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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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)

 

 

Going Public Art Exhibition in Sheffield

Third Space visited this exhibition which was shown at a number of venues throughout Sheffield which included the Cathedral. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the exhibition and therefore we cannot include any photographs within this narrative.
We can be caught up in our daily activities when may be something catches our attention or someone says something in a conversation which lifts us from the ordinary to theextraordinary. Sometimes as we look at art it can inspire a moment of wonder, reflection, prayer, or revelation. To quote John Updike “what art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit”

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Public funding for arts events was significantly reduced as a result of austerity measures and the city started negotiations with private art collectors who potentially would be willing to support a public display of some of the artworks they owned on a philanthropic basis.
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo collects works that talk about social and political events which are relevant to contemporary life. These artworks have been placed in dialogue with the sacred space of the Cathedral. Seeing them within this context encourages to draw out new meanings and reflects upon the space of the Cathedral.

Sheffield-Cathedral-Low

.Plus Ultra (2009) by Goshka Macuda. This tapestry is relevant to the images we are seeing on a almost nightly basis of sinking boats and human anguish. It includes portraits of smiling leaders of the G20 summit, with a boat filled with migrants in the water beneath them. It alludes to social and economic inequality in a globalised society. Although geographic boundaries have opened up, such opportunities still remain inaccessible to most people. How would Angela Merkel view this tapestry? Plus Ultra takes its title from the motto of King Charles V of Spain which means “going beyond and overcoming limits.” It later inspired the symbol of the American dollar.
Still (2010) by Pae White. Pae White has created a beautiful evocation of smoke and ash which asks us to consider the ephemeral and temporary nature of life whilst reflecting on the possibility of transition. There is a spiritual dimension when this piece is considered within the environs of the Cathedral:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8 (NIV)

Millenium-Galleries-low

 .The Millennium Gallery is housing some of the pieces from Nicolas Catterlain’s collection of minimal and conceptual art. Some people find minimalist art austere and struggle to relate to the concepts, and yet often the pieces have a scale which relates well to the human form. Often we are invited to walk around, in and through the pieces thereby establishing a relationship with the viewer i.e. there is a recognition within the artwork that the person viewing the artwork is integral to the conceptual ideas which formed the basis for the creation of the work. To quote Aristotle “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
Wielandstr.18.12159 Berlin(2011) by Do Hu Suh. Do Hu Suh lives between New York, London and Seoul. This installation is a life-size representation of an apartment in Berlin which Suh used as a temporary home. The replica of the building appears ephemeral and insubstantial and raises questions about whether we can ever truly inhabit a place. Could it be that the artist is asking what constitutes true belonging?
Meeting You Halfway by Anthony McCall. Dialogue and cooperation appear to be intrinsic qualities of this installation. We are continually seeking ways to strengthen our connections: to God, our family, our colleagues and within the Third Space community.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Gal 6:10 (NIV)

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Dominique and Sylvain Levy have collected works which originated from the Cantonese art scene. Sometimes work produced by Chinese artists can be difficult to penetrate and understand because of cultural differences. The ideas central to the work of the Cantonese artists are openness, the nomadic and a belief in sharing. These artists are interested in finding new ways of thinking about and reflecting on the rapidly changing world.
My Teacher (1993) by Zheng Guogu. This image in the SIA Gallery is intriguing and the explanation from the guide is illuminating . “This work shows Zheng on the streets of his home town squatting next to a man locally regarded as the city eccentric. The artist is a trendsetter and central figure of the Chinese art scene. In this work has not only chosen a retreat into the local environment, but he has also put himself into a marginal position. By following his teacher, the unintentional fool, he occupies a space in society which is free from structures of power and meaning. This provides him with a new potential for action and interaction with society.”
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)

 .
We shared bread and wine in a chapel at the Cathedral:
.Holy God
connect us with the heartbeat of your music,
touch us with the silence of your presence.
Call us out from where we are comfortable
to find you
in the tensions and the questions.
Amen.
We gather as one body to celebrate God’s presence among us united in Christ’s
spirit, broken and whole all at once;
Nourished and hungry, loved and loving,
sinner and forgiven; we make one circle of knowing,
believing, rejoicing, being,
as God lights and rests among us.

