Saturday, 2 August 2008

Prayers for Trinity

Another post to the People of Trinity:

Today in the mail I received the copy of the entire directory of WHO you are! Just as Holly promised it would, it arrived here shortly after I asked for it and now I can begin to get to know you - at least names and households!

Now I can begin to pray for you!

There are A LOT of you!! Hooray for that! With each name comes first the image of God in which you are created; then a specific, unique story of your life (no matter how long or short); and finally a spiritual autobiography that brings you, Trinity, and me together in this time and place - there are also nuanced and complex faith journeys, beliefs, theologies, and experiences of God. How amazing is God that all this happens - and amazing the computer, internet, and technology that we can do it over distance!

One of my very favorite things about people (or pastoral) ministry - lay and ordained - is that we have the privilege of hearing, sharing, and being shaped by the real life stories of other people. I want to hear YOUR life story. I want to know why Trinity is your church home. I want begin to listen deeply to who God is in your life. And I hope to do alot of that ... listening ... in my first several months in Reno.

Please please be open and willing to share with me.

In the meantime, I'll pray for a portion of the directory every day and hope that you'll continue to pray for me and Joe (as I know you have been). And, as you pray for the personal, local and global concerns you have in the world as well; please remember to pray for those who have no one to pray for them.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Welcome People of Trinity

Today is the first day (or so) that people from Trinity Church, Reno NV are probably reading this blog ... so WELCOME!!
You are very welcome to my blog.
If you are from Trinity and have found your way here it's hopefully because you read about it in my letter in the August newsletter.

You know already that I am very excited to be coming to be your new rector ... that I feel very deeply called to be with you and your parish at this time and feel I fit in a very specific way to the Parish Profile and the very prayerful work of your Discernment Team.

Together with them, your Vestry seems to agree, and although I haven't met the rest of you, I hope you will feel the same way too.

In the earlier pages of the blog I was trying to create a way for people like your Discernment Team to get to know me, a little bit about Joe my spouse/partner, and what our time here in England (particularly my ministry with the Church of England) and where we live is like. There are 2 "slideshows" that you can watch, and several entries with photos of some of our trips.

You'll also notice there's a HUGE gap in writing ... why?? Well, after being invited to visit Reno as one of the "final four" life got very busy and hectic in preparing for the visit (which included a week home in Santa Barbara). Then after returning to England and accepting the call to Trinity, life has become even more hectic ... but I hope that what you'll see is a bit of a "taster" (or introduction, as they say here) to me.

Please feel to post a comment or write on my email which I've given you as well.
With long distance blessings til we meet in September,
-- Stefani

Monday, 5 May 2008

Women Bishops in CofE

Our Manchester Bishop, Nigel McCullogh (above, at a Mother's Union gathering in York Cathedral) chairs the group which just announced its report. He says, “The central issue for the Church of England, as our report points out, is the extent to which the Church wishes to accommodate the breadth of theological views that it currently encompasses in relation to women priests and bishops. Against that background, we have set out the three broad approaches which the Church of England could take if it wishes to move towards ordaining women bishops.”

The three approaches set out by the Legislative Drafting Group are:

* The simplest national statutory approach with no binding national arrangements;
* Legislation that would provide some basis for special arrangements for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops, such arrangements to be made within the present structures of the Church of England;

* Legislation that would create new structures within the Church of England for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops.

You can read the whole of it here .

Friday, 2 May 2008

Friday Five

On the Rev Gal Pals blog this week, Sally asks the Friday Five questions:

Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....

So how do you wait and pray?

1. How do you pray best, alone or with others?
Both - in silence I like especially like feeling the rich weight of quiet with others. I've enjoyed the peace of a Quaker meeting alot at different points in my life. Recently I've been struck by the beautiful silence of a few homebound parishioners following receiving Holy Communion. One older gentleman often has tears running down his face and and talks about feeling closer to his deceased wife when we share bread and wine together.
On my own, I was particularly good at praying in the car while driving the highways of Los Angeles. Often feeling/receiving an experience of the touch of God (literally) through the windshield.

2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety?
NOT a patient person, but in general I enjoy anticipation of an event. In earlier days probably spent more time in unmet expectations than I do now (after a good dose of therapy). If waiting can be spent productively or constructively living into the future I'm really enjoying it.

3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise?
Hmmm ... Moving through the length and width of a denominational ordination promise was probably the the time for me. Although feeling supported by God through it and with some pretty amazing co-discerners (lots of time with one group listening) made the promise worth going through some of the difficulties.

4. Do you prefer stillness or action?
Again - Both! To be able to sit in quiet (at a 7 day centering prayer retreat) for hours each day meant the joy of walking in the mountains with wind rushing through silver birch trees was that more savored. In worship - to be able to move in procession AND sit peacefully for prayers feels just right.

