Tuesday, 31 August 2010

More popcorn Vicar?

Very excited about a series we are running in the local cinema from next Monday. On the first Monday of every month we are showing a film in the local cinema and inviting people to discuss it's themes afterwards. As well as getting us to think about what we watch, we get to see some great films on the big screen - as God intended. We'll try it for four months and see if people show up. The worst that can happen is that we lose a bit of money.

Next week we start with Disney Pixar's Up, which we are showing in 3D. Having seen the film on DVD I am really looking forward to seeing it bigger and in an extra dimension. Will probably blog further as I think about it over the next week. In October we will show The Truman Show - another film I don't think I have seen on the big screen, in November it's Changing Lanes and then we will kick off the Christmas season with It's a Wonderful Life.

It's very exciting to have a digital projector in our small town and an independent cinema owner who is so cooperative. More to follow no doubt!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Xpedition Force

This is one of the most tiring and stretching weeks of the year. It is also one of the most rewarding and enjoyable ones too. It's Holiday Club week.
We have 60 kids each morning for the usual games, songs, stories, craft and bad jokes. As usual, one of the things I love most is the way we work together so well as a team - there are probably nearly 30 of us helping out in different ways.
One of those is the retired signwriter who puts together the scenery - which changes each day as we progress up the mountain. This is what it looked like this morning. Don't worry, the church building isn't on fire, it's low cloud supplied by a smoke machine. This afternoon it had already changed again ready for tomorrow!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Adam Stansfield piece in the Daily Mirror today

There was a moving (and long) piece in the Daily Mirror today about Adam Stansfield written by Oliver Holt. http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/opinion/columnists/oliver-holt/Why-players-like-Exeter-s-Adam-Stansfield-have-a-connection-with-fans-that-the-rootless-millionaires-of-the-Premier-League-never-will-Oliver-Holt-Column-article562879.html

One of the things that I think it highlights is the sense of connection that you get with supporting a smaller club rather than being distantly yoked to a Premiership outfit.

On a lighter note, did you know that Oliver Holt's mum is the actress that played Emily Bishop in Corrie? Me neither.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Spooky Birthday

Today is my birthday. I spent some of it at the church's holiday club where I am helping out. It was going well until, when asked to guess my age, one of the ten year olds said 60. And then kept going down in intervals of two years. We got there - reasonably quickly.

Should I be concerned that on my birthday the second hand of my watch fell off?

Top tune of the day is the very appropriate "Older" by TMBG. It should be available to listen to on the link in the top right hand corner.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Exeter City 2 Bristol Rovers 2

It was always going to be about much more than football as Exeter resumed their season by playing their first game since the death of striker Adam Stansfield. The club made a good job of marking the occasion without going over the top. Particularly moving was the way that the away fans started the minutes applause before Barry Fulls even had a chance to finish the announcement - they were a credit to their club.

The game itself was much better than you might expect for such an emotional charged match. Exeter took an early lead through Nardiello who then limped off later in the half. Rovers always looked dangerous and were level at half-time through Kuffour who was a handful throughout. Duffy was sent off for City within minutes of the restart for bringing down the last man and when Rovers took the lead a few minutes later it looked like it was going to end in defeat for Exeter. O'Flynn (the second new signing to score today) impressed throughout though and with fifteen minutes to go scored a penalty to earn a point. A good result considering Exeter played with 10 men for half the game.

A deserved draw, City are looking strong on this showing and once the team settles (they were without Harley and Taylor today - arguably their best players) we should be safe from the last match of the season nerves that we had last year when a goal ten minutes from time kept us up. If we keep this side - and more importantly this manager, I predict mid-table with a sniff at the play-offs which is never quite realised.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Mirror Mirror

Must make mention of a terrific book that I read on holiday. Mirror, Mirror is a book on self-image written for a primarily Christian audience. Its basic premise is reasonably simple. We tend to get our self-image from what we think people or our culture think of us and so are prey to the vagaries of fashion, mood-swings, passed comments and the like. While that is one mirror that we use, Graham points out that there is a truer mirror in knowing what the Bible says we are like. If this is true then we can live stable and secure lives rather than be blown around by whatever is going on any particular day because we know who we really are.

The book is well illustrated and really well applied – it’s a really practical book. And timely. Self-image is a massive issue for teens (amongst others!) and I guess I have become very aware of this through being more involved with this age group recently. All I seem to hear is self-image from this age group to the point that I fear some will follow Christ so long as he makes them feel good about themselves. But what happens when suffering and persecution come along? What happens when they feel rough and down on themselves or when they realise what a mess they really are?

These are not exclusively teenage problems and I don’t harbour the illusion that I am fully worked out and balanced. Most of us are self-absorbed to an unhealthy degree, some even blog about themselves like they are at all important! But this is a book that will be useful to work through with the teens I am working with and I am looking forward to using it with them.

