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Showing posts from November, 2017

Sabbatical in summary...

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’ 
Oh God, can those words be for me too?
How I long to hear them!
I’m not Moses, but I’m also on a journey – trying to follow Jesus.Some days, life seems like an unmarked wilderness,
and I’m not sure which way to go.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to trust.Other days, I’m so busy that I don’t stop to listen.
I’m stressed and distracted and frazzled.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to pause and take time for you.Then there are the days when I do remember.
I walk restfully in your presence.
How different those days are.‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I believe you Lord. Those words are for me. 
Your presence does go with me and give me rest.
Thank you Lord!Amen
Richard England

Abbeyskate, Malmesbury

About 600 children and young people took to the ramps in Malmesbury Abbey Skate 2017 during the last February half-term. It was an awesome community effort and a massive thanks goes to all those who helped to make MAS2017 such a huge success! From the small army of people who prepared meals to feed all the volunteers, to the smiling faces on the welcome team, to the impeccably efficient booking desk, to the behind the scene sound crew, to the generous sponsors, to our B&B volunteers, to our straw bale carriers and wood-layers, to our first aiders, to our cafe connoisseurs, to our prayer team, to our tuck-shop assistants, to Phil and Christian Skaters UK, and SO much much more… Thank you!Video
://youtu.be/DeLhXw8IdsQ

Sabbath rest....

As I reflect on my sabbath rest - my sabbatical - these questions from Peter Mead ( Scripture Union daily bible study) got me thinking....When you stop to think about what is on your to-do list, what are the first things that come to mind? Do you trust God with these things?
Do you trust God enough to take a day off?Are you striving to please God for salvation? Rest in what Christ has done.
Are you stressed as you strive in your work, even in your work for God?
Resting can be the ultimate declaration of trust! Let rest remind you of God’s goodness towards you and trust God's faithful provision!Peter Mead

Fruitfulness on the frontline....

Imagine what God might do if our Mission Area Conference used this resource to think about our mission... https://youtu.be/SyMMfyy3FDE
‘6Ms’ of fruitful living:Modelling Godly Character – On our frontline godly character is both developed and displayed. How do we model the fruits of the Spirit where we are day-by-day?Making Good Work – There is dignity and value in the everyday tasks that we do. What would it mean if we saw how our tasks and work can be done with and for God?Ministering Grace and Love – In the light of the grace that God has shown to us, how might we minister grace and love to those we interact with on our frontlines?Moulding Culture -What can we affirm about the way we ‘do life round here’? How can we influence the culture on our frontlines so people flourish more?Being a Mouthpiece for Truth and Justice – How might we become champions of right living and fair dealing on our frontlines and courageous enough to speak up when necessary?Being a Messenger of the Gospel – …

Rural mission in Exeter diocese

Marian Carson told me about her role Growing the Rural Church working with rural Mission Communities  (groupings of parishes according to proximity) to develop their resources and, in particular their church buildings, to enable them to grow in prayer, make new disciples and serve the people of Devon with joy. ( The 3 diocesan 'strands' which run through all projects at all levels. Far more specific aims than " unlocking our potential"!?!)She explained that this diocesan initiative aims to do this by supporting rural Mission Communities to partner with their local communities and external agencies to find sustainable missional, community, commercial or cultural uses for their church buildings, which benefit the whole community. (Sounds similar to what we've been attempting to do at St. Peter's.)There are hopes that the public spaces offered by our rural church buildings, both for worship and extended missional, community, commercial or cultural use, are susta…

Street Church, Leeds

Visiting The Lighthouse Church in the Crypt of St. George's Church, Leeds just over a week after worshipping with the Street Church in Rio, provided a rich opportunity to reflect upon similarities and differences...GOD'S LOVE at the heart of both.
SHARED MINISTRY - lay and ordained - underpinned both.
WELCOME - everyone (known 'regular' attenders and newcomers - like me) was shown warmth, friendship and compassion with open hearts in both.
EMMANUEL - remembering God's presence with us - even in our 'darkest' of times - and God's desire for us to live with hope and trust in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit was the key message in both.
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC - live in Leeds ( we sang a Christian variant to the Beatles' "Let it be"!) and recorded in Rio  (but what a witness worshipping in public)  enriched the quality of worship, generating a tangible sense of corporate endeavour in both
LITURGICAL DRESS - a (retired) bishop in purple shirt…

