fence sitting is uncomfortable

I’ve been working on Sunday evening’s sermon, which will be on the second-half of Acts chapter 5. This is the occasion when the apostles were hauled in front of the religious authorities and so infuriated them with their teaching about Jesus that a majority of people there want to put them to death. However a Pharisee named Gamaliel intervened with these words: “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

I have heard people speak in reverential and hushed tones about Gamaliel’s wisdom here. The prevented bloodshed by stating that there was a clear choice: either this Christianity lark was from God or it wasn’t. If it isn’t then it will fall apart in due course. If it is then you run the risk of offending the Almighty.

To an extent I think he did demonstrate wisdom because he had a sufficiently open mind to recognise that what was happening might be from God. But he also missed the glaringly obvious – if there is a clear choice then surely you have to come down on one side or the other, there is no room for fence sitting. Gamaliel wanted to have his cake and eat it (insert further clichés here, as appropriate).wood fence in nature 1

“Wait and see” is not a particularly adventurous or godly response when we are faced with a choice like the one before Gamaliel and Co. It is risk averse and lacks faith or discernment. Certainly we do not want to get it wrong and be on the anti-God side, but I have a sense that is God would much rather we made a stab at discerning his will and got it wrong than that we sit on the fence. When Jesus told the parable of the talents the servant who did nothing was the one who was castigated and it was his inactivity that was condemned.

This is not saying that we should not seek to discern God’s will. Exactly the opposite is true. But we should not be paralysed by fear of getting it wrong – he is a God of grace after all and will forgive us if we ask: 2nd chances are his stock in trade.

Sitting on the fence is uncomfortable at best and only really makes sense in jokes about what time it is when an elephant sits on your fence.*

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*Time to get a new one

the inevitability of disappointing church services?

I’m currently searching for inspiration for our Mothering Sunday service this week.

I find that this is one of the most difficult services of the year to prepare. That’s not because the subject is difficult. Neither is it because I don’t have any ideas. It’s because it is one of the services where different people have very different hopes and aspirations for the service and it’s almost impossible to meet them all. To some extent that is true of most services in churches, especially those like ours that have an eclectic congregation (a good thing imho). But on Mothering Sunday it seems to be heightened.

For example: some want to maintain traditions that go back a long time, such as giving out flowers. And others don’t want flowers at all and would prefer we stopped that tradition. It’s not easy to give out flowers and not give them out simultaneously. Now I am not against the flower-giving, I am just using as an example of the sort of tensions that exist. I could also have mentioned the difficulties for those who are childless or have been bereaved in contrast with those who want to celebrate their children, or those who want to focus on the ‘motherhood’ of God and those who struggle with seeing God that way, and many more…

Each year I (usually along with other colleagues) seek to prepare a service that blesses all those who come. And each year I know that some people will go away upset or unhappy. And that’s the last thing that I want to happen. But is it inevitable?

As ‘worship’ is not for our benefit but for God’s, shouldn’t we all simply put aside our preferences and focus on him? Shouldn’t we come expecting to give him pleasure rather than hoping to be pleased by what happens? It is possible that this is part of the answer – if we come to give to God rather than looking to receive, we will not be so disappointed, unless the service does not enable us to give our worship to him.

Yes. I have often heard speakers say things about us not bringing our consumer culture into church services for that reason. I have probably said it myself.

Honey, I brought You GiftBut I want to add a rider to that. Because God is so gracious and generous that he does not want us to leave empty-handed when we have gathered together in Jesus’ name. Long before it became the thing to do to give out party bags at the end of children’s parties, God was giving out party bags at the end of services. Yes, they are metaphorical, but they contain blessings from him – a glimpse of the divine, an encounter with Jesus.

It may be that a worship song or hymn blesses us, lifts our spirits or inspires us. It may be that someone prays in a way that blesses us. God may speak to us through the reading of the Bible or (dare I suggest) even through the sermon. One of the mysteries of collective worship is that as we offer our worship to bless God he meets us by his Spirit and blesses us.

While we may not come to church because of what we get out of it, just as we don’t attend a birthday party for the party bags, we should expect to be blessed because we were there. So if or when people leave a service disappointed or upset it is right for the people who were leading the service to think about what happened and whether they gave God enough opportunities to bless people through the service even as we worshipped him.

