Saturday, February 25, 2006
Here are some samples from what we did:
Your Kingdom Come...
(Coldplay 'Til Kingdom Come playing in the background)
Look at the newspapers.
Do they reflect what you believe God wants for the world?
Pray about each of the situations and persons mentioned in the news
How does your community need to change to be more what God wants?
What can you do to bring this part of the kingdom closer to reality?
Help us create a wall of words and images for God’s Kingdom and for the things of the world not of God’s Kingdom.
Your will be done...
Why is it so hard to agree to God's will for us?
What call is God making on your life now?
Take a stick from the pot and find a passage of encouragement from the Bible.
Give us today our daily bread
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will
experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Why not eat a piece of bread as a way of remembering how God provides for all of our needs from day to day, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual?
Forgive us our sins
Wash your hands
As you wash your hands look at the lines on your hands.
As you wash away the dirt think of your sins being washed away by God.
Look at your clean hands. How does God want you to use them?
What other ordinary acts might offer you a chance to connect with God?
Write the things you want to confess on the paper and shred it...
For ever and ever
Table set up with a metronome a passage from Ecclesiastes 3 and Footprints plus this:
God's love for us is eternal not bounded by time as our lives are. The Celtic Christians used knotwork made up of one continuous line to symbolise God's eternity.
Using the instructions create some celtic knotwork to add to our display
More anon when I've got them set up again...
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I've got the parity meeting at CYM today. This is a weird kinda throwback to my Latin-teaching days. Not sure quite what's involved but there is definitely lunch. I'll let you know what it was like when I get back! Oh and I have to drive there IN THE SNOW - yay and at the same time eek!
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Well kinda busy planning for the wedding (3rd June - eek!) and also for our youth weekend away in a couple of weeks.
I also wrote an article for the parish magazine which I'll post up once it's been published in paper form - wouldn't want people getting a sneak preview now!!! In fact I have been faintly contraversial and put in a cartoon - no not THAT one! It is of course one of the cartoons by the GREAT DAVE WALKER and I'm hoping that our church is as able to laugh at itself as I think it is!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
If you missed it, the lovely BBC has a link to watch the whole thing online or see some snippets. BUT YOU HAVE TO DO IT SOON!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Anyway here is a fabulous little thing that Someone had last week and I can't remember WHO now or what the site is - eek! Apologies. Clearly I'm going doolally!
Anyway, in case you're wondering what I'm going on about most of the time this is it apparently:
Monday, February 13, 2006
|You Are a Powdered Devil's Food Donut|
A total sweetheart on the outside, you love to fool people with your innocent image.
On the inside you're a little darker, richer, and more complex.
You're a hedonist who demands more than one pleasure at a time.
Decadent and daring, you test the limits of human indulgence.
Read my evensong sermon below or Pop over to this site and irritate an animated penguin! This link courtesy of Youthblog which has moved so your blog readers may not have picked up Ian's last few posts if you haven't updated your blogroll or blogreader settings. Don't miss out on all his great stuff!
1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thine indignation: neither chasten me in thy displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul also is sore troubled: but, Lord, how long wilt thou punish me?
4 Turn thee, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercys sake.
5 For in death no man remembereth thee: and who will give thee thanks in the pit?
6 I am weary of my groaning; every night wash I my bed: and water my couch with my tears.
7 My beauty is gone for very trouble: and worn away because of all mine enemies.
8 Away from me, all ye that work vanity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The Lord hath heard my petition: the Lord will receive my prayer.
10 All mine enemies shall be confounded, and sore vexed: they shall be turned back, and put to shame suddenly.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
Numbers 20 2-13
Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock. So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarrelled with the Lord, and by which he showed his holiness.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
One of the things that people sometimes misunderstand about religion and religious people and especially of Christianity is that we have all the answers, that we have fixed it that we’ve signed up and therefore we’re “ok”.
This is an error that not only people outside the church can make. It is also a common error among Christians themselves. Sometimes we ourselves can fall into the trap of thinking that because we are Christians we’ve got it sorted.
