The enduring appeal of sour grapes

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 09/17/2013 - 12:37
In their book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath comment on how the Aesop fable of the fox and the sour grapes has lasted over 2,500 years. The fox repeatedly jumps to reach the grapes but they’re too high. They must be sour, he thinks, as he slinks away. The story was referenced this […]
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Peppa pig lookalike?

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 09/17/2013 - 12:25
Peppa pig is a cartoon character loved by millions of children around the world. A few months ago a flyer came through our letterbox (despite the no junk mail sticker of course) for a local children’s nursery. To me this looks like Peppa pig on their flyer. But no, it’s a look-a-like according to the […]
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International baby of mystery

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 09/16/2013 - 20:25
We have an international baby of mystery. Where do his toys go? Is he responsible for their disappearances? The red ball from the top of the discs turned up just now. It had been missing for months. Similarly, Bishopston, our eponymous dinosaur from the sadly now defunct fairtrade clothing store turned up tonight. We at […]
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Out in the rain

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 09/16/2013 - 05:50
Out in the allotment, in the rain, we gathered in the last of the potatoes, weeded the beds and planted the green manure seeds. Despite, or because of, the driving rain it felt good to be outside getting jobs done.
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Writing for the bin

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 09/09/2013 - 03:20
“So much more stylish than a conventional bathroom bin, this retro version instantly ups your design credentials. Pair with a host of vintage-inspired accessories or elements of cool kitsch for a contemporary look that oozes personality.” I chuckled when I read the text above – it’s in the “product info” for the bin, pictured above, […]
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London picnic weather

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 09/08/2013 - 12:10
Our friends cancelled a birthday picnic for their son due to the uncertain weather forecast. A reasonable decision, as it turned out. We were going to go to occupy vs the arms fair instead when another friend pointed out that Sunday was our last chance to swim in the serpentine lido this year. We had […]
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Parkrun, the neighbour connector

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 09/02/2013 - 12:00
  I live on the other side of the tracks to my local Hilly Fields parkrun, in Brockley, London, and I often see runners while I’m on my way up, But I don’t usually see anyone else going to parkrun until I’m just a couple of minutes from the park.  This Saturday I noticed another […]
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Miley Hypocrisy

Benjamin Lloyd's blog - Sun, 09/01/2013 - 17:05
I didn’t watch the VMA awards. Like many friends, I was appalled at the amount of coverage Miley Cyrus’ presentation received, given all the other actually important stuff going on the world. I… Read More →
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The motto of my life

Jez Smiths blog - Thu, 08/29/2013 - 12:20
The motto of my life is probably “hmmm… it’s taking longer than I expected.”
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Could London be in heaven?

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 08/28/2013 - 18:07
There’s a phrase I’ve come across among Quakers about living the kingdom of heaven on earth. It’s about making the kingdom, the just world, happen here and now, not at some unknown future time after our death. I’m often reminded of this world at Whitechapel station in London of all places! Because it is here […]
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And I ran again

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 08/27/2013 - 22:44
I ran just under 4 miles tonight in something just over 35minutes. Not so fast, but good enough.
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Plant returned!

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 08/27/2013 - 07:51
Good news. One of our neighbour’s plants was returned. They told us they thought someone must have decided it was being thrown out and was okay to take. It was returned without a note, so we will probably never know. One is still missing.
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A sorry tale of plant theft

Jez Smiths blog - Mon, 08/26/2013 - 13:47
We had some new neighbours move into our small block of flats last week. They came from somewhere with a garden and brought lots of pot plants with them. The plants have been a cheery addition to our otherwise rather dreary driveway. So it was very annoying to learn that someone has nicked some of […]
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Tearing Down, Building Up

Quest for Adequacy - Fri, 08/23/2013 - 11:25
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.  See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:4-10. The first time I preached, it was a surprise for everyone, including me.  

For our fourth School of the Spirit residency in the fall of 2010, the teachers put together a panel from the class to talk about "Being Other in Community."  I felt led to be on the panel, so I wrote a proposal saying that I would like to talk about the prophet as other.

After the teacher told me I would be on the panel, I spent the summer trying to write out my message.  First, I wrote about Elijah in the wilderness, telling God he wanted to die.  Then I wrote about the last chapter of Jonah: Even though Jonah's mission had been wildly successful, the story ends with Jonah being angry with God. 

Although both of those Bible passages spoke to me, the message was not coming together.  That was hard for me, because I had planned to write the message out in advance and submit it as my fall reflection paper.  I was also terrified of getting up in front of my class without knowing what I was going to say.

I spent a lot of time during that fall residency in prayer.  I still did not have the message.  Then, finally, during the hour of worship before the panel was scheduled to speak, I knew what I had to do.  It became clear that all I needed was Jeremiah 1:4-10, and that I would be preaching from that passage.

So I did.  I spoke about God calling Jeremiah to be a prophet and my own struggles with others naming the gift of prophecy in me.  I said that it was hard in part because I am young, but also because I am a woman.  I shared how challenging it is for me when I feel led to give messages that tear down and destroy, because I always want to build and to plant.

As I spoke, I knew I was preaching, and it felt right.  Afterward, I was glad that I didn't know in advance, hard as it was, because I only would have doubted myself and my abilities.  And that experience gave me confidence later when I felt led to preach again in programmed worship.

Now, three years later, I am beginning seminary at Candler School of Theology.  When I saw that the theme for orientation was "Tearing Down and Building Up," I laughed.  I knew immediately that it was a reference to the first chapter of Jeremiah.

Like the School of the Spirit, I know that seminary will be a distilling process for me.  In addition to what I will learn about the Bible and Christian history, I will also be learning about myself and what God is calling me to do.  I know that it will be challenging, and there will be days where I doubt myself and God, and wonder why I am here.

But I am also grateful for signs—like this orientation theme—reassuring me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
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Evening running in London

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 08/21/2013 - 20:59
After my last post I decided enough was enough. I pulled on my sweater and set off on my good old nct run. It takes me past the homes of everyone who was in our nct class, the teacher’s and the breastfeeding specialist’s. It is just under 4 miles at its shortest. Today I did […]
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And the rest

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 08/21/2013 - 19:55
I spotted these benches in a small park by the regents canal the other day. I was on a short lunchtime walk that turned out to be 1.7 miles long. That and the walks to and from work are about all the exercise I’m getting just now. I was pleased to see this heron too, […]
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Sometimes it’s just what I want

Jez Smiths blog - Sat, 08/17/2013 - 07:20
Yesterday I had a fry up for lunch. Since I became a father I’ve largely resisted them. I don’t want to end up with a big gut. I do want to set a good example of fitness to my child. Bit friday was just one of those days. I had been struggling through work with […]
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Still, like an owl

Jez Smiths blog - Wed, 08/14/2013 - 21:34
We saw an owl by the southbank recently, still as you like. It sums up my running experience this week – I’ve been still, like the owl. Still, there’s always tomorrow.
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Too easy

Jez Smiths blog - Tue, 08/13/2013 - 20:27
It’s too easy. To not run. I should have run on Monday, but I persuaded myself not to go. I can’t even remember why anymore. I was exhausted from not sleeping well, but I don’t think that was it. So, like bagpuss in the picture, I’m on the inside looking out. Today there were kids […]
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New Pb

Jez Smiths blog - Sun, 08/11/2013 - 10:34
On Saturday at parkrun I got a new Pb, taking 34 seconds off my best time to get home in 25:07. I had been expecting to run in 30-31mins with my neighbour but a hangover forced him out and I was left with no reason not to push myself hard. At the finish, unusually for […]
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