That brings me back to the original conundrum about the inevitability of disappointing some people this coming Sunday. I am coming to the conclusion that while there are things I can do (or avoid) so that people are not unnecessarily upset, a service is first and foremost for an audience of One. If we can enable people to worship Jesus they may also see Jesus in the service. If we can help them to encounter him, then they will not leave the service empty handed, even if the contents of their party bags are not what they were expecting!

Be blessed, be a blessing

Mums who have teenagers understand why some animals eat their young.

A mother’s love never ages, but a child ages you quicker than anything else on the planet.

If at first you don’t succeed, do it the way your Mum told you to do it.

my sporting prowess

Space InvadersI had a very active weekend. I went boxing and ten pin bowling, played baseball and golf (not simultaneously). For those who are impressed I should confess that this was all on our Nintendo Wii. It was the first games console in which the game interprets the players’ movements with their controllers into movement on the screen. Gone are the days when button presses had to represent movement – do any of you remember ‘Decathlon’ where we used to pound the buttons mercilessly in order to make Daley Thompson run faster, jump further and higher, throw further? It was a leap forward (literally) from Space Invaders.

Today my arm is aching from over-exuberant jabs and hooks, attempts at scoring strikes, pitches and home run hits, and swings. Yes, it serves me right. Yes, I am over competitive. Yes, it was good fun.

Computer games are getting more and more realistic. So much so that it is possible to immerse yourself in virtual reality and possibly lose yourself there.

Is it possible that we are doing a similar thing in our churches? Are we simulating the real world with Christian music, Christian computer games, Christian dating, and yes, even Christian socks (seriously!!??). And by immersing ourselves in this virtual world are we in danger of losing ourselves there and forgetting the calling of Jesus to be salt and light in the ‘real’ world?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

 

count your blessings

I have just received this year’s ‘Count Your Blessings’ leaflet from Christian Aid. In case you don’t know, instead of giving up treats like chocolate and cake, you use the Count Your Blessings calendar through the 40 days of Lent to be inspired to an attitude of gratitude for what we have, pray for those who have less, and do something to help change the lives of the world’s poorest communities.

There’s a version for children, and this year there will be Android and iPhone apps too.

If you haven’t got involved and you want to, go to Christian Aid’s website

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Some one-liners from http://jokes.christiansunite.com 

Gravity always gets me down
This statement is false
Eschew obfuscation
They told me I was gullible and I believed them
It’s bad luck to be superstitious
According to my best recollection, I don’t remember
Honk if you like peace and quiet
The Big Bang Theory: God Spoke and BANG! it happened
Atheism is a non-prophet organization
Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?
Save the whales: collect the whole set
A day without sunshine is like, night
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese
Corduroy pillows: They’re making headlines!
Gravity – It’s not just a good idea, it’s the LAW!
Life is too complicated in the morning
Nobody’s perfect I’m a Nobody
Ask me about my vow of silence

the late wise men

starWe have now entered the period of the year which in church calendars is known as ‘Epiphany’. It is the period of time when we are supposed to reflect on the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus. In reality I think it is time of year when most people reflect on how much we have eaten over Christmas, how much we have spent on presents, and how come the decorations multiply in number between when we put them up and when we put them away for another year. On the whole I think it would be fair to say that in nonconformist churches like ours the Feast of Epiphany doesn’t really get a look in.

Which is a shame. Not necessarily because of the feast, but because of what it represents. In our traditional nativity plays the wise men turn up at the stable shortly after the shepherds have put in an appearance. But Matthew gives us hints in his gospel but this was later: perhaps up to 2 years after Jesus had been born. These hints include the fact that the star they saw rose to signify his birth (not Mary’s pregnancy), the length of time of preparation for and travelling on the journey from ‘the East’, that they visited Jesus in a house rather than a stable and Herod’s parameters for his infanticide, which were to kill all baby boys under the age of 2.

