Wake up and smell the….

If you had to lose one of your 5 senses which would you choose?

A couple of weeks ago, due to a rather nasty virus, I completely lost my sense of smell – something that apparently in rare cases can be knocked out permanently. For a couple of weeks, the prospect of never being able to smell fresh coffee, newly laundered sheets or the herb basil (my favourite smell of all) ever again, was a disheartening thought.

Smell – hardly one of the most dynamic senses; it just sort of ‘hangs around’…yet, it’s the sense that’s most strongly connected to memory and can have a profound effect on our emotions and actions. Folks this morning talked of childhood memories, anticipation and exhilaration – all triggered by different smells.

We went for a sensory walk and we breathed deep and slow allowing the sights, sounds and of course, the smells of creation, to speak to us of God’s Grace. After a shape-shifting torrid week of political change it was good to step out of the mayhem.

2 Corinthians 2 14-16 says: “Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”

Two people who have appeared in the newspapers seemed to me to be a perfect example of this. Jo Cox – the Labour MP recently murdered and Bob Holman – a Christian who, as a successful academic, left status and lifestyle to live among the severely disadvantaged in Glasgow.
“Enthusiasm, kindness, love of life, fierce advocacy in her work and unwavering belief in the goodness of everyone she met.”
“He would help to fill in benefit forms, speak on people’s behalf at tribunals, find money for a new washing machine, or accompany a youngster to court.”

That’s a scent to bottle.

Our prayers for reconciliation, healing and those who are in turmoil or suffering, drifted up on Frankincense incense sticks and we continued to carry them in our walk until we shared bread and wine where we said these words together:

In this God-breathed bread and wine
everyone can receive – no one is out – everyone is in
In this God-touched bread and wine
our bondage is broken and we are reconciled
In this God –blessed bread and wine
we have a symbol of hope and a foretaste of kingdom freedom
feel it
smell it
taste it
take it in
and know it does you good.

Do we bring ‘an aroma redolent with life’ to people? Perhaps it might not be anything more dramatic than the way smell seems to operate – by just hanging around – but what a profound effect that aroma can have.

The Shipping Forecast

We began our worship by reading some verses from Psalm 65:5-9

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Saviour,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,

 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

We focused on being in God’s presence and giving thanks for the gifts of this day. Simple things – the first cup of tea of the day; the smell of fresh coffee; a good night’s sleep; a good breakfast; a smile from friend or stranger; the beauty of the world around us. We thought of  these things as God’s gifts to us.


“Attention All Shipping.” I’ve always found this a very dramatic announcement. Even though I’m not involved in shipping I still listen, fascinated, intrigued.

I’ve been fascinated by the shipping forecast since I was a child. For me it conjures up images of ships on stormy seas. The shipping forecast has all the qualities of the sea itself –unfathomable, mysterious, fascinating, intriguing, even lulling.  It has a poetry all of its own. Carol Ann Duffy in her poem Prayer, wrote: “Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer – Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.”  (Finisterre was renamed FitzRoy in 2002.)

Every day on LW we can hear the familiar liturgy of the names for each shipping area, with its weather information, announced in the same order with the same deliberate delivery – rhythmical, hypnotic, almost prayerful. There is on the one hand a loneliness and a bleakness about it, but it’s also reassuring and familiar – Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Fair Isle. Irish Sea.’

Amazingly it seems to hold our attention even if it doesn’t directly apply to us. So we keep listening to the soothingly monotonous delivery, perhaps engrossed and fascinated:  Moderate, occasionally slight later, showers or rain, good, occasionally moderate…………

Origin of the names of Shipping Forecast areas:


The story of the stilling of the storm was read from Mark 4:

35 That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Mark’s gospel gives us a very graphic description of the storm, with the waves breaking over the boat so it began to fill with water, and the contrast between the calmness of Jesus and the terror of the disciples.

