Author Archive for Alastair

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Mind the Gap…

I was asked to contribute a bit to the BBC Surrey & Sussex Sunday Breakfast programme presented by Gavin Ashenden, on some of the BBC’s current First Click initiative to help people use internet services, and about online communities, new media and such bits and pieces. Gavin’s page is here, with this week’s listen again (probably only available in the UK, and only for one week) found here. Our discussion verged over email, blogging, Facebook and Twitter; and whether these amount to ‘real’ communities or not. Even the Twurch of England got a name check. The bit where I am chatting with Gavin comes in at about 1hr40min in, though why any one would want to listen again to it escapes me.

The edited down excerpt is available here (probably illegally), so if you really wanted to listen to it click here:

Download the Alastair with Gavin Ashenden 24 Oct 2010 file…
On a completely different subject, I was also asked to contribute to the ‘1 minute sermon’ for the week too – and I did it on Gap Years, or at least, Gap Trips.

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

The image above links to a pdf; but the text is below.

The link to Laura’s Gap experience blog on the BUNAC site is here.

“Mind the Gap” says the voice as the doors open on the Tube train on the London Underground; and for just a minute I want share the benefit of a Gap Year, or – in acknowledgement of the cuts as a result of Continue reading ‘Mind the Gap…’

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Electioneering

So, the 2010 Church of England General Synod elections are in full swing. These fortunately only come around every 5 years. Synod is a marvellous and somewhat dysfunctional institution, that many people seem to love to hate – but it is the system of national church governance, along with the bishops, that we’ve got to work with at present. ‘Episcopally led, and Synodically governed’ as the phrase goes.

I don’t really like pushing myself forward (less of the ROFL, thank you…) but having been a Proctor in Convocation (ok, member of synod, in English) for the last quinquennium, several people actually asked me to stand again, so I am taking a bit of a punt again. There can be no assumption of re-election…

Synod Address/Statement

Synod Address/Statement

Candidates are invited to have an address or statement, and this is mine. The text is included below the fold: Continue reading ‘Electioneering’

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Le Curé d’Ars – the ordinary priest

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, the Curé d’Ars was a simple French priest who is now known as the patron saint of parish clergy. He is celebrated on the 4 August, which happens this year to be just as BBC2 series ‘Rev’ comes to the end of it’s current run. Both have got me thinking about styles and shapes of ministry in 21st century Britain.

The Curé D'Ars

The Curé D'Ars photo Ryan Humphries

Vianney almost didn’t get there, and some have argued Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander) perhaps shouldn’t have got there – become priests that is. Vianney had problems getting past his ‘BAP‘, and once in ministry, was given a small out-of-the way parish to deal with; the Rev seems to have been dropped, very green, in to a parish setting that appears doomed before he starts.

That’s not to say that there aren’t features of Adam’s situation in Rev that aren’t instantly recognisable to most clergy families – there are many: the constant door bell/phone; relationships with the school; the often disfunctional people that churches collect (fortunately – someone should – and that includes the clergy!). But some of it was pushed beyond credibility, spoiling it for me. The Archdeacon; the inappropriate relationship Continue reading ‘Le Curé d’Ars – the ordinary priest’

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Invisibility Cloak

It may be the stuff of SciFi dreams, but I have recently perfected the invisibility cloak. I neither appear to exist, nor have lived at either of my previous two addresses over the last nearly 20 years. This seems a little strange, as I had really expected that Big Brother had been watching me more closely than that.

Invisibility cloak

Invisibility cloak - image: WatchMOJO

Setting up a basic household utility at our new home, the company ran a standard credit check on me. It came up negative; I apparently appeared to be a credit risk. This seemed unlikely, as our credit card company deem us as eligible for laughably huge potential credit limits on our account, which if we were a real credit risk, they would not.

I had to find out more from a credit-check agency. They confirmed there was a problem. Perhaps it was over precise address discrepancies. However, solving it proved to be complicated. Their researches said I had not lived at my previous address – not even under three possible variations of the property address. In fact there was no evidence of Continue reading ‘Invisibility Cloak’

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Woodmancote Martyrs

On 6th of June 1556, Thomas Harland and John Oswald, were amongst the ‘Protestant Martyrs’ burnt at the stake in Lewes. Harland, a carpenter, and Oswald, a ‘husbandman’ or farm worker, were both residents of Woodmancote, near Henfield in Sussex. After the English Reformation, and the opportunity of having services and hearing the Bible read in English, they were reluctant to come under Queen Mary’s edict that the church and services should return to Roman Catholicism, and in Latin. For this they were tried for heresy.

Bishop Kieran Conroy, Dean Nicholas Frayling, Rev'd Christina Bennett

Bishop Kieran Conroy, Dean Nicholas Frayling, Rev'd Christina Bennett at the Woodancote Martyrs Memorial

There is a record in Fox’s Book of Martyrs of the trial – recorded here:

To Thomas Harland I finde in the Byshop of Londons Registers, to be obiected for not commyng to Church. Whereunto he aunswered: that after the Masse was restored, hee neuer had will to heare the same, because (sayde he) it was in Latin, whiche hee dyd not vnderstand: and therfore as good (quoth he) neuer a whitte, as neuer the better.
Ex Regist.
Answere of Tho. Harland.

