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Archive for April, 2011

And I’m not talking about the King James bible, also known as the Authorised Version. I have to say that I’m struggling at the moment to decide whether to vote for or against the new voting system called Alternative Vote. And most people I speak to locally are completely indifferent.

I asked the Twitterverse which way a Christian should vote on the matter and the main response I got was that the bible’s only recommended system of election (apart from the Lord’s election of his people, obvs) is by lot (cf Acts 1v26 – for the selection of Matthias as an apostle to replace Judas). Selection by lottery is a system which leaves the choice to God and teaches his people to pray, although I’m not aware of any churches which use that system for selecting their church council these days.

The Christian Institute has a paper on AV which is fairly non-committal – it highlights the issues  and also links to Christians and others for and against.  Christian bloggers who have posted include John Richardson and Peter Kirk – both in the Yes camp.

My current concerns are fairness – is AV fairer than the existing First Past the Post system? And also cost – will a new system involve the country in extra expense for advertising, teaching and counting? And is anyone bothered enough about it to implement a new system? I’ve not met anyone locally yet who is passionately convinced that AV should be brought in for the good of the country.

Tonight I read a helpful article in the New Scientist which mentions a system that is claimed to be ‘an alternative, “perfect” system’, which actually sounds more like the biblical method I mentioned above:

Maclver’s system is identical to FPTP in all but one respect. Voters in each constituency choose a single candidate, but then one voter is picked at random from each constituency and their choice determines which candidate gets elected. The random element means the system isn’t covered by Arrow’s theorem.

It sounds horribly unfair but it would actually produce results that are more proportional to the views of the country as a whole, argues MacIver, as it is simply a random sampling of the population. So if a party has 20% of the national vote, it should end up with roughly 20% of the seats in parliament.

It turns out Maclver’s idea isn’t a new one – the system is known as a random ballot. But it isn’t one of the choices being offered to the UK public.

I liked the way the New Scientist summarises the dilemma for all of us who want to cast a vote in this referendum next week:

Do you want a system that picks a winner with strong support from a minority of voters (FPTP) or one where the leading candidate is vaguely liked by a majority of people (AV)? No amount of equations can help you reach an answer.

And as a Christian the response to the final dilemma has got to be prayer. So that’s what I’m planning to do. How about you?

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Christianity Explored have relaunched their website, and it’s looking very good. I especially like the short video clips, although you can’t filch them for your blog, or download them to use in a service at church. Looks like you’ll have to buy the dvds when the course itself is relaunched (in a seven week version) in May!

I particularly enjoyed Rob’s story: My Girl said to me ‘No more sex’ – make sure you listen right to the end.

[Edit: Seems I was wrong about having the videos on your blog – you can get them if you can embed code, although wordpress.com make you pay for that privilege, so I can’t. See Tom’s comments below for links to the embed codes.]

Rob

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Hallelujah!

Sandbox animation from Sandbible.com – I love this way of telling bible stories, so I’m looking forward to them expanding their collection.

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I’m sure a bunch of you have already seen this around the blogosphere, but I only spotted it yesterday. It’s a really cool picture of where everyone was in Holy Week – Jesus, the disciples, the Jewish leaders, the crowds, the guards etc. Am wondering how to get this printed out much bigger – A0 would be cool.

BibleGateway, who published it, have more details, as do openbible, who designed it.

[HT Abraham Piper, as usual]

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Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of Andrew Peterson’s Christmas album, Behold the Lamb. This week I came across his Palm Sunday song ‘Hosanna’ from his 2008 album Resurrection Letters Vol II (Vol I is apparently still in the pipeline). Enjoy.

You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent.

You have carried to the grave the black stain.

You have torn apart the temple’s curtain.

You have beaten death at death’s own game.

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The other day I noticed an interesting tweet in my Twitter stream:

Just finishing talk for tomorrow’s Easter Praise. Have taken @thevicarswife Resurrection Eggs & adapted them for under 3s. It will be mayhem

So I got onto Abi, who was responsible for the tweet and asked her if she’d mind writing up the details of her session – I thought it might be a useful resource for all toddler group/Sunday school teachers out there.  She very kindly sent me a write up and a photo of her eggs. And there’s even still time before to use her ideas this Easter. Maybe even if you’re a Vicar struggling for an All Age Easter Sunday talk aswell. So, over to guest blogger, Abi:

Our Parent & Toddler group is a thriving ministry and the leaders are great at taking opportunities each week to share the gospel. Two notable opportunities that are taken are at Christmas and Easter. A short ‘Toddler Praise’ service takes place as part of the normal session in the church. This year I was asked to do the short talk. My natural comfort-zone is Pathfinders (11-14 year olds), but I agreed nonetheless!

