Widows Mite and Thank You

Something that I wrote for St Peters, Cricklewood;

These have been challenging times for everyone as we adjust to a new normality in the face of Covid-19. The fresh wave of community members wanting to volunteer, to serve others and to engage with those in need is a wonder to behold and demonstrates that we still have the community spirit that some had thought was dead.

Foodbanks and support services bring hope and are trumpeted and rightly shown as examples of servanthood by the many, yet some people are left feeling inadequate. Why is this? They see the need and are responding as they are able but it can feel like a drop in the ocean to the bigger picture and it can be easy to forget that the ocean is made of billions of these drops…..each one contributing to the wider whole.

One day, Jesus was sat in the temple and observed rich and wealthy people dropping in their offerings to the temple plate….I am sure it was an impressive sight. Then a poor widow drops in 2 coins…not looking so impressive and certainly not as big a hit to the bottom line of the temples balance sheet. The response of Jesus is telling;

I tell you the truth….more than all the others”.

The rich gave out of their wealth whilst the poor widow gave everything! The measure of true sacrifice is found not in what we give but in what we keep. What a lesson to learn.

In these days of Covid-19, you may not have given thousands of pounds to others, set up a support centre, a food bank or been on a hospital ward but you may have phoned someone, cooked a meal for someone or given some cans of food to a collection point. You have done what you can and that gift will have been life to whoever received your kindness. Do not despise the small things but do what you are able to do. “I tell you the truth, what you have done for the least of these little ones, you have done for me” said Jesus. Your kindness has been noticed.

Thank you for what you are doing, it is appreciated, valued and important…your contribution IS making a difference.

Learning video skills – Zoom

As part of the pandemic, I have been learning new skills very quickly. It seems that many people are joining in the ‘zoom revolution’ and having meetings/coffees etc. on that platform. Yesterday, I was in a licensing service with 46 people, many of whom had no experience on the platform. Here are a few tips that will help in these conversations.

  1. Sound – if you are not speaking, make sure you are muted. It prevents people being bombarded with a variety of sounds.
  2. Video – be aware of light. If you have a window behind, it is unlikely that your face will be seen. Make sure that light sources are in front of you or at your side – it will improve things….honest!
  3. Video again – think of the camera position. Straight on to the face is best but not the only place. Think about the image that others can see and respond accordingly.
  4. Sound 2 – most microphones mean that you can talk normally and everyone will hear, you do not need to raise your normal voice levels…it may sound like you are shouting at people when you want to be talking

Just a few simple tips….hope they are useful to someone

Learning new lessons

It has been a rather steep learning curve for everyone these last few weeks as the pandemic strikes at the heart of all our lives. Acts of bravery, kindness and generosity abound alongside those of greed, cowardice and selfishness, and all this on a daily routine.

Our local community has seen a number of people step up to support the vulnerable people, creating new systems, new friendships and a plethora of hope that things can and will get better. It is not just the religious groupings, it is everyone. My hope is that when the virus dies, we will see this community spirit thrive…..something that was sadly lost in the Brexit years.

Here is hoping…..

Learning new skills

In this crazy season of pandemic, I am learning new skills in terms of video. Thankfully, I have some help and some are quite ropey but with help, we are seeing significant improvement. Editing is not a strength but in these days of ‘lock in’, I can watch others at work, it is quite a learning curve….we have a fair few great bloopers too, but they are for another time.  Here is my favourite video (although not the news of closure) so far;

CP60s continues….

Continuing on with my CP60s – Church planting thoughts in 60 seconds and finding it quite a challenge. The first challenge is saying something in just 60 seconds and the second thing is video….never realised how difficult doing a video was. Not only is it taking the video and ensuring quality of vision is good, there is also the audio. As yet, post processing has not been on my radar but to improve, it needs to be.

All good fun though, may practice with some reviews of camera gear etc. At least that will be a little more simple, it is my happy place.

Church Planting in 60second bites

Have decided to be a little more active with my current role as a church planter. As a result, I am playing around with vlogging and seeing if there is appetite for people.

