Fairtrade Fortnight and Food Security

The theme for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is “Sit down for breakfast and stand up for farmers.”

“BEFORE YOU FINISH EATING BREAKFAST IN THE MORNING, YOU’VE DEPENDED ON MORE THAN HALF THE WORLD.”

Martin Luther King.

But what didn’t he say?

THERE ARE TIMES OF THE YEAR WHEN MANY PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WHO GROW THE FOOD WE EAT CAN’T FEED THEIR OWN FAMILIES.

Shocking, isn’t it?

THE PROBLEM IS SO COMMON THAT FARMERS AND WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD HAVE DIFFERENT NAMES FOR IT………..

THE SEASON OF HUNGER

THE TIME OF SILENCE

THE THIN MONTHS

THE MONTHS OF THE BIG STOMACH

THE HUNGRY MONTHS

THE MONTHS OF WATER

We wrote a grace or thank you prayer after thinking about food insecurity.

We wrote a grace or thank you prayer after thinking about food insecurity.

 

Food insecurity 

Millions of farmers and workers in developing countries who work hard every day to grow the food we eat still don’t earn enough to put food on the table throughout the year.  In other words they do not have food security.

There is no guarantee of food security in many parts of the world.  For example in coffee-growing communities there may not be enough food available for up to 5 months of the year.  It is so common that in Latin America it has its own name – the Thin Months.

It happens in the period between harvests when payment received for the previous crop has run out. It may also coincide with higher local food prices.

It can mean parents missing meals so children can eat, or women missing meals so men can eat.

It may mean deciding between continuing to send children to school or the family missing meals, and this can lead to children not being able to concentrate at school because they are hungry.

It may mean if someone in the family is ill then it’s a choice between paying for treatment and eating!

There is enough food in the world for everyone.  But with farmers and workers often earning so little they simply can’t afford to buy food all year round.

Fairtrade works to change this by making sure companies pay a fair price for what people grow, plus a little extra – the Fairtrade Premium – for producers to invest in their communities and businesses.

When people receive a fair price they can take more control of their lives when times are hard and worry less about how to feed their families.

Fairtrade means that many farmers and workers are able to do what we take for granted – put enough food on the table throughout the year.

Prayer  – we each chose either Fairtrade chocolate or a Fairtrade banana and then we prayed for people who are hungry due to food insecurity. It is estimated that 795 million people are undernourished globally.

Rozina’s Story

Rozina Begum, a tea farmer in Bangladesh, tells the story of how Traidcraft and tea plants have helped her to make her dreams become a reality.

“From my childhood I knew that poor people had only one dream which is to be able to eat three times a day. I dreamt the same. I thought I would get to eat if I could get married to someone. I got married when I was thirteen. My mother-in-law had five sons including my husband. My father-in-law died when my youngest brother-in-law was just five. My in-laws were in terrible poverty; a kind of poverty which is not describable in words. When the men of the house were seated to eat, my heart kept on trembling and I was worried they would ask us to get one more spoonful of rice. I would have to tell them that there was no more rice in the pot. When my husband used to ask me if I had eaten, I reluctantly nodded my head so he would not know that my mother-in-law and I ate only once a day.

I had only one Saree that I had to wash at night when everyone went to sleep. Sometimes I wore the wet Saree while sleeping. Even after working in people’s houses my mother-in-law and my husband could not manage to bring food back to our home. Our bamboo hut could not stop the winter’s cold breezes from coming inside. There were no beds and we kept freezing on the mud floor. In the rainy season we got wet sitting inside our only shelter and all of us remained quiet about that situation.

My youngest brother-in-law Faruk fell ill when he was 10. The family could not afford treatment and so Faruk died, but poverty did not. We had no ducks no hens no cows or any furniture. We were fighting against poverty with empty hands.

After that I got pregnant with our eldest daughter. I often went to sleep after starving a whole day. My husband used to give me courage saying that one day our days would change. I left my daughter at home with my mother-in-law and both my husband and I started working as labourers in tea gardens. Together we could earn about £1.15 a day.

