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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dragon Con 2012 - Second Big Damn Heroes panel

Managed to get in the first row again!

Okay, yet again cobbled together from notes with possible flirtacious commentary from me.


A slippery nipple - the answer is yes!

Q about 'My Bodyguard' and 'Poison Ivy' with Michael J Fox

Adam waxed lyrical about being the 'fascistic camp commander'. 'You kids; stop having fun'! Had to wear 'tight coach shorts'.

[Sure did. Adam has a great set of pins!]

Poison Ivy was filmed in Rutledge, GA [not so far from Atlanta, I guess].  Adam went frog-gigging; 'They're disgusting, they taste of swamp!'.  Adam went on to talk about eating snails and how he prefers oysters.

[Some discussion of a great meal the previous night at the 'Wood Fire Grill' in Atlanta. Sean Maher opens his fist and dispenses four or five corks from the bottles of wine consumed!]

Another question which involves Twitter and 'My Bodyguard'. Questioner says to Adam, 'You're a Conservative'?

No, I'm an American! Benefit of Liberal people = good wine. Don't be a dick at work!

Why are Kaylee and Jayne loveable?

Jewel : Kaylee is always cheery.

Adam : This must be what going mad feels like!

Jewel : Don't bite!

Adam : Just talent and fear of being killed off!

Which episode took you out of your comfort zone?

Sean : Jaynestown! It was different, liked playing drunk.

Adam : Nursed liquor over the course of the shooting day.

Jewel : 'Cause you're method!

Adam: That's not true!

Jewel : Making out in the engine room!

Adam : Nathan naked in desert!

Jewel : Picture of Joss on Nathan's crotch.

Adam : Enjoyed brushing Helen's hair in 'Heart of Gold'  [Lucky woman!] Having drool on Jayne's pillow in the episode with Jubal Early. Gina's wedding to Lawrence Fishburn. Their honeymoon on Tahiti or Boa Bora..  They get giggly and ignore me!

Q about 'Halo'

Adam : Give me a real weapon!

Q about Firefly comics

Jewel : Read them and we're still alive!

Adam : Read the script; if I'm on the last page, that's good!

Q about cursing to Sean

Not in front of my kids!

Adam : You will!

Jewel : Long rambling joke about Sean accidentally saying 'Schleep easy'

Continuation of characters after the show?

Jewel : You know where I wanna go. A baby - or two babies. And a Cocker Spaniel!

Adam : I could come in as the Nanny! Read to your kids. I'd like Jayne to have his own ship and compete with Mal. Bunk in a shuttle with Inara!

Good/favourite guest roles on other shows?

Sean and Jewel : Warehouse 13. Worst shoot, though. 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. the next day. Thurs 5 p.m. onwards. Friday 10 p.m. onwards.

Jewel: Head to toe purple spandex!

Adam : Form fitting?

Sean: VERY form fitting!!

Adam : Loved being Ethan Slaughter on 'Castle'.

Sean & Jewel : Want to be on! 

Adam : Let's text Nathan about that....

Sean & Jewel : Want to be joint suspects!

Q about 'Much Ado...'

Sean : 12 days in Joss' house. Like shooting live theatre.

Adam: Paid well?

Sean : More than a paper route!

Q about Animal Mother from former Marine called Wayne

Adam : Thank you for your service! Hoorah! Lee Emery helped a lot. Looks back and notices  now that his character has very little trigger discipline! Stanley would yell at us. Always waiting for sun to break through. Had a lot more training since.

Favourite Dr Who episode..?

Jewel : Lots of cocktails beforehand...

Favourite characteristic about character

Jewel : Kaylee's confidence. Unafraid.

Adam : Restrained intelligence [laughter]. Jayne's tactile nature. Fear of Mal.

Sean : Simon's vests! No, hated them. Simon's care of River.

Q about Jewel's eating blog, 'Happy Opu'

Jewel : Forgets to take photos. Will be moving into new home in Vancouver. Loved Rathben's - the food here is super good!


Sean: Inspiration for role, being a middle child.

Adam : Middle child syndrome!

Summer being a delicate gemstone/flower. Teasing Summer.

Sean : Nathan is such a dick!

Q about the Cunning Hat

Adam ; Joss spoke about this at SDCC. It's colourful, lightweight, easy to produce. Gave Jayne a soft touch. 'I'm gonna wear that in every damn scene!' - until the funeral. Just a hat from Mum. Raised 5K for charity. No-one's getting the knife!!

