Life, the Faith, and Everything: 15th June

Tuesday had a real vicar’s day. 8.30 Morning Prayer. (All 15 traffic lights from Walsall to Bilston were green!) 9.00 Staff meeting – who needs a visit? what to put on the notice sheet? 10.00 Funeral in Church and burial – a large gypsy family. 12.00 funeral visit. 1.00 Lunch talking to a church member about their great experience at Scargill house. 2.00 Visit to a woman whose husband, in his 60’s, is wheelchair bound after polio, now has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home. 4.00 Hair cut. Catch up with paperwork. 6.00 Delicious gluten free fish and chips from Brownhills chippy. 7.00 Funeral visit. 8.30 Long talk with Local Ordained Minister, getting to know him and his ministry. Home at 10.30. People think Sundays are the busiest days… 

Thursday interview at Cranham Park, fringe of East London, for Associate Minister job. Great set-up, great people. Cranham was described as the poor part of Upminister. (Upminister has a whole Bang and Olufsen shop!) Cranham is a mirror of Aldridge, where I was from 1997 to 2002, even down to brick making as the local industry. They asked lots of good, personal questions, and were interested in my answers. The panel chair said he would enjoy a good pub discussion with me. But I reckon being in their pulpit is a different matter: they decided not to appoint.

Drove past a few Christian Party billboards. ‘Labour can’t do it. The Conservatives can’t do it – so vote for us.’ A bizarre message, implying that it would be better for the existing parties to ‘do it’ if they could. Another billboard made more sense: ‘Britain is a Christian country.’ Oh yes? Since when? Too many people confuse Christendom with Christianity. They should read A British Crash, particularly Paul Cooper’s Battle of Britain sermon.

Received a wonderful message: Please would I go on BBC Radio WM on Sunday morning to talk about A British Crash!

Friday talked with Dave Bonny, Walsall Methodist Minister. He said he wasn’t sure if he liked David Jeffery, the narrator of A British Crash. David’s likeable, but a bit of a plonker! Knowing David as I do, he is self-deprecating. He highlights his own shortcomings and portrays others in a better light.

Drove to Bath to meet up with a couple of Ugandans visiting this country. As we prayed together I sensed Jesus saying to stay for dinner, despite me wanting to be home earlier. Lovely bring and share meal with the hosts’ Home Group.

Drove home relaxed but tired. Noticed that I was suddenly feeling miserable as well, as I haven’t done for a while. Then noticed that I had missed the slip road for the M5 North and was nearly at the Severn Bridge! Depression is defined by some as being aware of having no future, living with no light at the end of the tunnel. Could some depression be caused by going the wrong way?

Saturday back down to see Mum in Watford General Hospital. She’s recovering from her hip op, thank God. I brought her an ice cream. A Health Care Assistant came unrequested with paper towel for when the ice cream started dripping. Great care all round. The woman in the bed opposite, a Church Army Evangelist, wanted to know about A British Crash and bought a copy.

Sunday to the Mailbox in Birmingham, local home of the BBC. The producer had told me I would be asked why I wrote A British Crash. (‘For fun, and to share come of my experience, thoughts, and questions about life and faith.’) Instead it was ‘Why had I had to set up a new publishing company?’ Their angle was ‘Is this another sign of the general, secular, world marginalising faith?’ The presenter even asked where people could buy the book. Good man!

Preached comfortably for 25 mins – rather too long for some people. They want 15 mins max. Maybe now that our respective preferences are clear, we can meet half way. Offered to pray with people during communion. 6 people came with various needs. Yet another funeral visit in the afternoon, before enjoying feeling close to Jesus in Evensong, led by a Lay Reader.

Read about Netanyahu’s speech – how Israel might accept a Palestinian State. (He used to live in the same street as my cousin in Jerusalem. She wasn’t a fan.) A State with no military services whatsoever? Not much of State generally. And the settlements to continue to grow naturally? Is he stating a position that he knows will be unacceptable, because he doesn’t want any agreement? Or is this his first, highly exaggerated, bargaining position?

Netanyahu spelt out what I see as the central problem: Israel has to continue as the State for the Jewish people, as Nick Griffin wants Britain to be the State for the British people. I am British but I don’t believe that sort of State to be right here. I am almost Jewish but don’t believe that sort of state to be right there either.

Roger Harper

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