Epiphany Sunday

We began our worship with the reading of the ‘begats’ verses of Matthew 1 as explained in John Bell’s excellent book ’10 things they never told me about Jesus’. As the reading ensues, another voice interjects with details of the four women named in Jesus’ genealogy. Two, at least, were gentiles and all of them had dubious sexual pasts. This was a perfect reading for Epiphany of inclusivity, of good news for all people and it was certainly a revelation! Then we used the following:

A traditional blessing of your home at Epiphany:

The blessing of the home is an Epiphany custom. The wall beside your entrance door is marked in chalk with the year and the inscription CMB – Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means, “Christ, bless this home.”

20+C+M+B+11

(the current year, the initials of the first words of the blessing – connected with crosses to represent the four seasons; the initials also stand for Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar – the traditional names of the wise men.)

While chalking the inscription – the following blessing is said (and you’ll see that we adapted this for ThirdSpace):

Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star; Bless this (house and all who live here) bandstand and all who enter here. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for others may truly reflect your love.

May all who come to (our home) ThirdSpace this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, Jesus who is Lord forever and ever. Amen

 We prayed by laying down stones in the centre of our circle, as we named people, situations and places close to us and further afield. As each prayer was spoken we each added our own stones to endorse the prayer. By doing this we watched our prayers build up to make something substantial and strong.

For the bread and wine we used the followinf words written by Steve: 

The story of the Wise Men who travelled from afar, reminds us that God’s love incarnated in Jesus is not good news for one group of people, one class, one tribe or nation but it is good news for all people everywhere – for princes and paupers, for prostitutes and popes.  It is that good news of our redemption in Jesus which we celebrate today in this bread and wine.

Remembering our fellowship with Christians the world over, we share this bread.

Amen? AMEN!

Remembering the suffering of Christians in our world, we drink this wine.

Amen? AMEN!

 Let us go out with the CMB – Christus Mansionem Benedicat – in our thoughts, intentions and words wherever we go this week and this year. May we incarnate that blessing in our lives. AMEN

Then it was off to the cafe to share thoughts on the reading, news of our lives and to plan our weekend away. Wonderful!

Advent 2 Winter Wonderland

We pulled out all the stops and met in the deep snow and freezing temperatures in the bandstand this morning.

Worshipped with very appropriate liturgy adapted from wellsprings.org.uk (Celtic Liturgy for Advent)

CELTIC MORNING PRAYER FOR ADVENT
On days when heavy clouds shut out the sunlight and
the world is burdened by greyness and gloom.
OPEN OUR EYES, LORD, TO THE COMING OF YOUR LIGHT
LIFTING THE BURDEN OF DARKNESS FROM OUR LIVES.
Chilliness that seeps deep into bones, hearts and spirits rigid with cold, souls wrapped up against coldness and loneliness.
OPEN OUR MINDS, LORD, TO THE WARMTH OF YOUR COMING
MELTING THE HARDNESS THAT KEEPS US FROM YOU
AND FROM EACH OTHER.
Trees – snow covered against steel grey skies,
stems crumpled under weight of snow
– nature oppressed by wintriness – resting – awaiting rebirth
FILL US WITH HOPE, LORD –
ASSURE US OF YOUR COMING, OF YOUR CALL TO NEW LIFE.

EMPTY MANGER ACTIVITY.

We built a snow sculpture of an empty manger. Thinking about others who have demonstrated sacrifice, kindness and service we took a handful of straw for each act we remembered and we partially filled the manger with straw. We then thought of acts of kindness, service, sacrifice and love that we could be invovled in and determined when we would do these Kingdom acts as we filled the snow manger with the rest of the straw.

Based on a Advent tradition in which Jesus manger is made more comfortable for his coming on Christmas Day by acts of kindness and mercy.

Bible Reading: Isaiah 9: 6-7.

CELTIC LITANY

Gathering in this place where heaven and earth whisper greeting;
In this park where the High King of Heaven comes to meet us;
In the winter chill of this place, we kindle lights of hope for the world. (light candle)
We kindle lights of hope for our families and friends. (light candle)
We kindle lights of hope for Tony. (light candle)

Short silence for prayer followed by sharing bread and wine.