The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures warns of the danger of not trusting in God. The Israelites had been in the desert for a long time without water so Moses asked God for water. God tells him:
“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”
Yet Moses presumes to strike the rock to produce water and so God says:
"Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them."
The Israelites are people who lived with their minds focussed on the past:
"Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink."
They complain about their current situation even in spite of all the incredible things God has done for them and the offer of the promised land which is set out before them. The land they are promised might well be flowing with milk and honey but they long instead not for the future promises but for the fondly remembered foods of the past. They focus not on what God offers them but what they are currently enduring.
Paul speaks of such people in the epistle we heard:
"For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. "
However, although Paul is able to point out how people oughtnot to live, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi he reminds us that being a Christian isn’t about having found the final solution it is about being on a journey:
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Like the Israelites before us we sometimes feel that because we have followed God it should be easy. The Israelites had really moaned:
"Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? …."
Of course, because we have Paul’s letter, we know that we shouldn’t complain about such things, don’t we?
Well I think the difference is that in Paul’s view we should be focussing not on the past joys or the present troubles but on the future glory.
Paul’s point is that our following Jesus is not an end in itself. Yes to make that turning point, that decision that believing in God means living out the WAY that Jesus set forth is a significant moment. Paul describes everything else before it, everything else in life as RUBBISH in comparison. This concept reminds me of Jesus’ kingdom parables of the man who found the most beautiful pearl and sold everything else in order buy that one pearl or the man who found treasure in a field and sold all he had to purchase the field.
Yet the treasure, the great pearl that Paul found and that each of us finds is not an end here and now. No it is a journey towards a goal.
Yes the finding of Christ is a great prize, it is THE great prize but we must not miss what else Paul says:
“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.”
“I have suffered the loss of all things” including a “righteousness of his which comes from the law” Paul’s discovery was that he was no longer of value because of what he did, or what commandments he followed but simply because he had faith in Christ.
Indeed the discovery we all face when we follow Christ is that we are of no value more or less than anyone else.
The difficulty for us as human beings is that, naturally, we are rather selfish creatures. We somehow think that we SHOULD be of value for our own sake; that what we do should be appreciated, that life should not always feel like a race, a rush.
Yet our Gospel is that we are on a journey and it’s not leisure cruise.
Jesus told us,
“Whoever wishes to follow me must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me”We are following THE WAY and we are STRIVING towards it. Not strolling but striving.
Yes of course it is good when we help others in our service to God but as soon as that service is done it is in the past and Paul reminds us not to look to those things in the past but to strive on towards the future.
That is a tough call for any of us. It is not easy. As the rich young man learnt, merely following all the commandments and being justified by the LAW is not enough. If we turn to Jesus and say, I follow you, I obey your commandments then Jesus may well turn round to us with an equally tough challenge as “sell all that you have and give it to the poor.”
Although this way of looking at what being a Christian is like sounds tough, in fact, when you look at it in some ways it makes it easier. To understand that Paul too felt that he was constantly striving, constantly putting things behind him and moving on, then I think for each of us endeavouring to live Christian lives now can find a kind of freedom in the knowledge that it IS difficult. For in remembering the difficulty we acknowledge it as normal and not as some especial torture sent just for us. We are reminded that it is not about what we ACHIEVE but about our striving to be like God. Thank God that we do not have to work our way towards heaven by good deeds as the Pelagian heretics thought we did. I doubt many of us would get anything like close enough to even catch a glimpse. No we press on toward the goal but it is God who gives the prize.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
HOUSE OF BISHOPS’ WOMEN BISHOPS GROUP: Report to the General Synod (GS 1605)We watch and pray and await the inevitable amendments...
