Saturday, October 20, 2007

Birmingham: It all went Pete Tong (literally)

Well I said I'd blog the whole sorry tale, so here it is....
There is an informal sort of gathering of alternative worship and Emerging Church folks happening this weekend in Birmingham, and I was going. Well actually I went, or at least tried to go. But then the most ridiculous farce of an evening happened and in the end I gave up and drove home, because I knew where York was, and Pete Tong and Dave Pierce's dance anthems were on the radio and the roads were cool and empty, and the drive home was really nice, but I missed the conference. And I'm sure there must be some deep and meaningful pattern behind it all, but just at the moment I can't think what it might be, apart from enjoying Dave Pierce's dance anthems at 70mph passing Sheffield.

It all started because it was Black Friday (which is a combination of having a Friday rush hour and the start of half term rolled into one). I left York at 3.30 so should have got to Birmingham at 6.30 at the latest, met up with the others, shared a Taxi to the Revive service with DJs and food and stuff at Lorraines and had a good evening. Followed by meeting up with the B1 people in their building near the cathedral the next day.

What actually happened was that I left York at 3.30, got caught up in multiple jams on the M1 (which in itself wasn't so bad, I was kind of expecting it), and drove into Birmingham. Then I drove round and round and round and round Birmingham looking for the Travelodge, ringing Malcolm 3 times for further directions as I went. Plus Birmingham drivers are bullies! In a Smart car I don't usually have problems navigating strange towns, as people are nice and let Smarts in, and they are nippy. But these guys were really awful and several times actually pushed me into the wrong lane so I couldn't actually get where I wanted to go. The signage is also pretty crap and doesn't come up nearly soon enough. I ended up going halfway to Kidderminster (or at least it felt like it) passing multiple hotels, none of which were the right one.

Anyway eventually I got to the hotel, by which time everyone had already gone to Lorraine's, and it was 9pm by then, as, once I found the Travelodge it took me another half hour to work out how to get into it negotiating the one-way system and once-again being bullied by drivers who simply would not let me out of a sidestreet. But the car park was full. Now the hotel directions say that alternative secure car-parking is available at the NCP car park 600 yards away. But there *isn't* an NCP car park 600 yards away, it seems to have been taken over by Europarks. I rang the hotel and they didn't bother picking up the phone. So I had to pay for temporary parking just to find out where the car park was (which cost 50p and it was a completely open car-park in were no CCTVs there or anything in a really dodgy looking area). Also there were big wheelclamping and wotnot signs everywhere.

So then I went into reception, got my room key and was told that it was the Europark over the road which was the secure one. So I rang Jonny Baker to check that there was still stuff going on, said I'd park my car and then be on my way by taxi unless he heard otherwise. And then the final straw happened.

I got into the nice shiny Europark, and discovered that they charge more than 5 pounds for 24 hours parking (so the hotel info is wrong! ). Plus, what the hotel did not inform us of, was that the machine only takes coins. No cards, no phone payment, no notes. (I *had* notes!) And even overnight parking costs 3.85 and I only had 3.40 left. (if you do the maths you will then realise that I *would* have had enough money if I hadn't had to pay 50p to park to find out where the car-park was). I tried to get change, but of course, everyone else is in the same position. They all needed it too.

I rang the helpline and the guy on the other end was very helpful in tone, he thought there might be a mobile phone-code I could use to pay, but after looking in his books and at his maps there wasn't one! He did suggest putting a note on my windscreen but if the traffic patrollers are anything like the ones in York I wasn't going to risk that. So then I was directed to the local cinema to get change. There were cash machines around (which of course only give notes). There were also bars around (where you can buy drinks and get change). There were also some friendly traffic wardens, who suggested I try the other Euro car park as they were sure that that one took notes. I went and had a look, but it didn't. But then there were also adults old-enough-to-know-better throwing fireworks! (yep at each other and the rest of the street!)

At that point, I thought "That's it. I'm going home." People complain about the Middle-East but it was safer in Ramallah than that bit of Birmingham and I didn't want to get my leg blown off by a stray rocket!

Now in retrospect I know that I *could* have just parked in the open car-park (but my car is new and shiny and undeserving of firework-attack), I *could* have just driven to Lorrianes (but you have to remember that my navigation skills aren't brilliant and I really didn't want to go through that getting-lost-round-Birmingham thing again for another hour and a half) or I *could* have done what the car park man suggested and put a note on my windscreen, but you have to remember that the way things were going I wasn't exactly having a good-day. I bet I'd have got the 100 pound penalty! Plus I'd have had to get up early in the morning to sort out the parking mess and I don't like mornings!

I think sometimes you just instinctively know that by the time the twentieth door has shut in your face, its time to give up.

So I drove home at 10 ish (I *know* where home is) and got back at 12.30 having made a reasonable-attempt at conference-going.

I'm not sure what lessons I might have learnt by this.
Go by train? (I should probably have gone by train, but thought that the Travelodge might not be near the station, they are usually set out of towns)
Get Sat Nav? (or maybe borrow one. I don't go anywhere often enough to buy one)
Just don't go anywhere you'll only get lost?

Friday, October 12, 2007


P1020784, originally uploaded by Suevisions.