We take the light of our prayers into the world.
TO PRAY FOR THOSE UNABLE TO PRAY,
TO OFFER OURSELVES AS ANSWERS TO PRAYER.
We take the light of Christ’s love into the world:
TO COME ALONGSIDE THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING
AND TO BE AS CHRIST FOR THEM.
God enters the hearts of all who pray – and feel they are not heard,
HE SUFFERS THEIR PAIN AND ANGUISH, AND DIES THAT WE MIGHT LIVE.

May our God bless us:

MAY GOD’S LIGHT SHINE IN OUR LIVES AND CHRIST’S PEACE FILL OUR HEARTS THIS DAY AND EVERYDAY. AMEN.

Advent 1 at minus 12!

Well, the air temperature was extraordinary but the fellowship warm! Great to see Tony, Frances and Charlotte able to join us again. We kept the bandstand part fairly brief – using liturgy found on a terrific website called liturgyAT wellsprings.org.uk – which gave us an exhilarating start to Advent. We also used The Message’s version of Matthew 16:21 – 17:13 – linking the Transfiguration with the theme of Jesus’ return. We’re all doing our ‘secret santa’ type prayer activity again – secretly praying for one other person in the group (names drawn out of a hat). That feels good to do. Anyway – here are the words we used  and a picture of folk beginning to gather in a little snow – not realising what was yet to come! (And yes we are meeting this coming week in what must be getting on for two feet of snow – Bring it on!!!)

Hardy Northerners!

The Return of the King        Advent 1       2010       

Opening Responses
Reader In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails
ALL IN HIS DAYS JUSTICE SHALL FLOURISH
  AND THE VOICE OF THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED WILL BE HEARD.
  THE POOR WILL RECEIVE ENOUGH ON WHICH TO LIVE
  AND THE RICH WILL SHARE GLADLY
  THE ABUNDANCE THEY HAVE RECEIVED AT THE HAND OF GOD.
   
 .  
Reader In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.
ALL THE WOLF LIES DOWN WITH THE LAMB:
  THE FIERCE GIVES WAY TO THE TAME
  THE WEAK PROTECT THE STRONG
  THE POWERLESS CONTAIN THE POWER OF THE MIGHTY.
   
.  
Reader In his day justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fades.
ALL GOD WILL GIVE JUDGEMENT TO THE KING
  TO THE ONE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
  TO ESTABLISH PEACE AND JUSTICE
  WITH INTEGRITY AND WITH MERCY.
   

 

 

 
   
Litany of the King
RESPONSE      MAY YOUR KINGDOM COME
.  
Reader Into places of conflict
.  
  Into the heart of the terrorist
.  
  Into the heart of the soldier
.  
  Into the heart of the politician
.  
  Into the heart of one bereaved by war
.  
  Into the heart of one made hungry
.  
  Into the heart of one made homeless
.  
  Into the heart of one who is in despair
.  
  Into the heart of one who is ill
.  
  Into the heart of one who has been abused
.  
  Into the heart of one who is addicted
.  
  Into the heart of one who is faced with unpayable debt
.  
  Into the heart of the lonely
.  
  Into the heart of the fearful
.  
  Into the heart of the depressed
.  
  Into the heart of one we wish to pray for…
.  
  Into the heart of our world.
   
Communion response  TILL HE COMES  Closing Responses
Reader In his day justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.
ALL MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS SHALL MEET AND EMBRACE
  AND THE GLORY OF GOD SHALL BE REVEALED
  IN BEAUTY, IN AWE AND IN WONDER.
   
  .  
Reader The King will establish his kingdom
ALL AND THE HAND OF THE KING, MIGHTY AND STRONG
  IN THE BATTLE WITH EVIL,
  SHALL BE THE HAND OF THE HEALER:
  OPENING THE EYES OF THOSE WHO ARE SLEEPING,
  RAISING PEOPLE TO THEIR FEET,
  AND REJOICING IN THEIR WELL-BEING.
   
