Monday, December 10, 2007

We are not alone!

I hate being on my own - not those wonderful few minutes of peace just after the kids have gone to school, but those times when either my wife or I are away and I have to spend an evening on my own. Jokes on the telly don't seem as funny, the house doesn't seem to be as warm, I go to bed much later than normal. It's natural - human beings are made to need one another - it's the way we are wired.

There are some who would say that we are alone in the universe - that human beings are here by an accident of nature (or the demands of evolution) and that is it - we are alone - there is nothing more than what we see and hear - there is no "spiritual" reality beyond our own minds and hearts.
But then in my mind I see a stable, a young woman - barely old enough to be married - giving birth to her first child in absolute poverty, I see strange visitors - educated men bringing strangely meaningful gifts; shepherds, their faces aglow with the light of a million angels sent to share the good news, "Today in David's town is born a Saviour;" I hear the angel's words to the baby's mother - "He shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people" - and then the echo of the words of a godly man from many hundreds of years before who said this baby would be called "Emmanuel" which means "God with us."

The Christmas story is an amazing example of the truth that we are not alone - that a God who cared about those he had made was prepared to become part of His own creation; to save it from its selfishness and its greed; to be with us - with us when the day is bright, with us when the dark times come, with us when we get up, with us when we go to bed.

This is the truth which I see written in a baby's smile in a cattle trough in Bethlehem - we are not alone - God is with us - Forever.

Happy Christmas

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Light on the horizon...

It is the least favourite part of Autumn in our house - Christmas is too far away for the children (and too close for the Vicar!!), the days are cold, damp and windy, the trees have dropped their leaves and the beautiful autumn colours are now just another garden nightmare. It's cold but not frosty with that wonderful winter sun. There is far too much to do without any of the fun bits on the horizon. We can't wait for Winter to arrive properly with Christmas hard on its heels.

The worst part is that the light has gone - days are drear and grey, evenings are dark - those of us who rise early are up before the Sun and it goes long before the kids are settled - the long summer evenings in the garden with a cold beer are a distant memory - all we can look forward to is a cup of cocoa huddled round the fire. SAD is a big problem - not depression but Seasonally Affected Disorder - the lack of sun affects many people, making them really unwell - for the rest of us there is a general increase of grumpiness fuelled by the endless round of colds.

Yet into this darkness comes the faintest glimmer of hope - a star began to brighten in the sky announcing the end of a long darkness, academics began heroic journeys to find it's source, a young woman waited for the time to come for the birth of her firstborn child. We too wait - we wait for the celebrations to begin, but also perhaps we are hoping for light to come into our darkness, for a liberator to come, a saviour - "the light shines in the darkness..." - are you still waiting for the light?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Happy Halloween?

October is here and the nights are growing darker. Before long the clocks will change and it will be dusk before teatime!

Our Supermarket shelves are growing darker too. Halloween is on its way. Halloween - from All Hallow's Eve - was a great festival day for the church. On All Saints day Christians still celebrate men and women of faith who have been an example and an encoragement to us.

I can remember fancy dress parties full of pirates and soldiers and superheroes, a few skeletons (still the best costume my Mum ever made) and the odd vampire with plastic teeth from the little stall in the Corn Exchange.

Today however the choice seems to be between the most gruesome and terrifying images. Our children are encouraged to dress as if they were in the worst horror films by supermarkets with big advertising budgets.

I'm not against parties and fun at Halloween but maybe this year we can rediscover the fun part of the festival - lets make it a festival of light not of darkness - of joy instead of fear - lets leave the horror to Stephen King and celebrate all that is good in this community.

Happy All Hallow's Eve

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Harvest Supper and Chocolate Puddings

Well it's been a while since I posted but by popular demand here is the receipe for the Chocolate pudding which took our Harvest Supper by storm

Debden Chocolate Pudding

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cool Time: 1 hour
Pre heat oven to 170°C or Gas Mark 3

Ingredients for 6-8 people
4oz/100-125g Plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6oz/175g Granulated sugar
1oz/25g Plain Chocolate-melted
2 tbsp butter - melted
1/4 pint/150ml Milk
2oz/50g brown sugar
2oz/50g caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
6 fl oz/175ml cold water

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Stir in the granulated sugar, melted chocolate and melted butter.

Blend in the milk.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 1.5 pint/850ml ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle over the top the brown sugar, caster sugar and cocoa in separate layers.
Pour over the cold water (yes pour over the cold water and don't fret!!)

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour.

A layer of chocolate fudge sauce will form under the sponge topping as the pudding cooks. Let the pudding cool for an hour before serving but do not chill.

Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream

(though it is also rather nice with custard!)


Friday, March 23, 2007

Something to make you think...

