From the Rector
From the Rector - Christmas Message 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. A song of peace that echoes on and never goes away.
The New Seekers – I'd like to teach the world to sing.
Have you ever noticed that a duck's quack does not seem to have an echo? It has been a popular scientific 'fact' for a long time, but now there is a scientific research project to establish whether it's true or just another urban myth. You may think that this is a waste of public money, but in fact it is serious stuff. If it's true then it opens up all sorts of possibilities for improvements in the acoustics of cinemas, concert halls and the like. If you have ever tried to listen to an announcement at Kings Cross Station over the Tannoy then you will know just how annoying echoes can be. Perhaps the solution would be to train a duck to talk. Goodbye echo and hello smooth sounding train information.
Professor Trevor Cox of Salford University was in charge of the research team: "Many people think the duck's quack having no echo is true so we thought we would investigate it," he said. The project set up an experiment to show once and for all that duck's calls will bounce off hard surfaces in just the same way as any other sound. Daisy the Duck is pictured above in a specially designed chamber which measures the level of echoes. The result? A quack does indeed have an echo!
There is an interesting question that remains however: where did the myth come from in the first place? Is it because the duck quack is not very loud, or do ducks just not quack in echoing places? If you listen to a duck the sound really does seem to stop dead at the end of the ducky utterance. Professor Cox says that there is a nugget of truth in the myth which may explain how it arose in the first place. The way a duck quacks, with its very long "aaaacckkk" at the end covers up any echoes that are produced. So the myth is not true, but it does show you how easy it is for sound to get lost. The echo is there but you can't hear it.
I love Christmas, mostly because at Christmas time you can be just that little bit more naff than normal. This is why I can now admit that one of my favourite songs is 'I'd like to teach the world to sing' by the New Seekers. It really is a sickly song - Nice with a capital 'N'. But this is so often the way when you speak a simple truth. It can sound naïve; almost childish. Even a tiny amount of cynicism can destroy truths like that. At Christmas time cynicism is in short supply – ask Scrooge!
I love the idea of a song of peace that echoes on and on and on. So did the shepherds in the Christmas story. They walked miles to see a baby lying in a manger because they had seen and heard a host of Angels stretching off into the distance singing 'Peace on Earth.' This was the original song of peace that echoes on and on throughout all eternity.
If you want to hear something truly naff then go to the bottom this article - there is a link where you can hear Daisy the Christmas Duck in the echo chamber. Hold on to your hats!
The trouble of course is that like any echo the song of the angels can get quieter and quieter as time goes by. There have been times when the echo of 'Peace on Earth' must have seemed very quiet. In countries like Syria it must be very faint indeed. That's why it is so important to celebrate Christmas – to sound the message and get the echo going again.
Now, at this point in a Christmas message you might expect the Vicar to go on about how the quiet message of the angels is drowned out by the noise of a modern tacky Christmas. In some ways of course it is, but the great thing about Christmas is that it is the one time of the year when people let their hair down. It is when we feel generous hearted. Grown men may even shed a tear during the last verse of 'In the bleak mid-winter' or whilst watching a soppy love story. It is a time when for a few weeks we let the simple things dominate our lives. It is a time when it is just about acceptable to listen to the New Seekers.
At Christmas time we can forget to be sophisticated and be at ease with ourselves – we can be at peace. This is the echo of peace sounding faintly down the ages – and all we have to do is listen for it. If you do hear it, then put up the tinsel, open the wine, shed a tear and come and sing a carol or two. Then, go out of your way and do just one thing for someone else that you would not normally do. Every time someone does that the echo rings just a little bit louder.
Click here to listen to Daisy the Christmas Duck.
From the Rector - November 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words.
T. S. Eliot
I found myself reading the small print on a bag of salad the other day. Why I did this I have no idea; maybe it was the gloomy weather. 'Super Food Salad – formally Spinach and Watercress'. I looked again. It really did say that. There have been a number of books published recently on modern manners and etiquette, so perhaps this was now the official way to address salad. Tesco are obviously going upmarket. Talking of dressing salad, on our current bag it says 'Put me in the fridge and wash before eating'. I will follow the instructions to the letter and shower before every bag from now on. My favourite daft instruction of all is in the manual for a Rowenta iron which says 'Do not iron clothes whilst they are being worn'. More puzzling is the sign that used to be on the peanut butter sandwiches at university '100% vegetarian'. Can you have 95% vegetarian? Mind you, we have to be careful when pointing out other peoples mistakes 'There but for the grace of God go us' (!)
