Ten Ideas for Lent

Filed under: Uncategorized — minidvr @ 11:13

As it’s nearly Lent – I’m thinking back to the Brilliant book ‘Barefoot Disciple’ by Stephen Cherry. So, I thought that this additional discipline would be good for me to use and to share with others.

Another Angle

These ideas all all based on my book Barefoot Disciple: Walking the Way of Passionate Humility The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2011

The original plan was to include these ideas in the book but in the end we decided not to. Just as well, probably. Now you can get them without troubling to read it.

Have a great Lent! And if you do nothing else, try number 6.

1. Take Off Your Shoes

We have all walked barefoot and felt the earth beneath our feet. And we all played barefoot when we were children. But have you ever prayed barefoot? Do it once and you won’t forget it. It will touch your imagination. Try it out of doors. As you feel the world through the soles of your feet, you will begin to realise the spiritual relevance of the material world. As a barefoot disciple living in a northern…

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Puzzled by God’s Will? I am!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — minidvr @ 20:03

A Parish Priest I know died suddenly this week, following a major stroke which, if he had lived, would have left him incapacitated.  

Merciful you might say, and I know that his spouse and parishioners are taking as comfort that in the midst of their ‘afflictions’ that they can pray with faith and love the General Thanks giving1 from the BCP.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men;
[particularly to those who desire now to offer up their praises
and thanksgivings for thy late mercies vouchsafed unto them.]
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful,
and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips,
but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service,
and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness
all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost
be all honour and glory, world without end.

I’m wondering can I share their faith in that unquestioning way?  Can I not feel puzzled, confused, hurt or angry that God’s will seems to removed someone in the prime of his life and ministry, suddenly and unexpectedly from his family, friends and congregation who loved his powerful, prayerful, pastoral ministry at a crucial time for the parish in it’s development of a new project to improve how it serves the wider community.  The deceased was a prime mover in this project and provided much of the vision, action and doing of those working to bring this about.

Why are they not shouting at God in anger and frustration?   Powerful emotions I know that surged through me, once I’d gotten over the initial shock of being told of the circumstances when I visited the parish for a Regular mid-week communion service today.

Last week, he had been there, restored from a recent sabbatical, preaching powerfully and determined to reinvigorate the spiritual, scriptural, liturgical and musical development of the parishioners and to take it out of the church, into the community as outreach.   This was MISSION in capitals and surely God’s will?  If not, what is?  What now for that vision now he has gone?

While this isn’t my home parish, I seem to be sharing the hurt, puzzlement and questions of many I’ve met and talked and prayed with this evening, but the thing I can’t seem to share is their seeming ‘acceptance’ that God’s will has been shown?  This is all part of God’s plan, and a new way will be found once the mourning is done and someone else will come forward or be brought in to complete the brilliant legacy of work and ministry that he left.  

If this is God’s will, is it that of the Old Testament God, The one who seemed to vent his wrath, surely not, because the Parish firmly believes that the spirit was guiding the Parish Priest and them in their vision and work.

Is this the God of who the Psalmist writes: Ps139.3-5

You see me, whether I am working or resting;
you know all my actions.
Even before I speak,
you already know what I will say.
You are all around me on every side;
you protect me with your power

I wonder – not a lot of protection going on here!!

I suspect that this situation is one I need to take more time to reflect and pray on, because at the moment I’m inwardly raging at God for taking such a Holy Man from us and with all of the hurt, pain and grief and uncertainty is causes not just for his family, but the wider community that he ministered to.   My lack of understanding is perhaps due to a lack of humility, but while he wasn’t my parish priest, I knew and respected him, had on occasion confided in him and he had unconditionally offered me pastoral care if I needed it.

Lord, I pray that you bring peace and understanding to me and the many who are confused tonight by your will, which we pray for so often to be made clear, but has been made clear in a way which is so hard to bear.  I ask this, in Jesus’ name, Amen.