We got to know that there is profit in tea planting. I heard about Traidcraft. My husband and I decided to use our land for growing tea plants. Our soil is very good for tea planting. I received six training sessions from Traidcraft. We are now able to see the face of happiness. Now we have electricity.  We built a house and we built a kitchen.  I have hens and ducks and five cows.  Everything has changed miraculously. The tea plant is a miracle in our life. Now we have beds to sleep in.  My  mother-in-  law  has  a  separate  room. I  bought  a  tea  pot  and  nicely decorated  the  room.  Now  I  can  buy  a  Saree  when  I  wish. My daughter is going to school.

My self-esteem and willpower have multiplied many times now. I am confident about my success and inspire to do more. I am one of the elected women members of our small tea growers association. I not  only  dream about  myself  and  my  family,  I  also  think about  my community. I want more people to be self-sufficient so no one goes to sleep with an empty stomach.  Now people look at me with respect. They  say  though  I  had  neither  education nor experience  I  become  one  of  their  heroes.  That makes me very proud.  I want to educate my children and believe one day they will come forward to bring hope to the hopeless. My dream has come true, poverty can be defeated.”

 

 

Rozina

 

We shared bread and wine thinking about the feast that all are welcomed to.

Closing prayer was taken from the Church action guide from the Fairtrade Foundation.

Connecting with our Celtic roots at the bandstand

This morning we gathered in beautiful sunshine to reflect on the traditions from our Celtic brothers and sisters in the past that have consciously and coincidently influenced ThirdSpace. We began considering the importance of

1. Monasticism   The importance of living in community to learn and to live out the faith. Encouraged ‘Soul friends’ – ‘Anam caras’ –to urge one another on in faith.

The Kenyon household has been so touched by the love and kindness of the ThirdSpace community in the last fewdays or so, following the death of our much, much loved dog, Inca. Barbara and Grayden were back from their travels in India too – so there was a real sense of gratitude once again for this community. Thus we began with prayer:

Your love, flowing within us,

and between us, living water purifying in that cleansing flow; and our worship, joining with the songs of nature, echoing through the air as birdsong at the dawning of this day. Stream meets stream and river flows, emptying into Ocean’s store.                                     (Adapted from faithandworship.com)

Lord God, we come with hearts full of thanks for one another, for the ThirdSpace community, for the gift of today, for sunshine and life and breath, for the beauty of the natural world around us and for the hope of the renewed earth and life everlasting.

The next characteristic of Celtic faith was the

2. Sacramental Principle Seeing God in everything ordinary and every-day. Using the ‘Five-stringed harp’ in worship – embracing all five senses in order to recognise and appreciate God’s presence.

To enhance our worship with taste and smell we shared warm pastries and then set off to walk in the park where we considered the next characteristics and responded to them:

3. Creation affirming     A love of nature. Recognising ‘thin places’ where heaven and earth were close and where people could more easily connect with God.

We were invited to go and touch / smell / see / listen to God’s creation and recognise God there.

4. Contemplation and mission Seeing life as a journey – both an inner journey to and with God and the need to go out to others to share faith.

It was suggested that we follow a path – to take a journey and reflect on how our Lenten journey was going so far… To ask God if there is anyone we needed to go to in some way… to know God with us – as a light to our feet, as a shield overshadowing us, beside us on our left and on our right.

5. Understanding of time Seeing time as sacred, to be used wisely and well. God as ‘I Am’ meaning that past present and future are all linked.

We were invited to embrace the now – connecting to all that has been and all that will be; to ask God to help us to manage our time well so that it is a gift to us and not our slave-driver!

Back at the bandstand we considered the last elements of the Celtic expression of faith.

6. Hospitality Everyone welcomed and treated as equally made in God’s image. Unusually for the time, the early Celtic Christians had women leaders e.g. Hilda, Brigid, Ebba…

We shared news of those who needed our prayers and prayed for them and asked for opportunities to offer hospitality to more people.

7. Spiritual warfare Using ‘encircling’ prayers (Caim prayers) and setting up stone crosses in recognition of evil as real and the importance of     prayer and the difference it can make.

We used the Caim prayer below as we circled those named:

God to enfold us, God to surround us, God in our speaking, God in our thinking.

God in our loving, God in our giving,

God in our healing, God in our hoping.

God in our sleeping, God in our waking,

God over us, God under us,

God behind us, God before us,

God beside us on our left and on our right.