What’s the seas significance in Jewish though?
The Jews were not great seafarers and regarded the sea with fear, as it symbolised chaos and evil – that’s why in Rev 21 when the new heaven and earth are described v1 says “there was no longer any sea.” It does not mean there will be no sea in the new earth, but is picture language saying evil will not be present.

What’s the significance of the geography? The Sea of Galilee is 680 ft below sea level and therefore prone to sudden storms sweeping down off the surrounding hills. The storms could appear very quickly and cease just as quickly!

I have a problem with nature miracles – the stilling of the storm and walking on water. ‘Did they really happen? Some Christians understand them as the proof of Jesus’ divinity. From my understanding of the gospels Jesus did not perform miracles to prove his divinity or to cause people to be amazed at his actions. I think Jesus miracles were primarily acts of compassion towards those in need; and also signs of a new age breaking through, the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the storm in Mark 4 was just a normal Sea of Galilee storm event which sprung up in just a few minutes and died down just as quickly.

What might my post-evangelical understanding of storms and earthquakes be?

I reject any idea that God sends storms or earthquakes. I also reject the idea that they are manifestations of evil – for me they are just how the world works. If the Earth wasn’t dynamic and ever changing then it would not be able to support life.

So where is God in the storms of life?
I believe God is present in every aspect of nature, in every aspect of life. God therefore is present with those who suffer; he is present even in deadly storms.

God is all and in all, not as cause but as presence.

The Shipping forecast and the Arts.

The forecast sounds poetic, it has a rhythm of its own, it’s eccentric, it’s unique, it’s mysterious and it’s very, very British. It is a litany of the sea; it somehow reinforces our sense of being islanders, and fires our imaginations.

The Shipping Forecast has a history of sparking the imagination and creativity in people – all kinds of music and poetry have been inspired by it.

From the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Sean Street and Carol Ann Duffy to the music of Radiohead, Blur, Jethro Tull, folk singer Lisa Knapp, and classical composer Cecilia McDowall the forecast has ignited their imaginations and inspired their creativity. They have used the Shipping Forecast’s natural rhythm to conjure up feelings of familiarity and strangeness, of safety and danger, of loneliness and mystery.

We then had a poetry and prayer activity around the park – we each had copies of Seamus Heaney’s and Sean Street’s poems on the Shipping Forecast to read and enjoy. We used them to encourage a sense of thanksgiving and prayer. Then we prayed for people whose lives are “all at sea”, particularly individuals known to us, the family of Jo Cox and refugees fleeing war and persecution.

On returning to the Bandstand we shared bread and wine with the following words:

Life giver, blame taker, scroll reader, truth wielder,

Temple clearer, mask exposer, sea calmer, crowd amazer,

Life enhancer, party prancer, drinker, dancer…..

Cross bearer, sight restorer, sin forgiver, wine renewer,

Story weaver, hurt healer, death drinker, God revealer….

Justice speaker, bondage breaker, bone straightener, peacemaker….

Death defeater, grace ladler, spirit breather, heart burner,

Tempest husher, bread breaker, wine sharer, table turner…..

tina hodgett

As usual we retired to Cool River for Fairtade coffee and much discussion.

Alfred the Great

On a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday morning we met under the beech tree by the bend in the River Derwent in the park.  Our worship was inspired by a man who was perhaps the greatest Briton and who possessed a very real Christian faith.

Statue of Alfred the Great in Winchester


Michael Wood describes a man who was ‘not just the greatest Briton, but one of the greatest rulers of any time or any place’.

Neil Oliver describes someone who “brought in a new age of learning. This was more than just a love of learning, but the belief that leadership entails the responsibility to be mindful of the wellbeing of the people.”

Winston Churchill wrote of Alfred: ‘In war, resolute; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimous; in peace, good will’.