Stirrup Sunday (3 weeks late!)

Christmas-Pudding-Mix

Steve led us this morning on a prepared theme that was shelved due to folk being away and then alternative meetings in the last few weeks. Well, we are ‘alternative’ – so maybe this just underscores that in that we are doing it out of kilter with the Anglican church!

Our time began with the collect first in Latin (!) then in translation:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(1549 Book of Common Prayer)

Not an easy prayer for good Protestants – reward for works?? Then there’s the tradition of stirring up the Christmas pudding… But Steve’s theme was taken from Luke whose central theme is that Jesus is the “overturner, the stirrer, the exciter.”

We were given different readings to walk with  – no slow walking today – it was chilly- so it was fast walking and reading around the park as we each contemplated this topic. Some had the words of the Magnificat, some the introduction to John the Baptist’s ministry, others Jesus’ reading of Isaiah in the synagogue…

Each is about an up-turning of the status quo – of the topsy-turvy kingdom of God that we are all called to be part of – a revolution we can be part of, which all began with the coming of Christ.

With some degree of hilarity we walked around the bandstand armed with stirring implements and stirred our prayers for those upside down values to prevail on earth and in us as in heaven – remembering the needs of the world and those known to us.

We shared bread and wine to words written for the occasion:

desolate dough and fallow fruit

 

Yahweh giver of life, breathe in us.

Stir us, trouble us, do not leave us alone.

Upturn our selfish ways.

 

Excite us with the story of the pregnant Mary – third trimester – still waiting. And Elizabeth now in her labour. The wise men – setting out now – in hope, following the celestial decrees. The census, being decreed – money and power grinding on.

 

The dough is dead unless the leaven is present, active, changing, transforming. Secretly at work – hidden inspirer. Upturning the given. Troubling the lumpen. And when its work is done, it dies.

The bread that is Jesus is alive and active and so we eat to mark what is past, to engage with what is present and to look forward to what will be.

Jesus given for us!

 

The fruit remains unfecund unless the all encircling airborne yeast touches and indwells. It bubbles and broils, giving joy to the liquid, unsettling the lifeless. And when its work is done, it dies.

The wine that is Jesus is alive and active and so we drink to mark what is past, to engage with what is present and to look forward to what will be.

Jesus given for us!

 

And so we pray:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thanks Steve – this left me wanting to write my own litany (?) of all the things to be reversed – maybe next week I’ll share what I come up with. Any help / additional ideas gratefully received!

Happy Advent!

 

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 Last night we had our Advent Soulspace and it looked spectacular with Richard’s  fantastic  lighting, a star-path candle-lit labyrinth and vast tent – or was it a tabernacle (?) amongst other prayer stations.

Our theme was ‘Star-gazing’ and areas for reflection were certainly varied.

The star path included quotes from John O’ Donohue amongst others and images from space that had us considering our own journeys and meaning…

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The tent allowed us to sit amidst the most awe-inspiring images  of the universe we inhabit from the Hubble spacecraft …

 

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A rolling powerpoint fused poetry from Steve Goan with thought-provoking images…

And we had  another go at creating an on-line advent calendar. This time we picked up on our theme of ‘star-gazing’ and focussed on how to give Jesus the same level of attention that our culture gives to the stars (celebrities). So this year, if you care to join us, you can open a door at a time to see a star with a name or title given to Jesus, sometimes with a thought, challenge or prayer for the day.

Ages and gifting of contributors vary – but we hope the simple theme enables a more Christ-centred build-up to the Christmas season.

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War and Peace

Outside it is wet and as we shelter under the bandstand we look out onto a grey autumn scene.  Many of the trees now bare of leaves and the floor a glorious carpet of bronze and orange soggy leaves. It seems an appropriately sombre morning for Remembrance Sunday.

Leader

Lord God the source of all good things we pause in your presence and hold our day before you. Still us, calm us, guide us as we enter this day

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Pause and use your senses to listen, smell, see how the park feels on a wet morning.

 Leader – May Jesus the Son inspire you with new energies each day.