(Adapted from the Northumbria Community’s prayers)

 

We shared bread and wine as we recognised that we and all are welcomed to the table…

8. Trinitarian belief Being aware of God the Father for us, the Son with us and the Spirit in us. (St. Patrick’s Breastplate hymn. ‘I bind unto myself this day the strong Name of the Trinity.’) The idea that community begins in the person of God and all community flows from this.

For this we gathered in a circle around each household in turn and prayed this blessing upon them:

May God our Mother-Father protect you, hold you and comfort you

May God the Son accompany you, encourage you and inspire you

And may the Holy Spirit fill you, equip you and gift you

Today and always.

Amen.

9. Love of learning Creative gifts encouraged (Music, story, calligraphy, jewellery etc. all seen as ‘windows on heaven’)

This final element was set as a homework with a Celtic image of a tree (copied from Google images!) to be coloured prayerfully, meditatively, with each leaf a person connected to ThirdSpace from the past, present and future…

 

Lovely to spend time with everyone again – as ever! We hope this might prove useful to anyone visiting our site and wanting to use this themselves. There is something so significant about connecting with the past…

Join us in prayer during Lent?

Celtic treeThis Lent we are trialling using a communal set of prayers each day of Lent. The prayers are based on the Anam Cara prayers we often use, our own version of the Lord’s prayer and other things we’ve come across from time to time that we have credited the sources of before. I thought we’d post the prayers and reflections here – but anyone who’d like a hard copy, let us know – we have some spares of some that will be given out at our  Ash Wednesday prayer evening next Wednesday. So this is what we’ve got – with the idea that we will all use at least one of the prayers once a day at some point in the day…

ThirdSpace’s Anam Cara for Lent

 

Creator God, I pause in your presence and hold my day before you.

Still me, calm me, guide me as I enter this day.

I hold my day before you…

I hold before you all those that I love…

I hold before you each member of the ThirdSpace community…

I hold before you all who are sad because someone they love has died…

I hold before you all I know who are troubled this day…

I hold before you those who I will meet today…

———————————————————————————–

Lord God, grant me the faith this day to truly walk in the light of Christ:

Christ as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me.

Christ under me, Christ over me,  Christ beside me on my left and on my right.

This day be within me and without me, lowly and meek yet all-powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, in the mouth of each who speaks to me.

Christ as a light. Christ as a shield.  Christ beside me on my left  and on my right.

————————————————————————————-

Lord God, Forgive me for the thing I have done and not done.

Forgive me for the things I have said  and not said.

Forgive me for the life I have lived and not lived.

That I may reflect the image of the one I profess to follow in thought and word and deed,

and in discovering my true self draw others into that light. Amen

————————————————————————————-

God, who cares for us, the wonder of your presence fills us with awe’                                                              

Your name, your very nature, is holy.  All creation resonates with it!  Let all people come to proclaim it!

May we move into your presence and unimpeded love.

Let not our will, but your will and purposes be fulfilled in our lives here on earth.

Give us the material things you know we need to survive.

Release us – as indeed we release others – from the debt of wrong-doing.

Strengthen us for difficult times.  Liberate us from all that is evil.

For you reign in majesty, in love, power and glory, from the beginning of time and forevermore.

————————————————————————————

 

For ourselves, for those we have named and for ThirdSpace soul-friends:

Creator God, may your peace go with us wherever we will be this day.

May you guide us through the challenges, protect us when in need  and inspire us with your love.

May we acknowledge your presence in all the human goodness we will see.

And may you bring us back rejoicing to our place of rest this night.

 

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin!

                                                                                                                                             (Mother Teresa)

———————————————————————————-

Fast from discontent

Feast on gratitude

Fast from worry

Feast on God’s Providence

Fast from complaining

Feast on appreciation

Fast from consumerism

Feast on generosity

Fast from unrelenting pressure

Feast on ‘all will be well’

Fast from self-concern

Feast on compassion for others

Fast from evasion

Feast on openness

Fast from avoidance

Feast on participation

Fast from cynicism

Feast on hope and truth

Fast from problems that overwhelm

Feast on prayer that sustains.

——————————————————————————–

People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centred… love them anyway.

If you do good people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives… do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies… be successful anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow… do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable… be honest and frank anyway.

People love underdogs but follow only top dogs… follow some underdog anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight… build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you try to help… help people anyway.

