Friday, March 28, 2008

When I'm In Heaven

When I'm in heaven
Tell me there’ll be kites to fly,
The kind they say you can control
Although I never did for long,
The kind that spin and spin and spin and spin
Then sulk and dive and die,
And rise again and spin again,
And dive and die and rise up yet again,
I love those kites.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be friends to meet,
In ancient oak-beamed Sussex pubs
Enfolded by the wanton Downs,
And summer evenings lapping lazily against the shore
Of sweet familiar little lands
Inhabited by silence or by nonsenses,
The things you cannot safely say in any other place,
I love those times.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be seasons when the colours fly,
Poppies splashing flame
Through dying yellow, living green,
And autumn’s burning sadness that has always made me cry
For things that have to end.
For winter fires that blaze like captive suns
But look so cold when morning comes.
I love the way the seasons change.

When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be peace at last,
That in some meadow filled with sunshine
Filled with buttercups and filled with friends
You’ll chew a straw and fill us in on how things really are,
And if there is some harm in laying earthly hope at heaven’s door,
Or in this saying so,
Have mercy on my foolishness, dear Lord,
I love this world you made – it’s all I know.

(Adrian Plass)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's Easter Sunday tomorrow and as a Christian I am inevitably thinking about the wonder of the resurrection. What a turnaround that was for the disciples! Jesus executed in the most horrific way, beaten, taunted, nails driven through his wrists and ankles, hung on a bare wooden cross and left to die in unbearable heat. Body broken, dead, buried, finished...

Then the impossible, he greets Mary in the garden and the message is out, 'He is risen!' Jesus, God himself in human form, conquers death once and for all and pays the price for my sin and yours...Instead of eternity spent apart from God, we can be with him. Now that really is a turnaround!

I sometimes wish that I could have been there with Mary, met Jesus and showed my gratitude there and then. The truth is though, that I can and will be thanking him not only tomorrow in church but every day of my life. The more time I spend with him, the more special Jesus becomes and the more amazing is the gift whuch he secured on that first Easter day...

He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Here's my most recent assignment. It's a book review on one of the core texts for our Mission in Britain Today module.


‘Mission Implausible’
Duncan MacLaren.

This book is an examination of why Christianity has become so unpopular in Europe, when in most parts of the world religion is intrinsic to society and culture. MacLaren also looks at the few areas of Europe which have strong religious cultural expression, so that he can gain insight into what makes religion relevant and necessary in these societies.

In examining these concerns, the author makes detailed use of sociological analysis. He explores possible phenomena which may have caused the descent into unpopularity that the Christian faith has had to endure. These include industrialisation, urbanization, and consumerism. He asks how these processes have impacted upon the Church in Britain.

MacLaren observes that modern Europeans find the claims of Christianity to be implausible. Science and technology are certain, faith is not. He calls this ‘technological consciousness’. If society’s disinterest in religion is partly due to a crisis of credibility; understanding how something becomes credible to the modern mind will give insight into effective missiological practice.

MacLaren’s examination of shifts in the workings of the social order were absorbing, particularly the pages on community. By looking at the culture of modern society, Christians can devise a missiology which is relevant for today. As he asserts, old style preaching on street corners is out of step with modern culture. Knocking on doors is now counter cultural and is seen as an infringement of privacy. This was enlightening as I have certainly found such methods awkward and discomforting. He notes that we are a society used to making lifestyle choices by browsing, weighing up and considering the options available.

What also intrigued me was that consumerist mindset affects expectation. A demand for interest led activity hi-lights why passive church is often regarded as boring and why initiatives like Alpha are so attractive. All of these assertions would also sit well with the current philosophy of the ‘Fresh Expressions’ initiative. The last section entitled ‘Credible Witness’, examines three apparently disparate ideas: distinctive, inculturated and engaged community. MacLaren asserts that Christians should be weighing the three together and not see them as mutually exclusive. I would interpret this as being distinctive in our morality, theology and values, inculturated in the way we present these ideas and engaged in politics and the concerns of the world.

I was disappointed to find little practical application of the above insights. Case studies linked to some of his observations, showing how churches can assimilate modern culture into their presentation of Christianity, would have been helpful. MacLaren stops short of addressing how distancing Christianity from undesirable modern practices can be balanced with absorption of culture. It would also be fascinating to explore how the cultural language of today could be used to present the age old truths of Christianity.

In conclusion, this book is an excellent analysis of how social trends affect society’s attitude to Christianity. MacLaren comes up with some fascinating theories and insights. However, he includes little practical application or pragmatic concrete examples which I would have found illuminating and helpful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Primeval fire fused a cradle of rock.

Borne by the rocking tides,
smooth sand folded its hollows;
frail seeds flew
on the winds' shoulders;
blessed by soft rain
and warmth of sun,
grass and herb
bound the shifting dunes.
Lastly, trusted servants came, led by Christ
to build a home for restless souls,
a beacon to shed forth His light.

Lord of rock and tide,
of sun and air,
Bringer of light:
may Your blessing rest
on this Your house.