Sermon: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Ordinary 5, Year C

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures;”

You probably don’t remember the name Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin nor should you. But during his day, he was a powerful man on this earth. A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and was a full member of the Politburo. Although Communism in Russia is long dead and buried, we should not forget how aggressively Communism sought to undermine, even destroy Christianity and replace it with an atheist state.

There’s one particular story about Bukharin. It’s about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity hurling insult, argument, and proof against it.

An hour later, when he was finished, he looked out at what seemed to be the smouldering ashes of the people’s faith. “Are there are any questions?” Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium, but then one older man began his slow but steady pace to the lectern.

Standing shoulder to shoulder to the communist leader, he surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally, he mustered all the strength he had inside him and shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” and en masse, the crowd stood to their feet and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

My dear friends: the Resurrection: This morning’s epistle outlines the core of our faith, the true Gospel proclaimed by the Church for millennia and as real today as it was in 55AD when Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth.

It is always before us: in our Creed, at the heart of our faith. Paul had to remind the church at Corinth, and we too need to be reminded of the gospel that we have received and on which, we have taken our stand.

This is the Easter message, even though we are not yet even into Lent, our faith is an Easter faith, we are an Easter people, liberated by the Resurrection. I stand here today, in this sacred space, to proclaim this word that…

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Join me in saying, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We face interesting times: in our parishes, as we look to our mission and outreach and how we simply faithfully continue to worship; in his deanery as we face the challenges of the future; and in the Church as a whole – a fragmenting Anglican Communion with its divisions and hang-ups about the sexuality; all the while bible-bashing fundamentalists of bigotry and hate at home and abroad, seek to take a Gospel of love and inclusivity and draw a few selective passages of Paul and the Levitical law to condemn in ways that Christ never would.

Lurking behind all of this is the whole issue of how Christians engage with modern society, and explain what the Gospel has to do with them, and how it can transform them.

That Gospel has little to do with heavy-duty theology, or complex philosophy but at the heart of it, and at the heart of all that we do…it’s all about the Resurrection.

Paul said if there’s no Resurrection, then all the preaching is useless.

If there is no Resurrection, our faith has no value.
If there is no Resurrection, we become false witnesses.
If there is no Resurrection, the transformation that takes place within our lives when we know Christ is meaningless.
If there is no Resurrection, then we are to be pitied among humankind.

But Paul was quick to proclaim, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, (he is) the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

In a later verse in the same passage of I Corinthians 15, Paul says the resurrection will change us….

The body sown is perishable, but it will be raised imperishable;
it is sown with dishonour, it will be raised in glory.
it is sown in weakness, it will be raised in power;
it is sown as natural, it will be raised as spiritual” (15:42-43)

This Resurrection is our hope! It is our joy! It is our faith!

The resurrection of Christ from the grave is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is the Magna Carta of our faith. Everything depends on it. Nothing in the Christian faith is worth trusting without it. As a matter of fact, it is not stretching too far to say that all of the New Testament stands firmly on the event we call Easter.

And when we began to doubt, we need to be reminded that no event in history has shaped the world like the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There is no other religion anywhere in the world that offers an empty tomb as its salvation. There is no other religion that has people lined up for hours in Jerusalem or elsewhere, to look at the empty place where their leader is no longer. In short, Christianity is the only religion that celebrates a Resurrection.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has stood the test of time because there isn’t anyone who has been able to disprove it. Even in the face of persecution, the apostles and those who followed them willingly underwent Martyrdom proclaiming Christ risen.

If they had made it up, then surely, at the first sight of an axe, a hammer and nails or a gridiron, surely they would have admitted that it was made up. But no, with faith in Christ resurrected, the glorious martyrs held fast to the Gospel. If anything is worth dying for, then it is worth credibility. That is why I believe in the resurrection and the power that it has to change lives: my life, your lives

And because of that Gospel message, hopes have been restored, attitudes have brightened, emotions have been positively influenced, and lives have been changed.

Let me tell you another story…

It was Easter Day 1973 . Uganda groaned under the terror of Idi Amin. Still fresh in the memory of young priest Kefa Sempangi’s memory was a faced burned beyond recognition, the sight of soldiers cruelly beating a man, and the horrible sound of boots crushing bones, all for the crime of being Christian.

