Category Archives: Church

Palm Sunday planning

A small group of us had a planning meeting recently for the Palm Sunday Service of the Word – (non-Eucharistic service, mostly lay led except me). I was intrigued by this idea we (but mostly they) came up with and thought I’d share for the benefit of people like me who sit up late into the evening googling for service ideas.

It is quite a simple idea (and may have been done before, but I’m not intentionally stealing it from somewhere else). At the beginning of the service, we are all going to have palm branches to wave in accompaniment to shouting Hosanna. After the reading of the entrance into Jerusalem, the people will go up in small groups to the altar rail and lay down the palm branches. A short time of silent confession will be encouraged, before receiving the assurance of forgiveness (would be absolution if a priest was present), along with the traditional palm cross. The service will then move into the Passion narrative.

What do you think?

Quick round up

So, last time I blogged was the end of half term. A couple of busy weeks later and here we are. I’ve just got back from Mums and Tots (who knows where the apostrophes are meant to go in there?) group and have about half an hour before evening prayer. Rusk loves being around groups of other kids. Today there was only one big tumble, two sharing er incidents and one hand covered in orange ink from the rubber stamp set. Successful I think. There are a couple of new families there so a fairly full room. I do like that it counts as work for me. So many things I do for work I really enjoy.

I’m off on a training day on Wednesday – preparing for priesthood. Not quite sure what it is going to cover, but it should be interesting. It’ll be nice to have a reunion with all the people I was deaconed with last year. Our diocese is quite large and we don’t see each other very often. After that (and Lent group in the evening) on Thursday I’m going back to school for the day. I am doing a bit of work in school regularly with collective worship, but I wanted to get more of a feel for how the school day works, hence spending a day there.

Today the task is to get the bulk of the work for Sunday done. One sermon – to be used twice – and one all age talk. Mothering Sunday – should be able to find something to say for that. Tricky to know how to strike a balance between Mothering Sunday being a celebration and yet being a very painful experience for the bereaved or those who had bad experiences of mothers.

In other news, here is what I did for the Ravelympics, the knitters’ attempt to justify lots of sitting in front of winter sports:


They were completed by the end of the olympics and so I qualify forĀ  medals:

The first one is the team medal for completing a project.

The second one is the event medal. I competed in Sock Hockey with some crochet socks. I also attempted the Lace Luge with a lace stole, but this will be a longer term project due to the faffiness of lace!

In case anyone was wondering, they aren’t meant to be a matching pair as far as colours go. Who said socks have to match anyway?

I’ve now moved on to making a scarf and am currently at the black hole stage of knitting, where you knit and knit and knit for an hour, yet the piece seems no longer. Ah well, it will pass eventually.

Back to the sermons I think.

A bit of a break

We were hoping to get away for a few days over half term to spend time with my sister, who teaches and so is limited to school holidays. Ash Wednesday falling in half term meant an even shorter break than planned, but still lovely. We borrowed a cottage from friends and spent a couple of days in the Lake District.

We are now back. Rusk has actually gone to sleep without fuss. Mr F is catching up on stuff we’ve recorded and I am relaxing with Chopin on the headphones while I finish off my sermon for tomorrow. This particular congregation asked for something more interactive. We’ll see whether they still want it after tomorrow! I’m looking forward to finding out how Lent was marked 80 plus years ago in this area.

This is the first time I’ve deliberately used someone else’s sermon as a starting point for mine. Our Lent course includes an Ash Wednesday sermon in the front as an introduction, with the suggestion that you make it your own by adapting it. Useful exercise, although I’m not sure whether the person who wrote the original would recognise what I’ve come up with. The vicar preached on something else on Wednesday so I’ve grabbed this for tomorrow instead. Editing is easier than starting from scratch, particularly when there is no pressure to keep it recogniseable. There are bits from the Lent book I’m reading in there as well – the idea that Lent is not something you do alone, that the fast (whatever form it takes) is more meaningful when it is the whole community doing it. If this Lent course is part of the fast for our parishes, then it will work better if more people are doing it. Here’s hoping.

It’s Pancake Day!

So we are all off out to one of my churches for a party.