Discipleship and its Cost

Filed under: #bigbible, #digidisciple, #Holyspirit, #Kingdom, Discipleship, Gospel — minidvr @ 15:08

This post was originally posted at #Bigbible Project on 10th Apr 2013

Discipleship and its Cost (@minidvr)

Having recently completed a course on ‘Deepening Discipleship and Pastoral Care I had cause to reflect on ’ Discipleship and its cost’.
We are all called to be disciples – aren’t we?  Mark 1:14-17 (NIV) points us to Jesus’ first call to his disciples;
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee,proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”  16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people. “
I see this in the context of Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.   ‘Follow Me’ represents the institution of God’s Kingdom here on earth through Jesus.  And, the foundation of the Church, his body on earth.
It seems to me that the call ‘to follow him’ supersedes all other earthly calls, it’s from God the highest authority and overtakes any call of humanity, although it complements those human calls that are in accordance with God’s plan and intention for his world.
Being a disciple means surrender of self to God, its requires dying to yourself and rising in Christ  (Romans 6:8).  Paul gives us the idea of applying the patterns of Christ’s life to our own through Baptism.   He draws this out more in 6:10-12 (NIV).
“For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts”. 

What does this mean?[1] 

ŸTo learn to go deeper in trusting Christ’s superior wisdom.
ŸCall to go beyond our wordly experience, tried and trusted routine and comfort zone.
ŸWhen we are at our worst – Jesus appears and invites us to try again, trusting his superior wisdom.
ŸChoosing to be naïve.
ŸDo it again, one more time, comes to people, who have lost their innocence and are defeated.
ŸDeep water – when we are most  vulnerable, events go beyond our control.
ŸEvery call is to enter back into the paradoxical wisdom of the cross.

Where does discipleship come from?[2]

Discipleship springs from Grace and is nourished in God’s grace.
ŸGrace without Jesus and the Cross is ‘cheap grace’.
ŸDiscipleship means ‘counting the cost of Grace’.
We can do nothing without Grace and need to seek it again and again.
We need to trust and learn to expect more from God’s overwhelming grace.
Early on, Jesus demonstrated the Grace and power that flowed from God through him: (Luke 5:1-11(NIV)).
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.  Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him”.


A lifelong way of honouring the God, we love, celebrated in lifelong worship.
Grace leaves us awe struck!
ŸBeing a disciple is to learn to venture further on his sovereign authority!
We hear the sovereign voice of Jesus   “DON’T BE AFRAID”!
ŸTrusting a superior wisdom is the way of discipleship!
ŸWe will be catching men!

Discipleship can be costly:[4]

The early disciples paid with their lives for following Christ (Peter & Paul to name two).  You are called to make that same sacrifice if needed.
ŸBeing called means giving up all earthly ambition and desires and submitting ourselves to that of God while we seek the Kingdom of God here and now.
ŸLiving in God’s love and humility in a self sacrificial servanthood to others.

Why bother?

This is the question that we probably ask ourselves time and again, as we struggle to get through our daily lives.  Surely it’s easier to just ‘let go’ and accept that the here and now of our existence has to be enough and to make the best of it?
But, it seems to me that we are more than that.  We are uniquely created each person has integrity and is of value.  It’s our reliance on human, secular values that has allowed the world to become a troubled, place of conflict, poverty, and social injustice.   There is within us that sense of ‘otherness’ of something greater than ourselves.  Surely, we shouldn’t settle for the norm, but we should be seekin that spiritual nourishment and grace, which is only available from God.  It’s not actually case of we’re all in it together’ rather one of ‘God is in it with us’ and if we acknowledge that, we are hearing the call to be his disciple.

[1]based on CWR Discipleship Lecture, Wk 6, Pastoral Care in the local church,  Oct 09
[2]based on CWR Discipleship Lecture, Wk 6, Pastoral Care in the local church,  Oct 09
[3]based on CWR Discipleship Lecture, Wk 6, Pastoral Care in the local church,  Oct 09
[4]based on CWR Discipleship Lecture, Wk 6, Pastoral Care in the local church,  Oct 09
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Being Immersed in Ephesians #digidisciple

Filed under: #digidsiciple, #ephesians, #learning; #pastoralcare — minidvr @ 17:30

Being immersed in Ephesians (@minidvr)

