Here is the English translation of the sermon I preached yesterday at the Closing Service of the Kirchentag in the Stadtpark in Hamburg.

SERMON for Closing Service, DEKT 34, Hamburg, 5 May 2013

(Draft English translation)

I have two very young grandchildren. The elder is called Ben and he will soon be three years old. It is very funny listening to him learning to speak English. His language ability – shaped by living in Liverpool where the accent is … er … ‘unique’ – means that he learns phrases quickly, but doesn’t always use them correctly. So, I am looking forward to what he makes of the phrase: “Your eyes are bigger than your tummy.” Like many kids of his age, he can eat for England… and he sometimes takes more than he needs, more than he can possibly eat. As he grows up he will learn.

Or will he?

How much is ‘enough’? How much – and of what – do I need to be satisfied? And is ‘being satisfied’ the same as being ‘happy’?

The prophet Micah was thinking about this many centuries before iPhones, designer jackets and sports cars. Banking crises and currency challenges lay far in the future, and yet his own society was struggling with hard choices about how to live and how to love together with people who aren’t just like me. Micah’s world sounds familiar, doesn’t it? He wrote in a context of economic revolution. Material prosperity in his time led to an individualistic materialism and an approach to religion as a means to achieving or fulfilling man desire – what we might call ‘self-fulfilment’. And this, in turn, had led to a crisis in the area of personal and social values in which, as usual, the poorest people suffered the most. Injustice, greed and false idols of self-protection characterised society and shaped political and economic direction. Religion was tamed, having lost its challenging edge – a challenge based on a vision of a different world.

So, what Micah has to say was not relevant only to Israel many centuries ago, but speaks to us now. Because what he addresses is not particular social or economic arrangements, but the human heart and mind – which, for all our technological progress, does not seem to change very much at all from one generation to the next. It seems we still want to be happy and fulfilled and satisfied, but perhaps without recognising that such happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction cannot exist for any individual – or single community – without reference to the happiness, fulfilment and satisfaction of what the Bible calls my ‘neighbour’.

We might also remark that this applies to our political obsession with ‘security’. I cannot be secure, if my security simply negates the security of my neighbour. I cannot think about security in isolation from the needs of those who live alongside me. And it is this that places a question mark over the effectiveness of dividing walls, whether they be those dismantled in Berlin or those being constructed in the Land of the Holy One.

However, Micah is less concerned about establishing political programmes at this point than imagining a vision. He calls people who have lost their way and forgotten their story (as children of the God who created the cosmos and all that is in it – including the poor, the foreigners and those who are ‘different’) not to take hold of a vision ‘out there’, but to be grasped by a vision that transforms the way they see God, the world and themselves.

It is as if Micah says to his fearful people: “The old ways of seeing and being haven’t worked have they? Do you feel more secure now – happier in your skin? Or dare you see that your vision is tired and dull, that all you hoped and worked for now lies around you like the ruins of a once glorious city? Like Damascus or Baghdad or Aleppo?

A popular comedy series in NDR takes place in a bistro. In a famous line, the owner says, „That’s just how it is…“ – thus is the world. But the Bible subverts our understanding of reality and invites us – no, challenges us – to see God, the world and ourselves differently. The world does not have to be the way it is!

One day the famous Italian artist Michelangelo was seen rolling a huge stone down a hill. He had to use all his strength to manoeuvre the great rock in the right direction. Someone saw him and and asked what he was doing: after all, it is just a big rock. Michelangelo replied that he was in a hurry because there was an angel in the rock, waiting for the artist to reveal him.

Michelangelo could see what normal people couldn’t even imagine. And this short story illustrates the challenging vocation of people who want to look out through God’s eyes. Do we simply see what is before our eyes, or do we see the world around us differently?

Micah invites us to think differently, to see God and the world differently, and to be fired by a vision of a different world. A world in which we can be satisfied with ‘enough’ and in which our neighbours can be satisfied without us having to be afraid. The images he uses in 4:4-5 of his prophecy are deliberate: there will be no terror or fear because you will be satisfied with your own tree and not need to capture your neighbour’s tree when you don’t need it. After all, you can only sit under one tree at a time, can’t you?

This vision assumes that individuals and communities, fired by a different vision, will only take what they need and will deny themselves what they do not need. They will question economic models that worship at the altar of infinite economic growth – as if they are never any consequences of such growth. And they will never be content while the growth of their fig tree comes only at the expense of – or as a threat to – their neighbour’s fig tree.