If you give the world the best you have, you may get kicked in the teeth… but give the world the best you have… Anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                              (Mother Teresa)

 

 

The Wonder of the Periodic Table.

On a very mild and dry Sunday morning Third Space met as usual at the Bandstand in the park in Matlock.  The topic for our worship was the Periodic Table of the Elements.

20160125_130154

 

Most people I think will have a sense of wonder and awe at the scale and beauty of the Universe, and a feeling of  wonder about the Earth and life upon it. My thinking behind using the Periodic Table was to show that the natural world is also amazing and wondrous even at the atomic level.

“In all things of nature there is something marvellous.”  Aristotle.

We said together the following prayer of praise:

O Divine Voice,

You sing and the universe comes into being;

O Divine Breath,

You breathe and all things spring to life;

O Divine Word,

You call and creation is sustained;

O Divine Flesh,

You are born among us, and the Creator is clothed in creation;

O Divine Spirit,

You fill all that has been formed;

O Divine Life,

You are the pulse of all that is.

And so, in amazement and awe, in wonder and celebration

we marvel at this mystery:

In you all things live and move and have being,

In all things, you live and move and express your Divine artistry;

And so we join with creation in the eternal song of worship and wonder………………….

 

The Periodic Table is a tabular arrangement of all the chemical elements in order of increasing atomic number (i.e. the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom).The table is arranged into Groups (columns) and Periods (rows) and we discussed the chemical properties of various Groups and Periods. We learned that the non-radioactive naturally occurring elements  are made in stars by atomic fusion from hydrogen and helium. All the elements beyond plutonium (atomic number 95 to 118) are man made, and that in 2015 the last four elements ( 113,115, 117, 118) were synthesised in labs and so Period 7 is now complete. It must be added that the four new elements only have a fleeting existence of less than one thousandth of a second!

 

We then individually read the following bible passages to inspire a time of reflection and thanksgiving: 

 Psalm 8:3-4

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place, 

 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

 human beings that you care for them? 

Isaiah 40:26

“To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.

 

Job 38: 4-7, 31-32

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it? 

On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?”

 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
   Can you loosen Orion’s belt? 

Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?”

 

Matthew 2:2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem, and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 

Rev 22:16

“I, Jesus, am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

 

Back to the Bandstand and the Periodic Table and we learned together about the chemical properties of various individual elements:

Gold – it occurs in the Earth in its metal state and is very resistant to chemical attack. It was treasured in all ancient civilisations as a symbol of the immortality of the gods and as a gift fit for a king.

Sodium – we remembered from school how as the metal it reacts violently with water and gives off hydrogen which burns, and how with chlorine it makes common salt.

Lithium –  if people with bipolar disorder take lithium compounds it smooths out their highs and lows and how it  makes it possible to build small yet powerful batteries.

Caesium – it reacts so violently with water that if it was placed in a beaker of water it would explode smashing the beaker. Used in atomic clocks it helps them to keep time extremely accurately. It is the largest atom of all the elements, the most reactive metal and pale gold in colour making it one of only three coloured metals.

Osmium – this is the densest element being twice as heavy as lead – this is because of the way its atoms  exist in its crystalline structure.

Flourine – the most reactive element of them all.

Copper – it is found in the respiratory protein haemocyanin, and carries oxygen to the tissues in some crustaceans (crabs, lobsters etc) and most molloscs (octopus, squid etc). For these animals living in cold water with low oxygen pressure it is effective at transporting oxygen.

Neodymium – is in Period 6 and one of the lanthanides, it makes extremely strong small magnets for use in modern technologies.

Radon – it is the second  biggest cause of lung cancer in the UK after smoking!

Carbon – it is the fourth most common element in the universe after after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. It is the chemical basis for all life on Earth. It is very unique in that the number of compounds it can form is almost infinite.  The atoms of carbon can be bonded together in different ways to form both graphite and diamonds.

Bismuth – it is the last stable element before they all become radioactive. Generally, elements are like the ones around them in their group or period. Arsenic and antimony near bismuth in the same group are very poisonous, lead and mercury just before bismuth in Period 6 are very poisonous and polonium just  after bismuth in Period 6 is both radioactive and poisonous. Bismuth is an ingredient in ingestion remedies!

