Meal at Holly House

Just had to say how fantastic it was to be gathered around the table with Barbara back, remarkably fit and well after the wonderful all-clear of this week. It was a super evening – a simple meal of baked potatoes, fillings and salad and some amazing pastries baked by Colin… It was good to catch up on each other’s lives and concerns, to share bread and wine together, to laugh, eat, drink and pray. Between courses we shared prayer concerns using playing cards – placing a spade on the table to represent our work, a heart for family members and clubs (representing the Trinity) for those who need God’s closeness especially now.

Our prayers

Our prayers

We had the names of those we’d prayed for a few  weeks ago scattered on the table throughout the meal and remembered again Tony, Jack, Alex, Kate, June, Jennifer, Alison and others. There is something uniquely special about sharing a meal together – as we’ve been recently reminded in Acts 2. Thanks everyone for you contributions and for a lovely evening.

 

Pentecost at the bandstand

Pretty chilly today at the bandstand – but dry. We were warmed by happy thoughts of our guests last week – 3 generations of Tattersalls, headed by matriarch Mary in her 90s, taking part, sharp as a knife as always, with Jack just a few months old adding his voice in happy squawks from time to time! Lovely to see them all and to wish them well in their moves to Macclesfield (Helen, Peter and Mary) and to Stockholm (Christopher). Thanks to Kevin and Kirsty for the coffees too – the whole visit was a real blessing to us. Thanks to Colin for leading us on Ascension Day with his thoughts on the build up to Pentecost…

Steve led us today with the following words and activities, starting with the proclamation: This is the Birthday of the “KINGDOM MOVEMENT”

ALL: The resurrection-fuelled, renewing, redemptive, Spirit-breathed, Jesus movement. Happy Birthday!

We read  parts of Acts 2 and heard about the Jewish festival of Pentecost and then something of the Orthodox Christian traditon which seems to resonate so well with the Great Chain of being and Fransican teaching we have been exposed to in more recent times –
Russian Orthodox churches bring trees into their churches at Pentecost. “Trees are a representation of the created order assembled together with the people of God, awaiting and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom everything is made new.” AMEN!

With that we created our centre piece around a burning flame, using braches of a beech hedge from our garden, echoing the celtic cross at Nevern (can you tell what it is yet?).

Celtic cross with trees!

Covering the graffiti we found today!

Steve shared thoughts on the  Sacrament of the Present Moment – the idea that this is the time that God meets with us… We then did some slow walking taking the time to recognise God’s closeness in the now and mindful of being surrounded by trees in real Russian Orthodox tradition!

We followed this time by constructing a Prayer Cairn, placing stones for each of those we are most concerned for, remembering: Barbara, Tony, Frances and Charlotte, Kate, Jack, Jo, The Tatts, friends taking exams, family members, Holy Trinity

Prayer cairn

Each stone a prayer

… and then prepared to share bread and wine

BREAD, WINE, FIRE, WIND….. So the Spirit which renews was manifest in Fire and Wind. Untouchable and uncontrollable, blowing and burning where it wills; we see neither its beginning nor its end. The idols we build, whether physical or mental about the GOD we’d really rather prefer to exist, are swept aside,
are burnt to a cinder by the untameable Spirit of the living God; before whom we tremble and are welcomed, in whom we come to know ourselves most truly,
through whom we can be transformed.

ALL: Spirit of the living God, we welcome you!

So to the Bread and Wine, those mysterious elements given for our remembrance of him who died for our fullest Shalom – peace and wholeness and salvation – without which reconciling we are lost; for the gift of love you give is in no way earned or deserved, merited or attainable in any other way than by grace. For this grace
freely given, for this sacrifice of Jesus for us, we bow in gratitude and adoration.

ALL: Jesus,our Saviour, we welcome you!

We share the bread and wine with one another and as we do so we say to each other: Maythe Spirit of Jesus be with you this week!

