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Category Archives: Ministry

Intentionally doing church, intentionally being Christian

Thinking about how we do and be church, how we be Christians. One main issue of this is the intentionality of what we do, the practice of doing things and intending to do then. Setting out to do things with a purpose and an intention to do, and knowing why it is been done.

I would say this is as true in personal life as it is in the communal life of the church and of individual congregations.

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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab

 

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Christian values in the UK today…

Every so often there is a call in some of the press about the UK being a Christian nation, and that we should have Christian values. But then again there is also the saying to be careful for what you wish because you might just get it.

So at the end of a week when there is what I can only see as a created controversy over the inclusion or not of “Easter” in the name of some events. We have on the one hand those who say that it is all bad because some lumps of chocolate (wrapped in foil with pirates, robots and princesses on) that are hunted for don’t have the name Easter associated with them. As Mark Steel puts it “Theresa May is right: if we let someone drop ‘Easter’ off an egg hunt, we may as well hand Britain to the jihadis

But of course this is in the same week that the Churches raised the issues of child poverty and the effects changes in the benefits system on this. Of course this is not new, as the the item from the Joint Public Issues Team highlights, there have been a number of reports and items raised on this. Going back to 2015 there was the Enough campaign. And even further back the church has been raising such issues. What also surfaced for me this week was a piece in the Guardian where (the then) Victoria Coren defended the Bishops of the Church of England for standing up for children in the befits system – and this was back in 2012.

 

So what are Christian values, to me the latter set of standing up for the poor, the oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless. As it is put in the letter of James

26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

and then there is continual call in Deuteronomy about how we care for the widow, orphan and stranger, with just two examples below.

1018 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing.

2417 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.

So for me once we have sorted out what can be seen as core Christian values; as come from Jesus him self, and of course he then goes on to explain who a neighbour is

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26 He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 27 He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ 28 And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ (Luke 10:25-28)

And for who is my neighbour – Luke 10:25-37

 

Then we can try for the minor things like chocolate eggs…

 
 

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What do we sing

There is a long-held view that Methodism sings its faith, that the hymns sung Sunday by Sunday help to form what we know and think about God. This can be seen in the debate about hymn books and so forth, and the content. However there are far more hymns than those in a book, and new ones coming out after the book has been published.

However the Untied Methodist Church – in the US – has looked over the top hundred hymns and songs from CCLI and scored them to see how well the conform to Methodist doctrine and practice, the scores can be seen here.

Now as some one who leads worship, I have to say that such guidance is of help. However I do wonder if the tool being developed can also be applied to current, and historic material, and what that would show up. When looking at the criteria being used:

So I have to ask how many of our traditional hymns would meet these criteria, or is it only some verses. Hence when looking over time at some hymns we see that some verse are no longer sung.

I have to say that I like that some one is looking over the new material, but do we have to also do likewise with some of the older material?

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in Ministry, Worship

 

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The Priesthood of All Believers

Something to think about on a Monday morning

Theology Everywhere

by Catrin Harland

Last week, Roger Walton suggested that the very Methodist idea of social holiness, while perhaps originally concerned with the internal life of Methodist community, typically also finds meaningful expression within the sphere of social justice.

Another phrase with strong resonance for Methodists is ‘the Priesthood of all believers’. Being a ‘priesthood’ is rightly seen as emphasising a sense of community, but without losing that dimension, I want to suggest that this idea has often been too inward-focused, concerned to too great a degree with internal relationships, including between lay and ordained. Understood in the context of its biblical roots, I would suggest, it is a concept which has more missional potential, and should turn us outwards.

Luther, in speaking of the church as a priesthood[1], drew on 1 Peter 2:5 and 9. These, in turn, seem to derive in part from Exodus 19:6, where Israel’s…

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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab

 

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The political but not partisan

With all that’s going on at the moment, it is difficult to not just let my own views take over what I say in the pulpit. At times yes I need to give my own views and opinions… however these view need to be rooted in scripture and faith, and when preaching, when I

interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today [Ordinations service of the Singapore Methodist Church]

It is my place to let me get in the way of the message, but at times it can be hard. This thinking has been kicked off by others having similar issues, in this case David over at Beloved Spear, and how he is dealing with things in the US.