The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:
16. ‘That this Synod
(a) welcome the assessment made in GS 1605 of the options for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate;
(b) consider that an approach along the lines of “Transferred Episcopal Arrangements”, expressed in a Measure with an associated code of practice, merits further exploration as a basis for proceeding in a way that will maintain the highest possible degree of communion in the Church of England;
(c) invite the House of Bishops, as part of its ongoing work on the underlying issues raised by the “Rochester report”, to produce for the July group of sessions a statement of the theological, ecumenical and canonical implications of such an approach;
(d) instruct the Business Committee to make sufficient time available at the July group of sessions for Synod to determine, in the light of advice from the House of Bishops, the next steps, including a possible timetable for legislation; and
(e) invite all members of Synod to reflect prayerfully and consult widely on the serious decisions now facing the Church.’
"space or room for those who cannot recognise women bishops within the same household of faith and with interconnecting doors"Yes, I can see that there might well be disunity in some ways when a woman is consecrated as bishop (though this is not likely to be for twelve years yet apparently!) and yet I was still a little shocked (I really shouldn't be, should I?) to see that the Roman Catholic church had expressed grave concerns about the suggestion that the Church of England allowed women into the episcopate. Surely the divisions are sufficient already in some ways - they do not consider ANY Anglican clergy to be valid ministers male or female so clearly our bishops are not either surely, male or female.
For me this whole issue is important, yet the wrangling over it frustrates me as, although I want a church that represents unity to those outside it, I also want a church that LOOKS outside it rather than focusses inwards on politics. Yes equality of ministry is about demonstrating the Gospel in some ways but I do worry that we spend too much time on all the legalities and niceties of it all and ge distracted from what God really wants us all to be doing: spreading the GOOD NEWS.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
1 Corinthians 9.16-23
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Mark 1 29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
The readings this morning talk to us about the importance of not doing things in our own strength and of our need to turn to God for our strength so that we might serve God and each other.
Isaiah reminds us of God’s greatness in comparison with our weakness.
“He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;”
To say that God is the great almighty and that in comparison we are like grasshoppers can sometimes make us feel that we can give up all responsibility for the world. Likewise we can sometimes think that doing things only in God’s strength not in our own, means we need to do nothing.
This is far from the case. Yet though we do things in God’s strength we do must avoid feeling of arrogance and pride in what God achieves through us.
Paul tells us that when he preaches he is not setting himself above people but humbling himself before his task.
“If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!”And we have another example again of service in our gospel reading.
Paul like many others before and many more after him, preached the Gospel because God had called him to that service and given him the strength to serve.
The gospel reading is one which can often be taken as rather mysogenistic passage, reflecting the lower status of women in Jesus’ time. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was ill, Jesus cures her and so she starts serving everyone.
Yet the surface of that story reflects a far greater depth. First of all, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was ill and THEY TOLD HIM ABOUT HER AT ONCE. This was an important person in the household. Jesus cures her and so enables her to serve. It is Jesus who gives her the strength to do that to which she was called. I don’t think that is so wrong; to be given God’s strength and then to go straight from there to serve others. For what else is God’s strength for, if not for us to go out and serve.
In all things we need God’s guidance and strength not because it makes us feel better or because it makes us “happy” or “good” but because it gives us the chance to serve. And how can we serve?
Well, in the Gospel passage we heard today, from Mark very URGENT gospel, in which everything happens one thing immediately after another we have a microcosm of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus spends time in community, he heals, he goes away for some quiet time and reflection and then he calls others out to join him as he preaches the good news.
What better model of service can we have than Jesus’ own ministry? Yet even Jesus, in all his very active ministry, Jesus still took time out to reflect and to pray. For though he was the Son of God, as well as being divine he was also human, like each of us and in need of a relationship with God. As Isaiah says:
“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”This doesn’t mean that we all turn into amazing robot-like gospel preaching machines, it does not mean that we are given endless strength and no longer need rest or sleep. No it means that even when times are difficult, or worse still when times are far too easy, even when we are weak, then too we have God’s strength.
So often it is in our weakness and in our brokenness that we truly connect with God that we acknowledge our need for him. We can all be caught up in our incredible busy-ness and rush without the time to pause and reflect on what call God is really placing on our lives, where he really gives us strength to serve.
It should not be embarrassing to admit our need for God yet somehow our modern world makes us all want to demonstrate how CAPABLE we are. How much we do not need help from each other or from God.