So to the Creator God, our Abba Father, all praise and thanks be given through Jesus our Saviour. Send your Spirit that we might live in the present moment, treasuring
and nurturing that awareness of the sacredness of every second, of every deed and of every person and created being.

ALL: Father
God, our creator, we welcome you! Amen!

Fire bread wine

Fire bread wine

A great morning – thanks Steve.

Prayer for Barbara

An incredibly special evening! Surely it couldn’t have just been me to feel the most extraordinary sense of love in our sitting room as most of our number squeezed in to pray for Barbara pending her operation on Tuesday. Nothing could have been more wonderful, or supportive as seeing Tony walk in to be with us. Having been, to all intents and purposes, house-bound for the last 8 weeks or so, it was fantastic to see him vertical and so much better than a few days ago. All the better to be able to include him in the anointing of oil and prayer with Barbara.

We started with silence, reflecting on these words:

Be silent,

Be still, aware;

For there

In your own heart

The Spirit

Is at prayer;

Listen and learn,

Open and find,

Heart-wisdom,

Christ.

A bidding prayer from Malling Abbey

We named others close to us who need Jesus’ healing  and closeness now and added them to Tony’s name and Barbara’s – Kate, Jennifer, Jack, Alison, June…

 

Candles words names

Michele led us in a body prayer – for more faith, nore hope, more love – for each of them

Then we shared the Northumbrian Celtic liturgy that is so central to our Wednesday group before each choosing a word (from the liturgy or otherwise) to write on a stone, with our own name on the reverse, to give to Tony and to Barbara to pledge our prayer for them. Barbara was anointed with oil using the words from the Iona Community:

In the name of Jesus, we open ourselves to the power that created the universe and the power that brought about the resurrection of Christ. Together, we ask that by the Holy Spirit, that same power would flood through you, Barbara, and bring healing, wholeness and peace.

Barbara, we anoint you in the name of the Father

And of the Son

And of the Holy Spirit.

God to enfold you.

Christ to touch you.

The Spirit to surround you.

This was repeated for Tony.

We shared bread and wine in our inimitable style at ThirdSpace to include Catholic and Protestant alike:

Before we share bread and wine, we reflect again on what this might mean…

For each of us, the sharing of bread and wine signifies something different. So what are we doing when we share bread and wine this evening?

We recognise that bread is a symbol of nourishment

Of the harvest – God’s provision

Of bread from heaven – in Manna sent to sustain God’s people in wilderness hardship

And as Jesus sent to live among us, as one of us…

Of brokenness and suffering

Of community

And, significantly for us in ThirdSpace, of companionship.

We eat this bread to acknowledge all these things here and now.

Companionship.  Suffering.  Sustenance.  Nourishment.

We recognise that wine is a symbol of joy – when our cup overflows

Of the great feast to come – when God prepares a table for us

Of suffering – that Jesus embraced in Gethsemane, a trail-blazer for us, a brother who has gone into death itself for and before us

And of upsurging, torrential resurrection, cleansing and liberation.

We drink this wine to acknowledge all these things here and now.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

We concluded the Celtic liturgy and gave our stones. All our prayers continue for you both – dearest of friends x

Held in prayer

 

 

Thomas

We started with Isaiah 40: 21 – 31 a very encouraging start to our time together.

We planned to look at the story of Thomas meeting with Jesus after the ressurection.

I have always felt a bit sorry for Thomas remembered forever as the doubter.  He was not always known as the doubter, but referred to earlier in the gospels as the twin. He was also shown to be faithful and brave. In John 11:16 – when Jesus says he is going back to Judea, the other disciples question it because of a plot to kill Jesus. Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him”.

He was sceptical about the resurrection. Put in context his scepticism is very understandable.

The man who he had been following for the past few years, his mentor and teacher had just been brutally put to death by the authorities, what was his fate and the fate of his friends going to be?

This friends claimed to have seen Jesus alive after the execution, something Thomas could not quite believe, unless he was able to see it with his own eyes.

