Reflections on a changing season

Sarah H led us this Sunday, challenging us to take a spiritual health audit. Below are some notes from our time together:

As we enter ‘Sweater-weather’ do last year’s clothes still fit? Suit us? What is the state of our wardrobe? Do we always wear the same outfit, or do we like to mix it up? As life seasons change do our spiritual practices or disciplines suit the season we are in? Some practices are comfortable, yet others can feel awkward and just not our style. This season we are encouraging each other to slip on something new, to allow these ways to transform who we are and how God’s image in us is seen by our families and communities. 

Christian Spiritual Practices change us from the inside out. Like a good buffet, tuck in and try a little of something – Taste and See that the Lord is Good. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you to pick a practice or two for this season of your life.

Bible Study 

Lectio 365, Read through the Bible in a year, study themes, characters, a book or words using a plan from, or Bible Hub. Read a different translation. Study a book using a commentary from a different church tradition.  Watch videos from listen to a podcast. Dig deeper by learning Learn Biblical Greek | Daily Dose of Greek or Daily Dose of Hebrew – Free Hebrew Video Lessons  

Bible Meditation 
Chew over a text, memorise it, rewrite it. Ignatian spiritual exercises, Examen.  Lectio 365 – 24-7 Prayer International, devotional readings. 

Silent, Breath prayers, intercession (praying for others), visit a prayer room, attend an online prayer meeting, liturgical prayer (Northumbria community, Anglican, Ionian Franciscan, Orthodox) the Lord’s prayer.  

Stand, sit, kneel, dance, raise your hands, open your hands, lie face down.  

Music and the Arts 

Sung or danced liturgy, songwriting, prophetic painting, spontaneous song singing, storytelling, story writing, journalling, film making, meditation on nature, images, films. 

Pilgrimage & Retreat 

Walking to a Church or Sacred site. Stay in a monastery, nunnery, or retreat centre such as Waverley Abbey. Attend a large festival gathering. (Greenbelt) or Scargill Movement.  

Liturgical Year – Decoration of the home for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time. Celebrating Saints Days, Solstices, Equinox and Biblical Jewish festivals  
Passover, Feast Unleavened Bread: April 23-29, 2024 Pentecost: June 16, 2024 Feast of Trumpets: October 3, 2024 Day of Atonement: October 12, 2024 Feast of Tabernacles: October 17-23, 2024 
The Eighth Day: October 24, 2024 

I have to say that not only was it good to be challenged to get out of our inevitable ruts but I particularly oved the reading Sarah shared from the Book of Wisdom Chapter 7:

15May God grant me to speak with judgement,

and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received;

for he is the guide even of wisdom

and the corrector of the wise.

16For both we and our words are in his hand,

as are all understanding and skill in crafts.

17For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists,

to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements;

18the beginning and end and middle of times,

the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,

19the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars,

20the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals,

the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings,

the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots;

21I learned both what is secret and what is manifest,

22for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,

unique, manifold, subtle,

mobile, clear, unpolluted,

distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,

irresistible, 23beneficent, humane,

steadfast, sure, free from anxiety,

all-powerful, overseeing all,

and penetrating through all spirits

that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.

24For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;

because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.

25For she is a breath of the power of God,

and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;

therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.

26For she is a reflection of eternal light,

a spotless mirror of the working of God,

and an image of his goodness.

27Although she is but one, she can do all things,

and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;

in every generation she passes into holy souls

and makes them friends of God, and prophets;

28for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

When I think about the theological links between Wisdom and the pre-existenet Word of God – Christ – this reading is all the more wonderful! Thanks Sarah – lots to think about!

Gene Robinson teaching us about Grace and Justice

Last night we had the privilege of watching a 15 minute address given by Bishop Gene Robinson at The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, on receiving his honorary doctorate. We knew of it as Parker was there (currently teaching there) with Kitty and both were blown away by it. Gene Robinson is an alumnus of the university. Ordinarily, alumni becoming bishops are automatically conferred with this award, but in his case it has come 20 years later. The grace with which he receives it and what he has to say is both inspiring and touching. We shared responses for the rest of the evening and also prayed for all suffering injustice and a lack of peace, using the Northumbria Community’s evening prayer. The link to hear the address is here:

Third Space Little Fishes

This Sunday was led by Sarah B. This was her content:

On the theme of fishing, fishing, fisherman. As a youngster I fished a lot, ocean fishing of the back of boat for mackerel. Some days we caught nothing, other times we went through vast shoals and could pull up 4 or five at a time from one line. The most we caught was around 30, we gave them away when we reached shore. The rest we grilled on a bar-b-que on the cliff top There are no lightening strike thoughts or insights, so just to leave each bit with you to contemplate for yourself.

