Posts by uitchen

Minutes from Upper Itchen Benefice Council, Annual Meeting 2018

Posted by on Mar 23, 2018 in news and events | 0 comments

ABCM Minutes 2018

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Christian Comment, October 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day, whilst in my study attempting to apply myself, and mop up some of the work outstanding on my computer – routinely ignored in the busyness of life and other distractions – I was listening to Radio 4 in the background (at sufficiently low volume so as not to actually disturb me). During my effort to concentrate, I vaguely heard the beginning of a reading from a book, a book that sounded very familiar indeed. I dashed across the room and turned up the radio. I listened intently as the reading progressed. I couldn’t quite locate it, where, what am I listening to? It was very interesting, and soon it emerged what the narrative was – it was about an event that utterly changed the life of the author. The book in question is quite old now. It is called ‘My Year Off’ and its author, Robert McCrum is writing about his experiences after he suffered a stroke, or rather a ‘Brain Attack’, which is a better description so the author informs us. McCrum was forty-two and newly married when the trauma struck. I have this book, hidden on a bookshelf, one I had almost entirely forgotten about. I searched up and down the bookshelves in the study and eventually found it. Blowing off the dust I began to read. The computer went to stand-by. I will admit I feel a bit queasy as the author describes the Brain Attack and much of the medical descriptors he employs to define the complexity of what he suffered. Illogically I worry that by reading about this, I too, in some rather strange way, am tempting fate. McCrum is in no-way making a theological reflection. But it is a reflection, and a reflection of a man who whilst suffering severe physical trauma, spends much of his time recovering reflecting about his previous life, and inevitably fearfully contemplating his future. It is a book written by a man who, pre-illness, is confident, rich, intelligent and successful, who has a reputation to consider, but who is now forced to make some very serious and earnest revaluations of what is important. McCrum survived his unexplained ‘Brain Attack’ and revaluated what was important, what was not, what is a joy and important – and what is superfluous, irrelevant and pointless. One of the things he decided was pointless, was to worry about his own mortality, deciding to enjoy every last moment of this life with those whom he loved, taking none of it for granted. I would go further than this and say that one of the problems in our modern times is the propensity to trust in our own infallibility, the fragile construct of ourselves, that can be shattered in the briefest of moments. Jesus had a lot to say about how to live well and what in life is important. But, I immediately think of St Paul’s letter to Timothy – 1 Timothy 6:17, and I could not have put it better myself. ‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our...

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Christian Comments, August 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in news and events | 0 comments

I read recently in a disagreeable rag owned by an antipodean that people, including atheists, find it way easier to distrust people who have no faith than those that do. This is really interesting because most people extend this to assume that obviously, whilst they do not trust people who have no religion they also place them into the same category as psychopaths and murderers who, it is also assumed have no religion. Religion therefore is thought to be what gives a person the internal component of morality – religion is the site of the moral compass, the place where our ethical world view is located, and the place that helps us navigate the ethical dilemmas of everyday life. It also informs how we respond to other people, those around us and how we approach life in all its glory. The scientist who conducted the experiment concluded that this assumption is false, however. He did so because he thinks in the modern world there is a Social Lag – in that religion has left an indelible mark upon society. Society has moved on, but somehow a religious moral shadow remain hard to extinguish. He also concluded that a psychotic murderer is no more or less likely to have religion than not – although I do wonder if psychopaths are really proof of anything? I have met a few, and ‘moral compass’ was not what I was thinking when I met them! What I do know is that Jesus, if He is in your life – is your Moral Compass. It is impossible to do anything, see anything, say anything without a knowledge of whether it is adding to the Kingdom or detracting from it. There is nothing you can do without Him, He is in the very fabric of your being. That might sound a little scary, or even simplistic, but it isn’t, as we all know Jesus’ burden is light (Matt 11.30). Jesus – everything He stands for, everything He said, everything He ever did/does comes from a limitless deep pool of love, God’s love – for all humanity. If we all did indeed have a religion, true religion there would only be peace and tranquillity, no more hunger, war, violence persecution….but then that would be Paradise, would it...

