Light at the End of the Tunnel

I have always referred to living in lock down as living in a bubble. Now with some of the restrictions starting to lift: however nebulous they are, it is like living in a tunnel with light at the end.

In any difficult situation when we can see no end, we have hope and our hope is in Jesus.

Some of those who have been through near death experiences have said it was like being in a dark tunnel moving towards a beautiful, welcoming, glorious light. So even in death there is light at the end of the tunnel

Liminal Time – by Beth Merrill Neel   https://holdfasttowhatis

Activity – Go outside, to a window, onto a balcony or somewhere you feel at peace. Write down what you experience when you:



See below some of the thoughts we had

Litany of thanksgiving:

For this time, this place, this day, these people
For calling us to this church, this freedom, this worship
We give thanks to the Lord for he is good
His love endures for ever.

For the changing seasons, light and weather,
For trees and birdsong and river and skies
For needless beauty and endless diversity…
That all creation joins with our praise today
That the sun sings and the earth hums…
If we were silent the very stones would sing his praise
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, 
the whole earth is full of his glory

For those we love, for those who love us
For those we struggle with and those who struggle with us
For old friends and new ones, for friendships yet to be made and for reunions
For all human goodness that speaks of your presence
For our frailty that drives us to acknowledge our dependence on you
We affirm that you Lord are God
It is you who made us and we are yours
For you know how we were formed
You remember that we are dust

For the freedom we enjoy
For choice and wealth and healthcare and education and opportunities and democracy
For holidays and leisure and comfort
For the privilege to be called to give to those who do not have these things
In this sacred place we remember that these are your gifts and affirm our calling
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as in heaven

For the shalom you promise
For the call to press on together as companions on the journey
For your foundational underpinning, support, comfort, direction and strength
For your constant presence – your very name spoken with each breath we take
For Jesus – for all he has done, all he does, all he will yet do for us
For loving us
Salvation and glory and power belong to you our God

Prayer for bread and wine

O Eternal Wisdom,
we praise you and give you thanks,
because the dark beauty of death
could not contain you.

You broke forth into light from the comfort of the grave;
before you the stone was moved,
and the tomb of our world was opened wide.

and you reveal yourself to men and women as a companion.
Blessed is our brother Jesus, who walks with us the road of our grief,

Today my grief is… (add your sentence here)

Jesus our companion who gives us hope and shines a light in the dark

and is known again in the breaking of bread;

The bread of hope      Take bread


Blessed are we who walk with Jesus

We remember Him in drinking the wine;

The wine of light in the dark       Take wine


Come now, disturbing spirit of our God, make us one body in Christ.

Open our graves, unbind our eyes, and name us here; touch and heal all that has been buried in us,

that we may go forth with power to release resurrection in the world.


Christ is risen from the dead. Today my hope is… (add your sentence here)


Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Steve John Leach  – adapted


Our responses to Look: Smell: Listen: Feel: Breathe.

Look: a castle on a hill – triple towered

Smell: the crisp freshness of morning

Listen: the soprano trill and tenor whoop of winged wonders

Feel: the cool calming leaf rustling breeze 



Hope from dark places :-

Re birth :- The frost bitten wisteria coming back to new life and growth

Something from nothing :- a seemingly empty pot of dark damp soil containing a new green shoot that turned out to be a Cala Lily.


Honey bee with full pollen baskets, wren in full voice, scent of rose 


Grey skies and green restless trees

rain on wet leaves

distant bird song

cool breeze, good refreshing fresh air

How good it is to breathe

prayers for those struggling to breath suffering Coronavirus


Grey and Green

Wet, wind rustling in the trees and leaves

The smell of damp and rain

Beautiful birdsong; so many different kinds

Cool fresh air 


These were the ones shared by those willing to have their thoughts on the website

Coronavirus – a man-made crisis?

As we humans exploit new areas of the natural world, we disturb the viruses they contain, allowing them to transmit to human populations. In this way deforestation and habitat destruction enable pandemics like Covid-19 to develop. Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it was transmitted from animals to humans. 60% of all new diseases are zoonotic. The list includes SARS, MERS, Ebola, H1N1 and HIV. Infectious diseases like Covid-19 are emerging more rapidly than ever before, and one reason is likely to be our treatment of the natural world. As we destroy many of the natural resources and habitats we rely on, we push further and further into unknown ecosystems. Wild meat hunters are forced deeper into forests. The animals they kill are more likely to host unknown viruses that humans have not yet been exposed to.

Ecosystem disruption.

But our disturbance is not just in the form of hunting: we log forests for wood or agricultural land, mine for minerals and fossil fuels, and destroy habitats for industries linked to our consumption. Each increases our contact with previously undisturbed animal populations. At the same time, these wild animals are pushed closer to human settlements as their habitats are destroyed, bringing viruses with them.

David Quammen, explains in the New York Times: “We invade tropical forests and other wild habitats, which harbour so many species of animals and plants – and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses.  We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.”

The Coronavirus Pandemic.

Addressing COVID-19, then, is not only about mutual aid networks, food banks, NHS staff and carers, and the other amazing community and health responses we’re seeing. Our relationship with the environment also needs to change if we want to avoid exposure to many further viruses of this kind.

Richard Ostfeld, a senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York says: “There’s misapprehension among some scientists and the public that natural ecosystems are the source of threats to us… It’s a mistake. Nature poses threats, it is true, but it’s human activities that do the real damage. The health risks in a natural environment can be made much worse when we interfere with it.”

Farming destroying habitats.

Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources. As our demand for meat grows and grows, larger and larger areas of the natural world are being taken over for meat production. In countries like Brazil, forest is cleared for beef farming or to grow soya and other crops for animal feed. Habitats are destroyed, communities that rely on these forests are pushed further into unknown ecosystems, and humans come into contact with new animal populations and the viruses they carry.