Timing aside, I think it is important that we recognise the significance of the wise men arriving to worship Jesus. This is a sign even in the birth narratives of Jesus that what he had come to do was for the whole world, not simply the Jewish people among whom he would live and predominantly share most of his teaching. These wise men were foreigners, not Jewish, and (scandal of scandals) were astrologers – all of which would have disqualified them in the eyes of the religious leaders of the day from being included in God’s story. It’s not insignificant that is Matthew who tells us about the wise men, since he was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience about Jesus. He was making the point right at the beginning of the Jesus narrative that the Kingdom of Heaven was much more inclusive than anyone had previously imagined.

And actually all those of us who have not been born with Jewish heritage should identify most with the wise men in the Christmas narrative. Not because of our wisdom or even because we read horoscopes (I still can’t understand why anyone does that!) Rather it is because they are our spiritual forefathers. They worshipped Jesus despite their lack of Jewish heritage. And of course in 3 gifts they gave we have a succinct summary of Jesus’ identity: gold, for the King of kings; frankincense, for his priestly role of making God accessible to us; myrhh, for his sacrificial death.

In our school nativity plays I always ended up as a narrator because I was good at reading (at least that’s what I tell myself, not that I was poor at acting). I always wanted to be Joseph because he had a key role, he was on stage for the whole time, he was the centre of the action. But now I rather fancy the idea of being one of the wise men. Perhaps I’ll see how wise a man I can be today…

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A woman takes her 16-year-old daughter to the doctor. The doctor says, “Okay, Mrs. Jones, what’s the problem?”

The mother says, “It’s my daughter, Debbie. She keeps getting these cravings, she’s putting on weight, and is sick most mornings.”

The doctor gives Debbie a good examination, then turns to the mother and says, “Well, I don’t know how to tell you this, but your Debbie is pregnant – about 4 months, would be my guess.”

The mother says, “Pregnant?! She can’t be, she has never ever been left alone with a man! Have you, Debbie?”

Debbie says, “No mother! I’ve never even kissed a man!”

The doctor walked over to the window and just stares out it. About five minutes pass and finally the mother says, “Is there something wrong out there doctor?”

The doctor replies, “No, not really, it’s just that the last time anything like this happened, a star appeared in the east and three wise men came over the hill. I don’t want to miss it this time!”

stumpbusting

Our stumps are being busted today.

A new tree stumpI wonder what that sentence means to you. Some of you may be thinking it’s medical, dental, mis-typing, ‘yoof-speek’, or just ‘confused’. Others will have jumped to the right conclusion (probably guided by the photo): people are coming with a machine to chomp up the tree stumps in our garden.

 am sure it’s an effective process. These people come recommended by a friend who had them remove a stump from their garden. I haven’t seen them in action yet, but their website suggests that the machine will turn the stumps into chippings and grind down to below the soil level so that all evidence of the stump is removed (apart from the chippings). While all the roots remain, there is no regrowth and they gradually rot away.

I am sure there’s a parable here. Some of the bad habits we adopt, mistakes we make and stuff we do that lets God and others down need to be eradicated from our lives. We need to be radical, get rid of it, kill it. We may well need God’s Spirit to help us by helping to change our priorities, attitudes, desires and habits. It’s possible that we may need others to help us, to support us and to encourage us. It may not be easy, it may be painful, but it needs doing.

God’s grace and forgiveness are greater than anything we can do that could offend and upset him. It is always available to us. And it is the best place to start. Sometimes it’s enough. Sometimes there is more work to do.

But while the stump of sin can be busted, there will almost certainly be something left behind that will take time to rot away. It could be hurt that we have caused others. It could be physical damage we have caused ourselves. It could be economic impact. It may be residual memories. Perhaps, like those struggling with addictive habits and behaviour, we will remain recovering addicts taking one day at a time.

But those stumps need busting. God’s Spirit will be with us all the way. We may experience him powerfully or gently, through other people or directly, in the pages of the Bible or the words of others.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Garden-related joke from Clean Jokes

My daughter-in-law Alma and grandson Eddy were digging for fishing bait in my garden. Uncovering a many-legged creature, Eddy proudly dangled it before his mother.

“No, honey, he won’t do for bait,” his mother said. “He’s not an earthworm.”