But that East of 1973 Sempangi bravely and openly preached on the Risen Lord in his town’s home football stadium to over 7,000 people. After the service, five of Idi Amin’s Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his little church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at Sempangi’ s face.

“We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin’s orders” said the captain. “If you have something to say, say it now before you die.” Sempangi, thinking of his wife and little girl, began to shake.

But the risen Lord living in his heart gave him the courage to speak. “Do what you must, “ he said, “The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is danger my friends, but yours. I am alive in the risen Lord, but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction.”

The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lower his gun and the other guns followed, “Will you pray for us?” he asked. Sempangi did, and from that day those five officers, now converted through the witness of Sempangi’s bravery, protected the Anglican Priest with their very lives.”

Nothing has ever shaped the world like the gospel message.

As we are reminded that it’s all about the Resurrection, and that nothing has ever shaped the world like it, I’m also reminded a very simple fact about life itself…Life on this earth, in these bodies, does not go on forever.

There is death. Every one of us must face our own mortality. There is no military victory, no medical cure, no global village that can prepare any individual to answer the ultimate questions in life any better than the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the hope of the Russian Orthodox standing against the atheism of Communion, It’s the hope of Paul and the Corinthian Church. It’s the hope of people like Sempangi, who in the face of death itself, stood firm and claimed that indeed Christ is risen!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.

Blessing of Throats for S. Blaise, 3rd January

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Blaise (Blase, Blaize, who knows?), who was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia in the fourth century. Before being martyred, he is said to have healed a boy who was choking. Tradition also has it that he was martyred by beheading, face up. Since the eighth century, Saint Blaise has been venerated as the patron of those who suffer from diseases of the throat. We pray in a special way today for protection from afflictions of the throat and from other illnesses. The blessing of Saint Blaise is a sign of our faith in God’s protection and love for us and for the sick.

Candles with Red Martyr's Ribbon

Candles with Red Martyr’s Ribbon

GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

The celebrant says:

Let us now pray for those who are sick and suffering, for those who care for the sick, and for all who seek the blessings of good health.

We pray to the Lord Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who suffer from sickness and disease, that they may receive healing, we pray to the Lord. R.

For the mentally ill and for their families, that they may receive comfort, we pray to the Lord. R.

For those with physical disabilities, that the strength of Christ may invigorate them, we pray to the Lord. R.

For doctors and nurses, and for all who care for the sick, we pray to the Lord. R.

For those who seek the prayers of Saint Blase today, that they may be protected from afflictions of the throat and other forms of illness, we pray to the Lord. R.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

With the crossed candles touched to the throat of each person, the celebrant says immediately:

Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

Each person responds: Amen.

My Funeral Wishes

This is the document in my Evernote, but just in case my children don’t think to look in there. Here are my Funeral Wishes

To my beloved children: Liam, Emma and Zoë

Although I have spoken of this often, and you all know my funeral wishes generally, this is where I write it out.

My faith in the victory of Christ and the promise of the resurrection is total, and therefore I want my funeral to reflect this conviction. Whether there are 5 people at my funeral or 500, the message that they should all hear is that of John 10:10 – Christ came that we may have life, and life in all its fullness. Hold onto that. I want you to know that I love you, that I have had a good life, filled with the joy of marriage, children and loved being a priest. I know I moaned a lot, but that’s because it mattered. Don’t think about the last bit of my life, but look over the whole of it and see a life fully lived and a life fully enjoyed.

I would like a full Requiem Mass, with as much outrageous celebration as possible: acolytes, thurifer, invite as many people to concelebrate as they wish: this is all about the resurrection, so WHITE vestments.

I don’t want a coffin: it shields us from the reality of death, which comes to us all and is very much a part of life. Wrap my body in a hessian sack, or even better used coffee bean sacks, which is an irony which will continue to tickle me for ever. You don’t therefore need to have me carried in: use the trolley. Inside the sack, dress me in my cassock, alb and if it is still there, my first mass WHITE vestments: it was my greatest privilege to celebrate the Holy Mysteries and when I see my Redeemer face to face, I hope that he will forgive my many sins and recognise how much I loved him in his Holy Eucharist. Put my biretta on the top and a single red rose. No other flowers, because I trust that whatever church this happens in will have it all sorted by Sunday. If I die in Lent or Advent, then you shouldn’t have flowers in Church anyway.

