Monday, 18 December 2017

St Pancras 150

St Pancras Station turns 150 next year.  And already there's a souvenir shop selling overpriced tat high quality gifting ware in the station.

But it's pretty standard stuff. Beefeaters, red phoneboxes kind of thing.

So the Beaker Folk figured we'd get in on the act. After all, it's just down the road. And Flitwick and Bedford are on that line.  So why not try:

Wind-up John Betjeman: Just tell this lovingly die-cast figurine that you like modernist architecture, and he'll satirise you in scathing verse.

Intercity 125 Action Model: Albeit the "action" is standing just outside Harpenden due to a points failure at East Hyde.

Plaque to the Unknown Commuter: Commemorating the stoicism of the person on that HST at Harpenden who managed not to use their entire battery complaining about the delay on Twitter.

Scale models of Bishop Stopford Schoolchildren: Desperately doing their homework on the run from Market Harborough to Kettering.

Commemorative Pint Glass: To remember the hike in beer prices when the "Shires" bar was replaced by the Betjeman Arms

Model Fussy Train Manager: Insisting the cyclists with folding bikes put them in the right luggage area. Not that one.  That one. Not on the top. It might fall off.

Manspreading Voodoo Doll With authentic pins (please do not use the pins in real life)

27,000 spare editions of "Metro"

Life-Sized "Luggage" from The Colour of Magic: Trained to swallow whole anyone that is walking at high speed though St Pancras while looking at their phones.

Special Edition St Pancras 15 Monopoly Board ; Actually, we've just got an ordinary one and crossed out the word "Kings Cross" and written in "St Pancras". And knocked 50 quid off the cost of the station.

A Bottle of  Cannabis and Burger Scent: Recreate in your own home the experience of walking through Camden Town on the way to the station.




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Anniversary of the Death of Kirsty MacColl (2000)



The sun disappears bringing fears that come only at night
With hopes and dreams that will wither away in the light
And thoughts wander back to the girl with the perfect smile
Who said she would never leave you alone?
But she had to spend some time on her own for a while

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Nativity - Contemporary Version

Yeah, if I had to choose a word to describe today's Nativity, I'd go for "mixed".

I mean, full marks to our Youth minister, Drebling. He wanted to make it edgy, woke and lit. And he only missed by the distance from Husborne Crawley to Milton Ernest.

The thing is, we know that Herod is a bad guy. He's the pantomime villain of the Coventry Carol. But making him Donald Trump was an open goal, wasn't it? Him building that huge wall meant the Holy Family couldn't even get to Bethlehem. Ended up parked in the Bethlehem suburbs. 

Then the narrator. Jeff Stelling? I mean, how distracting can it be to have an endless stream of statistics as the story progressed? Land of Zebulun (sixth son of Jacob and Leah) and Naphtali (led by Ahira son of Enan, whose division numbers 53,400) - you didn't know whether you were following the Greatest Story Ever Told or watching "Who do You Think You Are".

The Shepherds who were abiding in the fields around Bethlehem discovered that, thanks to the wall, they couldn't get to the room where the manger lay.  They tried to get through, but were driven away by King Herod, tipping boiling oil (played by black treacle) on their heads and shouting "Get away from my beautiful wall! Make Arimathea Galilean again!" " So instead the holy babe was visited by the pardoned White House turkeys and the Little Drummer boy. Which is apparently as Biblical as an ox and an ass.

Then there was a very long "census" scene. For the most part, neglected in the Biblical narrative. This consisted of Nigel Farage checking the nationality of everybody in Bethlehem, while whinging about how poor he was. At the end of which, all the Eastern Europeans went home, and the parable of the fig tree was interpolated, with an explanation of how it was unfruitful because nobody was around to pick it.

In contravention of modern critical wisdom, Drebling insisted on having three "kings". Mervyn, Billy-Jean and BB. I mean, yeah. Alternative gifts. Sold-off gold, a tennis racquet and Blues. Hnaef suggested that to be really hip once of them should have had a "Frankie Says" T-shirt. Which I guess is pretty contemporary for a liberal Anglican.

And then, after queuing for two days because Egypt had left the Roman Customs Union. Mary and Joseph made it to safety. Herod went back to demanding to know why Caesar hadn't investigated Cleopatra over her unsafe storage of official papyri.

I did ask why we finished with the singing of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Drebling said it's vaguely Biblical and everybody likes it. So fair enough. I guess that's what the Christmas story is all about.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Pray for Nigel

As we approach Christmas, the weather becomes colder. And poverty lurks in unexpected corners of London and Brussels.

Nigel is 53 and separated. He has just realised that, as a result of his own actions, he will be out of a job in two years. And apart from drinking beer, destroying his own country, and impersonating frogs, he has no discernible talent. What will he do when, aged 55, he has to find some purpose in life?

In the meantime he is desperate. Struggling by in a £4m townhouse in London, earning only around £100K a year from his day job, slaving at night for LBC, and with a mere £75K per annum pension to look forward to. His friend Donald doesn't call so often. And his other friend Julian has taken to hiding from him in a cupboard at the Ecuadorian embassy.

This Christmas, just £2.89 could buy Nigel a pair of Union Jack underpants[1]. 4 quid will get him a pint in some of the less exclusive parts of London. £1,000 will pay for him to lose his deposit in some pointless by-election. And several million quid will let him restart his campaign to make the UK the basket case of the world while encouraging working class people to hate people with darker skins than them or names with "Z"s in.

