Category Archives: Lent

Maundy Thursday 2018 – How Does Your Garden Grow?

At this year’s Maundy Thursday service, things were a bit different.

For a start, I was serving as an acolyte rather than just attending – helping with candles and wine and water and assisting with the stripping of the church as the service ended and the Watch was beginning.

At St Peter’s, there’s a statue of Mary in a small tabernacle/grotto to one side of the church, in line with the low altar. There are votive candles before it and during the set up, I was asked to light one so that, should they wish, other members of the congregation could light another from it. As I stood there, making sure the flame took, I felt moved to apologise for what was about to happen – both later in the service and later in the weekend – it seemed entirely appropriate to express regret for what we (the people) were about to do in terms that suggested that Mary didn’t know what was coming…

The main service was held around the low altar, to better recreate the feeling of gathering around the table with Jesus at the Last Supper. This had the practical consequence that the Altar/Garden of Repose was moved to the high altar and all eyes were on this, as the church was stripped of all removable dressings. It felt a much more private thing to be involved with than I had expected.

As I carried Mary to the back of the church and into the vestry I experienced (very) mild panic as I couldn’t find anywhere to put her – on a chair and she wouldn’t balance, on one of the desks or tables and she’d be knocked off by the next passing elbow. I tucked her away as safely as I could manage, standing on the floor between a couple of banners, and felt very sorry for her, I apologised again, and told her to take care of herself.

I worry about her – I know Jesus can take care of himself and chooses his path of suffering – Mary was only told about hers after she was well down the track. As Jesus was eating this final meal with his friends, was she there? Did she sense that the long foretold sword was about to pierce her soul?

I wonder how her story ends – the last mention of anything happening with her in the Bible has her at the foot of the cross, although she’s later mentioned in Acts as being with the disciples in an upper room.

Back at the foot of the cross, I wonder how she felt. Sorrow at her son’s plight? Anger with the authorities for doing this? Anger with Jesus because she knew he could “save himself” but chose not to? Bewilderment at being palmed off onto the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, when all she wanted was for him to be down off that cross and in her arms?

Did she ponder these things too and make the connections with the things she’d pondered at the start of Jesus’ life?

I wouldn’t say I was devoted to Mary, but it seems we’re becoming quite attached.

Lent Photo-a-Day Challenge – Catchup

This year, I’ve been attempting the Lent Photo-a-Day Challenge as part of a FaceBook group. Lent’s been kind of busy so far and I’ve only just got round to realising and doing something about the fact that nobody outside the group can see any of the pictures – so, I’m planning to double-post them, in the group and out here.

Below is a copy of the list of words we’re using:

I’m not sure where it’s from (a search for “AliveNow” brought back one or two possible results) but when I find out, I’ll link back to the original.

Anyway, we’re quite a way in now so the sensiblest way of presenting things (I reckon) is a shiny, scrolling gallery:

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This evening, because Ros hadn’t been able to make it to any of the Good Friday services, we read through Mark’s passion narrative – lit by seven little candles surrounding a taller candle in the centre of the table and the back-light of the phone we were using to display the text.

At each point that things became noticeably worse for Jesus we blew out a candle until, at the point of his final breath, we blew out the tall candle. Once the centurion had made his proclamation, we turned off the phone and sat for a while in the darkness.

Things We Kiss In Church

Every year, on Good Friday, during the Liturgy of the Day, our congregation processes to the front of the church and kiss the crucifix (that has just been carried forward) – in an act of veneration.

Every week, the gospel is kissed as soon as it has been read – in an act of reverence.

Every week, the priest kisses the altar – in an act of veneration.

Last night, during our Maundy Thursday service, my right foot was kissed as part of the foot-washing re-enactment – there must have been something else going on.

Easter Niceties

Robb just tagged me in a conversation about David Cameron’s recent Easter message in Premier’s Christianity magazine, with links to some further discussion of the article – along with a pointed mention of the word ‘nice’.

Which opened the vein that usually channels my inner Steve Turner:

Easter is a blessed relief,
a shot in the arm,
a dose of salts.
New life, early in the morning.

In these ways,
it is like a liturgical shot of espresso
after 40 days of instant decaf.


Maybe cause for celebration
– once things have settled down
and the strangeness is beginning to become the new normal.

But nothing without nails
Without these
It’s just another way of getting out of bed.

Nothing to Report – Saturday – Lent 2014

Today’s been pretty laid back. Got up late, hung around and the flat, did some washing up, went to caretake for a kids’ party at my old church, sorted out some stuff to go in the loft, then had Old Young James round for tea, telly, chat and a game (we ate Chinese, watched Stewart Lee and Still Open All Hours – both were very funny, much to our collective relief – and then played Ankh Morpork, which James won – much to Ros’s and my disgust – all in all a good night).
Now James has gone and it’s time for bed.
Good night.

Possibly my Proudest Achievement – Friday – Lent 2014

Today, at work, I finally got the search on the work website working satisfactorily. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for an age and a half and there were no quick solutions anywhere online, the forums I asked gave no replies, but eventually I cobbled together the bits of php I needed.

None of this will be of any interest to anyone but I’ll carry on regardless (and not post anything too technical), below, bullet-pointed for convenience is the whole sorry story:

The Set Up

  • Our website is WordPress based with some bbPress forums (as part of the Commons In A Box plugin collection) forming a large portion of it.
  • Some of the WordPress side and most of the bbPress side is only available to logged in subscribers (who are all members of the resources centre).
  • The standard WordPress search only includes results from the WordPress side of the site but copes okay with excluding the members-only content.