“He’s not?” Eddy asked, his eyes wide. “What planet is he from?”

the failing of fear

Yesterday evening a Minister friend of mine posted on Facebook about how poor their sermon had been. I felt immediate empathy for them because sermons are quite personal things, and if they are not as good as we would like there is a sense that we have let God down, the church down and ourselves down*.Nick Lear

“Communication of truth through personality” is how the 19th Century preacher Phillips Brooks described sermons. They are not:

a dry speech about a subject; an opportunity to get a few things off my chest; a collection of thoughts and ideas that I have read that week; stand up comedy routines; or even the dictated words of God.

My sermons find their origin and direction from the Bible. I believe that God’s Spirit inspired writers to record experiences of his interaction with people: not dictated verbatim but inspired in an amazing way. Poets and artists being inspired by the wonder of nature or the complexities of human emotion are a pale imitation of this, but give an idea of how an outside influence can inspire us to express ourselves.

But sermons are not just about being inspired by reading something in the Bible. If I am honest there are plenty of times when I look at the Bible and it does not make sense or seem that inspirational. Sometimes finding the truth within is hard work, requiring a lot of reading, praying, thinking, pacing, solitaire (to give the brain a rest) and then more of the same.

And because the sermon creation process is a collaborative process in which God uses my intellect, personality, experiences and context to communicate to others, it is an intensely personal experience for me when I preach. It’s almost as if I have raised an orphaned animal or bird and am sending out, setting it free, releasing it into the wild as I preach. So it matters to me whether or not I feel that it was good. I know that God speaks through the worst of sermons (I had that experience with my first ever sermon where people became Christians despite the sermon). That miracle can be a humbling experience (indeed any time God speaks through me is humbling), but that does not make me feel much better if I have bombed in my own mind and not preached as well as I wanted.

Which brings me to the bloggage title – the failing of fear. When I prepare a sermon there is rarely a sense of fear that it will come together in time for the service – I prepare well in advance. There is occasionally a sense of fear that it will not make sense to those listening as much as it does to me. There is sometimes a sense of fear that I will not have communicated as well as I want.

But for me unless there is first and foremost a fear of God, then the sermon is wasted (perhaps in both senses of the word wasted). Often when I have preached a ‘stinker’ I can trace it back to having no fear of God, no sense of the significance of what I am doing – communicating God’s truth through personality.

Fear of God is that sense of awe and wonder at who he is. It is an awareness that he gives us a glimpse of his magnificence. It is the hairs standing up on the back of the neck, shiver-down-the spine realisation that you are in the presence of the Almighty.

If I come to the sermon blasé about or overly familiar with God I am at risk of complacency about what I am about to do – communicate God’s truth to people through my personality. I will be disrespecting God and his people.

If I get to the stage where I think, “It’s only preaching” I reckon I will have lost the fear of God. I will be doing it in my own strength and it will cease to be God’s truth communicated through personality.

If I think, “I can do this on my own,” I should listen to the small voice whispering, “Go on then, I’ll be waiting for you afterwards, and I’ll make the best of what you do for the sake of those whom I love.”

If your fear of God is failing, why not try to write / draw / sculpt / sew / enact / imagine (or whatever you find easiest) a complete description of God.

[shiver goes down spine].

Be blessed, be a blessing.

The wives’ group at the vicar factory where I trained had a session that my wife attended about supporting your husband in his ministry. (The group existed even though there were women training for ministry too!) The group decided that if their husband ever preached a ‘stinker’ they could console them with these words: “It was a good text, dear.”

*insert joke about the inflatable boy here. If you don’t know it, you can find a link to the Youtube video at the end of this bloggage.

is God unreasonable?

Yesterday’s bloggage about difficult questions got me thinking about a question I got asked at a University interview. I was applying to study Law at Bristol University and had somehow been offered an interview. I travelled up on a coach in my new M&S suit without any idea what I was letting myself in for.

When I arrived I joined the other nervous-looking candidates. I can’t remember too much about the day except for two things from the interview itself.

One was the layout of the interview: it took place in what was obviously a lecturer’s study. There were two staff members seated as I entered. One was in a low armchair, the other on a desk chair. I sat on a chair that was halfway in height between those two chairs. And the two interviewers were seated about two metres apart. This meant that when I was talking to them I had to look down and to the right to speak to one and up and to the left to speak to the other. It was a bit discombobulating. I am not sure if it was deliberate – to see how we coped in awkward situations – or accidental – because there was not too much room in the study.