Holiday Club

Back to work, back to reality. We’re back in Somerset and already preparing for the madness and mayhem that is Holiday Club which starts next week. Really looking forward to it, it’s always a great week and we have 64 kids signed up, a few less than previous years. The theme this year is Xploration Force – aimed at dyslexic adventurous types – and so we are busy copying resources, planning programmes and learning lines. I have been given the part of a grumpy and bad-tempered character in the drama – I know, but I’ll manage it somehow...

Five Years

It’s surprising how much stuff you can accumulate in five years, hence the grand clear out. Family recollections differ about the actual date but five years ago we packed our stuff and headed west. Now, after about 500 sermons and talks, who knows how many meetings, and not enough visits, we feel more widely loved and supported and being here feels less strange, comfortable even. Whether this means we are simply used to the situation or have become strange and therefore fit in is for others to judge.

Looking at the church now and then, things have changed a great deal. A lot of good people have worked hard to see this happen and we have had a very encouraging year with people becoming Christians and being baptised. Hope these are the first of many. A mark of the change is that we are taking part in Back to Church Sunday next month and I, for one, feel much more confident in inviting people to a service than I would have previously. More on this in due course.

Moving On

We came back to spend three busy days sorting rubbish and charity shop runs as we tidied the house ready for the estate agents to come and take pictures of the house. We should be on the market in a few days time. We are not planning on leaving on Burnham but the church has decided it is time to move the Manse to a more suitable property. This will be a good move, the kitchen is tiny and there is no downstairs loo which means we cannot actually have some of our more frail members of the church around for food. Would love to be in a new place by Christmas but these things usually move very slowly, so will have to be patient.

Adam Stansfield

We came back to England to rain on the runway and a decidedly cooler temperature on the day that Adam Stansfield, Exeter City’s number 9, lost his battle with cancer. So desperately sad to see a 31 year old, who was still playing in March, die so young. He was diagnosed in April with bowel cancer after suffering stomach cramps and leaves behind three children. The team was told straight after the game they had played against Ipswich that evening. Terribly, terribly, sad and it puts the game of football into perspective.

Exeter’s game at Dagenham was postponed at the opposition’s suggestion – a gracious act. Which means that the home game against Bristol Rovers on Saturday is scheduled to be the first game after Adam’s passing. We ordered tickets before going on holiday and I want to be there and I don’t want to be there.

Adam’s funeral is on Wednesday at Exeter Cathedral.

Church - "French" style

Went to a church in France and upon finding it was a little disappointed to find it was a service in English for a completely ex-pat congregation. Apparently we’d shown up for their monthly most formal service. Another shame.

Frankly it was probably a good experience for me to be bored in a church, it doesn’t happen much. When lots of the service is sung and you aren’t in on the tune they always use then it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. At no point in the service was any mention of the world or the country outside made. We could have been in England had the weather outside not been a giveaway. It did make me wonder how many of our churches are happy to go through the motions and play church while the rest of the world goes about its business unaware and unaffected.

The sermon was ten minutes long and should have been shorter. The preacher contradicted one of the readings at one point during the sermon – though I don’t think they even realised – and missed a great opportunity to expound on a wonderful passage of the gospel. Instead we just got some rambling reflections on what faith is. I didn’t need their opinions, I needed to know what Jesus said. Sadly, I didn’t get that.

I feel mean being this blunt – they were lovely people and this being a French congregation the coffee was fantastic. But it was a timely experience for me. I had read Bill Hybel’s book “Holy Discontent” earlier in the holiday. Basically he advises discovering what winds you up to the point of you having to do something about it. He reckons we all have something that we are driven to do something about in this world and I think mine is about wanting church to be interesting and accessible and creative and showing that the gospel is relevant to everyone today. I appreciate that people like different styles and approaches but in church here I felt alienated and it felt that someone had done their best to hide God. And I think the vast majority of my friends would feel the same way.

Which is why I do what I do.

Rant over. Sorry.

Highwire Days

Never been more frightened. Only 20 metres up but was plenty high enough of me. Was only there to support daredevil daughter. When she said she was scared I knew it must be bad. Wife thought I was going to have a heart attack and only on later reflection did it occur that I didn’t see anyone older on the course all day. File under “Will NEVER do this again”. Not in France, not nowhere.


Long time, no posts, so let’s catch up. We have been away on holiday for the best part of three weeks and I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed being away from the computer and the internet.

We had two great weeks in France. The first week was spent in a converted barn in the middle of nowhere. It was a fantastically relaxing place to be and we slept a great deal which I think we all needed. The second week was in less good surroundings but we met some lovely people and were ready to communicate again so that was good. Lots of days out, plenty of baguette, cheese and red wine, some games of Risk, sleep and reading books – a terrific time.