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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rejoice Rejoice Immanuel shall come to thee

Sorry it's been a bit quiet here recently. Facebook is rather taking over my online life.
Today we had a wonderful time at Church for Advent Sunday because:
1)We had a guest preacher, Canon Andy Knowles from Chelmsford Cathedral, who is excellent. His reflections on the prophetic function of the fig tree were stimulating relevant and at times funny. ( I know you'll find that hard to believe if you weren't there, but there you go).
2) The chalice is back (though of course we got a bit caught off guard by the large turnout (it was a benefice service)and nearly ran out of bread and wine).
3) We had a Blue Peter style Advent wreath which was fab.
4) We had 2 ordinands ("home and away") in the congregation (and to ours for lunch).

Only one thing took me by surprise today - the map of Israel behind the words for "O Come O Come Immannuel" on the screen ...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

5 deeply de Christian doctrines

So many people have been responding to this tag recently its hard to come up wuth anything original, but I did say i would respond to Phil's tag so here goes. They're not really tuaght doctrines as much as doctrinal assumptions from what we sing or say in Church.

1. "The rich man in his castle
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high or lowly
and ordered their estate."
NO - HE DIDN'T ORDER IT, WE DID! Fortunately we don't sing this any more unless the funeral director is particularly inept (which mine aren't), but sometimes I feel the sentiment is there in conversations, for example, about travellers or why no one from the estate comes to church.

2. "The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes".
OK so he was breastfed, but even those babies cry sometimes!

3. "Christian Children all must be mild obedient good as he."
This is an interesting one; it is not un-Christian to aim for a situation in which children are focussed on Christ as their moral and ethical role model. What is de-Christian about this hymn is that i'm not sure that singing those words with gustio are the best way of going about that aim.

4. "The young people are the church of tomorrow". I get so angry about this that I will just let it stand.

5.All-age worship isn't really church though is it (see no,4)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

“You Twit Face”

Not an insult, but actually the name of a seminar at last summer’s New Wine conference, examining the impact of social networking Internet websites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Whether we like it or not, the Internet and mobile phones are increasingly playing a role in how people build communities. I am on Facebook, (are you?) Along with a billion people a day, I use YouTube a fair amount (you can use if for useful things like instructions on how to service an Aga, as well as trivial stuff like how to make a rocket with Coca-cola and mints), but I draw the line at Twitter. I suppose we all have our limits!

As I write, staff at the Royal Mail have voted to strike. One of the aspects of the dispute between postal workers and management seems to me to be that the former still have a understanding of the important role they play in communities, in bringing personal communication and information to the sizeable proportion of the population who don’t use the internet, while the latter build their statistics imagining that everyone in Britain is texting and emailing all day every day.

But we are not. Even though there are all sorts of useful things to be found on the Internet (even churches), and even though I enjoy catching up with people I don’t see very often as well as those I do, through Facebook, none of these things are a sufficient substitute for real face-to-face community.

Would Jesus be on Facebook? Perhaps he would, but he’d be one of those people who don’t write much, because his message is simple, “God wants you in his community”. That’s why God didn’t show his love for us by being remote and distant, but by coming to live on earth as a man, and experiencing the joys sorrows pain and celebration of human communities.

Through the advent of Jesus into the world, the whole world was redeemed. Or to put it in the words of Gregory of Nazanius, a fourth century Christian teacher, “That which God did not assume, he did not redeem”. At the end of this month we begin our journey to Christmas in the season of Advent. Countless generations of villagers here have taken that journey; it is part of the heritage of our community. It might be happening all over the world via the Internet, but we can do it together, face-to-face, here. Do join us for our special Advent Sunday benefice service at Stebbing on November the 29th at 11am, when our preacher will be Canon Andrew Knowles, Canon theologian of Chelmsford Cathedral.

And if I do put this letter on Facebook, it won’t be until after the magazine is published!

With blessings and prayers for Remembrancetide and Advent