Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another blog to read

I've noticed my fellow Eastbourne curate, Rev'd Glen Scrivner is blogging away at

Aren't you glad I'm using my paternity leave wisely?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get 'em when they're born

Visiting Mrs Lloyd and our firstborn in hospital this morning, it was a bit like being on a beech in Tenerife as people came and touted their wares at us. Would we like to have his photo taken there and then? Someone else would make a framed cast of the boy’s hand and foot print, for a hefty fee. We were also given a Bounty Bag of Newborn “Essentials” (!). No Bounty bars, unfortunately, but I was surprised that there was an official form for registering for Child Benefit amongst all the glossy junk mail.

The pack also contained a flyer for naming ceremonies with who will do you all manner of ceremonies in venues of your choice or flog you a script and let you get on with a DIY option. They could even train you to do ceremonies too!

If there really is a market for such things, I wonder if the church isn’t missing a trick here? Maybe we should be promoting Thanksgiving and Naming Ceremonies to new parents? Maybe the C of E could cut a deal to get its bumph in the Bounty Bag or local arrangements could be made with hospitals?

Someone also told me that when you go to register a death in Eastbourne there’s a poster up advertising funeral ceremonies.

I wonder how many people opt for these new fangled civil ceremonies with their practical atheism or pick n mix spirituality and how much of a loss they really are in terms of evangelistic opportunities.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanks be to God!

for the safe arrival of Jonathan Obadiah Andrew Lloyd at 1:03pm today, at Eastbourne District General Hospital, weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces. Mother, baby and father are doing well, though we could all do with a good long sleep and something to eat (or drink).

I've put up far too many repetitious photos on my photos blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


My arm has been twisted for an item for the church magazine (HT Today) for the re-launched January edition. I'm hoping something like this may get me off the hook: (Thanks to Ruth Field for jogging my memory on these).

I’m not much of a one for making New Year’s Resolutions. Partly because I reckon I’d break them in the first twenty-four hours, so it seems easier not to make any at all. But I guess we shouldn’t let the possibility of defeat cause us to give up the fight altogether before we’ve even begun.

It’s sometimes said that if you aim for nothing in particular, that’s exactly what you’ll achieve! So maybe some resolutions would help us to strive for something, to make some efforts. One of my resolutions for this year is to make another resolution next year.

So what should our resolutions be? Even asking ourselves what our goals (or perhaps just our “aspirations”) for 2008 ought to be could do us good. Perhaps we might even dare to hope (and pray) this New Year for something more significant than losing a few pounds. We could take the beginning of the year as the opportunity for a spiritual health check.

If we need inspiration for some New Year’s Resolutions, we could do a lot worse than look to Jonathan Edwards. Not the Olympic triple-jumper turned TV-presenter, but Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), possibly the greatest American theologian ever.

Edwards was in to resolutions in a big way. He wrote 70 before between the ages of 19 and 20. He introduced them, saying:


And resolved to read over them once a week.

Here are a few of my favorites.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

And if, like me, you ever find yourself growling at your computer, you might consider this one:

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings [and I guess, we might add, objects!]

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule [of doing to others as we would have them do to us]

52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.

Even if Edwards seems at times to set impossibly high standards, perhaps he might inspire us to think that we could do better.

Edwards knew he was always a sinner and couldn’t keep his own resolutions. He resolved to repent as soon as he realised he’d failed. He also resolved to count up the number of times he broke a resolution every week to see if the number went up or down. A broken resolution could serve us well if it drives us back to God’s undeserved love in Christ.

Further reading:

Jonathan Edward’s resolutions can be found online in various places, including:

For an introduction to Edwards, you might try John Piper, God’s Passion For His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (IVP, 1998).

There is a solid evangelical biography by Iain Murray (Banner of Truth, 1987). Perhaps the best biography (fat but surprisingly readable) is by George Marsden (Yale University Press, 2003).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Church Website Tips?

Our church website at:

badly needs improving.

We don't really have anyone in the church with the time and whizzy know-how to make it happen, as far as I'm aware.

So I've agreed to look into the options, including paying someone to set it up for us. Ideadly it would be something that the office could then manage and keep up to date.

We're due to invest in an MP3 recorder when we upgrade the sound system a bit, so hopefully audio sermons can be online in the not too distant future.

We do have a church copy of Dreamweaver.

Any tips / suggestions? Reccomendations of website designers?