Q about 'Bones'/'Angel' with David

Adam : David's one of the coolest dudes in the world. See him at hockey games. [Child in audience starts babbling]. Where is that child? One of the happiest sounds in the world, like music.

Favourite character line?

Jewel :'Twixt nethers'!

Adam : Can I know her?

Sean : It's okay to leave them to die


Sean : Morena's sunburnt cleavage!

Jewel : Shindig dress with Morena holding it up while I peed!

Adam : Goofy card game. 'Plums are tall'. Baskerball game. Last day of movie, several of cast went to a liquor store and got a bit relaxed... Professional showbiz, ladies and gentlemen...!! 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Dragon Con 2012 panel #2 : The man they call...Casey

Managed to get in the first row for this one!

Again, reconstructed from notes taken at the time...

We want JEFFSTER here!

Adam said he'd pass the message along to Vic and Scott!

High C

Was/is apparently an E!

I asked about Adam's 'process'

Adam : Does funny routine about getting distracted by Twitter. He then moved on to this:-

1. Reads his lines aloud
[Dogs barking, kids aren't crying...]
2. Gets into rhythm by walking about
3. [Joke about rhythm method] - It doesn't work!
4. Rehearsal
5. Props/doings
6. I play cartoon characters, so it's not that hard!


Joss Whedon's a great writer! Not a yak yak, but a pow, pow! Wished he'd had more opportunities to blast bad guys at the end. Zac's better at yak yak than I am!

Where's the funny? Doings  = words and actions. Morgan was a great foil! With him, it just got better! Mention of Zac's Operation smile which raised £150,000 this year.

Big fan of Twitter [I think we'd noticed!]

Cubs/White Socks?

I'm a North-sider, so Cubs. Braves, stop kicking our ass! Easy to play victim; haven't won since 1908!!

Air Force vet asks why Casey was changed from an Air Force pilot to Marine

Maybe it was an interdisciplinary transition! Multiple branches of NSA!

[Maybe Casey was undercover as an Air Force pilot!]

Q about X Files

Knowle Rohrer. Bit of a tongue twister, like 'girl gargoyle, guy gargoyle' or 'lemon liniment'! Tried for Doggett but was deemed too tall. Something about an all-nighter at the Disney ranch and that being allergic to magnetite was a bummer. Should have carried a detector!

Favourite people to work with?  

Friendly, no nonsense folks. Zac, Nathan, Joss, Yvonne [who swears like a sailor!], Kubrick [perfectionist], my Dad, Tony Bill, Don and Dean Devlin [the latter introduced Adam to his wife, mentions 'Leverage'], Robert Redford. Adam just 'sticks around like fungus'!

Favourite episode of 'Chuck'? 

The upcoming movie! 'Chuck vs the Couch Lock'. Make-up lady told him his character would 'die' in the next episode. Mimes phoning Chris Fedak. Something about the change of ring from one with an Air Foce blue stone to the red one seen later.

 Someone challenges Adam to a rematch pool [snooker!] contest!

Q about Reagan photo

It's from 'The Inside'. still has the photo, will be snuck on to set of next thing he's in!

How does Adam channel Jayne, who is the 'dumb guy'? 

It's easier to pretend to be dumb than smart! A machine gun will beat a pistol every time!

Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2?

Cal Reagan. Show up with diverse group of folks. Rob Paulson, one of the great voice-overs of all time. Can wear pyjamas and flip-flops! Any character can go at any time. Adam's 15 yea old son crushes him every time they play!

Moment for Casey?

The kiss! The rehearsal was awkward! Grab weapons and get outta there! Plastic guns, fire blanks.


It's the same guy! Ethan = bull in a china shop!

Three year old fan - something about Casey/Jayne/Ethan

Zac = Disney prince. You are absolutely adorable! Type cast = yes. I'm the 'go to' guy. Likes comedy. Alan Rickman in 'Die Hard'.

Jayne betrays, Casey's a killer. Makes a loathsome character loveable. Wife and kids keep him grounded. No 'show bible' for 'Chuck'.

Favourite episode over all?

Casey/Jayne. Casey paid better! Firefly = Camelot.

Favourite book?

Bible; Michael Chrichton's 'Sphere'; Tom Clancy; Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell; Brief history of time

Good one liners?

Adam asks lady questioner about the size of her heels. 5 1/2", apparently. 'Unleash the Casey', 'I'll be in my bunk', 'I'll skip the foreplay' [FMJ], 'Pain is scary'.

