Thursday, April 26, 2012


I've had an epiphany. A moment of understanding.

I shared a joke & someone didn't get it, and as a result, I got something. Something else, actually, though something kind of related.

This letter on the left was on Facebook; Clare Hayns posted it there & I was amused by it. It is funny. The preamble to the letter tells us it's "hilarious", which for me is rather overstating the case, but it did make me smile.

It's funny because it takes a line used by good people who use and love the Scriptures but don't always think about what the consequences of their words might be. It then plays on that idea, and shows that if you make a complex issue too simple, you end up with chaos. Or Canadian slaves. President Jed Bartlet once did something similar, I recall, though it turns out it may have the same root.  

However - somebody commented to me in a very serious way about this. They just didn't get that it is intended to be funny. They didn't get that there was humour here, despite the way I'd tweeted it ("Humorous take...") and despite that word "hilarious" in the preamble. The subject matter, and the fact that someone was (for them) mishandling the Scripture overrode all of that.

Or they just didn't get it.

Now - don't any of you dare judge this person. Their reaction is crucial for all of us.

In the debate on Scripture & sexuality, all of us see things in certain ways which are blindingly obvious to us, and we are amazed that other people just don't get it. The key is - everyone in this whole mess is genuine, honest, and human. Lots of us are hurt in different ways. Many of us have much riding on the outcome of these debates - from the right to be counted as equal human beings to the question of which voice is more important in the Church - Bible or Society? As these debates play out not just within our walls but without as well, the ways those rights get called can seem to be somewhat fluid, and different sectors of the church feel they matter in different ways at different times.

What I am saying is - when we speak, when we debate, when we put forward things that seem blatantly true and Scriptural and godly, it may be that others reject what we say not because they are being awkward, spiteful, unBiblical and ungodly: they may just not get it. Even though we have labelled something "humorous" and used the word "hilarious", our brothers and sisters in faith simply didn't see the joke.

That's how people are, and if we can't exercise grace, if we can't love, if all we can do is pity the poor person, judge the poor person, feel pleased with ourselves & with gentle pride know ourselves better - then God help us, because we are lost. Lost. To go back to what I said in my last post - it's one of the things I love about the Holiness tradition I find in a place like Asbury at its best: there is no holiness without grace, without generosity and kindness and humanity and love.

Love your neighbour, says Jesus. He and she may not be a monster after all. For if we are to move forwards, at some point we are going to have to behave like Christians, however much we still disagree.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

refining the gold

I've come across the excellent Asbury Seedbed site, with some really brilliant resources on it.

Asbury Seminary is one of my favourite places, a Methodist Seminary full of that rather lovely holiness graciousness which speaks of our evangelical tradition at its best. It has been a place where I have made many friends, heard much wisdom, and occasionally been privileged to participate.

One of the videos the Seedbed site has up is an excellent offering, in that conservative but gracious and holy tradition the Seminary does so well, that speaks to how evangelicals view Scripture and Homosexuality. Dr Ben Witherington covers most of what you would expect to hear clearly, kindly and from a traditional standpoint in a little over seven minutes. Do watch it.

Now - I often say we should debate these things. I kind of disagree with a number of things that Dr Witherington says - not because of the spirit in which he says them, but because I think the Scriptures actually have been sometimes unfortunately handled by those who have gone before us, and we have allowed the holiness of many godly people, and the traditions of previous ages, to dim our eyes as we look to our God-given texts on these matters.

So I want to ask some questions. Not as someone who disregards the Scripture, but as someone who loves the Bible, and as someone who only hopes he might emulate in his life the grace of the holiness tradition that is Asbury at its finest, and which has so inspired me.

This is my response - not quite as concise as Dr Witherington, but still under ten minutes...

I've already invited some others to join in with their thoughts, and now widen that net: one caveat though. I will only publish thoughts and comments and responses that are generous and gracious. We are Christians, and we may disagree, but we must love one another. People are people, loved by God, and that's the bottom line here. Anyone who forgets that will lose their voice till they recall this!

One or two questions have already come in, and rather than write, as I usually do, I've simply put my thoughts on another video. So, by all means stop now. But if you are interested, and fancy a bit of a biblical work out - you can have a go at this one too:

As I say, this is a place for questions and thoughts and responses. I'd love to think it's possible to hold a safe place to talk where there are no sides, only Christians who may not all agree, but who do all share a passion for Scripture, a compassion for people, and a desire to follow Jesus.



