Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ordinary Time

Just worrying away at the Common Worship calendar and lectionary. By my calculation, about half the year, something like 27 Sundays fall in Ordinary Time (5 Sundays from the day following Candelmas / The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (2nd Feb) to the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and 22 Sundays from the Monday following the Day of Pentecost to Advent).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A prayer (possibly in the spirit of Ecclesiastes)

William Laud may not have been entirely a hero, but I quite like this prayer of his (quoted by Kidner in BST on Ecc, p110):

Grant, O Lord, that we may live in thy fear,
die in thy favour, rest in thy peace,
rise in thy power, reign in thy glory.
for thine own beloved Son's sake,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Message of Ecclesiastes

As I've been preaching through the book of Ecclesiastes, I've been helped by Vaughan Roberts' sermons (on the St Ebbes, Oxford, website). He suggests that two key messages of the book are:

(1) Face the Facts: Don't be Naive

(2) Fear God: Don't be Cynical

The book calls us to a mature, realistic faith that is able to live with questions, tensions and lose ends with practical wisdom. The Teacher would have us recognise that life is neither entirely starightforward nor entirely meaningless. The book encourages trust in God and enjoyment of life without ignoring the frustrations and difficulties of life. Believe, but not make believe.

The Cost of Living In The Countryside

As I am soon to move to the countryside, I was interested to read that it costs up to 20% more to have what people think one needs for an acceptable standard of living in the countryside compared to in an urban situation. (This seems to be largely due to the fact that a car is seen as essential in rural areas and homes are often more expensive to heat).

Sadly, I don't think this'll be reflected in my stipend!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Gideon Learnings

A few quick jottings of things we might learn from Judges 6-8:

Failure to listen to and obey God can lead to his judgement and to obvious defeat

We should worship God our Redeemer alone

When we are in distress we should cry out to God

God is all powerful and in control

With God, all things are possible

God can make the weak, fearful and insecure, strong and bold

God + 1 always = a majority!

God works through weakness so that he gets the glory (cf. Christ, the cross)

But God may also use our skills and abilities, such as cunning, planning, diplomacy etc. Sometimes these things are good and necessary.

We ought to trust God, take him at his word, believe his promises and do as he says, not demand miraculous signs

God is gracious and kind even in the face of weak, imperfect faith. He knows about our weakness and fear and may choose to encourage us.

We need to always remember our dependence on God. It is no good acknowledging him (formally with our words) when it’s too late if our actions, attitudes and words (or silence) have tended to deny him.

Even great and godly leaders can have serious weaknesses, character flaws, sins and problems. We must beware of worshiping our leaders or trusting in human beings.

Leaders should beware of arrogance, pride, love of money etc.

Believers can be terribly inconsistent and still be real believers.

We can be ensnared by the (lovely, precious) things we think we want.

Rural Ministry Seminar

You are warmly invited to:

The Rural Ministry Seminar

This is intended primarily for ministers of rural churches of any denomination, but space permitting, others are welcome.

9:30am Coffee available

10am - 4pm Tuesday 1st March 2011

Venue: Warbleton area, between Hailsham and Heathfield in the lovely Sussex Countryside (Warbleton Church Rooms, Church Hill, Warbleton, East Sussex, TN21 9BD - subject to numbers).

Cost: £5 including coffee, biscuits, soft drinks etc. & materials. Please pay on the door. Please bring a packed lunch or head to a near by pub.

Speakers / facilitators:

Rev'd David Hall is the Vicar of Danehill with Chelwood Gate nr Haywards Heath in East Sussex where he has ministered for over seven years. During this time the churches have seen significant growth, including in the music ministry and amongst children, young people and families. David is also a training incumbent supervising a curate. David's first degree was in Business Studies with Marketing Honours. After graduation, he joined the graduate training scheme of a top-ten public relations consultancy, before moving into a management role advising major companies on everything from consumer PR to crisis management. He has met with and learned from Christians all over the world from Africa to North America and firmly believes that small rural churches can have the ministries of large ones!

Rev'd Dick Farr was the senior minister of 3 growing evangelical churches in rural Essex for 19 years (Henham and Elsenham with Ugley in the Diocese of Chelmsford on the north Essex Hertfordshire border from 1990 - 2009) working with an ordained and lay team. He is currently the Associate Vicar at St John's, Tunbridge Wells.

Please spread the word.

Please comment or email me (marc underscore lloyd at hotmail dot com) if you are interested in attending. Booking is essential. Places may be limited.

Please let me know if there are particular issues / questions you would like to see addressed. I will let the speakers know in advance and we will try to cover as many as possible.

Practical and theological issues will be discussed. Sessions will include material on Understanding The Rural Context Today and Ministering in a Rural Context Today as well as considering the particular challenges and opportunities of life and work in the countryside and of being responsible for more than one church building / congregation etc.

There will be some substantial plenary input but also lots of time for comments, questions, discussion and real interaction etc.

Other events may be planned in the future if there is an interest in some kind of on-going group / regular meeting.

Watch this space for more details.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Me / We

In his sermon last night, Rev'd Trevor Parkin pointed out that "Me" turned upside down is "We". We often need that 180 degree change of mind from me and my personal concerns and so on and to us and our needs.

Tomato wisdom

Last Lord's Day, I preached on Wisdom from Ecclesiastes 7.

A member of our congregation suggested to me that wisdom and knowledge might be distinguished thus:

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing that it doesn't belong in a fruit salad!