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!

Celebrating creation

It can’t be many church services that were led today by a twelve and fourteen year old! This was a first for us. We stood round a centre-piece of sticks, leaves and petals with the Alpha and Omega.

Harry chose the theme and selected a reading – The Message’s version of some of Genesis 1 – and various pieces of liturgy as well as sharing a message with us on the theme of why God created the world at all. it was particularly moving to be given  the chance to silently gaze at the beauty of the park and take time to say ‘Thank you!’.  It was cold but beautiful and we were sent out by Kitty with a mission in an envelope. In each one was a collage of images of suffering. Some had Palestine, others Chile, Persecuted Christians, Pakistan, poverty… We also had a quotation – ‘Suffering always colours our lives, but we choose the colour’. We were asked to pray for the situation facing us and put into the envelope leaves or petals that were colourful as we prayed for colour and beauty to come to those places.

What a touching and special occasion. Thanks you guys – we look forward to more!

Living Water 12.9.10

Barbara and Grayden led us in the bandstand this week.

Over the summer we all used our Anum Cara liturgy on Sunday mornings.  As we are moving on to a second year of  Third Space we tried to link the summer liturgy to our next topic for worship.

So what does Anum Cara mean?  (What would we do without the internet?)

Anum Cara refers to the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding. It literally means soul friend.  In Celtic Spiritual tradition, it is believed that the soul radiates all about the physical body, what some refer to as an aura.

Anum Cara symbolises a spiritual friendship that is not affected by time or distance or separation. The Anum Cara is someone you can share your innermost self with.  Should such a deep bond of trust be formed it is said that you have found your Anum Cara or soul friend.

Your Anum Cara always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. In order to appreciate this relationship, you must first recognise you own inner light and beauty. This is not always easy to do. The Celts believed that forming an Anum Cara friendship would help you to awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joys of others. An Anum Cara always affirms you and will help you to recognise what is important in life. adapted from The Meaning of Anum Cara from www.basaltheritage.org

We used water and a candle to meditate on our own inner beauty and light.

“Spend a few minutes of quiet and think about your gifts, your love for others and the way you try to follow Jesus in the world in which you live.”

All set up at the bandstand

We read from John 4 about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. In the Gospel story we see Jesus in what could be said to be a Anum Cara encounter.

“The woman comes alone to the well alone in the midday heat. A man is there. Flaunting convention, he speaks to her “give me a drink.” Every man this woman meets wants something from her. She is vulnerable and alone but she challenges him, feisty and flirtatious, masking her fear. He offers her water that will quench her thirst for ever, and she longs for this abundance that would liberate her from life defined in terms of survival and thirst. But there is a catch. “Go call your husband.”  “I have no husband,” she says defiantly. Then he astonishes her, for he seems to know all there is to know about her. He knows about the hungry, thirsty children, and the men who abandon her. But he also knows about her deeper thirst, her yearning for love, her sense that there must be more to life than this. She feels something stirring within her, coming alive. It is more fragile than faith. It is the first trickle of hope. “He cannot be the Messiah can he?” ” JUST ONE YEAR Prayer and Worship through the Christian Year, edited by Timothy Radcliffe, a Christian Aid and Cafod publication.

We challenged Harry to shake a bottle of sparkling water and then take off the top. This was supposed to show how the Holy Spirit (living water) in us should gush and overflow into the world around us.

We used water again in our prayer time, placing stones into the water to symbolise people, places or events we were praying for. We also placed our hands into the water as we prayed for ourselves.

Each stone a prayer

When we came to the time of sharing bread and wine we used our lovely Companions Liturgy that Steve wrote. It reminded us of our visit to St. Non’s Well on our Pilgrimage Day in Pembrokeshire.

To end our time in the bandstand Barbara and Grayden blessed everyone with water saying:

“Deep Peace of the living water to you, Deep Peace of the running water to you, Deep Peace of the shining stars to you, Deep Peace of the still earth to you, Deep Peace of the Infinite Peace to you”

Year end at the bandstand.

There was a real end of term / end of year feel as we met at the bandstand on Sunday morning for the last time in our usual format, before the Summer break. Paul and Fiona led us in the most poignant time as we reconstructed the Nevern Celtic cross of our first meeting there back in September (which we visited in February) and then reviewed key times over the year, building up a visual image with words and pictures and with everyone adding their own cherished memories.

What a year

What a year

Fallen leaves and Saints past and present, hazelnut cracking, hide and seeking the treasure, “I could be wrong”, entangled in the beech tree, slow walking, trout BBQ, connected with the seasons in the coldest winter, community within the circle, always the bread and the wine, building a snow table, Celtic earthy liturgy, walking and worshipping, with-breaders on the journey together, slate cairns, creation singing and the Christ icon.

All liturgy and readings related back to those used at some point or other over the year and felt especially significant, with a shared sense of wonder at how this has all unfolded beyond all our expectations.

The Caim circle of prayer

The Caim circle of prayer

And how significant it was, in reviewing our story, that Tony, Frances and Charlotte were back with us – Tony on his feet and looking healthier than the rest of us put together! God be praised.

The coming weeks of Sunday mornings in August will comprise the sharing of a simple liturgy at or around 9.30 wherever we are. Those who can be at the bandstand will use it there and there will still be bread and wine, though the time spent there will be shorter than usual.

For those interested, the liturgy is adapted from a wonderful prayer pattern we have been using of late called Anam Cara, put together by Frank and Sue of www.anamcara.org.uk

Anyone who would like a copy of this morning, midday and evening prayer can either contact us or anamcara@btconnect.com

See below for our Sunday morning liturgy ‘Anam Cara’.

Anam Cara

Creator God, we pause in your presence and hold this day before you. Still us, calm us, guide us as we enter this day. 

Suggested reading: The Psalms or Matthew chapter 5-7 

Creator God we hold our day before you. 

We hold before you all those we love…

We hold before you those we know who are troubled… 

We hold before you all those we will meet this day…

Lord God, grant me the faith this day to truly walk in the light of Christ: 

Christ as a light

Illumine and guide us.

Christ as a shield

Overshadow us

Christ under us

Christ over us

Christ beside us on our left and on our right

This day be within us and without us

Lowly and meek yet all powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak:

In the mouth of each who speaks unto me,

Lowly and meek yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light;

Christ as a shield;

Christ beside us on our left and on our right 

A Blessing

Creator God, may your peace go with us, wherever we will be this day.

May you guide us through the challenges, protect us when in need and inspire us with your love

May we acknowledge your presence in all the human goodness we will see

May you bring us back rejoicing to our places of rest this night

Creator God we now go into this day

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

Amen