I am currently engaged with a Course being run at @ at Farnham the foundation of which is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This letter is a powerful one and is being used to highlight how pastoral care is directly derived and founded in scripture, the Gospels and the teaching of the Apostles, particularly Paul.
Being immersed in any part of the bible can be fascinating and productive, particularly as we seek to reinterpret it’s message in the context of our lives and of those around us. When we are doing it for a purpose where we know that our application of this learning will change our outlook and our way of doing things, in this case, pastoral care,  it becomes something of beauty and awe founded in Love.
The theologian teaching sharing their insights and inviting us to share our own ideas and insights stretches our imagination. We seek to place ourselves in those situations or to reflect on situations we have experienced where having this foundation would have had a significant impact on decisions we made at the time.

So, what about Ephesians?

“Ephesians is about the Christian formation of human character”.[1][2]
This bold statement is made by CWR, and from evidence of other sources I have looked at, seems to me to be one that is true. Of course, many of Paul’s letters can be cross referenced with each other, the Gospels and the Old Testament, because Paul is nothing if not consistent in his teaching. He draws together historic threads  of scripture of God’s working with the world which predicted Jesus’ Incarnation and all that flowed from it.
I read Ephesians from the KJV, which seemed to me to express the letter, without to many later translations and interpretations to confuse (or enlighten) me.  Four things that I wrote on my copy were ‘Identity,  Calling, Vocationand Walking’.
Identity: It seemed to me that Paul’s intention was evident.   He is ‘clearly identifying how Christians are formed and called by Jesus’ teaching to their vocation from Baptism which imprints an indelible ‘Christian Identity’ on them, which needs to be carefully nurtured to enable it to grow and to empower them as part of the ‘Priest Hood of Believers’ [3]
Calling: In this context, calling seems to reflect that individuals in the early church heard the word of God and the Gospels and teaching were called to become members of the body of Christ.   John the Baptist baptised with Water, while Jesus was baptised with water and the Holy Spirit[4]. This is the baptism of all believers. which imprints the calling upon all who are baptised.  Baptism gives to us ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation to the knowledge of him  ‘The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.  Far above all principality, and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come[5].  This teaching echoes Psalm 8[6].
Vocation:  For me that calling confirms a Vocation as a Christian to discipleship.  Discipleship being to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Walking in his footsteps is perhaps the metaphor that I see in this.  By walking in the footsteps of Christ and the disciples we are formed to become Christlike, which is what our Christian character is destined to be.  “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. And  in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and have given himself for an offering and a sacrifice to ‘God for a sweet smelling savour[7]” and, “See that ye walk circumspectly (in Christ*), not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil[8]”. 
* (my paraphrase)

How does this Christian vocation relate to Pastoral Care?

It seems quite clear to me that our Christian Identity, Calling, Vocation and Walking in the footsteps of Christ is directly related  through his love for us all, our love and compassion for each other, to the health of the body of Christ, the Church and all of it’s members.
While not specifically spelt out in Ephesians, there are numerous references in scripture which form the basis for Paul’s teaching:
ŸWe are all made in the image of God. Every human being has dignity and deserves to be treated with the greatest respect[9]
We are relational beings. We have a responsibility to others, their good as well as for ours.[10]
Pastoral care is an expression of the presence and working of the Kingdom of God. [11]
Pastoral care directly reflects the Glory of God through the care given. [12]
Pastoral care is directly related to Jesus’ second greatest commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves.[13]
Paul’s letters reflected this, particularly 1 Corinthians.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.[14]


Ephesians as a base document for Pastoral Care is clear.  There is many more verses I could quote, but I’m still in the process of learning about the depth and breadth of the related teaching.   I will return to this another time when the course is ended. 