Have you ever said something and been completely misunderstood? Even worse, have you ever been about to say something to someone that you know you will regret, but just can't seem to stop yourself? Sometimes it can be very hard to say what you mean succinctly, wittily and intelligently; especially if you are on the back foot and on the defensive. How often does the clever repost - the knock down comment – the killer argument that would prove once and for all that you were right all along, come to you just after you have walked away. You could of course walk back and give it, but I learnt a long time ago that the best way to end an argument is to force yourself not to have the last word. As long as you know what you would have said then you can retire with honour! Husbands, wives, taxi drivers, football managers – in fact anyone who ever talks to anyone else – take heed!
Mind you the other extreme from wearing your heart on your sleeve is blandness and nothingness. Politicians (and probably quite a few of us Vicars) are masters of the art of saying nothing in a clever and convincing manner. I suppose I would much rather err on the side of saying what I mean and making the odd mistake than being so careful that I end up saying nothing at all.
Jesus was in the middle of a full on sermon about how to live your life when he said 'Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond these is of evil.' He was talking about people who swore elaborate public oaths to prove to all and sundry that they would do what they said. But Jesus urged people to keep it simple: say what you mean and have done with it.
There is another side to this as well. If we want people to speak plainly, and I would imagine that most of us do want this, then they need be able to do so without fear of being misunderstood. Those of us on the receiving end of plain speech need to receive it kindly. Jesus was very keen that people should not get hung up on the exact wordings of laws or phrases, but rather on what was meant behind them. He had very little time for those who insisted on observing the letter of the law rather than the meaning behind it. 'I desire mercy not sacrifice' was the response he gave to one such situation. What he meant by this was that law and duty come second to care and compassion.
I imagine that the cause of many an argument is either a thoughtless and hurtful comment or an unkind interpretation of something said innocently. In other words, most arguments are caused not by the words that are said, but by a lack of trust and generosity.
Remembrance Sunday falls in November – a day when we remember those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. It all started of course after the First World War. We all pause in silence at 1100 on the 11th November - the moment the guns fell silent in 1918. This 'Great War' was dubbed 'The war to end all wars'. Sadly of course this proved not to be true.
War of course is the biggest argument of them all and goes to the final stage - when we stop struggling for words and resort to force - but it is important to keep on talking – even when we feel that we are not being heard or understood. At least then there is hope. It is always a risk to trust as you may end up being taken for a ride or lose a bit of money, but if it stops arguments – maybe even helps stops wars, then perhaps it is worth the risk?
From the Rector - October 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some things just seem wrong don't they? It was drummed into me from an early age that I should never, ever throw litter. I can walk around for hours trying to find a litter bin with my hands full of rubbish from a hasty lunch. I found London in the early 1990's particularly difficult for that reason. Anyone who remembers the IRA bombings will remember that all the bins were taken out of railway stations so bombs couldn't be hidden in them. The expectation was that passengers would be happy to put their rubbish on the floor for cleaners to pick up. I could never do that and was forever walking round the station piled high like a Womble. Throwing litter is definitely in the 'just seems wrong' category; as is eating Rudolph.
I have been on sabbatical over the summer and have been to many different places. I went to a Benedictine monastery on the Isle of Wight, to a Christian festival in Somerset and spent some time in Helsinki where Reindeer is sold by the slice. In fact salami seems to be a favourite reindeer product in Finland - Rudolph in a tube. It could never happen here of course. Mind you the supermarkets have already started their Christmas displays and have managed to sell us horsemeat curries made from Black Beauty and Little Donkey, so maybe Dasher and Dancer aren't as safe as they think...
