Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent Thought 21 and Number 23

I was fortunate enough to hear Marcus du Soutoy at Bristol Festival of Ideas a few years ago. We pause a moment to note what a delight it is to live in or near a city that has such a festival. Bristol celebrates that its people are thinking.

Marcus du Soutoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. I recall he started his talk by explaining that no six lottery numbers were more likely to win than any other six but that the amount you might expect to win (with how many people you shared the prize) would vary greatly according to your choice.

As compared to his predecessor in post, one Richard Dawkins, he has declared that his interest whilst in post will be science and not religion. He is a mathematician. He also plays football and the trumpet. Smart, sensitive, numerate, musical and sporty. What's not to like?

After Lotto he then went on to discuss the fact that David Beckham played at real Madrid with the number 23 on his back and how interesting that was. A prime for a player in his prime, as he didn't say.

Why is 23 so interesting. Let me count the ways. OK done that. Here's one. It is the lowest prime that consists of consecutive digits. Take a moment to work out what the next one is. There are more interesting thoughts about 23 here.

It is the 23rd of December. A Saturday. Clergy always have to develop a psychology of Christmas. There is a pattern of services which needs adjusting according to the proximity of Sunday. I hear my sons' voices from the past saying 'Not church again; we went yesterday'. In my church, when Christmas Day is Friday or Saturday, we abandon conventional Sunday and all pitch up at the Vicarage for carols. When Christmas day is a Sunday, as last year, it feels like we are at a normal Sunday service. This year it feels like the weekend lasts an extra day. My church is making our annual Crib Service the main worship focus of the day tomorrow afternoon, but I have been asked to preach and preside at a neighbouring church's early communion which they are having on Sunday and again on Monday.

There is a Twitter clergy-single-malt-club, where knackered vicars share a picture of their post-midnight communion tipple as they calculate how few hours sleep it is before the enxt daysa early communion (or the kids wake up).

How does your relationship to 25/12 change according to the day of the week it is? And is Saturday 23/12 a comfortable feel, or an odd one?

Well, it's been a year
It doesn't surprise me

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