Getting ourselves publicised

Very excited about getting business cards printed and laminated posters to put onto the sides of the bandstand on a Sunday morning.

It carries the caption: Church without…

We reckon we are church without PCC… walls… heating…

What might you add?

STORY Making sense of our lives….

Steve picked up on the theme of last Sunday and got us thinking more about story.

Story-making is hard wired in human beings; it’s the way we make sense of life itself; we provide narratives to explain the world around us and our experience of it. These narratives we pass on from generation to generation.

We think of stories having a certain structure of their own.

Beginning > Middle > End

Or:  Where have we come from? Where are we now? Where are we going? 

Or: The Biblical narrative is sometimes broken into four stages outlining God’s plans for humanity: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation. This seems to mirror our own life experience. We are created creatures hopefully aware of our “creatureliness”, aware of our fallenness, rejoicing in God’s rescue in Jesus and awaiting completion in the renewed earth.

1 Corinthians 15 v.1-8. This is the summary of the good news story passed on to Paul and which he in turn is passing on. He adds his personal story (“and last of all he appeared to me…”) to the narrative. He knows how he fits in to the “big picture”. We too have a place in that story.

Ultimately a narrative either has hope and meaning at its core or it does not have hope and meaning at all. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection ensure that our story ultimately gives purpose and significance both to us and to the whole of God’s created order.   

We placed stones around some of these ideas as symbols of thanks for those significant in our stories and of support for those needing Jesus now.

We shared bread and wine using these words:

And so we come to the story of the bread and wine. The story that began on a Thursday evening between friends sharing a Passover meal. A story framed by another story – both stories of redemption and of rescue.

That night, Jesus and his friends retold the story of God’s rescue of his people from slavery. And from that time God was known by the revered name ‘Redeemer’

That was their story

This is our song ‘ Guide me O thou great Redeemer’

That night Jesus broke bread, the unleavened bread of Isaac, the ‘that which is to come’ bread…

That was their story

This is our song ‘Great is thy faithfulness O God my Father’

Jesus spoke new meaning into the bread. ‘This is my body broken for you. Take and eat in memory of me’. This became the sacrament of his death on the cross and an everlasting sign that no area of life falls outside the presence and activity of God – even in the midst of extraordinary evil, suffering and death…

This is our story

This is our song ‘And I will trust in you alone’

That night Jesus and his friends drank wine – a reminder of the blood of a lamb slain to save life and a symbol of joy and thanksgiving

That was their story

This is our song ‘Thank you for saving me’

Jesus spoke new meaning into the wine ‘This is my blood, shed for you all for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me’. In so doing he revealed the culmination and climax of God’s self-limiting, self-emptying love. Love which began in the very act of creation with his gift of free will and the love that would be demonstrated in the out-pouring of Christ’s blood.

This is our story

This is our song ‘Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saves           a wretch like me’

And so we eat and drink, knowing that as we do so, we share in an on-going story of the triumph of good over evil, of hope over despair, of life over death

This is our story

This is our song ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’

 

What’s your story?

In his book, A New Kind of Christianity, Brian Mclaren. is keen for his readers to get a hold of this idea of narrative, of God’s story continually unfolding. He talks about the first story of sacred creation and reconciliation in Genesis, where everything is ‘very good’ but not complete because it’s  constantly evolving into something even better and more wonderful. Alongside the strand of creation is the story of reconciliation, where God continually is the reconciler. It is a story of goodness being created and re-created- good has the first word and good has the last.

Last Sunday we built our time together on this idea of story and reflected on the words we would use to sum up our story..so far.  In my t’internet meanderings I came across some wonderful words by craig mitchell – hope he doesn’t mind me messing about with them a little bit…..

“There are times when the story of our lives 
takes unexpected turns for better and for worse.

There are times when the story of our lives is a ‘page turner’ – when events and circumstances seem to rush in on us, one after another, barely giving us time to breathe.