It took over a month to get to Helsinki from the UK. We were on a traditional sailing boat bound for the Baltic Sea to take part in the Tall Ships Race. There was a small professional crew but the rest on board were young people who had come along for the adventure of a lifetime. They came from all walks of life, some from very challenging backgrounds. I saw these young people transform themselves from a group of individuals into a team which not only coped with some very harsh conditions, but thrived in them. They – and those like them on 100 other Tall Ships – shared some difficult times together. In conditions like that trust and friendship are built very quickly.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that young people are naïve and inexperienced, but I often wonder whether wisdom has very much to do with age. On the boat we set aside some time every day for discussion. We tackled some difficult issues, shared stories and tried to put the world to rights. It was quite humbling to listen to the deep convictions that these young people had. There were some real stories of inspiring moral courage as well. One of them said something that made me sit up and listen "You have to be in your 50's or above to get a job important enough to make a real mess of the world!"
I am a great believer that shared experiences and adversity bring people together in ways that comfort and ease can never do. It doesn't have to be on the high seas either. There is enough difficulty on land and in everyday life!
There is a story in the Bible that takes place on the night before Jesus was betrayed by Judas. His disciples were aware that something was up and were disturbed; so Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to comfort them. He went on to talk about how they would need this comfort as things were about to get very difficult for them. To make the point he said some words that we hear every Remembrance Sunday: 'Greater love has no man than that he lay down his life for his friends'. In other words, from the greatest pain and sacrifice comes the greatest good.
Now, if God's Holy Spirit is a comforter, then it follows that God is most present where comfort is needed, not where things are already comfortable. Whether this is during an ocean storm or with a family that are grieving the loss of someone dear, God is there to comfort. When our wounds are exposed it becomes possible to heal them.
But there is also another way to think of comfort. My time away has reminded me of how comfortable I am. I don't have many physical needs that aren't met - unlike in so many other parts of the world. I imagine that that is the case for most of us; we are all better off than we think. I think I am going to try and find ways of being less comfortable; and not just in the physical sense. It is so easy to take the easy way out sometimes. I think integrity is one of the most important attributes that someone can have, so I am going to try and follow the example of folk half my age.
From the Rector - June 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
I went scuba diving for the first time last week. Not, sadly, in the Caribbean, but in a swimming pool in Southampton. I was told before I went that the thing I would remember most would be counting my toes. A bit cryptic, but off I went. Once the safety briefing was over we got into the water. We looked quite intrepid in all our gear – just like James Bond. Our instructor told us to put our heads in the water and count our toes. I did as I was told and there they were – all ten of them. I counted them again and realized as I was doing so that I was breathing at the same time – underwater! Later on we started swimming about and playing catch with toy sharks 3 metres down. The freedom of being in an environment that would normally be impossible was just something else. I can now see what all the fuss is about. I have never flown a plane before, but I imagine it must be the same sort of feeling; up there with the birds spinning about and doing stuff that you shouldn't be able to do.
Humanity has dreamt of flying since the earliest of times. The most famous story of course is that of Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology. Daedalus built the labyrinth on Crete that King Minos kept his Minotaur in. To preserve the secrets of the labyrinth, Minos kept Daedalus and his son Icarus prisoner. But Daedalus hatched an escape plan - he and Icarus would fly away on wings made out of feathers and wax.
As they were about to take off, Daedalus warned his son to be careful and not to fly too high as the heat of the sun would melt the wax on his wings if he did. They they set off for freedom. At first everything went well, but after a while Icarus got tired of flying in a straight line, so he went higher and higher. Suddenly he realized that his wings were melting. He tried to go back down again, but it was too late. His wings came apart, and he fell down into the ocean. Freedom has its dangers of course, but I would imagine most of us would rather be free to face them than be cooped up in a prison in comparative safety.
There are two sides to freedom: there is freedom from restraint and freedom to flourish. In this country we have freedom to do just about anything we want, so we certainly have freedom from restraint, but not everyone has the opportunity or the resources to exercise their freedom. When we use the word 'freedom' I think most of us mean more than just a lack of chain. We want the chance to fly, not just the right to buy tickets we can't afford. True freedom is when everyone has the chance to fulfill their potential, not just those who, for one reason or another, can compete best in the market place.
My diving experience only cost me £16 which is amazing value, although picking up a hitchhiker yesterday got me thinking about money. He had just been to the food bank and was very grateful for the food he had been given – he had about £16 worth in his bags. I think he would rather have had £16 of his own to spend in the supermarket.