Micah paints a picture of how and what the world might become – an image that goes beyond mere argument and worms ist way into our imagination as an image of hope and promise. It is as if he gently plays a melody that slowly develops into an ‚ear worm’ of hope and longing in the soul of a lost people.

This vision radiates peace; the song resonates with love and generosity that drive out fear. According to this vision everyone – regardless of which language they speak or which culture they espouse – can live with their neighbours in security and without fear. The God of Israel takes fear away and creates a new world full of new potential for human flourishing and the common good.

And this vision calls the people of God back to their original vocation: to live in the world in such a way that all people recognise in them the face of God.

Micah challenges us today to be inspired by a vision that fires our imagination, colours our memory and from which we cannot escape. Michelangelo saw the finished sculpture; he simply had to work at the stone until the angel concealed within it revealed itself. He saw deeper, he could recognise the potential, and so turned his energy and strength to creating the beauty that others could not yet conceive.

We are called to see as Michelangelo did – to recognise God’s face in the world and to reveal hope to the world. The Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn captures Micah’s call when he sings: „You gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight”.

As much as you need. Only as much as you need. Perhaps my grandson might learn after all that when he has what he needs, then he has enough.

Oh well, it’s done. I preached this morning to 130,000 people in the sunshine at the Stadtpark in Hamburg. The Closing Service is always impressive – 5,500 scouts, 4,000 in the brass band, bread and wine distributed in less than twenty minutes – but to be part of it was both a once-in-a-lifetime privilege and a complete eye-opener.

I had to edit out a third of the original text. I owe everything to excellent and kind German friends such as Silke & Christoph Römhild, Joachim Lenz and Corinna Dahlgrün, who make sure I don’t sound stupid – or, at least, if I do, it has nothing to do with the language.

Here is the text:

34. Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag Hamburg 2013 : Schlussgottesdienst

Soviel du brauchst (Micha 4.4-5)

Alle Menschen aus Israel und den Völkern werden unter ihrem eigenen Weinstock und unter ihrem Feigenbaum sitzen – niemand wird mehr Terror verbreiten. Denn das Wort ADONAJS, mächtig über Himmelsheere, wirkt. Ja, alle Völker handeln im Namen ihrer Gottheiten, wir handeln im Namen ADONAJS, unseres Gottes, jetzt schon – und in der Zukunft.

Ich habe zwei Enkelkinder, die noch ganz klein sind. Der ältere von ihnen heißt Ben, er wird bald drei Jahre alt. Er wächst in Liverpool auf, wo der Dialekt – ähm… einzigartig ist. Ben hat ein besonderes Sprachvermögen für Sprichwörter, er lernt sie schnell, aber er benutzt sie nicht immer richtig. Ich bin sehr gespannt, was er aus dem Sprichwort „Deine Augen sind größer als dein Magen“ machen wird. So wie viele Kinder seines Alters kann er essen wie ein Scheunendrescher – und manchmal nimmt er mehr als er braucht, mehr als er überhaupt essen kann, mehr als genug. Aber das wird er noch lernen, während er größer wird.

Das wird er doch, oder?

Wie viel ist “genug”? Wie viel – und wovon – brauche ich, um zufrieden zu sein? Und ist „zufrieden sein“ das gleiche wie „glücklich sein“?

Der Prophet Micha dachte über diese Dinge nach, lange bevor es iPhones, Designerjacken und Sportwagen gab. Banken- und Währungskrise lagen noch weit in der Zukunft und doch: Michas Gesellschaft rang mit den schwierigen Fragen, wie man leben und lieben sollte mit Menschen, die einfach nicht so waren, wie man sie gern hätte. Michas Welt und seine Fragen kommen uns bekannt vor, oder? Er schrieb im Kontext einer wirtschaftlichen Revolution. Materieller Wohlstand führte zu seiner Zeit zu einem individualistischen Materialismus. Religion wurde als ein Mittel angesehen, die Wünsche und Sehnsüchte der Menschen zu erfüllen – was man auch Selbstverwirklichung nennen könnte. Das wiederum hatte zu einer Krise der ethischen und sozialen Werte geführt, wobei, wie in solchen Fällen üblich, die Ärmsten am meisten leiden mussten. Die Religion war gezähmt, sie hatte ihre Schärfe verloren – die Schärfe, die daraus resultiert, dass man eine andere Welt für möglich hält.

