Sunday, 25 January 2015

Doing New Things

God is constantly working in unexpected ways, doing new things, engaging with the world, not necessarily in the way that we may want, though that may sometimes be the case, but in the way that makes God’s difference to the world.  We can actually be part of this transforming opportunity because God wants us to be part of the enterprise of the Kingdom.  We are not called to do everything, though some of us sometimes seem to think we are; but, with God’s help, may we do effectively those things to which we are actually called, even when we struggle to cope with some of God’s surprises!  May we be ready to do the new things to which God calls us, remembering that God has a place and a role for each one of us – and God doesn’t call us to things where we won’t fit in and that we can't manage.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


I have begun reading "The End of Power" by Moses Naim, the first book suggested by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, for his 'year of books'.  I have to admit that I have only managed the first chapter so far, but that is because of the problem in finding the time, and not that I am not caught up in what I have read so far.

Naim recognises the importance of power and how we use it through the whole of life.  We need power.  "A world where players have enough power to block everyone else's initiatives but no one has the power to impose its preferred course of action is a world where decisions are not taken, taken too late, or watered down to the point of ineffectiveness."

Power is everywhere.  "Power plays out in every field in which we contend, compete, or organise: international politics and war, domestic politics, business, scientific inquiry, religion, social action such as philanthropy and activism, and social and cultural relations of all kinds."

However, Naim suggests that power is decaying, and it is decaying because it is being spread more thinly.  He suggests that in most fields we are experiencing a wider sharing of power which is effecting how power impacts on life in general.  Power-sharing might seem to be good - as indeed it can be - but we need to take account of how that then changes our ability to deal with a wide range of important issues.

As Naim puts it: "The decay of power is an exhilarating trend in the sense that it has made space for new ventures, new companies, and, all over the world, new voices and more opportunities.  But its consequences for stability are fraught with danger.  How can we continue the welcome advances of plural voices and opinions, initiative and innovation, without at the same time driving ourselves into a crippling paralysis that could undo this progress very quickly?"

These are interesting questions, and it is interesting to reflect on what they say to the life of the church.  How do we use power?  How do we share power?  Are there places where we misuse it?

Misusing power can be incredibly damaging, but using it appropriately is vital.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year and, if you did, are they still intact?  Writing for The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman says that he has long campaigned for the abolition of New Year’s resolutions but, recognising their continuing popularity, he wants to suggest three – which he then suggests we should all take up. 

First, he suggests that we should take up meditating.  If we think we haven’t got the time, just five minutes a day will do it – but just that bit of space is worth making.  Secondly, he suggests stopping doing something this year.  This is not about giving up a bad habit, but recognising that most of us take on too many things.  What is it we could/should be giving up?  And, thirdly, he encourages us to resolve to cut everyone a massive amount of slack, including ourselves. Well, if you haven’t made your own, and you want some, I hope that these suggestions might help.  

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Morris Williams

Morris Williams was an Anglican clergyman and a poet commonly known as Nicander.  He was born in August 1809 and died on 3rd January 1874.  He began to write poetry and so was encouraged to an education.  He was then ordained deacon by the Bishop of Chester in 1835 and priest by the Bishop of St. Asaph in 1836.  In 1840 he married Ann Jones of Denbigh and they had five daughters and three sons.

He assisted with the Welsh revision of the Book of Common Prayer and took an active part in Welsh literary life.  He both adjudicated and competed at the National Eisteddfod and his writing included frequent contributions to Welsh magazines, translating Aesop's Fables into Welsh, and composing a number of hymns.  He was one of the pioneers of the Oxford Movement in the Diocese of Bangor and is commemorated by a marble pulpit dedicated to him in Bangor Cathedral.

His hymns had a profound effect on the spiritual lives of many in Wales.  He wrote, for example, of God’s grace and the need for the Spirit to nourish us.

As one of his hymns says (in an English translation by Naomi Starkey):
With the life-giving rain of your Holy Spirit
You refresh the Church, your vineyard,
Until its blooms are many and fair,
And its fruits like the garden of paradise.

Where do we see the Holy Spirit refreshing our churches?  What effect is that having?  Who are the people who inspire us today?

Sources: – Dictionary of Welsh Biography

Rachel Boulding: “Companions on the Bethlehem Road”