Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Headship and Head Scarves - 1 Corinthians 11

Why did I think it was a good idea to preach through 1 Corinthians? That's what I was wondering as I set about 1 Cor 11:2-16 last week. Head hurt and lost sleep over such a varied set of interpretations, some of which I thought were pretty disgraceful.

V.3 and headship - what's that about then? There seem to be three options.

1 - to have authority over
2 - to represent
3 - to be the source of

The general idea seems to be that the language points to #3, though I have an inkling that #2 is helpful too. Not so convinced by #1 but some very intelligent people would disagree and I might be wrong. Feel a little like Alesha Dixon asked to judge Strictly, though to be fair she would be better qualified for her task than I feel for mine.

In the end does it matter much? If headship is about ruling over and having authority (which I don’t think it is) then what should it look like? How should a husband have authority over his wife? By loving her and being prepared to lay down his life for her, according to Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5:21 – “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

I don't think you'd see a lot of difference between people who read head as meaning #1, #2, or #3 if they are seeking to be like Christ in all they do.
After that the hat issue was a doddle. We will still have the role of women to address in 1 Cor 14 but at least we can relax a bit in the meantime while we talk about the gifts of the Spirit!
The biggest encouragement of Sunday was where people disagreed (as a handful did). They were each so gracious and loving as we talked and it's what family should be like. We were able to discuss and even laugh about the subject and to do so with the security that this needn't and shouldn't change anything between us in terms of relationship.
That feels very precious indeed.


There's a great cartoon here of Moses standing before a parted Red Sea and turning to the Israelites saying, "What do you mean, 'It's a bit muddy?'"
I used it in a sermon on 1 Cor 10 recently because it is so easy for us to be like that. We are a rescued people, freed from slavery by a loving God. And sometimes we grumble, "It's a bit muddy" when we should be rejoicing that we are on narrow way that leads to salvation.
End of sermon.

Music that no-one else cares about...

At long last two searched for albums have had mp3 releases.

The Men They Couldn't Hang - The Domino Club and Faith Brothers - A Human Sound are both vinyl albums I own and now I can listen to them on the iPod.


The power of encouragement

Was very frustrated at the game on Saturday. Exeter City were playing at home to Wycombe. Wycombe are bottom of League 1 and we are struggling too after two successive promotions. In the end we equalized in stoppage time to earn a point. We didn't set the park alight but the boys played alright and a win wouldn't have been undeserved. I would venture to say that we looked very good for the first 25 minutes.

But then it kicked in. The verbals from the home crowd at their own team. Every misplaced pass, every missed tackle, every perceived lack of effort. I guess a number of the crowd are used to us winning a lot of games over the last couple of years and playing some fantastic football at the same time. Now it's tougher and - unbelievably - some are calling for our (most sucessful manager ever) to go.

It's incredible that the team plays as well as they do with the rubbish they have to put up with from so called supporters. It cannot help the cause.

If Paul Tisdale were to pack up and walk away we would only have ourselves to blame. Thankfully he seems to be more gutsy and more intelligent than that.

There have been times in the past when church seemed discouraging because of the moaning and grumbling that went on. I can now see it was very small beer indeed.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Frankie Says Relax

Spent some of my day off today making soup while listening to Radio 4. The arts programme closes by saying that tomorrow they will be celebrating 25 years since Frankie Goes to Hollywood first burst upon the scene.

Being raised in the sticks I was pretty unaware of the whole Frankie thing until being at a concert and seeing all the Frankie Says Relax teeshirts. Oddly it was a concert featuring unlikely Frankie bed fellows (I know...) Nazareth, Jason and the Scorchers (who were bottled-off), Gary Glitter on his umpteenth comeback, Marillion (who were a lot of the reason I was there) and Status Quo. It was billed as "Quo's Last Stand" their last concert ever. they were also on the radio this afternoon talking about how they have always toured and only took a year off in about 1984. They are touring again this autumn. It was 25 years ago when I saw them and - as is the case every now and again - I feel a bit older. Quite a bit older.

But then I am spending my leisure time making soup and listening to Radio 4.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The fuss over funerals

An Anglican priest has found his blog hit the news - time to be careful! Ed Tomlinson has caused a bit of a fuss with his comments on funerals - you can read the story here:


Basically he says that sometimes he wonders why he bothers. At the Crem he has to stand by like a lemon as people have a Tina Turner song played or "My Way" as the coffin disappears behind the curtain. He says he has better things to do.

