flagging faith

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27 Nov 2018

It is nearly 20 years since I entered Circuit (or started travelling, as they used to call it!). Yet this is the first time I have been through the official invitation process of stationing. As a probationer, I was directly stationed and then, two years later, I was phoned by the Stationing Committee and asked to move (three years early). I obeyed and duly relocated. Sadly, it turned out not to be the appointment I had hoped for and, after a very nasty period of homophobic allegations and prying...

19 Nov 2018

‘Risk’ is a word on the lips of many of our Methodist leaders at the minute. They call us to take more risks which usually means releasing more of the money locked away at local church level. However, what they rarely address is why we have become so risk-averse. Church leaders cannot expect local members and ministers to take risks, if everything else that is said or done creates a culture of hostility to risk-takers. At best, there are mixed messages emerging from those who want change but can...

13 Nov 2018

It’s easy to think that theology is something we do in our spare time, with a glass of wine in our hand perhaps. It has become something abstract, with concepts that can be taken apart and put back together without anyone getting hurt.

Each time I visit Sri Lanka, I am confronted with the need for a theology that works on the ground and is real. This visit was no different, travelling to areas where the civil war was fought out between the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and government forces and meeting tho...

7 Nov 2018

‘Ordination gives the church a permanent permission to wound.’

I’ve been contemplating these provocative words since they were given to me recently and they remain deeply challenging. They arose in a conversation about the capacity to be hurt, disappointed, attacked and wounded by the institutional Church and about the relationship between the Church and the ordained person.

I had the unbelievable privilege last summer of preaching at an ordination service. Given that I still remember Brian Beck's...

25 Oct 2018

Susan Calman’s book, Cheer up, Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hateis an excellent book on so many levels, not least because it is written from the ‘inside’. As someone who is still trying to live moderately well with depression in its various guises, I tend to indulge in bibliotherapy every six months or so. That usually entails reading yet another self-help book about perfectionism, imposter syndrome or the various medical and therapeutic interventions now on the market. I am...

15 Oct 2018

26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the da...

9 Oct 2018

I came across this phrase recently in a workshop run by the Susanna Wesley Foundation in Birmingham. It’s a curious phrase that describes how I feel a good deal of the time in ministry. It’s a term borrowed from psychology and first coined in the 1970s as part of a model of learning.

In any new and unfamiliar environment, we, in the infamous words of Donald Rumsfeld, are confronted with a series of ‘unknown unknowns’ and well as some ‘known unknowns’. In other words, we do not yet know what we do...

5 Oct 2018

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is...

29 Sep 2018

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God.           Leviticus 19:33-34, 24:22

Migration lies at the heart of the debate on Brexit. We are told that it is the single greatest reason w...

21 Sep 2018

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,

  and their spears into pruning-hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

  neither shall they learn war any more.  Isaiah 2:4

On International Day for Peace, it is important to remember that the European Project was borne out of a century of devastating conflict. From the Crimean War in the 1850s, through the Franco-Prussian War and two World Wars, the e...

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