Friday, December 29, 2006

the waiting game

our baby is now 4 days overdue and we are getting pretty bored waiting around for it to make an appearance. we have used the time constructively though - we've managed to get through a whole season of 24 (season 5) which was great quality and utterly addictive as usual.

so the race to get the house finished before the baby arrived was not as much of a race as we thought it was! but it's pretty much done now.

apparently there are some fabled suggestions as to how to encourage the onset of labour - curry and sex being two of them. Although, as comedian Jeff Green pointed out, having to make a choice between those two might be the reason you got yourself into this situation in the first place!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

repentance and faith

This week has been crazy - trying to get the house finished before the baby comes. The plan was something like this:
Mon & Tues - Tiler, Weds - Plasterer, Thurs - Plumber, Fri - Carpet Fitter, Weekend - baby. We're about half way through and we're not too far off schedule. We're really hoping the baby delays it's arrival till after the carpet's down though!
Anyway, last Sunday night at hOME I shared some thoughts on the day's gospel text, which included John the Baptist's words - 'bear fruit in keeping with repentance'. I said that repentance and faith seemed to form the core of both John's and Jesus's proclamation. My problem is that we seem to have changed the content of those two key elements. We have turned repentance into 'feeling sorry for wrong things' and faith into 'mental assent to a set of concepts'. I don't think either are correct.
Repentance is an act of the will, before it is ever an emotion, that enables us to 'speak the same as God' i.e. to call something as God calls it. And I don't think it's primarily about right or wrong actions, but true or false identities. When we sin we act out of a false identity - not who we are in God. And when we are holy we are acting out of our true identity, and we are living the future life now. It's not some arbitrary list of do's and don't's.
Faith is not about mental assent to a set of doctrinal statements (even the devils believe in that sense) but about action - following Jesus into transformed identity and reality. It's not my place to judge but I think that's why such a huge proportion on the last census identified themselves as 'Christian' - because we have ended up with a concept of believing without following. We have separated the two.
If we are turning (repentance) to follow Christ (faith) we can expect to see change in our lives - fruit in keeping with repentance. If we are no different now to how we used to be this raises some serious questions.
It wasn't a light-hearted discussion in hOME that night! But important stuff nevertheless I think. The podcast will be available here as soon as I manage to locate my firewire lead in our building site of a house!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Nativity Story

Pip and I went to see The Nativity Story this morning. It was an odd mixture - it was earthy and gritty for the most part, which was good, but then there were some oddly cheesy moments - the birth scenes (John and Jesus) were a bit unbelievable and the less said about the star over Bethlehem the better. Also, I was slightly disappointed with how they did the angels - they could have done something creative but they just went for the old 'guy wearing white clothes' option.
Having said all that, I did find it moving and I am not ashamed to say that it made me cry more than once. Other things I thought:
- we don't give Joseph enough credit. He doesn't get much air time in church but his part of the story was so important.
- the fragility of the whole thing. There were any number of points that the whole thing could have turned to custard (let's not get into the theological points hidden within that sentence!)
- the sheer stupendousness of the whole idea...God becoming a baby....what?
- the in utero Christ. I feel pretty familiar with the baby Jesus, the child Jesus, the man Jesus, the crucified Jesus, the resurrected Jesus etc. but I haven't given much time or thought to Jesus in the womb. There's a lovely moment when Mary feels the foetus move for the first time which I found very moving.

Anyway, go and see it if you can.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


We had another very good Service of 9 Lessons and Carols last Sunday evening. It's become a bit of a highlight of the Advent season for us. It was great to have so many guests and visitors too. As usual we had quite an eclectic mix of Lessons - some video stuff (I particularly liked Janine's use of Sigur Ros's Glosoli video for the Magi Lesson - it's an amazing video well worth checking out if you haven't seen it), a dance, and lots of other stuff. The above photo (from Rich) is of Martin doing his Lesson - he used a clip from the film 'The Believer' about a young Jewish guy who becomes a neo-Nazi! Pippa did an amazing meditation reflecting on her current experience of being pregnant and relating that to Mary's experience - it had at least one person in tears (well done wifey!). And of course the mulled wine and mince pies topped things off in the only really appropriate way!

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Bishop of Oxford

Today the identity of the next Bishop of Oxford has finally been announced (we were expecting an announcement at the end of September). John Pritchard is currently suffragan Bishop of Jarrow in the North East (so good monastic connections there with the Venerable Bede!) but I must confess I haven't heard of him before. Anyway, I just saw the local TV news item about it and he sounded ace. He was only on for a few seconds but used the time to say that he saw himself as a leader in mission (and said that's what he thought a Bishop was) and that he wanted to see the best of 'continuing' churches but also wanted to place an emphasis on 'new expressions' of church. So, we're off to a good start I think. If anyone wants to find out more about him (particularly Oxford types I guess) there's info here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

'9' tomorrow

Tomorrow night at hOME we are having our Carol service - a Service of 9 Lessons and Carols (with the Lessons being re-interpreted by 9 different members of the hOME community). We nicked the idea of Jonny/Grace in London (though we do it slightly differently). It's a highlight of the Advent season for us. If you're around the Oxford area do come and join us for some Carol singing and some mulled wine and mince pies afterwards. 6.30pm at St Alban's on Charles Street.

blogger beta

there have been gaps in my recent blogging - apologies faithful readers, I will try to plug some of these soon. But, as those of you who visit the site will see - I have now migrated to blogger beta (they finally let me on to it) - and this will explain to those of you who use RSS readers why all my recent posts have been republished.
It is a real step forward for Blogger as a blog engine, and easily enables you to add sidebar categories and other content.
I thought I would take this opportunity to change the strapline of my blog. Since I began it a few years ago it has been 'would the last one out of the church please switch off the lights'. But this statement doesn't accurately reflect my heart. It sounds like I have given up on the church but actually I love the church (even though it does drive me nuts sometimes).
So I have changed it to 'slowly learning to live life with God, and others, for the sake of the world' - which is a much closer reflection of where I, and us as a church community I think, are at these days.