5. If ( and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to recieve?
Just ONE!?!?! I am always amazed at the power of touch in laying on of hands but never can be sure of "effectiveness" of the healing; so to be able to KNOW that laying on of hands would be curative - especially for people with chronic, debillitating illness - is something I'd like to "receive". But not for people to go on living forever, laying on of hands for a peaceful passage through death would be as important and valuable.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

JD's Conference!!

Today, 1 May or May 1, has been on the calendar for almost one year as the first day of JD's important international conference. And he's DONE it! I'm so proud. I got to be official "hospitality" - sort of like "First Lady to the Conference Organizer" and to meet face-to-face all the people he'd been in email contact and conversation was truly delightful.

It was a lovely - absolutely spring-like - day in Manchester and the Uni outdid itself in giving us a beautiful room in the old central building. People were put in a good mood from the moment they began walking up the historic stone staircase. Everyone had arrived safely and without incident from various places around the world: India, Australia, the US, as well as throughout the UK (and Europe) and represented Uganda, Ethiopia, China, as well. There were MA and PhD students, professors, bishops all in the same room talking and sharing ideas in papers and informally over tea and lunch. Many great friendships were begun I'm sure.

Check this for details ... and go back again for more good things as photos and short papers will be posted to the site.

JD is "dancing the jig on the inside" as we say whenever he's completely chuffed (that's excited in England)! No doubt Friday will be more of the same.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Tonight's Movie

JD and I LOVED tonight's movie "Once" about a busker (street musician) and a Eastern European girl ... a love story, but not your typical one; a love of music is first and foremost their love, and friendship together.

We're a little late to view it; the song won at 2008 Academy Awards but STILL it was great. A movie full of heart and emotion, and HOPE (one of my themes here). It was a bit slow getting started but then you love it and we both cried at the end.

New bishops in Manchester

"Two for the price of one" was how one dignitary welcomed TWO - not just one but two - new bishops to the Church of England Diocese of Manchester ... our temporary Anglican home on Sunday 27 April at a special welcoming service and evensong at the Cathedral.

It's quite an event, I guess, to have two at the same time. They were consecrated in York by Archbishop Sentamu on Friday, then officially seated in the Cathedral and welcomed on Sunday.

It was a lovely service - if a bit long ... with lots of dignitaries (most of the local mayors beside Manchester's with their gold chains) as well as Canons, etc. and of course Bp Nigel grinning now that he's got 2 bishops and the diocese is running fully staffed again. Our area bishop will be Mark of Middleton who is the youngest Bishop in all of Church of England. He'll be here in Gorton on 7 June to install our new Team Rector.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sunday at St James, Gorton

This week I was at the closest church of the 3 -- St James. Let me introduce you to the place and people ...

Sunday at St Philip's, Gorton

After St James, I walked to St Philip's the next closest church ... they had finished their liturgy (which a colleague had led). You can see there are different characters to the two churches; and there's a third I didn't get to this week.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

My Gorton Neighborhood

Here's a walk around my Gorton neighborhood .. won't you join me?? (there are about 50 photos and it takes about 3 minutes to watch.

Happy Saturday & Happy Orthodox Easter

A photo of JD and me just outside our garden wall and side pathway with St James Church in the background. My mom took this on her trip here in May 2007 - although it does look like winter - it was a cold rainy summer last year.

LATER I had my hair "done" (not this photo) at a local shop (just 20 steps away) and my hairdresser Marie reminded me that this evening is Greek Orthodox' Great Vigil (11 pm) and Easter Liturgy (1 AM). So Happy Easter to my Orthodox sisters and brothers!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Friday Five

Singing Owl on Rev Gal Pal Blogs asked this week's Friday Five:

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live
without? Electricity ! Which runs so much of what I take for granted ... I'd love to be able to produce my own however with solar and/or wind generation!

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?
Why? Nothing really .. it's what we humans do with the devices that are the problem, isn't it? Anything that can be used for evil, or make us "crazy" (which I think is the subtext here) had at one time a good and proper use. However, from time to time on public transport here in the UK, I'd wish there was a "MUTE" button on people using their mobile (cell phone) around me!

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If
so, do you use it (them)? hmmm older than a CD player ... no; and only one due to a student budget, otherwise it would be more probably. OOPS - just realized we do have a tiny electric radio in the kitchen but that's because we're in England.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something
else? Probably a mix, as above, it's what we do with things that scares me but the amazing creativity of making things smaller and smaller (ie technologies) - that is exciting. Thinking of what it means to be a scientist these days is a challenge that our theology hasn't caught up with in many cases.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus
points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process. Living without a car puts you in touch with some of this; not to romanticize our forebears but there is something about being closer to the people around you - not being insulated - that is humanizing. Although it takes a lot to do when the people around you are not like yourself (ie the immigration and changing ethnic/religious demographic). How to bring it back ?? Probably through lots and lots of relationship building : talking casually with people is impossible in cars, but on foot or public transport it happens more naturally. Making the environments where casual talking, milling around, "doing" something without purpose - all that can start to be a way to regain what I'd describe as "knowing one's neighbor" which needs to happen before you can begin to "love your neighbor."