Choosing a plant-based diet can reduce our destruction of the natural world, and in this way reduce our risk of exposure to viruses like COVID-19. Animal agriculture is a very inefficient use of land, meaning that we need a disproportionate amount to meet our nutritional requirements. Some experts estimate that if we all went vegan, we could reduce land use for agriculture by 75% – allowing more natural habitats to remain undisturbed, and agricultural land to be re-wilded.

Factory Farming – cruelty & disease.

The three pandemics that have emerged since 2000, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, swine flu (H1N1) in 2009 and now Covid-19, have all spread from animals. SARS spread from cats and bats in China, whilst animal to human transmission of swine flu first took place in an intensive pig farm in North America. Covid-19 probably spread from bats to chickens, then to humans at Chinese “wet” markets.

Factory farms confine thousands of cows, pigs, and chickens into tightly packed conditions where they are forced to suffer the most cruel treatment imaginable. As well as being very cruel, factory farming is a serious threat to human health.  Our demand for large quantities of meat and other animal products means that huge numbers of animals such as cows, chickens and pigs are crammed together in crowded, faeces-ridden factory farms; these provide the perfect breeding grounds for pathogens. Factory farming also creates perfect conditions for the spread of disease. The stress and insanitary conditions weaken animals’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to infection and overcrowding allows disease to spread quickly and easily.

Factory Farming & climate change.

Former New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and environmentalist Bill McKibben—write that it is most urgent that we “reduce the size and number of factory farms.” ……. “As the global health community acknowledges the intertwined nature of planetary and human health, it must also confront the role that factory farming plays in climate change.”

Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into factory farms. These animals are literally imprisoned and tortured in unhealthy, unsanitary and unconscionably cruel conditions. Sickness is the norm for these confined animals.

Factory farms contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—more than the entire global transportation industry. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.  When you add it all up, the picture is clear—contemporary agriculture is burning up our planet. And factory farms play a key role in this impending climate disaster.

Palm oil and habitat destruction.

Palm oil – in 50% of all packaged products we buy from supermarkets –causes widespread habitat destruction.

Huge swathes of rainforest in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa are bulldozed or burned to make room for these plantations, “green deserts” containing virtually no biodiversity. Avoiding products containing palm oil or making sure it is sustainable and Fairtrade, can also lessen our demands on the natural world. Like COVID-19, Ebola is thought to have originated in bats. “The invasion of West African forests by the palm oil companies destroyed the canopy of the natural forest,” Frank Snowden, a professor emeritus of the history of medicine at Yale University says. “And so bats, not having their natural habitat, had to move to different places — places where human beings are.”

The Wellbeing of all things.

Many researchers today think that it is actually humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19 to arise – with profound health and economic impacts in rich and poor countries alike. In fact, a new discipline, Planetary Health, is emerging that focuses on the increasingly visible connections between the wellbeing of humans, the wellbeing of other living things and the wellbeing of the Earth and its ecosystems. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be followed by even more deadly and destructive disease outbreaks unless their root cause – the rampant destruction of the natural world – is rapidly halted, the world’s leading biodiversity experts have warned.

Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz and Eduardo Brondizio led the most comprehensive planetary health check ever undertaken, which was published in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), based in Germany.  It concluded that human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems. Diaz says; “There is a single species responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic – us. Recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity, particularly our global financial and economic systems that prize economic growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones.”

Reducing consumption.

But the best thing we can do as individuals is to radically reduce our consumption. Each new purchase requires natural resources of some kind. If we can cut these down and reuse and recycle, we can drastically shift our exploitative relationship with the natural world and the pandemic potential we create.

Information culled from – Ethical Consumer, The Guardian, The New York Times, Scientific American.

Another World is Possible.

Call to Worship

From the dust of the earth, the Holy One breathed life into us.

Through the breath of God we are all connected.

Shaped in the Divine image, God formed us with a purpose:

To create

To serve

To tend

To protect

To love

That life may flourish in all its forms,

May the Spirit of the Living God be manifest in us!


Luke 4; 16-21

16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Another World is Possible.

I became a follower of Jesus of Nazareth when I was a student at university.  When I look back what surprises me is that it took me over 3 years to realise that the bible is both political and religious. It is about God and God’s character and passion. God’s passion, God’s dream is for a world transformed by social justice. Jesus had a passion for the things of God; he had a passion for justice, for a world transformed by justice, equality and inclusion. This set him on a collision course with the authorities, what did get him in trouble was that he became a public critic of the authorities and the way they put the world together. Jesus proclamation of the kingdom of God was the heart of his vision and I believe it is not about how to get to heaven but about transformation of life here on earth. Jesus taught us to pray…”Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” In the world of Jesus the Kingdom of God had both a religious meaning and a political meaning.

I was born and brought up just after the end of WW2, it was into a society that wasn’t based on the ideology of individualism, but on the politics of “the common good”. It was based on the idea that none of us is self-made. I benefited from this idea of the common good – universal education which included the privilege of going to university and leaving without a penny of debt, much government built infrastructure and the newly created National Health Service.  The “common good” should concern all of us, it is a concept that our country and our world is crying out for. The common good should concern all of us, not only for moral reasons but also for pragmatic ones.  Countries that take seriously the well-being of all are safer, healthier and happier places; they have less crime and less mental illness, lower infant mortality, longer life expectancy, less poverty and less desperation.

Covid-19 has made me think a lot about the future .Things have got to change drastically after this pandemic is over, it surely can’t be business as usual. Clearly our society and our world are disordered and massively unjust. If this pandemic doesn’t challenge us to rethink what kind of world we want to live in, then I’m not sure what will. The two most pressing issues are climate change and inequality.

