Thursday, 18 June 2009

We had to put our cat Misty down yesterday.He was 19 years We had him for 9 years in South Africa and 10 years in the UK. Affectionate to the end. We really wished he would have passed away naturally. This is really the tough side of having pets

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Funding of hospital chaplains attacked

On Monday’s BBC “One Show” retiring agony aunt Claire Rayner attacked the government funding of hospital chaplains. She added that she was mystified regarding the actual roles of the chaplains.

This prompted (at the last count) 100 postings on the One Show Blog. It was interesting to see that about two thirds of the responses support the chaplaincy. This included people outside faith groups who said they valued the support during difficult moments.

Critics were aghast at the NHS funding of clergy. Many saw church organisations as being prosperous!! Some put chaplains in the same category as the MP scandal and demanded the monitoring of expenses. No doubt this will elicit a series of confessions about clergy second manses, four figure restaurant accounts and moats around the church property!!!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

The Trinity and the Coffee Shop

I Love this picture of Andrei Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity. Is it possible to imagine the trio sitting around a table at Starbucks?
Every sweep of the paint brush resonates with symbolism.
The Father is on the right. He is adorned with different colours which change with light, He cannot be confined.
The son is wearing garments reflecting the link between heaven and earth. Reddish brown symbolises the earth. The blue cloak suggests heaven.
The Holy Spirit is in blue and fragile green garments. Often he meets us without our recognition.
In the background is a hill of prayer and a house of hospitality. A tree represents the death to life nature of the resurrection
The relationship flows in an anticlockwise fashion from father to Spirit and is channelled into the space at the table.
The object of all the energy is humankind.
I look at the coffee outlet, product highly visible to the world, offering a seven day hospitality.
I wonder if sometimes, the energy within church life has been used up in another direction?

Sunday, 31 May 2009

New Community Hall Kokstad Natal

The Hall largely funded from donations from Caverham Heights and Great Ayton Methodist Churches. The hall will provide facilities for primary health care and a centre for young people.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Serving up a grande passion

On a sunny morning my golden retriever Fergus enjoys nothing more than a little alfresco styled fellowship and fuss at a table outside our local coffee shop.

Arranging a coffee in the company of Fergus is quite a strategic operation. Last summer he followed me into the shop with a table securely attached to his lead.

However this time the barista saw my predicament. She told me to sit down, brought the coffee and water for Fergus. I was then surprised and delighted when she refused to take any money. Instead complimented Fergus on his good looks!!!

"Surprise and delight" is a core value being adopted by many companies. Michelli in his book The Starbucks Experience accounts how baristas in a America have gone out of their way to create opportunities to do random acts of kindness.

  • Memorising customer details such as their pet's name.

  • Serving up coffees to a parting business. Then alerting another outlet of the arrival of the business in a new neighbourhood.
I was intrigued to discover that the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist church have got into the act. Radical hospitality is one of their five core values. I quote from. The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase Abingdon Press 2007

Radical means "drastically different from the ordinary practice, outside the normal," and so it provokes practices that exceed expectations, that go the second mile, that take welcoming the stranger to the max. It means people offering the absolute utmost of themselves, their creativity, their abilities, and their energy to offer the gracious invitation and reception of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.

Considering our British reserve some would write this off as too risky or even too naive.

However I believe many people are looking for authentic evidence of faith lived out in community rather than what is often regarded as the cloistered experience of Sunday worship.

The good news is that hospitality is not an acquired skill, it's an attitude. It's a brew of the soul. It's a cup easily served .

Is it going to be tall, grande or massimo?

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Starbucks and encounters of a third kind!

Michael Frost in his book Exiles mentions the idea that people need "third place"environments to meet, develop friendships, discuss issues and interact with others. The "first place" is home where we live. The "second place" is the work place. For many people, home is a place of privacy and withdrawal and work is a highly pressurised environment.

The subject was discussed at a recent Mission Shaped Ministry workshop (Southhampton). A number of us (I am pleased to say!) suggested that Starbucks Costas etc were good "third place" environments

Some who attended the course ruefully commented that church should be an ideal "third place" However the busy life of maintaining church a organisation had to a degree pushed out this "third place" environment lessening the focus on interaction, relationship and conversations about faith.

Should we be looking for modifications in our church programme or should we be hunting for a "fourth place?"