So I'm wallowing in nostalgia again.

It's my age. I blame it on... well, nothing really. Technology I suppose. If those guys at Vocalion weren't so good at their jobs, this would be no fun. But I've come across another couple of Syd Lawrence Orchestra CDs from the mid-1970s, and they sound superb.

I mean - I presume they've been remastered & cleaned up & had all kinds of stuff done to them, because they sound amazing. Phillips, who recorded these albums in Manchester way back when, had a very definite 'sound': the brass swam in reverb. Kind of unpleasantly so. And all of that has gone - these CDs sound crystal clear, brand new, and have a glorious roundness to the sound which modern big band recordings almost never have. It's as if people can't quite get it right now. The art has been lost. Anyone who wants to record a big band should listen to Vocalion's remastering of Holland Special/Welt Hits. Just for the sound quality.

And then there's the music. The Greatest Hits of the 1930s album was Syd's only album where he added strings to his usual big band; it means the whole thing is a bit more mellow, but it is glorious. When I was a teenager & collecting Syd's LPs on vinyl, I could never get a copy of this. Years later I found bootleg copies on CD, but now I have this re-issue and it is amazing. The band in its prime, full blooded and confident and beautiful. When I Take My Sugar To Tea, Little White Lies - glorious; and a spine-tingling Moonlight Serenade.

It's coupled with the Singin' & Swingin' album, and I haven't got there yet - but that has some great arrangements on it; I have other CD transfers of those tracks, but nothing that compares with what the Vocalion engineers have done.

And then the Holland/Germany double CD. I have never even heard these recordings before. Made for European tours, and using mostly Dutch & German tunes with very Miller-esque arrangements, these recordings are quite wonderful. I've heard the old guys, the long-standing Syd Lawrence Orchestra buffs speak highly of these recordings, and now I know why. It's like listening to an album of Miller music you never knew existed for the very first time - music played beautifully, recorded perfectly, arranged with style, care & occasionally wit, and this band at that time could do this like no other band before or since.

Yes, I'm wallowing. Wallowing. It's like sunbathing in sound. A perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jimmy Olsen

So a comment came through yesterday on my piece about Dick France; the features editor from the Daily Telegraph wanted to use the photos I'd put up there for their obituary for Dick, which they were getting round to publishing today.

I was quite taken aback - but honoured that I might be helpful in this way. I wondered how they'd found me - Google, of course. The main pic came up as the third image on a Google search I did.

It's a nice piece; click here to read it, and to see one of the pics; they used the other in the printed version.

I wished I'd had a better one to offer them than just those two from the day Dick came to St Catherine's in 2009. The only other I could find was this one. Much as I cherish it, it's not what they were looking for! This is Dick with me at my ordination in Cardiff in 1994. Yes - that's actually me standing next to him! I know, so much hair, so young, so innocent. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

So I got a Jimmy Olsen moment; a picture in the national press. And though I fancy I have taken many better photographs over the years, a better subject or worthier person is hard to imagine.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I wrote this for a wedding in (I think) 1988. That's a long time back. It's had a few makeovers since then. And I've finally learned to play it on guitar - though the bridge has been changed in order for that to happen...

It's a simple love song, and as I recall it was based on a poem I was given, though nothing of the poem made it into the final lyric. Just the sentiment.

It was always intended to have a double edge; like the allegory of Song of Songs, a good love song should carry with it the possibility of God's voice singing over his people as well as those people singing to each other. At times I moulded the words more clearly to make that point, at times less so.

An old school friend, who was always dismissive of my piano playing (he'd hate my guitar playing too, I just know it!) always took pains (and I think it did pain him) to admire some of my melodies. If the hymn I posted last week carries my most personal theology, this melody, from half a lifetime ago, remains one of my favourites.

Ah, I don't write them like I used to.

I'll Always Love You: thanks to Andrew & Lis who asked me to write it without knowing what they were asking.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I saw a copy of a letter today. In it, I was criticised. The letter was not sent to me, though I have a suspicion I was intended to see it. It had its effect; I was hurt and disappointed.

I'm preparing a sermon for Sunday at the moment on John 20.19-31. It contains the rather confusing instruction that whoever we forgive is forgiven; and whoever we do not forgive is not forgiven. We get the power to extend the power of the cross or to withhold it, apparently.

Of course, it must mean something else. What is our faith about if not forgiveness? How can there be any point if we can refuse to forgive? How can we be forgiven if we refuse to forgive - doesn't Jesus bang this point home time and time again?