I have some sympathy with him and in a slightly different context Jesus did say to to let the dead bury their own dead. Doubtless Jesus would get into trouble for having that on his blog.

Some personal observations from funerals I have officiated at:

  • Sometimes you do feel like a spare part as some people seem to have you there because it is the done thing. They seem to have no real interest in anything other than getting through the best way they know how. And I guess that's understandable.
  • It is emotionally gruelling to do funerals on a regular basis and I say that as someone who takes less than a dozen a year. Ed will, in all likelihood, being doing one or more a week.
  • I find that the hardest funerals to take are those where there is no obvious hope in the face of death because the deceased expressed no interest in God. Playing ''My Way'' at a funeral is a good expression of that independent spirit that says, 'I make my own rules'. The Bible calls that sin.
  • You may find this odd but the easier funerals are where you know and love the person and know that they trusted in Jesus in the face of their death. You still grieve but it is tempered by a certain joy as well - "we do not grieve as those without hope" as it says in a book I am reading.
  • I was once at funeral where "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt was played. It was very raw and ripped shreds out of people - a ghastly experience.
  • Most of the relatives I sit with are grateful for assistance in planning the funeral and I have never been turned down when I have offered to pray for them at the end of our meeting together. I can leave booklets about coping with grief with them.
  • The Crem service is about 22 minutes long where I am (it varies around the country) which is a little too rushed for my liking. But it gives me a little time to lead people in prayer, read a short passage from the Bible, and to speak in the address of the hope that can be found in the face of death through trusting in Christ and his forgiveness.
  • Nearly everyone I ever buried has the most wonderful person imaginable. I look forward to people being a little dishonest about me at my funeral.
  • Sometimes you wonder whether anyone is capable of hearing much at the service itself.
  • I often think that my 'aftercare service' is sadly lacking in terms of following people up a month or two down the line. Realistically do we have the resources to do this though?
  • I think that nearly all the families I have dealt with have been very thankful and they have expressed that to me.
  • I never feel like doing anything after a funeral. Which is difficult when you have a funeral in the morning.
  • I'm glad that I am able to be of assistance in this way but I don't go out of my way to look for funerals, they are hard for clergy too.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Too late!

Harvest hymn sung during our evening service recently contained the lines:

"Thine is our youthful prime,
And life and all its powers."

We sang it with an average age in the room of around 65.

We saw the funny side.

You a church? You can't come in!

Received an email today from some people who want to start a gospel church for those who like a more traditional service in Canterbury. After an intervention from the Cathedral their booking was cancelled two days before they were due to go live and they were told they are not allowed to book any of the (church-linked) school property that they were planning to use. Julian Clary, on the other hand, is allowed to play one of it's venues next week.


Thankfully they were able to arrange a new venue and will go ahead with the opening tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

My old gall...

...is now a fully fledged teacher, having yesterday finished her NQT year.

The girl did tremendous!

Giving Away Money - 4

We have gathered in most of the envelopes from "Burnham's Got Talents" and most of the results are in.

Drum roll...

We gave out eighty envelopes containing a tenner each and gave out the challenge to put those talents to work. Which means I was £800 down to begin with and silly as it might sound it felt like a big risk. And to be sure some of the envelopes haven't been returned and may never be. A quarter of the envelopes were returned with the ten pounds and nothing more - which I find quite amazing given that we spoke about the parable of the talents and the fate of the duff servant on the day it was given out. I got one note back telling me the point of the parable was to show that we could be trusted with small things in order to be entrusted with greater things - but simply returning the £10 too. Weird.

But, lots went for it as recorded previously in Giving Away Money -3. One man walked from Burnham-on-Sea to Bridgwater and another sponsored effort was a swim which the woman used to tell people why she was doing it and it gave her the chance to tell people about the church. There are some great stories amongst the feedback.

So we are currently in the position where - without having all the envelopes returned - we have turned £800 to just over £1500. I think it's more than likely that we will, like the good guys in the parable, double what we were entrusted with. Which is a fabulous effort. I'll post a final figure when we know it.