Derek’s Definitions: CHRISTINGLE

15 Oct

Dear friends

If you aren’t yet following me on the Facebook internet portal you will probably not have had the pleasure of enjoying my witty and clever (well I like to think so) ‘Derek’s Definitions’ series of which this is one.

For your delectation I think I will pop them on my veritable ‘blog’ as a regular feature also.

Onward and upward


Post Scriptum. Should you wish to journey with me on Facebook, here is the link to my page

Derek's Definitions- Christingle


Action songs!

14 Oct

Dear friends

A member of my ‘online congregation’ has asked me the following question.

“Why does the vicar make us all do the actions to children’s songs?”

This is indeed a very good question and assuredly one which resonates with this self-conscious clergyman.

Not being of a particularly extrovert disposition, those dreaded words ‘audience participation’ are guaranteed to send a shiver down this ‘buttoned-up’ clergyman’s spine.

As an aside, it is one reason why our fated sojourn to the Estuary View Holiday Village remains irreversibly etched in my memory banks. In that the nightly entertainment which the staff of this latter-day Colditz saw fit to inflict upon the inmates required our active involvement, simply compounded the torture of this ‘holiday from hell’ (as I believe my good lady wife termed it).

Should you wish to avail yourself of the full gory details, here is a link to my ‘blog’ which reveals all.

Back to the question.

Whilst not subscribing to the adage that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ I nevertheless have good reason for not inflicting grown ups (such as myself) with ministry methods designed for younger folk.

I will admit to having made a brief foray into the world of the aforementioned ‘action song’ on the occasion of St. Cliff’s Sunday school anniversary, but a pending personal injury claim resulting from my over-exuberant platform demonstration has put paid to a repeat performance.

I had always considered ‘Wide, wide as the ocean’ to be a harmless ditty from the back catalogue of Sunday school classics but I fear that any fond memories or affection I had for this chorus have been blighted forevermore.

Of course I have only myself to blame for standing too close to Mrs Higginbottom (St. Cliff’s discordant and none-too-melodious organist) as I flung my arms wide with as much gusto as I could muster.

The ensuing black eye which I inflicted upon the poor lady (and the impending litigation) was not part of the plan.

It is for these reasons that I have decided to pen a ‘chorus’ of my own in the hope that adults will never again have to partake in ‘action songs’.

Although it is unlikely that such ‘top drawer’ writers of hymns as Wesley and Newton will be turning in their graves for fear of being usurped by my humble proffering I am nonetheless quietly confident that ‘A statue for the Lord’ (as I have provisionally entitled the song) will one day be added to the chorus compendium.

As I stand in solidarity with all who each Sunday breathe a sigh of relief when those immortal words ‘It is time for the children to leave us’ are uttered (and the looming threat of ‘action song’ participation is lifted for yet another week) let my song be something around which we can all rally.

‘I’m a statue for the Lord.
I’m a statue for the Lord.
I’m standing still,
In God’s will,
I’m a statue for the Lord.’

Onward and upward


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Derek’s Take on…

5 Oct

Dear friends

Following in the footsteps of Solomon I have decided to  proffer some wise sayings of my own (well actually they are familiar old sayings that I have rather cleverly revised) by introducing a new feature to my ‘online congregation’ entitled ‘Derek’s Take On…’ .

Here is my first. I hope you will enjoy my wit a tad more than my flock at St Cliff’s.

Onward and upward


Derek's Take On….DEAD RINGER


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Dunking dilemma!

2 Oct

Dear friends

I have been asked to proffer my views on what us Anglicans call ‘infant baptisms’.

You will not be unaware that the question asked of me has been the cause of more than a few ripples within ecclesiastical circles but rest assured, it is one that I intend not to shy away from.

For a man who has faced headlong the much weightier dilemma of how to remove Mrs Higginbottom from the organ rota at St. Cliff’s (that we might enjoy a much needed reprieve from her terrifying and discordant tones) this thorny topic is, by comparison, a ‘breeze’.

Between you and me, it has not escaped my attention that we at St. Cliff’s, (because of our particular brand of churchmanship) are rather inclined to cream off the pre-school market by virtue of throwing open the doors to one and all, regardless of their previous track record with regard to God.

Whilst this somewhat ‘ups’ our flock tally in the eyes of my fellow clergy (and between you and me I need all the help I can get in the kudos stakes when it comes to our ecumenical ministers’ fraternal) I concede that our watery ways do somewhat lay us open to accusations of fudging things.

