Thursday, 17 December 2009

Mary, did you know?

This week at the Advent course we looked at Mary. Quite literally "looked" at her, using images rather than passages of Scripture, some of the images very traditional, and others.... well, maybe a bit surprising.

We also listened to the track "Mary, did you know?" and tried to absorb the enormity of the Incarnation, that very closeness of a loving mother and baby being the image of the closeness God desires between God and humankind.

"Mary did you know...
...that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?"

New Bibles

One of the recurring comments during The Bible Aloud at St Felix last month was that the print in our pew Bibles is too small for people to read aloud fluently. So we have bought a new large-print Bible (NIV) for the lectern, and 20 more pew Bibles, as there is only one per pew at the moment. There was a special offer on pew Bibles at Eden online, so we went for it. They will be dedicated on Sunday, and bear a label commemorating The Bible Aloud and verses from 2 Timothy which seem appropriate:

“All Scripture is God-breathed

and is useful for teaching,

rebuking, correcting and training

in righteousness,

so that the man and woman of God

may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3.16&17

Amen. So be it.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Carol Services and all Christmas Services

The Carol Services in this cluster of parishes has begun!

Yesterday the Church of John the Baptist at Wantisden was filled with people wearing extra jumpers who had come to sing the first Carols of Christmas by candlelight. The warm clothing was the keep out the cold (no heating), and the candles and torches to see clearly as the afternoon light faded outside (no electric lights either).

We heard the events of the Incarnation in the words of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then the fantastic Mystery contained in John's Gospel:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning..."
O Glory!! And I get to read that bit! Yes! What kind of privilege is that?!!

And if you missed that one, catch another Carol opportunity at one of the following:
  • Sunday 20th December,
    10.30am St Felix Rendlesham
    - the Family Service will involve unfolding the Christmas story, creating the Crib in the church and singing Carols
    6.30pm St Gregory Rendlesham
    - Traditional Carol Service with the choir of St Mary-le-Tower Ipswich
  • Wednesday 23rd December, 6.30pm
    - Carols in the Square in Rendlesham, outside Costcutters, with season refreshments afterwards in the Community Centre
  • Thursday 24th December, CHRISTMAS EVE:
    4.30pm St Felix
    - Christingle Service with JOY balloons: a service to which the younger members of our community can bring their adults, and for all the young at heart
    5pm All Saints Eyke
    - Crib Service, creating the Crib in the church, for all ages
    6.30pm St Michael & All Angels Tunstall
    - Traditional Service of Lessons & Carols
    11.30pm St Gregory Rendlesham
    - The first Holy Communion of Christmas Day
    - 9am Holy Communion at All Saints Eyke
    - 10am Holy Communion at St Felix Rendlesham
    - 11am Holy Communion at St Michael & All Angels Tunstall
O come, all ye faithful!
Come and adore Him!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas Lights not just festive lights!

I like having Friday’s off work; my wife has most Fridays off, so we can spend the day together, :-)

She has often has to work Saturdays :-(

I also really like Christmas lights, and this year we bought some Christian Christmas lights. Over our front door we now have an LED rope light in the shape of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, above that (on the roof) we have a star. It was fun getting that up there! I don’t have a roof ladder, or even a ladder that reaches the gutters. My plan was to throw a rope over the roof, tie it to my star and pull it up, however, without being sexist, I throw like a girl! After a few feeble attempts, with rope with a stone tied in it, I went for some wool with an old loo chain pull tied in it (don't ask why I had one of those spare).
After getting it stuck in the gutter a few times and nearly smashing a window (good throw but the wool caught in my fingers Doh!), I eventually got the wool over the roof.
New problem: how to get loo chain and wool down the other side! It had stopped a few tiles up from the gutter, out of sight and reach when at the top of the ladder; anyway long story short…, eventually got to it, then tied my rope to the wool, back round the front pull wool, but not hard, paranoid about breaking it and having to start again! But where the wool was tied to the rope, it kept catching on the tiles. Tie rope to door handle so wool under tension, run to back of house (OK walk to back of house), jiggle rope to free it, run walk back round to front, repeat process a dozen times or more! Tie star to rope and go to back of house, pull on rope, yes! Oh, stuck again! Star dangling over gutter, push it up a bit and hope I can pull the rest up. Star now on roof.

The Bible says the star was over the manger; hmmm, I could forgive any visitors to my illuminated scene from going next door. I’d really like the star to be aligned with the crib and the Baby, after all it was His birth the star was proclaiming. Still for now it’s just up there, and I have my Christ mas lights up.

