Thursday, October 27, 2005


I'm well aware thats its been a while since I really posted anything of note. (Football is very important of course, but I appreciate not everyone shares my love of Chesterfield). Truth be told, I'm not quite sure what to write. There are various things going on in my life, and various thoughts going round in my mind, which, quite frankly, I'm not sure I'm ready to share yet.

Some of this probably comes from the fact that I'm a bit of an introvert. I like to think things through before I speak. Some of the time. Honestly. But I'm also aware of the need to spend time reflecting in private, something that Richard kind of talks about.

Rest assured I will get back to blogging marginally more interesting things in due course. But for the moment, I'm just doing some thinking....

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

on a roll

Went to watch Chesterfield again this evening AND WE WON AGAIN!!! 3-0, fantastic. A great looping header from The Chief, aka Wayne Allison (who is 37!!), and a free kick and a penalty from our captain - Shinner - Shane Nicholson (the picture). Now I know this is tempting fate, but we're in 5th now, and at the end of the season 5th place would get you into the play-offs.....

Sunday, October 23, 2005

tempting fate

So yesterday I went to watch Chesterfield against Huddersfield. Huddersfield were top of the league. Not any more!!!

Chesterfield evetually won 4-3. It was a fantastic match. But I've got to be honest, I was glad when it finished. We went 3-0 up in the first half. Which was a little surreal. We came out after half time and Huddersfield were dominating. Mark Hudson, who left Chesterfield for Huddersfield (claiming that he was too good for us) nicked one for them. That didn't go down to well. We won a penalty late on, which we scored making it 4-1. But that was when it started getting silly. Chesterfield's goalkeeper Barry Roche, who had earlier saved a penalty, was named as Man of the Match. This was with about 87 minutes gone. Huddersfield then went on to score two more goals, not good for the nerves. After some of the most ear-piercingly loud whistling I have ever heard, the referee, who had had an 'interesting' afternoon, finally blew for full time. At last.

It was a cracking game, and I'm so glad I went. For the neutral it would have been a great value afternoon, but for the Chesterfield fan's it was all a little bit close for comfort.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

well there aren't really any new ideas are there?

This morning at Sunday School I borrowed an idea for how to discuss the Trinity. The session went well, but it was quite short, due to the fact that there were a couple of baptisms this morning, one of whom was one of the members of my Sunday School group.

We've had a new vicar at Holy Trinity, I'm guessing I've mentioned this before. At the end of each service he gets feedback from the children's and young people's groups about what we've been up to. Initially I was a bit sceptical about this, but now I really appreciate it, as it raises the profile of the youth work. We have, however, cottoned on to what he does, and the young people in my group are now primed with answers which will get some sort of a reaction. Last week we dealt with atonement in 40 minutes (it's not that complex a subject is it?), and this week we had been comparing the Trinity to Jaffa Cakes.

After the service I had been invited round to the house of the member of my Sunday School group who had been baptised, for food (loads of it) and drinks (some v good red wine was flowing!!). The fact that the jaffa cakes had been mentioned served as a good discussion started - it got me known. But I also realised how glad I am that I work for a church. It instantly means that people know (vaguely) where I stand on stuff (ie. I have some belief in God - whatever that means), which can lead to some interesting conversations. I don't doubt that the quantity of wine we had drunk meant we were a little more forthcoming in our conversations, but I just felt really pleased to have been able to be me, sharing a little bit about what motivates me, why I do what I do, with other people. It felt good. I want to do it more.....

Saturday, October 15, 2005

very fast, very dangerous

Last night I went to see a band called Reuben. They were cool. Suitably loud, suitably heavy (I mean that in a rock music style rather than a cool/'urban' style).

This morning I slept. Well, kind of. I dozed, while listening to Radio 4. Now this might sound a tad peculiar. But the other week I was talking to someone and he was telling me what he did when he couldn't sleep (he'd had some operation relatively recently, the pain kept him awake at night). He said how in the middle of the night, Radio 4 is great to listen to because its just people talking, in relatively smooth, easy to listen to voices. I thought I'd try listening to Radio 4 this morning whilst dozing. And it was great. Every so often when I woke up I'd get little snippets of interesting conversation. Brilliant.

This afternoon I went over to my Mum and Dad's and helped my Dad re-lay some paving slaps in the back garden that have been uneven for years. It was actually quite fun.

i guess this is some kind of an apology

Sorry, if my last post caused any offence. It certainly wasn't meant to. I was just sharing something about which I had laughed with a friend of mine (who had said it in the first place).

I'm not trying to be some kind of an insenstive bloke. Maybe it just comes naturally....Anyway....In some mediocre attempt to win back what little respect I might have once had from a particular person, theres a great new website about the role of women in youth ministry. You can check it out here ;o)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

getting pregnant

I was speaking to my friend the other day (and she insisted on remaining anonymous), about getting pregnant. She was telling me of some reasons why she thought getting pregnant was a good idea:

1. It would get her out of her crappy job that she doesn't really enjoy.
2. She could eat whatever she wanted.
3. She could get fat and nobody could tell her off.