To be truly free and to flourish in our modern world, you are likely to need a combination of education, confidence and money. There are many in our country who have the freedom to sit alone in their houses doing nothing - because they don't have the resources or the confidence to do anything else. The church has always sought out these folk and tried to give them hope. We are not really interested in whether their predicament is their own fault or not; what matters is that they are in need. Mind you, even though it is right to help people even if they don't deserve it, it can be a difficult pill to swallow. Why should we help people who don't want to be helped and who are in a bad situation due to their own actions?
Jesus had a habit of upsetting the order of things. He helped folk who didn't deserve it; ate with people who were sinful and made friends with those others despised. He told a parable about workers in a vineyard to explain why he did this.
A vineyard owner employed a group of workers for the usual daily rate of one denarius. A bit later in the day the owner saw some people standing in the marketplace and told them that if they went to work in his vineyard he would pay them fairly. At midday he found another group of people he asked them to work for him. Towards the end of the day he saw a group of people just standing around. He asked them, "Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?" They answered, "Because no one has hired us." The landowner asked them to work for him, even though there was only one hour left in the working day. At the end of the day the workers were gathered together to receive their wages. Those who had worked all day were paid 1 denarius. But the owner went on to pay everyone else the same – even those who had only worked an hour. Those who had worked all day complained that they had been treated unfairly, but the landowner said he had given them exactly what they had expected – a fair wage for the day. He wasn't being unfair to them – simply generous with the others.
This principle runs counter to much of the way our world works, but it is at the heart of the Christian faith and it is something we try to model in our churches. For example, when we set the price for our summer youth camps, we always offer them at well below cost price. This of course means that folk who can afford to pay more benefit as well as those who can't, but surely this is better than the alternative which might mean that people have to miss out because they can't afford it. Of course this means that some people get something for nothing, but given that we can never be perfect, I would much rather that the church was criticised for being over generous rather than the other way around. This is not the way of the world of course, but then again the world tends to ignore quite a lot of people for one reason or another. We have to be prudent, but I think it is always best to err on the side of generosity.
From the Rector - April 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
Give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Albert and Albrecht Durer were sons of an impoverished goldsmith in 15th Century Germany. They were both talented artists. Their father could not afford to send them to the Academy in Nuremburg to study art, so the brothers made a pact between themselves. One would go to the Academy whilst the other would work down the mines to support him; after 4 years they would swap around. They tossed a coin and Albrecht went to study and Albert went down the mine. Albrecht was an immediate sensation in Nuremburg and was soon earning commissions for his work. Albert patiently toiled underground. After 4 years Albrecht returned home in triumph – he was a notable artist and could afford to put Albert through the Academy with his earnings. The family held a celebration dinner to welcome him home, and towards the end of the meal he turned to his brother Albert and said 'Now it is my time to support you whilst you train' Albert responded with tears in his eyes 'Look at my hands. Every one of my fingers has been broken whilst down the mine, my hands are rough and bruised. I can hardly hold a glass. For me – it is too late.' Albrecht looked from his brother's battered hands to his tear-streamed face with sorrow. Albrecht went on to become an internationally famous artist, but he never forgot his brother's sacrifice. He is probably best known for a work that he did in homage to his brother. He painted a picture which he called simply 'Hands.' We know it today as the 'Praying hands'.
Albert's tragedy was a talent that never flourished. My artistic tragedy was a bit different. My art teacher refused to enter me for GCSE art as she said I no chance whatsoever of passing. This was not a shock. Unlike Albert, I never had a talent to lose. I could never get the hang of making my pencil behave the way it should; all my efforts resembled a drunken Spirograph pattern. It was the same with knitting. We all had to do 'Creative Arts' at school – and that meant a term of knitting, or rather for me it meant a term of 'Miss – how do you this?' If I played my cards right I could get her to do a couple of rows a week whilst I watched patiently; pretending to take it all in. Slowly - even though I never did a stitch - my bright green bobble hat took shape. I got a good mark for it as well, even though I only made the bobble.