The parable of the Mexican fisherman and the banker

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American offered, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you could then sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would then control the product, processing, and distribution. You would get to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “Ah but, how long might this all take?”

To which the American replied, “around 15 – 20 years.”

The American laughed and said, “And here is the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions eh? Hmm well and then what?”

The American said, “Why then you would retire! Move to a pretty seashore coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Turning to Scripture

Here are two stories, one from the start of Jesus ministry and once after the Crucifixion. Their similarity and repetition embodies the resonance of the Jewish story telling traditions. Fishermen fish at night as the time for the best chance of catching fish, these people who had fished all their lives, who lived at the lake’s edge knew in their bones how to fish. A stranger tells them to do something against all their instincts. For some reason they do listen.,5%3A4b%2D5a).

We read two accounts of Jesus helping his disciples to catch fish – from Luke 5 and John 21. Nigel shared that the Greek word used for the fire in John’s account denotes a specific type of fire – a charcoal fire, which would have given off a very particular scent. It is used in only one other place in the Gospel, that is, for the fire where Peter warmed his hands on the night he denied knowing Jesus.

Ain’t no fish

We wandered around the park with the words of those stories and all we had shared before returning for a communion of bread, grilled fish and wine. Finally we looked at images from the book Of Kells where fish interweve words…

Book of Kells

The imagery of fishes woven through the text… scholars have argued over the meaning of fish as Christian symbolism. Perhaps we look for meaning where there is none, fish were an everyday thing in Palestine and in Iona, they were visible in the waters, they were food. They are colourful like flowers and leaves, and weave through reeds and seaweed, as they weave through the words. The were used to hide mistakes, or to act as hypens. As Sarah said, sometimes thre is no greater meaning to things – sometimes it’s ‘just life’ and we don’t need to try to make sense of everything! Much to mull over – a good time together!

Jesus the man, ordinary and extraordinary.

We met surrounded by puddles after the recent floods in the park, but this morning the sun was shining and there were treated to glorious autumn colours all around.

Jesus the ordinary

I started the think about what Jesus’s life would have been like growing up the son of a carpenter in Nazareth after we discussed Jesus / Christ as part of looking again at our values a few weeks ago.

We know of his very early years as a refugee in Egypt fleeing the powers that be. A reminder of those in Gaza wanting the border with Egypt to be opened right now.

Jesus would have received an education from 5 years old when boys and girls were given a basic scriptural grounding.

At the age of 10 boys were given a grounding in how to live as a good citizen in Jewish society, learning the Oral Torah which gave them direction, guidance, teaching and knowledge of the Law.

By 13 boys typically started learning a trade as an apprentice. By this age they had learned to fulfil the commandments.

However for those who were extraordinary study could be continued. Those who were gifted and dedicated would study at the bet midrash (house of study) which was a rabbis’ school.

Adults from the age of 15 could study here and both men and women could come along to these sessions and listen in to what was taught and discussed. People could also come and learn without becoming Rabbis and would be called disciples even into their old age.

  • I had a few of my own thoughts at this stage. Was it here that Jesus impressed the adults in his knowledge and understanding when his parents lost him as a child?
  • Was it here where Mary studied at the feet of Jesus while Martha bustled at home?
  • Was it here Jesus first came across his disciples before he recruited them?

Those who were exceptional students and who studied hard enough and dedicating years to training could become rabbinic teachers themselves.

Although marriage was strongly encouraged in men at around 20 there were those so dedicated to their studies that they delayed marriage to give their full attention to their education. Those who continued their studies until the age of 30 had the authority to teach others.

So we can conclude that up the age of 30 when Jesus began the ministry we read about in the gospels that he led the life of an ordinary but exceptional student.

Even among those who continued to study there were Rabbis and RABBIS. The later taught with authority. In Matthew 7:28 we read following the Sermon on the Mount:

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowd were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.”

The three years of ministry marked Jesus out as extraordinary, he worked miracles, was a brilliant storyteller, he taught with authority and often challenged the religious leaders of the day. So extraordinary were those three years that his story and teachings have lasted 2,000 years and founded a world religion.

Poverty or Riches?