There are times when the story of our lives 
pauses at a blank page

and there seems nothing to write, 
nowhere to go next, 
no-one to tell.

Reflect on the story that has been and continues to be written by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our lives and in the world. Listen to that story being told in creation around us, remember where we have come from and what future chapters promise and  encourage and challenge one another to demonstrate that story to the world.

What story shall we live?
The story of saving love
Where did this story begin?
It was whispered before time began,
it was sung in the melody of Creation.

Whose story is this?
This story is God’s alone to tell
It hums in the rivers and the trees
It whispers in the skies and the seas
It calls to the people of all places
It speaks in our hearts, in our lives
Why then should we speak of this story?
This story calls our name in Creation
This story claims our lives through the Cross
This story shapes our future through the Spirit
We are its telling in this time and this place

So…..if you had the choice of just 3 words…which ones would you choose to sum up your story so far?…..


The Emmaus Road at the Bandstand!

Barbara and Grayden led us this morning looking afresh at the Emmaus road encounter with Jesus. We looked at words that might have been indicative of the feelings of those two disciples and went slow-walking again to pray for those who might be at a similar point in their own journeys. We were particularly mindful of Tony taken into hospital last night and Frances and Charlotte caught up in all of that.  How comforting the story is, of Christ walking with us when we are afraid, distressed, angry, lost… even if we do not recognise him there.  How encouraging that he taught them in that time of confusion and went on to make himself known…

Emmaus

Jesus walks with us when we feel...

We broke bread as Jesus had done with them and shared wine, recognising him in those things.

Recognising Jesus in broken bread

The sun is out and so are people in the park – we are aware that we are becoming more visible. This week we get business cards printed and laminated posters with our web address to attach to the bandstand.

Also, this last week we’ve become aware of some who may wish to become part of ThirdSpace in a dispersed community sort of a way. We’re working on how we  can include and support those of you who are visiting our website – so watch this space – and why not leave a comment and let us know who you are and what you think!

Here are two prayers used today you may wish to reflect on this week or adapt to your own situations (we’re getting into speaking blessing these days – perhaps you can join with us and insert names for blessing in this second prayer):

We shall celebrate Easter! Alleluia!

We shall bring love to those who are sad

And share joy with those who are happy

We will live our lives to the glory of God

We will live in Easter joy and Easter hope

And bring new life to those we meet.

Alleluia!

 

 

May the blessing of God the Creator be upon this place,

The blessing of Christ our Redeemer be upon us,

The blessing of the Spirit, hallowed and healing, be on our lives,

The blessing of the Triune God be on all who seek an encounter with the loving and divine.

Maundy Thursdsay

What a special time we had last Thursday. We watched part of the BBC drama ‘The Passion’ covering the events of the last supper and Gethsemane. Then we reminded ourselves of some of the background  to those events before taking 10 minutes’ silence to reflect and pray.

We considered what areas of service we most struggle with and how we might let Jesus wash our feet?

We considered the symbolism of unleavened bread in the Jewish tradition – with yeast signifying pride and sin… the three matzot on the table being known as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and how it is ‘Isaac’ that is broken in the Passover meal – the patriarch taken to be sacrificed at Mount Moriah (associated with the Temple mount in Jerusalem)… the ‘afikomen’ – the half of ‘Isaac’ hidden during the meal – meaning  ‘afters’ or ‘that which is to come’… We shared the broken matzah and asked what  this bread said to us – the body of Christ broken – the unleavened bread – the Isaac – the that-which-is-to-come bread…

We looked again at the 4 promises remembered from Exodus 6:6-7 in the 4 cups of wine:

I will bring you out – the cup of deliverance

I will deliver you from slavery – the cup of freedom

I will redeem you with a demonstration of my power – the cup of redemption

I will acquire you as a nation – the cup of consummation

It was the third cup Jesus redefined as his blood – the one following the main meal and so also known as the cup of thanksgiving – from which we derive the term eucharist – and he refused the fourth cup, saying he would drink of this in his Father’s kingdom… We shared wine and contemplated what this wine said to us…