.  
Reader And the Spirit of God shall be with him
ALL AND UPON HIS PEOPLE.
  AND THEY SHALL KNOW THAT GOD HAS MADE HIS HOME WITH THEM
  AND HE SHALL BE THEIR KING AND THEIR GOD
  AND THEY SHALL BE HIS PEOPLE:
  BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE
  MADE RADIANT IN HIS LIGHT
  AND AT PEACE
  IN BODY MIND AND SPIRIT.
  A PEOPLE MADE WHOLE
  BY THE RETURN OF THEIR KING.www.liturgyATwellsprings.org.uk

The Lord’s Prayer

We had a fresh look at the Lords prayer this week and found some amazingly uplifting paraphrases of the prayer we are all so familiar with.

A Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer

by Sarah Dylan Breuer:

Loving Creator,

we  honour you,

and we honour all that you have made.

Renew your world

in the image of your love.

Give us what we need for today,

and a hunger to see justice done!

Strengthen us for what lies ahead;

heal us from the hurts of the past;

give us courage to follow your call.

For your love is the only power,

the only home, the only honour we need,

in this world and in the world made whole.

Amen.

A version of The Lord’s Prayer
from The New Zealand Prayer Book:

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
May the way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and harmony
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us,

So we may also feed others.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

A Responsive Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in Heaven,
Remind us constantly that you are parent to all your children,
Whoever, or wherever they are or come from.

Hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
Establishing peace and justice, hope and life for all peoples.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Disturb us into awareness of the needs of others.

Forgive us our sins,
Our pride and our prejudices.

As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
Especially keep our hearts and minds open
To see the good in others.

Deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
Just and true,

The power,
Gentle and fair,

And the glory,
Shot through with the colours of love,

Are yours for ever and ever.
Amen.

[From: From Shore to Shore A collection of liturgies, litanies and prayers from around the world. Pub. by USPG and SPCK. Used with permission.]

Visiting speaker on Palestine

Palestinian Arabs, Christian and Muslim, have suffered for over 60 years, deprived of  their lands, left homeless and stateless, living as those who have no hope: and the church in the west has often been complicit in ignoring their plight.

Worse, we have often seemed to support the oppressor.

Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have been well served  by their leaders and governments, and we have  passed by on the other side even though it has sometimes been other Christians whom we have failed. The recent Kairos Palestine  a ‘cry from the heart of the  Palestinian Church’ largely ignored in Britain, shows how little we  appear to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

David Carter, Greenbelt speaker, of Middle East Evangelical Concern, speaks on “Holy Land Ghetto” at Café Central, Smedley Street, Matlock at  8.00pm  Wednesday, 15th December.

Taking in God’s love

This morning we started with 3 words denoting our previous week (akin to Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 tradition). Than it was a matter of leaving behind the week finished and stepping out of our thoughts of the week ahead by turning our attention to God’s love and our thankfulness and worship of him. We used Psalm 100 from The Message and then did some slow walking turning over these words in our minds and making them into our prayer:

This world

Your creation

Rolled into a sphere

Packaged in sunshine

Gift-wrapped in love

Given to us

Thank you

We ended up at the beech tree. There we named those needing our prayers – both those known to us and those far away caught up in the suffering of natural disaster and human corruption. With each naming we kicked into the middle of our circle a pile of leaves representing our prayers, until the pile was high! 

Many prayers, piled high

And then, with leaves falling around us we listened to Steve’s words again:

Divine Entanglement with Bread and Wine

 

Look up, all around, entangled and surrounded, mind-blowingly all enveloping – God’s breathing, God’s love sweeping down and curling around.

Acknowledged blessing and unacknowledged blessing, love noticed and unnoticed, blessings overt and covert. Incidences and coincidences and God-incidences too complex for us to sort through and untangle. We are caught – in the web. God behind us, God in us, God before us.

Surrounded and enveloped by God’s care, those blessings obvious to us now and those blessings only to be known about in the future and those blessings perhaps never to be known by us.