So how would Jesus provide for himself and his disciples? Women often supported their men whilst they taught or studied. Women helped run the family farm or manage a business, giving the husband time to study. (Think of Proverbs 31, where the wife ran the business, and the husband “sat in the gate” – either in government affairs or in intellectual discussions.) Proverbs, of course, is from an earlier time, but the same thing was true in later Judaism – in pious families, the wife often would earn the money so that the man could spend his time in religious study. Extended families would also support a brother or son who was engaged in study too.

Often disciples would travel together with a rabbi, and they would take weeks away to go on a teaching trip. A disciple had to ask his wife’s permission to be away from home to study longer than 30 days. When they travelled, rabbis and disciples would pool their money to buy food, etc. Jesus received contributions from wealthy women, and they were known for supporting other rabbis too. When they travelled, the villages they taught in were expected to extend hospitality, giving them food and shelter.

And so we come to Israel, Palestine and Gaza, and focus on what is happening.
Pray for those in power in Israel, in the Gaza strip and those trying to broker peace that they will be influenced by the words of Jesus.
Jesus said love your enemies …
Jesus lived in a land occupied by the Romans, and he taught that we should pray for those who persecute and oppress us.
He commended peace makers, reconcilers, generosity, forgiveness, comforters and those who were merciful. …
Pray for those who have lost loved ones, homes and their community, may your spirit bring comfort and an urge to reconcile not revenge. …
We pray for Christians living in the area to be salt and light and not suffer persecution for their beliefs and actions….
Heavenly Father, we remind ourselves of the miracles Jesus performed and we ask something of you that seems impossible. ,,,
We ask for Peace with Justice. Shalom

Some Thoughts on Sharing Bread and Wine

At the most basic level, bread and wine sustained the life of God’s people. Both were staples of Israel’s diet — bread because of the simplicity and reliability of grain, and wine because water could be so scarce and contaminated in the ancient Near East.

For that reason, bread and wine were also valuable gifts of friendship and hospitality.

A bit of musing – I wondered if Jesus had lived in different cultures whether he would have used tea and rice (China) tea and poppadum (Indian subcontinent) coffee and potato or here in Britain bread and watered down beer?

In Judaism, however bread and wine are often used as symbols of important concepts. For example, bread may be seen as a symbol of the basic sustenance that God provides, while wine may represent the joy and abundance that come from following God’s laws.

As Christians we see use bread and wine to remember what Jesus has done for us.

A symbol of the promise of the coming feast in the new heaven and renewed earth.

When Jesus took up the bread and the cup of the Last Supper, he was handling objects thick with associations from Israel’s past. Bread and wine appear regularly, together and apart, throughout the Old Testament and Jesus’s own ministry. Here was bread long baked, and wine well aged.

Why did Jesus use bread and wine at the last supper?

I wonder if Jesus used these basic common foods not just because they were thick with symbolism to Jewish culture, but because he was poor and he knew those who followed him would be able to obtain these basic food stuffs in remembrance of him whatever their circumstances. Jesus stood with the poor and needy.

As a symbol of standing with those doing without today we are taking bread and water not bread and wine. We stand with the poor as Jesus did.

Bread and Wine
Life sustainer, healer, forgiver, reconciler, gift giver, covenant maker, Jesus is Israel’s God made flesh. Sharer of  bread

Miracle worker, carpenter, itinerant teacher, story teller, wine blesser.

Simple meal at Holly House

This new season of ThirdSpace we have decided that alternate meals together should be truly simple meals with donations for a charity chosen by someone different each time. We shared soup, bread, cheese and water with Mary’s Meals the designated recipient of our privilege.

We began our meal reading the following words:

Psalm 41:1  says:

Dignify those who are down on their luck;
    you’ll feel good—that’s what God does.

Luke 14:12-14 says:

12-14 Then Jesus turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbours, the kind of people who will return the favour. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favour, but the favour will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

We are called to advocacy. We all know that there is a highly uneven distribution of opportunity and resources.

Proverbs 14:20 says:

The poor are shunned even by their neighbours,
    but the rich have many friends.

Being born into privilege automatically brings friends and connections with people who have power or influence, who can advocate for us or offer advice.

We acknowledge that we are called to make a measurable difference in the lives of the poor, leveraging our privilege to meet individual needs and empower people towards self-sufficiency as well as challenging unjust systems and structures that disadvantage certain groups.

What privileges do I enjoy? What opportunities and resources have been made available to me in the course of my life?


Lord show us how we should use our privileges for the sake of others.