Pray for Nigel.

[1] Asian sizes only. Bigger pants available in our brave new world of free trade



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Only Purely Biblical Carols

I have read, Brothers and Sisters, a fine piece today in Christian Today by David Baker about Christmas carols with unnecessary, un-Biblical allusions in them.

For instance, "Away in a Manger" is rightly rejected as "dross" because the baby Jesus does not cry in it. Whereas in the Bible record, there is no mention of whether the little Lord Jesus cried or not.

And We Three Kings. Yes, the word "Kings" is only used once - in the first line - but it is a total perversion of the Biblical record, which mentions only "Magi" - and not the number. We are told that the Magi are plural, and the gifts are three. So until the author changes it to "We three gifts of orient are" it will not work.

Inspired by this, I have undertaken a review of all the Christmas Carols we were planning to sing at the Carol Service at the Bogwulf Funambulist Baptist Chapel tomorrow. And made some decisions on what needs removal.

"O Little Town of Bethlehem", like "Away in a Manger", implies that childbirth is a silent, presumably pain free experience: "How Silently, How Silently". I am told by Marjory that this is not the case. Although on the occasions when she bore our children, I was not in earshot,  having urgent prayer meetings to attend, according to her mother, Marjory said some uncharitable things about me during the labour. I have since forgiven her.

"Once in Royal David's City" founders on the evidence that Bethlehem is not a city. And there is no mention of a cattle shed in the Biblical narrative.

"Little Donkey", "The Little Drummer Boy" are both ruled out as imaginary. Or, at the best, embellishments.

"Angels from the Realms of Glory": Where, pray, are we told that these are the same angels that sang creation's story? Indeed, since angels themselves are created beings, for them to have sung creation's story is a logical impossibility.

"As with Gladness, Men of Old": the soi-disant Archdruid objects to this on the grounds that the Bible does not say the Magi were male. My response is that if they were prophets, able to see God's message to them, and to go to the first-born Son, of course they were men. It is striking and important that all the visitors to the baby Jesus were men. Except for Mary, and to be fair she was needed. However, this song also reminds us that the Magi were astrologers and the word "magic" derives from their caste. So that rules out "We Three Kings" again, and any other carol that involves the Magi.

"Fairytale of New York": is not a fairytale. And there is no such group of musicians as the "NYPD Choir." Indeed, it is possible that the drunken Irishman and his drug-addled lover are not even real.

"The Holly and the Ivy" are at no point mentioned, either in Matthew or Luke.

"Christians Awake", "Hail Happy Morn" and "It came Upon the Midnight Clear": we have no information as to what time of the night or morning Jesus was born. It is best we do not speculate on these matters.

"In the Bleak Midwinter" - the weather conditions at the time of the Nativity are not reported.

"The Coventry Carol" - we do not know whether or not this massacre was carried out in Herod's sight.. He probably had some ruling to do, without gallivanting around Bethlehem.

"Do you hear what I hear" is ruled out on the grounds of astronomical speculation. We have no idea whether the Star of Bethlehem had a tail. And a talking sheep? The talking animals of Holy Writ are restricted to a donkey. Not that donkey. Not the donkey that is not in the Nativity narratives.

Brothers and Sisters. By the time I had completed my exclusion of unscriptural carols, I was left with two.

"Adam Lay Ybounden" and "Gaudete".  I am afraid the Carol Service is cancelled. 

It turns out Christmas is too Roman Catholic.






Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Fairytale in Threat

This is ridiculous.

Richard Osman - clever, likeable bloke off that thing - has set up a World Cup of Xmas Songs. And he's drawn "Fairytale of New York"  against "Do They Know It's Christmas".  The greatest Christmas song ever, against a hack-written dirge that did a lot of good work for charidee, admittedly, but also brought a load of celebs we'd tried to forget back into the nearly-lime-light.

Look, you know what to do. Get down there and vote for Kirsty and Shane. Don't let Geldof Brexit Christmas.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

A Table for the Calculation of Christmas Jumper Day

(Unless other arrangements are made)

Christmas Jumper Day will be the 2nd Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless Christmas Day is a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  In which case it is the Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless the Executives tend to work from home on Fridays. In which case it is the Thursday before the 2nd Friday before Christmas Day.

Unless Christmas Day is a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. In which case it is the Thursday before the Friday  before Christmas Day.
The kind of jumper worn on Christmas Jumper Day by people who don't have friends the rest of the year. For some reason.

Unless this causes Christmas Jumper Day to be the day after Office Party Night. In which case the sight of all the cheery jumpers the following morning after Office Party Night is likely to cause people who've been to the Christmas Party to retch like unto the Great Fish that vomited up Jonah onto the beach at Niniveh.

And so if the Christmas Jumper Day falls on the day after Office Party Night, it is to be moved to the day of Office Party Night. And thus the sort of sad gets that think that Christmas Jumper Day is great, get to wear their crappy Christmas Jumpers to the Office Party.

If this means that Christmas Jumper Day is a Wednesday, there can be a secondary Christmas Jumper Day on Friday. Sure, the Execs won't be there. But everybody else gets to look like a raw prawn twice.

Happy Christmas!





Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

A Church Near Truth

As the Anglican church-finder, "A Church Near You", announces an upgrade, it strikes me some more information is required

"Please feel free to block Church Lane with your 4x4"

"Secluded graveyard for nocturnal encounters"

"Unwelcoming welcomers"

"Building open all day. But Wilf will follow you around"

"Festival Church - We open up once a year, say how lovely it is, then get back to the telly"

"Key available from local who will give you a questionnaire with 93 questions to ensure you're not an internationally-feared tat thief"

"1960s Liberal Theology"

"Building falling down"

"Specific but unidentified pews reserved for regular worshippers"

"Lord of the Dance Free Zone"

"God never mentioned"

"Nave size already measured and published on this website. No need to measure it"

"Open all day. Everything of value has been stolen"

"Volunteers needed"

"Loads of history of the building. No congregation"

"Sheep grazing in churchyard"

"Haunted building"

"Haunted churchyard"

"Haunted look about the vicar"

"Please post dead bats at the vicarage"

"Incomprehensible rota"

"Damp inside. Lead's gone again"

"Do not feed the Church Wardens"

"Vicar thinks he* belongs to another denomination"

"Wheelchair ramp at hideously dangerous angle"

"Contactless collection"

"Contactless Peace"


* always "he" in this situation



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Will Ferrell Exclusion Zone

In among the more contentious matters of Christmas - such as did the shepherds in "While Shepherds Watched" really only have the one mind between the three of them? - there are some things on which we can all clearly agree.

One is that when we start the Beaker Whelk Stall in the spring, we're not asking David Davis to run it. Not after what happened when we asked if could organise the Christmas party for the Beaker Brewery. Gosh, that was dull.

The other is that we are declaring Husborne Crawley a Will Ferrell Exclusion Zone. If anyone in a 2 mile radius of the Moot House has an image of Will Ferrell appear on their TV screen, it will be replaced by a picture of a moulted Christmas tree.

We're sorry Will.

Actually, we're not. We'll lift the exclusion zone on 2 January. By which time nobody will want to watch any Will Ferrell films for another 11 months.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Ritual Twitter Commotion Over a Minor Churchy Matter (Advent Candle Edition)

Someone moans that someone lights the pink Advent candle on the wrong week.

Someone asks why that's wrong as that's what they do.

Someone explains about Gaudete Sunday.

Someone asks why it isn't pink for the Blessed Virgin Mary, because she's a girl.

A QI viewer points out that in Victorian times it was pink for boys and yellow polka dot for girls.

Someone asks if that's Gaudete like the Steeleye Span song.

Someone says they use all red candles cos Martin Luther did.

Someone tells them they'll go to hell in that case.

Someone says how can other people be arguing about the colour of candles when jellyfish are quite literally washing up on beaches with their stomachs full of gold glitter?

Someone asks whether it's humanly possible to think about two or more things, of varying importance, at the same time.

Someone mentions poverty is more important than candles, and is accused of virtue signalling. If there's any justice.

Someone points out that it's not pink, it's rose.

Someone makes a joke about being fond of rosé.

Someone runs a witty poll.

Someone writes a satirical blog post.

Someone points out that actually liturgical colours are really important because they bring the rhythms of salvation into the earthly calendar of life and death.

Someone says they only get to wear the rose chasuble twice a year and they're gonna match with the candle or die.

On Sunday, the vicar lights the purple candle, saving the pink one till next week. Cos the congregation says it's for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Who's a girl.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Advent Lite

Advent 3 Service Sunday 4pm.

Welcome to the Beaker Folk "Gaudete" service.

A post-modern, experiential and informal liturgy followed by a shared early evening meal.

Or, to put it another way - tea lights and a light tea.




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Much Quivering in Husborne Crawley

Nice this evening to catch up with Judith Starkadder, who was allowed out of South Wessex in the hope of finding some hope. She's not blogged for a while and I was hoping she'd not fallen victim to the gappergennies.

But all is well. She's just been spending a lot of time with the Quivering Brethren. And that can take it out of you. All that fear of hell and excitement.

You know, I spend a lot of time ensuring that every act of worship is entertaining, uplifting and encouraging. But sometimes you need a bit of grit in your spiritual diet.

I think maybe we should import a couple of gappergennies.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

English Church in the Snow.... The Summary

People: Wow! Snow!

People in Villages: Better wrap up. Wonder where the vicar is?

Suburban / City Centre Gathered Evangelical Churches:  Service off due to snow.

The Organist: Can we not sing anything in Eb? The pedal sticks in cold weather.

Elderly female Methodists: Best stick an extra dead cat on my head.

 4x4-owning Churchgoers who live in Chelsea: Best not risk it. There might be a flake at some point.

Husborne Crawley Church in the snow
"Forget the service - let's just look at the church"

Anglo Catholics: Yeah, still on. We've borrowed an organist.

 People who normally try not to mention how few people come to their church: "Four people at church this morning!"

People who live near their churches: What's the matter with you people that don't get to church?

Churchwardens Everywhere: The oil-powered boiler cannae take it, Reverend.

Facebook: Pictures of the Church in the snow.

People in Newcastle: Might put on another layer. Nah. The Sunday vest should be enough.

Major James Dumpling of Little Tremlett: Maybe an extra tot before I set out.

