What is your favourite?

  • Book: 1984
  • Song: Mississippi, by Pussycat
  • Colour: Purple (it used to be jade when I was younger)
  • Holiday destination: Edale in the Peak District
  • Film: The Wicker Man, starring Edward Woodward
    • (Foreign-language film: Good Bye Lenin)
  • Idiomatic expression: “to a certain extent”
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Font: Helvetica (don’t get me started on comic sans serif…)
  • Group: The Ukrainians
  • Magazine: Private Eye
  • Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
  • Bible passage: Ezekiel 25:17 ūüôā

Your turn!  Du bist in der Reihe!

Have a favourite day, won’t you!

Size *does* matter

So, a sermon.¬† How long should it be?¬† Until my move to D√ľsseldorf, I was used to an average of 10 minutes for a sermon, reasonably succinct.¬† At Christ Church D√ľsseldorf the average length is 20 minutes.¬† That’s generally ok for me, but I’m nto sure the average person can nowadays sit and listen effectively for that amount of time.¬† (Think: the three-minute culture.)

So, I’ll keep it short.¬† How long should a good sermon be?

Have a succinct day, won’t you!

Honour your father and you mother

In the Ten Commandments, God commands the Israelites:

Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

Yet, does that mean,

Thou shalt slavishly, unquestioningly, do everything your parents tell you to do.

I doubt it.  I leave that to the theologians to discuss.

I had intended to write about saving: piggy banks, savings books, rainy day funds, etc, but then I remember back to the not so good days of being a pads brat, besides the day trips into the Harz Mountains, Saturday matinee down the barracks cinema, the Army helicopter landing on the school field, etc.

Until the mid-80s my paternal grandad used to work abroad, earning decent money.¬† Generous to a fault, ever time he used to see his grandchildren, he’d give each of us a crisp, brand new ¬£5 note in the days when ¬£5 was a lot of money, especially to a 10-year-old.¬† Within a few weeks of coming back to the UK in 1978, my late Granny had taken me down to the local post office and helped me to open a savings account, with just ¬£1.

Sooner or later, with birthday money, pocket money, etc, I had saved ¬£25, not a huge amount, but not bad for an Army NCO’s child, and enough for a particular toy I was saving up for.¬† I had my heart set on it in a way that only an 11-year-old can.¬†¬† Bruv, too, had saved a similar amount.¬† I think he was after a train set.¬† (¬£25 in 1979 is equivalent to ¬£100 in 2015.)

So, back to Exodus 20:12.  Sunray had shortly after arriving at his latest posting in the UK somehow decided to get a cute, cuddly family pet, namely one ex-police dog, a German Shepherd.  The idea addition to a family, when you have a small yard, the size of two or three garden sheds, in the back of your married quarter.  Sunray was never very good at budgeting.  His priorities were:

  • me, me, me
  • mess (sergeants’, to be exact)
  • drink, drink, drink
  • getting nice clothes (for himself) with his new storecard.¬† Offspring… hmm, probably a bit of a nuisance, especially the two boys.

British Army NCO’s are very good at giving orders, and they expect them to be obeyed without question.¬† Sometimes, like lots of people, they take their work home.

Sgt Sunray to his JNCO’s sons:

Let me look in your savings books.

GingeInGermany and bruv:

Yes, Dad.

We both knew where this was leading to, and we knew it wasn’t going to be for Sunray to say:

My word, well done, you two, for having saved all that pocket money for a rainy day.

Next order was:

We’ve just bought a bulk amount of dog food.¬† Go to the post office, both of you, and give us what you have in your savings accounts.

Even at the tender age of 11,I knew that was an order, not a point for discussion.¬† Bruv and I duly marched off to the local post office, took out the full contents of our savings accounts, closing the accounts, and handed back Sunray his sons’ rainy day funds.¬† Not even a thank you.¬† Dog food duly paid for.¬† “A pleasure doing business with you,” I’m sure.

Did we ever get our money back?  Nope.  (Come, on did you really expect there to be a happy ending?)

Sunray is now a lonely old man, surprise, surprise.¬† He hasn’t saved enough money for his own funeral.¬† That means he’ll almost certainly get a pauper’s funeral (called these days “public health funeral”).¬† Sorry, Sunray, I didn’t put my money into a savings account for your dog’s meat to be placed in a freezer, and I’m not saving money for your flesh to placed in an oven, when you get taken to the crematorium.

Have an honourable day, won’t you!

A golden oldie – all about success

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.

But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened!

In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

And we could never fly.

God’s Plans

I asked for Strength
And God gave me Difficulties
to make me strong.

I asked for Wisdom
And God gave me Problems to solve.

I asked for Prosperity
And God gave me a Brain and
Brawn to work.

I asked for Courage
And God gave me Danger to overcome.

I asked for Love
And God gave me Troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors
And God gave me Opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed.


Like Lenin Wrote…

Lenin once wrote a pamphlet called Chto Delat? (–ß—ā–ĺ –ī–Ķ–Ľ–į—ā—Ć?). For those of you who are Slavonic linguists, the verb is in the imperfective, and the question appears a bit more wishy-washy than using the perfective aspect, which would imply focus and achievement. In this article I need to used the perfective: –ß—ā–ĺ c–ī–Ķ–Ľ–į—ā—Ć? What do I do about my Dad? What can I do about him?

So, “Sunray,” an ex-22-year man from the British Army. No longer in the Army, but still a soldier. Allegedly.