It is a good thing, mind you, to be able to make bobbles. They are, like Venus, the bringer of peace. Have you heard of 'Guerrilla knitting'? Police in Leicestershire are convinced that hanging bobbles and knitted items from trees makes people feel safer. This really is true – despite this being the April magazine! Police Sgt Simon Barnes said: "I am really hopeful that the actions will reduce the fear of becoming a victim of crime." It might sound daft, but I think silliness is underrated. Charlotte Bilby, a senior lecturer in criminology at Northumbria University, said of the plan: "I think that making an area look cosier certainly makes an area feel safer. If you see something that makes you smile, that makes you think that other people have enjoyed being in that space and have done something funny, something silly, that's going to change your perception." Why not? Let's all get knitting and cover the world with socks and bobbles. Anything that has a chance of stopping crime, war and bloodshed is worth a go. It might sound foolish, but you never know!
Easter is on its way, and once again we will be hearing the story told in schools, churches and on the television. On the face of it, God's plan to save the world through Easter is one of the most unlikely – even foolish – plans that anyone could have come up with. Surely sending your own son to preach a message of love to a Roman occupied backwater in the 1st Century AD was never going to change the world. The chances are he would end up being killed or tortured for his trouble. Then where would you be? Just a dead hero with nothing to show for it. But the foolishness of God is so much wiser than the dour wisdom of humanity. St Paul certainly thought so - 'For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.'
Jesus' message, and his willingness to die for it, was something that many people could not – and still can't – understand. But, as Paul also says 'The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.' For this seemingly daft plan did indeed change the world; the message of love, hope and resurrection began to spread everywhere. Human beings have done their best sometimes to corrupt and distort it – but the central message of Easter: love, hope, sacrifice and the compassion of God – speak through it all. It inspires people to great things. Every time I see the 'Praying hands' I think of the sacrifice of love behind the great work.
There many problems in our world, but the answer to most of them is really pretty simple. We just need to put ourselves second and be more generous and kind. It sounds a bit naïve doesn't it - childishly simple and foolish. Maybe it does, but if we all put it into practice – it would change the world. Easter gives us the hope that the impossible can happen if we dare to believe. Why not lead the way?
I wish you a happy and foolish Easter
From the Rector - May 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
One of the best things about going to another country is finding out what makes it tick. Every nation has its traditions, foodstuffs and cultural habits that define its culture. What is normal in one country can seem quite bizarre in another! I was lucky enough to spend quite a lot my earlier life at sea and ended up in all sorts of countries sampling unexpected things. I ate raw herring in Holland, deep fried reindeer in Finland, drank mint tea in Morocco and didn't finish a plate of disgustingly sweet baked beans in America. It's not just food either – Holland has its clogs, India has its Saris and Scotland has its kilts and bagpipes.
It is quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we in England don't have an exciting and colourful cultural tradition – but we do. People come from all over the world to see the things that for us are just ordinary and everyday: red London buses, old buildings and fish and chips to name just a few. We have cultural traditions as well - Christmas carol services, the FA cup final, tea in pots and over boiled sprouts you drink with a straw.
Maybe Pooh Sticks as a game isn't quite up there with the established traditions that make our nation great, but it has to be up there with the also ran's. It was with a heavy heart therefore that I read the following press release from the National Association 'very sorry to announce that we had to cancel the World Pooh Sticks Championships ...on Sunday 24th March. If we had just had a little rain on the day then we would have still played and we would have splashed around in wellington boots and dropped our coloured sticks over the bridges, however ... the river was too high and fast...' A serious tragedy you will admit, but being British the show must and will go on. The Championships have been rescheduled for 13th October. The nation is safe - whimsy has defeated health and safety.
When a couple get married, they have to deal with all sorts of traditions – and I don't mean the ones around wedding days and churches. Two people and two families join together and sometimes there is space for only one way of doing something. Every family has a different way of doing things, and just like counties, what is normal in one is weird to another.
As part of the wedding preparation course which we run in the benefice we always look at how couples negotiate the tricky decisions that they once made alone, but will soon have to be made together. Many couples live together these days before they are married, but marriage still brings couples together in ways they would never expect – and they have to engage with issues that can cause serious tension. All sorts of important questions arise? Who is going to be the breadwinner when children arrive? What is the correct way to do Christmas?
Marriage means that you can no longer avoid questions about permanence and children. Some couples argue more in their first year of marriage than they have ever done before – because difficult questions left unanswered or avoided beforehand now have to be addressed. This is all much better in the long run of course, but tricky at the time.
