Sunday, 22 November 2009

This is not a show

The trouble with this blogging lark is that there is a tremendous sense of the need to be profound every time you write. And I can't. So there. And as a result this is just a chat.

We are still continuing our thinking about expanded and de-religioned priesthood at church; still dreaming big and discussing. I am sure I will write about that again some time.

BUT in amongst things I managed to download this new REM recording recently.

Now some of you may know I am a bit of an REM fan- my daughter is called Rhiannon Emma Moody for a reason. I even have my own REM fantasy, which brings together a past as an English teacher; a frustration at not realising an ambition to write and a certain desire to pursue not fame as such, but quirky notoriety. I day dream about visiting Athens, Georgia, where REM are from, and in a coffee booth in an obscure coffee shop coming across Michael Stipe with a notebook and pen. I wander over, all nonchalant-like and say 'Hey Michael, how do you do?' being English and all. We get chatting because of course he turns out to be a 'very nice man' and the conversation turns to his notebook. He explains he is stuck for a line in his new song. And I suggest, being an ex English teacher and with experience of teaching Ted Hughes at GCSE, that maybe I could have a look at it. I suggest a line. Michael smiles warmly and scribbles it down and soon after we take our leave of each other. When the CD comes out, there is my line in the song with a 'sleevenote' (this is clearly not a download) that says, 'Thanks for the coffee Steve'.

I am now pausing and enjoying this.

Anyway that is by the way. I was going to say that I really like this new live recording. It begins with Michael Stipe saying 'This is not a Show'. It is a unique record of a live rehearsal as new songs are tried out; there is a lot of chat and a lot of old songs are dealt out in good humour and by means of a treat for those who have come to help at the rehearsal. It feels like family.
It is warm, human, and entirely lovely.

I think.

BUT the 'This is not a Show!' bit has been living with me these past weeks. That certainly fits in with what we are struggling to shape at our church. It is easy to think that the whole thing boils down to 'The Sunday Show', which leaves most of us as consumers and generally unsatisfied ones at that. So how to meet, and be and worship and serve together in such a way that reflects the Jesus who is at the centre of everything and the project of the Kingdom of God. Somehow it has to be about more than a performance for God. I am hearing the words 'This is not a Show' otherwise to the way that REM are saying them. This is not a show, nor is it a rehearsal; this is life.

And I have fallen into saying something that purports to significance again. But this is only a chat. Right? This is not a show...

Monday, 26 October 2009


Thanks for those of you who helped me think through priesthood for Sunday morning. It would be great to have your feedback if you were here on Sunday morning- or if you really want to, you can find a podcast here:

I am particulalry interested now in following through on thinking about worship in the light of this discussion on priesthood and in the light of Old Testament teaching about true fasting as serving the poor. Somehow the endgame has to be about more than singing. I am trying hard to work though putting a justice agenda, a world transforming agenda at the centre of church life. I guess to me the incarnation is a big part of my thinking around this. The book Exiles by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch goes some way to addressing this. What does it mean that Christ is fully God and fully human? What is this tentative balance between humanity- the accessible and everyday and the divine- distintive and transforming?

On a different tack, it has been great to walk to work recently through autumnal leaf storms. This is a beautiful time of year. Funny how much of natural beauty is expressed at times of change. Just a thought...

And finally, for those who are interested and indulgently, hope again from Anfield yesterday. I am very pessimistic when it comes to these games, but it is great to be proven wrong. I always thought Benitez was just being sporting and giving the others a head start. Hoping for the tortoise success in April next year...

Have a good day...


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Begin the begin

I have been spending some time thinking where to begin. There is something awesome and terrifying about beginning. It makes a declaration; it puts you 'out there'; it is exposing and fragile.

In the end I decided to begin with a few words- after all that is how everything began we believe; it is how everything begins and remains. A few powerful words, 'Let there be...'. I wonder how exposing, and terrifying that moment was.

Anyway here we are blogdom, the blogosphere. I aim to write from time to time, some things thoughtful, some silly, some persoanl, some detached, some very mundane. It's a kind of getting to know each other place; a thinking place; and I hope a praising place.

A couple of things I am doing today. This evening I am speaking at a prize day for a secondary school. It's been quite a striuggle thinking of something to say. I have been through all the inspiration stuff and then came to a point when I realised that most of that was about making the most of yourself. We live in days when I am not sure whether that challenge is enough. To misquote an American, maybe we should not be asking what the world can do for us, but asking what we can do for the world, or to refer to a middle eastern, we should be concerned not only with loving ourselves but loving our neighbour, loving others as we love ourselves. Someone pointed me to the video below the other day. I think that is what I mean.

The other thing is I am preparing for Sunday morning. I am thinking about being priests and then realised I did not know entirely what the word means. Tell me what do you undertsand by the word 'priest'?

Talk soon...