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom”. Socrates.

We then had a bit of fun thinking of names for the four new elements and where to place Third Space  in the Periodic Table and why.

We closed by sharing bread and wine with the following words:

In spite of our doubts,
may we recognise you in our midst:
wounded, bloody, and resurrected.

In spite of our doubts, may we receive you in bread and wine.

In spite of our doubts,
may we know when we come face to face
with love that is greater than death.

In spite of our doubts,
may we reach out to touch the wounds of the world’s pain
trusting that when grace and love surround them
they will become part of Christ’s resurrected body.

And in spite of our doubts,
may we live as though we are, too.

Cheryl Lawrie.

We then adjourned to Cool River for Fairtrade refreshments and further discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming a child again at the bandstand

Snowballing over - we gathered in the bandstand

Steve led us today  in a snowy landscape – it was beautiful! His theme was based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:2-4, including the words

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

After an opening Psalm (that we walked to – to keep warm!) we wandered off into the snow to read some musings on the passage which were as follows:

21st century stream of consciousness:

 So I get the bit about humility in verse 4. Not being puffed up. Taking the lowly position. Fair enough. But the rest…become like a little child? Is this really necessary? What on earth does this mean? Become a little child – really? Just not think at all; stop all analysing, stop over-thinking; learn not to doubt or be cynical. Just become naïve once again, trusting when we have given up on trust. Questioning is the very basis of our intellectual enquiry; probing for truth, seeing through the fakery. Tripping down the yellow brick road only to discover the terrifying wizard is a sad old man with a bit of technology. It’s all a delusion – a God delusion maybe and all discovered by Toto the dog.

“You will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” – that is pretty tough stuff. Have our mindsets so imbibed post-modern cynicism and doubt that we urgently need to re-mythologise, re-sacramentalise our world. Perhaps we have indeed taken on the role of gods with our arrogant accepting and rejecting of truth according to our very limited perceptions. And God calls us to back to innocence, back to the Garden of Eden, back to wonder.

 1998 – a little girl goes into Rouen Cathedral and looking up says, “Wow!” Where and how can we discover “Wow” worship once again?

Answers on a postcard in the café?

Returning to the bandstand our prayers were enhanced by a child passing by on his bike, singing with glee at the snow! Steve suggested that prayer is like the child reaching out to its parent. We aren’t meant to understand it; just to do it like the little child pointing his parent’s attention to the broken glass in the window. We walked and prayed silently. We prayed our version of the Lord’s prayer and remembered the things we had prayed for on Wednesday…

Finally we shared bread and wine to words written by Steve:

 Like little children we gather, heads craning to see what might be on the laden banquet table. We can see only a little but it excites and tantalises our taste buds. Like little children we understand only so much of how our heavenly parent nourishes us with this bread. Bread for our bodies and bread for our spirits. Amen.

 Like little children we understand only a little of the sacrifice of our heavenly parent in this wine. Wine for our bodies and wine for our spirits. Amen.

Like little children brought up in that idyllic garden, we run with wild abandon scarcely looking round to acknowledge the God who walks in the cool of the day. May we take him on our adventures, include him in our dreams and share with him our delight and wonder in his creation. Amen.

And may that be the  focus for this coming week for us all : )

 

 

 

The Diagram

What do diagrams do? Diagrams simplify and bring clarity. Diagrams demonstrate the relationships which exist between the parts of the whole. Diagrams often reveal creative ideas.

Chauvet

Chauvet Cave Drawings

 

In 1994, three French cavers were exploring the limestone cliffs above the former bed of The Ardeche river when they discovered a large cave where the walls were decorated with detailed drawings of wild species that have been long extinct.
These drawings are the earliest known examples of Palaeolithic art circa. 30,000 BC. Why are these drawings actually diagrams? The archaeologists believe that these cave diagrams may have served to initiate young males into hunting and were intended to acquaint them with some of the game they would encounter. This is reinforced by the fact that there are hardly any humans in the diagrams.
These diagrams were amongst the first that were ever drawn by humans: paper, the printing press and the Internet, all of which were inspired by the desire to share knowledge can trace their origins back to these early drawings.
These cave diagrams are the start of something which would transform human life here on earth. The diagrams tell us that Palaeolithic man gazed at a world of beauty amongst the daily struggle for existence. They understood that the best strategy for survival was one of collaboration. In order to work together, they needed diagrams to share knowledge. These diagrams demonstrate the beginning of an idea which would allow information to be shared and ultimately multiplied millions of times. We can take something that is very small, and if it is properly cared for and nurtured, it can multiply more times than we can possibly imagine.