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Baptisms - all the time

Here in the Church of England, unlike The Episcopal Church, we do baptisms ALL the time! Usually in the 3 churches I serve, we try to limit them to once a month. Here I am with one of the baptismal candidates and his parents. What a beautiful smile-y face he has, big rosy cheeks, and that sailor suit - absolutely precious! His name is "Alfie". The sermon I preached that morning used the 5 letters of his name to teach about God, the church, and baptism.

A is for the Alpha and Omega - for our Amazing God
L is for Life - the miracle of new life in baptism, and Love of mother and father
F is for Family - the birth family, godparents, and all the Christian family
I is for "I" - each one of us and the pieces that make us who we are
E is for Example - everyone at the service this morning is meant to be an example.

God bless Alfie (his baptism was just about one year ago...)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

faith story

Here's a fabulous "opinion" piece from Episcopal LIFE Online about a young woman in Princeton and her encounter with a college worker - chaplain - and the change in her life. It is reflective and points the way to where the Episcopal Church can be meeting the needs of young adults.

Read "A different kind of truth: College student falls in love with Anglicanism" and I hope you'll agree.
BTW - Paul Farmer's book "Mountains beyond Mountains" is still a great book and has had a profound effect on JD's family (esp one niece in coming to her vocation.)
Would that we all could have this kind of effect on a young person's life? Perhaps we can! Why shouldn't we all be able to listen and share out of our own experience??

Friday, 18 April 2008

Friday Five

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...

1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?
Dramatically ? hmmm .. perhaps be in better shape so I could endure without sleeping for those 24 hours.

2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?
This would be a toss up between the beauty of the Florida Keys and the fantastic urban life of Paris. If there is some place out there that combines both of those I'd love to know of it.

3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...
Not necessarily doing someone else's job - but I'd love to be able to play a musical instrument or two or three; especially those that don't take a whole orchestra to sound good like the guitar or the piano, and can have people join in easily.

4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...
Just having watched the movie about the moon walking astronauts ((see last post)), I'd LOVE to be able to go out into space without any fear or worry about coming back and look at the planet, look at the moon from the perspective of being close to it, be able to "float" in the space of all Creation ... COOL!

5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?
Not sure if this is in the comic or sci fi realm, but a power that would let me help people without them knowing. Putting things "right" anonymously when a wrong has been done to the downtrodden people or people without very much power in the system. Redistributing all the wealth (in all forms) that we have on the planet. A do-gooder I guess! ;-)

Tonight's Movie

Tonight JD and I finally watched a DVD again. Thanks to our new account with LoveFilm - the UK's version of NetFlix in the US.
For some reason, none of the newest releases and/or chick flicks that I put on our list were sent to us. Instead we got "In the Shadow of the Moon" about the 24 men who actually have walked on the moon. I hadn't really heard of it before I found it recommended by LoveFilm and put it on our list - but we really enjoyed it!

See this review from the LA TIMES for a good idea of the film - then SEE it.

There were some great reflections of the men about the spiritual and religious nature of their experiences seeing the earth from space; about what it felt like to be so far away and yet so connected; and a bit about what's changed in our environment since the 1969 to 1972. Particularly appropriate as we approach Earth Day I felt.

We highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

JD in the Anglican news

We're excited !! JD's conference made it to the International Anglican Communion website by them "picking up" the article from Episcopal (Church) Life Online.

Read it here

Go to ELO and sign up for their daily news digests to keep up with all things happenin' in the Episcopal Church. It's how we've stayed connected through these years away and perhaps know "more" of what's going on than the average Episcopalian at home.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Imagine God is a ....

I woke up this morning still thinking about this blog I read yesterday ... where Hal Greenwood imagines God is camel . An uncomfortable, obstinate, stinking camel. It's good when something sticks with you I guess; so I've been trying ever since I read it to figure out why.
It's not that I think it's sacrilegious to imagine God is a camel even as nasty as he portrays God, but I'm not sure why? I'm not sure what it suggests about God that Hal wants/has to imagine God that way. I guess he's in a place of struggle. Or is he just trying to provoke us.

Then it's "good" then to want to provoke us ... and that's probably what's stayed with me. I DON"T want to imagine God is a camel the way Hal puts it! And if I don't want to imagine God that way, then what way? What do I want to imagine God is?? People have been doing this for years - I'm not sure it's the same thing as metaphor however because he doesn't say "imagine God like/as a camel" but "...IS a camel".

So, after thinking and especially after last night's beautiful concert I want to Imagine God is Live Music! Imagine God is live music (any kind of music: rock, classical, jazz, etc) and imagine the amazing power of listening to live music - it's creative, never exactly the same thing twice, it can move you to tears, it is shared with others there yet also personal, and you can create it too or just enjoy, it stays with you - you can remember it the next day or for years to come, but you can't HOLD on to it ... you have to BE there with it. There is recorded music which has its own power but nothing quite like the real thing.

