the shocking truth
Used by permission from

I am not sure what this reveals about me, but there are times when I get an urge to say or do something really shocking. Not ‘end up in prison’ shocking, but something that is not the sort of thing you would normally expect from a Baptist Minister.

My sister is unhelpful in this as she is a source of very funny jokes – but most of them are unusable in a sermon. Yet there is a little part of me that thinks, “Go on!”

The internet is unhelpful in this because it is full of people who do unusual and outrageous things and there is a part of me that would love to post something unusual and outrageous online too.

I think that part of this is because I want to break down expectations, perceptions and prejudice about the clergy in particular and Christians in general. Many people get their ideas about me from a mixture of Revd Timms (Postman Pat), the Vicar of Dibley (but a male version) and Dot Cotton (EastEnders), with perhaps a sprinkling of the Archbishop of Canterbury or their local vicar as garnish. (Many people don’t have a clue about non-conformist churches – I had a call from someone recently who asked if our church was a ‘proper church’).

One of the things I relish is that I have a reputation for doing silly things in school assemblies – magic tricks, conversations with Stew the Rabbit (see ‘about me’), even putting a rubber glove on my head. The children seem to appreciate it and (I think) it makes the assemblies a bit more memorable.

I wonder if, however, I need to keep suppressing these urges to be shocking. It may be that this is simply me wanting to get some attention. It may be that this is me wanting to be unconventional as well as non-conformist. It is probably me wanting to be silly and amusing. It is definitely unnecessary.

I am in the middle of preparing a sermon at the moment from Luke 6, where Jesus preached on a plane. Sorry, plain. In the first part of that sermon he was saying things that looked a bit like the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) but he went further. Not only did he pronounce blessings on the unlikely heroes, but he said ‘woe’ to those who were normally considered blessed.

Perhaps there’s a message for me: ‘Blessed are the insignificant, for God thinks they are really special. Woe to those who crave attention, your shallow self-promotion has achieved all its ever going to.’

Be blessed, be a blessing.

And now for a really outrageous joke…

A Bishop, an evangelist, and a Baptist Minister were in a row boat in the middle of a pond fishing. None of them had caught anything all morning.

Then the evangelist stands up and says he needs to go to the loo so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He comes back ten minutes later the same way.

Then the Baptist Minister decides he needs to go to the loo, too, so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He, too, comes back the same way ten minutes later.

The Bishop looks at both of them and decides that his faith is just as strong as his fishing buddies and that he can walk on water, too. He stands up and excuses himself. As he steps out, he makes a big splash down into the water.

The evangelist looks at the minister and says,”I suppose we should have told him where the rocks were.”

The Baptist Minister looked back at the evangelist. “What rocks?”

After what I have just been saying, you didn’t really think I was going to tell an outrageous joke, did you?