World-Wide-Web Vesalius-Human-Body Slave-Ship Light-Bulb Heliocentric-Universe Car Micrographia History-Map

We considered a series of diagrams which changed the world and why they were so revolutionary. In response to these diagrams we produced our own diagrams which demonstrated a metaphor, idea or principle. In addition, we produced a collaborative diagram of Third Space and considered how it might alter over time:

Barbara’s positive communication diagram:

Positive-communication

Steve’s church history diagram:

Church History

Grayden’s plea for justice:

Arms

Fi’s meaningful words diagram:

Words

 

Collaborative Third Space diagram:

Collaborative

 

Per Signum Crucis (By the sign of the Cross.)The first mention of the practice of tracing the sign of the Cross was by the early church father Tertullian (A.D. 160-220) who wrote “In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting off our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the Cross”
The sign of the Cross is a very ancient practice and prayer. We don’t have any indication of it in Scripture, but St. Basil in the 4th century said that we learned the sign from the time of the apostles and it was administered in baptisms.

Handy

Source: Adriatikus

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that when Catholics are baptised “the sign of the Cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the Redemption Christ won for us” on the Cross.
We would make a sign of the Cross when entering a church or during confession using two fingers.
Some priests would put the thumb, index and middle finger together to form a sign of the Trinity, and the remaining two fingers touching the palm to represent the human and divine natures of Christ.
If we were an Eastern Orthodox bishop or priest we would hold our fingers in such a way that they form the Greek abbreviation for Jesus Christ “IC XC”
If we were consecrating a Bishop or a Priest, we would use two hands in order to create three movements in honour of the Trinity.

The Rev. Bosco Peters makes the following three observations:
– The sign of the Cross Is regularly used to start prayer, at the absolution, at a blessing at the end of the service. Many are signed with a cross in ash on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. The sign Is there at the beginning and end of the service; the beginning and end of a life.

– We make the sign of the Cross- in the name the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and commit ourselves to a journey from my head, into my heart, and lived out in our lives.

– The sign of the Cross marks out- this time, this person, this money, this place, this community.

We gather to meet with God
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
To be aware of your presence in our day
For you Lord are here now; your Spirit dwells within us
To bring you our worship
And offer you our praise
To be conscious that you walk beside us
And we do not make the journey alone
God our Creator
make us new
Lord of life
make us new
Spirit of life
make us new
.                      Adapted from Lighting Beacons Liturgy

During the coming week, we commit ourselves to a journey from the head to the heart and seek to demonstrate your love and grace in our lives.

Christmas at the bandstand

On the Sunday before Christmas and on Christmas day, we met to share and to pray and – yes – even to SING (our once a year concession to Wendy in singing a carol!!).  Grayden began with:

Be the faith (I need this Advent)
I feel like giving up waiting, God.
It’s too hard to keep asking ‘how long?’
When I read the prophets their questions are
just the same as mine,
but thousands of years older.

I read the newspaper,
I look at the world through my TV screen,
and even the world that’s inside me –
and I have to wonder whether you’ve got it right

and to be honest,
if I’m asking the same questions as Isaiah did

(when, God, when?) -
then what difference did this birth make?

So in spite of my cynicism, come, Jesus

in spite of my faithlessness, bring love and justice to earth

in spite of all I know to be rational, be born again.

Be the faith I need this advent.

This seemed to fit in with Wend’s reading of Longfellow’s poem written after the tragic death of his wife and news of his son wounded in war which begins ‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day’ and uses the refrain ‘Of peace on earth, good will to men!’ It’s a poem that acknowledges how hard it is to hang on to the faith that those words of the angels bear any reality in our experience of terror and corruption and illness and loss.

It’s been a year of real joys but very real sorrows for many of us, so it was important to return to the message of Christmas, of Christ’s coming, of the incarnation and of his insistance that the kingdom of God which begins so small and fragile, will grow, will prevail, will defeat death, will conquer evil, will have the last word…

As we have done each year for the last few years, we burned the luggage labels that have hung attached to the shepherd’s crook since last Christmas. On these we wrote our prayers for those who most needed the care of the Good Shepherd in the coming year.