Colossians 4:2-6

There are three central aspects of the Christian life which are always intertwined, and they are found together in today’s passage: people, prayer and proclamation. (I know, but I’m a preacher!) The first significant thing is that Paul knew he needed help. We’ll see this later in the chapter, but in today’s passage he deliberately underlines his need of others – including new believers in this small and fledgling church. ‘Pray for us’, he says (v 3). Pray that I’ll be able to do the job. I need your help. So it is for each of us: we need others, however experienced in the faith we might be.The heart of Paul’s request is for prayer. Three key words in verse 2 need to be applied to our prayers. Devote implies true commitment, perseverance, faithfully praying day after day. Later he refers to Epaphras, ‘always wrestling in prayer’ (Colossians 4:12). It’s a tough job and we must be determined. Watchfulis language from guard duty. The Colossians were under threat from false teaching and, u…

Pain, suffering, healing and hope....

I wonder how you would describe the mystery we celebrate when we participate in the Eucharist?
Having made contact with Revd Mark Simpson, another fine anglican priest sponsored by CMS, I was invited to join him at the Saturday night Street Church based in Rio's (notorious) city centre... For me, it was a moving expression of what I understand to be a priestly role and a humble living out of what I understand 'Liberation Theology' to be about...This theological thinking, expounded by Gustavo Guiterrez ( amongst others) sees the Gospel as an expression of God's love for all, but with a particular emphasis on God's siding with the poor, the downtrodden and oppressed - all those (like the street dwellers of Rio) who may feel they are outside society's (and God's) love...
Such a theology is not only to be expressed in the Gospel but also in the way we, as Christian's, share God's love, care and concern in practical ways....All this was to be witnessed …

Rio Street Church

Rio Street Church

"Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city...."

assured the Argentinian woman sitting next to me as we prepared for landing, and it is true!
Planted between lush, forest-covered mountains and breath-taking beaches, the place richly deserves the title, "Cidade Marvilhosa" (Marvellous city)...Although joie de vivre and the bikini may have been invented by the French the cariocas (residents of Rio) have managed to make them uniquely their own!
The glorious white sandy beaches appear to be everyone's playground!
And (almost) everyone seems to enjoy partying - whether on the beach, at the family bbq, watching a key football game (the other religion?) or gathering in a circle on the pavement for an impromptu samba - fiesta ( and carnival, of course!) appears
to be the order of the day....!It has been a joy, staying in an hotel overlooking Copacabana beach, to master the metro ( thank you Olympics!) and take the opportunity to explore some of Rio on foot. ( Got to keep those steps up!!)The beaches ( Copocabana, Ipanema, Leblon…

Colossians 1:15‭-‬18‭, ‬18‭-‬23 (The Message) Giving thanks for Christ who is with us as we journey....

We look at this Son Jesus and see the God who cannot be seen.
We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels— everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.
And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone.
So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured dow…

Legacy?

One final thought from Buenos Aires -
One of it's main tourist sights is an ancient cemetery, full of amazing sarcophagi ( see picture)...This got me thinking...
As individuals and as Christ's body, the Church in Ruthin, what do we pray our legacy to be...?

Bagpipes in Buenos Aires!?!

We all know that when we gather to worship, we gather as different people from different contexts and, sometimes, from different countries but united in our desire to demonstrate our love of God, as revealed in Christ and, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to be united in our commitment to also demonstrate the love of our neighbour as ourselves.
It came as something of a shock, when worshipping at St. John's Anglican Cathedral, Buenos Aires, to be particulalrly celebrating with our celtic neighbours - the Scots!
(I thought it seemed rather early for a St. Andrew's Day celebration!)There was quite a crowd of some dozen banners of different tartans, all led in to church to the accompaniment of the bagpipes. (With temperatures in the high 20s even I could have happily donned a kilt for the occasion - as some did!)I felt quite at home with my fellow Celts and our bilingual worship!
(Spanish and some English - although I have to say that I was pleased to have already read and refle…

Seen in passing this time?

Mario's mission...