May you find his peace to give you rest each night.

May the rain symbolise the cleansing forgiveness of the Father

And the refreshment of the Holy Spirit pouring new strength into your being

So that today we may walk as Jesus through the world and carry the beauty of his Kingdom.

Remembrance

Some thoughts on Remembrance 

I was born just 6 years after the end of WW2.  Many members of my family took part in the conflict.

My dad was in the Royal Artillery, my wife’s dad was in the Royal Signals, an uncle was also in the army, and another uncle was in the RAF and came home from Burma with malaria.  My maternal grandfather was in the Royal Navy, on a warship in the North Atlantic. A great uncle was taken prisoner at Dunkirk and spent 4 years in a prisoner of war camp in Austria. Another great uncle was away for 5 years in the army serving in North Africa and Italy.

The only casualty of war from my family as far as I am aware was that my grandfather’s oldest brother was killed in action in the WW1 aged 19.

I have recollections of Remembrance Sunday from the mid 1950’s, and it was meaningful for me from the late 50’s onwards.

At that time most of the WW2 generation and many of the WW1 generation were still alive, and remembrance was a very sombre and deeply sad occasion as people remembered the sacrifice and loss and suffering of war. The nearest way that I can describe it was like being at a funeral.

60 years on I’d just like to share 3 brief thoughts on Remembrance.

Now that most of the WW2 generation are dead, has there been a loss from our corporate memories of the horrors of war?  I think it’s very telling that politicians from all parties in the 1960’s, who had taken part in WW2, to name two – Denis Healey and Edward Heath, resisted US invitations to go to war in Vietnam, in contrast to more recent politicians who have rushed to get involved in wars.  Around 1500 Erasmus said, “war is sweet to those who have not tried it.”

I do dislike the political correctness that everyone on TV has to wear a poppy for at least 3 weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday, even the dancers on Strictly Come Dancing and Premier League footballers have to wear them!  Around Remembrance Sunday people should feel able to wear a red poppy, or a white poppy, or both or neither. Surely to have that freedom is part of why people suffered and died in WW2.

Remembrance should be personal, voluntary and informed, and always involve much reflection and empathy for all the victims of war.

In early 1916 Alan Seeger wrote the poem I have a rendezvous with death, he was an American postgraduate student studying in Paris at the outbreak of WW1, who volunteered for the French Army, below are 2 verses from his poem:

I have a rendezvous with Death

On some scarred slope or battered hill,

When Spring comes round again this year

And the first meadow-flowers appear.

 

But I’ve a rendezvous with Death

At midnight in some flaming town,

When Spring trips north again this year,

And I to my pledged word am true,

I shall not fail that rendezvous.

 

Seeger was killed at the Somme in July 1916.

 

We then observed 2 minutes silence.

 

The wisdom from God is first pure, then 
peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of 
mercy and good fruits, without a trace of 
partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of
righteousness is sown in peace for those 
who make peace. 
James 3:17-18

Prayers

We look at the red poppies and they help us to remember those who have died in the forces during war or those who returned home never to be the same again whether through physical or emotional injury. There are many others who are affected by war, those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their security, those civilians who have been killed or maimed, taken into captivity those who have lost peace.

Pick up a white peace poppy as we pray for peace.

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We pray for all of those areas in our world today that have lost peace and ask that Peace Makers, Negotiators and Visionaries will be raised up to bring peace, justice and reconciliation. Amen

Sharing bread and wine and remembering 

We have been told that, on the night before he was taken to be
tortured to death on a cross, Jesus sat with his disciples,
and ate with them, in a meal of remembrance.
Jesus took a loaf of bread,
asked your blessing upon it, broke it,
and gave it to his disciples saying:
Take this – all of you – and eat it.
This is me. My Body. Given for you.
Each time you eat it, remember me.
Close to the meal’s end,
he took a cup filled with wine,
asked your blessing upon it,
and gave it to his disciples saying:
Take this – all of you – and drink it.
This is me. This is my promise in my life’s blood –
poured out for you and for the world.
Each time you drink it, remember me.
So we Jesus’ disciples, eat bread and drink wine – and remember.

(from Richard Bott )