Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Core Skills for Children's Work

Anyone in the Oxford diocese who is working with children should think about this new course called Core Skills for churches which Yvonne Morris, our Children's Adviser, is offering. There are some dates in Reading already in place but if you can get a group together, I'm sure other dates can be arranged.

What do wii have here?

ooooh! Exciting stuff eh? We have a leaders training day this Saturday so we may need to have a "practical skills session" on the Wii! :o)

Saturday, January 26, 2008


This is a worship video using 1 Corinthians 12.7-11 and Philippians 2.15. It encourages people to think about their gifts and offer them. If you want to use it you'll need some star shapes tha can be written on (post-its or cut out stars) and somewhere they can be "offered" (a blue cloth or a mobile).

I made it using Photostory which is a really fab piece os software that you can easily download and learn to use without any hassle at all.

A Wii bit of bother

Having trawled round the town the last few weeks searching for a Wii console for the youth group, I have finally given in and ordered one online. So in a short time we'll have the joy of the sports pack, plus games featuring Crash Bandicoot and Mario.

I have to admit I'm rather looking forward to it but we'l have to do with Buzz tonight at our older teens youth club. I hope they can cope!

Monday, January 21, 2008

More emotions

The Oxford diocese have got a link to a new pack from Marie Curie on death and bereavement and it contains the most wonderful prayer:

Lord God, Master Painter,
as the days grow short and the chill winds blow
you colour the trees more beautifully very day,
brushing the leaves with brilliant hues of reds and golds until
and quietly
they fall.
And our lives should be like that too,
I think,
For as the days grow short and the bones begin to chill,
You colour our days with brilliant hues of wisdom and experience,
But we –
We miss the beauty and see only the fall,
For, by worshipping the fleeting youth of Spring
We have failed to see the deep beauty of Autumn!
So often our world is focussed on that "fleeting youth of Spring"! the desire to stay forever young and "beautiful" (in the mode that some people dictate as beauty, that is!) rather than embracing maturity and the value of things like wisdom and experience that don't show in young fresh faces - in quite the way that they do in older ones. I always found Mother Theresa's face profoundly beautiful and I don't think any cosmetic company or fashion magazine would feature her.
Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,
so that you may discern what is the will of God
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12.2

Young people numbering among the saints

Today is the feast of St Agnes. She numbers among one of those few teen saints. We heard this morning from Ambrose of Milan on the subject (he is pretty much the earliest source on her).

He talks of her valour in the face of persecution and execution, her determination to remain true to her faith despite the very real threat of death for doing so.

Just like Jeremiah and Timothy from the Bible, Agnes shows that there's no such thing as being too young to witness to your faith.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Emotion and the church

We had a really good service of prayer for Christian Unity this evening. The Methodist minister shared some thoughtful reflections on what it means to "Rejoice always", "Give thanks always" and "Pray without ceasing". She began her sermon by asking us "How are you feeling?" She suggested that in any large gathering there would be all sorts of different emotional states in evidence. For me it was a very poignant question as I was a little emotional. I've been having an "interesting time" lately which I won't bore you with but today I had been speaking with someone who's mother recently died and so I had thought a bit about my mum (who died nearly six years ago) and then we sang one of the hymns we had at mum's funeral so I found myself in tears at church.

I remember the time this first happened when mum was going through her illness and I, like other people I know, felt that it was rather embarrassing. This evening, however, I pondered on how I felt differntly; encouraged by the ministers words (and mellowed through the years!) I didn't mind so much. There's something about the honesty of crying when you're upset in church that seems right. The dealing with other people's reactions to it is probably the greatest difficulty. There are people around who would know one reason why I might be teary at the moment but others might well be very shocked/worried/concerned/distressed. I wouldn't want other people to be upset. However, if church is family, it should be ok.

Interestingly, I found it easier to deal with difficult emotions in front of a group of teenagers than others. I think perhaps because I know them and they know me better. It happened that I was on our church youth holiday a few years ago when I received the news that Brother Roger had been murdered during a service at Taize. I called the young people together and told them that I might be a bit below par as this was a community special to me and I was very aware of all they would be going through. The young people were great. It even led into a discussion about death and grief and all that with some of them.

