20+ years since I started preaching, I am constructing any portfolio to be recognised as a local preacher in the Methodist Church.
One item asks questions about how we talk about "salvation", and as a result I found myself digging out the dissertation I wrote for my BA Hons. in 2010!
I haven't re-read it all the way through in a very long time, but am "self-referencing" in the portfolio piece, so want to make sure it's somewhere accessible for those assessing the portfolio to read!
But the real question is: Would I write the same thing again?
Or rather “The Manger Gift Hypothesis”: What do you See? How do you respond?
This is my go-to Christmas message for new groups of people...
I love Christmas.
The excitement has been building, the traditions are all rolled out of the box, and it’s time for us to watch those classic seasonal films and eat the food that we only ever consider at Christmas... I mean, when else can you justify watching the Muppets Christmas Carol and eating turkey and brussel sprouts (neither of which any of us really like if we’re being honest...)!
And then there are the Christmas specials that come on the TV, both the classics that we’ve loved and watched for years, and the latest seasonal offering produced by our current favourite shows.
My favourite all-time Christmas episode of a TV series has to be, without a shadow of a doubt the Christmas episode of the Big Bang Theory, Episode 11 from Season 2.
For those who are unfamiliar with the show and the characters, the story revolves around a group of geeky male scientists (well, 3 scientists and an engineer) who are ridiculously intelligent yet socially clueless and inept, and their socially gifted yet intellectually inferior female friend Penny. Invariably the episodes revolve around Penny trying to impart useful social practices and common sense to one of more of the men who just don’t get it.
Sheldon is the most socially inept of the 4 friends, and in this clip he is struggling with the concept of gift-giving.
In this episode, titled “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”, Penny tells Sheldon that she has a gift for him for Christmas and Sheldon, though he despises the concept of giving and receiving gifts, knows that the right thing to do is reciprocate the gift with something of equal value, but how does he do that when he doesn’t know what the gift is? And so, he comes up with the “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,” which is explained, and undone, during this clip.
One last thing you should probably know before we watch: Sheldon doesn’t do physical contact.
**No potty mouth warning, but a request for you to read with grace**
Today's "to-do" list was short from the off. I had decided that there was going to be a single item on it, and I was going to do it well. (Granted, I had forgotten about the assembly that I had to deliver this morning, so that added to it).
Today's "to-do" is simple:
Read and reflect upon "God in Love Unites Us - The report of the Marriage and Relationships task group, 2019"
The list is simple, the task less so.
The task is bound up in my history, my upbringing, my theological journey, my desire to see God, my longing for others to meet him, my calling to "Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with my God".
Wherever my journey with this report takes me, I have to submit myself to God.
I'm going to have a rant... You've been warned.
"This just makes me angry.
WHY did they need to include the last paragraph!?
All it does is justify the church being a crap, unwelcoming and baffling place for the world, rather than encouraging significant change and positive contextualisation, on the basis that if God wants to convert them, he'll do it without us having to make an effort to be a people and place that outsiders want to be part of!
Surely it would be more helpful as an account without the closing paragraph?"
Part of my Methodist Local Preacher's course entails various portfolio pieces in various media. Here's one of the questions I have tackled recently:
Produce something in a verbal medium (poetry, a talk, a meditation, a PowerPoint based on words) that you could use: (a) to share with a group what ‘calling’ means to you; and (b) to help them reflect on what 'calling' might mean to them.
Part a: Sharing what Calling means to me (in the medium of Poetry):
The immortal words of Tiny Tim seem to be the best way to sum up this week's reflection on the Christmas story.
The account of Jesus' birth is given, and best understood by reading the accounts in the early chapters of both Matthew and Luke. Both tell different parts of the story, and are written to different audiences.
I was always taught that we need to read more than just the story when we come to the Bible, and look at who wrote what to whom, what the message was they were trying to convey, and what that means for us, especially as we read it through our cultural lenses.
So what's the Christmas story all about? I think it's about God blessing us, every one.
I've got the rare opportunity to do a 2-part series with one of the churches in the circuit. They're a smaller congregation, but the are faithful, and active, and proved to be excellent company yesterday morning.
Part one, yesterday, was titled "Mountain High", and in a few weeks I'll be back to do part two "Valley Low."
Let us take a moment to thank Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell for the title:
Part one, of what I'm sure will be thousands of confessions of bad habits I have... And why this one is making me think about worship.
This one isn't about my inability to regularly update my website, nor my consistency with producing coherent thoughts or words. It's not one of those deeply personal issues to do with toilet seats or nail biting. This one is all about books.
Even then I'm going to have to narrow it down, otherwise we'll be here all day. I'm not here just to confess my tendency to turn down corners of pages instead of reaching for a bookmark, nor my habit of buying books based on recommendations knowing full well that my "to read" list is more than long enough, nor my tendency to start umpteen books at once.
This one is about my inability to finish a book...
This morning's sermon for my trial service to become a Methodist Local Preacher "On Trial".
While I have been preaching for a while, I'm not officially qualified to preach within the Methodist Church. This is the second level (should I pass following reflection on today's service.).
Tried to do something different with this one. No point in staying with what's safe, or sticking to what I'm good at... The chance for feedback was too good!
The wisdom of Disney as reminded by being in the same room as the boy watches "Zootropolis."
If you've not seen it, do...
The basic premise is that in a world where predators no longer eat prey (best I can work out they have replaced meat with doughnuts), Judy Hopps wants to become the first "Bunny Cop" in Zootropolis. Typical ups and downs with twists follow.
But this is the exchange that caught me again this morning:
Remarcable is one man blogging about Youth Work, Theology, Family, Life and those other random things that come to mind.