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Showing posts from September, 2017

In God's hands...

It is with joy that I recognise God's hand upon today's long journey to Amazonia.
As people in Ruthin prepare to celebrate harvest I am feeling unsettled that my Sunday will be the first in a very long time when I won't worship in a church building.
I will ( I hope) be celebrating the Lord of the Harvest in the world's largest rainforest - the Amazon....
May all of us recognise God as the Lord of all creation...

Useful screen...

For projecting upon or creating a discrete space amongst the vast worship area.

Pod

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's reordering...

Pod

Crèche below and kitchen / servery in the distance...

"Pod" in St. Lawrance, Reading

African vibrance...

Salvador da Bahia, Brazil's third largest city, has an energy and unadorned beauty reflecting what was once the magnificent capital of Portugal's New World colony. I am staying in a beautifully restored colonial house surrounded by a "living museum" of 17th and 18th century architecture and gold-laden churches. (Breathtaking but challenging in a country of such extreme poverty!)
The city is also a heady blend of two seemingly disparate cultures - classic Portugese architecture and African drum beats, cobbled streets and lively festivals, Catholic Churches and the Candomble (Afro-Brazilian religion.)
Last Tuesday, I experienced something of this fascinating blend when I attended Igreja NS do Rosario dos Pretos's Mass for St. Anthony....
Yes, there would be all the elements one might expect (candles, incense, processions) but also the exuberant percussive worship songs ( acapella except for drumbeats) accompanied by lithe, ecstatic movements of many worshippers.(I…

Christian outreach to abused girls....

ReVive was founded by Church Mission Society (CMS) Mission Partners Andy and Rose Roberts who have being working in Olinda, Brazil, since 2008. ReVive works with girls who have suffered from abuse or exploitation and have had to leave their families. They live at the ReVive house where the team helps them restore their lives after the traumas of the past and renew their hope for a better future.
Warmth, acceptance and love lie at the heart of these endeavours and I will try and add a link to one of the videos of their work...

Arrived safely in Salvador....

Over 26 hours travel time, I was glad to see my (very large and extremely comfortable) bed....
Sun shining this morning and planning a leisurely day of "pottering"....
A bright yellow chested songbird greeted my breakfast munchings amongst the flowers - delightful!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord....!

Love...

Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, has written of his time in war-torn Iraq: ‘What kept me going in the midst of so much hardship is love. The apostle John says that “perfect love casts out fear” … I have also been able to overcome this sorrow through the love I have experienced from the people at my church … Through this love, I have experienced incredible joy.’

We'll keep a welcome....2

Here's how one church offers a welcome to those who are new to the area.
I wonder what a Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area version would look like....?

We'll keep a welcome....!

I am aware that practising hospitality is one of my big 'things' when it comes to church, so you won't be surprised to discover my sadness on recently attending two different Sunday services, in two different places where, on arrival and departure I received not one single greeting from another church member...! Arriving as a 'stranger' ( in one place, complete with 'wheelie' suitcase) you would have thought that people might have noticed me ( if only because of recent news stories of supicious luggage items having defastating effects!) but not one church member came and said "hello", "welcome", "Are you new to church?" (Even in one place where, after the service, I spent 20 minutes sipping my glass of champagne to celebrate someone's engagement!!!)You can imagine the contrast, therefore, when later in the day I visited another church (seeking to grow its engagement with young people, families and all ages) where, between w…

Makes you think...

"The Church is often the last hiding place from God..." (Carl Barth) quoted in a recent sermon I heard.
How often do we allow the institution (2020 vision / structural changes / 'doing Church' with all its regular demands) to distract us from the life God might actually be calling us into...?
How do we check that we're listening out for God, discerning what we are truly to be about?
When was the last time we dared "stop" and wait on God...?
(Perhaps this is what Sabbaticals are for....!)

Seen in passing...

Will you! (Psalm 148)

Praying for challenging situations....

Pete Greig, the founder of the 24/7 prayer movement, has a helpful way to think about how to pray for war zones, natural disasters and other overwhelming world events.Pray for the People – those who are grieving, bereaved, displaced or injured; Pastors or Priests – these people have their greatest ever ministry opportunity, just when they too are dealing with the same trauma; Politicians – those in the country and in the international community who are seeking to restore order and provide aid; Peacemakers – the NGOs and aid agencies working on the ground to meet the immediate and long-term needs such as tending wounds, delivering food and water, reuniting families and rebuilding communities.

Romans 16:1-6

The thing that strikes me most strongly is that Paul this great theologian with a worldwide ministry was also personal. He took the time to get to know people and made a point of remembering them and greeting them in his letters.If Paul could find the time to be personal and get to know his fellow worshippers, we should be able to, too. This coming Sunday, could you make a point of talking to someone you’ve never met before?Find someone who looks lonely or is there for the first time. It may not be culturally appropriate to greet them with a holy kiss, but a friendly hello and a conversation where you genuinely listen to them could be even better. (And try to remember their name for when you see them next week!)Tags: Daily Bread, Jennie Pollock,

Building church...

