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Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial Sermon

Sir Bobby Robson would have been 80 today if he was still alive. Here’s what was said about him at his funeral in September 2009.


bobbr robsonA paraphrase of the sermon given at Sir Bobby Robson’s memorial service, held at Durham Cathedral on 21st Sept 2009, given by the Dean of Durham Cathedral.


Bobby’s working life began in darkness, as a young boy in 1948 working down the pit. He was born into a black and white world. He went down white carrying a haversack full of his tools of the trade. He came up back into the light, black covered in dirt. On the weekend he would go with all the pilgrims to St. James’ Park to see his beloved team in black and white.

Black and White. Darkness and Light.

Bobby always had time for people, it didn’t matter who they were. His humour, life, enthusiasm marked him out as a person and his love for the game of football came through. He described his role as manager as a psychiatrist, psychologist, priest…

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How fresh does a Fresh Expression have to be?

This is a recent post from my other blog, Diary of A Pioneer Minister, which covers issues surrounding my day to day work.

diary of a pioneer minister

freshAs we begin our third full year here a pattern and direction is beginning to emerge. At the moment we are doing things on three levels.

We continue to provide places for the community to come together and get to know one another better, through our mums group, Zumba classes, book club and friendly football. We hold events that allow people to begin to explore matters of life and faith in a very informal manner, through our Curry and Question’s group. And there are opportunities for those who are beginning to be committed and are exploring Christianity more seriously, at our monthly gatherings and mums bible discussion group.

I’m pleased with the sort of things we’ve started, especially with the continued absence of a community centre! As I’ve been thinking, I struck me that the pattern that is emerging is not that different from a that of a good missional established…

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As i’m thinking about intentional love for a wedding sermon on Saturday, this is worth a repost.


We’re told in the Bible to love our enemies, and that even though everything else will pass away, love will last forever. This is not love in the romantic sense, but in the sense that we value, respect, and honour everyone around us, regardless of whether they are like us or they agree with us.

I have now read two of Donald Miller’s books in the last couple of months, first being lent A Million Miles in a Thousand Years whilst on holiday, and then at home picking up Blue Like Jazz which has been on our shelf for a while. He is full of deep thoughts and brutally honest critiques of himself which inspire him to do something about changing. He seems to learn from every situation he is in and whomever he is around.

But here’s the thing I’ve most noticed. Everyone he talks about in the book…

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Didier Drogba, faith, God, and destiny.

A friend has started doing Five Minute Friday blogs – you write for five minutes to see what comes out. I haven’t posted here for a while so here’s my offering for the week.


In the immediate aftermath of Chelsea’s victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final last week, iconic striker Didier Drogba said this to an ITV interviewer:

I believe a lot in destiny. I pray a lot. It was written a long time ago. God is wonderful. This team is amazing. I want to dedicate this Cup to all our managers and players before. It [the goal] changed the game mentally. I’m very happy. Life is fantastic.

ImageYou will remember that Chelsea did not win the cup by dominating or playing the best football. They were 3-1 down against Napoli at the end of the first leg of the quarter final. They then stifled Barcelona in the semis, defending heroically but never getting their own rhythm or pattern going. And in the final they were second best on possession, chances created and entertainment. But somehow more stoic defending, closing down, hassling, and a little bit of luck, took them through extra time to penalties where they won – Drogba scoring the winning goal.

Given that extraordinay turnaround since the 3-1 first leg defeat to Napoli, and overcoming two excellent teams in the semis and final, it is unsurprising that people started to say ‘your name is on the cup’ or ‘it must have been destiny’. There was a lot of dodgy theology in the aftermath to that match.

But Drogba’s quote, made in the midst of euphoria, does not stack up to the God that I believe in. I can forgive him, as he is a footballer not a theologian and he is expressing his thanks and praise to God for what is the pinnacle of his career. Nevertheless, the quote indicates that you pray, and God grants. That your future is already mapped out or ‘written in the stars’. That we do not have much to do with what happens – it is all preordained. He is not a God of destiny.

I don’t believe in a God like that. I believe in a God that is sovereign (in charge) and omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscience (all-knowing) but does not push us down paths that we don’t want to go. Success and failure, health and suffering seem somewhat arbitrary. Look at Job. What I believe is that God guides us in particular directions, and knows what we are going to choose, but does not force in any particular way. A God who responds to prayer requests with ‘no’ and ‘wait’ as well as ‘yes’. He is a God that in the suffering, failure, despair can be just as present, if not more so, than at times of success. This God is more full of grace, as he doesn’t rely on a meritocracy and doesn’t need to be bribed with prayers before acting. He is present and available whatever the situation.

I’m happy for Drogba, although it has taken me a few weeks to get to this point as I’m really not a fan of Chelsea. And I hope that he can articulate faith in his God when things are going as badly as well as at times like this.

STOP. Oh dear, that took 13 minutes. Must try harder.


A picture of love.

I have written a guest blog in Rob Wylie’s 12-month project, A Picture of Love. Go and check it out on his blog!


This is worth a reblog today as we see yet another Chelsea manager sacked after not enough time to settle in. Long term and stable is better than instant reward with persistent instability!


Chelsea have sensationally sacked manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The club’s website revealed the dramatic move had been made “to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for”.

World Cup winner Scolari had only been in the job since June 2008, when he became Chelsea’s third boss in a year.

Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League but remain in the Champions League and FA Cup – with Ray Wilkins in charge until a successor is appointed.

“Luiz Felipe Scolari has been dismissed as manager of Chelsea Football Club with immediate effect,” read the statement. “The Chelsea board would like to place on record our gratitude for his time as manager.

“Felipe has brought many positives to the club since he joined and we all feel a sense of sadness that our relationship has ended so soon.

“Unfortunately the results and performances of the team appeared to be…

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Never let it be said that we can’t achieve what we put our minds to: