Monday, 26 January 2009

Feedback on Sunday

Arrived at church ready to do my v challenging evangelistic sermon (with altar call at end) but when I tell O about this he looks alarmed.  We need more prayer and preparation to do an altar call, he says.  And he's probably right.  I mean, it would be the first in years at St D's. Nonetheless, I'm a bit thrown.  O suggests we just ask people to stand and I go with this, although it's not the picture I'd had in my mind.

I wanted people to get themselves feeling in the position of Paul - through the sermon - and then to have an 'Ananias experience' at the end with O and I laying hands on them, the scales falling from their eyes, the Holy Spirit descending etc etc.  (I think if I'd explained all this in advance O would have been truly alarmed!)

Nonetheless the lesson of all this is better communication.  I really should have discussed it with O in detail before.

As it was, there was a lot of positive feedback on the sermon.  Two people stood but many more said they had been really challenged afterwards.  And three others signed up for next Alpha course.

So quite a success really.  thank God.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Conversion of St Paul

I am preaching on this on Sunday.  

O has suggested that I should be more challenging to the congregation - it's not enough just muddling along doing our best, with broadly Christian values, we need to recognise the call of Christ and make a firm decision for Christ.


I can see there IS a difference between being a 'good person' and being a disciple of Christ.  I mean it's a question of control.  In the former - no matter how 'good' you might be - it's still YOU in control.  Whereas in the latter, it's Christ in control and you are just following Him.  That really is a challenge.

I mean, Paul had a good career going for him at the Jewish temple before he set foot on the road to Damascus.  Then he had to kiss all that goodbye for a life of flogging around Asia Minor preaching the gospel and suffering a huge amount of persecution and ultimately death.  I'm sure if he'd just been trying to be a good person rather than following Christ he could have easily justified staying in Jerusalem.

We want to be good but we want to stay in charge.  The challenge is to give up that control to Christ and see what happens.  If we really trust that God loves us, should that really be such a scary thing?

Publish and be damned?

I've been strongly advised not to do this blog.  And I can see why.

I mean, clergy are not supposed to be blabbing to the whole world about the things they do and things they hear.  Things that are private and confidential.

But this blog is not going to do that.

The point of this blog is to share with others what it is like to be a Church of England curate in a major city in the UK - the trials, the tribulations and, of course, the many many moments of inspiration.

I am in the final months of my ordination training and will take up my curacy at St A's in July.  So there is quite a journey ahead.  

I hope you enjoy sharing that journey with me - through this blog.

p.s.  It seems somewhat ominous that I write this with this Sunday's reading open on my desk before me - the conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus(Acts 9:1-22).  Let's hope and pray the scales fall from our eyes!