Anyway, that's my response to Hal; at least some beginning thoughts. This really will stick with me. Maybe even into Sunday's sermon which texts are about Jesus the Shepherd and Ps 23.
What do YOU imagine God is ... ???

This just in ...

This just in from my AOL news site ::

"Career isn’t the only factor in determining someone’s overall happiness, but it’s certainly a major contributor. So, what kind of jobs do the happiest people in the U.S. have? And, what about these jobs contributes to overall happiness in life? A University of Chicago study, “Job Satisfaction in the United States,” offers some insight.

The study says the occupations where people report being happy overall, not just in terms of job satisfaction, involve helping others, technical and scientific expertise, or creativity.

Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center at UC, elaborates: “Happiness is determined by how much satisfaction you get from all domains of life—personal, the community you live in, and work is an important domain, so it’s one of the major components of overall happiness.”

According to the study, the top occupations in general happiness are:

1. Clergy
Job Description: Conduct religious worship and perform spiritual functions associated with beliefs and practices of religious faith or denomination.
Very happy: 67.2%
Median salary*: $44,102

2. Firefighters
Job Description: Control and extinguish fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.
Very happy: 57.2%
Median salary: $45,553

3. Transportation, Ticket, and Reservation Agents, such as Travel Agents
Job Description: Travel agents plan and sell transportation and accommodations for travel agency customers.
Very happy: 56.5%
Median hourly rate (travel agents): $14.23

It's just nice to see "we're" generally happy!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Cultural evening

At the end of a long day, JD and I went to have a cultural evening as we do now and then at the Bridgewater Hall in city centre. This is one of the few perks of the "student budget" ... we get GREAT tickets for 2.50 BPS! I call up on the phone ask for the best I can have at the student rate (granted Wed nights only) and tonight we had center balcony section, third row, exact middle! Awesome ... the acoustics in the Hall are fabulous, and it's beautiful too as you can see HERE .

Some have said it's not that great a building, but I think it's lovely and the Halle Orchestra based there are good too! With a long history here in Manc as you can read all about here .

Perhaps not London Symphony, but pretty close; AND to hear live music for such a price, it should be packed but it's not. The week nights we go there are lots of older retired folk enjoying a night out and they're always a truly appreciative audience. Tonight there were also 4 schools from the local county and they have an orchestra member in their school, they come to hear them play, then they write a piece themselves which they come back and share with other schools and family.

Tonight's program included Dvorak's "Carnival". But the highlight was Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor. This is often called his melancholy masterpiece and was played to its passionate best by the tragic figure of Jaqueline Du Pre. You can find all the movements on YouTube but I'll put the first (9 minutes) here with it's instantly recognizable and haunting phrases ...

For me, this is the passion of music which can give us a glimpse of eternity. Amen.

The Church ARMY

This morning I went to a presentation in city centre Manchester from the Church Army. They're a group that we have nothing like in TEC or the US. They're definitely not like the Salvation Army, but why they have their "old fashioned" name I'm not sure - they are over 150 years old, but they just hired a young (30's) guy to be their CEO (but he probably has some military title in front of his name, they're all called Captain or Brother or Sister ...).

There was this minister to young people who spoke about working with young people in the North West. This is his story here and you can search around the site for other things they're doing. One of the most amazing things he said was how yes, the project is supposed to BE for the young people (and to show them the love of God and bring them gently to Christ) BUT the best part is that he clearly understood the effect the ministry was having to the "older" "church" people who were his "volunteers". He said for the first time they were seeing how there WERE the ministry of Christ in the world, and their presence even in the days they weren't working with the bus or at church was God's work as well. VERY mutual in the ministry!!

Also I loved the way he described "success" - he said IF the kids keep coming back week after week they were successful. They go into one part of the city only once a week in the evening/night. And when a young person keeps coming back that's a success. Truth! An inspirational morning. Thank God!

OH!! And I forgot to say the Church of England is the only church affiliation they have but gives them NO money. The workers are actually "licensed" as Church Evangelists, but not ordained.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

UK "churchy" videos

Today, two YouTube videos "came" to me ... both from the UK, both about clergy here, BOTH obviously partially true and partially not. Enjoy, but just remember they're not THAT funny to Americans (to be honest).

The first is called "Bling the Bishop"

The second is from a comedy group called "Mitchell and Webb" and is about a visit to a church here (well... not one of MY churches!!)

Blog Prayer

Tuesday is Holy Communion day at St James. The one mid-week service for the Team.

Each week at 10.30 AM a small but very faithful group of OAP (old age persons/pensioners) gather to hear the service. Some have been to a Sunday liturgy but not all and they just like the gospel read and communion administered. It's a quite prayerful space/time although usually cold. Today I read intercessions from a book we use quite frequently here in CofE from a series called "Searchlights" an all-age resource to go with the Common Worship book.