[1]CWR Introduction to Ephesians as a Pastoral Care Document – December 2012.
[3], Peter Leithart, 29 Oct 2010, accessed 26 Jan 2013.
[4] 1 Cor: 12-13. KJV.
[5]Eph 17-21 KJV
[7]Eph 5:1-2. KVJ.
[8]Eph 5:15-16, KJV
[9]Gen 1:26-27, Psalm 8, KJV.
[10]James 1:26:27; 2:14-17, KJV
[11]Matt 10:1-10, KJV
[12]1 Peter 4:7-11, KJV
[13]Matt 22:36-40, KJV
[14]I Cor 12:21-26, KJV
Originally Published at the #bigbible #digidisciple project on 10 Feb 2013


The Call of Abram

Filed under: #abram, #bigbible, #call, #digidisciple — minidvr @ 21:33

The Call of Abram #Genesis 12 #bigbible (@minidvr)

When I was pondering on what I might write for my Janurary post, I allowed my NIV bible to fall open in Genesis at random.   It opened at Genesis 12 – The call of Abram:
Abram & Sara
Used with Permission: Lars Justinen (Purchased by @)
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you
Why I wondered had God chosen this particular passage, perhaps it’s because my journey so far has been seeking to answer his call, without I must admit, with a discernible level of success.
But there are elements here that ring true in some ways!
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s house to the land I will show you”.
I live in North Kent, yet I worship and belong to a Parish 54 miles away at the other end of the county. I joined the parish when I was serving in the Army, away from my home, somehow God called me back to him, and to be in a strange place.  To minister to the people there and not at my home. The follow on from this was a vocation for ministry in that place, which has extended to my wife and we now both feel a strong call to do what Abram was called to do.  To up sticks and move away from family and friends and to live and work in that place.  So far, events have prevented that happening, but crucially, we see the door, partly opening, opening wide as my spouse moves to her retirement in 2013.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great”
The implications of this passage are not as clear.   Considering that I am in my sixties and my spouse is close to sixty, it’s unclear how our nation will increase or become great.   We are reassured though that we have five grandchildren, who might increase the nation naturally in due course. Although, I wonder if the world is ready for a whole new clan of @’s? 
We feel very strongly that we have been blessed!  Since returning to Christianity and following that initial call, our lives have been transformed.   We’ve been on a journey of faith, which has taken us to different places.  This journey has been wild, exciting and frustrating at times.
Seeking God’s will is a little like a treasure hunt, where the person who sets it up, forgets where they have hidden the prize – meaning random wanderings, occasionally through perseverance finding an occasional clue, but never quite finding the ultimate prize. Getting those glimpses is a thing of joy, but also one of impatience and frustration. The Church can sometimes seem to be the villain in this, moving slowly, nearly imperceptibly forward, while seeming to be placing obstacles in the path. I see these as a test of sorts, of character, of perseverance but also of formation – because despite the frustrations, each episode results in new insights and new points of growth.
At this stage on the journey, we’ve been given a slightly wider glimpse of a possible pathway as Parish Missioner – but just as it starts to develop as a joint vision, the Church has taken the chief facilitator away to a new appointment?  Murphy’s Law? or another test? So, another delay, but one with some positive aspects as I embark on the first stage of training for it with #Deepening Discipleship at CWR Waverley commencing this month.
“I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing”.
This one is a little more problematic.   I am not seeking to make my name great. Rather the opposite, to serve where God is calling me humbly and with humility (is that a sign of vanity?).  If I am blessed, I hope that by the Grace of God, I am able to share those blessings with others, and by doing so, making the Word and Name of God known in the hearts of others.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”.
Wow,  I thank God for his blessing, but I hope that he doesn’t curse anyone for my sake, because my cursing anyone is the last thing on my mind!  In some ways this reminds me of Matthew 7.1(NIV) “Do not judge or you too will be judged”. 
Judgment in biblical Old Testament terms can have some quite drastic consequences. I wonder if not judging others prevents our forming opinions or views between what is right or wrong behaviour and seeking to amend that behaviour?
Paul in Romans 2.1 tells us to “avoid rash, censorious and unjust judgment” and Luke in 6.7 explains it in termsof condemning.  If Christ doesn’t judge censoriously, why should I?
If I were to ‘curse’ all Bankers, would God curse them as well?  I think that it comes back to the old expression which while not in scripture in this form “Love the Sinner – not the Sin”.
I pray that from this passage, people will be blessed through God allowing me to be an instrument of his Grace in the world.
In summary, just wandering through the bible, allowing it to drop open at a particular place or chapter can be thought provoking and stretch your imagination a bit more.  Must do it more often as I embark on a ‘Year with the Bible’ in the next few days.
This post was originally submitted to #Bigbibleproject and published on 10 January 2013 