So far there are just a few sessions up online – check out the CP60s channel here – please let me know what you think? Something useful? What can be done better? What subjects would you recommend?

Having fun so far in the early days….hope it continues.

Climate Change

46474315065_6129e658e3_zIt was great to watch young people getting fired up about the issue of climate change. We have to be better at looking after this world and we are not doing a great job.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of ‘bunking off’, it is great to see young people making a stand and doing it well. Not one arrest yesterday….that’s how to protest!

More pictures on my Flickr Album here.

 

Goodbye old friends

This August, I said goodbye to my well loved camera equipment. I have been a fan of the Olympus DSLR 4/3rds system and have valued the exceptional quality of their lenses, both kit and prime, in the last 12 years. 30822304408_fa5c33faea_mThe e-500 and the e-520 have been great workhorses and have accompanied me on my travels in my ‘digital SLR years’ after the c-5050 zoom, a fixed lens digital camera. (Still rates as one of the best ever lenses on a fixed lens camera).

The trade in was easy and has enabled me to transition to a Canon DSLR body with a Tamron lens. So far, the switch is a positive one but there is a little sadness in leaving behind a system to which I had become accustomed and having to learn new dials, settings and options. In time, the new set up will grow and I will learn the details – thankfully taking pictures is just the same….just need to get better at composition and light!!

Top 10 Basketball Players of All Time

The fabulous SLAM Magazine have recently published another great collectors magazine citinTop100-Cover-IGg the #100 greatest players of all time. It is a major undertaking and one that will never receive unanimous agreement.

The challenges to any list like this are memory, type of stats we look to and the make up of the league at any one time.  Stats only tell a partial story, the league has had regular expansion which changes the challenge for titles and our memories usually gravitate to the players we remember best. The current players in our league are exceptional and in a couple of years time, the top 10 may well change.

My Top 10 of all time are:

#1 – Michael Jordan and Lebron James (Tied) – These players are stand out and clearly ahead of the field but I do not believe they can be split at this stage. There are so many ‘Ifs’ with Jordan but in a list like this, he took 3 years out and that damages what may have been. Lebron may well sneak ahead after a couple of more seasons but at present these guys are the top of the pile.

#3 – Bill Russell – Words cannot do justice to all that Russell achieved and the way he played the game. He found ways to win and with an unblemished finals record of 11-0 and was a great team player.

#4 – Magic Johnson and Larry Bird (Tied) – Without each other, neither would have reached their heights, the challenge to beat one another rescued the league, brought rivalry to a new level and once again brought the ‘team game’ to basketball. It is more than stats, the aura they brought to the floor, the expectation of winning challenged any competitor before the first tip. As individuals, Magic rises ahead, with the team ethic, Larry marches on – overall – impossible to split.

#6 – Kobe Bryant – The Black Mamba was exceptional and achieved at times when he should not have done. His mentality and drive changed peoples perception of the game and he consistently delivered.

#7 – Wilt Chamberlain – A champion who came second. His failing was being in the same era as Bill Russell but he may have matched his counterpart if he played better team ball. He controlled the rock and dominated so much…but was just a step away from that top 5.

#8 – Hakeem Olajuwon – A powerhouse of a centre who may have won more finger jewellery if it was not for a certain Bulls legend. He brought fear to the opposition and won games with both offensive and defensive intensity, even getting that elusive quadruple double.

#9 – Tim Duncan – Mr Consistency who delivered without the support that other teams had. He led when necessary and took a back seat when necessary – he had it all and the rings to demonstrate it. One of those players who was technically brilliant – with a little more flexibility and support, he may have been in that top 5.

#10 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – He should have been #1 and perhaps could have been. However, that mid career blip that needed Magic to re-invigorate him denied him that stand out brilliance. You can never doubt the talent, the brilliance but the lack of career long intensity denies him so much.

In future, will Kevin Durant or Steph Curry be in the mix? What about Shaq or Dave Cowens?  No list is perfect and all are arguable but we can all be grateful that these discussions are a lot of fun. What about you? Who would make your top 10?