The prayer for Third Sunday of Easter fit my blog beautifully! As well as fitting with the theme of Gospel which is/was the Road to Emmaus. I usually change some of the phrases from this book as I read/pray but haven't in order to give the full Church of England sense of it. (this is published by Kevin Mayhew - probably closer to the evangelical wing of the church than elsewhere)

Lord, make yourself know to us in church and through the scriptures.
May we know you in the breaking of the bread,
in the break of the day,
and when our hearts are breaking.
Help us to see that you travel with us on the road of life and you never leave us.
Fill us with your Spirit,
that we may proclaim the Good News and tell others of your love.
We remember today all who are suffering because of their faith, those who live in fear, and those whose lives are restricted.
Lord abide with us,
stay with us and help us.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Durham art

One COOL thing we did in Durham, was "splash out" a bit (as they say here when you spend a bit of money) for a print of a lovely piece of watercolor we saw in Durham. After spending large parts of both days walking along the river on both sides looking at the Cathedral, we wanted to remember it. This piece begins to capture what it was like. The sky is painted more gray than for us, but it appears to have been painted just near the pink house, just near the waterfall that we loved. The building across the river is the mill and you can see how imposing the cathedral IS. (sorry there's a bit of glare off the glass)

Monday, 31 March 2008

River Walk - River Wear, Durham

We couldn't stand not to enjoy the outdoors so we walked, as suggested, along the river just down the hill from the Durham cathedral and castle. The sun was shining, we could hear birds, and at one point the rush of the water over a small falls. The cathedral/castle is on a peninsula so there are beautiful huge stone bridges as well.

Dogs of Durham

In our ongoing visiting of places in England today we're in Durham. The initial idea was for JD to attend a conference of Society of Theology, but that seems to have been just an excuse! He's decided not to attend, and we'll just have a good visit. Train only took 2 hours, we've got a cheap but lovely B&B (45 pounds) and its a TOTALLY awesome beautiful day.

One of the first things to catch our attention after we have a passable lunch is a DOG!! He looks like he's happy to be snapped, doesn't he? And then we began to see more and more and more dogs - everyone in Durham seems to have a dog and was walking their dog on Monday ... who could blame them in the lovely spring day.

This is the dog that started a series called "Dogs of Durham" which, though interesting of about 10 dogs, is not printed here

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Bridie's new mum

One of the most difficult things for me and JD about leaving the US for studies in Manchester was the fact that it wasn't going to easy to bring our beloved little kitty Bridie (short for the Irish saint Brigid whom we rescued at Angell pet hospital in Boston) with us to England.
While we did go through the steps to bring Bridie with us - blood tests, microchip - we didn't do it soon enough for her to travel when we did in Sept 2006.
The best plan at that time was for her to "board" with my friend Mary. Bridie and Mary had already fallen in love with one another so we were very happy about it.
Well, pretty soon after we were here we realized (mostly due to our travels back to the US) it wasn't wise to bring Bridie to the UK at all. SOOOOOO,

Bridie has been adopted by Mary; they've moved from Brookline to Providence - and now with Mary's fiance Ben.

Mary just sent some snaps to show how happy they are together .... don't they look great?? (and reading one of my favorite books, the spiritual memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert)

WE are so grateful for the wonderful loving homes Mary has given Bridie and how happy they are - even though we miss having the spirit of a pet in our home.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Monday

After resting on the rest of Easter ... and a nice meal of fresh scallops! We woke on Easter Monday (a legal bank holiday here in UK) and prepared for a traditional Easter Dinner with American friends! Friends we've met at the University from Seattle (and LA/Pasadena) and Midwest - both students and post-Doc. It was a great meal - ham, roasted potatoes, veg (fresh green beans and wild mushrooms) as well as awesome dessert (super rich chocolate cake).
That's us sitting to the first course (sorry we're missing one spouse).
In the break between courses we had an art project - people got to make Easter "animals" from puff balls - a kit I got at Tesco (sometimes yes, close to Target!). There were "supposed" to be chicks or rabbits but on close inspection you'll see the gene pool was somewhat mixed! All in good Easter Monday fun! And a new tradition perhaps - so much nicer to celebrate with a fabulous meal and friends on Monday!
Happy Easter !!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Emmanuel Hats!

HAPPY EASTER means Easter Bonnet "Competition" at Emmanuel. To the far right, is the WINNER 2008! Note the resemblance to the Easter Garden - good choice of theme. AND the large Easter egg "prize!" Yummy!
lots of chocolate here, but I was missing real jelly beans (and JellyBellies) as well as PEEPS!!

Next here is 2nd place, she'd won two times in a row before this year, so she had to be a good "sport" about it, but it was a pretty good entry again!

I had to judge last year and that was awful ... judging KIDS!! ugh!

