Sunday 26 June 2011

Wokingham Baptist Church

It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. I got up, I thought "I need a change", I did a quick skim through local-ish churches, and I decided to travel out to Wokingham to visit the baptist church there.

Why Wokingham Baptist? Because I've never been there, because it's (in theory) a twenty minute scooter ride away, because a very good visiting preacher we had a few months back has a link with there, and because long ago I worked in Wokingham for a while so I reckoned that if the church wasn't as easy to find as it seemed, I had a fighting chance of finding it anyway. It duly wasn't as easy to find as it appeared, and I did manage to find it only a minute or two late, so that worked well.

As you can probably see from the picture, from the outside the building is a weird mixture of Victorian and modern; inside it feels spacious: attractively light and airy. Worship was fairly modern and informal, led this week by the church's 'youth specialist', ably supported by a band and singers. Everyone, young and old, worshipped together at the beginning, then the congregation broke by age group. I'd guess in total there were something like 140, 150 people there this morning.

Early in the service, information was presented about a big schools project that the church is currently involved in, with a variety of opportunities available for church members to take part in praying for this work. Looking at their notice sheet gives me the impression that this is a church with a balance between outward-looking and internal-fellowship activities.

The church is 'between pastors' at the moment; this morning's preacher, I would guess, doesn't preach that often. Nevertheless, she was clear, well-prepared, and interesting. She made her points well, including a link I hadn't previously made, between the people's choice to free Barabbas - a violent freedom fighter - and Jesus' later words about the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem. Oddly, though, she didn't tie this into current affairs: Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, etc would be a natural link; instead she stayed rather 'spiritual' in focus. Still, a sermon worth listening to.

Tea and coffee were available afterwards (although it wasn't obvious where), and people were very friendly. I'd say that, for anyone in the Wokingham area, Wokingham Baptist Church is well worth a visit, especially if you are not a regular churchgoer and want to try somewhere that is likely to be warm, friendly and accepting.

Monday 13 June 2011

"We Hope That Little Girls Feast On The Bones Of Many Giving Souls"

Is that a great quote, or is it just a great quote?

It comes from hackers collective Lulzsec, after they emailed the UK National Health Service to let them know that various NHS admin passwords were known to them. As they put it, according to The Register:

We're a somewhat known band of pirate-ninjas that go by LulzSec.
Some time ago, we were traversing the Internets for signs of enemy fleets.
While you aren't considered an enemy - your work is of course brilliant - we did stumble upon several of your admin passwords, which are as follows....
We mean you no harm and only want to help you fix your tech issues. Also, we hope that little girls feast on the bones of many giving souls. All the best.
Lulz Security
Lulz are one of the groups busily embarrassing Sony by exposing the poor security of their websites (or, to put it another way, by hacking into Sony websites and taking copies of confidential data).

Now it seems they are revealing a more caring side: encouraging people to become bone marrow donors, presumably inspired by the story of Alice Pyne.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Is There Meaning In Growing Older?

I had an interesting non-discussion last night about whether there was any spiritual meaning to ageing. We spend the first part of our lives becoming steadily stronger and more powerful: physically, socially and mentally; then the rest of our life getting weaker and less capable. It's been said before that we start off as newborn babies, weak, helpless and dependent, and end up - if we live long enough - back where we started. So I wondered if this is all there is to it. There seems to be shape, but is there meaning?

The group I was with - a wide age-range of people - didn't catch this idea at all. Probably I explained it badly, particularly since I don't really know where I am going with the thought. But then clarifying and building on a thought is often a benefit of discussing things with a group.

One way of looking at ageing is as a circle: we grow and become independent, likely even having others dependent upon us; then we carry on and become dependent again. But maybe life's not so much a circle as a helix. From an end-on perspective it may look as though we end up back where we started, but from the side it can be seen that the overall progress is upward.

Maybe. Whatever the truth, it just seems to me that as I go past yet another birthday on the wrong side of fifty, and as sight, hearing, hair and fitness continue to fade away, God must have some purpose in doing things this way. After all, He can hardly be doing it for a laugh: old age really isn't that funny.