So now we wait and see, but keep in mind the teaching of Christ and ways of God.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Ministry

 

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The experience of all

When thinking about the world, and beyond that the whole of Creation. The term “fear” is often used in the Bible, a term of Fear of the Lord and so forth. Now having heard about this in a sermon last night, that true meaning of fear, the awe inspired one of this being well beyond what I can comprehend, then this morning I read this from Beloved Spear on “God-Fearin’ and Cosmic Horror” things then not made more sense, but put into words what I was thinking.

 

So let us take in the awesome nature of all, and stand in fear and wonder before it.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Ministry

 

Dressing the part

I’ve looked a little at how ministers appear as they do in the past, mainly to do with age. However I came across this today, which speaks of being dressed in a cassock and the the effect it had on the wearer. Also the fact that it is seen as a uniform, which is very much the reason I wear it, and that’s the answer to the question. Which is sometimes asked, and mainly when I’m ether wearing a clerical shirt and collar or in vestments. So I thought I’d put together some answers. Firstly however I’ll say that there is no required dress code for British Methodist Presbyters – however British Methodist Deacons being part of a religious order do have a uniform. However there is still the question of what to wear when “working”.

Why I tend to wear a clerical shirt and collar

Part of the ministers role is a public representative one; this means often being a public face on behalf of a local congregation or the wider church. And even today most people seem to recognise a clerical shirt and collar. So at the student lunch, or the church Coffee Morning I’ll wear it so folks can pick me out with ease. This also comes in useful when I’m around different parts of the circuit, people will see the collar and see a minister, and this can be the start of many conversations, a chance to reach out. So the shirt and collar to me is a uniform, something that signals to people what I am, and at times let them see the role rather than the person – much as with shop staff in uniform so you can spot them; a police man or a doctor in white coat.

Why I tend to wear vestments

So when leading services I can be seen at times wearing a black cassock, with white preaching bands, and sometimes a stole on.

So first the cassock, this was originally an overcoat, worn to cover up the every day clothes, and was till not that long ago standard outdoor wear for some clergy. I tend to wear a cassock to remind me that when leading worship I’m doing something out of the ordinary – and also to cover up the clothes I’m wearing be it smart or not. Also this presents a plain black image, so as not to distract with what I’m wearing. As one person put it, “It’s just a fancy boiler suit” and for me it is. It is something I put on to remind me of what I’m doing.

The preaching bands – the two strips of white cloth that hang down from my neck – are an extension of the clerical collar, and in part related to the neck tie. I tend to wear this as one would wear tie, to finish the outfit off. Also it is part of the traditional dress of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers, and acts as an expression of me placing my self within this traditions.

Finally the stole – the scarf like item – is one of the traditional symbols of ordination, and something shared with the wider church. This tends to be why I mainly wear it when leading sacramental service (Baptism and a the Lord’s Supper), or other special services (high days, weddings and funerals and so forth). Also the colour relates to the season of the year;

  • White for celebration – Christmas and Easter
  • Purple for penitence – Advent and Lent
  • Red for the Holy Spirit – Pentecost and times of renewal
  • Green for the rest of the time.

So part of why I dress as I do is to express a link with the wider church, and with the church tradition of which I’m a part. However there are also practical considerations, in not distracting and appearing in a respectable manner. Though as said, there is no right or wrong way for a Methodists minister to dress, and the verity of clothing that can be seen on ministers is as varied as the ministers.

If you would like further history of how some Methodist ministers have dressed; then Norman Wallwork’s “Blackbirds and Budgerigars” might be of interest.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Ministry, Seen by the outside

 

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