This bit needs to be passed to the principal celebrant, as it might sound a little bit prissy, but the priests will know what I mean. It’s their Mass, but I would prefer the 2nd Missal  (1998) Roman Eucharistic Prayer III because it was what I always used for a Requiem, and the words are so lovely. The Preface and Collect of Christian Death from the same Missal would be nice, but as was my practice, frame it within a Common Worship structure; but no collect for purity (use it as the vesting prayer) and definitely no prayer of humble access: I always hated that prayer.

Bring me into Church the night before and say the Vespers for the Dead over me.

Readings:

Philippians 2:5-11 – the kenotic hymn – God loved us so much that he poured himself out for me. And you.
John 14:1-6 from “do not let your hearts be troubled” to “I am the way, the truth and the life” – take both of these ideas to heart… it’s all true.

Mass Setting: James MacMillan St Anne’s Mass (which will remind me/us fondly of St. Thomas the Apostle, Elson my first Incumbency), but that doesn’t have a Gloria, so use David Thorne’s Gloria from the Mass of S. Thomas. These are congregational mass settings and people know them. For a Requiem you can still use a Gloria in Lent/Advent.

Hymns
(very much a work in progress)

Introit – Christ Triumphant
Gradual –
Creed – to the tune of Blaenwern/Hyfydol (I always get them confused)
Offertory – Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Communion – Let all mortal flesh keep silent
Post Communion – We want to see Jesus lifted high (actions are mandatory!!!)
Recessional – Sing my tongue the glorious battle. Take my body out to Pangua Ligna, just like Maundy Thursday.

I would prefer to be buried, anywhere convenient. However, if that isn’t practical, then go ahead and cremate me: if you do that, then perhaps you might like to dispose of my ashes around Walsingham – a place so central to my faith. You can go to the field where we did the Youth Pilgrimage for so many years, and put me there: never feel you need to return to my grave/ashes because by then I am in Christ and with Christ and be very assured that it’s okay.

After the Requiem Mass, much Plymouth Gin, Malt Whisky, Wine and Real Ale should be drunk: remember me fondly, forgive me my failings, my insensitivities and shortcomings as a person and a priest, tell some funny stories (usually at my expense) but most of all remember that Christ has defeated sin and death and know the promise of the resurrection: God wipes away every tear from your eyes, so do not be sad: know that I love you all and in the presence of the Lord, I will be praying for you. Forever.

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Epiphany Proclamation 2016

Dear brothers and sisters,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,
and shall ever be manifest among us,
until the day of his return.

Through the rhythms of times and seasons
let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination,
the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial,
and his rising celebrated
between the evening of the Twenty-Fourth day of March
and the evening of the Twenty-Sixth day of March,
Easter Sunday being on the Twenty-Seventh day of March.

Each Easter — as on each Sunday —
the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed
by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the Tenth day of February.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on
Thursday, the Fifth day of May.

Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the Fifteenth day of May.

And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be
on the Twenty-Seventh day of November.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ
in the feasts of the holy Mother of God,
in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,
and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Christingle 2015

Christmas Eve

The Prezi which accompanies this can be found at: https://prezi.com/mj9bepkettmj/

Equipment:
Christingle Kits and Grace, Knitted Nativity given to various children around Church and asked to look after them carefully, Candles & Tapers, Fire Extinguishers and Water Buckets in Chancel. Voile covers the big nativity

People gather in Nave; while Micky Mouse’s Christmas, Tom & Jerry’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” and CJMs “Heaven’s Final Word” plays

Welcome

(coming in from the back) 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1…

Christmas starts… now! Welcome to our Christingle Service

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen

The Lord Be With You
And also with you

O Come All Ye Faithful

(vs 1-3) ( Number 12 on Carol Sheets)

1 O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him,
born the King of angels:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

2 God of God,
Light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten, not created:
Chorus

3 Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
‘Glory to God
in the highest:’
Chorus

  • Now I won’t want to keep you long tonight as I know you all have to get back to your beds
  • because some of you may be expecting something or someone later to call.
  • However, before then, I want us tonight to go on a special journey.
  • There are so many of us that we can’t actually move, but this will be a journey of the mind: a journey through the Christmas story, and through this journey, I hope that we will be able to remind ourselves of the reason why we gather on this special night, the reason for the season, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

So, let us begin our journey by hearing what Isaiah foretold…

Listen to this:

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

This is certainly an exciting time: and as we get all figitty with the sheer fun of seeing all our relatives, eating lots of scrummy food and may (if we’ve been good) opening the odd present or two! Sometimes, we can miss the reason for the season: sometimes amid the hustle and bustle, the noise, we can lose sight of the stillness, the pause.

