Monday, June 18, 2007

Retreating from the World

Sorry (again) that the blog has been silent for a while. I was away last week on a retreat at a Cistercian Monastery in Leicestershire. If you'd be interested to see where I went, here's a link to their website:

I had a very pleasant few days, with my nose stuck firmly in a few books, sitting in quiet solitude in the monastery garden. I quite enjoyed worshipping in the Abbey at regular intervals, except that as an Anglican in a Roman Catholic environment, I was a bit lost at various points (a good lesson to me as a worship leader to make sure I lead people well during our worship!)

My favourite book of the week was a new one by Rowan Williams, called "Tokens of Trust". His thinking is far too deep to try and summarise on a blog - but I will share one nugget that I picked up. Williams tried to answer the question of what God's primary purpose is, in relation to us. He answered it, surprisingly succinctly, with two words: 'peace' and 'praise', which as well as being short, is nicely alliterative as well (starts with the same letter!). In other words, God's whole being bent on beinging peace between God and humans, and between humans themselves - and then on focusing our lives on him. Nice and simple I thought.

In the meantime, I've not been too idle. Here's a sermon I preached Sunday last, just before going on retreat. Have you ever wondered what the word 'Testament' refers to...(i.e. the 'New Testament or the Old)?. Well 'testament' is an old word for covenant (which in itself is a form of legal agreement). This sermon explored what God's covenants, or testaments, with human beings have been since the dawn of time.

Secondly, I preached yesterday a sermon which was the last in our local series on young people of the Bible. It was a family service sermon - so has some 'interactive' sections in it where I got our children to tell me how much they had understood of previous sermons - but I hope there's enough meat on the rest of the sermon for you to see what it was about! Please click here to read it - and as always, please let me know what you think!

Good to be back in the saddle. Don't forget that my One Man Show takes place this Saturday evening at St James' Emsworth...hope you can join us!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If it could happen to EMI...

EMI, the last British music recording giant, has just been sold and asset-stripped -- without a murmur of protest. (For more information see this link )

EMI has gone the way of all stragglers in a cultural revolution. Its collapse was probably inevitable. They were always several steps behind other music companies - the last to embrace 33rpm records, the last to embrace CDs - and their internet download facility is, frankly, rubbish compared to the likes of i-Tunes.

It occurs to me to wonder if our churches also remain stragglers in the cultural revolution. What will our collapse deprive Britain of?

What can we learn from the collapse of EMI?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kevin the Teenager and Issues Facing Christians Today

First - an apology. It's been more than 2 weeks since my last Blog, and I do apologise to anyone who has sought out the Blog in the hope of some fresh thinking. It's been a particularly hectic time - and I'm afraid that in times of pressure, local needs have to give way - even to the Blog!

One momentous event has taken place in the meantime - I've had my 41st birthday...which, so everyone tells me, means I am now on the downward slope. That will give more impetus to one of the Songs of Travel that I'm going to sing at my concert on June 23rd "I have Trod the Upward, and the Downward Slope"!

Now - for a bit of thinking stuff. Yesterday, I preached two sermons. The first was a continuation of our sermon series on "Young People of the Bible". We thought about the story of how young David (the same one that fought Goliath and eventually became King of Israel) came to be called to the court of King Saul. He was invited to become a member of the court for three reasons:

a) He could play the lyre (in other words, he had developed one of his God-given gifts to the level that it was good enough for a king)

b) He was a brave warrior (in other words he was courageous about what he believed)

c) He spoke well and was a fine looking young man (in other words he understood the importance of communicating well).

From this I developed some ideas, for our family service, which I hope were inspiring to them. They start from the idea that Christian Young people should, ideally, NOT be like Harry Enfield's character, Kevin the Teenager - but should aim to be more like young David.

If you want to read the text of this sermon - appalling jokes included - then please click here.

My second sermon of the day was at our local Baptist Church, where I tried to rise to the challenge of answering the question "What is the greatest issue facing Christians today". There's some pretty contentious stuff in this sermon - so be warned! However, if you want to try to get inside my fevered brain, please grab a Bible (because you'll need one to follow the sermon), and then click here.

Please feel free to respond to either of these sermons. I'd love to hear what you think!