To that end I have hit upon a veritable comprise that I trust will both appease those who disapprove of the practice of sprinkling infants (and the charge, no doubt, of cashing in on the investment at some future date) yet retaining our tradition for accessibility to those presently outside the proverbial fold.

Having thus installed a brand new font at St. Cliff’s sporting an impressive 2ft x 2ft bowl, from next Sunday henceforth we will be offering full immersion infant baptisms.

This compromise is something that I trust will be acceptable to both camps.

Onward and upward


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Derek’s Photos: Standing order!

25 Sep

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Were their worship leaders in the New Testament?

20 Sep

Dear friends,

Following on from my previous ‘Ask Derek’ features, I have been asked by a reader whether they had worship leaders in the New Testament?

Here are my thoughts.

There are certain areas of church life that seem to attract more than their fair share of controversy and worship is indeed one of them.

Whether the early church (and by that I am not alluding to St. Mary’s up the road who have added an 8am service in an attempt, I suspect, to cream off the Sunday ‘trade’) utilised the services of the aforementioned ‘worship leaders’ is perhaps a tad unclear but we at St.Cliff’s have certainly had the odd ‘run-in’ or two in this particular area.

Those of you who are part of my ‘online congregation’  will be aware that we have amongst our number a certain Mrs.Higginbottom as our resident organist. That she has sadly not been blessed with a musical ear (nor for that matter any part of her anatomy that has the least hint of a musical disposition) has caused us more than a little angst over the years.

I will confess to doing my level best to keep her and our trusty pipe organ as far apart as is possible but have not met with as much success as I would have liked. My all-too-frequent excuse that I am still attempting to master the ubiquitous spreadsheet and thus, once again, her name appears to have been left off St.Cliff’s music rota, is perhaps wearing a bit thin.

In that our alternative musical choice (with regard to worship) is either that of my good self on the guitar (though even I will admit that my limited repertoire of ‘Give me oil in my lamp’ does somewhat limit the trajectory of our worship) or Ernie ‘Elvis’ Presley, an unfortunate gentlemen in our congregation whose life’s work has been to try to capitalise (unsuccessfully) on his popular surname and who thus brings with him an altogether different approach to our worship, is not very encouraging.

Between you and me I find his frequent interjections of “uh-huh!” most unhelpful.

To the question in hand!

In a moment of almost Patmosian revelation I believe that I have hit upon the answer to your probing poser.

Whilst scouring the latest edition of ‘World of Anglicanism’ (it being the annual national league table issue and I confess that I was rather keen to see how St.Cliff’s was faring in the grand scheme of things) I chanced upon a ‘freebie’ (I believe that this is how the general public refer to promotional gifts these days) by a popular worship leader called Robin Mark .

My epiphany was complete as I suddenly recalled that in the Book of Acts there is reference to a fellow called John Mark, no less, who was the cause of a fracas between Paul and Barnabus.

Although the Bible refers to a certain lack of commitment on the part of John Mark as being the rationale for things going ‘pear-shaped’, on the basis of my original premise that worship is oft the cause of much ecclesiastical ‘fallout’, I would prefer to conclude therefore that this biblical personage is none other than a distant relative of the Robin Mark whose proffering I am about to insert into my compact disc player (and thus proof positive that there were indeed worship leaders in the New Testament).

That Mr Mark’s promotional disc is entitled ‘Room for Grace’ does little to appease my conscience with regard to my recent treatment of Mrs.Higginbottom.

Onward and upward


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Derek’s Photos: Action songs!

17 Sep

Derek Photo_Action SongsYou can also find me at


Did Adam have a belly button?

11 Sep

Dear friends,

A reader of my missives has asked me a very interesting question: “Did Adam have a belly button?”

A veritable conundrum indeed!

Whilst there are those of my flock at St.Cliff’s who are convinced that I pre-date a certain Noah this is assuredly not the case and thus I am not able to give a categoric answer to this fine question, chiefly because I was not there at the time. But, lest I be accused of skirting around this pertinent poser, allow me to proffer some thoughts nonetheless.

Here are my considered musings.