Well, absolutely.

Jesus is not granting the church the right to become power crazed. The church does become power crazed. People always like to assert themselves. It's part of the human condition. But we don't walk this path with Jesus' blessing; he watches us wander down this road with sadness, not approval; sorry disappointment for blessings missed, not nodding gladness for just desserts gained.

Bottom line: the cross says Christianity is about forgiveness. And if we don't get that, don't receive it, don't pass it on - it stops here. Whomever we forgive is forgiven, gloriously; but if we don't forgive - how can anyone be forgiven? If we, who have been given the gold of such blessing, don't pass it on - it stops here. If we don't forgive, no-one is forgiven. It stops.

The cross stops?

The church is always a generation from ending; because we are always a generation away from such selfishness; being glad we are recipients of grace and being glad, we fold our arms and watch everyone else suffer in ignorance and go to hell in a handcart.


I'm hurt and disappointed by what I read today. But - if my faith means anything, then what am I to do?

Be miffed for an hour. And remember what I have been forgiven, eventually. And if I have been forgiven, then I have to forgive too. And again. And again, till it sticks. This doesn't fail because I'm selfish; it works because I remember, and am grateful.

The person who wrote of me is loved by Jesus. The person they wrote to is loved by Jesus. So am I. These are truths I know more than feel right now; but sometimes we have to settle for the head leading the heart.

Whoever we forgive is forgiven. So we forgive. This brings life, and life is better.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


I think I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked something to the effect of "Is it strange to not be being a vicar?" Particularly at times like this. Festival time. Easter. The times when (say, last year) people used to say, "I suppose this is your busiest time?"

No, it's not strange. Yes, it's a calling rather than just a job, but I'm still very much the same person, just not doing the same job. Three times this last week I've had people ask me for advice on matters of life and faith and work. It turns out my life in Christ and who I am was never about where my pay packet came from; and who we are seeps out, good and bad and indifferent. That's a tricky thing! And a reassuring one.

It's fair to wonder if I miss it.

No is the honest answer. Sometimes I miss the attention; but the attention is what I disliked the most too. That's human contrariness for you. People are ignoring me for who I am now. That's refreshing. And I enjoy attempting faithful anonymity. When you are the vicar, you have to be nice to people in Tescos, just in case they know who you are. They always know who you are. When you are anonymous, being nice can be done because it's a good thing. I take pleasure in this, and in the forgiveness for the failing to achieve it.

Because I so enjoyed leading and speaking, some are concerned I miss these things. Please believe me - I don't. I am simply delighted to be in Calverley, to be a part of a lovely village fellowship led by a good man who has a wonderful knack with liturgy and Scripture. Good Friday morning was a delight. Today, Easter Sunday, was a total joy. John has a way of adding to the liturgy with seasonal material that lifts it makes it special without making it unrecognisable from what we know and use all the time. I have been to some places & felt that the congregation must never know what is coming next; John constantly refreshes the service and shapes it with wonderful sentences that let you know exactly where we are in the year without ever, ever making you think "heck, what's going on now?" He is a superb liturgist, using whatever resources he has with a brilliant sense of what a congregation needs. Today was a classic example of it. A straightforward communion that rang out with Easter joy. Do I miss leading? No - I love being a part of this church, led so well. And his preaching today was wonderfully warm and personal, and took us into the heart of the Gospel, good news for us, by peeling away at the Mark narrative and found in two words (two words of apparently inconsequential narrative detail) a depth of grace and mercy and joy and application of God's love that surely cannot have failed to touch any person present. I loved it.

I guess the questions I am asked are concerns that come from loving hearts which seek to find out -

Do I have regrets?

No. God is good. Behold, he makes all things new. I am not in a place of loss but of finding. Discovery is wonderful, and following Jesus may not look like we thought it would every step of the way, but Easter - of all times - tells us that when we are tempted to look back and feed regret we need to see angels on tombstones, sleepy guards shamefacedly stumbling away, and hear magical words reminding us that the truth is no longer tied down where we or others once left it, last Friday, last year, whenever: He is risen. And rising, raises us with himself. This is news. And new. And glorious truth that gloriously renews.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

the Lord is here

I can't remember exactly why I wrote this hymn words; I think it was because I was preaching on John 20.19-31, the whole Doubting Thomas story, and as I immersed myself in the narrative (my usual prep) this just came out.