I remembered reading about Resurrection Eggs last year, and so took the idea and adapted it for pre-schoolers. I reduced the number of eggs involved down to 6. I also used much larger eggs. My local Hobbycraft had some ‘paint your own’ cardboard eggs, about the size of an average chocolate Easter egg. I painted them in bright colours and numbered them 1-6. The numbering was crucial, if only so that I opened them in the right order! The colours were just for the children. I scattered the eggs about for the children to find at the appropriate time(which they were very eager to do). Although the way I told the story was aimed at getting and keeping the children’s attention, I was aware that parents would be listening, so some of the language is maybe a bit adult for the younger toddlers.

I explained to the children that I was to tell them a true story; that it was all about the first ever Easter and was all about Jesus. I said there were some sad parts, but there were also happy parts. I explained that to help us learn this true story, there are some eggs hidden around the place that have bits of the story inside. At this point some children ran to get the eggs, whilst others sat still pointing to where they were…!

We opened the eggs in number order to see what was in each egg, with me saying something along the following lines:

  1. Donkey – Jesus was going to a town called Jerusalem with his friends. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Some people were very happy to see him, and they welcomed him, shouting ‘Hosanna’ and ‘Jesus is King’. But some of the leaders weren’t very happy to see Jesus. They didn’t like that the people liked Jesus.
  2. Praying hands (just a picture found via google) – Later that week, Jesus went with his friends to pray in a garden. Jesus prayed to his Father God that he was doing the right thing. But while he prayed, soldiers, sent by the leaders came and arrested Jesus.
  3. Cross – The soldiers took Jesus away and made fun of him, and put a heavy wooden cross on his back. He was made to carry it up to a nearby hill. Some people cheered, but some people knew this was very sad, and cried.
  4. Nails – On the top of the hill, Jesus was nailed to the cross. It hurt him a lot. Jesus had never done anything wrong, like we have, but he was treated like he was a criminal by the soldiers. Even though this was the middle of the day, on a Friday, it became really, really dark. In the dark and with the sadness of his friends and family, Jesus died.
  5. Stone – Some of Jesus’ friends gently carried Jesus to a tomb, cut in the rock. A bit like a small cave. A huge stone was put over the tomb so no-one could get in or out. Jesus’ friend were sad, and thought they would never see him again. Three days later, on the Sunday, a woman called Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She was amazed to see that the huge stone wasn’t blocking the way in, and like our sixth egg, the tomb was:
  6. Empty! – Jesus had risen from the dead. It was such happy news. Our true story has a happy ending.

I went on to explain how it can be a happy ending for us today, because Jesus died and rose from the dead so we could be saved.

I also said: “When we say or do things that are wrong, we must say sorry, don’t we?, to our parents or friends or brothers or sisters. We need to say sorry to God too. We ignore him, we say wrong things, we do naughty things. The Bible calls this sin.

Because of Jesus, who has never done anything wrong, or said anything naughty, and has never ignored God, we can be friends with God. We can be saved. Jesus’ death and rising again means we won’t be enemies with God, if we trust in Jesus and ask God for his forgiveness. We will be safe and we will be forgiven.

Let’s pray.
Dear God, thank you that you sent your Son Jesus to die and rise again, so that by trusting in Jesus and asking for forgiveness we can be friends with God, we can be forgiven and we can be saved. Amen”

Things to note:

>- Make sure an adult is nearby to give the nails to when that egg is opened! With the other items, the Toddlers often picked them up to wander off to show their parent or grandparent.

– We sang a song part-way through to break it up. We also sang one at the start and one at the end. All 3 had actions, and 2 were ones they knew from being incorporated in the usual weekly singing time (a mixture of Christian and other songs/choruses)

– This could be adapted and expanded for an all-age service with Bible readings included in the contents of the eggs to make it helpful to a wider age-range, along with other parts to the service as well of course!

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I’ve loved Jan Pienkowski’s illustrations since I was a child and last week I found out that his illustrated version of the story of Easter is available to read online. The words are from Luke’s gospel and the King James Version of the bible.

His site has some other lovely online reads and all sorts of lovely kids’ stuff to do. Perfect for the Easter hols!

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