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

Weekend Away – the walk

On Saturday Third Space went for a 2 mile walk from the outdoor centre to Thruscross  reservoir and along towards the dam.  The name is taken from Thor’s Cross, evidence of the Christianisation of the Vikings in the area.  The air was clear and crisp with the sun causing the hills to glow green.  The reservoir was frozen around the edge giving a feeling of stillness and calm but with an abrupt shelf part way out where the current resisted the ice.  The ice could be heard cracking and straining around the trees that it held captive and the breeze made strange groans as it whipped across the lake. 

Breath-taking beauty

Stillness exemplified

We were encouraged to walk ‘mindfully’, slowing right down and paying attention to the here and now, the landscape, smells and sounds around us and tuning in to what God might want to say or to show us.  This required us to refrain from conversation (with the promise of being able to chat as usual on the return!).  We paused at a few points to explore the ruins of the thriving textile industry that once dominated the valley and of the village that was flooded to create the reservoir. 

Something about ruins...

Exploring the old

 We practiced some ‘slow walking’, concentrating on the contact of our feet with the earth in each step and the movement of our muscles.  We finished the walk with a “body prayer”, praying that we each would grow in faith, hope and love.

weekend away 2011

So we took to the hills. The Yorkshire hills in all their stark beauty.

For everything there is a time. A time to eat, a time to drink, a time to talk, a time to laugh, a time to think, a time to walk, a time to stand still, a time to pray, a time to be silent.

With the help if Ian and Gail, and the themes of ‘Cave, Refectory, Road’

We reflected on where Third Space was now and where we hoped it would be in the future.

We breathed a bit more deeply and slowly and as we shared bread and wine outside on the Sunday morning, we gave thanks for the journey so far and our companions who share it with us.

Under the canopy of God’s love

Sunday found us at the bandstand looking at a parachute and an umbrella.

Whilst on the walk in Blubberhouses, wrapped up against the elements Barbara said she felt like she was inside even though we were out of doors. This set her off into a train of thought about how ancient people thought of our world. Flat with a canopy of sky or stars.

We had some fun and games with the parachute and talked about being under a canopy of God’s love.

readings Isaiah 40 :22

Isaiah 4: 5 and 6

Rob Bell talks of a canopy of love in his sermon on the Song of Solomon

“From the perspective of the Scriptures, a man & a woman coming together is a picture of

God and his people coming together

– To symbolically represent this coming together, for thousands of years Jews have

taken a prayer shawl, which in the book of Numbers God commanded the people

to wear (Num. 15:38)…

– They then fastened the four corners to four poles, and the wedding attendants held

the four poles so that the couple could exchange their vows under the canopy (or

chuppah).

– Just as God ‘hovered over’ the people of Israel while they were journeying

through the wilderness… so, too, does God ‘hover over’ a marriage couple…

protecting them, journeying with them, and blessing their union.”

The symbolism used here to show that God is hovering over the couple getting married under a canopy of love can be taken further if we see the church as the bride of Christ. God is hovering over us protecting us, journeying with us and blessing our union with Jesus.

Thanksgiving  –  sharing bread and wine.

Gratitude, Praise and Thanksgiving.

Voices full and joyful.

These you deserve O Lord,

For when we had no faith and no future

You called us to be your sons and daughters.

When we lost our way or turned away

You have not abandoned us.

Your arms of love are always wide open in welcome.

And Lord you offer not just bread and wine,

But your very self……….

You are worthy of all our praise and thanksgiving.

And so we join our voices to those of the church on earth and in heaven:

Holy, Holy, Holy,

God of power and might

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest………………

And so with one voice we announce resurrection in our lives,

In this place, and in the life of our community.

So fill this bread and wine with the life of your Spirit,

And so inspire us to be a community of love and hope.

(Adapted with thanks from Iona Community liturgy)

God in

God in the trees

God in the bird song

God in the hills

God in the sunrise

God in the woods

God in the half-frozen lake

God in the park

God in the worship

God in the discussions in the pub

God in the chats in the café

God in the bread and wine

God in the fish and bread by the river

God in the silence

God in the laughter

God in the friendship

God in the sharing of meals together

God in having fun together

God in accepting each other

God in supporting each other

God in this community

God in each other

God in every act of love.

(Third Space experiences)

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!