Seriously tackling Climate Change must go to the top of everyone’s agenda. It seems to me we are at 5 minutes to midnight and are rapidly running out of time to stop climate change running out of control with disastrously high temperatures in only 40 or 50 years’ time.

Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, factory farming as well as being some of the main drivers of climate change also create the perfect conditions for more pandemics. There needs to be serious thought about curtailing most of these activities.

Inequality must be tackled with progressive taxation and redistribution. We have to begin to use the resources of our society for the benefit of all, and we must begin to take climate change seriously for the sake of our children’s children’s children.

Blessed are you…..

blessed are you who are raging at injustice.

blessed are you who are mourning.

blessed are you who feel numb.

blessed are you who feel sick and tired.

blessed are you who refuse to look away.

blessed are you who are peacemakers.

blessed are you who are tending to the needs of others.

blessed are you who care for the sick and dying.

blessed are you who are courageous and compassionate

blessed are you who have been campaigning.

blessed are you who have been speaking truth to power.

blessed are you who have been resisting.

blessed are you who feel broken beyond repair.

blessed are you who are raw beyond words.

blessed are you who are working hotlines and crisis centres and bearing witness to the forces of violence and abuse.

blessed are you who are running foodbanks and homeless shelters.

blessed are you who are marching.

blessed are you who are weeping.

blessed are you who remind others they are good and beautiful and beloved and worthy and capable of healing beyond their wildest dreams.

blessed are we when we dare to dream of a world without sexual violence, without racism, without xenophobia , without misogyny, without homophobia, without state brutality, without violence, without injustice.

blessed are we when we stay tender and gentle.

blessed are we when we stay passionate.

blessed are we when we dare to imagine change and transformation.

blessed are we when we labour to make it so.

Rev. Anna Blaedel


Prayer for the seriously ill in a time of COVID-19:

Divine Companion,

When loved ones, friends and strangers are

Fighting for their breath and yearning for home,

Will you, Loving One,

Whisper to them the words of comfort they need to hear?

Will you wrap your embrace around them?

A promise of your care through the rising and falling of every breath…..

Assuring them of your love.

Wherever there is pain, fear, or distress,

We believe you are already there,

Willingly sharing in their darkest moments.

If death comes,

Welcome them gently as they fall into the arms of Love.

In life and in death, we take refuge in your Presence that stretches across

space and time.

And may it ever be so.


 Prayer for Our Community:

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us.

May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and with all beings.

Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens.

Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world………we pray now for…..

Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

Richard Rohr

Meditative liturgy for sharing bread and wine.

God is with us. I invite you to take a few moments, close your eyes, and be aware of the presence of the divine…………..

Now draw your attention to your breathing – breathe in and out – opening yourself up to the divine with gratitude and thankfulness…………..

Loving One, as close to us as breathing yet reaching into all eternity, we give you thanks and praise. Your outpouring of radical love has brought forth life among us. You have shown yourself to us as creator, companion and friend. In whatever image will bring us healing and wholeness – come to us now……………..

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with all of creation:

“Holy, Holy, Holy One, God of Love and Light. The cosmos is filled with your glory! Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is the One who comes in your name. Hosanna in the Highest!”

Jesus has showed us the ways of justice and mercy, turning the norms of society upside down. He welcomed and empowered the outsider and stood in resistance to the powers of oppression and violence. Like so many people around the world today, Jesus’ choice to live his truth and challenge oppression put him at great risk.

And yet, on the night in which death, hatred, and betrayal would seek to have the last word, Jesus remained true to non-violence and radical peace and showed us love by washing the feet of his friends.

At the table he took the bread, gave thanks, and broke the bread saying “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this and remember me.”

Take the bread.

After the meal, he took the cup, gave thanks and said “Drink from this all of you, this is my blood poured out for you …… Do this in remembrance of me.”

Take the wine.

And so in remembrance of Jesus we offer ourselves as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Pour out your Spirit on this community gathered virtually here that we might be Christ’s body, reflecting the divine image in the world. Make us a taste of your Kingdom, through Christ with us, that we might leave both nourished by your great Love and yet still hungry for justice for all.  Amen.

Bad News – Good News

Wednesday this week was day 12 of my “House Arrest” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While delighting  in my back garden I was inspired to write the following for our Wednesday evening “Zoom” meeting:

Making the most of House Arrest.

There are so many joys to be experienced watching wildlife and one of the greatest is when we feel we have blended into the landscape, perfectly still and unnoticed. Our pursuit of the little details of nature – the type of birdsong or the species of butterfly or bumblebee – is intensely pleasurable and brings us alive to the many possibilities in the garden.

Tranquillity is found while observing the creatures in the wildlife pond – the multi-coloured fish glide gracefully through the crystal-clear water accompanied by amorous, playful newts. Wasps and bees alight to drink, pond skaters zip across the water’s surface and spiders sporadically imitate.

They give us an excuse to loiter amid the flowers and the honey bees, to sit still and simply be. They are a pathway to a fuller experience. Wildlife watching is the best form of meditation I know. It is a kind of peaceful exhilaration. A most tranquil joy!

Being in nature, allowing the wild world around to seep into us, is wonderfully liberating. We see ourselves as we truly are – small, transient living things that are part of grander and more ancient forces all around us.

It leads us into nothing less than awe of the Creator.


The breeze issues its last sigh

Before silence erupts

Then blackbirds have the audacity to sing

While Carpenter bees patrol their turf.

As I sit here in the quiet,

Safe – bathed in sunlight

The peace of earth surrounds

An angelic creature cloaked in vibrant red

Darts over the still, clear water’s surface.

And my heart leaps for joy.

Bad news Good news

We had a special time meeting together today, not least in seeing old friends – Tessa and Richard – and seeing Jeremy and Sue since the death of his mum last week. Sharing together was very poignant and touching.