Alfred the Great (871–899) is  the best-known Anglo-Saxon king. The son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex, Alfred succeeded his four older brothers to the throne in 871. At that time, Viking invaders had conquered much of England, and Alfred struggled to prevent Wessex from succumbing to the same fate. In January 878 as Wessex was being overrun by Viking invaders Alfred withdrew to the Somerset levels with  his royal bodyguard, a small army of thegns (the king’s followers).  From there he fights a desperate guerrilla war until his victory over the Vikings at the Battle of Edington in May 878.  After the  victory he offers Guthrun and his men mercy if they will convert to Christianity and then leave Wessex.

As part of our worship we meditated on Psalm 51 and had John’s Gospel ch1 read to us. These passages were chosen because they were often used in Anglo-Saxon Christian worship.

Alfred’s achievements and qualities as king were many:

Warrior, General & military tactician.

Pragmatic, willing to compromise and pay tribute when necessary.

Guerrilla leader

Devout Christian with a very real Christian faith.

He believes himself responsible for the secular and spiritual welfare of his people.

Willingness to show mercy and compassion.

Peacemaker – makes peace treaty with Guthrun.

Makes treaties with Welsh princes.

Skilled negotiator – gets Kent and west Mercia back under Saxon rule and negotiates a partition treaty – a frontier was drawn along the Roman Watling Street, with northern and eastern England under Viking control and southern and western England under Saxon control.

Reforms the coinage.

Revives learning and literacy and education.

Makes it obligatory for all nobles and their children to learn to read and write Anglo-Saxon.

Encourages noblewomen to learn to read and write and be educated.

Set up schools so that future generations of priests and secular administrators would be better trained and educated.

Education is in Anglo-Saxon and only those going forward into holy orders are required to learn Latin.

Set up a network of fortified towns – burghs – that were no more than 20-25 miles apart and constantly garrisoned.

Reformed the fyrd, the army, made it more organised and efficient and developed a navy, along with a programme of shipbuilding.

Lawmaker – reforms Anglo-Saxon laws to make them more just, issues new laws  and incorporates some laws from the Old  Testament.

Anxious to rule his people justly, thinks judicial fairness is important and so appoints people to be judges who will apply laws justly.

Encourages trade with other parts of the British Isles and with Flanders and France.

Politically shrewd – arranges for his daughter – Aethelflaed – to marry the Ealdorman of Mercia, she becomes the Lady of Mercia and is the real power in Mercia.

Generous to the Church.

Founds monasteries.

Appoints pious, learned and trustworthy bishops and abbots to oversee the spiritual revival of Wessex and Mercia.

Orders that important Latin works are translated into Anglo-Saxon.

Patron of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Scholar and linguist – learns Latin so that he can translate Pope Gregory’s “Pastoral Care” document from Latin into Anglo-Saxon. It instructs bishops on how to teach their priests to nurture their people in the Christian faith.

It is for his valiant defence of his kingdom against a stronger enemy, for securing peace with the Vikings and for his farsighted reforms in the reconstruction of Wessex and west Mercia, that Alfred is known as ‘the Great’.

King Alfred dies in 899 aged 50; he is an old man, worn out through fighting for over 30 years to defend Wessex from the Vikings.

Here are Alfred’s own words written in his last year of life:

‘What I set out to do was to virtuously and justly administer the authority given to me, and to do it with wisdom, for without wisdom nothing is worthwhile. It has always been my desire to live honourably, and after my death to leave my descendants my memory in good works, for each man according to his measure of intelligence must speak what he can speak and do what he can do.’

Do you find this statement impressive – especially considering the time of writing? (AD898)

What does it mean to live virtuously?  In Philippians 4:8  Paul writes: “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on such things.“  With the implication in verse 9 to “put it into practice.”

What is wisdom?  Here are two dictionary definitions:  “The ability to discern or judge what is true and right.”  “To think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, and common sense.”

Consider the statement you could write about your life?

We ended our worship by sharing bread and wine using some Anglo-Saxon liturgy: bread and wine

The Priest, Deacons and Sub-Deacons, standing abreast before the Altar then take THREE STEPS BACKWARD, then THREE STEPS FORWARD,  in remembrance of the sins of thought, word and deed and of the thoughts, words and deeds which return us to grace.