I quote this, simply because it made me laugh. I have permission to quote this, so long as it is anonymous. I am not being an insensitive male. Am I?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

football for free!!!!!!

This evening I went to watch football for free!!!! Woohoooooo!!! I went to Hillsborough - home of Sheffield Wednseday, to watch England under 21s vs Poland under 21s. We (England) won 4-1. Which is rather nice. It was a great first half - 3-1 at half time, but the second half was rather tired, a bit dull if I'm honest.

But it was free, thanks to my mate Gareth, or rather thanks to Gareth's, fiancee Alison's boss, who got given a pair of complimentary tickets, which ended up in mine and Gareth's hands.

Friday, October 07, 2005

do not worry about tomorrow!

This morning, I, along with many others, recieved an email from br. Paulo - one of the English brothers at Taize.

Dear friends,

A month after br Roger's death "Le Monde", the French newspaper, sent a writer to visit Taizé. And a week ago this article, which introduces brother Alois, our new prior, was published......

I am attaching an English translation of the article. Henri Tincq has kindly said that the English version may be reprinted in diocesan or local Church magazines, provided that his authorship and the source are given. Namely, "Henri Tincq, Le Monde".
Here's the English translation....

Brother Alois of Taizé, with Roger’s blessing

Blood during the evening prayer, at the time when silence descends in the Church of Reconciliation, as the lines of a heady chant vanish into the air. Hundreds of young people, sitting around the brothers in white, kneeling in front of a forest of candles and icons, witness the drama. The peace of the evening, the peace of the prayer, of the psalms and chants is shattered by absurd violence against 90 year old Brother Roger, stabbed by a mentally disturbed woman.

At 9.30 pm, that Tuesday, 16 August, Brother Alois was in the church of St Agnes in Cologne, where he was taking part in the World Youth Day meeting. Told about the death of the founder and prior of Taizé, he immediately took to the road, arriving in Burgundy at daybreak. At 8.15, the time of the morning prayer, without a word being spoken, he took Brother Roger’s place in the church. The children, as if nothing had happened, came to sit around him. At the end of the prayer, he embraced each of his brothers.

That’s it. The handover of power has taken place. With no conclave, speeches or enthronement. Alois Löser, a 51 year old German, has become the prior of Taizé, successor to a man of God, Roger Shutz, the founder of the community, a symbol of reconciliation between divided churches, a spiritual father of our times, a friend of popes and young people. Everything has happened with the most extreme gentleness – the absolute opposite of his death.

Brother Alois is one of the ‘children’ of Taizé, in the same way that we say of the circus ‘he was born into it’. At the age of 16 he went there for the first time and learnt French through the psalms. ‘At Taizé I discovered the simplicity of sung prayer’ he says. At 20, he put on the habit, and at 24, made his final vows: ‘The presence of God here is a reality which is visible everywhere. I felt that he was taking all of me.’

That same year, 1978, Alois Löser travelled with Brother Roger to Nairobi where they stayed in a shanty town, then to Johannesburg, where the prior of Taizé had been invited by Desmond Tutu as a sign against apartheid. It was there that Roger designated Alois as his successor. For twenty years the secret was kept. It was only in January 1998, during the community’s annual council, that he asked his hundred brothers to open a sealed letter, originally intended to be read after his death, disclosing Alois’ name.

The fact that Brother Roger so early on chose as his successor this young man of 24 (who then apparently had nothing in particular to recommend him apart from coming from a family that had migrated from the Sudeten mountains in Czechoslovakia before the war) and never changed his mind, no one tries to explain, putting it down to a gift of mystical foresight. One thinks of the bible story in which God fetches the most humble of the twelve sons of Jesse to succeed King Saul and makes him into the great David.

How irritating Taizé is! This habit, ever since its foundation in 1940, of never doing things in the same way as others. Managing a succession without drama, at the time of greatest drama. The inner certainty of the brothers, who always have a smile on their lips without it ever being arrogance. The way they have of hiding their denominational identity, of seeming to disregard power games and ambition and letting themselves be led by the vocabulary of ‘trust’, ‘kindness’, ‘simplicity’ and ‘fidelity’. And finally this way of expressing their faith which has survived all fashions and generations for sixty years and still attracts young people from all over the world who come looking for meaning or for comfort, for help and a little love.

It is perhaps this that gave rise to Alois’ early and mysterious calling. This man is a rock, representative of the quiet strength of Taizé, with the certainty that his path is beyond his own understanding and that he is led by someone other than himself: ‘Let God work. Believe that he is there in the history of the world, as he is in that of our community’. Try drawing out of him the details of his private life, and he retreats behind a beaming smile. Not out of shyness, or to remind you to respect his privacy. But because this is unimportant, because the only thing that matters in this place is the meeting with God, in the thrice daily community prayer.