How many times do you have to explain you're not A Baldwin, but THE Baldwin?

Who are you here as today ?  [Questioner dressed as Jayne!]

Favourite guns?

Don't muzzle your buddy! The one that gets me back to my primary! [Discourse about FMJ and Lee Emory]. Whichever one comes out of the gun pile first! Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Crown Vic?

Are you a car guy? Not that comfortable a car! I like gas guzzlers, but not these days!

Differences in working?

Not much. Anything that ends before midnight on Friday is a celebration!

Where might have Jayne ended up?

Fantasy = with a nice girl like Inara! Can just hear Joss in my ear saying, 'Wrong!'

Early influences?

Three Stooges [Adam was Curly!]. School with good drama department. Hockey player. Mother taught earth sciences.

Q about birds [?]

Tufted titmouth. Thorium Chlorium - isn't that a city in Colorado?!? -  ruby, bald eagle, raptors...

Jayne vs Casey?

Jayne is younger! Casey could hire a team, though... Law & Order SVU.

Another question about X Files

Clothing, accessories, make-up.Took spines on neck home one night and freaked out his wife! William Holden - very undignified profession for a grown man!

Animal Mother

Run over fields a lot by Kubrick. M60 = 18 lbs! Got stressed out and pissed off! Read books about Vietnam. Is 6ft 4" - don't get the 'short guy' role!

Casey's development

Mekenna Melvin played his daughter

Balance between celebrity and home

'Dirty laundry' - don't believe your reviews!  More important to be kind than right [Adam's wife's motto]. Adam does like being right, though!!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dragon Con 2012 - Friday BDH panel

The talks/panels are reconstructed from notes I took at the time. Can't do shorthand, but I can give you a flavour!

Adam : Don't Tweet this! [Who, us...?!!?]

Adam : I wear lifts!

 Q about succeeding from the other Baldwin brothers [G]

Adam : It's a good conversation starter.

Adam : It's good to have friends who can pay you! [Some remembrances of Dean Devlin]

'Your time is up, your microphone has expired'

Q about 'Castle'

Adam : Chuckle; c'mon Sean get in here, stop Tweeting!

Fave moment from Firefly

Adam : In cargo bay

Jewel : Flirting with Sean. Nathan splitting his pants.

Adam : Captain Splitty Pants!!

Sean : The Message [lots of giggling, remembering Nathan's appearances at the funeral]

Jewel : Sean's mom was on set; Joss' baby...

Something about favourite character traits

Sean : I'm kinda sober!

Jewel : Kaylee's trust in Mal

Sean : About saving River

Adam : Not to have his character killed off! Stone cold killer; got to have humanity and heart.


Adam : Champagne down, now!

Sean: [apparently apropos of nothing] What the fuck is that!

Adam : Always a celebration, getting back together with these guys.

Q to Adam; 'Will you be my bodyguard?'

Adam : A Grand!. Who is your antagonist? Because if it's your wife, you're on your own!!

Adam: [Something about sticking his lines to Sean's forehead]. Great tee shirt! [Had picture of Adam!!]

Q about Jewel's new show

Q about hurricane

Adam: No, no, no; it's Bush's fault! [Beat] That's irony, okay!

Adam: [Holds phone to ear] Nathan, this is Adam!

[Assembled crowd gets the tingles. Questions go out of the window!!]

Nathan : [via phone] Something about 'con phone' and Inara. All I need, gotta go!

[Phone rings again]

Sean: Hi!

Nathan: How does Jewel look?

Sean : Smoking hot!

Jewel: [Head in hands] Oh, no...

Adam: He's the captain!

Nathan: [Something about being another character on Firefly. Nathan seemed keen to be Inara]

Adam : I would pick Book. He was wise and could read!

Jewel : [gets phone] Uh-oh. Hi, sir!

Nathan : Wassup?!

Jewel: Toronto next week....?

Nathan : [Question about Sean]. Now look at me in your mind's eye.

Jewel : I don't look at you in ANY eye!

Nathan: I'm gonna take that as a yes!

Jewel: I will be there, with Sean!

Adam : [snatches phone] This is Adam!

Nathan : [Hangs up]


Adam: Yes, Nathan? [Something about premier of Much ado in Toronto]

Nathan: date with Jewel! I'm gonna get me some?

Adam: You're not gonna ask me to dress up as Inara, are you?!!?