Then there's THIRD place - actually someone who looks the happiest to have won. You can't see hat so well, but there are chicks and real broken eggs there. She WAS truly happy ! And that's her husband he was happy too!
Another ALLELUIA moment...
This is the hallway at Emmanuel - those names in the background are from one of the old churches and they're those lost in WW1 from the parish.

11:00 Emmanuel

I arrived at Emmanuel with their liturgy in progress led by the lay reader. Then we said the Peace together and I proceeded with the Eucharistic prayer.
This is their church - and they love it because it was built within their memory! It's obviously newer, with some of the reredos and altar "saved" from one of the two old churches which were destroyed before this was built. There is some natural light from a huge skylight and yes those are exposed flourescents! The altar is "open" with an Easter Garden (a tradition here - altho not always IN the altar).

These below are of the Easter Garden - so lovingly created each year... The 3 crosses on Calvary, on one side then the open tomb (look at the little cloth "left behind") on the other. Last year because I was the only minister, I had to be in charge of opening the tomb (moving that round rock) on Easter morning !
That was an ALLELUIA as well!!

10.00 St James

ALLELUIA at St James ... by this time its 10.00 AM and you can see the bright sun shining into the sanctuary. We don't use this altar, but do use the altar rail. The banners are for the Mothers' Union. There's a paper on the floor with some memorial names - not sure who or why. This is the oldest church in the team - roots back to Elizabeth I's time (obviously not this building, which is "listed") and the "mother" to the other Anglican churches in the team.

I preached from the Eagle pulpit (probably a lecturn), not the pulpit at the top of the steps (with the hanging fall) as no one goes up there. A copy to follow. Again, it's SO bright because the sun had come out and was reflecting on the snow. You can't see some of the work that needs to be done on the church (ie chipping paint, falling kneelers, etc) and it doesn't matter anyway on Easter, does it?

Dawn at St Philip's

Here is the interior (although dark) of St Philip's with the Pascal candle so beautifully decorated. The wardens and people outdid themselves for Holy Week as well as 10 of them showing up at Dawn. Then they came back for a full English breakfast before the 10.30 service - but I was home preparing for my next two... Alleluia!!

The liturgy included renewal of baptismal vows. It was particularly meaningful for one man who came forward; he'd been baptized as a child and quite a regular attender but wanted to make a re-commitment (in fact wanted to be re-baptized which wasn't necessary). This part of the service was very meaningful to him - I was grateful to be part of it. He had earlier told me he'd struggled with depression for 30 years and only the past 9 months has he been on a helpful medication. His story was definitely one of Resurrection ! ALLELUIA!!

Here we are outside St Philip's for the Easter Dawn service... the faithful driving through the snow. It's about 6 AM and we actually did kindle a fire outside for the new light of Easter, sang a hymn "Shine Jesus Shine", and light our candles before our feet froze and we went indoors.

Easter Dawn

Woke up this Easter morning at 5:00 AM - yes AM! - and it was already beginning to get light. But seemed lighter because there was SNOW all over ... about 2-3" in a lovely blanket all over. The streets were quiet and I ran about taking photos because it was so lovely.
This is the best the pub across our street will ever look! While it's named "the Angel" the customers appear not to be.

This is the back garden - in the distance on the right upper you can see the spire of St James Church! (one of "my" churches) Yes, it's dawn but you also get an idea of the constant light from the security lights all around the area.

So the day starts off well ALLELUIA!! The Lord is Risen indeed!!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Simnel cake

A very lovely lady from the parish brought this to our door on Holy Saturday. I had heard about Simnel cake as a lovely tradition here in England. They're usually baked for Mothering Sunday which is always during Lent here (not Mother's Day in May like the US). It's like a Christmas cake - rich, nuts, raisins inside - with marzipan on top.
Go to Wikipedia to find out more :

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday Burger

Good Friday "Burger" ??!?
Even though this looks like a fried chicken or fish ...

I confess!
YES !! Meat - a burger!! And, an incredible burger in fact. I'm not "old-school" enough not to eat meat on Good Friday. It's just not my spirituality - for many reasons. Not that there aren't good reasons to abstain ... not that other people shouldn't do what they want to observe holy days.

Although we didn't set out purposefully to eat meat on Good Friday, it just happened and then we realized ... no one's scandalized I hope.

But JD and I took a road trip to Didsbury on Good Friday just to go to new-ish restaurant/burger joint called "Gourmet Burger Kitchen". It's pretty much the most "American-food" place we've found here. The best burger so far and the usual great British chips! It's actually a New Zealand establishment ... go to a rather poor website to find more about it Gourmet Burger . The kitchens are popping up all over England/UK and I think we'll definitely be back - good value as well as good food.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

a VERY late Friday5 (Rev gal pals)

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!

To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

around the time of Jane Austin. I know it was probably not great for women, esp in ministry (duh!) but I really wonder what it would have been like to live such repressed lives. Did they really know how bad it was - the movie Persuasion near the end drives me mad when they can't say how the lovers feel. Obviously I'm romanticizing ..