What were these nut case friends of his planning to do now…?

He was scared, worried and had very big doubts about his future and that of his friends.

John 20: 24 – 29

Jesus appears in the room where the disciples were meeting. Thomas is with them, Jesus greeting is “Peace be with you” (20:26) and then reveals to Thomas the wounds made by the crucifixion.

What effect did this have on Thomas?

How did Jesus help with those worries, doubts and fears?

We spent some time thinking about our our own doubts, worries and fears, those we have for our families and those we know and those worries we have for the world.

We wrote these on slates and placed them symbolically at the foot of the cross in a time of prayer.

We chose verses of hope for us all in the form of messages in a bottle. Words to encourage us, to help us with faith, trust and hope.

What else do we know about Thomas, how did meeting with Jesus on that monumental day help his faith, hope and trust?

It is believed that he was the only disciple to tell the good news outside the Roman Empire.

He travelled first to the Parthian Empire (modern day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and later he travelled to Kerala in South West India, initially to preach to the Jews to Cochin. Later he was thought to have gained a lot of converts among the local Hindus. Converting to Christianity rather undermined the Hindu caste system making Thomas a problem for the high caste Hindus and he was thought to have been martyred.

Even today there are “congregations of Thomas” in Kerala.

The Great Chain of Being

Each revealing the CreatorAt the bandstand this Sunday we were influenced by teaching of Richard Rohr at Greenbelt and on the web (www.huffingtonpost.com) to revisit the Franciscan emphasis on the Great Chain of Being. St Bonadventure had warned that if we ceasse to see the Divine in each part of the chain we would lose sight of God altogether. It was all too obvious that this has indeed been the case and for those of us from evangelical backgrounds it was something we just hadn’t come across but now felt instinctively drrawn to from our ThirsSpace experience. If we had been in a church building we would have had to import visual aids for each part of the chain. As it was, meeting outdoors, we were surrounded by everything we were considering!

 

We read verses from Psalm 104 from the Message – what a great biblical support for this theology and then set out from the bandstand individually to look with fresh eyes at each part of the chain, to see or even greet it as our brother or sister in creation (in true St Francis style!), to give thanks for it and bless it and pray for this to be honooured once again…

We returned to pray for those close to us who need to know and receive God’s healing and hope now and for world needs, before reading the inspiraational verses from Colossians 1:15-20 which underpinned this holistic gospel and led us into sharing bread and wine, using these words:

We embrace the healing of all creation through Jesus’ life amongst us and death as one of us

the body of Christ broken for all

the blood of Christ poured out for all

It cannot be over-emphasised how significant it has become to us to worship outdoors each week. The changing weather, seasons, trees… all enrich our worship and make our faith richer, bigger…

“Elfansafety”

Just thought I’d let the world know we’re still meeting on Wednesdays and had a great evening together at the Red Lion this week. We had a good catch up session with one another and started thrashing through what we’re going to do next regarding publicity as we head towards this summer.

We also had a good time seeing Barbara and Grayden’s photos from the BIG PARTY! Wonderful to see old friends and to see such fun and love and laughter and joy.

Steve led us then on a presentation on health and safety – tongue in cheek to an extent – but it really got us talking – here’s some of his stuff…

“Elfansafety” – A Theological Perspective

In our
safety-obsessed, suing-fearful, lawyer-rich, State-nannied,
cotton-wool-wrapped, back-watching, legalistically-obsessed, freedom-restricting,
risk-averse, sclerotic-neurotic society….

What would Jesus do?

Sit the little children on his knee?
Take out the whip in the Temple Court?
Preach without any thought of the nutritional needs of the crowd?
Mix a dubious paste and smear it on someone’s eyes?

Mess with water and wine?

Send swine lemming-like into the lake?