Last year, when St Cuthbert's roof was being re-done, we migrated to York Minster crypt for a few months. We loved the space, and opportunities to meet new people that came from being in the Minster, although it was quite hard work doing a full service set-up every week.

Out of this though, an idea was born. What if we teamed up with the Minster once a month and created a new Fresh Expression? One that combined the best of what Visions and the Minster had to offer. Stunning music, amazing visuals, liturgy with depth and passion combined with futuristic technology and a transcendent atmosphere of powerful approachable-otherness. An Ancient-Future Mass.

So we talked a bit, waited a bit, prayed a bit, and came up with a plan to try two of these services, one in the first Sunday in October and one in the first Sunday in November and just see what happens. It was hard in a sense to imagine what it might be like, unless we actually tried it. Sometimes you just need to learn how to do something by doing it.

Well we had the first one last Sunday and it was completely amazing!
It was worship but it definitely wasn't common (although we did "play it by the book").I was so excited Sunday night I could hardly sleep!

We had four minster choristers come and sing a Kyrie, a psalm, a Sanctus and a piece during communion, and especially within that space and that candlelit atmosphere they were completely mind-bogglingly brilliant! We also had two familiar songs that everyone could join in with, new settings of the old hymns "Be Thou My Vision" and "Let all Mortal Flesh". We had a prayer activity involving rocks "What mountains do you want God to shift for you?" which we presented at the altar, and the climax, as ever, was the Bread-Wine Body- Blood-Mystery connecting us, not just to Christ and each other, but across history to the hoards of Christians who have worshipped in that place across days and months, centuries up to one and a half millenia and more. It makes me realise what an amazing
priviledge we have, and yet what a huge responsibility, singing the next verse of the Great Story and Song to those who have not yet heard the tune, with a certain freedom to improvise, but in such a way that the Song is not lost.

Anyway I'm slipping into waffle-mode now. The next Trancendence will be in York minster crypt at 8pm on the 4th November. Come and check it out for yourselves.

Labels: , , ,

Transcendence - Communion

P1020779, originally uploaded by Suevisions.

Transcendence - Offertory

P1020772, originally uploaded by Suevisions.

Transcendence - Beginning

P1020760, originally uploaded by Suevisions.

Transcendence - Intercessions

P1020770, originally uploaded by Suevisions.

God be in my head (2)

A few years ago I wrote a version of the old Anglo-Saxon prayer "God be in my head". I think the sung version is up on the Abbess music site if you want to hear it.

Anyway yesterday I revisted the concept, and a new song was born (God be in my head 2) . I'd just got a piece called "Explore your Mind" by Single cell Orchestra. I heard it on the Groove Salad station on internet radio. I then checked out some of their other pieces on itunes. There are some really nice ambient worship tracks by them on there.

Anyway, as I sometimes do when its a really good track, I started singing, and this is the song I came up with.

God be in my head and in my
heart and in my understanding
God in my eyes and in my looking at the world
Christ be in my mouth and in the
sentences my tongue is speaking
Christ be in my hands and feet
To run and hug your world.

Fill my life and my living
Fill my heart and my giving
You're my end, my beginning.
You're my reason for being

God be in my work and in the
artistry these hands are making
God be in my home and in
my hospitality.
God be in my heart and in the
seat of all my deep emotions
God be in my eating and in
all my energy

If you want to know what the tune goes like, mail me...

Labels: , , ,

Harvest Rap

I had to do something Harvest-y for the under 3's today (16th October)
They seemed to quite like it last time I brought the drums in, so I brought the drums in again.
And while I was at it I thought I'd write something with a drummed response, so here it is. The harvest rap. The idea is that I say and drum the "verses" and everyone joins in with the responses. I thought I might as well stick it on my blog as I can' t think of anywhere else to put it, but I'll backdate it a bit, cos I want Transcendence to stay on top for a while!

The other bizarre thing is that I got to use all those rhymes that I'd never use normally in a million years. grow and hoe and pets and vets.
Nothing like being obvious eh?

Actually considering how little the kids are, they really have quite a good sense of rhythm, oh and the other good trick I learnt (I can't actually remember where) was to raise your hands and get people to raise their hands when you want them to stop. I've realised why now. You can't possiby play when your hands are in the air, and so it stops the random banging while you're trying to explain something. Aha!

For things that grow and plants to hoe
Thank You God for everything
for farmers and shops and growing crops
Thank You God for everything
For my favourite dinner and not getting thinner
Thank You God for everything
For peas that are green and warm baked beans
Thank You God for everything
For the people that work to make the food on my fork
Thank You God for everything
For apples and pears and chocolate eclairs
Thank You God for everything
For food and treats and chocolate and sweets
Thank You God for everything.
For fruit and cake and being awake
Thank You God for everything
for nice things to chew and strawberry goo
Thank You God for everything
For plants and ants and pets and vets
Thank You God for everything.
For big fish fingers and smells that linger
Thank You God for everything
For soil and sun and playing and fun
Thank You God for everything
For roses and daisys and colours that are crazy
Thank You God for everything
For corn in sheaves and red autumn leaves
Thank You God for everything
For tummies that are full and fluffy sheep wool
Thank You God for everything
For giving us new starts when we're sorry in our hearts
Thank You God for everything
Thank you that You care and listen to my prayer
Thank You God for everything