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)