All of Sunray’s adult life, he has been a heavy drinker. In the macho, testosterone-packed ghetto that is the British Army, despite this trait, he would remain “under the radar” and not stand out. Likewise, his fondness for alcohol and spending more time and money down the corporals and sergeants mess than with his family made him a far from outstanding father and husband.

Who is really going to expect much sympathy from his offspring in their middle age after years of leaving his family so hard-up, that his children could only afford one fried egg sandwich out of their daily dinner money… while their Dad never went without down the sergeants mess, running up a ¬£80 (sic) drinks tab in one month in 1981, on top of what he’d paid cash for during the month.

“That was then, this is now. Forgive and forget.” Isn’t that what being a Christian all about? ¬†After all, what about Matthew 18:21-22?

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‚ÄúLord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?‚ÄĚ

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.


But this is not about forgiveness. ¬†This is about the principle of first aid: don’t become a casualty yourself. ¬†Can you always rescue a drowning man?

Remember this one?

It rained for days and days and there was a terrific flood. The water rose so high that one man was forced to climb on top of his roof and sat in the rain. As the waters came up higher a man in a rowboat came up to the house and told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said, and the man in the rowboat rowed away.

The waters rose to the edge of the roof and still the man sat on the roof until another rowboat came by and another man told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said again, and the man rowed away.

The waters covered the house and the man was forced to sit on his chimney as the rain poured down and a helicopter came by and another man urged him to get in or he’ll drown. “No thank you,” the man said again, “The Lord will save me!”

After much begging and pleading the man in the helicopter gave up and flew away. The waters rose above the chimney and the man drowned and went to heaven where he met God.

“Lord, I don’t understand,” he told Him, frustrated, “The waters rose higher and higher and I waited hours for you to save me but you didn’t! Why?”

The Lord just shook his head and said, “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter?!

So, fast-forward 32 years.  Alone, estranged from some of his family, few real friends, a grumpy old man, overweight, type 2 diabetes out of control, and a bottle of Famous Grouse to glug down his neck two or three times a week.  (Is that an attractive profile for http://www.e-dating.co.uk?)

Early July – Diabetologist:

Mr  Sunray, if you want to see Christmas, stop drinking now.


Will he stop?

Horse feathers.

Is he an alcoholic?  ICATQ (I cannot answer that question.)  He clearly has a psychological dependency, maybe even a chemical dependency.

How do I feel about Sunray?  Am I heartless, in not flying to him to hand-hold him?  Give him a pep-talk?  Pay for him to see an addiction counsellor?  Do I care about him?  What is caring, anyway?  What does caring look like?

My answer: motivation is etymologically linked to the word “motor.” ¬† Where do you find the motor on a car? ¬†Answer: on the inside. ¬†Likewise, motivation comes from within, not from without.

You see, the strange thing about love is, whatever love you give out is paid back – with interest.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Sunray, the sinner.


We’re Protestant, we’re Proud…

Actually, relieved might be the more appropriate adjective, rather than those words from Billy’s Boys. ¬†Today I attended the Roman Catholic first communion of the son of the Lovely Doctor’s cousin. ¬†Does that make him a first cousin once removed? ¬†Irrelevant… ¬†Nice church, big. ¬†Far bigger than my own Anglican church in DUS. ¬†But, boy, was that service/mass long. ¬†Nearly two hours long. ¬†And standing room only. ¬†Not my cup of tea. ¬†But I’m glad I went. ¬†Interesting to see how the other half live, how the other half worship.

  • Did the mass “add value”? ¬†(A bit of business jargon there.)
  • How many of the first communicants and their families will worship there again (at least, in the near future)?
  • Given that the attention span of most children and even most adults is finite, why allow it to last so long?

It all seems to me, a practising low-church Anglican, a bit odd (British understatement) to make a child’s first exposure to church such a long, drawn-out, not exactly “user-friendly” event. ¬†Roll on the next Anglican “espresso” service at Marktkirche next Sunday, to last, tops, one hour.

Meanwhile, enjoy this excellent clip by Dara. ¬†Prod hymns may be lengthy, but that is as nothing compared to Catholic services. ūüôā


Shocked, but surprised… nonetheless, shaken and more than a little bit stirred

So, last night I climbed into bed, grabbed my Kindle to put internet radio on and catch The Westminster Hour on Radio 4.  I decided to check my Hotmail for any late emails.

A mail from the church warden.  Due to ill-health, Stephen, our chaplain at Christ Church Duesseldorf is retiring in April.  Double-take time.  I re-read the mail.  Yes, I did read correctly.  It all makes sense now, and early retirement will be the best thing for Stephen and his longevity.

How do I avoid this article sounding like an obituary?

I remember:

  • Stephen’s caring and encouraging email to me at Christmas 2007, after I’d lost my job. ¬†He reminded me of the story of Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, yet through his faith, ended up being the Pharoah’s right-hand man.
  • December 2011 – telling him joyfully that he was going to have a new member of his congregation – Ginge is back in town!
  • His personal finance tips
  • His tea, sympathy and listening ear during the hard times of late 2012

What now?  The show must go on.  It will go on.  Anglicanism is resilient.

  • We must find a new chaplain. ¬†Folks, it’s a great posting, it really is.
  • We must find locum chaplains during the interregnum. ¬†Let us hope and pray it is less than the eight months that Abingdon had.
  • We the laity and church council must apply our wisdom to stay strong and grow stronger.

We will grow stronger.

  • We have our church plant in Essen at the Marktkirche. ¬†We show the locals what tea and biscuit ministry is all about.
  • We have a very healthy young people’s ministry.

Thank you, Stephen, for you have been a real blessing to Christ Church D√ľsseldorf.