Does God take us on a Mystery Tour

Does God Take us on a Mystery Tour? @minidvr

Sometimes we get insights from scripture, sometimes someone else points us towards a scripture passage, which has come to them while they were thinking of you, or perhaps interacting with you in some context or other.  The Bible can be inspirational in many contexts and not necessarily directly to you, but may inspire someone eles, who is sharing your journey in the Christian faith.
Recently, someone sent me a PM on Facebook,  prompted by my writing  something about  new developments in the Lay Ministry role I have in my parish!
They quoted: Isaiah 58:11
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 
I’m not sure what I had written to inspire that particular quote, but it just seemed to chime  in with the theory that I hold that God is taking me on a Mystery Tour, releasing on bit of information on the way, while I struggle to discern what he might be saying or pointing me towards.   A timeline roughly being:
 I came back to Christianity in 2008, God seems keen to keep me on my toes!
Firstly, he pointed me towards a particular place, church and community.  OK, deal!
Next, he pointed me towards confirmation as an Anglican.  Ok, Deal!
Next, he pointed me God only knew where, but it, after a few months of mystery, turned out to be a possible vocation to some form of ministry in my home parish.  OK, Deal!
2010 – 2011
Next, he pointed me towards discerning the vocation as towards Ordained Ministry. OK, Deal.
Next, he took me on a wonderful journey of discernment, of growth, academic stutdy, prayer, spirituality and interaction with some wonderful people.  OK, Deal.
Next, the journey became painful, he sent me to BAP.  OK, Deal?  Not a done deal after all?  Recommeneded for Ministry in the Church of England, but not Ordained Ministry. OK, Deal, of sorts.
Next, well, wait out and see for about 6 months. Use this to  work through the implications of the ‘Not’ and get over the baggage.  OK, Deal!
Next, October 2012 –  Meeting to discuss a possible way forward with Vicar – Vision shared..
His vision for future ministry to be developed as Parish Missioner?  What on earth is that?  Well, here goes:
Stage 1:   To continue existing role(s) which will be formally authorised in early 2013.
Stage 2:  To widen Parish  Mission and Ministry  via our website and the use of social media to meet an identified need as we move forward towards future pastoral re-organisation with a neighbouring benefice.
Stage 3 : To attend formal training as an Authorised Worship Leader under diocesan auspices from September 2013.
Stage 4:  to be developed once the first three are achieved.
What to do next?
  • Ÿ  How to develop our website to integrate with social media to increase our outreach in a way that they are seamless interactive – to work with our Web Master on this.
  • Ÿ  Look at drafting a simple, short, concise parish mission statement.
  • Ÿ  A job description and working agreement – appropriate to the role as it develops.
  • Ÿ  Book training as appropriate.
I know that God has a sense of humour, but the mystery tour isn’t over yet.  The headlines of the proposed role while appearing clear cut, have lots of stuff to be worked out prayerfully and with others over the next few months.
The challenge is there.  And it’s really exciting.    Get used to being on a mystery tour.  Take nothing for granted, expect the unexpected and hope for the the best.
To me this mystery tour  reminds me of Proverbs 1-2:7
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,[
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.
One of the things about a mystery tour is to be open to  excitement, often scary things, but open hearted and committed to where God might be taking me – and the journey looks to continue on track for more mystery in the future.  All I can say, is bring it on.
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This post originally appeared on the #digidisciple project on the #bigbible site on 10 Nov 2012.


Retaining the Vocation and Faith of Our Youth

Filed under: #retain, #youth, Church, Vocation — minidvr @ 10:50

Retaining the Vocation and Faith of Our Youth (@minidvr)

I often think what if I were a young person in church today – what would I think about it all?
Would I feel part of it?
What is it’s relevance to my life today?

Why bother?