(influenced by Jill Weber – Lectio 365)

Mary’s Meals was founded in 2002 when Magnus McFarlane Barrow visited Malawi during a famine and met a mother dying from AIDS. When Magnus asked her eldest son Edward what his dreams were in life, he replied simply: “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.

Magnus realised that by providing a meal a day in a place of education, several problems were solved at once: Children could attend school and become literate as parents would not need them to beg or work in order to be fed, children who attended school would be able to concentrate through lack of hunger and attend more regularly due to better health and strength, local peasant farmers could thrive by being the ones that Mary’s Meals bought staple food from and a generation of children would have a better chance to raise themselves and even their country out of poverty…   Mary’s Meals began in Malawi, feeding 200 children.

The charity is named in honour of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who brought up her own child in poverty.

By 2010, eight years later, 400,000 children were receiving Mary’s meal in a place of education every day. In 2015 one million children were being fed each day. By 2021 the numbers exceeded 2 million.

Today, 2,538,918 hungry children are fed by Mary’s Meals every school day across 18 countries. Impressively, for ANY charity, 93.8% of donations are spent on their charitable activities.

It costs just £19.15 to feed a child for a whole year.

Between us, we will invite at least two children to our table tonight – and for the next year. I will round up whatever contributions there are this evening.

For those interested, the brilliant book ‘The Shed that fed a million children’ has been updated. And the moving ‘Child 31’ film is still available on Youtube in its shortened 30-minute form.

Let us give thanks for the privileges we enjoy and the call to give to those who do not have these things. Let us give thanks and pray for the continuing work of Mary’s Meals, and let us give thanks for this food and each other. Amen.

It was a very good evening together, as always, and we are glad that 3 more children will be fed in a place of education in the coming year from our table, as it were.

Praying for the Middle East

With the unfolding horror of the Hamas attacks on the Jewish community and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza it seemed right that on a beautiful crisp Autumn morning in the park, not only should we give thanks for all we enjoyed here, but that we also looked square in the face of what was happening in the world and prayed. But what to pray?

Peacekeepers or Peacemakers?

The perhaps over-familiar words of the Sermon on the Mount might be misheard or misinterpreted.  Jesus’ didn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers.” But “blessed are the peacemakers.”  The distinction between the two is vital. Peace-keeping can actually be the opposite of Peace-making. 

Peacekeepers’ ambition is to keep the peace at all costs.  As a result, we can often avoid the discomfort needed to solve issues at the core and instead focus on maintaining the status quo.  But the status quo of our world needs to be broken, and keeping the peace isn’t enough. Taken to its extreme, keeping the peace would have meant allowing slave owners to continue to own slaves, it would have meant not allowing women to vote, and would enable countries to invade others as long as it doesn’t impact petrol prices too much.

Peacemakers, on the other hand, can be disruptors. They recognise that sometimes, they need to disrupt the status quo to allow real peace to prevail. Peacemakers actively build peace; they speak up when it’s uncomfortable and step in where injustice has taken a foothold.

When we talk about peacemaking, we talk reconciliation. We’re talking about building bridges and creating opportunities for relationships to be mended and strengthened.

When done Jesus’ way, peace can literally be the opposite of safety. 

And a living example of this can be seen in Vivian Silver. The 74-year-old Canadian-Israeli has  spent her adult life campaigning for peace and human rights for Palestinians, particularly those living in impoverished Gaza. On Saturday morning, Vivian was one of the many hostages kidnapped by Hamas and currently her whereabouts and welfare is unknown.

So this morning we prayed, we sighed, we groaned and we asked for Peacemakers’ voices to be heard. And we were reminded ; 

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8.

And as has happened before, the bandstand, for a few minutes, became a ‘thin-place’, as a white dove (and no matter if it was a pigeon!)  perched on the railings….

We used the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury too:

And amidst it all, we sued words from Psalm 23, words from our litany of thanksgiving, words from our Companions liturgy and words from Celtic encircling prayers. Overall, a very moving, sobering time together

Journey explored

Sarah B led us in a creative, reflcetive evening around the theme of journey. The following is one of the sheets we all got, which Sarah talked us through as we created our jouney maps.

The journey

Dictionary definition: “an act or instance of traveling from one place to another…”

Contemplative Craft – you have a pin board, pins and can choose one thread length.

Place pins wherever you want in the cork (don’t push them too far in) and use the thread to wrap around – think about the concept of journey and what it means to you – your life, or your spiritual journey – as you do the craft use it to consider your story.

What do we mean… this concept is so over used , lets stop and take a moment to think about it…

The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, is credited with the phrase “life is a journey, not a destination.”