Say Bar Humbug if you like, but I’ve never been a Father Christmas fan; to me it associates a lie with a truth that so many people also call a lie. When a child learns that there is no Father Christmas, it’s just something parents / adults made up, surely, at least subconsciously, the story of Jesus and the manger and the virgin birth are tainted by our lies.

Well I hope you enjoy this time of celebrating the birth of baby, who, at his death, was named in three languages, ‘King of the Jews’.
Happy Birthday Jesus, Happy Christ Mas.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tempus fugit

Boy, how time flies.

It's amazing it's been 10 days since we finished Bible Aloud, and it's been a busy week. Sunday was our 'offical end' as we read the last chapter of Revelation.

Tuesday we started our Advent Series, Rev Janice is running two courses, one in the day time, and one in the evening. Good numbers attended both sessions; in the evening we broke into 6 groups, to discus various bits of the book Isaiah, it went very well. Looking forward to the other 3 weeks.

Thursday we had House Group at our house, as our usual hosts were at their childrens school, as usual a very pleasant evening, thanks Nat.

Friday, day off work, as was the wife, so we had a pleasant day in Woodbridge, and coffee at the garden centre, I even managed to finish putting the bolts and locks on my shed.

Followed buy a great weekend with our two youngest Grandchildren (and their parents) round for the weekend.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Bible Aloud follow-up

During the planning of The Bible Aloud, we wondered how we should follow-through, rather than just read the whole Bible and feel jolly pleased with ourselves, and leave it at that. And we thought some kind of follow-up would be a Good Idea ("...first the blade, and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear...").

So an Advent course is running every Tuesday until Christmas, at 11am-12.30pm in the vicarage, and the same material again in the church, 7.30pm-9pm. Everyone welcome! Bring an open mind and an open Bible, because together we are exploring the meaning of Advent, that expectant pause before Christmas.

The first session was last week, but each session stands alone, so come when you can, even if you missed it last week.

"Lo, he comes with clouds descending!"

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Bible Aloud Completed

Tonight we completed reading the whole Bible out loud at St Felix. We had to fit it around the existing church commitments; African Drumming, Women’s Institute, Wriggly Worship and of course Sunday morning Services. Yes you did read that right African Drumming, a small group of enthusiasts are learning to enjoy African Drumming on Monday evenings, in the church hall, apparently the acoustics are really good, and it’s very therapeutic! They’ve been at it for a year, but newcomers are welcome; 7:30 to 9pm pay as you go!

We started two weeks ago after the Sunday service, and we will read the last chapter this coming Sunday which is the first in Advent; the first of the four Sundays before Christmas. As an added celebration we are having a ‘bring and share’ lunch, after the service. Food is an important part of Christianity, Jesus performed many miracles at meals; the first miracle was the turning of the water into the finest wine at a wedding feast.

Thanks to Rachel for championing this project, and to Sarah for making sure everybody knew what they were going to read and when, and of course a big THANK YOU to all those who read, especially those who don’t regularly attend St Felix.

If you want to read the whole Bible in your church, our pdf timetable is a good starting point. I used Excel to create our timetables, and automate the generation of the reading list. We plan to do this again next year so I’m going to create a flexible version, that can cope with variable start and stop times; so if you’re interested keep your eye on this blog or St Felix web site.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Bible Aloud end of week 1

Well a whole week has gone by and, as far as I know, everyone turned up when they were suppossed to! Everyone I've spoken to has said what a worthwhile event it has been, and there's talk of doing it again next year!
By setting it so each slot should be no more than 15 minutes reading there are 354 slots; one person has requested the reading list so she can use it to read through the Bible in a year. Which I think is a great idea. Most people can manage to find a spare 15 minutes each day. And with only 354 readings, you can even afford to miss a few days, and still get through it in a year. For those who like reading I'm going to work out a reading plan based upon 30 mins and 1 hour at a time. Imagine what reading the whole Bible through every 3 months would do for your relationship with God. This event is not just about reading for the sake of reading, it's about proclaiming God's word in God's house. His word is vibrant and practical, I was listening to Rachel reading from Leviticus 14 where it talks about 'infectious skin diseases' and isolating a person for seven days, it goes on to talk about bodily discharges, and washing even the clothes and things a person sat on, and breaking pots etc that were touched. This is approx 14 hundred years BC; and yet when I look in Wikipedia I find the contagious nature of infectious wasn't discovered until more than a thousand years AD

Abū Alī ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) discovered the contagious nature of infectious diseases in the early 11th century. He introduced quarantine as a means of limiting the spread of contagious and infectious diseases in The Canon of Medicine, circa 1020. He also stated that bodily secretion is contaminated by foul foreign earthly bodies before being infected, but he did not view them as primary causes of disease.