Listening to some young people, and hearing others experience, it seems to me that they want Church to remain a continuity factor, of stability and  fairly and squarely where they can come back to find it comfortable and unchanging, and to be ready to accept the changes in them as individuals.
Our Parish experience and in of others elsewhere, is that we’ve  noticed that while our youth group members, are content to be part of group, they want more than our planned activities. They want the freedom to do more for themselves. As they mature in age and culture, perhaps, between 14 and 18 they tend to drift away or make different choices.
Some opt to move to a much livelier Evangelical parish up the road.  Reasons for this can be summarised as itsdifference in attitude. They find it to have a modern outlook, which  seems free, risk taking and experimental in it’s liturgy and worship. We console ourselves that while they’ve left us, they remain within the Christian family.
Others opt to move to a more traditional (than us) Anglo-Catholic/High church, which gives them more smoke and bells than we are comfortable with. Again, we comfort ourselves that they are still within the family of the church.
The third path is the ones who just go off, to the world of work or to further education, and stop being activeAnglicans.  Socially there appears to be many reasons for this, peer pressure, exploring other types of spirituality, or just a failure of belief. When they return to the family during breaks, they stay away from church as well.
My observation of this category would be that they are not actively against Christianity, just perhaps lured by the attractions of a secular lifestyle and the consumer society, which allows them to express their individuality, without any of the responsibilities maintaining their faith brings.

So, what of their vocation?

Intrinsically, I believe that young people brought up in a faithful, prayerful Christian household, will have that for life, whatever path they choose to take.   I cite my own experience of this.  Being part of a strict Catholic upbringing, I now see I was given a foundational belief and knowledge of God, which l abandoned in adult life, but behind how I lived and behaved, were Christian moral values – what I lacked was a firm belief and understanding of the true incarnational nature of Jesus Christ and his Gospel of the good news.   Once I came in late middle age to receive him into my life, all of that childhood stuff fell into place.
I believe that for many young adults, who might lose track of their Christian faith, will somewhere within retain that spark of the light, which is only dimmed,  waiting for some thing, some life event to spark it back into a brilliant light again.  There is ample evidence for this in those who return to church perhaps through marriage, bringing a child for baptism or the end of a loved ones life. Others come back later in life, perhaps looking to regain something they lost along the way.

Should we be worried?

I think not.  I believe that the Parish model remains strong for the CofE, particularly where we seek to remain at the centre, rather than the fringes of our community.  Many more people meet God through the interaction of the Vicar, Curate or church members working in the community, than come through the doors of the church.   That place that the young adult leaves, remains there, available and while changed, as they are changed, is receptive and welcoming the prodigal back into the fold of God’s love.
The issue for the church is retaining and keeping open these churches in every community. Maintaining that community presence, which people take comfort with, even if they don’t choose to be part of it.   The fiscal burden of maintaining the viability of our churches is well known and a constant issue for congregations, who struggle, heroically,  year in, year out with this reality.  Bums on seats represent financial viability and provides for the presence of a priest in the community.  The Parish Priest is central to all of this and the benefits that he or she reaps for the Kingdom and the church is our mission.

How can we overcome these hurdles?

Surely our mission or quest is to encourage people to recognise vocations and to instil discipleship in all of our people. This to enable them and to grow our churches.  We need workers in the harvest, and those workers can come from the young, as they go through life, or in old age.  It will only come  if their vocation is built on a sound foundation allowing them to respond to the call unselfishly when they hear it clearly.


Betrayal of our Armed Forces

Filed under: #Bad Decisions, #Betrayal, #Defence Cuts, #FA2020 — minidvr @ 06:26

The Defence Secretary is about to announce the new shape of the Future Army 2020. Historic Regiments will be disbanded, amalgamated or merged with others. The footprint of the Regular Army will shrink to a few, super garrisons in the UK, while the Reserve Forces are supposedly going to be increased to take up the slack. 

Historically this is a bad decision. In 1999, when the nominal establishment of the TA was about 70,000, they never met that figure. The current figure of 40,000 has never been recruited to that figure, and the reality is that at any one time, probably no more than 20,000 are trained and deployable.

Now, it appears that the proposal is to increase the strength of the TA by another 40,000 or so – hoping that many of the Regular troops will join the TA after being discarded by the Regular Army. 