God plan has been coming some time. A baby takes time to grow in their Mummy’s tummy and in the same way, Jesus grew inside Mary, slowly and over the past few weeks and months we have been looking forward to this wonderful thing which the prophets of old (like Isaiah) foretold.

Until God chooses to step into this world and become one of us,

GOD

IS

HERE

God is here to be a part of our lives, not remote and distant, but here in time and history and to be present today in the Church, in his word and in his holy sacraments.

Let us now sing The First Noel (Vs 1+6) as we turn round to the sanctuary

The First Noel

(Vs 1+6) (Number 5)
1 The first Nowell the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a-keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

6 Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

Knitted Nativity – dotted around with various children in the church, who should be there?

Mary / Joseph / Shepherds / Kings / Animals

Call children up to form mixed human/knitted tableau

No Jesus, because he is born tonight.

We have another crib in this church, before we see it let us sing While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

While Shepherds Watched their flocks

(Number 7)

1 While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.

2 ‘Fear not,’ said he (for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind);
‘glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind.

3 ‘To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;
and this shall be the sign:

4 ‘The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid.’

5 Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song;

6 ‘All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to men
begin and never cease.’

The Voile is lifted from the Big Nativity

Here we can see all those characters that we collected at the front of Church.

Listen to the story from the holy bible:

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.
While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

This year has certainly been a good year for Christmas Adverts hasn’t it? Mog’s Christmas, and the one about the man in the moon. They’re all trying to make us buy stuff for Christmas, but the best gift is different.

This version of the Man in the Moon video ends a bit different

As we are all excited about all the gifts Father Christmas will bring, we need to remember that the best gift of all comes wrapped not in shiny paper with a big bow on it, but wrapped in human flesh.

Every time a gift is given, it says something doesn’t it? A gift means:

  • I care about you
  • I think you’re special
  • I love you

And this gift from God says exactly that.

God, the powerful creator of the world, could have sent his Son in power and glory and forced us to be good; but God loves us, and wanted his Son to show us, not force us.

God sent Jesus in the world as a tiny, vulnerable baby; in an obscure corner of the world; so that the saviour of the world would be one of us: tiny and vulnerable in this great big world.

It’s very tempting to only think of the baby Jesus and to forget that this is not the end of the story, but only the beginning. The child born in a smelly, cold, cave which sheltered animals would grow up, and the fabulous stories told of his birth would be mirrored by those wonderful things he did as an adult: to make the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and to heal the sick; but none of that compares to the ultimate giving – the best present of all, the gift of our eternal life, won by the baby grown into the man, the man who offered himself on the cross.

So remember, don’t keep the baby in the manger, don’t cling onto the chocolate box image of the child, but allow the child to grow, and your faith will grow too – for the mature Jesus is the man who won us the ultimate freedom through the victory of the Cross.

Christingles

This is a Christingle Service, which means I suppose that we should have some Christingles around here somewhere… Oh yes, you have them in kit form! I hope no-one has opened and eaten the sweets yet…

Because this year, I thought it would be a good idea for us to make our own, and you have the kit here

Can anyone tell me what a Christingle is?

The Christingle was invented by Saint Lucia in Scandanavia to explain symbolically God’s goodness to the world. As this is quite a large crowd, I’m going to scale up my Christingle a little bit, so everyone can see. It features:

• An Orange, which represents the World that God made.
• Four cocktail sticks, representing the four seasons, the four corners of the earth
• … dried fruit, and sweets representing God’s gifts to the world.
• A Red Ribbon tied around the Orange, representing the Blood of Christ
• A Lighted Candle representing Jesus Christ, shining in the world today

Christingles not only signify the goodness of God to us, but also they can be a focus for Christmas.