People in Scotland: Sorry, what's all the excitement?




Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Scapegoat of the Year 2017

It's that time of year when we get in early with the Beaker Scapegoat of the Year award, before all the other things of the year. Except Time's Person (Not Donald Trump) of the Year.

Clearly, DT himself is a prime candidate for Scapegoat of the Year. These days, when Beaker parents want their little Beaker children to be home before dark, they tell them that if it gets too late, Donald Trump will get them. But, despite his track record of causing chaos in the Middle East, oppressing black people, encouraging gun culture and generally being a grade "A" Assange, he has at least succeeded in uniting everybody else against him.

Which brings us to the Three Brexiteers and Maytagnan. Which of this sorry shower would we make the Scapegoat? David Davis, incompetent and unrepentant in equal measures? Boris Johnson, who would have campaigned for Remain if Cameron had wanted Leave, and who has brought settling old public school scores up to an international sport after its 100 year hiatus? Or the other one with the friend who attends meetings with him for no obvious reason? Of Theresa May herself - we can't make her the Scapegoat of the Year because, against all the track record and defiance of the more rabid of her party, she seems to have realised that the best bet is to capitulate to Europe and deliver a Brexit that is as near to staying in the EU, but without any say, as is possible. Which is probably the best bet in the circumstances.

In the footballing world, Sir Alex Ferguson has retired and Luis Suarez plies his trade in Spain. So they're in the clear. Roy Hodgson is always a good candidate, but he's not really done anything much lately. You what, Hnaef? Crystal Palace? Yeah, like I said.

Last year's Scapegoat was the year itself. But you can only pull that trick once.

And so we get to the world of entertainment. But we're skipping around a lot of people who may well deserve to be scapegoats, but who knows what criminal trials we might be accidentally interfering with? So let's not. But this year's Scapegoat of the the Year is from the world of entertainment.

Or was. He died this year.  And when he did, his Wikipedia entry was updated very rapidly, in extravagant style. It's calmer again now. A  bit.

So, for the Beaker Scapegoat of the Year, we're anointing Norman Clegg from Last of the Summer Wine. Beneath that plastic mac, mild manner and searing wit, turns out he was a right one. Who knows what else he was to blame for?
Clegg, Compo, Foggy with recorders
Not to be trusted

So arise (at the end of time) Norman Clegg. If we make you Scapegoat of the Year now, maybe it will save you trouble later. 



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Right on Time for the Apocalypse

Last week I mentioned that there are American evangelicals who want all the Jews back in Israel as a precursor to the battle of Armageddon.

I hadn't realised that Donald Trump would read my post, and decide to get a move on with things.

In the reaction to Trump's announcement that he would move the American embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, four people have died so far. I fear there will be more.

There are, in my mind, four possibilities as to why Trump has made this decision:

One is that, as Sky mentions, he gets money from people with interests in the right-wing of Israeli politics.

One is that he just gets confused. He's grown up believing that Jerusalem is the Jewish capital, and keeps wondering why the embassy is in the wrong place.

Possibility three - he's heard that Ken Loach's films are often shown in Tel Aviv. And even Donald Trump has standards.

Possibility four is that he is trying to keep in touch with his other base - not the right-wing Israelis, but the right-wing evangelicals previously mentioned.  They're giving him money because they think he is the president most likely to bring about the end of the world - which others might not regard as such a compliment. But in return, knowing that they'd like all the Jewish people back in Israel with a ruler in Jerusalem, he does his best for him. Unfortunately their theology is a bit weird, and he can't quite follow it. But the support is nice. And #MAGA after all.

All they know is what the Bible tells us. Which is nice and simple Deut 30 says that all the Hebrews will return to their land from the nations where they are scattered. Luke 21:24 says the Jews will take Jerusalem back when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Isaiah 35 says the desert will bloom - which has happened since Israelis started irrigating (and causing the Dead Sea to shrink - "and there will be no more sea" [Rev 21:1][1])  The Gospel has been pretty much preached to all nations (Mat 24:14).

So the scene is set. Provoke a battle in Jerusalem when the American embassy is set up - if they can get it built at all. Somebody "accidentally" takes out the Dome of the Rock. Some Zionists decide it's time for a 3rd Temple. The prophecies all come together, the planets are in alignment, Pythagoras in the looking glass is reflecting the full moon, and it's hey babe, your supper's waiting for you.

Let's hope he's just doing it cos he doesn't like Ken Loach films.



[1] I made this eschatological inference up.  If any millennial movement would like to use it, I can be persuaded at the usual rates. But all those other references, I've sourced from various Messianic / Apocalyptic websites. People do believe this stuff literally.


Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Cold Weather Programme - Saturday

With the weather having been on the parky side, we're instigating the Cold Weather Liturgies. This morning's "Pouring out of Beakers" has now been redefined as a "Thawing out of Beakers", and will be held in the Dining Hall.

The "Liturgy of Remembrance of Old Ladies Wearing Dead Animals on Their Heads to Church" will be at 2pm. Please wear a dead animal on your head. You may have inherited one from your gran. If not, we have a fine collection of "dead animal hats" in the Beaker Bazaar. Guaranteed cruelty free. We make them from roadkill. In other news, it's "Country Stew" for dinner tonight.

Reminiscences of the Time the Vicar Froze Solid at the Baptism will be at 6pm in the Beaker Bar.