Loves and hates of church websites?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Preaching Plans (Jan-Apr '08)

Here are some first thoughts on what I might preach on in January - April 2008:

13 Jan AM – Famous “Anglican” Texts: Now I Can Die Happy! (Luke 2:21-40)

20 Jan PM – When God Pitched Up (John 1:1-18)

10 Feb AM – Famous “Anglican” Texts: Sing to the Lord a New Song (Psalm 98)

24 Feb PM – A Spotlight on the True Light (John 1:6-34)

9 Mar AM - Famous “Anglican” Texts: Jubilate! (Psalm 100)

20 Mar – The Meal Jesus Gave Us (Luke 22:7-38)

(Maundy Thursday meal)

23 Mar PM – The Difference the Risen Jesus Makes (John 20)

(Easter Sunday)

20 Apr PM – Come and see (John 1:35-51)

27 Apr AM – Article 1 of C of E continued: “… God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness;”

I need to find a reading for that last one: I feel a bit guilty about preaching from the 39 Articles rather than the Bible!

* * *

It is great to have my pick of what to preach on, but a series of sermons once a month has its challenges!

It would be great not to have to decide what to preach on next time untill I've seen how the last one went. How many sermons do we want on John 1:1-18? I don't know.

* * *

I'd like to preach a couple of sermons on the Lord's Prayer at some point and maybe I might set myself a title like "Tips for Parents" to allow myself to think about how to be a dad.

* * *

I'm not sure really why we publish a programme card. Does anyone really choose to come to church or not on the basis of the passages and the little titles? Or the preacher? And if they do, is that a good thing?

The titles seem a bit of a joke anyway since I've no idea what I want to say about these texts now, really, and in 5 months time and after some serious work on the passages, I might find my titles are totally off target. Maybe they should just be seen as advertising and need have little resemblance to the finished product!

John's Gospel: Beginning at the Beginning

I'm planning a long series on Sunday evenings in John's Gospel. I preached last month from the "last page" of the Gospel on John's purpose in writing: that those who (unlike "Doubting" Thomas) have never seen the Risen Jesus might believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they might have life in his name.

Yesterday I began at the beginning of the Gospel.

Here's my handout:

John 1:1-5 – Beginning at the beginning…

The purpose of John’s gospel (20:31)

that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The prologue of John’s gospel (1:1-18)

an overture / trailer – introduces themes developed later

simplicity & depth - inexhaustible

“In the beginning…” (John 1:1 / Genesis 1:1)

“was the Word”

Word = Light (vv4-5, 7-9) = Jesus (v14, v17)

Logos / Reason – but a person (he) not a thing / Force (it)

Word of God – reveals / expresses God

agent of God in creation – “God said, let there by light…”

God acts powerfully by his Word - saves / judges

Word of God – gospel – good news

“and the Word was with God”

distinct from God – Jesus ≠ Father

behind the scenes: the private life of the Trinity

relationship at the heart of the universe (v18)

“and the Word was God”

not a god / divine but God

of one substance / essence co-eternal with the Father

--> a greater vision of Jesus: don’t underestimate him

--> to know God, look to Jesus since Jesus is God

--> Jesus makes sense of life

--> Jesus is the Maker: trust him give Life

There are some jottings in a Word doucument here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Prayers for Sea Cadet Parade

Having had a look at B.R. 426 Pray With The Navy (Chaplain of the Fleet, Ministry of Defence, 1965) and The Book of Common Prayer (where the extra prayers for use at sea tend to focus on storms and battles), I've come up with the following for tonight's Parade and Trophey Night at the Eastbourne Sea Cadet Unit, where I'm expecting a great display:

Living and true God,

we give you thanks for all the achievements we celebrate this evening,

and we pray for your blessing on the whole Sea Cadet Corps

and especially on this unit.

Eternal Lord God,

who alone rules the raging of the sea,

we pray that you would graciously prosper your servant, Elizabeth our Queen,

and protect all who go down to the sea in ships,

especially those who defend our coasts and waters.

Help us so to accept and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Captain

on our earthly voyage, in this brief mortal life,

that you might bring us at last to the rest and safety of your everlasting haven.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding,

keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be with us, and all whom we love and pray for,

now and always. Amen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Given Signs

An interesting observation and suggestion from Revd Dr Peter Leithart:

Many translators and interpreters of Augustine's de doctrina Christiana translate "signa data" as "conventional signs." But there's something to be said for taking the phrase literally (as some commentators do).

The difference between naturalia and data, Augustine says, is that the latter occur by the will of a sign-user while the former do not. Given this voluntarist emphasis, it makes sense to translate "signa data" not as "conventional signs" but "given signs."

This is a pleasant thought, since it brings linguistic exchange into the realm of gift-reception-return. To speak is to give; to hear is to receive; to speak back is to show gratitude.

Can ungrateful people carry on a conversation?