If you can, replace the sweeties on the Christingle tonight and place it alit on your Christmas table, so as you gather as a family, you can be reminded of the place that Jesus Christ has amongst your festivities.

Say Grace before your meal, and thank God for bringing you together as a family. On the outside of the bag there is a special grace that you can say together when you have re-lit your Christingle

When you have completed your Christingle…

Start with your vial of iron powder – show it, sprinkle some between your fingers, back into the container. Explain what it is – it looks just like dust. In fact, it’s what the earth’s core is made of. It’s the most common element in our planet. It’s earth-dust, nothing more; we might remember that the Bible tells of God making the first human being from dust.  You can’t get anything more earthy than this. It’s grey and dull, really. It doesn’t look like anything special. It doesn’t look like it’s going to do anything cool.  Not on its own, anyway.

But look what happens when we introduce the dust of the earth to the light of the world. (Light your own Christingle at this point, dim the lights, and carefully sprinkle some of the iron powder into the flame – it’s worth practicing before the service so you get the right amount – the iron should turn to bright orange sparks, clearly visible in a dark church).

The dust of the earth comes alive when it touches the light of Christ – Jesus came into the world to bring it to life, to bring energy and joy to places that were grey and lifeless.  When Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’ he meant that he was bringing the light of heaven right into the midst of earth’s darkness.  When he said ‘you are the light of the world’ he meant that he could transform our dull dustiness into bright shining sparks of God’s love in the world!

At this service, we turn from dust to sparkles! The light of Jesus is with us, and is bringing us to life, so that we can bring his light and life to the dark places of this world – that’s our life’s work, and we do it in the transforming love and power of Jesus.  So shine as lights in the world to the glory of God the Father! (Ally Barrett)

Candles are lit.

The children will sing the first verse of Away in a Manger in the candlelight and then for the next two verses we will all join in.

Light Christingles LIGHTS OUT

Away in a Manager

(Number 6)
(in dark, Children first verse, 2nd/3rd verse, all)

1 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

2 The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
and stay by my bedside till morning is nigh.

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask thee to stay
close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

Now, tomorrow is the birthday of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and all these candles make it look a bit like a birthday cake.

I don’t know if we have 2012 candles here, but we have quite a lot… What song do we sing at someone’s birthday? Why don’t we all sing “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” to remind ourselves of why we celebrate Christmas – the birthday of the most special man ever in the history of the world!

Happy Birthday to you

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Jesus,
Happy birthday to you!

Blow Candles Out.

Poem

And that’s why we have Christmas and welcome the day
And sing and eat turkey and put on a play
And dress up like angels and get lots of toys
It’s not just because of that sweet baby boy
It’s because of the man he grew up to be
Who changed people’s lives and can change you and me
To live and to love just like God always planned
And turn what is sad into glad again
And turn what is sad
INTO GLAD!

Blessing

May the humility of the shepherds,
the faith of the wise men,
the joy of the angels,
and the peace of the Christ Child,
be God’s gift to us and to all people this Christmas
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the +Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you and remain with you, this night and always.

Amen

Depart

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

END

Reading for Christingle Service 1

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah
(small pause)

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

(small pause)

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Reading for Christingle Service 2

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:
(small pause)

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.

While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

(small pause)

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Send an email to my fridge…

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You can entertain/challenge and even (because I’m a big boy) abuse me via the power of the Internet and my fridge.

Send an email to roboroughvicarage@gmail.com consisting of a picture attachment and the message in the subject, and my fridge will read it.

I had an old Kindle lying around underused, and have it connected permanently using this project. It was quite fun to script and implement, so why not send me a message and make my day!

 

Recent Submissions

image1 (clear winner so far. See the Masturbating Spiderman Meme for context)

20151209_104003

Who could resist a Gin and Tonic?

C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_whos_awesome

Aww, Shucks…

image1 (1)

Dog pics especially welcome.

 

How to use Prezi for Collective Worship (& other useful bits about using tech in worship)

Death by Powerpoint - a crime against humanityI’ve been speaking to people about Jesus (and in previous lives, other things as well) and supporting that with slides for more years than I care to remember. It started with Harvard Graphics for me, and if you too remember that on DOS then we are both way too old for this game. However, Powerpoint eventually took over and on Windows it has been and remains the dominant presentational tool used. However, we have all encountered Death by Powerpoint where a dull speaker simply reads dense and poorly set out text to a bored and lifeless audience.