When the Black Death bubonic plague reached al-Andalus in the 14th century, Ibn Khatima and Ibn al-Khatib hypothesized that infectious diseases are caused by "contagious entities" which enter the human body. Such ideas became more popular in Europe during the Renaissance, particularly through the writing of the Italian monk Girolamo Fracastoro.

Such things make you wonder, should we pay more attention to God's commands and Laws?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bible Alound

It's started!!!!
After a great service, and a fabolous puppet show Rev Janice rushed the end of this morning service. In her excitment she nearly forgot the words of the blessing!
But at 12 O'clock today Rev Janice started at Genesis 1v1 and Rachel will finish todays session, reading Leviticus 11 to 13 at 8:45 to 9pm. Then day one will be over. My first session is 7:15 tonight, it'll be interesting to see how many people are there!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Bible Aloud

Our Marathon Bible Reading is drawing closer, we have just 6 slots left to fill, and I know they will soon be taken, and not by Rev. Janice. These last few days have been a real team effort, drawing on our different skills, and availability; Rachel (who initially had the vision to do this), has been 'doing the rounds' encouraging people from the other local churches to join with us. Rachel was passing on names and times, to me to add to my spreadsheet; but having just moved house, she temporarily has other pressing demands upon her time. To make life easier I automated combining the plan based upon times and the contacts sheet, into a list based upon names; which Sarah has taken and used to mail merge into emails and letters, so everyone should soon know exactly what they are reading and when. Matthew created our Bible Aloud logos and manages the church web site, created a Briefing Sheet, so now we everyone doing a reading know exactly what is expected of them. It promises to be a great two weeks, and if you can make the time, we will be thrilled to see you, and read to you. The readings (except Psalm 119!) should take less then 15 minutes, each session starts on the quarter hour, feel free to come and go as your schedule allows. If you want to know what's being read when then this pdf has the answers.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Thanks Tony

I’d just settled in to work, sorting out a new starter, and I get a phone call, “Help the car won’t start”, I’m 15 miles away, what am I supposed to do? We have one of those portable car emergency batteries indoors, but since we moved I’m not sure where the charger for it is and it was only only half charged. Anyway once, under instruction, my wife had managed to open the bonnet, and connected the portable battery, she was sorted,  I wish! As half expected, it made no difference.

Fortunately I have a copy of our Church Directory on my work PC, we do have a paper copy somewhere at home, but the important word here is ‘somewhere’, so needless to say my wife couldn’t find it. But a few calls later, and a night in shining armour turns up, with some jump leads, he had turned his garage out to find them.

Thanks Tony, much appreciated, mate.

it turns out the battery was dying, but now we have a new one J

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Yesterday 27 people moved house!
More precisely 27 people helped one family move house.
In a massive family effort in one morning we moved Rachel from out in the sticks into the heart of Rendlesham. There had obviously been plenty of prior work, as one couple were storing 30 boxes of stuff in their house, waiting for us to move all Rachel's furniture etc over; and sorting that lot took the rest of the afternoon.

Many thanks were expressed by Rachel during this mornings service, for everyone's hard work.

St Felix is a family church and when a family member asks for help, or obviously needs it; if other family members can meet those needs, then they do. As well as physically moving stuff, some helped with the cleaning, some provided food (the spicy apple chutney was a real treat), and tea makers are always welcome!

In the Bible it says the early Christians were known for their love one for another, hopefully, in that respect, St Felix is like the early church. You're welcome to come and find out for yourself.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Bible Aloud

We're making great progress in filling all 354 slots for our marathon 88 1/2 hour reading of the whole Bible. We start at midday, straight after the mornig Service, on the 15th November, and allowing for existing church events, (and sleeping!) we will carry on until 9pm on Thursday the 26th. With the very last chapter of Revelations being repeated during the following Sundays service; which just happens to be the first Sunday in Advent.

Over 90% of the slots have been filled, just 33 left of which Rev Janice Leaver is able to do all but 4. There are many reasons for this project and one of them is to encourage us 'non professional Christians' to read more of the Bible ourselves.

The actual reading times are available via this pdf