Whilst researching some anglican churches in Argentina (not an easy task given my lack of Spanish and the "patchy" nature of missionary involvement in the past) it came as a delight to hear from Revd Mario Agreda, inviting me to visit his parish some 30km outside the city centre...
Like many capital cities, what would have once been separate communities have been 'swallowed up' into the greater city state that is now Buenos Aires.
Taking all my courage (and taxi fare) in hand, I set off to meet Mario and discover something of his parish ministry...Born, brought up and educated in B.A. Mario had become disaffected with the Catholic faith of his childhood and, whilst at university and suffering from some health issues, he (in his words) 'discovered God's grace, healing and the Anglican Church'...Since his theological training, marriage to Paula (a delightfully open and hospitable woman with little or no English) and their being blessed with three children,…

Buenos Aires

Leaving behind the vast treasury of 'hidden' dynosaurs and the legacy of Welsh settlers in the "Wladfa", I headed to Argentina's capital city for a last dose of the country's "culture"....Staying in what seemed to be Buenos Aires' equivalent of the West End (complete with flashing neon lights and star studded pavement) I certainly had my fill enjoying:
● a free concert of Austrian and Argentinian classical music - complete with "surround sound" pan pipes and drumming...
● a contemporary dance ensemble doing some amazing moves to the music of 'Queen'
● another free jazz / brass concert by the Argentinian Federal Police band (I can still picture one 5 year old girl decked like a monster - it was Halloween- "conducting" all these adults with great aplomb!)
● and to round off my Argentinian cultural forray? Why tango, of course! ( How do these Latin Americans move so lithely; making every glide, every kick of the feet and…

Together....

We do not follow Christ alone.
There are others who share this path.
People who have heard the good news as it bears fruit, 
all around the world.Your journey is not just your own.
Others have walked with you.
Pauls, Timothys and Epaphrases, who thank God when they think of you.
Men and women who have faithfully laboured, 
so that the good news might bear fruit in you.
Those who first brought you the message. 
Others who have helped you up when you fell.
Some who have shown God’s life to you, or encouraged you, or just prayed.Who are these people in your life? Can you name them? Can you picture them now?
Thank God for them, and pray that they may be strengthened in faith, hope and love.Your journey is not just your own.
You walk with others, 
Your ‘Colossians’ who God calls you to encourage.
Who are they? How can you encourage them?
Ben Askew

Seen in passing...

I hope you do!
I have felt SO blessed whilst travelling...

Nearly always seen in passing -

- especially in Rio!
May we glimpse Christ our Redeemer in our worship this Sunday!
With my special thanks for everyone's prayers during my travelling in Brazil and Argentina...

Seen in passing...

Hope that you are able to do so - today and every day!

"I know Wales", joked the desk clerk at Mendoza hostel...

...."large mammals that live in water!?!"
For someone attempting a joke in his second language, I thought he did quite well!Since arriving in Trelew, I've come closer to meeting the real thing - not just Wales (or its long-established expatriate community in Patagonia) but those mammals who live in the sea....A (very) long day trip took me to Puerto Madryn, on the Atlantic Ocean and on to the Peninsular Valdes with some 400kms of coastline - including an area renowned for spotting the endangered ballena franca austral - southern white whale!
The peninsular is a perfect nursery for baby whales - offering mum and baby safe, warm, shallow water in which to learn to swim, feed and grow...Blue skies, calm waters and a safe catamaran ensured that myself (and some 30 other passengers) enjoyed nearly two hours amongst these creatures of the deep...
The whale calves were naturally inquisitive, coming close to the (well staffed and experienced) boat and 'mum' appeared happ…

Seen in passing...

Hang your unwanted items of clothing here ( there's also a place for CDs, DVDs, books, etc.) - and if you want any of these things, please help yourself...
Where could we put one in Ruthin...?

Siarad Cymraeg!

Moving on from Ushuaia to Trelew, Patagonia brought me closer to my final destination in Argentina and, in a strange way, closer "home"...!
During my first full day in Trelew (a town established by a certain Mr. Lewis!) I ventured on the local buses to visit two of the main communities in the Chubut valley - Dolavon (a town meaning "river meadow", reflecting the vast network of irrigation channels, waterwheels and fertile land established here) and Gaiman (a name meaning "arrow / stoney point"  not given by the Welsh pioneers who settled here but the earlier native Tehuelche inhabitants who wintered in the area.)
Both small, rural communities had a genteel, stately charm, their scattered low rise buildings perhaps reflecting the key priorities of those early settlers - chapels (Tabernacl, Bethel and Bethlehem amongst them), co-operative stores ( for selling produce and acquiring materials imported from home) and railways (quaint stations, tunnels and ware…