End up on a cross?
For God to give us REAL freedom:

  • There needed to be REAL risk
  • There needed to be REAL consequences to our choices
  • We needed to exercise REAL responsibility
  • We needed to be able to experience REAL personal and moral growth as a result

And so he created a world of consistent natural law which contained risk….

THEREFORE…. HEALTH AND SAFETY IS THE WORK OF THE DEVIL

(in that it works counter to God’s creation, limits our freedom, narrows our experience of life and our exercise of responsibility and infantilises us)

Discuss!

 

 

Easter Sunday at the bandstand

We had a fantastic time together on Sunday morning, with no-one taking overall responsibility for our worship but all being invited to bring something. In the event it was quite remarkable – everything that was brought fitted together in a way that appeared altogether planned out!

We began with words of blessing (cross posted at revgalblog pals painting of the Risen Christ by HeQui)

 On this Easter morn we welcome you Jesus into our lives. 
We welcome your resurrection for it is 
life changing, life giving and life sustaining. 
We welcome the hope it brings to our world.  
We welcome the joy it brings to our darkness. 
We welcome the empty tomb for we know that it means you are on the loose. 
 
Lord, may your resurrection give life to those who feel lifeless,
those who are just going through the motions,  
and those who have had the death of a loved one. 
 
Lord, may your resurrection give hope to those who are mired in despair, 
who feel hopeless, and who have given up all hope. 
 
Lord, may your resurrection give joy to those who feel no joy, 
lost their joy or have had their joy snuffed out. 
 
Lord, may you be on the loose in this world as the risen one 

 This was followed by a reading from John 20 – that wonderful encounter between the risen Christ and Mary Magdalene.

 Richard Rohr’s words then inspired us, particularly: 

The Risen Jesus is the lasting image and eternal icon of what God is going to do everywhere for everybody in all of time.  God’s exact job description is this, according to St. Paul: I am the God “who turns death into life and calls into being what does not yet exist” (Romans 4:17).  Starting in Genesis, Yahweh is always creating something out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo), which becomes the bedrock meaning of grace.  Jesus stands forever as God’s promise, guarantee, and lifetime warranty of what God has always been about and will forever do: turn crucifixions into resurrections!  What else would give us hope?

 Using the old advert for Fry’s chocolate we considered the ‘journey’ of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and walked in silence in the park contemplating our own journey and recognising Jesus with us…

 

Frys chocolate advert

A jouney of emotions!

Desperate?

 Without hope, all is lost. Jesus was dead.

Pacified? As they heard the Scriptures unfolded, maybe there was some deep sense in which this death was meant to be. Their hearts burned within in.

Expectation? Was there any expectation as they sat to break bread together?

Acclamation? It’s Jesus!

Realization? And he’s real and alive and here! 

We returned to the bandstand to share bread and wine and to recognise Jesus in them.

Finally we read a poem by D Adams from ‘The edge of Glory’. A blessing for all at the bandstand, for our dearest friends not with us and for the many we know of and care for who are struggling with illness and bereavement this Easter

 This Easter may…

The Lord of the empty tomb, the conqueror of gloom

Come to you

The Lord in the Upper Room, dispelling fear and doom

Come to you

The Lord in the garden walking-the Lord to Mary talking

Come to you

The Lord on the road to Emmaus, the Lord giving hope to Thomas

The Lord appearing on the shore giving us life for evermore,

Come to you

We then anointed one another, as the body of Christ – remembering the women who had gone to anoint Jesus that morning, using these words:

May the loving power of God,
which raised Jesus to new life,
strengthen you in hope,
enrich you with his love,
and fill you with joy in the faith

Later we shared a magnificent lunch at Paul and Fi’s with other friends – a real day of joy and celebration. Thanks everyone and thanks be to God!

I am the Beloved

The following was inspired by a interview of Henri Nouwen by Philip Roderick, published in the book ‘Beloved’

Writing “I am….” statements about ourselves helps us see that we often define ourselves by what we do, what we have or what others say about us. The trouble is, these can change and ultimately will be all taken away. When you stop ‘doing’ what you’ve identified yourself by, for example, who are you then?