Filling up of Beakers takes place in the kitchen. At least we've got a kettle.

Apologies to all Beaker People whose rooms are cold this morning. We will give you a new system where you can pay for heating using a pre-paid card (available in the Beaker Bazaar). You may think this is a scam to take money off you by preying on your weakness. Well, the Magnificat reminds us that this will mean you're blessed in the end. Really, you should thank me.

The collection of appropriate items for the Food Bank is ongoing. Please only give until it hurts.


From the creator of the Beaker Folk...
Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Immaculate Conception

Tiny dot, you will change the world
Accept your challenge, defy the doubters
face down your loved one's fears
Be filled with grace
know you are blessed.

But blessed - blessed with such pain
A sword to your heart, your loved one broken
your life torn open with your son
And you will weep
most blessed one.

But you will sing with with joy again
when your son defeats death
faces down the devil's plans.
Be filled with hope
know you are loved.

Tiny dot, you will change the world.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Nigel Farage Awakes

The details of the deal Theresa May has negotiated with the European Union have come out. And it turns out the UK pays £40bn to keep something that must sound a lot like the current situation of being in the EU, cos otherwise the DUP will be upset and Theresa May won't have a job. But while we will have to be in something that looks awfully like the single market and the customs union (whatever they are) they're not quite the same as otherwise the DUP will be upset and Theresa May will lose her job.

In a cave under Glastonbury, King Arthur stirs. The old cave doesn't seem to be as roomy as he remembers it being when he went to sleep below the Tor. There's him and his Gwinny and all the Knights, sure. Plus Frederick Barbarossa and all his bunch. When did Charlemagne get in here? Plus Bran the Blessed, Fionn mac Cumhaill and, somewhat oddly, Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff. But that's not who is required here. Looking at the magic stone that Merlin left with him, Arthur notes that it's not so much England at risk here as a hard Brexit.

He looks over to where a pile of UKIP MEPS sleep the sleep of those piling up pensions which are guaranteed by an organisation they don't believe in. He lobs a solidus of the Emperor Constatine II at the ear of the snoring one who smells of beer.

Nigel Farage turns, opens one bloodshot eye. Brexit needs him. England needs him. His people need him. Grimsby needs him. Above all, perhaps, his ego needs him.

It's time for Nige to return.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Non-Existent Donkey, the Stable, the Unknown Birthday and the Extra Apostles or Too Few Disciples - Christmas with the Independent

The Independent announces that the British public don't know anything about Christmas, by proving it knows nothing about Christmas.

It tells us (you can follow the link, or I can save you the trouble):

That " one in five Brits do not know that Jesus was born on Christmas Day"

Now, first up, that should be "one in five Brits does not know. But why waste our time with minor pedantry when there's much more major pedantry?  We have no idea which day of the year Jesus was born. The suggestion that the date was stolen from another Roman religion is almost certainly pure earwash. The idea that it's to coincide with a British solar feast - when the date was first defined in the area of Rome, not Stonehenge - is even more likely to be rubbish. But the Bible doesn't tell us what the date was. Not a mention. Doesn't even say if there was a particularly gloomy episode of Eastenders that day.

"10 per cent were unaware he was born in a stable"

Fair enough. Well done the 10%. I'm not aware that he was born in a stable. He was laid in a manger - but that was likely to have been in the ground floor of a house, not a distant, lowly cattle shed.

"One in 20 couldn’t name Mary and Joseph as Jesus’s parents"

Again, call me old fashioned. But I don't think Joseph was his parent. Stepfather, sure. Great all-round bloke who brought him up as his own, while being slightly nervous lest his real dad thought he wasn't doing it right - yeah. Parent?  Don't think that's what the Bible says.

While 85 per cent believe Jesus spoke Hebrew, just three per cent were aware that he is also said to have spoken Greek."

Seems nobody knew his mother tongue was actually Aramaic. Greek is a strong possibility, but I'm not sure it's actually mentioned. And yes, he clearly read Hebrew. But maybe didn't speak it like a native.

"20 per cent [were] unaware he had 12 disciples. One in five had no idea that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were four of them."

So where do we start? He had lots of disciples. He had 12 apostles. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were either one, none or two of them. Definitely not four. Mark and Luke are notable missing from all the lists of the apostles. I suppose arguably Mark might have been one of the many disciples, but probably not. And Luke almost certainly not. And the people that wrote Matthew and John's Gospels may or may not have been the same as the apostles. Or they might have just had their names stuck on the books later.  A bit hard to tell, as the titles themselves came after the books were written.

Finally, "just eight in ten knew that a shepherd, star and donkey had starring roles in the story of Jesus’ birth"

What donkey? The one on Palm Sunday? There ain't one in the Nativity narratives.

So there you are. The Independent. Wallowing in ignorance. While accusing everybody else of the same thing.  There's a quiz, but I wouldn't take it. I suspect you won't be able to trust the answers.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

The Battle Between Christmas and Advent

The great Advent vs Early Christmas battle continues in earnest. I swear I've never known it this bad. In years gone by, we've had the bling up by mid-October without anyone batting an eyelid. But this year, so much as give half a smile at something and you're being told off for spoiling the season of dread and anticipation by some vicar on Twitter.

