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
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.
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.
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.
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……
Well, we’re back from an amazing time away together of feasting and celebrating, praying and pilgriming (is that a word?), laughing and soaking up beauty and sunshine and space… We tasted a little bit of the renewed earth and have come home energised and enormously thankful! The ThirdSpace pilgrimage day took us to Newport Sands where we began with the words ‘The Father has called you, the Christ walks with you and the Spirit will surely surprise you’.
There we found treasures representing our heart’s prayer and there we drew and named the ‘angels’ God has sent us at key times in our lives (as he sent his angels to St Brynach on Carn Ingli); we wandered through the dunes and took shelter and reflected on what ThirdSpace has meant to us saying:
‘May the God who is community be with us as we seek to be community’.
From there to Nevern to the wonderful St Brynach’s Church with its ancient Celtic cross and time to rest and to meditate in the intense stillness there.
For many of us the Pilgrims’ Cross on the pilgrimage route to St Davids was the most poignant part of the day, as we placed our treasures in the cracks in the stones and placed a special blessed piece of driftwood for our good friend Tony who was still in hospital and so not with us…
The final part of the day was at St Non’s with an unforgettable time in the chapel there, as we anointed one another with water from the well, echoing those first words of the day and ended with the ‘companion’ liturgy.
We were then treated to such hospitality that we cannot expect to see again this side of eternity from the Sisters of Mercy at the St Non’s Reatreat House. What a day. What a privilege. What wonderful companions.
Today at the bandstand we rememberd our core value on journeying and S led us on what we might learn from Jesus’ own spiritual journey as reflected in the story of the temptations and from then on. It was helpful to consider that he didn’t have it all sown up from the start, but that he had a journey to make to reach the understanding of his role as suffering servant and then to see that through.
Our prayer time adopted prayers found on the web on the idea of God circling us – an important concept when the journey is not without dangers and risks. We drew chalk circles around us for each prayer…
Circle prayers left in evidence at the bandstand
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
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
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
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
ALL: Circle this world with the light of your presence
The kids had fun drawing witht he chalk at teh end. Rather like this image:
That's one way to advertise!
More thought-provoking stuff! B & G led last week, focussing on blessings as part of a Celtic pilgrimage experience. Loved the youngest blessing us oldies in the giving of bread and wine and loved so many of the blessings used in our time together. We closed with these words:
Blessings on you
who stand in the tension and the flux
of understanding God.
In the struggle to understand what is
and what isn’t
what was and what will be,
what we are
and what we should be.
Blessings on you who step out of the battle
Who choose to be at peace,
who choose to listen,
and who choose to be humble in a world that
seems so very sure
and so very lost.
Blessings as we revisit places we’ve been
and look forward to the places we’d like to see.
As we embrace dialogue,
as we choose to love,
and as we rejoice in this journey,
continually thankful for the chance to grow,
the chance to think,
and the ever-present chance to change.
Just thought I’d better update what we’ve beenup to for those who haven’t joined us but are interested in what we’re up to! Last Sunday we began with a reading from Luke 24 of the disciples on their way to Emmaus. They were so preoccupied by the events of that weekend that they failed to recognise the risen Christ jouneying with them and teaching them. It was suggested that we might also be so wrapped up in our own busyness and preoccupations that we might too miss what Jesus is saying and being NOW.
So thanks to Chris’s visit on the Wednesday before, we had a go at ‘slow walking’ – a deliberate slowing down to raise our awareness of our surroundings and of God’s presence. We dispersed from the bandstand and – slowly – went our separate journeys to become aware of the now, of Jesus with us, of our own journey… And wrapped arond our necks, a scarf, representing Christ with us as our close companion.
More of that needed – wonderful.
Then back to take off our scarves and to wrap them around the bandstand as a symbol of our prayers for named people known to us and those far away in Haiti and ellsewhere who need Jesus’ companionship specially now.
For Pam and others in Haiti
For those not known to us...For Tony and for Kate
We finished using Steve’s ‘Companionship’ liturgy with bread and wine, with the added challenge to be pilgrim people who attract and invite others to join the journey…
Today, Paul and Fi helped us reflect on the spiritual journey we’ve come on and to consider both what we believe and how we believe it. We heard a clip from a Frank Schaeffer talk at Greenbelt 2 years ago sharing how he’d come to reject the idea that he knew anything, in the light of his moving away from past certainties. Fi shared the challenging story from the new Mars Hill Pastor about the Mennanite man who lived out so passionately his belief in pacifism and could explain his belief in his position, whilst also acknowledging ‘But I could be wrong’. Since we all have changed the way we’ve looked at certain issues of faith as the years have gone by, how can we hold in tension that same passionate conviction that makes an impact on how we live, whilst holding that with an open hand and accepting that we might be wrong?
Challenging stuff that we mulled over further at Costa… not forgetting that we’d been set homework to live out that radical humility in our conversations and homes and workplaces by actually saying ‘But I could be wrong’!
Wonderful as ever meeting at the bandstand and glorious to meet in sunshine and relative warmth! Posts required to update us on who scores the most Pharisee points in relation to how we get on with our homework!!