Text on it’s own is dull. The visual media was intended for the visual, with text kept to a minimum. I see Dr Bex Lewis report from the many many conferences she attends and am struck by how wordy, how dull, how lifeless many of the slides on screen are like. Once when I was giving a Clinical Paper using traditional old-fashioned 35mm slides, as a poor and unfunded Staff Nurse I could not afford to have any extra slides made above the 5 which the conference would pay for. This focuses the mind somewhat on what you really want to illustrate so it was just the most important diagrams I needed. To fill the space, I went down to the National Gallery and interspersed my talk with classical paintings on 35mm slides (remember them?) and it went down a storm as people remembered images and what I said around the images far better. It was not what was on screen that was important, but the story that I told using the images as backdrop. Less words. More images. Images tell a story for you whilst you spin a yarn.

The TED talks have reinvigorated the scientific conference: short and pithy, scriptless 20 min talks direct to an audience which inspire and invigorate. Every Collective Worship should be like a TED talk and enable those in Worship to leave inspired and challenged.

image

The story is the important thing. Never read it, but internalise it: tell it from the first person, as one of the witnesses or one of the protagonists (but obviously not as Jesus himself), the woman who was healed, a disciple in the boat, or the Last Supper, someone in the Jerusalem observing the Crucifixion. I seem to spend a lot of time playing S. Peter – especially as he was good at stupid statements at critical times which make hugely useful teaching opportunities. Draw the audience in with what is going on and through that communicate the awesome truth of the Gospel of Jesus. None of these stories are very long. You probably grew up with them, and with a little prompt can remember it fully. It doesn’t matter if a word is out of place, for this is the Oral tradition which you are continuing: worry less about the words, but about the word – the overarching meaning of this story. It’s better also, given in your own accent, the accent of the people you are speaking with, as though we were all there.

Reading from the Powerpoint doesn’t work with Children, especially not in Worship

Children are the worst audience. They don’t hide their boredom or disengagement and the problem with many clergy coming into to Schools to lead Collective Worship (previously known as Assembles, but no longer) is that they have forgotten how visual the story we have to tell is. If you simply read a passage of the Holy Scriptures at them in a dull and lifeless way then they will come to believe that Scripture is dull and lifeless. This is a dynamic collection of stories inherited from an Oral Tradition, which was told and retold before anyone ever got to writing it down. It speaks powerfully and so your Collective Worship should also be powerful, driven and lively. I find that with a well-crafted retelling of a Gospel Story, one can hold a large hall of Children rapt with attention, because most of them have never heard the story. It is said that you have to hear the (whole) truth about Jesus dozens of times before it even starts to make an impact, so start here and repeat until evangelised.

“I won’t use the screen because I’m not technical” is not really an excuse, because the screen becomes the backdrop and the prompt for the important bit: the story. Later in this post, I will guide you step-by-step through effective use of presentation software with a minimum of technical skill. If you don’t know how to do it yet, then why not try and learn: baby steps at first because you have the most important task in primary evangelism later this morning, with undoubtedly the largest congregation you will have all week, to make Christ known through your Collective Worship.

Of course this is but one way to reinvigorating Collective Worship, and if you have a team of people, I highly commend the Open the Book project from the Bible Society which uses real live drama, and backs up my point perfectly. However, few of us have those human resources (on our own normally) and have to tell the story as best we can.

The End of Death by Powerpoint

I do use projected images in Worship, and there are some words on them. I always begin worship with “In the name of the Father…”, use “The Lord be with you” on absolutely every encounter with a group of young people, close with the Lord’s Prayer, the Grace and a proper Blessing and Dismissal because, well, it’s part of the Anglican liturgical heritage and how can you teach authentic Anglican values (as desired by SIAMS) if you don’t frame Collective Worship in an Anglican structure? I use the opening, blessing and dismissal and Lord’s Prayer in non-Church schools as well, but whether in Church or LA Schools, children are never forced to pray. “I invite you to pray. If you don’t want to pray, then that’s fine but please remain still with your own thoughts so as not to disturb those who do want to pray...” If the Humanists don’t think that this is adequate, then they really have no confidence in their misunderstandings.