And we reflected on Jesus sweating blood and how this is a sign of acute stress. Jesus was terribly afraid, despairing of his friends who couldn’t stay awake for him… We found ourselves all wanting to speak to Jesus in that awful moment…

And then we talked – we asked all sorts of questions and pondered on how it was… Did God hold his breath in fear that Jesus might exert his free will and flee? Did Jesus truly have a choice? Was John Mark there (as suggested in his Gospel) meaning that even when Jesus felt alone, he was not?

Thanks to all who came – it was the most profound Maundy Thursday I have experienced and to have done that with such friends made it very special indeed.  Wend

Palm Sunday at the Bandstand

Our theme this week was that of joining in with Creation’s praise, based on Jesus’ words in Luke 19 “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”

There’s something undeniably awe-inspiring the more we see of the world or universe we live in. Some of us have been enjoying ‘The Wonders of the Solar System’ presented by Brian Cox and Richard Hammond’s ‘Invisible World’. In the latter we discovered that the spectrum of light visible to the naked eye is a mere 0.00000000001% of what actually exists – and that if you represented that spectrum of light as an octave on a key board, you’d have to extend the keyboard 93 million miles – to the sun – to cover all that there is! It makes you wonder what God sees!

I also came across an article on the net about how scientists at Sheffield University believe they have recorded the Sun singing! They have shown that there are specific frequencies that resonate from the Sun’s atmosphere. The sun emits acoustic waves in exactly the same sense as a plucked guitar string.  They go on to say that when the Sun sets off flares and such, there are even more sounds that are emitted. The frequency at which the Sun is “singing”, is too low for the human ear to hear. It’s intriguing to think that the Sun is singing for its creator and no one else.

On top of that, in the last decade, scientists discovered that the earth gives off a relentless hum of countless notes completely imperceptible to the human ear, like a giant, exceptionally quiet symphony, whilst the origin of this sound remains a mystery.  They also say that unexpected powerful tunes have been discovered in this hum. It is known as ‘Earth’s Hum’.We took time walking from the bandstand to look with new eyes and listen afresh to the world around us, using Psalm 65 in The Message to prompt our praise to join with that going on already. The passage ends:

Dawn and dusk take turns
calling, “Come and worship.”
Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!

It felt good later to share bread (a Sabbath Challah loaf) and wine, using the words from the Jewish Friday night meal, praising the God who brings forth bread from the earth and fruit from the vine… A good time to be reminded of our deep connection with the world we live in.

This was our centrepiece with stones reminding us of the ThirdSpace community.

Trumpeting praise

Welcome home Tony

So good to see our good mate Tony released back into his natural habitat after a prolonged spell… where was it Tony? Did you mention you’ve been in hospital? Ever one for attention he still insists on sporting an impressive pick(?) line going straight to the heart (sit down and block your ears Barbara), complete with rucksacked pump-action drip thing (I’m so good at this medical jargon!). Anyway, it was EXCELLENT to have him back with us at the table, eating and sharing bread and wine with us once again and for Frances and Charlotte to be here too , making up the full complement. After Barbara’s wonderful blessing for Steve before leaving for Nepal, Steve was called upon to speak. We were all with him in his single response ‘All I want to say is that it’s so good to see you Tony!’ That’s family.

News of further important relationships

What a great week we had last week with several visitors to ThirdSpace – some at the bandstand and some at the pub and then at our meal on Wednesday night. It was so encouraging and enjoyable to welcome new folk and begin to hear some of their stories…

On top of that, some of us met with Michael Mitton (the Fresh Expressions Adviser for the Diocese of Derby) to explore our relationship with the Anglican Church. We had such an affirming evening and were delighted to agree to an informal friendship with the diocese, through a continuing relationship with Michael as a critical friend. This fits in with our commitment to be ecumenical, whilst wanting to embrace good relationships with the wider Church. It also fits well with our commitment to our affiliation with CMS and to Ian Adams as our Mentor / Spiritual director / some sort of title we haven’t come up with yet!

