April 13, 2020 § 6 Comments
In the days when we shared the Peace, home visits were a thing, and anyone could grab a biscuit at coffee without sanitising, Rules for Reverends attempted to map a little bit of church life.
Here’s a Lock Down edition. You will have more, I know.
If only you’d redone your website when you’d thought about it last year.
No one ever rings your landline. Except when you’re live streaming.
If you have books behind you, make sure they are the difficult ones you’ve always been meaning to read.
Every other church everywhere clearly had this in its risk assessment, and was ready to go on day one.
People you’d never have expected are really good at Zoom.
Some clergy houses have lovely coloured walls.
Landscape not portrait.
No, the Archbishops can’t tell you what to do. But they can ask nicely. There is Law. And Grace.
Shut the door. The cat knows you’re broadcasting.
The congregation miss the Eucharist too. But you can have it and they can’t.
Look at the camera, not the screen.
When you sing a song well enough for Facebook to impose copyright restrictions.
You’d never quite got round to seeing what you look like when you preach, had you? Too late now.
A Zoom gathering is fabulous for helping you put names to faces. Unless someone’s child has renamed them KittyCat2057.
Thinking about it, what’s my name at the moment?
Now that worship at home is a thing, enabling households to be places of discipleship just got fashionable. And resourced.
It’s Tyube. Not Toob.
Choose your platform. Do it well. Someone else’s will always look better.
For the moment, church is a gathering of homes. Unless someone’s enabled that Zoom background of San Francisco.
This is hard. Be gentle.
September 3, 2013 § 3 Comments
After signing copies of Rules for Reverends at Greenbelt, I bought some volumes by Walter Breuggemann, Barbara Brown Taylor and Kenneth Bailey (respectively on grace, incarnation, and the middle eastern culture in which Jesus lived and through whose eyes his ministry takes on different meanings). Rules is meant to be light and funny. But it was still a surprise when the person at the till said: ‘But these are serious books.’ The downside of having an amusing exterior is that people can think that’s all you have and all you do.
Later someone else asked if there was a list of anything else I’ve written – so I’m posting what I think is a definitive list here. My long term interest has been in liturgy and worship. I did a 50,000 word MA thesis at Durham in 1995 on the way words work in worship. As a member of the Liturgical Commission I was well placed to write on the new services in Common Worship. Early on I wanted to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in ‘liturgical’ worship, and was pleased to be able to do this with Chris Cocksworth, now Bishop of Coventry. I worked in a cathedral for seven years, and contributed an essay on cathedral worship to a volume about cathedral ministry. There’s other stuff on ritual, and my first proper book was as part of a team offering pastoral resources for crisis situations.
Perhaps the greatest privilege is in crafting prayers for use in public worship. Some prayers in Common Worship started life in my head. I’m not telling you which they are.
So here’s the list, for what it’s worth.
Rules for Reverends, (illustrated by Dave Walker), Bible Reading Fellowship, 2013
‘A Service of the Word’ in God’s Transforming Work, ed Papadopulos, SPCK, 2011
‘Liturgy at the Frontiers: Laboratories for the Soul’ in Dreaming Spires: Cathedrals in a New Age, ed. Platten and Lewis, SPCK, 2006
’Text, Authority and Ritual in the Church of England’ in The Rite Stuff, ed Ward, BRF, 2004.
Using Common Worship: Daily Prayer, CHP, 2002, with Burnham and Myers.
Common Worship Daily Prayer, An Introduction, Grove, 2001, with Chris Cocksworth.
Articles in Common Worship Today, ed Myers and Earey, Harper Collins, 2001.
Communion in Common Worship, Grove, 2001.
The Spirit and Liturgy, Grove, 1998, with Chris Cocksworth.
Pastoral Prayers, Mowbray, 1996, contributing editor with Stephen Oliver, et al.
August 26, 2013 § 3 Comments
Dig deep enough into this blog and you’ll find the origins of Rules for Reverends. The Bible Reading Fellowship have just published it, and on Saturday I had the altogether new experience of sitting at a table at Greenbelt signing it for perfect strangers – and some old friends too.
It started because I returned to parish ministry in 2009 after 10 years working for a bishop and then in a cathedral. Some of the ‘truths’ of parish ministry came back to me, and some hit me in a new way. After one visit, where I just knew that the house I was looking for in the dark would be the one without a number, and that when I got there the doorbell wouldn’t work, I put 10 such ‘rules’ together. Lots more suggested themselves. Some people suggested their own. two years on, and here we are.
It’s meant to be funny. And it’s meant to be serious. The more I’ve worked on it, the more privileged I have felt to be part of this pastoral and missional and comforting and challenging ministry. As the book emerged I realised that I was using it to remind myself that, even after the most baffling of PCC meetings or ridiculous of complaints, this role is like no other. That’s what the last ‘rule’ in the book says.
I’m chuffed that Dave Walker agreed to do the brilliant illustrations. We’d never met until three days ago, when we pitched tents next to each other at Greenbelt. And I’m chuffed that Bishop Nick Baines endorsed it so warmly, even ordering clergy to buy it. Mind you: ‘You can always tell a bishop, but you can’t tell him much.’
Ruth Gledhill has said nice things here (behind The Times’ paywall though).
And I was interviewed by Ritula Shah on BBC R4’s PM too.
If there are other ‘rules’ around, do share them with me. Perhaps the next book will be a communal production. That would be fun…