Matt.17:5 (NRSV): While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!

Mk1:11 (NRSV): – Baptism of Jesus: ‘You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Jesus resisted the temptations in the desert because he didn’t have to prove to anyone else that he was lovable / worthy. He knew he was already the beloved.  You are the Beloved. That is all that is true and constant. When we really know we are the beloved, we don’t have to run around proving it. We are able to live from a place of security, not a place of insecurity or rejection.

We screwed up our “I am …” statements and threw them into the heart. We then labeled ourselves with a new statement: “I am the beloved”.

Making the statement is one thing but we can choose whether to truly claim our belovedness; whether to live out of that place of belovedness, or not. ‘Choices are the tools of my belovedness’ Henri Nouwen. This means making daily choices in how to act, what attitude to have, how to spend our time etc.

Moses blessed the tribes of Israel before his death and had special things to say to each – Deuteronomy 33:12 (NRSV) Of Benjamin he said:
The beloved of the Lord rests in safety -the High God surrounds him all day long – the beloved rests between his shoulders. Picture yourself resting between God’s shoulders.

Reflect: How can I claim my Belovedness this week? If I did what would it mean for me? How might my life change?

Claiming and keeping your belovedness requires discipline. Help for this comes from community: ‘The Christian Community is a community of people who remind each other who they truly are – the beloved of God.’ Nouwen. So we stood in a close circle, connected to each other and receiving from God:

Fast from discontent, feast on gratitude.

Fast from worry, feast on God’s providence.

Fast from complaining, feast on appreciation.

Fast from unrelenting pressure, feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from self concern, feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety, feast on eternal truth.

Fast from discouragement, feast on hope.

Fast from endless noise, feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm, feast on prayer that sustains.

+++

Circle us, Lord
Circle us with the light of your presence within this dark world

Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation

Enable us to be victors over sin and despair

Enable us to become that which you would desire
(Silent prayer)

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation

ALL: Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms

Protect them in each moment of their daily lives

Protect them in the decisions that they face

Protect their homes and relationships
(Speak prayers / names as you wish)

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation

ALL: Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation

Where there is sickness and disease bring healing

Where there is hunger and despair bring hope

Where there is torture and oppression bring release
(Name situations as you wish)

Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation

ALL: Circle this world with the light of your presence

From www.faithandworship.com:

Love

Has its source in you

Creator God

Flows from you like an ocean

into a world as unyielding

as any shoreline cliff

And like the ocean

which batters

erodes

and wears away

even the hardest stone

your love persists

finds cracks and inlets

in hardened hearts

flows inside and works a miracle.

Who would think that water

was more powerful than granite

love mightier

than the hardest heart

Thank you, Creator God

for the power of your love

+++

We eat the body of the Beloved, broken for the Beloved

We drink the blood of the Beloved, shed for the Beloved

+++

Take a line each:

For each step that we might take

Be our guide, O Lord of life

For each load that we might bear

Be our strength, O Lord of life

For each mountain we might face

Be our power, O Lord of life

For each river that might impede

Be our safety, O Lord of life

For each place where we might rest

Be our peace, O Lord of life

For each sunrise and sunset

Be our joy, O Lord of life

What kind of pencil are you?

After a week of enforced rest and a reading of Ian Adams book, Cave, Refectory, Road I felt we needed a challenge. What was God’s call to us in Matlock? What kind of difference will Third Space make to the wider community in the area?

In the midst of the darkness of this broken world,  this country,

this town, this park, this place in which we meet, it is your light we seek.

We praise you Jesus that you are the light of the world;

May your light so shine in our lives,that others might see you
and may your light shine into our community and bring the peace, hope and love of Jesus.

http://www.faithandworship.com adapted

Meditation on a pencil

I came across the parable of the pencil and I was struck when sharpening pencils how you could see similarities between people and pencils

So we are going to meditate on these pencils – what kind of pencil are you?