Steve led today with the message ‘The church buildings may be empty – but so is Jesus’ tomb!’ which he had seen on Facebook this week. Consequently, the theme of bad news, good news emerged. We started with a reading of John 20:10-16 and then Steve listed some of his bad and good news:

1. After 6 months of rain and gloom – we have a prolonged dry sunlit spell
2. After years of Brexit obsession – we have some relief
3. After years of increasing air pollution – a clearing of the atmosphere
4. After years of manic, stressful, life-limiting, frenzied activity for many – we have a chance for reflection, meditation, prayer, perspective re-arranging quietness
5. After years of not having enough time to do – we have plenty of time to be creative, crafty, artistic, musical. Gardens have never looked so good. Humour never appreciated so much. 50,000 words…
6. After years of the triumph of individualism – we now realise the importance of connectedness and community.
7. After years of lording, the kings and queens of capitalism, the lords and ladies of celeb-world, realise that it’s the nurses who matter the most…

We have been invited to create a couple of our own for Wednesday’s gathering.

We shared our prayer concerns at length and Steve reminded us: For Christians, we are a people who meet at the transaction point between our horizontal reality, this world, and the vertical reality, of God. We call this the crossing place or the Cross – through Jesus, all human imposed barriers to God’s presence are dismantled. It is the place where true perspective can be found; the place where we meet Truth: about ourselves and about reality herself. 

He followed this with words from the St Hilda community:

be silent

be still



before your god

say nothing

ask nothing

be silent

be still

let your god look upon you

that is all

he knows

she understands

he loves you with an enormous love

she only wants to look upon you with her love

Then candles were lit as we named all those mentioned – adding to a tableau set up on one of the zoom screens.

We used again the Emerging Creed that we have used before and are no longer sure of its origins!

We are people who…

Have found Jesus to be beyond compare

Invite all to join us without insisting they become like us

Find more reality in the searching and questioning than in certainty and absolutes

Realise that how we treat others is the greatest test and expression of what we believe

Firmly believe in the equality of men and women, that no-one is greater than another and that all people bear God’s image

Recognise that following Jesus is costly and we need to support each other in the work we feel called to do, being peacemakers, striving for justice, befriending the lonely, healing the sick, serving the hungry and destitute, visiting the sick and the elderly, inspiring children and young people, caring for God’s creation…


We used our Companions liturgy to share bread and wine together and finished with a blessing written by Steve, influenced by Grayden’s reflection last week:

At the end of time, when preparation for judgement is imminent, an angel will approach each person in the line and ask, “Where are your scars?” And if you reply, “I have no scars,” she might say, “Why not? Was there nothing worth fighting for down there? What did Jesus make whole within you through his sacrifice? Jesus bears his scars still – in his risen body. And so must you.”
May we allow Jesus to transform all our wounds and our wrongdoings, our hurts and our flaws into something perfectly and idiosyncratically us.
May we live Jesus’ resurrection today – no more past regret nor present fear – we live replete in faith and hope and love.
And may the Shalom blessing of the Triune God be on YOU!


And then we chatted and heard more from one another and discovered the unique joy of being the body of Christ again. Thank you to everyone for being who you are and with us today.


Happy Easter

We met this morning using Zoom. We had music and pictures to inspire us as well as a step outside for a burst of bird song.

Contributions included:

Resurrected with wounds.

After his resurrection, Jesus appears to be resurrected and yet wounded at the same time. This is the unexpected appearance of the Risen Jesus.

His resurrected body remains scarred. Thinking about this over the last few days I’ve found it very strange, surely we’d expect his resurrected body to be perfect, to be unscarred.

Then we find from reading the gospels that Jesus’ wounds are part of his identity. Because it’s by his wounds that his followers recognised him as Jesus. It is only by seeing his wounds and scars that Thomas is able to identify Jesus as his Lord and his God. The brokenness of Jesus body seems to be a very important part of his identity; his wounds are part of who Jesus is.

Will we also be resurrected with our wounds? We all have wounds that are caused by sickness, by accidents, by the actions of others and by the problems and disappointments of life.

All of us are wounded.  Even Jesus is wounded after his resurrection.  Resurrection hope doesn’t seem to do away with our woundedness. By retaining the wounds of his torture and execution, is Jesus showing us that we can find hope and strength in him?

It seems to me that many Christians think faith requires denying the ways our bodies retain the scars of continued pain and injury; in our memories, in our struggles with illness and injury, in our despair over others’ apathy when faced with injustice.

The risen yet wounded Jesus wants to open our eyes to see the pain of others, the destruction of the earth due to our greed and foolishness, and our part in wounding others near and far. Jesus offers us a peace that recognises the hard reality of injury and hurt.

So our resurrection hope does not deny the reality of wounds. Jesus although resurrected with wounds is not disabled by them. That’s what I think he wants for us.

We can freely enter into his resurrection hope just as we are – wounds and all.

Our faith is in a God who is always with us in our woundedness.


Thought for our day / our times

After the meditation on Maundy Thursday I lay in bed and thought about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane  and his feelings of vexation with his disciples sleeping off the meal. I was having a sleepless night and Grayden was sleeping like a baby next to me.

I have never really suffered with anxiety, but wonder if my sleepless nights and agitated feelings during the day are due to some anxiety about the Coronavirus situation at the moment and about my mother needing care.

It led me to think of Jesus praying in torment and what sort of things would have been troubling him apart from being terrified about what his own future held.

It struck me that Jesus would have been feeling anxious about his mother a widow with no income – we see his care for her when he was on the cross when he said in

John 19 vs 26 – 27 “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

So Jesus was anxious about his family. He was worried about his friends too – living under occupation, presenting a threat to the religious and occupying powers. What would happen to them?