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Christian Comments, July 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in news and events | 0 comments

As I write, in our daily Morning Prayer we are coming to the end of St Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have enjoyed reading it. I like the letter a great deal. One reason I think I like it so much is because Romans is a letter – Paul writes to the Church in Rome and to us, opening his heart. He is talking to communities that need his help and guidance – they may not have sought his opinion, but St Paul was not shy. The letter, whilst packed with theological insight (some more controversial to the modern ear than others), is still nevertheless not a great tome of academic exhortation that has been formulated over months or years. Paul is responding to problems that are immediate and relevant to the immediate situation of his audience. And responding theologically. This is rather a comfort to me, because over the last few weeks it has felt as though I have only had enough time to respond to need – seeking the best in every situation, yes – but just having a nagging feeling I’ve been a little lightweight. There is a list of priorities that all contend for my attention – a triage of priorities dropping off the response list as more pressing things arise. Then, a couple of weeks ago it all come to head and I needed to step up – a moment where all my energies where required to be focused and attentive. What was important and what wasn’t became very clear. That day, at Morning Prayer, the set New Testament reading was Romans 12.9 onwards. It strongly reminded me so very much of the wonderful Benediction, based on 1 Thessalonians 5.13-21, which I have used at the ends of many services over the years – the Benediction always inspires me and offers me great hope. Whilst the letter to the Romans can be seen as rather demanding, having within it some sections that we in the modern Church have yet to reconcile, this Blessing gives us a crystal-clear insight how we are to behave in the world, what we are to do for others and what we are to believe, loving and serving the Lord. I think this is how each of us, all people, should live. It is a blessing, but it is also a demand. It is mission statement to the world. What St Paul says can be drawn from the Romans & the Thessalonians passages….. ‘Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage, holdfast to that which is good, render to no-one evil for evil, strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak, help the afflicted – honour all people. Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.’ For me the words could not have come at a better time. Can you imagine a world, a Church, that actually did this? If I ever had a personal statement of faith – here it is, and I commend it to...

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Christian Comments, June 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in news and events | 0 comments

We live in interesting times’, currently as a statement, seems a rather matter-of-fact and weak declaration to make. The Chinese curse – ‘may you live in interesting times’ after the events of the last couple of months and years seems rather like a ghastly threat. At this juncture, I would like to point out that no-one is able to actually attribute this curse to anyone or anything remotely Chinese. But do we imagine for one single minute we are the only people in history to have been challenged by the events going on around them? Of course not. We all know that history is littered with events that could be defined as abominable, unjust and dreadful. Whilst describing our current situation as interesting might seem a little glib, the problems we now currently face – after the horrors of Manchester and London Bridge, and in the last week the Grenfell Tower block disaster – rightly demand a stronger adjective than ‘interesting’. But it should also be screaming out to all of us – and especially the leaders of this country – that we need to think very carefully, seriously and intelligently about how we respond. Do we respond with force, suspicion and the exercising of power, or with love? It’s a simple question to a complex and fraught situation I admit, but it is a simple question. The outcomes of either response will be very different. For all the horror we have seen lately, we have also seen many amazing examples of the sharing of resources, the seeking of the wellbeing of those affected, of caring, of the greater good; brilliant examples of generosity, kindness and warmth. For every act of hate or stupidity we have seen exemplary examples of the human desire to love. The intelligent response to the problems we face is to resist the exercising of haughty or ignorant political and physical control, and resist any leader who simply wants power – a leader should find power a curse. We should we wary of social traditions that strangle mobility and aspiration; we should embrace and empower everyone, encouraging them to succeed to the exclusion of social barriers. Everyone must be invited along for the ride, everyone must be seen as a child of God, no one should be a footstool for the powerful to place their thrones upon. All of us must be a stakeholder. Now that to me sounds like Heaven! We live in interesting times. Jesus our Lord lived in interesting times. Hate and distrust and ignorance killed him. But Jesus loved those who persecuted him, hated him, destroyed him. We also know that he, and love, triumphed. As much as humanity is seemingly wired to destroy, we are also wired to love. Be wary of those who would tell you the way forward is to hate and persecute, because in the end it will destroy you too. Rather love, love and be free of all the bile that would turn this world to ash. Peace and Love, Peace and Love...

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