God at work in us and in those around us and in those we love and in those we despair of. God’s love touching us, our ground, our lives through His humanity and love incarnated in Jesus.

We are surrounded in our space and time by roots, by branches, by leaves, by this living and growing 360 degree, multi dimensional, 24/7, God who loves. We are not tree hugging, but we are God- hugged.

And so while we are still indifferent, ignorant, hostile, unblissfully unaware, God loves us and in our hands we hold the bread and wine which expresses, encapsulates and enfleshes that Jesus love.

So why us? Why are we invited to this banquet under this umbrella of God’s love? Because we deserve it, merit it, lead good lives and have good theology? No, because God loves because he loves because he loves….

And so together as one body within God’s enveloping, connected with the worldwide family, we eat bread.

And so together as one body within God’s enveloping, connected with the worldwide family, we drink wine.

And so we have communed with God in this banquet but we do not now take our leave of Him. These roots and branches encircle and will not let us go even though we depart from this holy ground. He goes before us, marks our steps and our way.

And so we pray for all:

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.

AMEN!

Surrounded!

And then – what else? – a leaf fight to finish. Not a bad way to start a new week afresh!

All Saints Day and Samhain

Michele and Colin led us for the first time at the bandstand looking at both all Saints day and the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’) and the word for November in some Gaelic languages) as the celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, sometimes regarded as the ‘Celtic New Year’.

Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.

We used words focusing on nature, seasons and God’s provision as well as on those who have gone before us. Here’s a taste of some of that:

For summer’s passingand harvest home  WE THANK YOU

For autumn’s splendor and winter’s chill  WE THANK YOU

For seed that has fallen the promise of spring  WE THANK YOU

As a part of nature’s wondrous cycle

Of new birth, growth, fruitfulness and death

We rejoice in the creation of new life,

For parenthood, the passing on of knowledge,

For understanding and the wisdom of years.

We are grateful for those who have gone before

Passing on to us our spiritual heritage.

May our lives blossom as the apple tree in Spring

May we become fruitful in thought and deed

And may the seed of love that falls to the ground

Linger beyond our time on this earth.

For fruitfulness  WE THANK YOU

For a generous spirit WE THANK YOU

For wisdom and faith WE THANK YOU

For old age and new birth  WE THANK YOU

For those who have gone before us

Seeds planted in your rich pasture

With the hope of life eternal

May their enduring spirit live on

Enriching and empowering our lives

Their love linger

Their presence be near

Until we meet once more.

For your embracing love

A Father’s love

A Mother’s love

The love that sees our failings

And forgives us

The love that sees our joys

And embraces us

The love that knows no end or beginning

A love that could die for us

We bless you. WE BLESS YOU

And this was more than words. We met with Tony, Frances and Charlotte for the first time since the diagnosis of Tony’s inoperable secondary cancer. Nothing can describe the poignancy of lighting the Chinese lantern and watching it rise so high into the blue sky taking with it our prayers and hope for him and for them.

Prayer can be hard work!

And then it can suddenly happen

And then we let go

Wonderful too the writing of names with sparklers – names of those to whom we owed a debt for the inspiration they have given to us on our journey of faith…

A deeply special time of worship and fellowship, of true community. Thanks Michele and Colin!

A Bitter Sweet Harvest

Harvest Thoughts at the Bandstand

We were greeted in the bandstand with a display of harvest goods, both locally grown (Barbara’s veg) and some Fairtrade items. These were intermingled with some thoughts on our “Sweet Harvest” and they included;

justice, equality, Fairtrade,  locally produced, organic, people valued, respect for people, animals and the earth, fair wages, fair prices for farmers, freedom foods, environmental care, good working conditions, workers free to join unions.

This was in contrast to our thoughts on the “Bitter Harvest” which included things like;

reduced biodiversity, environmental degradation, chemical contamination of soil and water, death of the oceans, animals mistreated, injustice, intimidation of workers, the power of multinationals, tax avoidance, supermarket price wars, poverty wages, mass sackings, poor working conditions, long hours, slave labour, wage cuts, unions banned, factory fishing and exploitation of people, living things and the environment.