The Challenge

  • We wanted everything to be searchable to users who were logged in and not to the general public.

The Problem

  • If we expand the standard search to include results from the forums, the members-only exclusion breaks down because bbPress wasn’t marking topics within private forums as ‘private’.
  • These returned search results for topics in private forums, showing the complete contents of the topic.
  • When the link back to the topic was clicked, the site would then go to an error page showing an unresolved ‘loop’ giving the (correct) impression that the site wasn’t working properly.
  • The bbPress search that appears on the top forum page returns results from all forums, logged in or not in a similar way to the WordPress search.

The Solution
This came in stages with snippets of how to do tiny little bits of it coming from all over the web with a lot of false-starts, swearing and imaginary hair-tearing-out along the way.

  • I worked out quite early on that it would be impractical to use the back-end to ensure that all topics inherited their forum privacy settings – especially as our members get to post new topics at will and we don’t have masses of time for moderation.
  • The first step was restricting the forum search to appear on each forum page by itself and only search within that forum (with a placeholder text saying ‘search this forum’). This eliminates the final part of the problem above but currently won’t search within subforums – I’d still like to find a way to do this but am happy to leave it as is given that the next steps have worked out as they have.
  • I redesigned the side bar to include a better layout, in different sections, with a separate forum search that only appears for logged in users. This was an okay work around as far as it went but was still irritating to have to have two separate search forms needed. This can be seen in action on my test version of the site.
  • The bit that has taken most working out was getting the main site search to only include forum results if a user was logged in – I reckon that combined with the new side bar, this should offer a workable solution to the problem as described.

Still to work on

  • It more or less does what I want it to, but is a long way from being ideal:
  • I have no idea why sub-forums and topics don’t inherit privacy settings or what I’d need to do to make the search exclude private forums unless a user was logged in.
  • Search results that are replies to the forum topics are listed as such but no other type of result has a prefix – I’d quite like the forums and forum topics to be identified as such rather than simply appearing as empty posts or posts respectively.
  • I’d like to have excerpts of topics from private forums show in the results with the link taking users to a ‘you must be logged in to view this topic’ message rather than the loop-error.
  • It would be fantastic if I could find a way to make the individual forum searches include the contents of sub-forums – this is the biggest problem that remains to be sorted but can wait – I’ve spent far too long getting this sorted and I have other work that needs catching up on.

So, there you have it – this has given me more relief than even completing the Giant Form of Doom and getting it handed in.

And I told you it would be dull.

PS if anybody’s interested, I can post about the php bits and pieces with credit to the various bits of internet they were learned about from.

Football Crazy – Thursday – Lent 2014

The last two times I’ve played five-a-side, one of my teammates has injured themselves quite early on in proceedings. This has necessitated a change of position for both them and me: they retreat into the relative safety of the goal-keeper’s box, where no other may enter, and I am cast out into the dangerous hinterland known only as ‘the outfield’ where much more running around than usual happens, more contact with other players, and much less of the fun jumping around trying to catch the ball.
I’m less not-bad in the outfield than in goal, I can’t stop and turn once I do get moving, and I’m generally more dead by the end of my time playing than I like to feel.
Still, it’s not all peachy for the poor sods stuck in nets, less able to duck out of the way as the opposition kick ball after ball in their general direction.

Bluerg – Monday – Wednesday – Lent 2014

So, on Sunday I travelled down the country (as far as Halifax, anyway) to help out my mates with their monthly Rock Mass and then back home again afterwards so I could spend Monday morning with Ros rather than not seeing her until the evening when she got back from youthworking. As I got out of the car, I heard some drunken shouting behind me and ignored it until, as I closed the door, a very big gentleman stood in my way and angrily asked me if I knew a ‘Donna Jones’. I persuaded him that I didn’t and, after calling me a liar, he staggered down the road looking hurt and lonely and lost. I started getting my gear out of the back of the car and prayed for him that he’d find whatever it was that he needed.

Before I could close the boot, he was back in my face, acting aggressively and shouting at me to admit that I knew this Donna. I walked backwards away from him, all the while denying ever having met her. Then he took a swing at me – I almost ducked it but he connected with me cheek and sent my glasses flying. He tried unsuccessfully to punch me again and then stood there, offering his chin for me to punch. I told him again that I didn’t know any Donna and that I wasn’t going to hit him (I believe I said that I had no reason to hit him – make of that what you will). He stormed off down the street, I collected my stuff and took it inside once I was sure that he was nowhere to be seen.

After enough time for him to get clear of the street, we went outside to search for my glasses – they were nowhere to be found. We looked again in the morning and there was no sign of them then either.

Since then, I’ve been waiting for a new pair to arrive (they came this afternoon) and feeling tired and headachey because of the lack of being able to see properly (unless I was wearing my prescription sunglasses which left everything somewhat dark and still caused headaches from the strain).

They look something like this:
tim in his new glasses

The Nectar card is there because we used some our saved points to go out for Italian food tonight and the picture’s part of Ros’s record of things that made her happy this month.

Thankfully, work agreed to rearrange my days so I wouldn’t be staring at a screen trying to make out the tiny words whilst I waited for the specs to arrive – and for that, I am very grateful.