Was Micha zu sagen hat, war also nicht nur für Israel von Bedeutung, sondern es spricht heute zu uns. Denn was er anspricht, sind nicht nur ganz spezielle soziale oder wirtschaftliche Verhältnisse, sondern das Herz und der Verstand des Menschen – und beides scheint sich, ungeachtet all unseres technologischen Fortschrittes, nicht so besonders zu verändern von einer Generation zur nächsten. Es sieht so aus, als wollten wir heute immer noch glücklich und erfüllt und zufrieden sein. Allerdings erkennen wir dabei (immer noch) nicht, dass es solches Glück, solche Erfüllung und Zufriedenheit nicht für Einzelne – oder einzelne Gemeinschaften – geben kann, ohne Rücksicht auf das Glück, die Erfüllung und Zufriedenheit dessen, den die Bibel meinen „Nächsten“ nennt.

Man könnte hinzufügen, dass dies auch für unsere politische Besessenheit mit Sicherheitsfragen gilt. Ich werde niemals sicher sein, wenn meine Sicherheit die Sicherheit meines Nächsten verneint. Ich kann nicht über Sicherheit nachdenken, ohne die Bedürfnisse meiner Nachbarn in Betracht zu ziehen. Und deswegen steht ein großes Fragezeichen über den Sicherheitsanlagen und Mauern dieser Welt, sei es die niedergerissene Mauer in Berlin, seien es die, die im Heiligen Land errichtet werden.

Aber Micha geht es weniger um die Errichtung eines politischen Programmes als vielmehr um eine Vision. Die Menschen seiner Zeit hatten ihren Weg verlassen, sie hatten sich verlaufen und ihre Geschichte vergessen – ihre Geschichte als Kinder Gottes, der das Universum geschaffen hat und alles, was darin ist, einschließlich der Armen, der Ausländer und derjenigen, die „anders“ sind. Micha rief sie auf, nicht nur eine Vision „da draußen“ zu ergreifen, sondern sich ergreifen zu lassen von einer Vision, die sie verändert und die Weise, wie sie Gott, die Welt und sich selbst sehen.

Es ist, als ob Micha zu seinem ängstlichen Volk sagt: „Die alte Art und Weise zu sehen und zu sein hat nicht funktioniert, oder? Fühlt ihr euch jetzt sicherer – oder glücklicher? Wagt es doch euch einzugestehen, dass eure Sichtweise müde und matt ist, und dass alles worauf ihr gehofft und wofür ihr gearbeitet habt, um euch herum in Schutt und Asche liegt wie die Ruinen einer einstmals glorreichen Stadt. Wie Damaskus oder Bagdad oder Aleppo…“

Eine beliebte Comedy-Serie im Norddeutschen Rundfunk spielt in einem Schlemmerbistro. Ein geflügelter Satz von Bistrobesitzerin Stefanie lautet „Es is‘ ja wie es is‘….“ So ist die Welt eben. Aber die Bibel untergräbt unser Verständnis der Wirklichkeit. Sie fordert uns heraus, Gott, die Welt und uns anders anzusehen. Die Welt muss nicht so sein, wie sie jetzt ist!

Eines Tages rollte der berühmte Künstler Michelangelo einen riesigen Felsbrocken einen Abhang hinunter. Er musste seine ganze Kraft aufbieten, um den Stein in die richtige Richtung zu manövrieren. Jemand sah ihn dabei, blieb stehen und fragte, was er da tun würde, schließlich sei es doch bloß ein riesiger Stein. Michelangelo erwiderte, dass er es eilig hätte, denn in dem Stein würde sich ein Engel befinden, der nur darauf warte, dass Michelangelo ihn heraushole.

Michelangelo konnte sehen, was normale Menschen sich überhaupt nicht vorstellen konnten. Und diese kurze Geschichte illustriert die herausfordernde Berufung der Menschen, die durch Gottes Augen hinausschauen möchten. Sehen wir nur das, was uns vor Augen steht, oder schauen wir die Welt um uns herum anders an?

