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James Cameron stole my Jesus

Photo of the tomb at the heart of the current controversy

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15.14-15, 17, 19

So the papers and all sorts of blogs are carrying stories that Titanic film director James Cameron has discovered the bones of Jesus of Nazareth.

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Love Life Live Lent blog set up

Regular readers will know that I had some ‘back and forth‘ with the CofE’s Communications Unit a few weeks ago over the technicalities of their website and SMS service. Indeed, as part of it, I was challenged to ‘follow the daily suggestions’ by Ben Wilson from the Comms Unit so how can I do anything but pick up that challenge? 🙂

Well, I did get signed up to the SMS service and so each morning around half eight, I get a text from Love Life Live Lent (or L4 as I’m calling it for short) with my little task for the day. It’s quite cool to be getting the texts – it feels a bit Mission-Impossible-esque; your task for today should you choose to accept it etc etc.

Here on this blog I try to post once or twice a week with things that really interest me. I didn’t want to change that pattern for myself or regular readers here by clogging up this blog (blog-clog?) with daily posts about how my daily tasks are going.

So, thanks to my old friends WordPress, I’ve set up a temporary site over at where I will record my daily success or failure to engage with my L4 tasks. For those that are interested, stick it in your RSS reader now.

An unplayable delivery? Reflections on Tanzania

So the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania has concluded and the draft text of the much discussed Covenant (no, no that one) has been released along with a Communiqué that provides the conclusions of this set of meetings. There appears to be much to be thankful for – not least the fact that they didn’t kill each other. There was the odd remarkable development (American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori elected to represent the Americas on the Standing Committee) as well as a carefully worded Communiqué to which everyone has been able to sign up. In itself, all this is no mean feat.

I am no expert, I want to say that and underline it three times over, but for those slightly mystified by the process, the results, the weight of documentation now flying around the web, I humbly offer my immediate thoughts and reflections as well as a bit of a beginner’s guide to the whole thing.

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Does the Church of England know when Lent starts?

I was surprised to see this press release hit the wires this morning when the Church of England announced Lent had begun! The Love Life, Live Lent campaign began with a call to carry out action number one on day one – namely to make someone laugh.

Regular readers will know that I had some ‘back and forth‘ with the CofE’s Communications Unit a few weeks ago over the technicalities of their website and SMS service. Indeed, as part of it, I was challenged to ‘follow the daily suggestions’ by Ben Wilson from the Comms Unit so how can I do anything but pick up that challenge.

Indeed, I have made someone laugh today. Indeed, a couple of people. For a kick-off, there was the always fun chance to spend some time playing with my two year old daughter and tickling her – which is always guaranteed to make her laugh like a drane.

I also related to a couple of ordinand colleagues the story of how (the very funny) Dave Gorman tried to make the world a better place by carrying out actions suggested to him by members of the public. In one particularly memorable attempt, he broke the speed limit and received a £175 fine and then stood at Piccadilly Circus wearing a sign confessing his crime. Apparently one of his correspondents believed making criminals advertise their sins would make the world a better place. I remember from Dave’s account of the plan in his stand-up show that various tourists had photographed him and had thought it was really part of the British judicial system. Indeed, some of them thought it was a great idea that they wished they had at home. It made my colleagues laugh.

I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, quite apart from completing my first challenge successfully, I do have to ask the question of my colleagues in the Church of England Comms Unit and Publishing division as to when they think Lent actually starts? In the Western Church (which I thought the CofE was part of), Lent traditionally starts on Ash Wednesday (i.e. in a couple of days time). In the Eastern Church, it starts on the Monday of that week – I think it’s called Clean Monday so apparently, we are starting Lent according to the Eastern tradition (although I have no idea if they are even starting Lent this week as I think they also date Easter differently).

Anyway, quite happy to start my challenges two days early but it took me by surprise. Were the Liturgical Commission informed of this change of Lenten practice?

** update **

It seems Tom Allen over at BigBulkyAnglican is similarly mystified.

Learning for Ministry

Learning for Ministry jacket cover

The family have spent a couple of days with grandparents which has given me a great opportunity to try and catch up with some reading and at least make some kind of dent in the growing pile of books that is building like the Tower of Babel on my desk.