You discover only that Alois Löser was brought up a Catholic and that he is of the Taizé generation of the 1970s. Brother Roger knew how to shape people. Brother Alois remembers that at 19 he was sent alone to Prague – he a young German for whom Eastern Europe then seemed another continent – to meet in secret with believers. Then he visited Northern Ireland, Africa, Rome, where as a young man he ‘saw the humility’ of Pope Paul VI, and Sweden.

So much for the initial stages. As far as Protestant churches went, he knew only the one in the part of Stuttgart where he went to school and which he never, then, dared to enter. In Sweden he discovered the great Lutheran tradition. Taizé wishes to remain a sort of sign which prefigures the reunification of the churches. ‘But if you look on ecumenism as an end in itself’ Alois warns, ‘ then you lose sight of the true goal which is the common meeting with Christ. It is to this meeting that we come three times a day here in our community prayer.’

Brother Alois went to all Taizé’s youth meetings across the world. In between he studied the Latin and Greek Church Fathers, Irenaeus and Origen, who showed him that the tradition of the church speaks equally to modern times. Then he discovered the writings of the theologian Henri de Lubac and of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1945, from whom he remembers the duty of rebelliousness and of faithfulness to the word of Christ. Alois is also a fan of football and classical guitar. Narciso Yepes, the great Spanish guitarist, who was a Taizé regular, gave him his guitar one day. Alois is one of the composers of the community’s chants which have gone all round the world.

Brother Roger’s room remains intact, with a book by Cardinal Martini near the bed, scattered letters from Pope John XXIII and Mother Teresa, and the 15,000 messages received since his death. From the window one can see the rolling meadows flooded with sunshine and the memory of the great spiritual experiences of the France of years gone by, in Cluny and Cîteaux, so close at hand. At Taizé life goes on. The legacy is well kept. The orphan has pardoned the murderer of his ‘Father’, repeating the words of Christ: ‘Forgive her, for she does not know what she has done’ There is neither outrage nor fear, and at the moment of farewell, the words, quoting him again: ‘Do not worry about tomorrow!’

Henri Tincq LE MONDE 29 September 2005

Original French version available here
Translation: Sue Helm

can't think of a title

It feels like I've been a bit slack on the whole blogging thing over the last couple of weeks. There's a reason for this.

I've been busy.

I've started back at university now, which means I'm down in Birmingham every Monday and Tuesdy. I do love going to uni, it acts as a bit of a break from being in Sheffield, I also enjoy studying. This term my two modules are "Religion in Contemporary Global Politics" and "Post-Colonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation". Catchy titles I know. Not only do I have to spend time in lectures and driving down to Birmingham, I'm also acutely aware of the amount of reading I need to do. I really don't wanna leave all my work to the Christmas holidays this year. Cos it would be nice to be able to relax.

I've also just started 'field-work tutoring' for CYM, who run the degree course that I finished a little over a year ago now - Youth and Community Work and Applied Theology (another catchy title I know). I'm kinda flattered/honoured to be asked to do it. I'm also looking forward to doing it as well. I know there'll be times when I'm pulling my hair out, but I think it will help t re-enforce stuff that I learnt when I did the course.

Work has also been busy. Thinks are starting to move/change/develop now that the new vicar is here. And thats good. We're looking to develop a drop-in youth-club. Now I know this is harldy a revolutionary idea, but it could be really good for the local community, for the church and just good in general. I'm kind of excited (in my not-overly-enthusiastic way).

The other thing that took up some time the other weekend was a youth/leaders conference. It went really well, with about a hundred people there during the day, and over three hundred young people/young adults/youth leaders there at the evening event. Nail The Truth is something I've not blogged about a great deal before. NTT is a growing/ developing movement of youth workers/ministers across Sheffield, representing different churches from different traditions, working together to resource and support local church ministry. In the past I've had questions about the name, especially with the concept of 'truth', but one thing that really motivates/excites/challenges me is the potential for some really great stuff to happen when people come together, working together, serving one another, and putting our own agendas aside.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

various things which have come to my attention......

This looks interesting. Heard about it here. The Church of England looking to appoint vicars with a brief wider than just parish boundaries. I reckon it'll be a good thing. It's something that I (and I imagine lots of other people) have been thinking is important for a long time. I know that in my youth work it has been essential to network with other people outside the parish, as well as be willing to cross parish boundaries as well. I know that what the Church of England is proposing to do is a bit more than just crossing boundaries, rather it seems to be admitting that boundaries can be restrictive. But it all kinda seems a bit like common sense to me. Doesn't it?

Also, Chesterfield performed magnificently again at the weekend, with a fantastic victory away at Colchester. We're now 6th. I don't want to tempt fate or anything - but that's a play-off place....