I have many happy memories of village pancake parties in my youth so I hope I can pass that on to some of the people here. One particular memory is the vicar walking round waving a frying pan in a rather menacing manner, trying to get people to enter the pancake-tossing competition. I shall attempt the same!

Lent-wise, I’m intending to read Maggi Dawn’s new book – Giving it up. I’ll let you know how I find it. Interesting discussion with my incumbent today about how to burn palm crosses to make ash.

In knitting news, I’m working on a stole (of the shawl type, not the clergy type) as my contribution to the knitting olympics on Ravelry. Slow going, but enjoyable.

Advent in the Parishes

Just popping my head over the parapet to affirm that there is life after the dissertation…

I always knew Advent was going to be busy in parochial ministry. Now I really KNOW it is busy.

That being said, I have a relatively clear day today. The Vicar and I are off to the local old people’s home this afternoon to bring seasonal cheer and the Sacrament, but after that (and evening prayer), I think I may have a free evening. Tomorrow we make the Christingles (with the help of the Brownies and Guides – eep!) and then Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is a bit of a marathon. Two of the Churches have joined together for their evening service, but that still leaves three ‘midnight’ services running from 8.30pm to 12.30am. The Christingle is at 4.30pm and may be the biggest service of the year. The puzzling thing round here is that people don’t want a Christmas morning service. We only have one Christmas Day service, at 9.30am and then that is it.

Advent has been lovely – watching the candles in the Advent rings light one by one, (I think we lit the pink one in the wrong week, but no-one seems to mind), going through advent reflections and services. The really jarring note has been all the Christmas services and concerts – I love Christmas carols and definitely value the integration with the community, but it is the mental effort to return to an advent frame of mind over and over again that is the struggle. It is sort of like – “He’s here” “No he’s not” “Yes, here again” “Still waiting for Him”. But then on a larger scale, I suppose that is what happens with every turn of the season. Bit different when it happens twice a day for a month.

What can we do as a Church? Do we give in and announce Christmas early? Put the twelve days of Christmas starting on the 14th? If we ban all Christmas carols and celebrations until after the 25th then it becomes difficult for people to see the joy of Christmas within all the ‘stop that’. A previous incumbent here tried that approach and it did not go down well. There is part of me that wants to object that Christmas is ‘ours’ – it belongs to the Christians. In reality, of course, the midwinter feasting is probably older than Christianity, so the secular celebrations are as valid, if not more so. The only way that I can see to be Christian about it all is to join in, be glad that people still ask ‘the Church’ to be involved in celebrations and take the opportunity to share the good news. Waiting for Jesus is not meant to be easy.


So, I am meant to be writing my MA as fast as ever I can, along with doing whatever work needs doing. So how did I end up here instead? Well, I’m also writing a sermon for tomorrow.

The sermon is about the parable of the lost sheep. I find that after reading the passage through, I need to let it percolate for a little while to see what associations it brings up. Hmmm… sheep, that brings me onto thinking about wool and then knitting. Before I know it, I’m starting to think about all the things I’m going to knit as soon as I finish off this MA writing. Hang on, aren’t the winter olympics in 2010? Yes they are. Oh good, that means a knitalong for the Knitting Winter Olympics. What shall I make?

It is possible that I need an MA-along instead. I could post the file sizes of the chapters each day, to give you an idea of how it is going.

Anyway, I think I have the theme for the sermon, so I’ll make some notes before evening prayer (19 minutes to go – better be quick)


Just saw this on Tall Skinny Kiwi and thought you would appreciate it.


Very busy writing the dissertation. Back later.

[Edit – well that didn’t work – here is the link instead.]

[Edit again – think I have it this time]

Peculiar Old Cake

I took a cursory glance into my baking cupboard before sending Mr F out to the supermarket this morning, but discovered later there were some key ingredients missing for making Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake (very easy cake – from Feast). No Guinness and very little cocoa powder. Not to worry, I have improvised. Half a bottle of Old Peculiar replaced the Guinness then I replaced the dry weight of cocoa powder that was missing with extra flour, then grated in some dark Divine chocolate to add extra chocolate flavour. The cake is now cooling and I am drinking the other half of the OP to avoid wastage. It seems to be OK. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve been tinkering with a post on the Roman Catholic announcement this week, but I think I’ve decided some things are better left unsaid. I will just have a quick link: Dave Walker (@davewalker) drew my attention to this article by Frank Skinner in the Times. Very interesting point of view. Go have a quick peruse.