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

so many things that could save the earth environmentally ... cars that drive without costing the planet its resources would be a start - have you seen the pollution in China and India?

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

great question :: probably depends on how I'm feeling. Usually looking toward the future tho; I'm not one of those always telling stories about "remember when ..." That really used to drive me crazy growing up that people were "stuck" in their high school days and not much beyond

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

It will always be known as the Lent we tried to get back to the USA!! I promised JD that working on finding the right job in the right place would be my priority and it has been ; that's been how the blog really got going as well.

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

Lots of work (again, duh!) Missed Monday's clergy vow renewal; Wed with one school Easter celebration; Maundy Thurs eve service; Good Friday eve service; home communions (2); Sunrise PLUS 2 services Resurrection !
And then a great idea of our Easter Dinner with friends on Easter Monday. The Brits DO have it quite civilized to give everyone the day after Easter "off" ... a "bank holiday!" So we'll have the ham with all the trimmings and friends then. Altho a good G&T will have happened on Sunday after a nice nap!

This WAS fun.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

RevGalPals Friday 5

So alright it's Saturday night but I've been wanting to "play" with RevGalPals since I thought of having a website ages ago...  I'm not an official member but wanted to answer this week's Friday 6 (actually six this week) 

Spring :: 
What have you seen/heard this week that was a :
1 sign of hope 
the longer daylight ... here in Northern England that's a REAL big deal

2. an unexpected word of light in a dark place 
on Monday seeing the beauty of London by walking around and seeing daffodils, crocus, and even pink and white buds on the trees 
as well as my sister's artwork 

3 a sign of spring 
there are actually daffodils in my own back garden ! 

4  challenging/ surprising 
how easy it was to get to-from London (for a couple days) and how difficult it can be to return to a setting-environment where it's really hard to live (ie multiple deprivation, urban priority area ... that's Brit-speak for pretty bad inner city)

5 share a hope for the coming week
looking toward the week before Holy Week, just getting through all that needs to be "done" and hoping nothing else gets added in. 

Thanks for listening! 

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

St Luke's Chelsea London

We started walking back from the Albion Gallery toward Harrods for lunch. Passing a large church, St Luke's, Chelsea, did our usual snoop to see if it was open. Indeed! Not easy to get a photo of the interior - pretty typical anyway. But here's JD looking at their ministry link with Mozambique - cool! AND how about this needlepoint kneeler ... for inspiration perhaps. I haven't actually attempted kneelers but there's got to be lots of patterns.
Lunch WAS from Harrod's but only a 3 pound sandwich after oogling the food halls (yes, plural - amazing!!) We took them across the street to Starbucks to eat bec you couldn't eat anywhere inside the store. BTW We did not pay tribute to the Dodi&Diana love shrine on this trip.
Dinner our 2nd night - in Covent Garden area: french bistro "Jardin??".
Then a one-act play in a tiny theatre ... decent.

Beautiful Albert Bridge

At the left edge, the silver is an outdoor public art piece - I liked all the linear elements - with a tree and corner of glass building.

Two pretty cool snaps of the Albert Bridge from Chelsea to Battersey (I think) just near the Albion Gallery for ChanSchatz show. It was wicked cold but such great clouds, huH? Not every day in England is beautiful so you've got to really enjoy them - even with coat, hat, and gloves on!

Albion & surround

In front of the Albion looking RIGHT along the Thames ...

And looking LEFT ..

and beyond ...
What a beautiful day !! This is back across the Albert bridge - the Albion is on the ground floor of the building. Crisp and cool - perfect end of winter.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Joys of ministry

Here I am in Gorton with parishioners, L&H. We've just had a naming service for their one week old little girl "Grace" who's being held by a friend. CofE has a great service for just what they wanted and were used to back "home". We'll baptize her later when more family can attend.

I married L&H just one week before the birth so this continued our celebrations (actually during the Sunday morning Holy Communion because the parish has so welcomed them and they have little family here.

It's part of the amazing multi-cultural world of England and the Anglican Communion ... they're originally from Nigeria, but citizens of Austria. They found St James Church just a few months before - after moving very nearby. H's the one who always makes sure they go to church ... they speak to their families back "home" every day on the mobile. Not different from me and emails.
What a great new family!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

SERMON: 3 February 2008

Here in England they have the show "Deal or No Deal" but it is VERY different from how it is played at home - read on to find out. In addition to enjoying the show myself, I've found that lots of people DO watch TV (or telly as they say) here and when I asked if they watched-most of them raised their hands. I like taking the common things like TV and making them theological, or at least finding the theological in them when it's not there explicitly.
Also - this is Part 1 of a 2 Part "series" I did because I knew I'd be back at this church in a fortnight (2 weeks time). It's rare that within this team I preach so close together - usually its about once a month at each church which has its challenges for preaching here.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Last before Lent, Year A
St Philip’s Church (Gorton Abbey Hey Team)

2 Peter 16 – 21
Matthew 17 : 1-9

Do any of you watch the television program called “Deal or No Deal”?