Nathan : Yes!

Adam: [sing-song] Okay, only because you're Cappy! Okay, bye. Call me!

Sean : [boggling, imagining Adam dressed as Inara]

A member of the audience supplies Firefly Sweet Tea bourbon

Jewel : [Opens bottle]

Adam: [Gets glass ready!]

Jewel : Didn't you all come to Dragon Con to see the Firefly cast double fisting?!!?

[Um...that has a different meaning in the UK. Just saying!!!]

Adam : [acts slurry]

Sean : That's warming me [meaning the bourbon!]

Comment about Sean coming out

Back to Firefly

Sean : Ten years later

Adam : One looong experience

Jewel : Cancellation

Adam: Spoiler!!

Sean : Celebration of the same thing

Adam : So, you're still going. [To Jewel] Where are we eating?


Adam : TUNDRA!

Jewel : CANADA!!

Adam : [Pretends to phone his wife about going to Canada]. It's this Firefly bourbon, it's what it is; it's got some hallucinogens in there!


Jewel : Nathan's the prankster! [the story about the potato in Nathan's new car]

Sean : I had a potato garden at the time...

Jewel : [Talks about Sean's odd diet at the time]

Adam: Nathan does the same thing [pranking] on 'Castle'

After Serenity

Jewel : Simon and Kaylee have a baby

Sean: Two! Three!

Adam : Jayne becomes a Companion

Jewel : I wanna see you in a toga


Sean : Or a dress...

Adam : I want to go through the training program

[Straight women and possibly some of the gay ones & all the gay guys in the audience probably silently wish, 'Me! Me! I'll train you!' ] [Hey, it's only fantasy...]

Jewel : I love it when Adam Gets embarrassed!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

My first 'sermon', given on March 4th 2012

Jesus said,"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven".

For all of you, all of us, baptism marks the start of a journey of faith, following Jesus and becoming a member of the local and worldwide Christian family. When this ceremony is over, all of us here become your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Indeed, more than that, every baptised Christian throughout the whole world becomes your brother or your sister.

So hands up here anyone who's been baptised? Okay, keep your hands up if you can remember. (Just one or two). We tend to baptise children and babies because we remember what Jesus said about letting the children come to Him, although of course adults can be baptised as well!

Jesus was himself baptised by John the Baptist. The Bible says that when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit settled on Him in the form of a dove. At the same time God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately like a parent.

So we are called to be baptised as Jesus was. The Bible promises that we also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit within.

Over twenty years ago, I brought my son to be baptised in church. His big sister Rachel who was three, had been baptised herself when she was small. She stood close to the font and saw the water going over James and declared, “He's having a bath!” “Yes”, I replied, “a very special bath.”

Because today, Jesus is with us. So when the water is poured over you on the outside, Jesus is also washing you inside, making all of you completely clean. From that moment on, if you ever fight with your brother or sister, or do anything naughty; if you say sorry to God and the person you hurt and mean it in your heart, God wipes it away as though had never been there. Every time, every day!

Just like father Abraham in our readings, you are setting out on a journey. He didn't know where he was going, neither do we most of the time. Jesus asks all of us simply to follow Him. Happily for us, He walks with us and has left us signposts and a guide book.

You will also be signed with the cross, the sign of our faith. Jesus asks all of us to take up our cross and follow him. One of our hymns today is all about that. The cross shows us that sometimes the way is hard, but Jesus knows all our hopes and fears.

The decision you make today is vitally important and for always; to turn around, to say no to evil, to accept and follow Jesus as your Lord.

After the baptism, you will all get lighted candles, another symbol of Jesus the light of the world. We bear that light to the world.

Jesus bids us shine like a pure, clear light
Like a little candle glowing in the night
In this world of darkness, he bids us shine
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

We thank God for his gift of life, for you, and pray with you as you start on the journey of faith and ask the Church's support.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Loooking at the effect that the place of worship might have on the worshipper

We love the place, O God,
Wherein Thine honour dwells;
The joy of Thine abode
All earthly joy excels.
It is the house of prayer
Wherein Thy servants meet;
And Thou, O Lord, art there
Thy chosen flock to greet.1

Perhaps a good question to start with is; do I go to worship to encounter God, or do I take Him with me? Do things change in different environments and how might places of worship aid or hinder worship? Different styles of church building attempt to create, foster and preserve sacred space in different ways. But what works for one person may not suit someone else.