  • My mind went to the current situation with the Covid-19 and people’s concerns about family and friends becoming infected.
  • My mind went to a family with legal decisions hanging over them.
  • My mind went to our close friend a GP – not fully recovered from suspected Covid-19
  • My mind went to some close friends and their family and the thousands of others who have lost loved ones prematurely
  • My mind went to places where medical facilities will not be able to cope with the virus
  • My mind went to front line workers who continue to work to help us all.
  • And on and on and on – So many people with so many concerns, worries, fears and anxieties.

When I have had troubles in the past I have been greatly comforted by Hebrews 4 and the knowledge that whatever we go through Jesus has been there too and he understands when we call out to him. So can I share with you that verse that has helped me.

Hebrews 4 Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Maundy Thursday via Zoom

So we are still meeting and being community and sharing bread and wine together via Zoom! I haven’t posted all we’ve done – but everything has blessed and uplifted us. The following is a meditation I wrote for Maundy Thursday:

Maundy Thursday in lockdown 2020 – A meditation.

That last week it had been like everything intensified. I think I’d trace it back to the raising of Lazarus from death. There are actually no words to describe how we all felt when Jesus, with tears streaming down his face, called into the tomb ‘Lazarus, Come out!’ But that was nothing compared to how we felt when Lazarus appeared, on his own two feet… I know of so many who were convinced then of Jesus being the ‘real deal’ – though no-one really knew what that really meant yet and all had their own terms for it. All I know is that people started to flock to him and to be far more vocal than ever before. I think that was what led to the extraordinary welcome when he entered Jerusalem a few days later…
But just before that, Jesus stayed with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha as he often did when he was down south. They were amongst Jesus’s closest friends so he could always relax with them; it was a real home for him. It was his last sabbath, not that we knew that then, and when we were about to pass around the spice box, wishing upon each other the sweet fragrance of the sabbath to stay with us through the coming week, Mary did her own extraordinary thing. She brought out a jar of the most beautifully scented aromatic oil and she broke the seal right over Jesus’s head and poured it out. It dripped down his face and beard and there was a commotion – laughter but also a disquiet – because we knew something special was being done – but we didn’t know what. And she massaged the oil into his feet, between his toes. And the aroma of that oil filled not only the house but lasted on Jesus all through the next week. It followed him wherever he went… The sweetness of Jesus amongst us…
(Take a scented handcream, perfume or aftershave and put some onto your hands / face)
And I can’t help but wonder if that night didn’t influence Jesus for that following Thursday night – our Passover night. Our last supper with him. He’d loved it, you see. He couldn’t get over what she’d done for him – he ‘got it’- he knew everything it symbolised, what she had meant by it and what she couldn’t yet understand herself. More than anything though, I think it was the intimacy, the love that really touched him.
So, on that Thursday evening, Jesus did something he’d never done before. He washed our feet. I think he wanted to do something similar for us. Of course, Peter voiced what we were all thinking – it wasn’t seemly! Masters and Rabbis don’t wash feet! And knowing what we know now, the thought of him kneeling at our feet – well, it’s still is hard to take. But Jesus said we had to let him serve us if we were to serve him and I know that none of us who were there can get out of our heads the clear message that following him is about love. It’s all about love.
Well we all sat down for the meal. There were so many of us – yes the Twelve, as we’d become known, but all the other core team members – all the Marys (!) Joanna, Salome, John Mark’s mother – whose house it was – and young John Mark, wide-eyed, taking it all in, a little over-excited, as well as Cleopas and his wife… Too many to mention – it was heaving, just as a Passover celebration should be.
I think we had all got excited by the strengthening support of the crowds and at the same time we were unsettled by the events at the Temple and the equally growing tensions with the authorities. Jesus seemed preoccupied that night and whilst we went through the usual rituals at the meal and had a feast to rival any other Passover meal in Jerusalem, I think we all took furtive glances at Jesus during the evening, wondering what was going through his mind. He seemed to be making an effort to be present to us, whilst actually being quite subdued, troubled…
Apart from being a feast, a Passover meal is full of familiar words, songs, actions and symbolic rituals. For those of you who may not know, we only eat unleavened bread. Yeast and leavening agents of any kind are seen as symbolising pride and sin. We try to rid ourselves of these things as we clean out our houses of every crumb and forego normal breads for the week. Of course, its also because we are remembering our ancestors fleeing Egypt at the time of the Exodus, when they didn’t have time for their bread to rise. They were ‘with bread’ – with God as their companion on the journey. Bread is hugely symbolic for us…
So the time came for Jesus to take the bread that we call ‘the Isaac’ and broke it. That’s all part of what we do every Passover – we remember the one who was taken by his father to be sacrificed. The bread is broken in two and we hide the other half – the afikomen. The kids love the game of trying to find it and being the one to get the prize. John Mark was determined that this would be his year, if I remember rightly! Afikomen means ‘afters’ or ‘that which is to come’. That’s taken on a whole new meaning for us since that night. As Jesus broke the bread he looked intently at us, blessed it with the usual words and then said, ‘This is my body, broken for you. I want you to remember me when you do this in the future’. So we ate it in a confused silence. None of us dared ask what he meant.