It’s a joke. Would you go and work for an employer part-time, with all the risks of still being sent to war, after having been thrown out of your full time job? I wouldn’t! T

he Government talks about sharing with other nations for future wars – but, the Falklands War proved how hollow that is. The USA and NATO refused to help and were actually obstructive. 

Isn’t it about time the government wised up and put our National Defence at the forefront rather than trying to be the world’s policeman?


Not Recommended for Training

This post originally posted at on 10th June 2012

What happens when you are NOT Recommended for Training for Ordained Ministry? @minidvr #digidisciple

I went to the Bishops Assessment Panel of the Church of England in May.   The outcome was that I was NOT recommended for Training for Ordained Ministry.   However, the panel discerned a strong vocation to some form of Lay Ministry and recommended that I continue to explore the possilibilities within my Dioceses.


Off course, I was hugely disappointed that I had been unable to persuade the assessors by my input during the panel that my call was to ordained ministry.    The follow up report is short, but clear and outlines the reasons for that failure, but also the strengths and gifts that they discern within you, which validate your faith, growth as a Christian and what more you may offer to the church in areas, other than ordained ministry.
It took a couple of days for the reality of the situation to sink in.   Despite hearing the outcome orally, you still hope against hope that it’s a mistake and that someone will change it.  But the written report once given to you, shatters that delusion and you now experience the deflation of ego and self awareness that you believed you possess and brings it home that the decison is both correct and final.  A letter from the bishop confirming this is the final nail in the coffin of that slim, hope.   I don’t blame anyone for this result.  In the end, I was given a unique opportunity to show that there was a valid and distinctive call to ordained ministry.  My performance at the panel did not disclose that, but did give other insights which are enabling for the future. God’s will is still to be discerned.

Getting over it:

It’s really important that you have a support mechanism in place to help you to cope with the disappointment.  In my own case, I had my spouse, who was pragmatic, but loving and was able to help me see that God’s purpose and will, might just have been to test my faith in this way.  I have my Vicar, our Curate, our parishioners, my Spiritual Director and the DDO, all of whom have been hugely supportive and consoling.  I have also received much valued support from the i-church community, who have shared my journey from the outset.   The underlying support is that of personal prayer and pleading with God to allow you some peace, to refill the well of grace that seemed to empty when you heard the decision, to fill that emptiness with his love and presence and to restore your confidence that the call is real, genuine and not just an ego trip.
Thankfully that has been granted.  I am now at peace with the process and within myself.  I am very much aware that something that I have been part off for over three years is ended.  The loss is real, it’s a form of grief, it will continue to strike back randomly and I might experience further feelings of anger and disappointment, might seek to attribute blame to others.   Being aware of this is important and to turn to that support network of prayer and to share with others and to just ‘be’ for a period until while I maynot forget it, it will be part of me, part of that formation of character and growth, which is essential to allow any new path to be discerned.

What next?

In my case, I can see that a NOT isn’t a NO.   There is still a call alive and burning within me.  It’s  going to take  some time and space, along with others,  to seek to discern where such gifts as I might have, might be used by the Church in another form of ministry.   Wise words from all are “not to rush into anything, take time out to continue to see where God might be taking you” and “rushing into anything would be unwise.  It would always seem second best to ordained ministry”.   This and other wise counselling has given me a clarity of vision to accept the decision, to be at peace with myself and with God and to lay the disappointment at the foot of the cross and to move on.  As God shuts one door, another, which was wide open all of the time beckons.


Reflection on BAP : 14-16 May 2012

Filed under: BAP, CofE, Discernment, Ordination, Training — minidvr @ 13:00

I attended BAP at Shallowford House, Stone, Staffordshire between 14-16 May 2012. BAP is the conference mechanism used by the CofE to discern whether Candidates offering for Ordained Ministry and sponsored by their Diocesan Bishop, meet the Ordination Criteria.

 The panel is organised with 16 candidates attending, split into two syndicates. Six Assessors are appointed, three to each syndicate. The Ministry Division administrator for Ordained Ministry attends as the Panel Secretary.