'The fact also remains that different people will always own different aesthetics, and attempting to satisfy all at the same time is unrealistic'.2

The Medieval Cathedral made of stone is significantly larger and more architecturally impressive than those which surround it, especially when it was first built. Constructing the cathedral in the first place generally took enormous funds, over a lifetime's work and the talents of a huge number of workers. Inside, the pillars can strongly resemble a stone wood or forest, the 'trunks' reaching up to the canopy of stone or wood far above. The walls would originally have been painted in lively and gaudy colours, the same as the huge stained glass windows. Compared to the average house in the Medieval period, it was breathtaking. The intent was to impress and induce a sense of awe and wonder; especially of God Himself, the great architect of the world. God is high above; we are as but ants in His presence.

In Wells Cathedral recently, I was requested to try praying in different parts of the building and see what happened and how it felt. I know the Cathedral well from previous visits. The first thing I really noticed was the scent of stone and possibly polish. Also the light level was dim, like dusk or twilight, which was very restful. Whenever I've gone out before dawn or at dusk there's a moment of silence just before or after the sun is visible, when the world seems to hold its breath. The people at the Cathedral seem to be trying to recreate that moment.

I initially sat down in the Nave on one of the many chairs there. The surroundings were beautiful but slightly austere. There was quiet talking in the background. I did find a connection with God, but it wasn't easy on this occasion.

In the much smaller nearby chapel of St Edmund Rich, the surroundings were darker, but secluded and contemplative. There was light coming down the nearby stairs and through the open top of the chapel. At head height, over the small altar, the stone work was very decorative and resembled stalactites. Here I found it easier to connect with God.

In the continuing exploration around the Cathedral, I went into the chapel of St Martin, which is a special memorial place for those who gave their lives in wars. In the window above the altar were stained glass windows depicting St George, St Martin himself and St Alfred. Below this and on the back of the altar was a very decorative carved and painted frieze of Jesus enthroned and receiving loyal tribute from various anonymous kings and princes. On the left were books of remembrance and on the other side, a tomb. At the back were two beautifully tapestried cushions dotted with England roses and patriotic sayings. Service personnel and their loved ones would probably find this space honouring and affirming. I was reminded of the verse in Romans chapter 5, 'for a good man, one might dare to die'.

There are scores of other spaces in the Cathedral where prayer and worship may and does take place. Each is subtly different; some richly coloured and tapestried; others plain and simple. A Cathedral in particular has the space to provide these different environments where genuine worship can happen.

Many small communities around the world have a chapel, a small 'church' building usually plain and simple, as a functional place where worship may be held. The Quakers and others have very plain surroundings in their chapels, in the belief that visual stimuli might distract from focussing upon God. There are lots of these in rural places and where early Celtic saints lived or were born [Wales, Cornwall, Scotland]. Some, like the stone chapel at Govan's Head claim to be built by the saint themselves.

On Caldey Island and near Tenby that I visited recently, there were several places specifically set apart for prayer. Two small, old, beautiful chapels out on the island and a quiet room set aside in the retreat house. In fact, in each of our bedrooms we had Bibles along with a crucifix for private devotions. There were a number of paths in the woods and along the cliffs or down to one of the beaches. Most of them had seats or benches along the way to encourage sitting and praying in nature. There's even a Calvary with a life-size figure of Christ overlooking a view of Tenby and the sea.

My own church of St Benedict is just over nine hundred years old. It was substantially enlarged in the Victorian era, then a choir vestry was added in the early 20th century. People frequently comment about the prayerful atmosphere of the church. Some of them are not even church members! It also has an excellent acoustic. As a singer, I've proved this for myself many times. The worship is similar to regular Anglican parish churches in many places.

St Margaret's Chapel nearby is a much smaller and plainer church. Founded sometime in the 12th or 13th century, it draws people to it from all over the world. During the twelve to fourteen years I was part of an ecumenical Christian community based at the site, I was privileged to hear many stories of faith from people of many spiritualities. Many of the comments in the visitors' book and in prayers were of the chapel's peaceful and inspiring simplicity. A good percentage reported that their time in the chapel or in the garden nearby had helped them another step on their spiritual pilgrimage.

Does the worship environment matter? What about Christian gatherings in the open; such as river baptisms, rallies, beach missions? Surely genuine worship happens at least sometimes in these places.