And to us sinners who are your servants, grant confidence in the multitude of your mercies, and some lot and part with your Holy Apostles, Saints and Martyrs;

Paul, Peter, Patrick, John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, David, Columba, Cuthbert, Aidan, Swithun, Brendan ………..  

The invitation to receive bread and wine:

Come forth you blessed of my Father, Alleluia. 

Inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world, Alleluia. 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. 

Come forth and receive! 

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.  Come forth and receive! 

Share bread and wine. 

The Blessing:

May the God of Alfred

enable us

to act justly,

love mercy

and walk humbly.


We then adjourned to Cool River Cafe for Fairtrade tea and coffee, it was such a beautiful morning that we sat outside in for our drinks.







Change and Continuity


This morning was chilly but sunny and fresh green leaves are starting to emerge on some of the bare branches of the trees now. Our focus was on living in a world where everything changes and the good news that there is one on whom we can depend who is unchanging… Steve had written the following affirmation of faith for us:

God never changes…
The flowers of the field will fade, the grass will whither
The seasons will revolve, the years pass
From childhood to pensionhood
From innocence to wisdom, from arrogance to humility
In the midst of calm waters and in the storms
In trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword
When perplexed or dimly mirrored or when treasuring epiphany
When we reach out and when we sulk
His love is faithful, steadfast, constant
And God has promised that no-one and nothing can separate us

I think it is a post here from 2010 when I led a Palm Sunday session on all creation praising the Creator. I’d come across an article on the net about how scientists at Sheffield University believe they had recorded the Sun singing! They had shown that there are specific frequencies that resonate from the Sun’s atmosphere. The sun emits acoustic waves in exactly the same sense as a plucked guitar string. They went on to say that when the Sun sets off flares and such, there are even more sounds that are emitted. The frequency at which the Sun is “singing”, is too low for the human ear to hear. It has always intrigued me since then to think that the Sun is singing for its creator and no one else.
On top of that, in the last decade or so, scientists discovered that the earth gives off a relentless hum of countless notes completely imperceptible to the human ear, like a giant, exceptionally quiet symphony, whilst the origin of this sound remains a mystery. They also say that unexpected powerful tunes have been discovered in this hum. It is known as ‘Earth’s Hum’.

At this time of year, I can’t help but gaze at the trumpeting daffodils and imagine the unheard tunes they might be playing. In the lectionary, the psalm for today was Psalm 148 which is all about stars and earth and creation singing God’s praise. Could it be that this is not merely poetic but true?! We took 10 minutes to reflect on  the words of the psalm and to walk around the park to join with the river and trees and sky in worshipping our constant God.

We  prayed by name for those in the midst of change and shared bread and wine to these words:

Rock solid God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, we give you thanks that in you we are secure and treasured. Your love is assured, your promises enduring; you will not fail.

God of wind who blows us from the known to the unknown , we give you thanks that the future in unwritten and that you invite us to be the change your kingdom demands.

We took copies of words of Teresa of Avila with us – to learn and to share with others

Let nothing disturb you

Let nothing frighten you

All things are passing

God never changes

Those who have God find they lack nothing

God alone suffices.


And we finished with this blessing, also written by Steve:

May blessings of the dynamically unchanging Trinity be ours! May the Father’s enduring love accompany us in our lives; may Jesus himself strengthen us to be co-builders of his kingdom; and may the Spirit indwell and inspire us on our journey. Amen.

Who are you?