These words have become twisted into our cultural life that we don’t often think about how slightly ridiculous it is! A journey by definition tends to have a destination even if that changes as we go along. I think we find this idea pleasing simply because it fits with our neat brain idea that time and life are linear.

Does the journey always imply a moving forward, a maturing or betterment?

Perhaps our routes are more meandering, a stream to the sea, perhaps sometimes we don’t move at all, but the world moves around us, perhaps we just get lost. Perhaps we aren’t getting wiser?

Or perhaps there is no journey just a series of moments, of experiences that we don’t need to see as linear.

Physicists will argue that time is an illusion, if that’s so, and we do talk abut God being outside of time, then a journey that progresses cannot be measured. Claudia Hammond the phycologist argues that we find the sense of a time frame helps us to make sense of life, but she also argues that we hold to it lightly understanding that our brain creates flexible memories. The reason for this fluidity is to help us to better see and therefore plan or react to future situations.

Birth to death – life is the between points, it helps people cope, by understanding that things will change, they won’t stay the same – the world turns.

Learning things is considered a journey? Travelling is considered exciting so trying to use the word to be a positive and more interesting concept… feeling of movement of going somewhere, rather than static which we tend to think of as negative and boring.

Can you have a journey without a destination? How does that make you feel to contemplate that?

Celtic spirituality references most often the circle – the eternal celtic circle of life – birth to death to rebirth as they saw around themselves in daily and seasonal events.

Nature is a circular,  does it help to consider our lives as circular rather than linear?

Tree of Life – the celts use the tree of life to represent our life story – it sits inside a circle sometimes drawn as a border sometimes without but in the shape of the circle. It is based around the idea that the tree roots go down as far as the branches above, so you can spin the image and it looks the same. The roots to the earth, the branches to heaven.

Thinking about this – how does that fit into life or spirituality as a journey – does it complement or challenge our thinking?

What does it mean for us right here right now and how we choose to live?

Perhaps not to be over obsessed with end goals but to enjoy the everday and be in the moment, small experiences.. accepting that our paths might cross, meander, change direction and, well, that is just OK.

This was then linked to the idea of the Celtic tree of lifeusing information from the following website.

And finally we gilded our own tree of life leather fobs as we considered what we might learn from this ancient symbol.

Lots of chat, reflection, laughter and ideas around the table – a terrific evening – Thanks Sarah!

ThirdSpace’s 14th Birthday at the Bandstand

We began by sharing with those newer to us, the events of our 10th birthday – do scroll back 4 years to see what was so special that day! And after thinking of the Holy Spirit pigeon’s affirmation of us, we used the following words before staying, then, with a deep silence which was very special:

We gather this morning in the name of the Creator,

who creates time and space,

galaxies and stars and planets.

In the name of Jesus Christ, born on planet Earth,

and in the name of the Spiritwho fills Earth with his presence.

Creator God,

in this time we call ‘now’

in this space we call ‘here’

we worship you.

Make your presence felt among us.

Steve then led us, speaking of what we might learn from Acts 4 – revealing some of the elements of the Early Church’s prioroities: Jesus, Resurrection, Evangelism, Miraculous events and Community.

On Wednesdays we are going to revisit the values of ThirdSpace and to help us think about how we might grow and change we read those values again:

Christ, Community, Justice, Celebration,Service, Journey, Connected.

Then we were invited to write on a sheet divided into 2 columns headed ‘Church with…’ and ‘Church without…’ (the latter being a sort of tag line for ThirdSpace). These are the things that we came up with:

Church with: Birdsong, Faith, Acceptance, Christ, Welcome, Festivals, Hospitality, Support, Genuine community, Doubts, A coracle! Nature, Flexiblity, Open invitation to bread and wine, Variety reflecting individuality, Open to other traditions, Creativity, Inclusivity…

Church without: Heirarchy, Walls, A 5-year plan, Prejudice, Certainty, singing! PCC! Preaching, Dogma, Qualifying rules, Religiosity, Power-plays, Bureaucracy’ Division between church/non-church/religion/non-religion, New disciples …

We used the words of our ‘Emerging Creed’ and finally, we shared bread and wine using those early ‘Companions’ words and named those who we knew who needed to be included in that.

It was a very special gathering and we are all so thankful for this place, this church and these people! Hoorah!