One of the books I’ve been meaning to read for a while is Learning for Ministry by Steven Croft and Roger Walton and I’m very pleased to be able to say that it’s now been ticked off my list.

The essential premise of the book is to provide advice and helpful information for those just about to start ordination training. The two authors are Anglican and Methodist respectively and so the book has a good slightly ecumenical feel (without being so ecumenical as to be necessarily bland), it is easy to read and well-written.

In some ways, it’s almost too well-written. Each chapter contains quite a lot to think about and I found it best to try and take it a chapter at a time, although I didn’t do ALL the ‘pause for thought’ ideas for thinking and discussion that they suggested (which is another helpful feature of the book). The danger with it is that you read it too quick and don’t let the subject matter sink in.

The link to the CHP website provided earlier lists the various subjects that the book covers but I personally found the stuff on dealing with the work/life balance most helpful; perhaps because it’s something that remains a struggle.

All in all, I wish it had been on the Ridley pre-course reading list and indeed that I had read it before I got here. It would have been well worth it and probably would have saved me a bit of worry last term. If you are in the final stages of the selection process at the moment or heading to college this September, get a copy of this book.

I can’t remember when I last gave up food…

I have a confession to make. I know it’s a pretty shocking confession coming from someone who comes from evangelical roots, but I can’t remember the last time I fasted. If you imagine a list of priorities in a Christian’s life, I am ashamed to say that the spiritual disciplines are pretty much at the bottom of my personal list. Not only that but within that list of priorities in the spiritual disciplines, fasting is pretty much the bottom of that list. In short, it’s at the bottom of the to-do pile and not likely to get done anytime soon. I know it’s wrong but that’s the truth of the matter for me. I may be a skinny boy (albeit a bit less skinny than I used to be) but I do like my food and fasting HURTS!

Imagine my surprise therefore when I find myself actually resolving to fast and pray for these next few days. Is it a Lenten thing? Actually no. What has me exercised is the gathering of the Anglican Communion’s Primates in Tanzania.

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Sermon, Second Sunday before Lent

I preached for the first time at my placement church today. I don’t usually preach from a script (I usually work from a system of bullet-points) but I decided to do so today. For anyone who is interested, what I said follows below.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.

Good morning! It’s a great privilege to be here and on behalf of my entire family, thank you for making us welcome amongst you. We are enjoying making our home here while I am on placement and training for the ordained ministry.

My wife and I are very different. They say that opposites attract and we are so different in many ways. When it comes to decorating, we can never agree on colours. We never like the same furniture and I have noticed that when we watch TV, we like to do so very differently.

Whenever my wife sits down to watch a programme, either before the programme starts or as the credits are rolling, my wife will open the telly mag and find out what is going to happen in this week’s episode before the programme starts. Do you do that?

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What not to wear and other interesting lectures…

As I continue through my training, I am becoming increasingly aware that the clock is ticking! I am pretty much half way through my first year with only one more year of training to go. This Summer discussions start about where I will serve as a curate. Two years doesn’t feel like very long right now and those two years are ticking down all the time.

It has got me thinking about the value of each and every lecture and training opportunity I get. There literally is no time to waste. Maybe I should lighten up a bit but when a lecture doesn’t start on time, or we take ages having our mid-lecture coffee break (for the double sessions) or the lecture simply isn’t very good (and thankfully there aren’t many) … it really starts to annoy me!!

I’ve also started thinking about what lectures or training opportunities I really want to see happen before I leave Ridley. If they happen, I’ll be sure to update this article and tick them off… but as of right now, I give you my top eight training opportunities I want to see happen but which (as far as I know) are not in our curriculum.

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Rare lack of foresight in the USA

Superbowl image

Those that know me will know that I am a huge American Football fan. It may be an unusual pre-occupation for a Brit but not an entirely unique one – there is a small but vibrant scene here in the UK.

It is, of course, Superbowl tomorrow and I will be kicking back and enjoying the game, trying to avoid throwing shoes at one particularly inane Sky Sports commentator (yes, you Kevin Cadle) and hopefully encouraging the Indianapolis Colts to victory over the Chicago Bears.

Anyway, as I prepare for the annual ritual tomorrow night and the inevitable tiredness on Monday morning that comes from staying up till gone three, I was particularly struck by this story today that the National Football League in the States have come down hard on a church who planned to hold a Superbowl party and show the game on a big screen.

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