Opening Prayer.

God, the Holy Spirit,

You are the restless wind of love that sweeps through the world.

You blow where you will, breaking down barriers,

Stirring hearts to change, making all things possible.

Make us restless for change – even impossible change.

Come, Spirit of God,

Sweep through our world bringing great change.

May the harvest of your goodness bring justice and hope.

And, for us, transformation in our praying and living,

So all may share in the harvest of your blessings.

Amen.

Wendy, Tony and Grayden added thoughts on mistreatment of animals and people in the production of our food in the west.

We read the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 – focusing on “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled”

Brian McLaren says – “Many English translations use the word righteousness instead of justice, but justice is a better rendering. Righteousness suggests personal piety or religiosity, but the Greek work does not carry that connotation.”

Cheap food, cheap clothes – this doesn’t mean their cost was cheap. It means someone else absorbed the difference between the price we paid and the actual cost. Our everyday choices have implications for the lives and well being of people all over the world. Our food and clothing choices have consequences for both the people who produced them and for the planet.

Prayer of Forgiveness.

When we are unkind to people,

When we are careless with animals,

When we choose the cheapest or easiest,

When we don’t care about the consequences of our choices,

When we waste energy and water,

When we lack respect for the Earth,

When we are complacent and overcome by apathy.

Forgive us, Father and reconcile us to yourself,

To one another and to the Creation.

May the wind of the Spirit blow through our lives

Helping us to be good stewards of Creation,

Now and forever.

Amen.

We read Psalm 65 verses 9 – 13

Thanksgiving for Harvest.

May we always walk gently upon the Earth, in right relationship,

Nurtured by your love,

Open to the wind of the Spirit,

Taking only what we need,

Always open to the needs of others,

Making choices that bring wellbeing,

Living with generosity,

Striving for justice,

Honouring all with reverence,

Reconciling and peacemaking,

Mindful of those who will come after,

Recognising our proper place as part of your creation.

Grant us the strength and courage, Lord,

For such a radical transformation into your Kingdom.

Amen.

Prayer for sharing the bread and wine we used Harvest Reflection form Edward P. Echlin author of Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre

Closing Prayer.

Come, Holy Spirit,

And breathe into the lives of all who celebrate harvest,

That the gifts of the earth may be for all people,

Especially those who experience poverty and exploitation;

And those who fear the uncertainties of climate change.

Breathe into our own lives and communities,

That we may be transformed by your power,

To live in justice and generosity.

So may we truly celebrate your harvest.

Here and now and forever in your Kingdom.

Amen.

(Liturgies with thanks from Christian Aid and Christian Ecology Link )

Even more rain!

It seemed appropriate to follow up our Sunday gathering with a viewing of Rob Bell’s DVD ‘Rain’ this Wednesday evening. Tony led us in reflecting on this presentation on suffering and did so with sensitivity and style! Everyone had their say and we all felt we had sorted through some of our questions and heard some valuable wisdom from one another. We won’t be forgetting the words soon:  ‘I love you Buddy! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!’

Definitely worth watching for those of you who haven’t seen it. Some of us listen to Rob Bell on line at Mars Hill – we think he’s FAB!

Rain!

In view of the forecast , it seemed appropriate to take this theme for our worship at the bandstand. Some of us ventured out under umbrellas as we took time out to meditate on 2 Bible passages that speak of rain – Isaiah 55:8ff &Matt 5:43ff. We read these with new eyes in the ‘Message’ version. To follow them up we planted snowdrops which we hope to see grow as a result of the falling rain – very symbolic! We also took gold stars away with us to stick on work diaries , or wherever, to remind us of God’s pleasure with us when we grow up and respond well, letting the worst bring out the best in us. We also poured our own ‘rain’ over stones representing those who need God now – asking for God’s blessings to rain over them – We’re remembering you Rory, John and Louise, Georgia, Tony and co…

So meeting in the rain took on new meaning – and we’ve certainly had lots of reminders of God’s Word during the week!