What is involved in building church? I was privileged to join a church's midweek service -"MORE"- where some 15 people met for worship, bible study, group discussion, fellowship, prayer and holy communion - ie 'more' and indepth than Sunday, I guess... There is no church building so they meet in a community centre; young, old, different nationalities, social backgrounds and varying abilities - together as one in Christ... We explred the idea of "Living stones" - Sharing individually an inspiring building we had visited - and why it was so. In small groups, using our Lego, we built something that modelled some of the characteristics of God - and shared this with others. ( Can you spot the Tree of Life, Open Door, Bridge, Window that formed part of ours....?) We sang and read the Bible together.(1Peter 2:4-10) and, in groups, considered questions related to the passage and shared our findings with one another. Everyone's opinions were listened to res…

Walthamstow - seen in passing....

How about this for a "mobile library"?
Households volunteer to host a "book house" which is stocked with books. People passing can borrow / add / replace a book and so the mini library continues....
What a wonderfully simple public service...!

Church bells...

It was interesting to see this "Timeline" history of the church bells. Could St. Peter's do something similar when the bells are renovated there?

Pray for the world....

A simple but effective way to invite people (congregants and visitors) to intercede for the needs of the world. Write your prayer on a luggage tag and place it on the world map - it's as easy as that!
I've also seen world / britain maps used to enable visitors to place a pin to show where they're from - a graphic illustration of visitor statistics....

Associations....

Who do you associate with?
As an individual, family or Christian community, this is a good question because it can affect how we see ourselves, how others see us and, most importantly, this can impact the way we are influenced and can influence others...One church I visited recognised its relationship with the local housing association ( responsible for the 14,000 homes in the parish). The housing association staff are all ( from the CEO down) made to walk around the estates in their care and formally share their findings. ( Imagine if a county council made that happen!)The housing association also produces a regular bulletin to all its residents and offers a free space for community groups to meet.By recognising the need to build up its relationship with the housing association the church has enriched its ministry and enlarged its impact.
Local priests regularly join housing association staff on their walkabouts thus building up personal relationships.
When a priest is concerned ab…

Oil of baptism

It was interesting to hear the priest conducting a baptism speak of the annointing of the baby with oil as a form of "trigger" to mark, celebrate and "bring out" the God given gifts within the child. (God) parents were encouraged to help the child discern these gifts and, over the years, help bring them out. We were reminded that God delights to see us make the most of the gifts we are given. I loved the idea of the annointing being a physical manifestation of these blessings...

Oil of baptism

Celebration tree

A great way to enable people to consider, with thanks, all that God is doing....
On the picture of a tree mark on its branches the "flowers" to be celebrated (Choir, worship band, Messy Church, etc. etc) and on each "petal" the names of people involved with that activity.
You can also place "flowers" (without petals) to note things you would like God's Spirit to help bring to fruition (eg Deepening Prayer Life, Meditation,  Young People's study of Christianity etc. etc)
I wonder what the 'Ruthin Town Churches' and the "Dyffryn Clwyd M A" would look like.....?

Which water....?

Bishop Paul (L'pool) spoke of four images related to water in the bible:
CISTERN
Broken, aged, "tired" and, if full of any water, it is usually brackish, unpalatable and likely to do you harm in the long run because it isn't flowing or connected to any source of life...WELL
Demanding trust (you can't always see whether there's water at the bottom or not) hard work (you have to throw down your bucket and drag it all up) and a willingness to share (your water with thirsty strangers - and their parched animals). It's a big effort....SPRING
The holy well near Ruthin displays a trough of water which, at its centre, boasts a mound of water "bursting up", overflowing with life, healing and wholeness - and freely available to all those who turn up and recognise their need of this lifegiving water...FOUNTAINS
In the psalms are evidence of God's blessing of Zion - holy people gathered in a holy place seeking to serve a holy God. There is abundance of …

Romans 12:9-21

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:5)These verses offer a wonderful picture of the kind of Christian community that is possible. After all, God’s love has been poured into our hearts, so why not? Paul suggests that it is entirely possible for a local church to think, act and live according to the pattern that he outlines: humble, considerate, joyful, prayerful, passionate, righteous, hospitable, peaceful, forgiving – and the rest. This is the kind of faith community that anybody with sense would want to join. Paul is being idealistic, but is he being too optimistic?There are few passages that capture so essentially what it means to live in a Christian way. Paul does not often refer in detail to the life and ministry of Jesus, presumably because when he writes he is responding to specific issues that have been raised. He also takes it for granted that his readers know the basic narratives of Jesus’ life. Yet here…

Which water...?

Give a "hug"....

A church in Speke (based in its own cafe) gives people "hugs" (personally and prayerfully knitted scarfs wrapped in a clear bag) complete with a personal dedicated card from the knitter.
They're (freely) given out to anyone deemed to be in need of a "hug".
Know someone who is "down", bereaved, recently divorced or having a hard time? Give 'em a "hug"...
Just imagine how many "hugs" our local knitters could produce.....!

Celebrate

Speke

Pray for the world

Celebration tree

Job description?

Beginnings...

A journey begins with one step and (with some trepidation) I start my sabbatical.
The hope?
To rest, have time out to reflect on calling,  ministry and what it might look like in the future - personally and within the context of Ruthin....
So, a prayer:
Loving God, in my journeying and my resting, in my listening and or reflecting please guide me and lead me afresh to the light of your truth, Jesus.
For I ask in His name...
AMEN.