Should you have ever had cause to peruse the opening passages of the Bible (I am assuming my questioner possesses a copy of the aforementioned book) you will notice that on the third day of creation land appeared from beneath the depths of the sea. Having been given the command (by God) to ‘subdue the earth’ it seems to me that this topographical predicament would have rather scuppered things things for Adam (the world’s first incumbent of the human frame). How on earth (forgive the pun – sometimes I just can’t see to help myself) was he to fulfil this weighty mandate without drowning in the process?

Having scratched my clerical pate (while supping my ritual elevenses to oil the wheels of inspiration) I have come to the conclusion that because of these oceanic obstacles a belly button would have been an absolute prerequisite for Adam.

Why is that you ask? I will tell you.

It is clear to me that to traverse the Seven Seas some sort of ‘navel’ experience would have been essential.

I trust that your mind has now been put to rest.

Onward and upward


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That was predictable!

3 Sep

Dear Friends

It may come as a surprise to you that, whilst I may have embraced the World Wide Super Highway as if it were a long lost friend, I confess to more than a little trepidation when faced with all things technological.

Whilst many now sport one of the ubiquitous ‘smart phones’ I still prefer my trusty Nokia 6216 Classic. That I am somewhat limited as to what I can do on my faithful telephonic friend, my pleasure at sending texts (something which my archaic ‘device’ does permit me) has not diminished.

You may think that someone such as myself, who has an inclination to be a tad verbose, would be put off by this form of ‘dumbed down’ communication. Not a bit of it!

I consider myself equal to the good folk at Bletchley Park during WW11 (who prided themselves on decoding the most enigmatic of encrypted messages) by having a crack at deciphering the wondrous foreshortenings that are delivered to my handset via the aforementioned text facility.

That said, I for one am rather grateful that there is the also the additional option of something called ‘predictive text’, thus avoiding the need to convolute and contract particular words to appear ‘with-it’ (as I believe young folk say).

The unfortunate incident which I am about to recount owes its calamitous outcome entirely to this predictive text function.

Having got rather bogged down in my preparations for St Cliff’s forthcoming harvest festival service sermon (I had gone right ‘off piste’ attempting to make some sort of tenuous link between a box of maggot-infested apples gifted to us last year by our gardener, Mr Adams and the downfall of the world’s first man) I was very much relieved have have my deliberations interrupted by the arrival of a text message.

It was from none other than our less-than-melodious church organist, Mrs Higginbottom who, I should have twigged, would be no better at her telephonic keyboard skills than that of her musical ones.

Her message of ‘New convert at the Abbey!’ appeared to carry much urgency and I sensed that there was no time to waste if we were to be in with a chance of luring this fresh scalp into the precincts of St Cliff’s to become one of our ‘regulars’.

The Abbey in question was a local landmark but had been disused for quite some time so it was heartening to know that not only had this ancient building got a new lease of life but so had its new incumbent.

I’m not sure who was the more surprised by who (when the oaken front door was swung open) and I found myself confronted by none other than a nun, so to speak.

I will confess to being slightly taken aback initially but I soon regained my composure and launched forth into a full and comprehensive explanation of what being a Christian meant and closed with an invitation to one of our popular Pasta ‘n’ Praise evenings where I suggested there would be ample opportunity to find out how we Anglicans ‘tick’ and to find her feet as a fledgling Christian.

It is quite unlike me to go for the hard sell but a combination of this lady’s apparent reticence to take up my offer and my desperation to ‘up ‘our attendance tally at St Cliff’s rather pushed me over the edge and I found myself wedging my foot in the door (pushy salesman-style) and refusing to take no for an answer.

It was only the arrival of the local constabulary (and a stern warning that any more harassment of innocent women would see me up before the magistrate, dog collar or no) that I was brought to my senses.

I now discover (to my embarrassment) that what Mrs Higginbottom had indeed intended,  to text, and what she had actually texted (courtesy of the predictive facility and her famously erroneous finger work) were not one and the same thing.

In the same way that one semitone awry in her legendary and cacophonous rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ is enough to misrepresent John Newton’s original intentions, so one letter out in her message similarly conveyed something altogether different from that which she intended.

Whilst I am indeed pleased that we now have a new convent in the locale it is unfortunate that I can now no longer grace its inhabitants with my presence for fear of summary arrest nor either can we expect an extra place to be taken in St Cliff’s sparsely-filled pews as a result of any purported new convert.

Onward and upward


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Derek’s photos:CHURCH NOTICES!

29 Aug

Derek Photo -NOTICES

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