Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Paris Today

sorry about the lack of a 'Happy Christmas to all my readers' post. have been at my parents house in N Wales for a few days. got back to Oxford last night and today we are heading off to Paris for a few days on Eurostar. We have a friend who has an uncle who has a flat in the Latin quarter, so we get to stay in a top location for free...which is nice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ricky Gervais podcast

very funny! go here for RSS feed and links to previous episodes you may have missed.
UPDATE : having just listened to episode 2 it's not for the faint-hearted!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

definitely my favourite advent image

i think it speaks for itself.

Re:mix. Re:make. Re:configure. Re:consider.

I'm loving this! San Francisco creative collective Rebar paid the parking meter for a couple of hours in a built up area of downtown San Francisco and used the time to create a garden in the parking space figuring that the time was theirs to do whatever they wanted to with it. Passers by fed the meter to keep it all going, and some sat down on the bench, read the paper, chatted...
I think it's a wonderful idea - a real image of redemption for me. It kinda reminds me of Isaiah's garden in the desert. More info and some wonderful pics here.
Thanks to Jonny for the link.

Monday, December 19, 2005


We had a great end to the hOME year last night at our carol service - a service of 9 lessons and carols - (idea knicked from Jonny and Grace's re-interpretation of this old tradition). We borrowed a fantastic old Oxford Movement/Anglo-Catholic revival church (as it was set back from the road some of our guys made a brilliant illuminated walkway using tea-lights in jam jars to lead to the church door) for the night (perfect ambience for some pre-service Sigur Ros), lit it, fired up the projectors, dusted off the mirror-ball, and then 9 members of the hOME community re-interpreted the 9 traditional readings.
They were all great - but I particularly enjoyed Jules's use of 'Planet Telex' by Radiohead in the first reading (from Genesis) - "everything is broken, everyone is broken", Esme's dramatic soundscape (which she made herself using Pro Tools) of what the shepherds might have heard on the hillside the night the angels appeared, Chris's imaginative story helping us to put ourselves in Mary's place, and Julet's movement piece (to Nitin Sawnhey) where she danced while holding a light and started high up on the balcony and then moved down and in amongst the congregation to represent Christ the light of the world coming to earth and presencing himself amongst us.
But mentioning these items particularly makes it sound like the others weren't any good, which of course is not true. It's just that some of the pieces impacted me more than others.
Tom did a great job on the music front - unearthing some fantastic re-workings of Christmas carols by electronic composer Mars Lasar (you can find him if you search in iTunes) as well as contributing some of his own pieces. So we ended up singing 9 re-worked carols too which was great.
That was our last service of the year and it felt like a good end to an eventful 12 months.
more pictures are available here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Churches decide not to bother with Christmas

Apparently some of the mega-churches in the U.S. have decided not to have a service on Christmas day. I say 'why stop there?' Why not go the whole hog and stop celebrating Easter as well? Of course, this is slightly hypocritical of me as our little church has its last service of the year tomorrow night (our carol service - see here for more info) and won't be having a service on Christmas Day. But we were planning to until we realised that hardly any of our small congregation was going to be around. We are small. Willow Creek has a congregation of around 20,000. What's their excuse? Read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sufjan Stevens Christmas Tunes

absolutely loving the Sufjan Stevens Christmas songs available for download free (for some reason!) here. Thanks to Jonny for the link. I think we'll be using some of these at our Carol Service this coming Sunday.

we do romance too

Just back from a fantastic 24 hour wedding anniversary break at The Falkland Arms (winner of countless Real Ale awards) in a beautiful, classic English, village called Great Tew in North Oxfordshire. Any townie looking for a romantic (4 poster beds etc.) get-away should give it a try.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I have been reflecting a little on the Advent Sunday lectionary readings for last Sunday and the coming Sunday. There's a lot in there about John the Baptist. He makes the comparison between himself and Jesus - 'I baptise with water, one comes after me who will bapstise you with the Holy Spirit'. I wonder whether John's baptism has to do with turning from something and Jesus' baptism (with the Holy Spirit) has to do with embracing something.
It's not enough just to turn/repent, we also need to embrace.
I think my concept of holiness for too long has been to do with NOT doing certain things - i.e. defined by absence. I wonder whether I/we need to rediscover (cos there's nothing new) a concept of holiness that has to do with DOING things (that are good) rather than NOT doing things that are bad. i.e. defined by presence (of good things).
You can either try to remove the air from a jam jar by sucking it out or by filling it full of water. i know which one is easier.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ancient-Future Time

My office is just behind the Christian Bookshop in East Oxford. I pop in once a week for my copy of the Church Times (oh I am so Anglican!). Normally for buying books I use Amazon, or, being in Oxford, we have a fantastic selection of bookshops in the city centre. But this book - 'Ancient-Future Time' - caught my eye so I picked up a copy.
I know that Robert Webber is 'Mr Ancient-Future' (has he TM'd the phrase yet!) and this is one of a zillion books he seems to have published with that phrase in the title, but as we are at the beginning of a new liturgical year I thought he might have some interesting to say about a spirituality that is formed by the seasons of the church year. we'll see.

Teaching Team

we're looking for some new models for how we do teaching at hOME. Last night we had the inaugural meeting of the newly formed hOME Teaching Team.
The idea is to explore some more collaborative teachings styles. At the beginning of each month those with an interest or a sense of calling to wrestle with and teach the scriptures in the context of our community will gather to look at the Sunday lectionary texts for the following month (so last night we were looking at the texts for January). Out of the creative discussion that follows ideas and themes will emerge which people can then take away and shape up into talks (and the plan is that some people will work in pairs etc. and think of creative ways of helping the gathered community to engage with the texts).
We had a really great first meeting. To me, as someone who has spent many hours over recent years sitting alone in a room trying to come up with some interesting and spiritually nourishing things to say from a text, to work on texts in a group setting was a very rich way to approach the task of doing a talk. Especially if, like me, you are an extrovert processor. We were finding that there was a real synergy to this approach as one person tossed out an idea which someone else then developed and added to.
And I like the idea of broadening the teaching base and democratizing it a bit more - taking it out of the exclusive domain of the 'professionals' and releasing more people with a gift/desire/passion for this work, to learn together and from each other.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros are playing a one off show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on March 29th. pre-sale tickets go on sale today. i'm tempted but £25 a ticket seems a bit steep to me.