Micha lädt uns ein, anders zu denken, Gott und die Welt anders zu sehen und uns anfeuern zu lassen von einer Vision einer anderen Welt. Eine Welt, in der wir uns genügen lassen mit dem, was wir haben und in der unsere Nächsten zufrieden sein können, ohne dass wir Angst haben müssen. Die Bilder, die er in Kapitel 4, Verse 4 bis 5 entwirft, sind wohlüberlegt: Es wird keinen Terror und keine Angst geben, weil ihr mit eurem eigenen Baum zufrieden sein werdet und den Baum deines Nächsten nicht erobern müsst, weil ihr ihn nicht braucht. Schließlich kann man immer nur unter einem Baum gleichzeitig sitzen, oder?

Micha malt ein Bild davon, wie und was die Welt werden könnte – ein Bild, das weit über bloße Argumentation hinausgeht, und sich als ein Bild der Hoffnung und der Verheißung in der Phantasie einnistet. Es ist, als ob er leise eine Melodie spielt, die sich im Geist eines verlorenen Volkes langsam zu einem Ohrwurm der Hoffnung und Sehnsucht entwickelt.

Diese Vision strahlt Frieden aus; das Lied klingt nach einer Liebe und Freizügigkeit, die die Angst verdrängt oder ersetzt. Der Gott Israels nimmt die Angst und schafft eine neue Welt voller neuer Möglichkeiten für das Aufblühen und das Gemeinwohl aller Völker.

Und diese Vision ruft das Volk Gottes zu seiner ursprünglichen Berufung zurück: so in der Welt zu leben, dass alle Menschen in diesem Volk das Gesicht Gottes erkennen können.

Micha fordert uns auch heute heraus, durch eine Vision inspiriert zu werden, die unsere Phantasie anregt, unser Gedächtnis verfolgt, und aus der wir nicht entkommen können. Michelangelo hatte die fertige Skulptur vor Augen; er musste einfach den Stein behauen, bis der Engel sich zeigen würde, der darin steckte. Er sah tiefer, er konnte das Mögliche deutlich erkennen, und so wandte er seine ganze Kraft und Energie darauf, um eine Schönheit zu erschaffen, die anderen zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch verborgen war.

Wir sind dazu berufen, wie Michelangelo zu schauen, Gottes Gesicht in der Welt zu erkennen, und der Welt diese Hoffnung zu enthüllen. Der kanadische Musiker Bruce Cockburn fasst die Forderung Michas zusammen, wenn er singt: “Du musst die Dunkelheit treten, bis sie Tageslicht blutet” (“You gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight”).

Soviel du brauchst. Nur soviel du brauchst. Vielleicht lernt auch mein Enkel irgendwann: Wenn er hat, so viel er braucht, dann hat er genug.

…, well probably not on the righteous, but definitely on the big sinners in Hamburg.

Yesterday was too full to write anything in the evening. I did a two hour session on a stage with politicians discussing immigration, parallel societies and what makes a good society. I went from there to the Messe to do a Meissen discussion in the Markt der Möglichkeiten. Then it was straight back to the port to do another podium discussion on social media before heading back to the Messe to preach and lead a Caribbean Communion with the wonderful Judy Bailey.

Today was odd. I worked on Bradford stuff all morning. I had to get to the Stadtpark for noon to rehearse the Closing Service for telly tomorrow. I am preaching to a congregation of 100,000 and it is being transmitted live on German telly. I thought I had just over ten minutes, but when I did it it turned out to be sixteen. Also, I am held by the German text and need to look up more. And I need to get my German inflexion right. And intonation. That's all.

Anyway, we got it down to around 8-9 minutes and it will be easier to relax into it. I am also doing the opening greeting and the blessing at the end.

The sun has been blazing all day and Hamburg is beautiful. The sun shone despite me being late for the rehearsal (blame the trains… or my failure to work out how long it would take me to get there). It shone despite my over-long sermon. It shone despite my poor delivery and worry about how to edit the text (which a good friend did with me – Professor Corinna Dahlgrün – managing to be both deliberate and kind).

So, now I have done the editing and am about to head off to the Anglican Chaplaincy to preside at the Meissen Service. Then… tomorrow… sunshine… a huge congregation… a shorter, better sermon. I hope. (If not, I will leave the country!)

