The Real Easter Egg

With Lent about to start on Wednesday and my fiancee Louise reminding me that there’ll be no chocolate until Easter, a heads up for The Real Easter Egg which unlike any other Easter eggs I’ve seen, explicitly makes mention of Jesus and has a story board of the Easter story for children. If they’re not doing so already, why not consider asking your church or school to make an order?

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The Midwife – a Christian message proving to be very popular TV

Wonderful to see that The Midwife, a programme with a Christian message, is proving to be the most popular TV in years. It would be wonderful if newspapers and magazine publishers could take note and realise that there truly is a demand for material with an upbeat and very positive message to the world.

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A poem I wrote on retreat at St Beuno’s in North Wales

The Sound of Sheer Silence

1.
Lonely Silence
Pressing on heavy heart
Until you see
It is God's voice
Whispering to our souls.

2.
Suffocating silence
Holding us back
Until you see
It is God's breath
Filling our lungs.

3.
Troubled silence
Raising worries in our minds
Until you see
It is God's love
Catching each care.

4.
Surrounding silence
Caging us in
Until you see
It is God's arms
Protecting us all.

5.
Disturbing silence
Unsettling the dust
Until you see
It is God's mercy
Cleansing our hearts.

6.
Until you see
The sound of sheer silence
Is He.

1 Kings 19:9-18, Deuteronomy 1:29-33, 
Psalm 139, Psalm 131
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Donation from the organisers of the Braunton Tug-of-War

Thank you to the organisers of the Braunton Tug-of-War who today donated £300 to St Brannocks Church. This will go towards keeping the church mini-bus on the road which does so much to help those who are not otherwise physically able to get to church. It is a wonderfully generous gesture and appreciated by all.

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Rev John Stott’s Memorial Service in St Paul’s Cathedral (in five parts)

You can view the other four parts here: Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5.

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Plough Service at Saunton Church

I went to the Plough Service yesterday at the beautiful little church at Saunton (left). The service was to celebrate Plough Sunday which is a traditional English celebration of the beginning of the agricultural year and attended in particular by the local farmers. You’ll see the plough at the front of the church and as well as that and hymns such as ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ one of the farmers also asked Vicar Anne to bless the seed which she duly did. The service is traditionally held on the Sunday after Epiphany which is therefore the Sunday between 7 January and 13 January. The tradition was that work in the fields did not begin until the day after Plough Sunday: Plough Monday.

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The Beatbox Nativity

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The real meaning of Christmas

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Mission Action Plan

Great to spend the time today at the Parish lunch to discuss the Mission Action Plan for St Brannocks the next few years. Lots of positive ideas and feedback as well as a lovely roast lunch provided by Ragamuffins Bistro. The picture to the left was taken at Saunton a couple of weeks ago.

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Intercessions

A few people mentioned the intercessions after church today so I’ve printed them below. The last of these about the Holy Trinity is a prayer used by the late Rev Dr John Stott which you can read about here. The picture to the left was taken at Woolacombe on 14/10/11.

Intercessions, St Brannocks, 23/10/11

Lord, we pray for all those in our local community who are in need. In particular we pray for those who are searching spiritually, that you will guide them into your fold and show them the love and joy that comes from opening up their hearts to you. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

Lord we pray for those around the world who are suffering. We pray in particular for those who are starving in the Horn of Africa, for those who are affected the flood in Thailand and for the people of Libya as they come to terms with the enormous changes they have experienced. We pray also that you guide our political and economic leaders around the world so that they may be blessed with your wisdom and steer the world economy through its time of trouble. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

Lord, we think of your creation, of the beauty in nature which is all around us. Help us to be good stewards over your world and to give the environment the respect which all of your creation is due. We pray in particular for those who are helping to clear up the oil spill in New Zealand. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

Lord, we pray for those who have suffered injustice around the world. In particular for those who have been unjustly imprisoned or whose human rights have been curtailed. We pray for those who are being persecuted for practising their faith in you and we remember quite how lucky we are to live with the freedoms with which we are blessed in this country. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

Lord we pray for your clergy and all those who work so hard in your name. We think in particular in this parish of Anne, John, Jean and David. We pray also for all those around the world who are working in your name to help alleviate people’s suffering and bring people closer to you. In particular we think of the missionaries in Africa and pray that you may give them strength. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

We pray to each person of the Holy Trinity. Heavenly Father, we pray that this day we may live in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, we pray that this day we may take up our cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, we pray that this day you will fill us with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Lord in your mercy, hear our Prayer.