Please look at these pencils as if their characteristics are like your own or people that you know or know of.

There are many colours, there are many sizes, some are fat, some are thin, some are tall, others small, there are new and old ones, there are academic ones and frivolous ones, some sparkle and some are plain, some can rub out past mistakes, some can no longer do that, some will never be able to rub out past mistakes, some have been used too much, some have something to say, some have nothing to say, some show signs of being chewed up, some are broken inside.

Our centrepiece

Which one are you?

Parable of The Pencil

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. “There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you’ll need it to become a stronger person.

Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.

Anglican Maori Liturgy
From The New ZealandEarth-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!
The way of your justice be followed by the people of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom 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 test, 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 forever.
Amen.

You come to us
to strengthen and to guide,
to warn and to revive your Church.
Therefore, with all your witnesses
who surround us on every side,
countless as heaven’s stars,
we praise you for our creation
and our calling,
with loving and with joyful hearts as we say:                                     A Variation from NZPB

Glory to God in the Highest.

We worship you, we give you thanks we praise you for your glory;

Jesus, son of God we thank you for your life, your teaching, your example and your sacrifice.

Church with …

Church with the cave

Church with the silence

Church with worship

Church with thanksgiving

Church with the trees

Church with the bird song

Church with the hills

Church with the sunrise

Church with the park

Church with the refectory

Church with each other

Church with the discussions in the pub

Church with the chats in the café

Church with the bread and wine

Church with laughter

Church with friendship

Church with sharing of meals together

Church with having fun together

Church with acceptance

Church with supporting each other

Church with community

Church with this community

Church showing acts of love.

Church with a road to walk …

Please spend a few minutes being thankful for what your church gives you and then a make a few notes with your pencil about how your church could change the local community for the better.

Healing of the Nations at the bandstand

This morning we focussed on all that’s happening in Egypt at the moment.

We began with some silence as we looked out over the park and onto the hills reflecting on the following words:

Psalm 24:1

God claims Earth and everything in it

God claims world and all who live in it.

 

This world

Your creation

Rolled into a sphere

Packaged in sunshine

Gift-wrapped in love

Given to us

Thank you.

Steve spoke of the link in this website to Maggie Dawn’s site (see ‘Headspace’) where there is an amazing photo of Coptic Christians encircling Muslims at prayer in Taria Square, with details of how they had prepared the ground to make it more pleasant for their compatriots to pray, encouraging them to express their relationship with God. He spoke of how we might learn from our Coptic bothers and sisters in how we serve others and invite and nurture those who wish to journey in faith to God.

Encircling prayer

We then encircled those in Egypt, those in other countries in need and those known to us who need God’s blessing now, by forming our own ‘Western Wall’ and placing our prayers in cracks around the bandstand.

Our western Wall

We shared bread and wine and closed with words from the wellsprings website taken from Revelation 21-22 as we reminded ourselves of the promise of healing for the nations:

Reader Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth and I heard a voice from the throne saying:
   
ALL “See, the home of God is among mortals.

 He will dwell with them as their God;

they will be His peoples, and God himself will be with them;

he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more.

   
Reader And the one who was seated on the throne said:
ALL “SEE, I AM MAKING ALL THINGS NEW.”
   
Reader And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine in it
for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb.
   
ALL THE NATIONS WILL WALK BY ITS LIGHT;
PEOPLE WILL BRING INTO IT THE GLORY
AND THE HONOUR OF THE NATIONS.
   
Reader And at its heart.
planted by the river that runs through paradise is the tree of life:
ALL AND THE TREE SHALL BEAR ITS FRUIT EACH MONTH
AND THE LEAVES OF THAT TREE
WILL BE FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS.
   
Reader And may God bless us
ALL THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Reader And until we meet again
ALL MAY GOD HOLD US IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND.  AMEN