37: Psalm 125;
James 2 v 1-10 + 14-17; Proverbs 22 v 1-2, 8-9, 22-25:

Loving Lord, father of all we gather as your children today and thank you for your great love. We are grateful for your love and the beauty we see in your creation.
We come today with an attitude of expectancy, looking for you to speak to us through your servant N.
Help us to worship you in Spirit and in truth giving you glory, honour and praise.
In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.