Michael was so positive about CMS’s vision and it was good to know that he has met with Ian and Chris Neal of CMS along with the Bishop of Repton, Bishop Humphrey. We were particularly taken with an analogy he used of us being akin to the Celts who set off in their coracles, raising their sails and going where the wind blew / the Spirit took them. It was both inspiring and challenging – but a true reflection of how we’ve always felt – a sense of not being in control of where ThirdSpace is going but believing we’re being taken somewhere!

We also really liked the quotation he shared with us from Vincent J Donovan’s  ‘Christianity Rediscovered”  In his preface, he quotes an American student who wrote to him saying,

            ‘… do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have been before.’

That’s pretty much the vision we share for this group as different individuals join us and we journey together. Thanks Michael – we really look forward to meeting with you again and exploring more with you.

Community at the bandstand

Had a great time in brilliant sunshine and breath-taking beauty in the park this Sunday. Barbara and Grayden led, looking at Fair Trade since it was the last weekend of Fair Trade fortnight. They also linked in ideas of community and had something for us to discuss over coffee from an article on the Hope Revolution Website by Richard Witham from Scripture Union. It followed our discussions on Wednesday evening about the difference between a club and a community. Thought it in some way answered our question.

‘What is community?

We each find ourselves in a wide variety of communities. Some of these we choose and others we do not. Take a moment and think about all the different communities (groups of people) that you are part of. These could include your friends, classmates, those who live down your street, internet communities, team mates, those in your church, people in your youth group, or your very own family. One of the best examples of how God calls us to live within our communities, bringing about change, as well as actually being the change, can be found when He called Abram – Genesis 12 v 1-4 
Abram and his family – who later became the people of Israel – were called by God to be a blessing to others and in turn, they themselves would also be blessed. However the first thing Abram had to do was follow God and trust where he was being led. If we want to bring change and bless others we have to first be willing to follow God and trust Him. If you feel you are able to say to God that you trust him and will follow him every day, no matter where this may take you, then find a moment to say this to God.   
If we want to bring about change we cannot do this on our own. We need to be part of a Christian community that together, is willing to follow God and serve Him as their number one priority. Take a moment today to pray for the Christian community that you are a part of.   
To bring about change to our communities, God has called us to bless others first and then He will bless us. It’s not that we seek a blessing – that’s certainly not our motivation – but God in His kindness always blesses those who seek to be a blessing to others.  
Ask God how you can actively, creatively and selflessly bless those around you this week, and therefore begin to bring about life-changing, revolutionary, transforming change in their lives.

The way I see it a community differs from a club in that – a Christian Community is on a journey together – led by God. The community has as its priority a commitment to bring about the Kingdom of God in areas in which it moves. A Christian Community should have at its heart a desire to bless others and to follow the example of Jesus.’ 

Before we shared bread and wine we reflected again on what this might mean…

What are we doing when we share bread and wine?

  • When we share bread and wine it is a thanksgiving to God.
  • When we share bread and wine we bless the creator and affirm creation.
  • When we share bread and wine we remember Jesus.
  • Sharing bread and wine is a celebration of what we believe.
  • Sharing bread and wine calls us into community.
  • Sharing bread and wine is a shared meal of liberation.
  • As we eat the bread and drink the wine we recognise that we are dependent of God.
  • When we share bread and wine it is open to all.
  • Sharing bread and wine leads us to serve others.
  • Bread and wine is a symbolic meal of the Kingdom – it anticipates the reign of God – it is a foretaste of the great feast to come.

sunday in the park -what are you feasting and fasting on?

Musing on lent this Sunday in the park, we’ re grateful to Grace for the following…

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.

seems a long way off from giving up chocolate biscuits……