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We wrote our new prayer lables then, which will be there for us to see at each meal at Holly House – a reminder that even if we forget, those prayers are there before God all year.

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Barbara interspersed contributions with the pulling of Christmas crackers into which hse had inserted blessings. Here are the blessings we prayed for one another:

May the God who says “comfort ye” number you among “his people

and may you know the joy, peace and goodwill of the Christmas season.

May the glory of the Lord be revealed to you and yours this Christmas time.

For unto us a child is born” and he is called Emmanuel,

May you know God with you this Christmas and throughout the coming year.

“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace”,

May you know the reality of God through Jesus this Christmas and in 2016.

May you know the light that came into the darkness,

May that light shine brightly through you and into this dark world today and throughout the coming year.

God chose Mary a female child, in an occupied land, with no vote, no rights, no education, no husband; just a peasant girl…

It was in picking someone so ordinary to care for his son that God shows us how special we all are.

May you know how much you are special and loved this Christmas time.

The birth of a tiny child changed the world and brought love, forgiveness, healing, release and justice into a world of conflict and greed.

May you be blessed by the Son of God and be seen as an ambassador for the Kingdom of Love.

Do not be afraid I bring you good news of peace and goodwill and the love of God.

May the song of the Christmas angels resonate in your home and in your whole being.

Felicitations, Best Wishes, Hail, Greetings, Grace –

Coming from God through his Son this Christmas time.

May you know the blessings and Good Will of our Saviour in your life now and throughout the comin the nearness of the Good Shepherdg year.

John shared his ‘We dance wild’ poem which he has posted below. That lifted and inspired us! And we ended with bread and wine and then this final blessing, which we share with all our friends of Soulspace and those far away who follow our blogs:

So this Advent, here’s hoping and praying for….

Joy as we journey together…

Sight for the blind and healing for the sick,

Freedom for the prisoners and good news for the poor,

Release for the oppressed with justice for all

and love for each other.

And the coming of God’s topsy-turvy, inside out, upside-down Kingdom.

 

Happy New Year to you all!!

 

Last Stand at the Bandstand

This was our last Third Space of 2015and we each brought a piece of poetry, prose or thought to encouage each other. Barbara brought  christmas crackers which included the obligatory awful jokes, but also contained wonderful blessings.  Jon brought “We Dance Wild” :

 

We dance. We dance wild.
Not a two step, structured repetition. We dance large.
We dance flailing arms.
We dance the erratic and the wriggle,
the blunder, stumble and fall with no need to get back up again.
For our fumbles are our dance
and our dance is our rebellion and our declaration and our surrender.
Our falling to the floor is a knowing that it is only in the places
of dust and grime and footprint, only in the failed step and the rusty body, only in the falling
that we can ever truly meet the holy and the sacred.
We meet God on the floor.

So we choose to not rise too quickly,
to not keep ourselves together,
to not think we have this nailed,
this life, this God, this mystery, this question.
Our dancing is our stumbling and our stumbling is our dancing
and how disorderly we may seem,
and how undignified and messy,
we dive headfirst into not having the answers,
giving ourselves to a more spacious rhythm.
The song that is heard only in the silence,
only in the listening ear,
only in the unexplored landscape.
The whisper at the edges.

We find ourselves
when we lose ourselves.
The wilderness and the wild.
The Christ who gathers.
The Christ who descends.
The giving up of control.
The smallness of humility.
The largeness of the mystery.
The immensity of seeking the sacred in everything.
Never running from life
but plunging ourselves more wholly into her.
We dance and we feel our lumbered bodies begin to move.
We dance and we feel the heavy begin to take flight.
We dance to find liberation.

We dance to bring redemption,
the untwisting of the beautiful,
We dance to the new rhythm, the ancient rhythm, the holy rhythm,
the rhythm that holds it all together.
We dance to bring space.
We dance to hold hands.
We dance and we dance and we dance and we dance
until we are dizzy and falling.
We dance. We dance wild.

We are the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks

© AbbeyoftheArts.com (written by Joel McKerrow)