What is the difference between the communities? Is it merely a size issue or is there something about a level of relationship? How do we get that kind of community built in the wider church? I think there is something to be said for the fact that the young people meet together much more in social ways and spend time away together on residentials as well as being together in worship and Bible study. Could it be as simple as that? I don't know. As a youth worker I'm conscious that I minister to a relatively small "church within a church". True we have our fringe members, our new members and visitors but in other ways our community is smaller and the core certainly more stable. I have opted to spend quality time with fewer youn people rather than aiming for having as many young people as possible pass through our doors. If the adult members of the church had as much personal contact with a minister as the young people do perhaps things would be different. I'm not sure the Church of England could resource that though. Yet I think many of the fresh expressions out there are doing just that. Maybe they are youth groups for adults.

Friday, January 18, 2008

US Muslims

Michael pointed out this great video in response to someone asking lots of Muslims what they would want to say to America.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thought from Taize

For a few year's now it's been my custom to start my working day with a look at the daily thought from Taize. It's a small but important link to somewhere very close to my heart and massively important to my continuing faith journey.

It is a place that feels like home as soon as I arrive even though it is different every time. Meeting the brothers, it always feel like we saw them only yesterday.

Most importantly for me, it is a place which I have introduced young people to. It's not an "EVENT" but part of the journey. People don't go to Taize because they "get so much out of the worship" but because it is a place where all can contribute; through music, service, welcome and the building of a community.

Well this was supposed to be a brief intro to the thought for today but get me on the subject of Taize and my enthusiasm is hard to stop!!

Happy those who can make this prayer their own: Christ, you see who I am. For me, not to hide anything in my heart from you is a necessity. You were a human being, too. And when my inner self seems to be pulled in a thousand different directions, my thirsting heart reaches the point of praying: “Enable me to live a life rooted in you, Jesus the Christ; unify my desire and my thirst.” Br Roger of Taize

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sometimes there are bad days...

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve —
I was made weak, that I might humbly obey.
I asked for health, that I might do great things for God —
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy —
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, to earn the praise of men —
I was given weakness, that I might feel my need of God
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life —
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things
I asked for great things in the future —
I was given the joy of the present moment.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for —
I am most richly blessed among all...

Bishop Alan had this up the other day and it just seemed to fit today. Waiting to see the silver lining at the moment. As one of my young people would say:

Who will stop the rain?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Did our hearts not burn within us

I've been thinking lately that I really needed to have a little more arty content to the blog appearance so I've uploaded this pic and put it as the title section. Thoughts anyone?

The Pen is Mitre than the sword

Marvellous news that Dave Walker has been invited to be the official "cartoonist in residence" at the Lambeth Conference 2008 (which also has a blog) Dave has more details but I am most excited by his proposal to have a colouring section for the bishops on his stall in the market place. I'm sure there are a few bishops out there who would enjoy that!

So what cartoons do we think there should be of the conference...

Bishops at Breakfast?
Bishops skiving off seminars and having a sneaky coffee/pint? (not that they would ever do that I'm sure!)
Bishops shopping for a new mitre??

I can't wait to see what he produces in his new official capacity. Well done mate!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Not so new year

I think I must be turning into rather a mature blogger. No resolution to BLOG MORE thsi year and indeed only gettng round to blogging on the 5th!

In fact I think it's because my spare time has been spent enjoying the new easel my best beloved bought me for Christmas.

So far it has helped me produce the following pieces. The first one was really clear to me. With the help of a litte bit of advice from the art book, I've used some watered down acrylic for the base which works a lot better than pure acrylic or oil.

The second piece had me confused until the last thirty minutes of painting. I laid down a few base layers in acrylic and really didn't know what was emerging - even turnign to my husband and asking "Well, what do YOU think it is?!" Then it all became a lot clearer though still rather mysterious at the same time.

Ubi Caritas
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush

Originally uploaded by Sarah Brush