As I write that, I have a sneaking feeling that I may even have written these words for one of the BBC Radio Wales broadcasts that we did in 2007; certainly they appeared for the first time in our song books at St Catherine's at that time. We recorded two services, one of them for Easter Sunday, and one of the features of that service was a scene around Jesus & Thomas. The music you hear on this clip comes from that service.

It's interesting to me that a hymn based so straightforwardly on a Bible passage evokes within me the strength of emotional response that these words always achieve.

I think perhaps they demonstrate something of how my faith works. Verses one and two are a fairly simple re-telling of the story of Jesus appearing to Thomas & the other disciples, but placing us within the timeline. Suddenly, we are there; he is here. There is glory and grace and peace & the Spirit breathed out over us. We see his hands & side; we see and half understand, for this is beyond us. Half understanding, we look from scars to eyes and see not pain but triumph and joy.

Those words are truths the disciples knew; truths Thomas knew; words and truths we find we too know. We are one, part of the same body, the same experience, the same family of faith. Easter binds us across the years.

And then the third verse becomes very personal. The first half of the verse may be the disciples on the first Easter Sunday evening; the second half is Thomas; the depth of the emotion for me is that all of these words are my heart as I see Jesus. Night is gone, day shines bright, hope replaces fear, and though I fall trembling before my Lord because I am uncomprehending, unholy, unworthy, my fall is halted by the Risen One whose hand now lifts me. After everything, knowing everything, his resurrection (it turns out) is not his alone.

It's ours too.

I saw an old friend last weekend. The first friend who ever invited me to hear of Jesus. We see each other occasionally. We have much in common and many differences. I will always, always be grateful to him for that invitation. He told me he quotes something I wrote in my Salvation's Song book; I say there something like, the Gospel is - we are free to worship God.

And so we stand with songs of rising praise,
and sing the anthem which can know no end,
confessing Jesus, ever and always,
our Lord, our God, our Saviour and our friend.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

it sort of comes and goes

In 2008 David Cameron was quoted as describing his faith as being like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: "it sort of comes and goes". He went on: "That sums up a lot of people in the Church of England. We are racked with doubts, but sort of fundamentally believe, but don't sort of wear it on our sleeves or make too much of it. I think that is sort of where I am."

I sort of understand him.

However, times have changed. Our dear Prime-Minister Honest Dave has been braving hordes of Christian lions, and throwing himself, martyr-like, before them, both asking for - and offering prayer.

Sort of a turnaround really. Not even Tony Blair in all his pomp 'did God' (TM Alistair Campbell) so publicly. When David Frost asked him if he prayed with George Bush, Tony squirmed. Honest Dave would probably offer up the info, and sort of pray for Frosty there & then on live TV.

So what's happened?

Well, first off, this isn't a one-off. Much publicity as this year's Easter Message from the PM has received - he did do this last year. Oh yes. Here's last year's message:
I would like to send my best wishes to everyone here in Britain and across the world as we come together to celebrate this very special festival in the Christian year.Easter is a time when Christians are reminded of God’s mercy and celebrate the life of Christ. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus taught us to love God and love our neighbour. He led by example and for millions of us his teachings are just as relevant now as they were in his lifetime.As we share in this festival with our friends and family, we can all be reminded of the enormous contribution Christianity has made to our country. Easter reminds us all to follow our conscience and ask not what we are entitled to, but what we can do for others. It teaches us about charity, compassion, responsibility, and forgiveness. No matter what faiths we follow, these are values which speak to us all.I would like to send my best wishes to you and your families at this time, and enjoy a very Happy Easter.
In 2008, Honest Dave appears embarrassed by the subject of faith; he wriggles and all those verbal ticks ('sort of') come gushing out as he feels his way nervously forwards. Three years on, and PM in 2011, he is on confident ground.

OK, if we're being picky we might see a reduction of Christianity to a contribution to our country (country being greater you see in that sentence), of the message of Easter being about conscience (really? that's the central message?) and about service to others.

But in there he also picks some pretty major themes of our faith: God's mercy, the greatest command (surely at the absolute core of all Christian living) of loving God and neighbour, and even his list of 'charity, compassion, responsibility and forgiveness' isn't bad, is it?

Particularly interesting - and many commentators picked up on this last year - is his "we" and "us" language. Jesus taught us to love God; for millions of us his teachings are just as relevant now. This sort of Anglican is being pretty clear where his faith allegiance lies.