The other thing going around the web today is the whole BNP – Question Time thing. I’m sure most things have been said but, having stayed up to watch it last night, I was left wondering at the use (overuse?) of one particular word: elite. The “politcal elite” was mentioned by the BNP leader more than a few times, meant in a derogatory way. What does it mean? Presumably those in the main political parties. Do you know what? I think I want the country to be run by the political elite – those who are best at it, those with the skill, experience and talent to sort things out. Inverse political snobbery perhaps on his part. There are of course many other reasons for not voting for them.

Five reasons why…

… being in ministry is like knitting a sock in public.


  1. When some people see the sock/collar, they come over and want to know what you are doing and why. They ask questions and you get to evangelise about how great knitting/Christianity is and why they should totally join in. Other people look over and think it is just plain weird and avoid any sort of contact
  2. The sock is a UFO – an unfinished object. So is my ministry. (The analogy falls down somewhat here since I hope one day soon to finish the sock, but ministry will carry on for the foreseeable future)
  3. Each individual stitch looks somewhat unimpressive and it is difficult to see how it fits into the bigger picture, but it is essential for how things turn out. Each individual encounter with another person, even if only passing on the street, contributes to building up relationships that may be essential in the future.
  4. You need 5 needles to make a sock. Each needle will be used at some point for knitting, but at other times will be just holding stitches or even back in the needle case. You need a variety of skills to be in ministry (e.g. sermon writing, listening, praying, leading, practical stuff), but you don’t use all of them all the time.
  5. This sock has been designed by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. In either case it will be complex and useful. This ministry has been planned by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. By its nature, ministry is complex. I hope I will be useful to those around me.

So, a simile stretched to breaking point there. What do you think?

With thanks to my IME group for the inspiration for this post. IME is basically the compulsory training for curates in the first 4 years after ordination. We were told to bring something representative of our ministry – I had forgotten to prepare, but took my knitting along, thinking I could probably come up with something.

Just saying

There is some irony in having spent an afternoon this week in a ‘caring for self’ session and then having a preliminary to-do list of 10 items that absolutely must be done today before it turns into the study day it is meant to be. This is of course because the time I would normally do a good many of these things was the afternoon I spent in that session. Ah well. It was a good session and I was reminded of much interesting and useful information (such as the benefits of setting aside time to study). Still a little frustrating.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not on the list of 10 things. I am doing that as a nice extra, since 5 of the 10 things are done or delegated.

Today would also be the day that my copy of the new Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone, arrived. Despite not being published here until January, there was a deal with the UK publishers that if you pre-ordered a copy from Amazon or similarĀ  and sent them your receipt, they would send an export copy at the same time that it was published in the US. There is absolutely no chance of getting to read it today (well maybe if I write 500 words of dissertation this afternoon I might read a chapter or two… or three).

So knitting – Daisy asked for a picture of the hat. This will be forthcoming in due course, as will a work in progress picture of my Strictly socks. Not socks to be worn while watching Strictly Come Dancing, but socks to be knit in the bits where you don’t actually need to watch it. With half an hour of Strictly It Takes Two to watch every weekday, as well as the weekend shows, these are growing nicely and the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is doing something very pretty and spirally with the colour variations.

While on the subject of Strictly, my favourite Strictly results site has moved to here: Why not go and have a look?

Update on No-Cake Month. One cake of pastoral necessity eaten and three biscuits (including one malted milk that I was tricked into eating). I think I might make it – only 4 days to go.

OK back to sorting out things for Church tomorrow. I have just ordered a book of intercessions that has emergency intercessions written for each Sunday, all tying into the lectionary Gospel reading. This will make last minute changes of plan and personnel easier to cope with, but will not help with the intercessions for Sunday evening since a) there are no more postal deliveries before then and b) I am not using the lectionary reading. Lord, in your mercy…