So tonight's enactment in the Moot House, "The Battle between Christmas and Advent" was quite a piece of liturgical drama. As Hnaef, festooned in green outfit and white beard as is truly traditional for Big Nick Claus, mimed a battle against a grumpy-looking Anglican vicar trying to get him to think about the Last Things and Judgement. In many ways, a modern reinterpretation of the old Mummers' Plays, I like to think.

Of course, it all got a bit rough when Hnaef grabbed his Deputy Druid's Chair and gave the vicar a thump over the head with it. Not in the script, is what I'm trying to say. Hnaef assures us all he just got carried away, and he was unnerved by the vicar's icy glare. And, to be fair, with his moaning and complaining that Hnaef might have killed him, the vicar was a lot closer to the Last Things by the end of the evening than he was at the beginning.

So a rousing victory for Christmas this evening.  Hnaef is cheerfully going on into the next round, where he is taking on the forces of Secularism.  The winner then meets Capitalism in the final.  That promises to be a bit of a bloodbath.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Judgement and Cold Turkey

Marston's just got in from a long night's judgement.

He's really got carried away this year. I know Donald Trump claims to have reinstated Christmas bigger and better than ever before. But this just outraged Marston Moretaine, who wanted to know when the US President will be bringing back Advent.

Since Advent is a time of sober, reflective self-examination, the answer is clearly "never". But that's not stopping Marston from going to all places Christmassy and threatening them with terrible judgement from on high.

Though he's not managed to explain to me how, if all Christmassy activities are banned before sunset on the 24th, he is planning to do his own Christmas shopping. But still, he's been out all night in Milton Keynes at some nightclub, shouting that they should be repenting, not dancing. Ironically it sounds like it was just him and the staff. Well, it's Wednesday. They're probably just glad he had to buy bottled water for his throat now and then.

So he's back now. He'll grab a couple of hours sleep and then he'll be off to denounce people in the " Mall, Luton ". Like coming from Luton ain't bad enough already.

But we've left him some food on a plate in the fridge. Cold turkey, roasties and sprouts. Well, it was the Druids' Christmas Dinner last night. Wouldn't want him to miss out.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

St Nicholas's Day

Much excitement as the fat, red-cheeked man was spotted on the roof earlier. The kids thought it was Santa doing a trial run.

Nah, just Burton. Somebody had to put the bling up.  And we voted him "most expendable".



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Hedging and Ditching Time

I must say, the Beaker Folk were really grumpy yesterday evening. All covered in mud and shattered and covered in bramble scratches, demanding to know why I hadn't been hedging and ditching, like I'd said I would.

Which is drivel, of course.  I'd been ditching Sterling and hedging against a fall in the value of Bitcoin.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

The Seven Deadly Sins of Church Committees

And on the eighth day, God created Church Committees. God was well rested and wanted to create something that was really hard to get perfect.

There is a curious paradox. The belief is that baptism frees us from original sin. And yet on many occasions at a Church Committee, some fairly fresh sin can often be freely seen.

Sloth

Normally seen as soon as volunteers are required. Everybody has agreed something has to be done. But who can do it? It's a real dilemma. People have the most brilliant ideas. And it's true that, just because you have an idea you shouldn't have to do it yourself. But surely you could give it a bash? Tell you what, everybody go off and have a pray about who might be able to do it. And then the pastor will twist some arms in the traditional way before the next meeting.
Can also be seen by those who are only on the committee because they meet up in the pub afterwards for a spot of light character assassination. In these cases it can be seen in longing looks at the clock, as they calculate how long it will take to drink three pints and when last orders is.

Envy

Not necessarily of people per se. Maybe of the situation of other churches that are doing rather better in numbers. The church in a village envies the church in the town, right on a market place where people come in on market days to look around and magically decide to come on Sundays. Whereas the people in the market place reckon the village church on the hill has got it sussed. Because their parish isn't all shops and offices, and they're a part of the community. People say hello to the vicar in the villages - they wave cheerfully as she flies past in his Mondeo on her way to minister in one of the other villages. Whereas if the vicar here goes out in the town in his cassock, people shout "pervert" at him.

There's another type - Past-Envy. The kind of sad nostalgia that remembers how there were 200 kids in Sunday School and old Fr Theobald walked around town in his cassock and people would bow to him in the streets, and all church repairs were done at reasonable prices because of his Masonic connections. Whereas this new woman has probably never been invited to join the Lodge in her life.

Greed

We'd love it if the congregation could meet its financial obligations but the church is getting older/full of young families/all dead and we wouldn't like to ask for money as that would upset people and by the way, there's a rumour we might have to share a minister with Upper Gangling and we think that's really unfair and we should have our own minister and which manse will they live in and does that mean our expenses will go up because of the extra travelling? And we'd better get Midnight Mass every year and Harvest on the 3rd Sunday in September because we always have.

Anger

The record for resigning a church post and being persuaded to stay is seventeen times in one meeting, by James Arbuthnot Arbitrage, Church Warden of St Saviour's, Salisbury. Revd Hassett should comfort himself that possession of no backbone is a physical condition rather than a sin.

Gluttony

Those biscuits when you arrived weren't really your thing. You prefer chocolate choc-chip Hob Nobs and these are those weird sweet pink wafery things that nobody knows where they come from and you don't know what they're called but just the one and you've eaten all the weird pink biscuits again haven't you?

