This week in Public House…

by Dave on March 10, 2014

Lent in a bar! It’s kinda ‘Holy Joes’ Mk II – bit of input, lots of open debate, chance to explore, no pre-packed answers. Anyone welcome – ideal for non-churchgoers. Come and join in the discussion – or just listen.
public house 4.003

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Temptation

by Dave on March 7, 2014

ash cross

A couple of days ago on Ash Wednesday, I got to do one of the weirdest things I ever get to do as a priest. It’s an ancient ritual called ‘ashing’, which involves me making a smudged mark of the cross with ash on the forehead of every person in the congregation. And while making the mark I repeat a little mantra that says ‘remember you are dust, to dust you shall return….remember you are dust, to dust you shall return.’

It probably seems morbid in this day and age – macabre even – to remind people so blatantly of their mortality. But the message I want to convey in these words is not so much about death as life. What I hear them saying is: ‘Relax! You’re only human!’ And in today’s world, when it can feel like so much is expected of you, that’s pretty good news, because one of the greatest temptations we need to resist is biting off more than we can chew.

Ash Wednesday was the start of Lent – 40 days when people traditionally try to give up some bad habits before Easter. But I think the best way to look at Lent is to see it as an opportunity to be kinder to ourselves – to accept that we’re only human!

Now this might mean giving our bodies a break from some of our more excessive indulgences, or reducing our stress levels by taking a few more walks in the country or in the park. But I think the real temptation we have to overcome is the temptation to expect too much of ourselves when we don’t need to.

So here are a few of the temptations I recommend you try to get the better of between now and Easter:

- give up trying to be perfect when good enough will do
- give up trying to meet everyone’s needs when you really should be looking after some of your own
- give up feeling you have to win all the time when taking part and having some fun along the way would be more than sufficient
- stop trying to be happy all the time when what you really need to do is face up to some pain that you’ve been ignoring
- stop trying to be in control and ask someone for a bit of help
AND FINALLY…
- stop being so blinking accommodating and find out what it is that you really want to do

‘Remember you are dust’ isn’t meant to be a crushing reminder that life is short – goodness knows, we all know that already.

‘Remember you are dust’ is a reminder that you don’t have to live as if you are Mother Teresa, Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela rolled into one.

Be kind to yourself!

Relax! You’re only human!

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Bad Christian, Good Coffee

February 5, 2014

Had a wonderful session at Shottery U3A (University of the Third Age) last night. Packed, responsive audience. Great fun. Lots of encouraging conversations afterwards – many with people who don’t go to church. One man said ‘I don’t really believe in God, but this was the best presentation on religion I’ve ever heard.’ Then with [...]

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Reinventing God

June 30, 2013

I love this poem by Edwina Gateley which I used with a recent talk entitled ‘Reinventing God’ A WARM, MOIST, SALTY GOD Deep in the forest I found my God leaping through the trees, spinning with the glancing sunlight, caressing with the breeze. There where the grasses rose and fell fanning the perfumed air, I [...]

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The Pope Talks Like a Bad Christian!

May 22, 2013

“Doing good” is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the “culture of encounter” that is the foundation of peace: this is what Pope said at Mass this morning at the Domus Santae Martae. Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from [...]

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Bad Christian Meets Good Atheists

April 10, 2013

Last Sunday I gave an address at the Sunday Assembly, commonly known as ‘the atheist church’ in London. I am friends with Sanderson Jones & Pippa Evans who lead the Assembly and was honoured to be invited to give a talk at their ‘Easter for Atheists’ service. The thing I like about the Assembly (I’ve [...]

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Jottings of a Bad Christian

January 16, 2013

For about nine years, until her death in 1993, my mum lived with us in our home in Clapham. She was universally loved as a warm, endearing Scouser (Liverpudlian) with a cheeky sense of humour. Our kids adored her – not least because she always had treats squirreled away somewhere in her room. When Pat [...]

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Good & Bad Religion – Jottings of a Bad Christian

November 20, 2012

  A couple of weeks ago I made my monthly pilgrimage to Upminster at the end of the District Line to share in an interfaith forum with a Buddhist, a Reform Jew, and a Muslim imam. It’s become a bit of a highlight for me – regularly spending a couple of hours talking with these [...]

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Jottings of a Bad Christian (25)

November 17, 2012

Today I did it…finally! I deleted Julia from the address book on my computer. It’s taken nine months. But it’s done. She died in March. It wasn’t a surprise. She’d suffered from cancer for twelve years. Yet it still felt unbelievable and devastating when it happened. She had dodged the bullets so many times, being [...]

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Jottings of a Bad Christian (24)

November 6, 2012

  Since you have probably read How To Be A Bad Christian by now, you will recall the story of Greg – the caretaker of a block of flats a few hundred yards from St Luke’s church, who arranged the funeral of one of his residents with no next of kin. I told the story [...]

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