The idea is deceptively simple, isn’t it? One player of the day has a box with an amount of money in it. The other players also each have a box – all ranging from 1 P to 250,000 pounds. The player then has to choose which of the others’ boxes will have the lower amounts and hope that hers has more. But, “the Banker” is making offers as the game goes on to “buy” the one box from her. So, the skill of the game is in the level of risk (or gambling), the based on confidence in the chance amount of cash in the box the player is willing to take.

I have to admit, since I’ve been here, this program has captured my attention. On many weekday afternoons (at 4 pm) you can find me watching it and I’ve tried to analyze why it’s got me hooked. Now we have a show by the same name in America, but they play it differently. The difference is in the other box holders – here they’re other players, real people who will eventually be in the hot seat; at home they’re a bunch of beautiful women models displaying the boxes. This is a huge difference because I’m told that all the people on the game here – all the box holders – actually live together during each week until they’re called into the hot seat themselves. They’re strangers who get to know one another and want each other to WIN!!

It’s NOT about competing against each other. They’re ALL supporting one another. They’re only against the banker. They want each person in the hot seat to win because they know that at some time THEY will have a chance there themselves.

I LOVE that.

It’s so different from all the other games where there are winners and losers because of judges like the dancing or singing shows. And it’s not about someone’s knowledge like a quiz game. These players always want the person who’s playing to make the most money in their box. They offer each other advice about taking the risks and say supportive things especially about making the deals. And that’s because they’ve come to know one another.

I think the people supporting each other – their generosity -- is why I watch : because it’s so different from most of real life.
How many people do you have in your average week telling you positive things, or supporting you for the things you do? Maybe your family and friends, but very rarely do strangers want you to win, do they?

All very good – but why am I talking about this game? Well, we’re approaching Ash Wednesday and it’s time to be thinking about Lent. During Lent, we have the opportunity to take a look at ourselves and our lives – we have the chance to make some changes.

You all know some people who give up things for Lent. The point of giving up is to live our lives in a different way for a short time.

AND, there’s another way to “do” Lent. It’s basically the opposite way. Instead of giving something up; you take something on. To my mind, this is just as difficult and can be just as good for us in terms of making changes. Adding to our lives can also be good for the people and the world around us.

I’m definitely not alone in this idea. This is the second year that the Church of England has taken to publishing a little booklet called “Love Life, Live Lent” which is full of things “to do” during Lent. The things are very simple and easy to do:

Ask someone about their day
Leave a thank you note for the postie
Give up your place to someone in the queue
Light a candle and pray for someone – well, we do that, don’t we?
Buy a low energy light bulb
Have a conversation with someone from another generation
Say hello to a police officer
Think about how you can take time for quiet and silence

You get it. The idea is that by making a variety of small actions, lots of little additions to our lives during Lent, we can make a huge difference to the places we live.

For me the theme of most of these is about generosity. Like in Deal or No Deal – now you don’t have to watch the show, just act generous way toward each other that they do.

For me, this year Lent will be about taking on things instead of giving them up. Being generous has become very important. I’m not sure exactly why, but there’s a way in which today’s gospel partly answers that.

In last week’s story of the miracle at the wedding at Cana, we heard about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. This story of Jesus changing into blazing white like the sun takes place in the middle of his time in Galilee meeting people, healing them, and preaching about the way life can be better in his everlasting kingdom where life is upside-down from the way it appears.

Remember, as Jesus is there on the mountain with both Moses and Elijah, a voice comes from the clouds saying, “this is my Beloved with whom I am well pleased” – It’s the voice of God - of course referring to Jesus. Well, it takes your imagination to take this in, and now I want you to use your imagination even more. What IF; what if we believed that voice of God was talking to each one of us?

Could you believe that God would say to you, “YOU are MY Beloved with YOU I am well pleased!”?? I have faith that we ARE to believe that! We are to know we are loved by God just as Jesus was loved, just as the people of God have been loved even since the time of Adam and Eve.

And IF we believe that – then one of the most important things that Jesus says makes sense. We know that Jesus said, FIRST love the Lord your God, and then love your neighbors as yourself. It seems that our lives as Christians is then about figuring how to do that. We are able to even make a start is because we know that we are loved by God first. When we can imagine that we are God’s beloved then we can begin to love our neighbors.

THEN the generosity starts to flow. WHEN we believe we are God’s beloved, then we can act like the folks on “Deal or No Deal”. Will you join me this Lent in being generous as well?

Can you take time each week to do a few things that might change the world? And maybe watching the telly is one way to get started! Amen.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

the song!

Here's the song for which my blog is named!! 
Warning - these people appear to be having a really "good" time (ie maybe a few too many) but they're very  happy because I think it must be a wedding party, right?  
You get the idea of how the song goes despite the fact that it's a little irreverent, ok?  And most of you in the US will have never heard it anyway.