Day 50

Steve and I went to Oxford for the Day 50 event on Saturday. It was  a day of celebrating the integration of CMS and SAMS as well as  CMS as an acknowledged community. And there was plenty to celebrate, with the inevitable humbling experience of meeting and hearing people from around the world, who told their stories of what God is doing elsewhere and made us realise again how the Church is so much bigger than we ever think. The new website ‘We are saying yes’ was launched too – a great idea which I can see us using. The website has a number of suggestions as to how we might take simple steps to live out our faith in new or more practical ways,. The idea is that we  sign up to having a go at one of them and then record our story of what happened! It was also exciting to hear Jonny Baker say more about the training of Pioneer leaders starting in September.

I said a little on stage during the ‘ONE mission SHOW’ about what we’re up to in ThirdSpace – though there was very little time to say much. Ian was there as our Mentor (still not sure what your title should be Ian!) and he said a little about his role in supporting small missional communities like ours. It was excellent to see him again and we should be seeing him soon in the next half term in Matlock.

Best bits:  Seeing and catching up with Ian again – always supportive and affirming… Chatting with Jonny Baker and seeing his somewhat contraversial installation – which we loved! Hearing extraordinary, ordinary people, who are serving God so fatihfully…  Being in the presence of so many people who have faithfully prayed for and served CMS and SAMS for so many years… Meeting old friends unxpectedly… Realising I enthused about our kids leading us in sharing bread and wine in a room full of Anglican priests, bishops and archbishop!!! Realising afresh that what we’re doing in ThirdSpace is thrilling and wonderful and radical and the best place to be! Well done all those who organised the day – it was a privilege to be part of it.

Wendy

Post-election prayer

What a wonderful evening we had last night, with Brigid leading us after a brief time around the table with cheese and wine (taking some final footage for our video which CMS has requested).  Brigid led us inan extremely challenging, thought-provoking and poignant time of  reflection and prayer, leading us through Psalm 139 and sharing thoughts from John Henry Newman and others about the way we view things and speak. With differing political allegiences in the group, it was a sensitivly led evening after the events of the last week, and the resignaton of Gordon Brown and the appointment of the coalition government the night before. Here are some of the words shared, though we all appreciated, as much as anything,  the silence and reflection and open prayer for country and ourselves and for Tony, Frances and Charlotte once again.

John Henry Newman

There are ten thousand ways of looking at this world, but only one right way. The man of pleasure has his way, the man of gain his, and the man of intellect his.  Poor men and rich men, governors and governed, prosperous and discontented, learned and unlearned, each has his own way of looking at the things which come before him, and each has a wrong way. There is but one right way; it is the way in which God looks at the world. Aim at looking at it in God’s way. Aim at seeing things as God sees them. Aim at forming judgments about persons, events, ranks, fortunes, changes, objects, such as God forms. Aim at looking at this life as God looks at it. Aim at looking at the life to come, and the world unseen as God does. Aim at seeing the king in his beauty. All things that we see are but shadows to us, and delusions, unless we enter into what they really mean.

Celtic Parables – Robert Van Weyer

Never mock what others say.

Perhaps their words are full of nonsense.

Perhaps they are trying to puff themselves up.

Perhaps they like hearing the sound of their voices.

Perhaps they are trying to deceive their hearers.

Perhaps they are foolish and dim.

Perhaps they are more clever than wise.

Yet amidst the useless clay

You may find jewels beyond price.

The word of God is in every heart,

And can speak through every voice.

17th Century Nun’s prayer

Give me the ability to see good in unexpected places, talents in unexpected people, and give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.

(She also said, I discovered later: Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion… with my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know Lord that I want a few friends at the end…. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken). Am I alone in finding those words alarmingly easy to identify with?

May Day walk

A few of us got out to enjoy sunny, if cold, weather. Just loved the views and the company up on Stanton Moor. Great to have Natasha back and to meet Kevin this weekend and really good to get to know Colin and Michele better. I foresee more walks and more pub lunches – though perhaps one with quicker service!

How should we decide where to put our X ?

Wednesday night at the Crown on the eve of the General Election Grayden led a discussion on how we should decide where to put our X.

We looked at three Old Testament prophets, Amos, Micah and Isaiah in order to see what lessons we could learn to apply to politics in Britain in 2010.

What were the subjects that the prophets spoke about? – Land, labour, capital, wages, debt, taxes, justice, equity, immigrants, courts, other peoples and races, economic divisions and social injustice – all relevant for today.

From Amos we learned that it is bad for society when the distribution of wealth is becoming more and more unequal.

The lessons from Isaiah are that people who work should not be poor and that we are all called to seek justice.

The lesson we learn from Micah for international relations is that if we want peace we must work for justice.

After that we discussed the following questions.

1. What do you think of my comment that “people who work should not be poor”?

2. Is the widening earnings gap between the very rich and the rest bad for society?

3. Do we need a new ethical option, conservative in personal values, radical for social justice?

4. Why have so many people lost the concept of “the common good”?

Ten people discussed two of the forbidden subjects – religion and politics and we all still remain firm friends!

May Day Celebration

Barbara and Grayden led a May Day Celebration at the Bandstand.

Barbara had been reading The Heavenly Party by Michele Guinness. She asked the question – what has happened to the Hebraic celebratory spirit that Jesus would have experienced throughout his life?

We used brilliant liturgy based on ideas from Seasonofcreation.com

Affirmation

We believe that God creates all things, renews all things and celebrates over creation.

We believe Earth is a precious sanctuary, a sacred planet filled with God’s presence,

a home for us to share and to care for.

We believe that God became fully human, became a part of Earth,

shared family life, and celebrated with friends and community.

Suffered and died on a cross for all humanity and for all creation.

We believe that the risen Jesus is the Christ at the centre of creation

reconciling all things to God,

renewing all creation and filling the cosmos.

We believe the Spirit renews life in creation,

groans in empathy with a suffering creation,

and waits with us for the renewal of creation.

We believe that with the Cosmic Christ we will rise,

And with the Creator God we will celebrate the new creation.

Celebration

Creator God as we reflect on the wonders of the cosmos

and the beauty of the earth it causes us to worship you.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

We celebrate the earth, our precious home, gleaming blue in space.

We will praise you O Lord; we celebrate and rejoice in you.

We celebrate the wonder and beauty of creation,

and call upon the hills and rivers,

trees and flowers,

and all living things to praise you.

You are worthy, O Lord our God to receive

worship and honour and praise,

for you created all things and by your will they were created

and have their being. Amen.

Reflection

Creator God as we reflect on the wonders of the cosmos

and the beauty of the earth it causes us to worship you.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.

We celebrate the earth, our precious home, gleaming blue in space.

We will praise you O Lord; we celebrate and rejoice in you.

We celebrate the wonder and beauty of creation,

and call upon the hills and rivers,

trees and flowers,

and all living things to praise you.

You are worthy, O Lord our God to receive

worship and honour and praise,

for you created all things and by your will they were created

and have their being. Amen.

New at the bandstand

Excited to have our laminated posters up on four sides of the bandstand for the benefit of passers-by who wonder who we are!

We may be church without… a building… but we aren’t without gargoyles!

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.