May the elements of the Lord's Supper not be thought of as at least partly conventional or given signs? Leithart's analysis of words suggests that it would be fitting to think of the Supper (which is after all a kind of visible word) as a gift sign, to be recieved with gratitude and calling for a response.

Preacher's Disclaimers

As I contemplate preaching on the prologue to John’s gospel on Sunday, I want to issue all sorts of disclaimers. Of course I don’t really get it all. The Trinity is mysterious. There are depths here that I can’t understand or explain.

And more generally there is a dreadful responsibility to preaching. The preacher hopes that his hearers wont write off Jesus because the preacher was dull, that they wont think some doctrine nonsense because the preacher mucked up his description.

Yet you’ve got to just pray, do your best, and pray again. Unfortunately, or fortunately, sermons can’t really have small-print apologies, or at least not every week.

Here’s Calvin on his inability to fully explain the Lord’s Supper:

… - if one may reduce to words so great a mystery, which I see that I do not even sufficiently comprehend with my mind. I therefore freely admit that no man should measure its sublimity by the little of my childishness. Rather, I urge my readers not to confine their mental interest within too narrow limits, but to strive to rise much higher than I can lead them. For, whenever this matter is discussed, when I have tried to say all, I feel that I have as yet said little in proportion to its worth. And although my mind can think beyond what my tongue can utter, yet even my mind is conquered and overwhelmed by the greatness of the thing. Therefore, nothing remains but to break forth in wonder at this mystery, which plainly neither the mind is able to conceive nor the tongue to express. Nevertheless, I shall in one way or another sum up my views; for, as I do not doubt them to be true, I am confident they will be approved in godly hearts. (Institutes, 4.17.7, p1367-8)

"just as"

Reading the Ford-Battles edition of Calvin's Institutes, I have to remind myself that it seems "just as" often seems to mean "kind of like in some way or ways" rather than "just and precisely as in every respect". I imagine one could get into hot water pretty quickly, for example, if one pressed this "just as":

... by true partaking of him [Jesus], his life passes into us and is made ours - just as bread when taken as food imparts vigor to the body. (Institutes 4.17.5, p1365).

Right, enough distracting myslef from typing out the Instiutes. Back to it...

When do we eat The Bread of Life?

(1) The Lord Jesus Christ gave his body to be the bread of life once for all on the cross.

(2) We are continually offered the crucified and living Christ as spiritual bread in the gospel and we receive Christ with all his benefits in by faith in the Word of God.

(3) The gospel is sealed to us in the Lord’s Supper when we receive bread as an outward sign of Jesus body broken for us and his life given to us as spiritual food. We again receive Christ and all his benefits spiritually by faith.

Here is Calvin saying similar things:

It remains for all this [the saving work of Christ] to be applied to us. That is done through the gospel but more clearly through the Sacred Supper, where he offers himself with all his benefits to us, and we receive him by faith. Therefore, the Sacrament does not cause Christ to begin to be the bread of life; but when it reminds us that he was made the bread of life, which we continually eat, and which gives us a relish and a savor of that bread, it causes us to feel the power of that bread…. it [Christ’s body] is offered to us to eat, when it makes us sharers in him by faith. Once for all, therefore, he gave us his body to be made bread when he yielded himself to be crucified for the redemption of the world; daily he gives it when by the word of the gospel he offers it for us to partake, in as much as it was crucified, when he seals such giving of himself by the sacred mystery of the Supper, and when he inwardly fulfils what he outwardly designates. (Institutes 4.17.5, Ford Battles edition p1364)

The Supper might seem unnecessary and dispensable since it communicates to us the same Jesus we already had by believing the Word of the gospel. But the outward signs are important. They are adapted to the fact that we are bodily creatures. The Supper is a ritual enactment of the gospel by which the promises of the gospel are dramatically offered to us. We make a conscious public declaration that we are appropriating Christ. We cast ourselves for all to see as Jesus hungry beneficiaries. Our faith is strengthened and we are assured that God gives us what he signifies to us in the Supper. The Supper is a formal communal affirmation of our union with Christ and with one another in the gospel.

To say that we don’t receive Christ in the Supper since we always receive him by faith is a bit like saying we don’t go to church to worship since we worship all the time with our whole lives not just when we sing. There are things about formal, public, special, corporate / communal / gathered worship that are important and distinctive. Receiving the Lord’s Supper isn’t exactly the same as reading the Bible and listening to a sermon (though both offer Christ to us) and nor is reciting the creed together in church on a Sunday the same as a silent prayer on the bus or witnessing to your neighbour (though all are worship). We need to receive the Supper to feed on Christ just as much as we need to “go to church” to worship, though we can receive Jesus without the Supper and we can worship without Sunday services.

Thursday, November 01, 2007