 

This is the only relatively free day I have at the Kirchentag in Hamburg. I started work this afternoon with an interview on the 'Red Sofa'. This is a stage in front of the Congresshalle in which people are interviewed, interspersed with music from Chris Paulson and his band (which turns out to be his two sons). I only ever see Chris every two years at the Kirchentag and on the Red Sofa.

Following Margot Käßmann's Bible Study this morning, we stayed put to listen to a discussion including Joachim Gauck, the Bundespräsident. Moderated superbly by a ZDF TV presenter, Gauck engaged with Samuel Koch (a quadraplegic actor who had been an athlete), Rainer Schmidt (a pastor/cabarettist and Paralympic winner) who was born with no forearms, and a business woman called Monika Labruier. The theme had to do with creating a 'strong society' and focused on disability issues. It was intelligent, moving, challenging and very, very funny. Again, the hall was full – 7,000 people – and many were locked out.

The remarkable thing about this conversation was the lack of self-pity on the part of the disabled participants… and their refusal to allow any romantic idealising of them or their attitude to life. And nothing was considered out of bounds.

One interesting question revolved around the identification of victimhood. According to Gauck and his fellow interlocutors, responsibility has to be taken by those whose lives are 'diminished' insofar as they are active players in shaping their life; but, society also has a responsibility to provide for and create optimum space for people to thrive. This involves making space in schools for the development of proper provision for disabled children – and this cannot be done over the heads of disabled people, but in discussion with them. Cost should not be a tool for making life hard for disabled people (but, try saying this to parents of disabled children in England – some of it would sound like a conversation from a different planet).

The discussion concluded with questions of how we cry against God. Gauck made the point that we all cry against God for what 'might have been', but asked how much do we need? Schmidt put it this way: “Ten fingers or just my single thumb? I can do what I need to do.” Schmidt went on to describe how he 'discovered' at the age of six that he was disabled and described an inclusive society as one in which different people are enabled to live together and thrive.

It is impossible to do justice to this. Whatever I write here is open to question and the language to criticism. So be it. Gauck ended by saying that he thanks God that he is here to hear this conversation.

Music at this event was provided by a rock band of mentally-handicapped people.

Schmidt went on to discuss abortion in a way that would not be possible in England without polarising people immediately. Noting that if he had been expected now, he claimed he would almost certainly have been aborted. This then led to debate about abortion and the grounds for it in Germany – including discussion about the reasons why fewer children are being born in Germany today.

What is striking is how the Kirchentag encourages and allows intelligent debate about serious matters without people having to polarise. The ethical divides are not ducked, but nor do they force people behind barricades. It is a model of intelligent and respectful difference.

Anyway, the afternoon for me involved visiting the huge book hall and then heading over for my interview. I caught the last 45 minutes of a podium discussion between Israelis and Palestinians before going to eat with friends and get back to the hotel to bung up this blog.

Now for bed. Tomorrow is busy and looks like hard work.

 

The Kirchentag has to be experienced to be understood. The sheer enormity of scale is mitigated by an organisation that marries efficiency to intimacy. It is estimated that around 300,000 people will come through Hamburg for the Kirchentag in the next three days, but somehow it never feels hassled or crowded.

Unless you don’t get to some venues early enough to get in, that is. The was almost a riot outside the enormous hall where Margot Käßmann was doing a Bible Study this morning: the hundreds that couldn’t get in to this or the subsequent discussion involving the Federal President, Joachim Gauck, were not happy bunnies.

The Opening Services last night took place in four places. The sun shone on the tens of thousands of people (of all ages) who sang, prayed and listened together. This was followed by the Abend der Begegnung where the city of Hamburg opened its arms in welcome, cultural invitation and generous hospitality.

The theme of the Opening Service on the Rathausmarkt was basically a call for the Church to grow up and take responsibility. There was a particular edge for those of us from Bradford and Wakefield as the preacher spoke of the fusion last year of three Landeskirchen (dioceses) into the single Nordkirche. This new Landeskirche maintains the distinctives not only of regional identity, but also of the three Protestant traditions that make up the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD): Lutheran, Reformed and United. The call was clear: stop complaining about change and shape what can be.

And I thought I was coming here to get away from all that…

Anyway, this morning we had to get to our venue an hour early in order to get a seat for just one of the many Bible Studies being led each day. We wanted to hear Margot Käßmann on Luke 18:1-8 – the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge. 7,000 people; many more unable to get in. Inconceivable in England.