Break the bread. Remember –the without-sin bread, the bread of sacrifice, reminding us of God’s companionship in these difficult times, Jesus’s body broken for you…

Now in the Passover meal there are four cups of wine. Each helps us remember the four-fold promise of God to Moses: The first is ‘I will bring you out’ which we call the cup of deliverance. The second is ‘I will deliver you from slavery’ – the cup of freedom. But it was as Jesus was pouring out the third cup that he said something new. This promise is, ‘I will redeem you with a demonstration of my power’ and we call it the cup of redemption or the cup of thanksgiving. Instead of the usual words, Jesus said, ‘This is the cup of the new covenant written in my blood. It’s my blood poured out for you. Drink it and remember me when you do’. Not the blood of the sacrificial lamb at the time of Moses – his blood… To be honest we didn’t have a clue then what he meant. We didn’t much like those words, there was a sadness, no more than a sadness, there was a sense of dread… something was happening, something was coming and we were out of our depth. He wouldn’t drink the cup of consummation – he said something about having to wait for that…

Take the wine. It speaks of our redemption. It marks a new covenant – a new relationship with God, bought, in some mysterious way, with the sacrificial blood of Christ. The blood of Christ…

And Jesus spoke with urgency then, of betrayal and denials and dying and the words just couldn’t find purchase in our heads – it was as if they passed through us leaving only shreds of sentences that made no sense to us. So, when Jesus said he wanted some fresh air and got ready to go to his favourite place, Gethsemane on the lower part of the Mount of Olives, I think we were all glad to escape the feeling of claustrophobia we’d started to feel in that upper room…

So we went to the olive grove. We were all weary and our eyes were heavy. Jesus told us to pray that we didn’t fall into temptation, but to be honest we weren’t really up to that – we just needed to shut our eyes for a bit. Jesus went a bit further on and we gave in to our need for sleep.
It was John Mark who told us later what had happened. He’d crept out of the house following us – just in his night clothes – his mother would never have given permission – to be honest, Jerusalem can be dangerous on Passover night with so much drinking and merriment. No place for a young lad to be out and about. He’d hidden near to Jesus, seen us all dropping off and saw and heard everything.
Jesus was really agitated. He prayed aloud, frantically, begging God to ‘take away this cup of suffering’. He seemed frightened. He was sweating and there was blood mixed with his sweat which scared the boy. Jesus appeared to be having some kind of invisible battle, he looked to be in utter anguish and, suddenly, so vulnerable. The olive trees surrounded and towered over him and seemed suddenly so strong and steady, those thick gnarled trunks speaking of age and wisdom and security.
Jesus did return to us and was uncharacteristically het up -why weren’t we praying? Why couldn’t we be there for him? Please! Please pray. But we didn’t. We couldn’t. I wish we could go back to that night and be there for him but we weren’t. He’d managed to get through the meal, washed our feet and earnestly shared the things he knew that mattered. He’d held it together, despite his growing dread and doubts But, despite all he’d done for us, he was alone.
Or so he thought. Unknown to him John Mark was there and then there were those special trees…, a community of them, interlinked, ancient, gnarled, strong, steady witnesses, faithful companions when humans failed…. And I, for one, am grateful to them.
Perhaps they helped him reach that place of peace and acceptance that John Mark saw happen: ‘No, it’s not about what I want, it’s about what you want. It’s your will that needs to be done and I can do it. I’ll do it. Your will be done Father – your will…’
For me that’s as important as what happened the next day. The battle was won there that night. Jesus stayed. He didn’t run. He stayed knowing that Judas would be on his way with the temple guards, that everything would escalate, that he would have no control… Like his mother Mary some 30 years before, he said yes.

So, tonight we choose to pray with Jesus. In the next few minutes we take time to respond to Jesus, remembering what he did there that night. And we pray for our world undergoing its own Gethsemane – praying for those fearful of death, for the grief-stricken and for those working to save lives, risking their own… We pray for God’s will and for resurrection to come after this time of trial.
Play Taize: ‘Stay with me’ (5 minutes)


Socially distanced and in exile…

This morning 7 of us met and stood at a distance around the perimeter of the bandstand in glorious sunshine and a bitter wind! So much had happened since meeting last week: the ground had shifted, workplaces left behind, holidays cancelled, routines lost, social events shut down and certainties now a thing of the past. We had joined the human experience of the majority of those who have ever lived – we had learned vulnerability, lack of control of what was happening and reminded of the fragility of life.

We began by reading the lament of thee exiles in Babylon in Psalm 137, alternating verses from the NIV and The Message:

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.

                                      1-3 Alongside Babylon’s rivers
banks; we cried and cried,
                                         remembering the good old days in Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

                                            Alongside the quaking aspens
                                                we stacked our unplayed harps;        
                                            That’s where our captors demanded songs,
                                                sarcastic and mocking:
                                          “Sing us a happy Zion song!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

                                          4-6 Oh, how could we ever sing GOD’s song
                                                 in this wasteland?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

                                           If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
                                              let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
                                          Let my tongue swell and turn black
                                              if I fail to remember you,
                                          If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
                                              to honour you as my greatest.

We remembered just how devastating it was for the Jews to have lost their homeland, Temple, homes, routines, imagining that the God of Israel was well and truly defeated by the Babylonian gods. But out of that disaster, they learnt (as they were reminded by Isaiah) that the Babyonian gods were crafted by men adn carried by men through the streets at times of festivals. Their God created them and carried them! He wasn’t defeated – he was, in fact, the only God. They learnt so much more as a result of that exile.

An earlier exile was that of Moses. Having killed the Egyptian slave driver he lost his family, friends, routines, hopes and dreams and found himself in a wilderness doing what he could to get by. We all know the story of the burning bush and the call to become a person he had never imagined being…

This time of testing for us

Some of us receive emails of art, poetry, music and reflections for Lent from Biola University CCCA. One day last week included the following poem that we walked around the park with to see how we might respond:

Blessing at the Burning Bush
by Jan Richardson
© Jan Richardson.

You will have to decide
if you want this—
want the blessing
that comes to you
on an ordinary day
when you are minding
your own path,
bent on the task before you
that you have done
a hundred times,
a thousand.