The second thing I remember is a question (yes, there is a link with yesterday’s bloggage – it’s almost seamless!). One of the interviewers (I don’t remember if it was ‘low, comfy, righty’ or ‘high, upright, lefty’*) asked:

rawr

“You buy a pet tiger. Before you buy it you do some research and discover that tigers can’t jump higher than 12 feet. So you build a 13 foot high fence around your garden. However, it turns out that your tiger is a super-tiger who can leap higher than 13 feet and one day he jumps the fence and mauls your neighbour. Discuss.”

I was thrown. I had no idea what to say initially, so I made it look like I was considering my answer. In the end I think I came up with a decent enough response. I said that I thought I had taken all reasonable steps in the circumstances so I was not liable. I said the tiger’s ability was so unexpected that it would be like if I had a dog on a chain and it bit through the chain and attacked someone.

I suspect it would have been better if I had talked about whether there is a strict liability for those who have wild animals in their gardens. I suspect it would have been better if I had discussed whether I might face criminal charges or even a Health and Safety investigation. I suspect it would have been better if I had discussed whether it was reasonable to keep a wild animal in a suburban garden in the first place. But none of these came to me at the time (partly because I had not studied Law at the time: after all, that’s what I was applying to study).

I did not get offered a place at Bristol University.

I am not sure it was because of my tiger-related answer. It may have been the M&S suit.

‘Reasonableness’ is at the heart of our legal system. Many cases revolve around whether someone acted reasonably, or whether someone could reasonably expect someone else to act in a certain way. It used to be that the test of ‘reasonableness’ was related to a hypothetical ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’. This was assumed to be a normally-educated and intelligent non-specialist bloke, against whose presumed conduct the actions of a defendant could be measured to see if they have been negligent. If it can be established that the man on the Clapham omnibus would have done it like that, it is reasonable.

The reasonableness test has undergone a lot of revisions. It has all sorts of caveats attached to it now, but if you are ever sitting on a bus with ‘Clapham’ on the front I hope you will take your responsibility seriously.

The problem is that when I look at God I think he is unreasonable. He requires perfection and gives us free will to choose whether or not to live up to those standards, and we fall short every time.

I think one of the problems is that you can’t apply a ‘reasonable-ness’ test to God. You can’t consider a ‘god on the Clapham omnibus’ to discern whether or not he has acted reasonably. We can’t put ourselves in his position no matter how high an opinion we have of ourselves.

But actually (and before you start lobbing abuse at the screen) the paragraph two up from here does not contain the unreasonableness. It’s quite reasonable that God’s all-consuming perfection would consume the less-than-perfect beings we become when we reject him. It’s an act of reasonable love that we are separated from him in order that we might survive, at least temporarily.

The unreasonableness is that he loves us so much that he does not want us to suffer the consequences of our actions – separation from him. The unreasonableness is that God has sorted out the problem we have caused. the unreasonableness is that he allowed his son to be executed so that we need not die. The unreasonableness is the extent of his grace that knows no limits. The unreasonableness is all to do with his generosity and love and positive attitude towards us.

I am so glad God is so unreasonable.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*Obviously these are descriptions of the seating arrangements and nothing to do with their church preference, social standing or politics

thanks

“Thank you.”

These two words are seriously under-rated, especially when put together. As well as being the polite response to somebody else’s actions, there is something deeper going on when we use them alongside each other (in that order).

‘Thank you’ is a phrase that offers recognition – we have recognised what somebody else has done, it has not gone unnoticed.

It is a phrase that shows appreciation – we are expressing something of the value that we place on the actions, which may be out of proportion to the actions. It may be that the phrase feels inadequate because the action was so significant to us. Or it may be that the appreciation is greater than the apparent value of the action because of what it means to us: for example, the simple act of holding a door open for someone may seem insignificant but to that person it may be an act of kindness that changes their mood or perception of others.

‘Thank you’ also demonstrates the value we place on someone else – we aren’t taking them for granted or assuming that what they have done ought to have been done anyway.