But, back to Pooh sticks. Have you ever wondered what happens to the sticks after the game is finished? After the glory of the game they just float off and are never seen again. 15 minutes of fame and then doomed to a life of endless wandering and floating. Will they make the sea or get caught in a tangle of reeds on the on the way? Will your Pooh stick make a success of life or end up frustrated and stuck as it watches the river flow past. Will it all end up in rags or in riches?
When a couple are married, the Holy Spirit blesses them as they start out on their new journey together. There is no guarantee that God will grant them a charmed life just because they have chosen to be married before Him, but they will always have someone to turn to when things – inevitably - don't go as planned. They can talk to each other of course, but having God to turn to as well can be a real help. There is a wonderful image in the Bible of how God's presence can strengthen a couple's relationship with each other "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Marriage seems to be becoming more and more popular around here. We have more weddings (and baptisms) this year in our churches than I have ever known. This reminds me that despite what you may hear, the institution of marriage is not at all dead, but is as strong today as ever it was.
I have no idea why so many people are getting married, but I do think that is a good thing that they are. We know of course that it doesn't always work out, and that many parents do an outstanding job by themselves, but at its best, marriage gives stability to a couple and love and nurture to their children. I think this is what most of us want in our heart of hearts, so I pray for all those who are going to be married this year. I hope it is sunny for them too!
From the Rector - March 2013
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
I love books. I like nothing better than to get lost in one at the end of a long day; but there are some books on my bookshelf that glare down at me. I glance guiltily away. These are the books I've bought with every intention reading, but have somehow never got round to. I read the vast majority of books I buy now, but it wasn't always that way. I was so easily tempted and drawn in by titles and covers. I once bought a book by Edward Schillebeeckx; someone I had never heard of before, called 'I am a happy theologian' solely because his picture on the cover looked so miserable. Needless to say I have never read it. Then there was the book about Christian attitudes to justice which I bought because it was written by an author called Harry Potter. I did dip into that one. One of the books that stares at me is 'The God of small things' by Arundhati Roy. I have almost read it quite a few times, but there always seems to be something more interesting – maybe just more accessible – to hand at the time. I love the title though. It somehow fits with my understanding of God.
I love it when tiny, seemingly inconsequential things make a huge impact on life. Last year Sainsbury's made the cardboard tube inside toilet rolls 12mm narrower. 'So what' you may say. Just wait – it gets really clever. Each roll still has the same number of sheets on it but ends up smaller. That means you can get more toilet rolls on every delivery lorry. This saves 500 lorry journeys every year and 140 tons of carbon dioxide. Whoever came up with that one is seriously clever! Then of course there is the famous 'Butterfly effect.' This came from one Edward Lorenz, who famously suggested that a hurricane could result in one place from a butterfly flapping its wings many weeks earlier in another. Small things and details are important and I like to take notice of them. Some details can leave you wondering though. I read the label on a pot of cream the other day - 'Fresh Sour Cream.' Is it me or does that not make sense?
One book I am going to read this Lent (I have already started so things are looking promising!) is 'Love Life – Live Lent.' This little book gives a few sentences of wisdom for every day of Lent. There is a daily bite sized challenge as well, designed to help us wrestle with what God, Lent and Easter have to do with our everyday lives. You can find them at the back of the churches if you fancy having a go yourself.
How many changes of real worth start off with something very small? Whether it is an acorn growing into a mighty oak or David taking on Goliath; there is something about the small and vulnerable which is very powerful. I have also watched some very big and clever plans come to nothing; resting as they did on hope and wishful thinking. Things which start small build firm foundations and can grow strong in a natural way. So, take heart any Pompey FC fans out there – they are deliberately playing rubbishly at the moment to build a foundation for the future!
Jesus began with just 12 disciples but his simple message of love and hope spread throughout the world. Humanity – whether deliberately or unwittingly - has done its best to confuse and complicate God's message over the millennia, but nothing can hide the simple truth for long. God's truth cannot be hidden by our mistakes. Again and again people rediscover the simple truths of God through the small acts of love and kindness that they see in others.
I love reading theology books and learning more about the Bible and about Christianity, but every now and again I am bowled over by some act of love or kindness that I witness in someone else. It is then that all the clever stuff really makes sense.