'It is possible to worship God in a gymnasium or lecture hall, because if people are truly seeking him, God will meet them there. But to worship in such architecture is to suggest that our purpose is either recreational or cerebral. We should build spaces crafted specially for a human-divine encounter with God' 3

Pilgrimage is an important part of spiritual life for many Christians. Christians see life itself as a journey, coming from God and returning to God. The pilgrim seeks to separate himself from the everyday concerns of the world, and to spend time in the presence of God as he travels to a place of special meaning. A pilgrimage is a symbol that is acted out. Back in the Middle Ages pilgrimages were very popular. Pilgrimage was long and very dangerous and may have taken many years.

'Because of certain surroundings (such as a church auditorium, or a flat rock near a quiet lake), some people might be caused to think about God because of previous experiences at those locations. Thus, because we remember, and because we form associations, our surroundings can provide some input for worship....Expressions of worship should not be limited to church buildings. Anywhere you can think, speak, or act, you can also worship. And that worship can be in spirit and truth.'6

Using 'stations' as points of prayer and visual focus: these are small artistic installations, which may have art, poetry, interactive stuff (like writing), symbols (like water/hand-washing), or something thematic about them. Usually people are at some point given a chance to visit them and partake in some act of prayer or devotion.

Sometimes there is worship/non-worship Space Demarcation, based on the idea that you have to go through a transition to focus on worship. On the way in, people may remove shoes, wash hands, etc. to physically prepare themselves and focus before worship. This also makes the sense of being 'gathered together' very apparent.

In recent years, Christians have revived the ancient tradition of making and walking labyrinths. Spirituality requires attention, hence, a category of activities known as spiritual practices. Walking a labyrinth is such a practice. In this way, the labyrinth makes spirituality accessible to everyone. It is a form of personal meditation and devotion, not a piety of obedience. While walking the labyrinth we can repeat a phrase as our mantra, such as "Lead me," or "Be still and know I am God." In the Old Testament, David advised Solomon to "Walk in the ways of God." As a form of body prayer, the labyrinth embodies our experience, hopefully keeping it from being just theoretical or mental.

What, if anything, enlivens our worship? Do the words, the music, the people or the actions which facilitate genuine worship, or is it something else. Some believe it is the priest or worship leader who has been specially set apart and anointed to lead services. But God is not a slot machine, that mere words and ceremonies alone will - as it were - command Him. The Biblical record palpably demonstrates this. There must be something else at work in genuine worship.

' is not our faith or our expectation or our activity, still less the power of the priest, that produces the encounter with God. He has always got there before us.'7

So, maybe it is not the words and other elements that summon God. More likely, everything offered in whatever setting works upon the congregation so that they may better perceive the reality of what already exists, that God is already present.

From Biblical times onwards, saints and sinners have also discovered that God is with them in the direst circumstances. An extreme example would be of those Christians imprisoned or tortured for their faith. Paul and Silas in jail, Stephen in the act of being stoned to death and Peter. Within living memory, people like Terry Waite have kept their faith whilst in captivity. The person who really impressed me when I was a teenager was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand in his writings. He was imprisoned by the Communists for refusing to deny Christ. He wrote the following of his experience:-

'We were surrounded by angels; we were with God. We no longer believed about God and Christ and angels because Bible verses said it... We remembered about God because we experienced it. With great humility we can say with the apostles, "What we have seen with our eyes, what we have heard with our ears, what we have touched with our own fingers, this we tell to you'8

In conclusion, the writer of this psalm put it best:-

'Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast'.9

I proved this myself when I went to New Zealand. I was about as far away from England as I could get on the Earth, yet God was there. You might possibly say I took Him with me.

'For Thou, within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind;
Such ever bring Thee, where they come,
And, going, take Thee to their home'.10

1 William Bullock

3 Architect Daniel Lee

7 A Guide to the Sacraments by John Macquarrie

8 Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, imprisoned and tortured for his Christian faith

9 Psalm 139

10 Hymn by W. Couper

Not quoted directly, but consulted:-

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Discussion & examination of Luke 15: 8 -10

[Written for Exploring Christianity course] 