This week I have had an all too painful reminder of not relying on my own strength. Some of you may know that I’ve been without the use of my right hand for much of the week and being someone who likes to be ever so capable, I have found it very difficult to find myself needing to rely on the kind help of others.
Yet God’s message to us is that we do need God’s strength, we do need each other for our own wholeness and for the wholeness of the community, for the church. Because the need for healing is not always personal sometimes it is the Church that body of Christ, which needs healing; the Church that needs God’s strength and I know that there are many things which see the church divided today. Indeed this coming week is one in which the Church is going to need a lot of God’s strength to support it through difficult discussions.
This week the General Synod will be debating the consecration of women as bishops. Now I am sure that, as a woman in ministry here at All Saints you will have no doubts about my view on whether or not women should be able to serve God as they feel God has called them to serve, as priests and indeed as bishops.
And though for many this is something which seems long overdue, for others it is something which they view as deeply wounding to the church.
I don’t know how much all of you will have followed this story but I felt it was something worth setting before you.
A group headed by the bishop of Guildford will present its explorations and its conclusions about how the church might proceed towards the consecration of women as bishops.
There were three options for them:
The first was a Single Clause measure in other words – a new church law stating that women could be made bishops – together with a list of guidelines.
This option obviously pleases those in favour of women bishops but not those who oppose it.
The second option was the establishment of a Third Province separate from the provinces of Canterbury and York where there were no women bishops, no women priests and no male priests ordained by women bishops.
This option pleased some of those who opposed women bishops but not others as it represents a major schism in the church
The third option, the option which is proposed by the Guildford group is known as TEA - Transferred Episcopal Arrangements.
This involves parishes opting out of a diocese that accepts women as bishops for all Episcopal related issues such as ordinations, confirmations etc but the parish remains within the area of the geographical diocese in all other senses.
This middle way avoids schism and yet satisfies those opposed to women being bishops
I don’t know how the discussions will go this week. I know that there will be hurt on many sides and whatever the result some members of our church, the Church of England, and indeed of this our parish here at All Saints might well be upset. Yet in this weakness, in what might be called the brokenness of the church, God’s strength will be there for all who call on it.
So this week, in your prayers, I hope you will pray for God’s strength for the members of the General Synod and for God’s strength for the church. Yet, although it is God’s strength which enables us, it is still WE who must ACT. It is we who must, like Peter’s mother-in-law, get up and immediately start serving others, it is us who like Paul must proclaim the Gospel without boasting, it is us who must take that time out to hear God’s call on our lives, to ask for God’s strength and then SERVE.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
This morning at morning prayer the psalms included:
I keep the Lord in mind always.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken. Psalm 16.8
Me with my injured hand as a result of a fall... couldn't help but giggle!
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Of course if you've been before it would also be something that would appeal.
This is the description of the weekend from Br Paolo:
Bristol, 11-12 March, “Who is my neighbour?” -- a weekend for young adults (18-25)
When Father Richard McKay arrived at St Nicholas church in Bristol, 9 years ago, his parishioners were mostly people over 60 who had lived in Bristol most of their lives. Today, people from over 50 countries come regularly to the Sunday morning eucharist and children fill the space around the altar.
This is an opportunity to meet and listen to people of many countries as they seek to make their home in inner-city Bristol. And we will ask ourselves “Who is my neighbour?”, as we read and reflect on Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). One of the brothers of Taizé will help lead the weekend.
For all practical details, accommodation, etc. see the flier:
We hope to welcome many young people at this weekend who do not know Taizé. Please put up copies of the poster and give it to young adults who you think will be interested.
(For details of other meetings in the UK in Feb-Mar 2006.)
Also there's some great news... Taizé is sending some brothers to
Greenbelt 06, 25-28 August
"The organisers of the Greenbelt Festival have asked the community to lead times of prayer and workshops during the festival and one of the brothers will be there for the whole weekend. We are looking for musicians to help with the prayers. Please contact Br Paolo if you would like to help "
I'll be at Greenbelt... hope some of you guys will be too. I'm trying not to get too excited about it already!