You will have to choose
for yourself
whether you will attend
to the signs,
whether you will open your eyes
to the searing light, the heat,
whether you will open
your ears, your heart
to the voice
that knows your name,
that tells you this place
where you stand—
this ground so familiar
and therefore unregarded—
is, in fact,

You will have to discern
whether you have
defences enough
to rebuff the call,
excuses sufficient
to withstand the pull
of what blazes before you;
whether you will
hide your face,
will turn away
back toward—
what, exactly?

No path from here
could ever be
ordinary again,
could ever become
unstrange to you
whose seeing
has been scorched
beyond all salving.

You will know your path
not by how it shines
before you
but by how it burns
within you,
leaving you whole
as you go from here
blazing with
your inarticulate,
your inescapable


We considered the question: In these unchartered, unsettling times, in our own exile, what might I be invited to say YES to?

We spread petals and blossom on a map of Matlock and area, praying for those here and much further away and shared bread and wine to these words from Steve:

If only for today…

If only for today, this singular day, I want to live gratefully, without resentments and what ifs; to play without regret.
If this were the only day, this single moment, I want to commit generously, love lavishly; to invest as if for eternity.
If this day were the last day, I want to live without fear and without anxiety because I’d send Jesus out to bat because he can sort the googlies from the flippers and the bouncers from the yorkers.
If this were the final innings and all was to play for, one final session after tea, I would gather my companions around me and I’d break the bread as we’ve been taught. And we’d look from person to person and we’d know, we’d just know.
And Jesus would be there, quiet in the heart of us.
And there’d be wine – not too much – ready poured – to fortify, to en-courage for the final battle. And we’d remember those who had gone before and we’d toast them.
And Jesus would be there, quiet in the heart of us.
If only for today, this singular time, we choose to bless not curse, to hope not fear, to dance and not be paralysed because the team Captain leads us out and his Spirit indwells. And we were born for this day and we give thanks.


We finished blessing each other – those present and those not with us – with the words ‘Strength and support’ and ‘Blessings on you and you and you…’ So if you are reading this – Blessings on you too!



On a lovely, sunny but fresh March Sunday morning we met in the bandstand in Hall Leys Park. silent
be still
alone empty
before your god
say nothing
ask nothing
be silent
be still
let your god
look upon you
that is all
she knows
she understands
she loves you with
an enormous love
she only wants to
look upon you
with her love
still be……..

St Hilda Community


Touch is very important. I love to be touched, I’ve had some very precious experiences of care, compassion and being touched by nursing staff when in hospital. Jesus loved to touch people, particularly those at the bottom of society – the lame, the blind, the deaf, the maimed, the leper. These people were untouchables in their society. Just think about how wonderful it was for them to be touched by Jesus. These people were told that they were impure and were rejected by society and told that God rejected them. So imagine their joy when this famous prophet and healer touched them! Jesus touched people to show them compassion, to heal them and to restore them to society. But Jesus act of touching outcasts also had a political element. Every time he touched a leper or the blind or the lame he was challenging society’s purity system. The Sadducees and Pharisees understood that. In Luke 11 when Jesus is berating them over the purity system a Teacher of the Law says to him; “Teacher you insult us!” No wonder they plotted to get rid of him.

Mark 7 – New International Version – UK

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the market-place they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?’

He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

‘“These people honour me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.”

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’


Luke 11 (NIV-UK)

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

39 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you – be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42 ‘Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practised the latter without leaving the former undone.

Then we took 10 minutes to go around the park reading the following:

Jesus – purity or compassion!

Jesus was born into a social and religious culture that for centuries had been designed around a “purity system.” It seemed to begin with the purity code found in Leviticus. In Leviticus 19:2, we read: “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’ ”

Holiness was understood to mean “separation from everything unclean.” Therefore holiness started to mean the same thing as purity. A whole social, economic, political and religious structure was built around the social vision of purity. People, places, things, times and groups had their “proper place” in society, classified by their “purity” or lack of it.

A person’s purity depended to some extent on birth. Being rich – unless you were a tax collector – usually meant you were pure, being very poor almost certainly meant you were impure. Physical wholeness was associated with purity, and a lack of wholeness with impurity. People who were not “whole” – the maimed, the chronically ill, lepers, the blind, the lame – were impure, they were at the bottom of society, they were literally the  “untouchables”. Another group of people were classified as “impure” because of their occupation – tax collectors, prostitutes, tanners, butchers, those who prepared the dead for burial, and possibly shepherds.

So Jesus grew up learning those cultural and religious expectations. He was told God was holy/pure and “that’s just the way it is.” His world had sharp social boundaries between pure and impure, clean and unclean, righteous and sinner, whole and not whole, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. Yet it seems, Jesus experienced God in a dramatically different way. He experienced God as concerned with compassion for people and with mercy and justice.

In his book “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time,” Marcus Borg says that “Jesus deliberately replaced the core value of purity with compassion. Compassion, not holiness, is the dominant quality of God, and is therefore to be the fundamental character of the community that mirrors God.”

Jesus criticised a system that emphasised tithing and neglected justice (Luke 11:42). He spoke of purity as what happens on the inside, not on the outside (Mark 7:15). In Mark 7:19 he declared all foods clean. He called the Pharisees “unmarked graves which people walk over without knowing it.”(Luke 11:44), a criticism that might seem obscure to us. The key is that corpses (and therefore burial places) were a source of impurity. To call the Pharisees “unmarked graves” is ironic: they were a movement seeking the extension of purity laws, and Jesus declared them to be instead a source of impurity.

Borg says: “Jesus’ subversiveness may not seem very radical today, but he was seen as very dangerous by the Sadducees and Pharisees.  Jesus challenged the purity system not only in his teaching but also through his many healings, every time he touched  a leper or a woman with a haemorrhage, or touched the dead to raise them to life he was challenging  the purity system. Instead of expressing the holiness of God, ritual purity became a means of excluding people considered unclean and impure. In word and in deed Jesus ignored and actively challenged these distinctions of ritual purity as a measure of spiritual status.”