Looking at the words without pre-conceptions
In this parable, there is an unnamed woman who loses one silver coin out of a collection of ten and then conducts a painstaking search with the aid of her lamp in order to find it. When she does, she delightedly tells her friends and neighbours about it. Jesus then draws a comparison between her joy and that of the angels in heaven when a sinner repents.
If I lost a genuinely silver coin in my house, I would definitely look for it. Perhaps not as thoroughly straight away. Maybe this coin will pay the woman's rent or is the means to buy food or medicine for the family. As she starts with ten silver coins, this might represent her savings or emergency fund. She lights a lamp; of course, there would be no electricity in the time of Jesus. Maybe it's after sunset or before sunrise, or she lives in a basic dwelling with little natural light. Then she sweeps the house, presumably with some kind of mop or broom. She hasn't got a servant or slaves to help her find her coin, not even family members. She appears to be alone in her home. Is she single, married, or widowed? We don't know. Nor do we know her age or name. And yet, she is easy to picture in her home, searching for her silver coin.
A modern woman might well search for a pound coin or a gold sovereign; or something with intrinsic value like an earring. However, making a big deal out of the retrieval of the artefact is somewhat alien to us. If something valuable had been lost and found, our friends would be pleased for us and that would probably be all. Yet, Jesus tells us that angels rejoice in a similar manner to the woman and her friends whenever sinners repent.

Putting the parable in context
In the previous and following parables, God is pictured as a shepherd finding his lost sheep and the faithful father who runs out to greet us when we return home to him. So extending the analogy logically, God is also a woman looking for something precious, which is each of us. So, does God – as it were – light a lamp and carefully sweep the floor to find us? And why not? There appears to be no problem accepting God as shepherd or welcoming father! Of course, God is ultimately beyond our ideas of male or female.
On the other hand, maybe we are the seekers looking for something precious, like the merchant who sold everything he had to buy the pearl of great price. The shepherd seeking the lost, the father welcoming home the wanderer, the woman looking for her precious coin. In that case, what are we seeking? God himself, or those who do not yet know his love? Both possibilities seem to fit. So, perhaps God plays hide and seek with us! There's a French song about God and us called 'Mystere Beni' in which the lyrics say as much; 'Blessed Mystery, you hide yourself well. At hide and seek you play with us' [Mystere Beni, tu ta bien cacher; a cache cacher, to nous fais jouer].
This parable is a member of a trilogy that Jesus tells after the religious leaders accuse him of welcoming and eating with "sinners." In light of the Pharisees' challenge, Jesus sets out to prove His actions as right in the sight of God. In order to do this, He needs to compare His actions with God's, and contrast God's system of values with that of the Pharisees.
This passage records a parable of Jesus featuring an unnamed woman searching for a lost coin. This parable appears only in Luke and is in the middle of several which are all about lost things or people. Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. Evidently Luke had a different source for this story; maybe Jesus' mother or a female disciple who remembered it particularly?

Seeking things that are lost [especially people] seems to be very important to Jesus. He's also showing that, according to him, God's love is persistent, extravagant and determined to find all the lost. It's the pattern of redemption. Jesus wanted the religious leaders to understand how he felt about those who were lost. When we are lost sinners, we are not just “out there” somewhere away from God. He longed for us so much that he took the ultimate action. He gave us Jesus to cleanse the sinner from sin and restore us to himself. He undertakes the ultimate personal expense to bring us back to himself and God.
According to the Greek, the woman is 'goonay' which can indeed mean a woman or a wife. She 'holds' the ten pieces [possibly not literally!]. The silver coin is a drachma. A Greek drachma = Roman denarius = 2 days' wages for female labourer. Maybe the woman has earned this money? The word for loss [apollumi] can be translated 'destroy', 'die', 'perish'. To light is also 'to set on fire' and the candle is 'lookhnos', a portable lamp [probably an oil lamp]. When the woman finds the coin, the word 'hyoorrisko' can mean 'obtain', 'perceive' and 'see'. She calls together or convokes her friends 'sugkaleo' and relates 'lego' her story. When Jesus uses 'I say' later, he uses the same verb. The joy 'kharah' of the angels includes delight and cheerfulness. And they share their joy in the presence/sight of God when the sinner thinks differently 'metanoeho'.
Ten is a significant Bible number; reflecting the commandments, the clauses in the Lord's Prayer, the Old and New Testament tithes, redemption money [Exodus 30:12-16; Numbers 3:47 ], the plagues of Egypt, the ten kingdoms owned by the Antichrist, the ten righteous virgins and a number of other significant 'tens'.
The woman seems to live in a small and mean house which appears to have been dark and maybe without useful windows. The ten silver coins might represent the woman's dowry. But for a peasant woman, that lost coin was very valuable. Jewish homes then often didn't have many windows. So to search diligently, the woman needs to light a lamp.
John B Green notes that the woman described is a poor peasant, and the ten silver coins, corresponding to ten days wages, "likely represent the family savings." The coins may also have been the woman's dowry, worn as an ornament. Both theories may be true, and either one explains the urgency of the woman's search, and the extent of her joy when the missing coin is found.
Green suggests that the invitation to the "friends and neighbours" may reflect a celebratory meal, which recalls the meals Jesus is accused of sharing with "sinners." The woman's diligent activity in searching may symbolise either Jesus' own activity or that of God the Father. The rejoicing of the angels is understood to be rejoicing along with God.
These coins were apparently often worn with five pieces on each side of the head, fastened with little hooks. So losing one piece is plausible. The homes at that time usually had floors of either dirt or stones and a small piece of silver having fallen would be difficult to find.
Quotes from early Christian writers
The Parable suggests that a candle should be lit, signifying reason which throws light on hidden principles; then...within oneself, we should search for that lost coin; and by that coin the Parable hints at the image of our King...but hidden beneath the dirt; and by this we must understand the impurities of the flesh, which, being swept and purged away...the object of our search. Then the soul herself who finds this rejoices over ...the image of the mighty King revealed in all its brightness at last...[Gregory of Nyssa]
Similarly, the parable of the drachma....we equally interpret with reference to a heathen; albeit had been "lost" in a house, as it were in the church; "found" by aid of a "lamp," …by aid of God's word. ...this world is the one house of all; in which the heathen, who is found in darkness...[Tertullian]