Cathedral of Trees

At our meeting after the Coronation of King Charles 111 we discussed the merits of meeting outdoors as opposed to indoors. We used a Celtic monastic tradition to consider. Wandering was a powerful practice inspired by the biblical story of Abraham. There is a unique term for this wandering: peregrinatio pro Christo, or the call to wander for the love of Christ. After our wanderings we came back with words and phrases that explained how we felt about outdoor worship. I have tried to put them together so we can use them in worship at another time. I said I was going to write a psalm. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t.

It’s for all who choose to worship God outdoors.

A Psalm for Third Space
Oh, Bountiful God, we praise you for the infinite wonder of all that is
The minute and the mighty, the great and the small
For there is no greater beauty than this; Thank you.
We praise you in our coming and our goings
for all who are with us through the thresholds of our lives.
We thank you for this place, this place set apart for us
a microcosm in the round
For this group, this way, this welcome
This place to see God in variety, in livingness and colour
A cathedral of our own with no roof, no boundary, no limits, free for all
A place to be connected, privileged, and loved.
We praise you for the peace and the beauty
For dew drop diamonds nestling in sprigs of iridescent green
for misty mornings jewel studded spiders webs
For changes in the seasons
The noise and community
Traffic, talk and play.
The bread and wine
And for the bounty of grace.
Here we stand in a place built to blare our brass horn, drum, and pipe
Entwined and yet open
A place to listen
To one another, to prayer
To birdsong, perfectly turned as a choir calling out worship to the creator.
Praise you for the warmth of the sun, the chill of a winter’s day,
The gentle morning breeze and the wild winter wind in our hair.
A place to feel closer to God, woven into community and to share God’s love.
Bathed in prayer, beauty and light
May our legacy be carved into this place like stone pillars
May all be blessed and see glimpses of our wonderful world and beyond,
May they find this a thin place and experience something of God’s love.
And may we with the minute and the mighty praise God’s name forever.


We gathered on a noticeably warmer morning. Is this a sign that winter is drawing to an end or are we being too optimistic?

We are still in the season of Epiphany so we are going to continue to think about the story of the Magi.

My thought process this morning began a couple of weeks ago when I listened to the Radio 4 programme Beyond Belief on the subject of doubt. Why do people of faith find it hard to admit their doubts? Why are people of faith discouraged in any doubting and questioning in their faith establishments? Do we as people of faith feel guilt about our doubts?

And yet we find many examples of doubt in the bible, especially in the psalms and even Jesus himself cried out on the cross ” My God why have you forsaken me?”

Psalm 77[a]

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm. NIV

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favour again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?

We prayed for those who are struggling with their lives at the present time. We particularly prayed for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

To return to the story of the Magi

These guys the Magi set off on what must have been a very significant journey from somewhere in the east. Probably Iraq or Iran from the area known as Persia. A very significant journey indeed and we know that they got lost at some point because they called in on Herod. Did they have doubts on the journey, or for the rest of their lives about the purpose of this journey? These were some of the questions that I wondered about.

  • How many days were they on the road?
  • Did they lose sight of the star?
  • Did they doubt their purpose?
  • When they eventually reached Bethlehem and gave their gifts to Jesus parents. Did they have their doubts about what they found. A king born into poverty?
  • Apart from them being warned to return home by a different route we know nothing more about the Magi. So what happened to them?
  • After this arduous journey how did they feel?
  • What sort of doubts might they have had?
  • Did they try to follow the story of Jesus the baby they had visited and given generous gifts?
  • Did they hear of the horror of the murder of all the infants under 2 ordered by Herod?
  • Did they keep in touch somehow and hear about the flight into Egypt?
  • The Magi were from a privileged class how long did they live after their journey?
  • Did they live long enough to hear about the popular Rabbi who performed miracles?
  • Did they live long enough to hear of Jesus death AND his resurrection?
  • What ever happened, whatever their doubts, fears and disappointments. Was their something along the way that helped them believe that Jesus was indeed the king they sought.

We cut an apple in half through the centre and not from the stalk. We saw the star shape made by the pips.

  • We each had an apple cut in half so we could see a star shape. We took our half apple and went on a slow walk or sit down to chew over some things while we ate our apple.
  • What was the star we followed in our own lives?
  • We were asked to talk to God about any doubts, fears or disappointments we might have.
  • If we have doubts, then it may help to remember a significant time in the past when we felt your faith was real. (During lock down when we told our life stories on Zoom quite a few of us mentioned something significant that had happened to help us believe or come to a faith).

Returning we shared bread and wine, praying for each of us in turn as the wine was poured out.

Each of us was given a copy of Grayden’s blessing. (See resources page)