What the papers say

We had a lively discussion about the press and phone hacking on Wednesday and then Colin posed some really challenging questions.

One of which was something like, how can we in Third Space help people when they are vulnerable and downcast, how can we offer them support and strength?

As part of the discussion that followed this question I was asked how had I remained so strong over the recent months following a diagnosis of cancer.

I have thought about this a lot since I was asked and have concluded that, although I have had my moments of weakness, I have been able to remain strong because I have not felt alone.

I have not felt alone because:

  • I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father.
  • I am not alone in any pain or suffering that I have because I know Jesus went through much more pain and suffering than I will ever have to, and he understands all my weakest moments.
  • I have some brilliant friends at Third Space who have supported and encouraged me.
  • I have a wide circle of friends who have been there for me, making me laugh (and cry) when they showed me such love and concern.
  • I have a special supportive friend, Tony. Who through his wisdom and advice (because he has been through the same) and his love and concern (when things are more serious for him) has been very moving.
  • I have the support of a wonderful husband who has been with me along every step of the way.
  • If all else fails eternity awaits me.

For those who want to support the vulnerable, the downcast be a good friend. I thank God for all my wonderful friends.

Can you tell what it is yet?

It was wonderful to be joined by 3 sets of visitors today! Lovely to see Fi and Jean and to welcome Rachel, Mark and 3 kids who sought us out having read our website! You all encouraged us and it was lovely to see you.

After enjoying the beauty of our surroundings, in bright sunshine, reflecting on selected verses from Psalm 104, we had time to read and reflect on the account of the feeding of the 5000 in John 6 and Jesus’ following teaching on being the bread of life. There’s something about everything that Jesus said and did that needs to be seen as part of a greater whole – the disciples were constantly being stretched to see beyond the obvious (Jesus providing lunch) and to see the bigger picure – rather like Rolf harris on children’s TV creating his large cartoons and asking ‘Can you see what it is yet?’

Can you see what it is yet?

We looked at 3 ‘scenes’ from the passage, considering various questions:

Scene 1           “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But  that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

In a world where might is right, Jesus reminds us that the values of the kingdom are the exact opposite. God’s way is for David to defeat Goliath, for faith the size of a mustard seed being enough, of his kingdom acting like yeast in the dough, of the least of this world having God’s favour…What situations overwhelm or paralyse you because the issue seems so big and your input so small? When has a small act of kindness or generosity made a difference to you? What have you done for others lately?
What could you do this week?

Catherine of Sienna: ‘Become the person you were created to be and set the world on fire’ We don’t have to be like anyone else, not powerful, not well-known – we just have to be authentically who we were intended to be. How can you fulfil this calling and make a difference to others?


Scene 2           “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.”

God is a generous God. He doesn’t keep a tally of what we deserve, he wants to do so much more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3) and just as his word
never returns to him empty (Isaiah 55), nothing goes to waste in our lives.

What have been the lows of the past – recent or otherwise? What has  been hard / challenging / disappointing / hurtful?

St Paul saidAnd we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. (Romans 12:28)

At the time of challenge, we often don’t see things as we come to see them with the benefit of hindsight (Rolf  Harris again!). What can you give thanks for where you see now that a past hurt has been woven into a plan for good for you? Is there anything you need to trust God for with regard to this at present?

Scene 3           “But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven”

Bread broken and given to others is so much more than a matter of lunch! Jesus makes the link at last with sacrifice – his own – for the sake of the world. Jesus
fed a crowd and was nailed to a cross. It’s all about giving. In him alone can we find true fulfilment and in following him we also must take up the cross and deny self – we become the bread broken and shared for others.

Rob Bell said “We need to ask ‘What is God doing and how can I be part of it?’” (Open)

When we pray for those who are needy / struggling, we have to believe that God wants to be at work in their lives, to bring something good out of it – to offer bread…

What might it mean for you to break bread for others?

What is God doing and how can I be part of it?


When we reassembled from our own meditiations we broke bread and  shared wine. Finally we took the rest of the bread and threw bits of it into the river over over the bridge in ‘pooh-sticks’ fashion, naming those we were breaking bread for and watching those prayers being carried downstream as surely as they are heard by God…

How could we forget


Michele led us last Sunday using an adaptation of liturgy from the Iona Community around the theme of remembering and forgetting. There was plenty of space for reflection and personal prayer and the whole thing was both touching and inspiring. After initial words focussing on the goodness of  God we were reminded of words from Hosea:

God says:

When Israel was a boy, I loved himI called my children out of Egypt, But the more I called, the further they went from me.

I was the one who taught them to walk; I was the one who had taken them in my arms; But they did not remember That I had looked after them,

That I had led them in bonds of love, That I had lifted them like a little child to my cheek, That I had bent down to feed them.

Here we paused to reflect on how often we forget God.

It was the following words that I found so touching:

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us


If we have forgotten you
Forgotten that you made, feed and love us


If we have forgotten you

And in your place imagined a god made in our own image


If we have forgotten that you smile

And thought only that you frown


If we have forgotten the range of your friends

And have kept safe within our familiar circle


If we have forgotten  that we were made in your mould

And have not loved ourselves the right way


Silence, reflection, prayer, bread and wine followed and we all tied knots in a handkerchief to help us to remember all we’d learnt and re-learnt as a visual reminder in the week ahead. Perhaps the most moving time was when we took turns to name those for whom we are most concerned whilst tying a knot in a long length of string. The knots kept being tied as person after person was named and held in prayer and we acknowledged that God would not forget – Tony, Frances, Charlotte, Barbara, Jack, Kate, Alison, Jennifer, Dot… the names kept coming. We will not forget to pray for you our friends….

Prayer knots

Head Space

Wednesday evening in the pub saw us in discussion on various issues – questions which we pulled out of the hat.

From a selection of over 50 questions we discussed:

  • Why are the Scottish Nationalists so popular in Scotland? Is it because they espouse “old ” Labour policies?
  • If the stories of the 6 day creation and Adam and Eve are creation myths then the world was not “perfect” before the “fall”, and where does sin fit in?
  • Is the universe finite or infinite? Does the universe increase in size to accommodate matter, time an space, rather like a balloon expanding as it fills with air?
  • With food prices reaching record highs should commodity markets be re-regulated to stop speculation and profiteering?
  • How do you think God views transsexuals?
  • Throughout history most organised religions have been bringers of education. True or false?
  • Jesus talks a lot about money and very little about sex, why is the Church’s emphasis the opposite way round (apart from asking for money frequently!)?
  • Is volcanic activity a result of sin or part of God’s created order?

As you can imagine we had some lively discussion, stretched the old grey matter and concluded that there are no quick, easy answers to some of life’s more complex questions.

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,



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




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…


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….


(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)