If you want a Bishop's response to the introduction of the SORs (Sexual Orientation Regulations) then you would have to go a long way before you get one better than that of Bishop Mike Hill, the Bishop of Bristol. Check out his blog here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Some things are just too good not to share. Thanks to an old friend, Ian, the Youth Officer at the Diocese of Oxford who has an excellent blog where I found this.

And the Lyrics...

The soundtrack for the video clip in the next post is by a band called Apologetix who have written some excellent parodies of 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's music - lyrics below courtesy of Lyrics Download

Is this a real guy? Is he just fantasy?
‘Cause of his grand size, no one’s safe from fatality
Open your eyes, look up at Goliath, and see:
I’m dressed for war boys, I need no infantry
Because I’ll meet the one you propose
Israelites, pick my foe
Anyway, I’ll win, so it doesn’t matter to me
Mama, there’s still no man who can come against this threat
You might figure now we’re dead
Mama, Goliath is testing us
And know he’s gonna know they’re all afraid
Mama, he’s a mean and crazy guy
He’ll come back again this time tomorrow
Daring us, Scaring us- cause he wants to meet in battle
Hooray! My time has come
Been a shepherd all my life-but I’m taking on this giant
Goodbye, everybody – but not for long
God will lead me all the while I face this brute
C’mon (David you’re a whimp though) I’m not gonna die
The One who wins my battle is Lord over all
I see a little silly shepherd, not a man
What are you trying to prove? You’ll be chewed up and mangled!
Send a boy to fight me? A very very tiny flea!
Gol-la-liath! Gol-la-liath! Gonna die you big galoot!
I’ll kick your butt!
I trust the Lord but nobody trusts me
He trusts the Lord but suffers from insanity
Daring to fight ‘gaist this monstrosity
Evil comes, evil goes- you will get deposed
I will not, no! I will not get deposed
Yes, you will (repeat) Your head will roll
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Come-to-me-a! Come-to-me-a! Let the eagles pick your bones
Beelzebub and his devils gonna fight for me for me for me
So you think you can scorn me and spit on my tribe?
So you think you’re above me just based on your size?
Oh, baby…. you ain’t just duelin’ David
You’e gonna get it now- cause God’ll win my battle here
Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!
Guys I’m really flattered-yet it wasn’t me
God wins every battle- God wins every battle for me
David will be king soon

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

More Sermons to download

There are some more sermons available to download - just follow the link on the right to our E-snips gallery.

The sermons include a 4 part series on the Beatitudes from Matthew Chapter 5.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Amour!

Well February is upon us - the month for Luuuurve! (Well how else do you do a Barry White impression in print?) Valentines day is nearly upon us and before long a whole aisle of Asda will go red with hearts and cards and vastly overpriced red roses. Sadly one of the extra elements creeping into Valentines day in recent years is also red, but has horns and a trident. Not content with Halloween the demon is mounting a takeover bid for the feast of St Valentine. Cute cuddly demons - talking of "being naughty" or "wicked" but an image of a demon nonetheless.

So what about poor old St Valentine - what has he got to do with Luuurve? Well, not much really. The 5th Century Pope who established the feast in Valentine's honour said his acts of courage were "known only unto God" and all the legends about Valentine arose in the middle ages when he became associated with romantic love. So why celebrate the day at all?

I'd like to suggest two reasons - firstly I don't think I'm ready yet to abandon St Valentine to be the patron saint of cuddly demons and secondly I think that a day when we celebrate all that is best about romantic love is no bad thing. After all romance (and its ensuing activities) were God's idea in the first place - He created us male and female - He gives us guidance on the ways in which this sort of love should be expressed and He made sure that the Song of Songs was included in scripture.

So this February let's avoid the demons and celebrate God's wonderful gift of love - given to men and women to enjoy together.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Unresolved Resolutions

New year - a time for turkey curry, cold weather and resolutions! New Year resoutions are funny things - I like them, because they give me a nudge to change a bad habit or to establish a good one - but I also hate them because I feel dreadfully guilty if I either don't make some or if I fail come mid-January!

But the New Year is a good time to take stock - to look back on what God has done in the past year and to look forward to what He is going to do. 2006 was a mixed year with all sorts of exciting things happening and then there were some struggles with Church family members being ill and some dear friends who have gone on ahead of us into glory! Ups and downs - highs and lows - yet through it all we can say one thing "God is good" - even in the difficult times God has been at work amongst us - building us into the family he longs for us to be.

I wonder what God's New Year Resolution for All Saints might be - where he is planning to lead us in 2007. What has God got in store for you this year? It would be great to know what is coming - what special times lie ahead - yet it would be awful to see the sad times before they come. Perhaps waiting for God to reveal things in His time is the best - even if it is a bit scary waiting!

So at the start of this new year the call is to put our trust in God, to rely on his promises not our fears and to know that "He will never leave us nor forsake us". Wherever God leads we will follow as best we can, knowing that He will give us the strength and the gifts we need along the way.

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east."