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Challenging Christmas traditions (ii)

Is it possible to preach or speak in a way which acknowledges tradition and its value, but at the same time seeks to move through or beyond the traditions of Christmas and focus on the actual meaning of Christmas in the New Testament accounts? Here is an outline of my attempt to do so from last Sunday. You might be assured to learn that I did leave the church building unharmed.

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How to speak on radio (and TV)

At this time of year there are a myriad of opportunities to speak on local radio, and now even on local television channels. I was fortunate enough to do a media training course as part of my ordination training (despite the fact that residential training is apparently supposed to be bookish and irrelevant to ministry!) and have been involved in regular speaking in the media—on Radio 2 Pause for Thoughts, on BBC Radio Nottingham and other local radio stations, on our local Notts TV, and even once on national television.

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Challenging Christmas traditions (i)

There are two perennial truths about the celebration of Christmas. The first is that fewer and fewer in our culture, and particular younger people, know anything of the Christmas story and so are ignorant of the ‘reason for the season.’ But the other truth, less often focussed on, is that many of our Christmas traditions […]

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Should bishops come from a ‘talent pool’?

The Church of England appears to have a double-minded approach to secular, business expertise. On the one hand, it often wilfully ignores it, to its detriment. At other times, it appears to embrace it uncritically, disconnecting it from theological insight. There is certainly no doubt that, in a number of places, the Church needs to […]

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Did Luke get the date of Jesus’ birth wrong?

This time last year I watched the film Gravity. The effects were spectacular, the photography breathtaking, the characterisations engaging, and the story held one’s attention throughout. It even raised some profound (religious?) questions about life, death and purpose. And yet, when I left the cinema, I could not decide whether I had enjoyed the film or not. […]

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The Toxic Language in Education

A few weeks ago I was in a meeting at the school where I am a governor to review last year’s performance against targets. As we were looking at each subject area, and the ‘added value’ the school had brought to the results, mapped against ‘expected achievement’, we (quite naturally) fell into a kind of industrial language about the children as they were ‘processed’ through the school. It made me pause and ask out loud ‘How can we—can we at all—use this language in a context where ‘every child matters’, particular in a church school where we want to respond to pupils holistically?’

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From text to (all-age) talk

Last Sunday I was speaking at St Ann’s with Emmanuel, an inner-urban church in Nottingham, using the lectionary gospel reading of Mark 1.1–8. I trace here the move from the text itself to the all-age talk and activity, and include details of the PowerPoint presentation I used. Features of the text The most striking thing […]

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The theology of the Autumn Statement

The Coalition Government’s so-called Autumn Statement (since when was December in Autumn, I wonder?) was, according to Danny Alexander, the last big financial statement before next year’s election. So it seemed appropriate to try and offer some theological reflection on it, as it sets out the stall of both parties (to some extent) in the run-up […]

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Bible, Gender, Sexuality

This guest post by Andrew Goddard assesses an important contribution to the debate about same-sex unions. James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013). ISBN 978-0-8028-6863-3. The General Synod’s decision to approve women bishops was immediately followed by questions as to whether the church would now change its […]

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What to preach at a funeral?

The previous post, including a competition to identify a quotation, was prompted by my reading the next Grove Worship booklet, How to Plan and Lead a Funeral by Charles Chadwick and Phillip Tovey from Oxford Diocese. Aimed primarily at Readers as well as other licensed lay ministers, it is an excellent guide to the whole process […]

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What to preach at funerals? Competition!

I came across this interesting quotation in the next Grove Worship booklet, which is about preaching at funerals. There is a prize of a free copy of the booklet for the first person in comments who can identify the somewhat surprising source! (I have doctored one or two words to prevent the source being too […]

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