He ends with a greetings card blessing, and sends us on our way...

This year, 2012, he issued his Easter message a few days early as he met Christian leaders in Holy Week. It's been a tough time for Honest Dave. The spinning wheels are in danger of falling off the Coalition bus. Fuel crises, spats to the right, fueds to the left, and several of the leaders he stood before in Downing Street unhappy with him specifically over his stance on gay marriage and tax relief on charitable giving and secret trials and a host of other issues. So he did what he does so well - he made a self-deprecating joke: "In the past week I've felt like I've needed someone to pray for me," he said. He then looked out at the gathered church leaders & prominent Christian politicians, paused, and added: "They might have overdone it."

He addressed differences with some of his audience head-on, as well as referring to the case in Devon where councillors were prevented from praying at their meeting - till his government changed the law:  "I think there's something of a fightback going on, and we should welcome that; the values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values we need."

Well, frankly what else was he going to say in that company?

What else? Interestingly - this: this is this year's PM's Easter message.
Easter week is a very important moment in the Christian calendar, so I would like to extend my best wishes to everyone here in the United Kingdom, and across the world, at this special time of year.“This is the time when, as Christians, we remember the life, sacrifice and living legacy of Christ. The New Testament tells us so much about the character of Jesus; a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love. These are the values that Jesus embraced, and I believe these are values people of any faith, or no faith, can also share in, and admire. “It is values like these that make our country what it is – a place which is tolerant, generous and caring. A nation which has an established faith, that together is most content when we are defined by what we are for, rather than defined by what we are against. In the book of Luke, we are told that Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” – advice that when followed makes for a happier, and better society for everyone. “So as families and friends get together this week, I would like to send my best wishes to you all, and I hope and pray you have a very happy and peaceful Easter.
Again - we Christians can be so sniffy. Is this the perfect Easter sermon? No. I saw one excellent comment say that we celebrate the "living person of Christ" not his "living legacy". Fair point. And I would say that as a politician, Honest Dave speaks inherently politically (and that's not a criticism, it's just a fact - a musician speaks musically, a climatologist, well, you get my gist). So though he speaks of Easter, as last year the values of Christianity 'make our country what it is'. Though now they aren't a 'contribution', they are the defining character of 'a nation which has an established faith'.

It's interesting to see how that works for Honest Dave. It's about tolerance, generosity & care, it's about working together and being 'defined by what we are for, rather than defines by what we are against'. He finally describes the Big Society: it's the Golden Rule. The Big Society? Honest Dave wants us to find the Better Society, and places that in a Christian context. He may or may not know that he's working out an eschatology here, a Kingdom theology. And Easter is a pretty good place to let that burst out.

I might point out that in his Bible reading plan, he's moved from Mark to Luke; expect him to quote John in 2013.

I will point out his ending.

It's still a bit greetings card-y, but in keeping with his self-identification as a man of faith ("this is the time when, as Christians, we remember") he totally outs himself and (sort of) prays for us. The PM prays for us. "I hope and pray you have a very happy and peaceful Easter'. Tony Blair never did that. I guess if footballers can Pray4Muamba, Honest Dave can Pray4U&Me.

Though another thought crossed my mind.

For it does seem to me that - and why not - Mr Cameron may be on his own sort of spiritual journey. I very much hope so. And who would be helping him? A fellow-Etonian runs the biggest outreach of them all in the Alpha Course, though he was a Cambridge man so that seems an unlikely alliance.

No - that little prayer at the end is the giveaway isn't it? After all, since he has been PM, Honest Dave has been having weekly sessions with the Church of England's Evangelist in Chief, who is currently celebrating sixty years in that role, and who also led the nation by praying for us at our last major Christian holiday. I think she is having her timeless and godly effect on our Prime Minister. That's what an established faith is for.

Oh of course you know whom I mean...

I'm on the train...

Let's pretend: you've phoned me, and I'm shouting so that perfect strangers can hear everything. As I type this, the girl next to me (whom I don't know from Eve) has just begun to speak, and has uttered the magic words:

I'm on the train.

Her life is unfolding for me to enjoy. I'm closing my ears and opening my heart to you instead. Maybe she'll log on later and read this. For all I know. A thousand of you a month do; that's more people than I send birthday cards to so one or two of you (perhaps the ones in North Korea) are unlikely to be people I know well.

Anyway. It's been a while, and stuff has been happening.