It speaks of a job well done; a kindness that was appreciated; a generosity that was a blessing; love that is received.

It’s always nice when someone says. “Thank you.” Awareness of that should help motivate me to be a thanker, to have an attitude of gratitude.

And if we are thankful to other people, how much more should be we thankful to God? Yes, life may be lobbing too many lemons at us for us to be able to make lemonade, but there are always blessings from God if we take the time to look for them. They may be masked by being in the shadow of the rotten stuff that is happening. They may seem insignificant on their own. But look for them, identify them and thank God for them and you will find that you receive an automatic attitude adjustment.

These are the lyrics from Alanis Morissette’s song, ‘Thank you’:

how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I’m full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping

thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you thank you silence

Be blessed, be a blessing.

You have just received the “Christian Computer Virus.”

Because we are Christians, this virus works on trust.

Please delete all the files on your hard drive, then manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list.

Thanks for your cooperation.

a fun bloggage

My bloggerel seems to be influenced by breakfast cereal at the moment. This morning as I was munching on my non-brand wheat-based biscuits I glanced at a box of crispy rice cereal that was left on the table. On the front was an advert for a ‘fun colour me in activity’ on the back of the packet. Call me cynical [pause to allow you time to shout ‘cynical’ at the screen] but I reckon that if someone has to tell you that an activity is fun, it may not be as good as you might hope. And the relationship between actual fun and promised fun may be inversely proportional: the more fun you are told the activity / venue / event will be, the less you will have.

‘Fun’ is a word that is used to describe all sorts of activities, and seems to be the default word that advertisers drop in to their adverts in the hope that we will want to buy it / do it / go there.

Our local leisure centre proclaims that it offers ‘Year round fun for all the family’

A free games website offers ‘ thousands of fun games for free’

Slightly overdoing it is ‘Fort Fun in Eastbourne, the Family Fun Park which provides outdoor and indoor fun for kids of all ages’

Long distance races are now called ‘Fun Runs’ (two words I have not often associated with each other).

A Google search for ‘fun’ yielded 3.5 BILLION results!

Regardless of my cynical view of ‘fun’ in advertising, it is clearly something that we humans like, otherwise they would not spend some much time, money and effort telling us where and how we can get it.

Sooo, and some of you are already way ahead of me, should we be describing church as ‘fun’? Well, if my cynical view is right, we should never label any church activity as ‘fun’ because it won’t be fun when people come. But the problem is that many people would associate the two words ‘church’ and ‘fun’ even less than I associate ‘fun’ and ‘run’. There is a serious problem here (pun intended).

Church is viewed as serious, boring, dull, out of touch. And we have not done much to dispel those views.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we get all frivolous. Neither am I suggesting that solemnity, reverence and awe do not have a place in church. But we have represented Jesus as someone who does not smile, as a ‘Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief’ without also representing him as the one who was accused of being too much of a party animal, who laced his teaching with humour and who, I believe, wore a smile more often than a scowl. The film Dogma starts with a Catholic Cardinal recognising that the church has an image problem and coming up with a solution. A new sigil (look it up): the Buddy Christ (pictured).

I think that it’s intended to poke fun at church attempts to be cool, trendy, hip, or any other words that lie behind similar attempts in the ‘real’ world. And I am with the film makers to a great extent. It just comes across as laughable (not the right sort of fun) or cringeworthy. So what should we do? Well, if my belief about Jesus is right, and if we are meant to be good free samples of him, the best way that people will see that being a Christian does not mean you have to surrender the right to laugh is by us being, er, fun.

Instead of holding coffee mornings, perhaps we could hold games mornings. Instead of tutting, perhaps we could giggle.

I love watching the sitcom Miranda. I think it is well-written, winsome and funny. Miranda’s mother has a phrase that drives her daughter mad because it is a stock answer to any objections or concerns she may have: “Such fun!”

Wouldn’t it be great if that was one of the characteristics people saw in us, the church, the collection of free samples of Jesus.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Why did Jesus’ popularity mushroom? Because he was a fun guy to be with.

[Okay, I apologise for that, but I could not resist].

Such fun!