More thoughts
This is a parable about women which immediately follows, and makes the same point as, a preceding parable about men. In the Greek, the "friends and neighbours" are female. At least one commentator has suggested that the woman is a representation of the Holy Spirit. The reasoning for this is that the shepherd is the Son, the father of the prodigal son represents our Heavenly Father, so a feminine Holy Spirit completes the Trinity.
The parable of the lost coin can also indicate the mission of the Son. Jesus came to be the Light of the World. Jesus provides the light for sinners to be found of God, just as the woman needed light to search carefully for her lost coin.

What might it mean for us?
We are certainly aware of the phenomenon of looking for coins which have fallen on the floor; especially if money is tight. Most of us have done that at one time or another. We might even switch on the light or use a torch to see more clearly or use a brush, especially if our coin had fallen somewhere dirty or dusty. However, once the lost coin is found, having a party or celebration with friends would probably be seen as extravagant and alien to most of us.
Christians are familiar with the seeking and rescuing done for us by God. Jesus' way back for us is the splendid, marvellous, most glorious act in the history of the universe. God seeks sinners and rejoices when they are found. So God, like the woman keeps diligently searching until he finds us. This is comforting; all we have to do is sit tight!
In conclusion, if we are the woman, then we are co-workers with Jesus in finding those people who are currently 'lost'. We seek him as He looks for us, then we take that encounter into a further search with and for others. And maybe, along the way, we will find Christ in one another. We are, by God's grace, His hands, voice and feet in the world!
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
[Teresa of Avila]

Sources, books and websites used:-
Strong's concordance [for the Greek] : 1 John 4: 19

The Royal Wedding

Disclaimer: As the contents of this blog may reveal, I am a Christian.  Baptised, confirmed, then "born again" at the age of 17. Regular church member, exploring possible Readership at the moment. However, living in Glastonbury and because of my Interfaith studies, I was struck by some potential Interfaith elements in the royal wedding.

William and Catherine got married at the end of a processional Druid 'way' [defined by trees] by a prominent Druid [qualification; the Archbishop of Canterbury certainly has links to the Druids] right before the feast of Beltane! Plus our [very] future King was in red. I suggest they were having a jolly good attempt at pulling in the Beltane energy [presumably to help bring about a prince/ess or two].

As the media have noted, Catherine was carrying a sprig of the Holy Thorn in her bouquet alongside what looked like lily of the valley and other white small flowers. In Glastonbury, we were told about this last Sunday [at least in my church!]. The tree is sacred to many faiths. Most people will be aware that the prominent one on Wearyall Hill was hacked last year and is just beginning to regrow. New life!

Glastonbury residents also know that there are several other examples of the tree scattered around the town [and currently in full bloom], so supplying a sprig or two was a reasonably easy task.

Only downer = the Reverend doing the prayers. His boring monotonous tone made me want to slap him! My son cheekily wondered what the F.A. charity shield was doing on the High Altar [GG].