Lust

Seems unlikely, I'll be frank. Very few people join a Church Committee because lust. And even those who do, will soon have their ardour dampened by two hours of discussing how the gate in the porch used to swing in the other direction, but they had to change it because it was blocking the pavement.

Pride

Why would you want to be in charge of the flower arranging rota, just because Gwladys is? Why are you making such a fuss about the flowers arranging rota organiser not being an elected post? What makes you think Gwladys is not going to win the election - when her entire extended family is on this committee? Why should your aunt having been the founder of the flower arrangers make any difference?
Oh. Now you've forced a vote. Why have you forced a vote? You're not even interested in flower arranging. You're allergic to flowers.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

On the Conveyor Belt of Death

Not jumping to any conclusions on the news that a chain of funeral directors is offering to team up with hospices. After all, undertakers having preferential arrangements with their favourite clergy or secular "celebrant" is a well-recognised practice.

All I can say is that the Beaker Folk got in trouble for trying to concentrate on the "vertical", as we say in the industry. We realised that, in the same way that chemists are often found near doctor's surgeries, we could maximise upside synergies by offering a combined hospice, funeral arrangement and burial service - all the way from looking after people in their final days, to sending their ashes on a tiny ceremonial funeral Viking ship out onto the duck pond. We were banned by Environment Health from actually cremating anyone bigger than a hamster on the a burning long ship.

So in theory we were set up - maximising the supply chain, minimising transport costs, and generally offering an all-in-one service.  In practice, we had scrap the whole thing. One of the pastoral visitors accused one of the patients of "bed-blocking." Apparently, month end was coming.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Root of Jesse

Cut back the climbing rose yesterday.

It's a lovely thing. A "Pink Perpetua." Been there years. Nice blooms, bit of scent.

But like many climbing roses, it's been getting a bit leggy. If you leave it a few years  (and we have) the flowers are all way up in the air. In this case, way up and growing in the tangle of buddleia over in the cottage garden. Way beyond the trellis that we put in to train it to when it was young.

The trellis has gone, as well. The rose had torn it to pieces as it grew. In the end it was the tree holding what was left of the trellis up.

So we cut it back. It's basically a thick, gnarled stump now. Just a few buds, inches off the ground. It looks pretty much dead. Not a thing like what it was supposed to be. No promise of pretty flowers that.

So it's gonna look a bit forlorn for a while. If the snow blows up against the fence as it sometimes does, you won't know it's even there.

But the roots are broad and deep. All those years of growth went down as well as up. The original soil was good. And we've tipped plenty of good muck in the right places.

I reckon it'll do all right.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's n

Monday, 4 December 2017

The Role of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Life cycle of "Love in the Mist."

It's a curious thing, "Love in the Mist." Also known as nigella, it spreads into your front garden - often without you planting any seeds.

Scientists have been trying to explain the mysterious migrations of nigella for years. But only now have scientists at the University of Kirklees managed to explain the phenomenon.


It's Jehovah's Witnesses.

Turns out that, in wandering from house to house, they are spreading the seeds. The spiky outsides of the nigella seed cases are perfectly adapted to clinging onto unstylish fabrics.

Please note, we're not saying that Jehovah's Witnesses are responsible for the pollination of the flowers. I know that Norman Clegg once speculated that door-to-door evangelists carried pollen around in their turnups, but think on. The average Jehovah's Witness is far too heavy to balance on a delicate flower long enough to sip some nectar and distribute pollen. Truth be told, they'd just smash the flower to pieces. Ridiculous idea. But when it comes to spreading the seed, the combination of wandering long distances, standing around, and having the seeds shaken from their clothes when the carrier Jehovah's Witness has a door slammed in front of them is incredibly effective.

In related research, it turns out that Liberal Anglicans don't spread any plant species at all.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

You say Posada

Bad start to the Advent journey of the Beaker Posada.

Marston got it confused with a Piñata. I don't know what the penalty is for beating a knitted St Joseph with a stick. But I'm pretty sure it should involve burning at the stake.

The Betjeman Parody - Up to Date

First wrote this years ago, and it has apparently caused a certain amount of satisfaction. But it's looking nearly as dated as the Betjeman original. So now, inspired by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes's post on Advent, and updating the name of a certain Luton shopping centre.... (and acutely aware of the book that is a very reasonable Xmas present that we're plugging at the bottom, in a consumerist kind of way)


The tills in "The Mall, Luton" ring
The Advent Calendar's full of gin
While glowing icicles of white
Have blown away the last of night
In suburbs, hamlets, village greens
And towns from Slough to Milton Keynes.

The reindeer glowing on the lawn
And round the bungalow the strings
of fairy lights in many colours
and many flashing, tasteless things
mean that the passers-by can say
“That’s rather naff” on Christmas day.

The Coca-Cola lorries blaze
and Marks and Spencers' pockets fill.
The Hatchimals can safely graze
while Simon Cowell's puppets still [1]
can dream of having festive fun
when they’re his latest number one.

And up the airport Christmas Eve
They’re flying from the winter rain
As bankers quick the City leave
To spend their bonuses in Spain
And Easyjets crash past all day
(But Ryanair's on holiday).

And lads in flats wonder where’s dad?
And pregnant girls take after mum
And drunken office typists wretch
And dodgy blokes say to them “Come
and we will share a festive lark
in some side-alley quiet and dark."