I was struck by the grace-filled words from the Archbishop of Canterbury when he reacted to the discovery that the man who had raised him was not his genetic father.
“There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ.”
Our identity: so easily and quickly defined by where we come from, what we do; the pigeon-holes we put ourselves and others into.
J Philip Newell in his book “Echo of the Soul” explores what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.
“The dimensions of us that defy definition are closer to the essence of our being than any outward characteristics of our lives. The known and the unknown are like the two sides of a crescent moon. Our inner self is the dark and hidden side. Our deepest identity is found in these unknown dimensions of our being.
Our inwardness is absolutely unique. It is to these inner depths that we are being recalled.”
I am still not entirely sure what this means for me, (and for some of us, this was too much of a nod to dualistic thinking) but the words we used as part of our liturgy this morning went some way to enabling that recalling. (apologies that I can’t give a link for this – please let us know if you wrote it!)

This is who I am –
Image of God –
Born of God’s breath –
Vessel of divine Love –
After his likeness –
Dwelling of God-
Capacity for the infinite –
Eternally known –
Chosen of God –
Home of the infinite majesty –
Abiding in the Son –
Called from eternity –
Life in the Lord –
Temple of the Holy Spirit –
Branch of Christ –
Receptacle of the Most High
Wellspring of Living Water –
Heir of the kingdom –
The glory of God –
Abode of the Trinity –
eternally in his Word –
This is who I am


On a cold, misty morning we met at the bandstand for worship.

The beauty of creation is a symbol of God’s beauty and a demonstration of his creativity. We were encouraged to be in awe and wonder at God’s creation and to thank him for beauty.



The following  verses from Psalms 8, 19 & 50 were read out:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

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

You have set your glory
in the heavens. 

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?

The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.

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


By this time the sun was breaking through the mist, and the morning was beginning to warm.

We thought about “What is beauty?” with help from several quotes:

“Beauty is that which pleases and delights.”  Wilfred Owen.

“Beauty is the illumination of your soul.”  John O’Donohue.

“…..the beauty in God’s universe is intended to fill us with joy and inspiration.”  Michael Abbate.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11

“Beauty is a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.”  Khalil Gibran.

“You’re so beautiful, my love, so beautiful!.. your smile is generous and full….our lips are jewel red, your mouth elegant and inviting… my love you are beautiful beyond compare!” Song of Songs

“Outer beauty pleases the eye, inner beauty captivates the heart.”  Mandy Hale.

“Nothing can make the lives of people more beautiful than constant kindness.”  Tolstoy.

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”  John Keats.

“Beauty is the way you think, beauty is the way you act, beauty is what you are.”  Brianna Kimball.

“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.”  Anne Frank.


Does beauty necessarily go hand in hand with pleasure?

Do we love beauty because it gives us pleasure?

Or is it other way round, do we see beauty through pleasure?

Is the appreciation of beauty something that is worthwhile just in itself?

How does inner beauty feature in all this?

Is it still possible to see beauty in the face of great suffering?

(In the film “The Pianist” the Jewish-Polish musician temporarily escapes the desolation and suffering of Warsaw in WWII by playing Chopin.)


When we are creative we participate with God’s creativity, beauty and mystery. So we were asked to create something beautiful – a piece of writing, a poem, a drawing, a photograph, a prayer or a piece of liturgy.

Here are some of our attempts at being creative:

Leaves beautiful on their own made into a beautiful wave.

A Blessing for Friends

May you know the peace that comes with inner beauty,

and may the Lord inspire beauty in your life and works.

May you be inspired every day with the beauty that you see,

and not be blinded to the artistry of God that surrounds you.

May God’s beauty illuminate your soul and influence the way you think, the way you act and the way you are.


Beauty in death of a seed head.


Beauty in the changed of the seasons. New growth showing signs of spring.

A creative way of using language in a famous Spanish saying. This is a play on words for those who are linguists !!

“Hacer lo que quieres es libertad, querer lo que haces, felicidad”

(translation “To do what you want is freedom; to love what you do, happiness”)

sunshine epiphany

Greyness banished.

The Word spoken.

The sunshine illumines.

We hunger for more reality of that which we clutch at.


The dalliance of dogs,

running, playing, living for the sheer heaven of it.


The bread and the wine,

Prepared and at the centre.

Jesus community now.

Rubbings made of beautiful patterns on tree bark.