To support the Worship, I use a presentation tool called Prezi.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-27 11-14-25

Prezi is available online and for free, but you have only limited space for presentations and have to have an internet connection (although it has run very successfully over my phone). You can create a wonderful Prezi online and download it as a standalone, take anywhere presentation (and I have seen them used very effectively as an interactive kiosk tool) but obviously that is fixed and you can’t modify the Prezi rapidly without downloading a fresh, edited standalone file.

However, there is a very reasonably priced Educational/Non Profit licence which schools and churches can sign up for and which not only gives you much more space but the ability to work offline which is what I normally do, particularly as the firewall in most schools block access to YouTube and your carefully embedded video link won’t play. I always embedd a complete video inside my Prezi – of course it makes the file bigger, but it always works, even offline. You can edit and share really easily without Internet and they are synced with your online version. Editing and reusing is a doddle.

Prezi

Rather than having traditional “slides” it features a canvas around which the user may roam. Once can zoom in and out of sections, revealing text and images and moving around a graphic, a picture or even text. This means that for storytelling, it gives you a perfect backdrop.

I often call up an image: a painting or an icon of a given story, and then roam around it highlighting details as part of my story

You can call up an image or some text, and then zoom in to make a point, or draw attention to something, zoom out to get a bigger picture.

prezi_demo

Notice how little text there is above here.

You can link to YouTube Videos to illustrate or amuse or even help tell the story. I often take an animation like a lego brickmation and have the sound off in order to tell my story over the top. As I mentioned before, I have often reedited these slightly to either trim the beginning (the annoying titles are unnecessary and the audio is often not needed). Most of this basic editing can be done in Windows Movie Maker (free for PC) or iMovie (Mac), but you will need to get the movie from YouTube or Vimeo first.

screenshot-www.freemake.com 2015-11-27 17-52-33

There are many ways of downloading video off the Internet, but my current favourite is Freemake Video Downloader. It is free, but comes bundled with loads of bloatware, which you just have to be careful with and decline to install. Once you wade through that, it is a powerful and effective tool that can download in a variety of formats. My preferred format and which is perfect for Prezi is the one with the little Apple Symbol next to it – 640×480 MP4 (if this means nothing to you, don’t worry, just look for the little Apple icon and you’re fine. Prezi can import other formats, but it needs to upload them, crunch them and send them back (automatically) as the same format I just described – so saving a file directly means that you cut out the middleman.

All you have to do is find the video you want, copy the address of the video and then paste it into Freemake Video Downloader, choose your format and choose just Download.

Making a Prezi

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-38

As with all things, Prezi provides a host of templates which enable your presentations/worship to look like everybody else’s. My advice is to ignore those and concentrate more on your look and feel. There is a limited pallete of fonts for each Prezi which prevents the ‘I’ve just got a new presentation tool’ riot of colour, whizzy transitions and fonts which proliferate: Teachers, I’m looking at you. Choose a colour scheme to suit you. Choose fonts which are first of all legible. Non-Serif fonts are generally accepted as better. However if you use Comic Sans then you are patronising the children and you might as well leave now…screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-22-37

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-21-52I tend to create ‘invisible frames’ which I suppose are the closest to slides Prezi has. By being invisible it does not clutter up the screen. There is only one form of transition, praise the Lord, which is the simple fade-in and is all you need: seriously, all you need.


Stop thinking in bullet points.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-16It is possible to do bullet points, and I do occasionally use them, but it should not be your default way of thinking. Consider instead how to illustrate your story. Move through that story using the screen as your support, not your script. Engage by telling the story to, not at your young people.

The Zooming around concept in Prezi is awesome, but you should be careful with moving rapidly across a massive canvas, in and out quickly: it can disorientate, so better to make reasonable, non vomit-inducing moves. Or provide a bucket – your choice.

The rest of this tutorial

The only way to learn is to play: start basic and then progress. My first test Prezis were very basic indeed, then they got horrible and over-ambitious and so I scaled them back to where we are now. It’s a good tool, but it doesn’t replace YOU. Your story is the heart of this: short, pithy, challenging and with something to learn from: oh yes, just like the stories Jesus himself taught…