 The Assessors cover three main areas; Vocation, Pastoral and Educational. They assess against several of the nine criteria for Ordination, with a necessary overlap for some criteria. For example, Vocation impinges on all of the other eight criteria.

The journey to Shallowford for me was 174 miles, with many candidates travelling much further. One flew in from the Diocese of Europe in Spain.

Shallowford house is a former country house, set in its own grounds, which was left to the Diocese of Lichfield about 60 years ago for use as a Retreat and Study Centre. The house, much modernised, retains its Victorian charm and the grounds are well kept, with lovely gardens and fields to walk in, one of which has a Labyrinth cut into the grass. It is a peaceful setting, which despite the presence of the West Coast main line railway running past it, seems in some way, to have retained its aura of a country house.

Meeting the candidates and assessors was a joy. Every single one was enthused and very aware of why we were there and the significance of the deliberations over the three days.

Day one of the panel consisted of settling in, briefings and worship and a lively exercise in getting to know each other, ending at about 9 pm. Part of this was the completion of a Personal Inventory, which was challenging to complete in the 40 minutes allocated.

Day two of the panel commenced a routine of Worship, Meals, Delivering Presentations, Chairing a discussion on the presentation (and contributing to the discussion in turn). Followed by one to one interviews with each of the three syndicate assessors on their respective subject areas. In my case, I slightly abandoned the script for my presentation, but was able to bring out the missed points in the discussion phase. All of us in the syndicate joined in with supporting and encouraging our contemporaries, by being attentive and engaging in the discussion(s) making the process, while a little pressured by time constraints, enjoyable and productive. One assessor, observing, saying that they really wanted to join in, but had to remain neutral – which is I believe a compliment to the quality of both presentations and discussions.

 Interviews: After lunch we moved to individual interviews, I had one (Vocation) on the the second day and a further two on the third day. I had gone with the Bishop’s words in my mind. “Not to much preparation and rehearsal” and “concentrate on one or two things” and “be yourself and enjoy the process”. I did exactly that. Whether or not I prepared enough, will not become clear until the results are announced late next week – but I was challenged by each interview, particularly the one on Vocation. I found all of them enjoyable, and actually found myself laughing at some of the things I shared with the assessors.

Pastoral Exercise: We also had to complete a pastoral exercise over the three days, which involved writing a letter of not more than 500 words on a set pastoral situation. The exercise challenged me, but I thanked God for the insights of the preparation of a diocesan panel and one day of pre-BAP activity earlier this year, prior to BAP.

The people. Overall, everyone was fantastic, both assessors and fellow candidates. There was much humour about, as well as story telling as we recounted to each other our individual journeys, each were unique, and each were inspirational. They came from vastly different backgrounds from someone already in Lay Pioneer Ministry to those involved in Fresh Expressions and New Wine arrangements, it really helps to widen the perspective of someone involved in parochial lay ministry and perhaps even gives insights into how future vocation may change and take you.

The Worship was organised and provided by the assessors. We had a compline, two HC, One MP and one Day prayer during the 2.5 days together. The choice of hymns, Psalms etc was inspired and corporate worship, despite the variety of traditions was wonderful. Time was plentiful for quiet prayer, for walking the grounds and labyrinth and to just ‘be’.

Social. There was a bar open, but I found myself so tired each evening, finishing at 9 pm, that I didn’t avail myself of it. But, we had ample opportunities to socialise during meal times and free-time between interviews and on the many, useful tea/coffee breaks provided in the programme.

Atmosphere. The overall atmosphere was one of prayerfulness, mixed with some nervousness from some (including me) and trepidation on what to expect from the interviews in particular. There was pressure of time, but the reality is that most pressure is self generated by candidates upon themselves. But humour abounded and was evident from everyone. I actually think that the church has got this right, because having heeded the Bishop’s words, I actually enjoyed the process.

What Now?

 We all await with baited breath the outcome of the panel, which will be announced in a week or so. We can expect to be given the verdict by our DDO or Bishop. I hope and pray that I am recommended for Training, but know that it’s God’s will that is the overriding authority. I pray that it any vocation that I have is discerned in the wisdom and knowledge that I know the assessors possessed.

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