But is it true, can it be true
This most unlikely tale of all,
Told in a garden-centre’s hue
plush unicorns in ox’s stall?
the Maker of the day and night
parodied under fluorescent light?

And is it true? For if it is
No fabricated Christmas songs
No bishop raging ‘gainst the sight
Of tinsel and Ann Summers thongs
The vomit outside heaving pubs
And midnight slammers in tatty clubs

No Lego underneath the tree
No plastic game that lasts three days
No office party’s all-night spree
Can ever this great Truth erase –
Our God was born to take our pain,
And shares it, ever and again.



[1] Still! I mean..... still!


Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Getting on with the Job

‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ (Mark 13)

It's been a long old wait now.

There's an old book which most people don't read now, called "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe." In it, the followers of the great Prophet Zarquon, at the very end of time are still waiting for Zarquon to come back. Douglas Adams no doubt wrote it as a satire of Christians believing in the Second Coming - but then undercut his own satire by actually having Zarquon arrive, just in time for the Universe to end.

Or consider the case of poor old Gunnershaw, in the Last of the Summer Wine episode, "According to the Prophet Bickerdyke," Gunnershaw is a follower of the prophet, whose final forecast was the date and time of the End of the World. Unfortunately, although Gunnershaw knows the world will end on a Wednesday a 14:17, he doesn't know which Wednesday - the prophet having died halfway through his prophecy.

Or again, in real life - Harold Camping, whose dedication to prophesying the End was surpassed by his inability to get the right date.

One problem with the End is you can get obsessed with it. There's a nasty stream of apocalyptic theology among some American evangelicals [1] that thinks we can bring the End on if we work hard enough - the preconditions being preaching the Gospel to every nation, and the Jews returning to Israel. These people will often be keen on supporting the state of Israel. Not because they have a right to exist - let's park that one, shall we - but because they believe in that last battle at Armageddon. And to bring that battle on it's necessary that the kings of the earth turn up and do their bit. In other words, they want Jews in the Middle East as much to be cannon fodder as to be conversion fodder. ISIS had a similar view of Dabiq - they wanted the fight there because it meant they would bring in their equivalent of the Apocalypse.

Or it can bring on an energy-sapping form of Pietism. If all you have to do is stay awake, if the End has a timetable worked out, then why do anything? Why not just sing a few hymns, thank God for the well-deserved punishment coming on the wicked and the delights coming to the Faithful Few, and sit around with your ticket for heaven, waiting for the journey to be over?

Both these views founder around the fact that actually, if we take the New Testament witness as a whole, there's no obvious signs of how the End will happen in any detail at all. It's all myth-language - all picture language - being caught up in the air, dragons, barcodes... sorry, I made up the barcodes. It's not coherent, because it doesn't need to be. It's saying that one day - and you aren't going to get to know when, because even Jesus didn't know on earth - one day justice will finally be delivered. All the bad stuff will be sorted out. But it doesn't give us a timetable. Which is why whenever you hear the latest prophecy of the world ending, it tends to drag astrological ideas or the alignment of the planets into it. Jesus hasn't set down a proper calendar - maybe because he didn't know it, maybe because in fact there wasn't one; isn't one. Because the judgement, the restoration, the resurrection will be beyond our earthly time.

The Bible's full of the hints - all the way back to Genesis 2, when the snake is told that, through the True Eve and the New Improved Adam, he will get his head crushed. When Jesus switches from the near future of the Temple to the myth of the End. When John the Divine stands on a beach on the island where he's exiled, and sees that the Empire that is persecuting his sisters and brothers will not last.

But Jesus says in the meantime, do something that might seem, at first sight, to be a bit duller than an Apocalypse. Do your job. Jesus says that he may physically be in heaven, waiting for the glorious day, but you will see his earthly representatives every day - the sick, the poor, one who is in prison. They may be a bit dirty and smelly, may be a bit sweary, may be completely underserving of our love - in reality, or in our judgement - but he's there all the same. So look after them.

You will have talents. You may be an encourager. You may be a prophet. You may polish pews. You may sit in a cold church for hours on end, so it can be open when people want to visit. Well, crack on.  You may be called to oppose injustice. You're gonna have a rotten time, probably - a real struggle. But if that's what you're called to do, do it. Maybe you're lucky enough - or "blessed" as you/d probably call it - to have plenty of disposable income. Well, the good news is, the Holy Spirit can find lost of ways for you to spend it. Then when the King returns from his journey, he'll find you doing the job he gave you.

One day, on the great day - Jesus will rip this world apart like a sheet of paper. The Spirit will breathe, the dead will rise, the sheep and the goats will be sorted out. The earth and heavens will be renewed, and you won't be able to tell one from the other because everything will shine with the light of the Lamb.. The ones who recognise Jesus will be healed, and the Lord will wipe every tear from their eyes. In the mean time, do your job. It's not terribly well known (apart from readers of this blog and a few special others), but the great Isaac Newton  spent more time trying to calculate the end of the world than he spent on Physics. Given the limitations on calculation we've discussed, it's fair to say he failed at working it out. Isaac Newton is one of the greatest geniuses this world has ever seen. I wish he'd stuck to Physics. That was his job.

[1] I can hear the cries of "say it's not so" from here.



Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!