Firstly, I've been quiet politically & I've had complaints. All this pro-gay marriage stuff. I'm just selling the Coalition line. I'm told I wouldn't have been so generous if Gordon Brown had been behind it.

Well, that's true. But Gordon Brown would have done it all rather differently. And with such a sulky face.

The Coalition have been having a rough time of it; messing up tax benefits for charities, the elderly, everyone - except the wealthy. I don't mind that Dinner with Dave costs £250,000. You should see what I charge; I think he's underselling himself. I do mind that churches which rely on poor people to get by (and used to catch the odd break when repairing the roof) now simply have to ask poor people to give more. I do believe Honest Dave cares; but cutting that particular corner at the same time as cutting the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p felt awkward.

That tax break also feels awkward to all charities who rely on the occasional big donor. Rich people give big & reclaim tax on giving; it costs them more now to give, and that's a disincentive. Not very Big Society is it?

Yes, yes, we're all in it together. Top tax rate down from 50p to 45p; stamps up from 46p to 60p. Everyone suffers. Errr...

Dave does his best. You have to give it to him. No you have to; he's listening in on every conversation, apparently, or at least will be if he gets his way & then tries you secretly for what you said secretly. Still, on the whole, I'm happier with Dave listening in than Gordon Brown. Or Rupert Murdoch, who's been doing it for years. Allegedly. (For the benefit of Dave, and his horsey friends, just in case they number amongst the 973 people I don't know who read this.)

I'm still on the train. In Doncaster. It's the safest place to be. In Doncaster.

Keeping it political, it's been very exciting in my neck of the woods, I actually know someone in Gorgeous George's constituency of Bradford West. What a turn up for the books! Ed Miliband's party failed to do something that nobody could fail to do! (Miliband: the smallest unit of opposition; thanks to whomever spread that on Facebook.) Gorgeous George turned up, called Bradford 'Blackburn' (where I also know people, co-incidentally), smiled a lot, said the war in Iraq was terrible (so was the war in Crimea - and I think no-one is running on that one either any more) and won by a landslide.

Lesson: bi-elections are won by the politician who shakes the most hands, smiles the most, proclaims his/her love for peace the loudest, and is photographed the least with Ed Miliband or George Osborne. Knowing the name of your constituency is not essential. Especially if many of your constituents aren't sure either. Allegedly. (Again, for Dave. And anyone who may or may not ever have known anyone who may or may not ever have fed apples to a retired Metropolitan Police horse.)

In personal news - it's almost Easter, or as I would have called it last year, Holy Week. Not that that's a personal thing. Many people know this. That it's Holy Week, that is. Just not so many where I work. Certainly fewer than where I used to work. And I am about to not work at Easter for the first time in eighteen years.

Calverley Church had it's annual meeting last weekend, and it was well done & John (the vicar) spoke movingly. I thoroughly enjoyed not running it. Not preparing it. Not dealing with the three people who tell me how to do it better, and do so at great length.

I'm on the train - and as I sit here, counting my blessings and smiling at the public woes of others, I want to stop, to pull the safety cord and make everyone realise something.

Honest Dave is right.

We are all in this together. That girl whose conversation I tried not to listen to. The rich who might pay more tax. The poor who end up footing church & charity bills they can't afford. Honest Dave & Gorgeous George & even Gordon Brown. Not to mention unmentionable horsey people who may or may not have been in the employ of Australian media barons. The congregation at Calverley. Friends in Pontypridd. Those who know what Maundy Thursday is all about and those who wonder why a day of the week would get such a confusing name.

I am enjoying leading worship & preaching at Calverley - doing ministry without carrying responsibility. A great combination. And anyone who gets to do something without actually being responsible is easily and quickly critical of others. I'm on the train; I'm not driving it. I can speak to others. Write a blog. Watch the scenery. Complain about the speed.

It's so human.

Honest Dave is right.

And his Easter message may not be perfect theology, but a little pulling together, recognising our own humanity, our frailty and fallibility and ability to reach out and help and affect the people around us, has a massive potential. Easter is a time of death and resurrection. Dying to self & rising to Christ, dying to selfishness and rising to the glory of all that God has for us as we serve him in and through one another.

Perhaps the train might be Holy Week, and the destination the glory of all that lies ahead. And perhaps as I listen to my clever-cleverness I might let it go and aim for something better in what is to come. Dying to the cheap laugh and easy critical word. Rising to love.

I'm on the train; but I'm heading somewhere better.