I will put a link up to her text, but she spoke powerfully of the need for persistence in challenging injustice, annoying those who wish to deny justice to the weak and the powerless in society. I can’t do justice to her text here, but will cite one – almost incidental – comment she made about a woman called Elisabeth Schmitz (of whom I had never heard.

Elisabeth Schmitz corresponded with the great Protestant theologian Karl Barth between 1933-36, trying to get Barth to engage with the ‘Judenfrage’ – the fate of the Jews. Barth declined. Theology always has to be read through the prism of history and culture; it never stands alone in some abstract world inhabited by a remote God or a disengaged church. When Schmitz died in 1977 only 7 people attended her funeral – it was only the later discovery of a load of personal documents that gave an indication of the relentless courage of this woman who resisted Hitler and kept a prophetic call alive.

Germany always provides glimpses of people whose integrity is remarkable and whose fearlessness in facing challenge is humbling. Käßmann reiterated the importance of seeing irritating people as ‘persistent widows’ who compel us to not lose sight of other people’s – particularly the weak, the powerless, the abandoned and the refugees – fundamental humanity.

The Kirchentag has to be experienced to be understood. The sheer enormity of scale is mitigated by an organisation that marries efficiency to intimacy. It is estimated that around 300,000 people will come through Hamburg for the Kirchentag in the next three days, but somehow it never feels hassled or crowded.

Unless you don't get to some venues early enough to get in, that is. The was almost a riot outside the enormous hall where Margot Käßmann was doing a Bible Study this morning: the hundreds that couldn't get in to this or the subsequent discussion involving the Federal President, Joachim Gauck, were not happy bunnies.

The Opening Services last night took place in four places. The sun shone on the tens of thousands of people (of all ages) who sang, prayed and listened together. This was followed by the Abend der Begegnung where the city of Hamburg opened its arms in welcome, cultural invitation and generous hospitality.

The theme of the Opening Service on the Rathausmarkt was basically a call for the Church to grow up and take responsibility. There was a particular edge for those of us from Bradford and Wakefield as the preacher spoke of the fusion last year of three Landeskirchen (dioceses) into the single Nordkirche. This new Landeskirche maintains the distinctives not only of regional identity, but also of the three Protestant traditions that make up the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD): Lutheran, Reformed and United. The call was clear: stop complaining about change and shape what can be.

And I thought I was coming here to get away from all that…

Anyway, this morning we had to get to our venue an hour early in order to get a seat for just one of the many Bible Studies being led each day. We wanted to hear Margot Käßmann on Luke 18:1-8 – the story of the persistent woman and the unjust judge. 7,000 people; many more unable to get in. Inconceivable in England.

I will put a link up to her text, but she spoke powerfully of the need for persistence in challenging injustice, annoying those who wish to deny justice to the weak and the powerless in society. I can't do justice to her text here, but will cite one – almost incidental – comment she made about a woman called Elisabeth Schmitz (of whom I had never heard.

Elisabeth Schmitz corresponded with the great Protestant theologian Karl Barth between 1933-36, trying to get Barth to engage with the 'Judenfrage' – the fate of the Jews. Barth declined. Theology always has to be read through the prism of history and culture; it never stands alone in some abstract world inhabited by a remote God or a disengaged church. When Schmitz died in 1977 only 7 people attended her funeral – it was only the later discovery of a load of personal documents that gave an indication of the relentless courage of this woman who resisted Hitler and kept a prophetic call alive.

Germany always provides glimpses of people whose integrity is remarkable and whose fearlessness in facing challenge is humbling. Käßmann reiterated the importance of seeing irritating people as 'persistent widows' who compel us to not lose sight of other people's – particularly the weak, the powerless, the abandoned and the refugees – fundamental humanity.

 

1. Trying to prepare a half-appropriate sermon for the Closing Service of the Kirchentag in Hamburg on 5 May. But, my head is full of 'stuff'.

2. Trying to sort chapter of academic book for the most patient editor in the world. Need to source quotes, but am away from my books.

3. Currently speaking at a parish weekend in Cumbria – two talks done, one to go (tomorrow). And the big yellow thing in sky has emerged, bringing with it warmth, people and lack of concentration.

4. Trying to read TS Eliot's Four Quartets, but too many other things keep intruding. Like the progress of my hopeless fantasy league football team.

5. Tired. Nothing to say.