Wednesday 24 March 2010


I've been reading Yevgeny Zamyatin's wonderful, 'We'. The book is a fantastic otherworldly, vision of a future planet where the laws of nature, God and love have been replaced by equations and mathematical laws. The book apparently inspired George Orwell to write, 1984 and Aldous Huxley to write, Brave New World.

In it the central character, D-503, begins to rediscover what life is meant to be. Through a series of experiences his horizons are broadened and what he once took for granted becomes confusing and meaningless.

There is a section of the book where a seemingly great rebellious act has taken place against the Benefactor (the ruler of the land). D-503's world is thrown into further turmoil as he struggles to know who to identify with. At one point he writes in his journal,

"I'd long ago lost track of who was they and who was we."

D-503's dilemma speaks into questions I have about identity, about what it means to be church, about what it means to be in community. I need to spend some time dealing with this, but not yet. I need to finish reading the novel first.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Apt liturgy, simplicity, complexity and the life of faith

Not got much time now, need family time, but will have to write more on this tomorrow, but just to say, this evening was fantastic. John's college, Durham hosted the annual Michael Vasey lecture where Bishop Steven Croft spoke about the role of liturgy in the life of a mixed economy church.

It was exciting to hear an Anglican bishop speak about what Ann Morisy calls apt liturgies and their place within the ever-evolving mixed economy of the Anglican church. It was also very exciting to hear Bishop Steven speak about five roles of liturgy.

There was much to think about from this lecture. Very engaging.

As more than just an aside, tonight I bumped into my old vicar at Holy Trinity Ripon, Revd. David Mann. We've not seen each other since I left Ripon in 2001, but it was great to see him again. He led the Alpha course in 1999 where I first encountered Jesus and started my faith journey as a Christian. When I left Ripon in 2001 I was still incredibly spiritually immature (even more so than now) and to see him was great as it some how connected some dots, helped to build up a picture of faith as a journey, and the encounters we have on that journey. Last time I saw him I was preparing to leave college and was not deeply rooted in my faith. This time, I'm training for ministry.

A pertinent reminder that sometimes we don't see what happens to the seeds we sow in ministry. Exciting stuff.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

I'm sorry but....

This evening I attended a memorial service for those who have had miscarriages or still births in the recent past. The service was led by the chaplaincy team from the University Hospital of North Durham. A Catholic chaplain and an Anglican chaplain led a single service that carried the weight of many tensions and was a vehicle for the expression of grief. An incredibly powerful service; so much so that to analyse the service would be to do it an injustice.

What I will say is that I was immensely privileged to be at a service, I grieved with the other members of the congregation and I took great comfort in seeing two ordained priests bearing the tension, pain and integrity of the occasion on their shoulders.

The Anglican chaplain's homily followed the reading of 1 Corinthians 13 and began with words something like, ""I'm sorry but......", "I'm sorry but........", where ever and however we heard that phrase, it changed everything, whether we'd had an inkling that something was wrong, or that everything seemed to be going well, after hearing those words, everything changed."

I was broken by the sermon delivered beautifully and eloquently by Rev. Kevin Tromans, and from his opening words I was taken back to the scan room where Clare and I were told we'd miscarried. For all the pain, the grief and woe Christ was there. Christ was with us and our little one and Christ was with those who attended the memorial service.

What services like these do to the concept of 'mission' is twist it to breaking and stamp all over it. From special care baby units to mumblings in a lonely chapel 'mission' speaks more loudly for itself than can be imagined. I am being challenged in ways I hadn't expected to be. I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit to pray for the work of maternity wards and special care baby units and I intend to do so.