We ended our worship by sharing bread and wine using the words of sunshine epiphany.


By this time it was so warm and sunny that we had our Fairtrade coffees sat outside at Cool River!




Easter Sunday

 It was grand to meet with our friends on Easter Sunday morning. What followed was a time of worship in which several of us brought a contribution.


John 20
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.


Mary of the Tower.
1. When Jesus rises from the dead on the first Easter Day the first person he reveals himself to is Mary Magdalene.
2. Mary and Jesus were very close friends – although I am not inferring a sexual relationship.
3. Mary is a disciple with equal status to the male disciples.
4. In Jewish society women would have been the property of their father, husband or brother. Mary is very unusual for the time – in travelling around the country with Jesus – obviously she is independent, and a woman of means – and therefore of relatively high status.
5. Her name Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala could be translated as Mary of the Tower. Perhaps this is associated with fishing? Towers were used as lighthouses on the lakeside because of night fishing. Small tower-like structures were used for drying fish. Perhaps Mary was a successful business woman?
6. Luke ch8 records that Mary had seven evil spirits cast out. Does that mean she had suffered from a mental illness? Or does it suggest a physical illness and the seven demons represent a particularly severe illness?
7. In the Luke 8 passage Mary is mentioned along with Joanna, Suzanna and other women who support Jesus and the disciples financially. They are all well to do, independent women of means, and have all been cured of illnesses.
8. Mary is named as present at the crucifixion. All four gospels name her present. John names her as the first person that Jesus revealed himself to after his resurrection.
9. In the early church she would have had a position of status, probably an apostle because she was a close friend and disciple of Jesus and a witness to his resurrection.
10. Then comes the slow but deliberate downgrading of Mary in particular and women in general in the Christian church. At the same time there is the gradual deification of Mary, Jesus’ mother. She becomes the Virgin and eventually the perpetual Virgin, whereas by the late 500’s AD Mary Magdalene is identified as a whore. This all comes about because the church becomes obsessed with sexuality as the root of all evil. This is used to subordinate and disempower women, and to justify an all male clergy which traces its authority back to the all male twelve disciples, so only men can be priests/ministers. These changes are also linked to the branding of theological differences as heresy, making orthodoxy very narrow. Mary Magdalene came to represent the repentant fallen woman, the repentant whore. She can then be represented in Renaissance art naked!!!
11. So let’s dish all this invented rubbish about Mary, about prostitution and sex. Instead let’s see her as an independent woman of means who supported Jesus financially and who became a special friend, a disciple, and later an apostle, who was there with him at his death, and who was the first person to whom he appeared when he rose from the dead on that first Easter Day.

 We shared a liturgy from Cheryl Laurie  holdthisspace.org

The resurrection was first discovered by the friends of Jesus who stood in grief outside his tomb.

Resurrection turned despair into life. It was discovered again by a group of Jesus’ disciples who had known the loss of all they had known.

Resurrection turned fear into hope. It was discovered again by black South Africans when apartheid was dismantled.

Resurrection turned injustice into liberation. It was discovered again by the people of East Timor who fought for independence.

Resurrection turned oppression into freedom. It’s been discovered again whenever someone has found the space to love after being hurt, has found the courage to begin again when it seems life has ended. And that gives us faith to believe resurrection will happen in Palestine and Israel.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in Iraq, Syria and Guantanamo Bay. We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in refugee camps in Europe, in Laos and detention centres in Maribyrnong.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in the systems that crumple and oppress.

We have faith to believe resurrection will happen in the lives we know are shattered and the hearts we know are broken.

may the resurrection come.

may the resurrection come.


Easter activity easter

What is the Easter story all about? Forgiveness, grace, love and resurrection.

Many people, places and situations require some or all of the above.

Write an Easter message or prayer for them in an Easter card.


Fairtrade Fortnight and Food Security

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


Martin Luther King.

But what didn’t he say?


Shocking, isn’t it?








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.”





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.


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)