Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Little Town

Little? Yes.. too small tonight
Walls and doorways straining to hold the dross and dregs
of a thousand homecomings.
But still, no; the chattering of families and friends
the deals made and the promises forgotten
fill the night air. No dreamless sleep tonight, then
but a night for tossing and turning
exhaustion overridden by the concerns of body and mind.

And in the midst of it all, did anyone notice
the quiet arrival
slipping unannounced into obscurity
as the stars and the angels strained to scream out his name?
Did they see the realisation of all that had been hoped for, longed for
during the dark and lonely years?
Did you recognise the moment, the shining second,
when all creation turned towards your shambling streets
and found itself focussed on a crumpled bawling face?

And as that gaze prolonged
did hearts find their fears were met
as well as their hopes?
Was there a collective intake of breath, a moment
When the future seemed to hang in the air,
as terrifying as it was wondrous?

Have you, like me, ever sung a carol for the umpteen millionth time and suddenly been struck how odd a line is - a line that you've been singing happily since childhood? That happened to me today, with the line 'the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight'. The hopes, yes; but the fears? Perhaps the writer just tought it sounded good, but I thought it was a bit interesting. Anyway...

...Happy Christmas, all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fast God

This was written in response to a comment from a friend of mine, about how previous cultures have changed so slowly that they respond well to the concept of a God who is unchanging throughout the ages; but that our culture is so fast-moving, we almost need a fast God to relate to.

I need a fast God.
A new, shiny, press-the-red-button-now, God.
Not for me the Rock of Ages
I want an Alpha that reaches Omega in 0 - 60 seconds.
I don't need Eternal or Unchanging
I need automatic updatees
regular texts to my mobile.
I don't want a narrow path; I want a broadband
God, interactive and digital.
I need perfect reception at all times and in all places
and the option to select the shuffle mode
whenever I'm uncertain about what it is I really want.
A fast God won't keep me waiting
The dark night of the soul is but a flutter of the eyelids.
Fast God promises same day delivery within a two-hour window.
Fast God understands
He knows about deadlines and commitments
Fast God sets the pace
target-setting and goal -orientated.
Fast God is a front-runner
an early adopter
a flexible friend.
Fast God is my God
He deals in seconds, not millenia.
Kapow! Kapow! What's next?...
Blink and you'll miss Fast God
He's already over the hills and far away
Look carefully, and you'll see his comet trail
moving beyond the speed of light.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


We had the privilege of being part of a fab planning team for the latest Foundation BigService, with the theme 'Frozen'. As always arranging a big alt worship service was time consuming, hard work that left us feeling a bit frayed around the edges; however, the experience of being amongst such a warm (how ironic!) group of people on the night who were so engaged and positive about what we had prepared made it all worthwhile. Highlights for me were: building an enormous pile of ice cubes, lit from below; listening to six separate voices coming from speakers around the space, all talking about their own experiences of being 'frozen' with respect to God, to other people and to the problems of the world; watching peoples' faces as they listened to a story, wonderfully told by Richard Trouncer, and originally written by Hans Christian Anderson - there are some things you never grow out of; reading a meditation that I'd written with very careful timing to a song by Damien Rice, 'Cold Water', and realising that, yes, I was going to get the timing right!; singing along to a Nina Simone track, rearranged (with a hint of Hi-Energy disco!) by Jez Nash, and with new words - boy we had fun!; and being part of the party atmosphere at the end, as we read and swapped pledges to do something, change something, become something more like Christ.

But most of all I enjoyed this service because it was the first one that my eldest daughter, Jordan, came to. Actually that's not true: she was a regular attender of alt worship, back in the days when we had energy and used to do this sort of thing once a month. As a baby she would be dragged along every time, and even the thanksgiving after her birth was as part of an alt worship service. Then we decided that we needed to institute a regular bedtime, so that was that...

But now she's 12 so along she came, with a friend, having recorded one of the 6 voices at the start so that she instantly felt part of things. She loved it: playing with ice, playing with fire, sitting on the floor, watching DVDs (not so keen on the footage of Anthony Gormley's Crosby Beach installation, but she loved Ice Age at the end!) and - the best bit of all - ice lollies produced 'as if by magic' from underneath the whopping great pile of ice cubes at the end of the service! What's not to love?

I really appreciated the chance to show Jordan what it is we are doing, all those times we've closeted ourselves away for planning meetings, to write, to record and to photograph. To explain why she gets dragged to odd shops to buy even odder things. And to give her chance to see that there is more than one way of doing 'church', and that it takes all kinds of people to make up God's Kingdom.