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Confirmation at St Brannocks

Last Thursday, The Rt Rev Bishop Martin Shaw, former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (left) came to St Brannocks for the confirmation of the following six people: Louise Dobson and Mary Hodgson from St Brannocks, Diana Parker and Fiona Parrott from Morte Hoe and Leigh and Lynn Winsbury from Lee Abbey. It was a wonderful service and an inspiring sermon from Bishop Martin in which he reminded everyone about what it is to be a Christian. In particular, he made four specific suggestions: to avoid all murmuring behind people’s backs, to do at least one truly good deed each day, to study hard and to pray more. Truly, a special day. By the way, for anyone who is interested, Bishop Martin did a wonderful blog in which he took a stroll (in all senses) through St Matthew’s Gospel with St Columba sitting sagely on his shoulder. I’m part of the way in and am thoroughly enjoying it. You can find it at followcolumba.blogspot.com. You can also find copies of his spiritual newsletters here.

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Inspirational lives: Rev Charles Simeon

Charles Simeon (1759 – 1836), was an English evangelical clergyman. He was born at Reading, Berkshire and educated at Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge. In 1782 he became fellow of King’s College, and took orders, receiving the living of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge, in the following year. He was at first so unpopular that services were frequently interrupted, and he was often insulted in the streets. Having overcome public prejudice, he subsequently gained a remarkable and lasting influence among the undergraduates of the university. He became a leader among evangelical churchmen and is often hailed as something of an ancestor of the evangelical movement in the Church of England. According to the historian Thomas Macaulay, Simeon’s “authority and influence… extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners of England, …his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.” Read a wonderful article on him by John Piper.

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Please support Ben Bradshaw’s fundraising for Zimbabwe

Please support Ben Bradshaw who is raising money to build a church for the refugees at Tongogara in Zimbabwe and to support care for the disabled residents of the Mutemwa settlement also in Zimbabwe. So far he has raised more than £6,400 towards his target of £25,000. You can sponsor him at JustGiving.com.

Ben is currently completing his training for the Anglican clergy at Mirfield and in July he completed a 322 mile walk from Mirfield to Buckfast Abbey. Specifically it was a Gospel walk in which he did not take any money at all and was completely dependent on God and the kindness of strangers. He was inspired to do the walk by the life of John Bradburne who devoted the last ten years of his life to care for the residents of Mutemwa before he gave up his life for them and was murdered in 1979. As Ben says on his JustGiving page: “He has become the inspiration for my walk as he lived his whole life trusting in God and in the kindness of strangers. John’s unusual and saintly life meant he was often called a Vagabond of God. He was neither a nurse nor a doctor; he was simply a servant of God, a man who loved the downtrodden and those rejected by society. This fundraising will allow the love and care John showed to the residents of Mutemwa to continue.”

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Skypecast interview with Rev Anne Thorne, vicar of St Brannocks Church in Braunton, North Devon


This is the first in what will be a series of Skypecast interviews. It features Rev Anne Thorne who is the vicar of St Brannocks Church in Braunton in North Devon. You can find more information about the church on their website.

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What Should Sermons Do?

The Power of Parable from Peter Rollins on Vimeo.

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Twitter and the church: introducing @metalvicar and @Digitalnun

There’s are a couple of great articles in a recent issue of The Church Times which introduce the reader to a vicar and a nun who are not only technologically extremely literate but are harnessing technology for the church. The first is an article by the Revd Rachel Mann who is Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, Manchester and poet-in-residence at Manchester Cathedral. She argues that the growth of social media presents an evangelistic opportunity for the church which shouldn’t be shied away from. You can follow her on Twitter as @metalvicar. The second article is about Sister Catherine Wybourne, a Cambridge-eductaed former banker who is now Prioress of the Roman Catholic Holy Trinity Monstary in Oxfordshire. She is using technology to raise money for the monastary through, for example, virtual retreats, as well as to promote the internet as a sacred space. She tweets as @Digitalnun.

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Fruit of the Holy Spirit and a prayer

With the huge amounts of fruit around at the moment, it’s a reminder of Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” In his address at John Stott’s funeral, Christ Wright said that “It was John’s daily habit every morning on waking up to greet each person of the Holy Trinity with this prayer. Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” You can hear it here (from 11.30).

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Getting the Bible copyright free

Okay, now this might seem like a geeky topic but if you’re writing a blog or indeed anything for publication then sooner or later you’re likely to stumble upon the problem of copyright. Now this might be a surprise to some, particularly when it comes to the Bible. But side-stepping that particular debate and having spent some time looking for easy solutions, I’ve found that the following translations appear to be copyright free and available for use without even needing to go to the trouble of attributing each time a quote is made. They are American Standard Version from 1901 and the more recent World English Bible. As for finding copyright-free images (such as the one in this post), a useful source is WikiMedia Commons although be careful to check to see if there are any specific conditions associated with each image. So here’s my quote for the day from the ASV from Phillipians 4:13, “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.”

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Rev John Stott’s funeral

I recently attended the funeral of Rev John Stott, having been privileged to have known him in his latter years. It was an incredible occasion and I’m pleased to see that some of it has now been put onto the internet:

Edited video highlights
Service sheet
Chris Wright’s sermon (audio)
Judge David Turner’s tribute at the funeral

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Climbing wall at Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple now open

Great to see that the climbing wall in the church tower at Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple is now open. Here’s an earlier article on it from the BBC.

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