don’t try this at home

nick glove smileThis photo was taken a long time ago – in the days when I had hair (I know you can’t see it in the photo) and my waist was a lot slimmer (yes it was THAT long ago!). You can tell how long ago it was because I had a Gordon the Gopher puppet (in the background).

It’s something I do from time to time to entertain and amuse, and sometimes I even make a serious point about it. When I do this in public I always say that people should not try it at home. There is a knack to it and if you get it wrong at the least you will find you will hurt yourself trying to pull the glove onto your head, you may end up getting your face slapped by an exploding glove, and at worst you could suffocate. Leave it to the professionals (ie me!).

I wonder if sometimes when we hear sermons or talks in churches we think that the speaker has said, “Don’t try this at home.” For example, last night we had a really special evening with the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell. He was speaking about what a ‘church without walls’ might be like. It was inspiring stuff. At the end I asked people to pause and ask themselves what God might be saying to them from the evening. Then I asked them to think about what they are going to do about what God had said to them… and there was a murmur from the congregation at that point. I don’t know what people were saying or thinking but it felt like they were saying, “We didn’t expect to receive homework!”

Jesus never said, “Don’t try this at home.” Quite the opposite in fact. He asked us to follow him, and he did some amazing and outrageous things in people’s homes…

Be blessed, be a blessing.



creative tension

Yesterday I was in a meeting with some incredibly creative and talented people gathered at Baptist House… writers, artists, designers, innovators, bloggers, photographers, film-makers, journalists, presenters, programmers and much more beyond. We had each been asked to share briefly something creative that introduced us to the group. When I first got that email I thought about what I could do: I could do a magic trick, I could tell some jokes, I could stick a rubber glove on my head…

And then, if I am honest, I forgot about it. Indeed I forgot about it until I arrived in the meeting and looked at the agenda. Aaaaargh! I was thrilled that I was not going first, and did some quick brain-wracking. What did I have with me?

No playing cards or props: magic tricks not likely to go well then.

No rubber gloves: that little display will be a bit flat without one.

Couldn’t think of any jokes: not going to go down well.

What to do? The time was getting closer and so far others had shared a story they had written, a radio interview with themselves, a ‘wordle’ they had created from tweets in response to ‘how would you describe me?’… Pressure was building. And I think that was what led me to my eventual solution.

And then I remembered my bloggerel, which may have been what had got me into the meeting in the first place. I had my tablet with me (Motorola Xoom) and thankfully had previously been at Baptist House with it and had logged into the open network. I switched it on, desperately hoping for a signal, and ‘hallelujah!’ there it was.

I thought about reading out a bloggage, but that seemed a bit sad. So in the end I read my ‘symbiosis’ poem (see ‘pomes’ page above). It’s autobiographical and is about the pressure I feel when I can’t find something and how my wife, Sally, is always able to find them.

I think it went okay. But if you were in that meeting and are now reading this, I am very sorry for being unprepared. I have often wondered whether I ought to start a new blog / ministry called SOTP. It stands for ‘seat of the pants’ and would relate cautionary tales about just about getting away with things or preparing at the last minute. I would intend it as a warning and encouragement to be prepared, however I have a feeling that it might turn into a celebration of all things last-minute and be counter-productive!

I want to say ‘thank you’ to the BUGB Communications Department for hosting the meeting, which I found very insightful, inspiring and encouraging. I hope it met the purpose for which they called the meeting – to help look creatively at how we communicate as a denomination. I drove home with lots of ideas buzzing around my head. Some of them may emerge one day. You’ll probably read about it here first.

One person during the meeting said, “I am not creative,” and in that context with so many talented people I felt like agreeing with them. Except that we are all creative. I believe it’s part of being created in the image of our Creator. Some people get creative with paint, with computers, with websites, with words, with images, with video and so on. Some people get creative in the way that they encourage others, look for ways to bless them, do their work diligently, suggest ways of doing administrative tasks better, in the intonation of their voice as they speak, even the way that they greet you. We are all creative in our own way: and that’s what makes the kaleidoscope of people around us. Look to see creativity in anyone and you will find it – appreciate it when you see it. Look for it in yourself and give thanks to your Creator. Then get creative!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

COPLEMTLEY – that’s completely out of order. (see yesterday’s bloggage for context, and yes, there may be a series!)