Iohn Oswald, denyed to aunswere any thyng, vntill Continue reading ‘Woodmancote Martyrs’

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Another View

Things are not always what they seem. Recently on a visit to Chartres, the cathedral, diocese and city twinned with our own Chichester, I was struck – as many are – by the history, the architecture and the culture of the place. On previous visits to France I had observed that even the utilities such as the bridges are crafted with an elegance and poise that we in the UK sometimes consider frivolous and superfluous on an object created for such a menial purpose.

Chartres en Lumières

Chartres en Lumières

However, on this visit, I was aware of a couple of rather uglier presences around Chartres city centre. About the size of Dr Who’s Tardis police telephone box, pressed steel structures painted battleship grey. They were probably useful or important in some way, but dull. Only once darkness fell did the surprising raison d’êtres of these otherwise boring boxes manifest itself.

They housed massive commercial projectors that in the evenings became the source of Chartres’ electronic fireworks, a festival of ‘Lumières’, light extravaganzas, a Continue reading ‘Another View’

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St Matthias :: the lottery-chosen apostle.

So, “Judas went out and hanged himself”. There was a gap for an apostle. They held an election. By lottery: the lottery-chosen apostle.

St Matthias

The Apostles cast lots to choose the replacement apostle

The story comes in Acts 1:20-26, where Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias were two who’s names were put forward as potential replacements. They were undoubtably both part of the ’72’ disciples. Lots were chosen to decide between them. St. Matthias was chosen.

I have long had a soft spot for Matthias. For a while, back in 2000, I was priest in charge of a church dedicated to St Matthias. And as 14 May is St Matthias Day in the CofE calendar, it brought him to mind.

Yet, in other places, St Matthias is celebrated on 24 February. Like in the calendar of Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. And it was on 24 February 2000, St. Matthias’ Day, that I was licensed to St. Matthias, Panmure, Auckland, NZ by the then bishop of Auckland, the Rt Rev’d John Paterson. It was a significant day for Bishop John too, as he had been consecrated Bishop of Auckland on the feast of St. Matthias in 1994; and he preached that day on the saint, his election, and ‘filling in’.

St Matthias - Panmure - Auckland, NZ

St Matthias - Panmure - Auckland, NZ

There is something wonderful about being chosen – even by lottery – to be part of something special.

My feelings are even more with Justus, Joseph Barsabbas, though. To be -almost- chosen as one of ‘The Twelve’. But not. To have been “one of those who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us”, and then only recorded as an also-ran. Like one of those left standing, one of the last chosen for a team on the school playing field.

We hear no more of Justus. But then, we hear no more of Matthias either. Both had been close to Jesus throughout his ministry; both were considered worthy of consideration. One was chosen: one wasn’t. That is just how the lottery can go. However that didn’t actually change what went on before. Or afterwards. For either of them. Don’t get too worried about the lottery. But do rejoice in God’s unexpected surprises.

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Vote Match

I’ve had fun with the Vote Match on the Telegraph site in preparation for the UK General Election – glad someone pointed me to it, as I may not have found it otherwise. Try it!

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Christianity under persecution?

Christianity being discriminated against‘ has been one of the reported concerns in both the Christian and national media. However, to extend that concern in to calling it ‘Christianity under persecution in the UK‘, seems to me to be exaggerating the claim somewhat beyond the realms of what real persecution is.

This was the thesis behind Easter Sunday evening’s BBC documentary ‘Are Christians being persecuted?’ with Nicky Campbell. Of course some of the secular groups were not convinced by it; and even commentators like Ecclesia were not wholly in favour either. Ed Sturton’s excellent documentary on Iraq’s Forgotten Conflict was much more about real persecution (and not just Christian either).

However, the ‘is Christianity being persecuted‘ debate did get me thinking about how the Christian coverage in the media was going over the Holy Week/Easter period. In the end, I was positively surprised at both the quality and the quantity of the stories in both the print and broadcast media.

Not all the stories were quite what the various press offices would have Continue reading ‘Christianity under persecution?’

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Copthorne to Henfield

Updated with move dates: After 14 great years at St. John’s Copthorne, we are moving to Henfield: remaining in Sussex, and Diocese of Chichester, and even in the same episcopal area and archdeaconry of Horsham, but in a new deanery: Hurst.

The following pdf documents were released as information about the Henfield benefice, and it’s new incumbent.

The text from each of the documents is quoted below.

About the parish of Henfield:

About Henfield

About Henfield

About Henfield‘s new vicar:

Alastair Cutting - Henfield

Alastair Cutting - Henfield

About Henfield:
After 14 years thoroughly enjoying ministry at St John’s, The Rev’d Alastair Cutting, with Kay, Hannah & Laura, are to leave Copthorne. Their last Sunday will be Pentecost, 23 May, starting in Henfield on Friday 2 July 2010. Continue reading ‘Copthorne to Henfield’

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