The Jesus movement allowed everyone to take part in this new community – women, untouchables, the poor, the maimed, and the marginalised.

In Borg’s view, Jesus turned the purity system with its sharp social boundaries on its head. In its place he substituted a radically alternative social vision. The new community that Jesus announced would be characterised by compassion for everyone, not compliance to a purity code, by inclusivity rather than by exclusivity, and by inward transformation rather than outward ritual. In place of “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2), says Borg, Jesus deliberately substituted the call to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Garry Wills in What Jesus Meant writes that, “No outcasts were cast out far enough in Jesus’ world to make him shun them — not those who collaborated with the Romans, not lepers, not prostitutes, not the mentally ill, not the blind, not the deaf and not the lame.”

When Jesus shared meals with people it was frequently a political act. He often ate with outcasts, as well as with others. His practice of inclusivity when sharing food incited criticism from the advocates of the purity system; this criticism has been preserved in the gospels in a number of places. Jesus is accused of “eating with tax collectors and sinners” and called “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”

Marcus Borg writes: “Whereas purity divides and excludes, compassion unites and includes. For Jesus, compassion had a radical sociopolitical meaning. In his teaching and table fellowship, and in the shape of his movement, the purity system was subverted and an alternative social vision affirmed. The politics of purity was replaced by a politics of compassion.”

For consideration and prayer:

Are there those you are tempted to exclude as impure?

Is it possible to embrace both holiness and compassion?

Pray to experience what Borg calls a “community shaped not by the ethos and politics of purity, but by the ethos and politics of compassion”.

The Beatitudes – reimagined.

The poor and those in solidarity with them – God is on your side.

Those who mourn and feel grief about the state of the world – God is on your side.

The non-violent, gentle and humble – God is on your side.

Those who hunger and thirst for the common good – God is on your side.

The merciful and compassionate – God is on your side.

Those characterised by sincerity, kindness and generosity – God is on your side.

Those who work for peace and reconciliation – God is on your side.

Those who keep seeking justice – God is on your side.

Those who stand for justice and truth as the prophets did, who refuse to be quiet even when slandered, misrepresented, threatened, imprisoned or harmed – God is on your side!

With thanks to Brian McLaren & Rob Bell.

After a time of intercessory prayer we shared bread and wine using the following words:

Sharing Bread & Wine

God calls us

Community of saints,

Beloved of God,

we are invited to come and gather for the meal of love and liberation,

to feast on the dreams of God,

to be nourished by a taste of what God desires to do among us.


God whispers “come”

and live abundantly,

turning from all that claims our allegiance other than Christ;

from money, power, and control.


Come, and

love relentlessly;

following Christ on paths of uncertainty,

taking risks for one another,

calling down unjust power from its throne

and lifting up the lowly,

and the impoverished.


Blessed are those, Jesus said, who hunger and thirst for justice,

for they will be filled.


And so let us come to share the gifts of God,




to tasting the rich blessings of Christ

born from unexpected places, and people, and experiences.


In this sharing of bread and wine,

we remember the life, death, and resurrection of

the One who fills the cosmos,

and yet still takes on flesh among us today.


On the night he would be arrested,

Jesus gathered his friends and companions.

In the midst of a tense and dangerous time,

they found each other at table.


And as they did so, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God, broke the bread and shared it with his disciples saying;

“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

     (share the bread)


When the supper was over, he also took the cup, gave thanks to God, and shared it with his disciples, saying;

“Drink from this, all of you; this is the cup of the new covenant. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

     (share the wine)


And so we pray together:

For the sake of our shared lives,

the life of this land in which we live,

and the lives of those yet to come,

nourish us and renew our hope

that Christ may be known again among us.

with thanks to “enfleshed”

We continued our fellowship over Fairtrade coffee at Cool River.







What comes our way…

Fi led this Sunday and this is her stuff – which we all found so helpful…

Mama always said:
“Life is like a box of chocolates.
You never know what you’re gonna get” (Forest Gump)


One of the things I’ve really appreciated about my community at Third Space is its flexibility to bend and respond to what’s going on –personal and/or world wide. Recently, when P and I were going through a potential health scare, I had a real sense of my community reacting to that, rallying around, praying, adapting to where we were ‘at’. It meant a great deal. No expectation to put on a happy face.
Even within this small church, our week to week experience of life can be so different. I’ve been celebrating the joy of a new member to our family, whilst for others of us……things have been more challenging. Gump’s Mama was right, you just never know what you’re gonna get. The toffee? (no thanks) The Malteser? (yuk) The coffee cream? (yes please)

The Sufi mystic Rumi echoes with the same sentiments.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

The writer of Ecclesiates would agree with Forest I think;

For everything that happens in life—
there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:
2 A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
3 A time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to tear down, a time to build up;
4 A time to cry, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance;
5 A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
6 A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
a time to keep, a time to throw out;
7 A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
8 A time to love, a time to hate;
a time to go to war, a time to make peace.

We live in this tension of what life throws at us and yet the knowledge and faith (even if it is a bit shaky at times) that God is with us, for us and in all things. What do we do with that?

From the bandstand this morning, we used the practice of The Examen to help us reflect on the past week – whatever it had brought us – good, bad or indifferent.
The Examen has been referred to as : ‘rummaging for God – going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.’. We look back on the previous day, week, rummaging through the “stuff,” and finding God in it. We know He is there.
St Ignatius, in his teaching of the Examen expected that God would speak through our deepest feelings and yearning; what he called consolation and desolation. Consolation is whatever helps us to connect in love to ourselves, others, God and the universe. In his language – whatever leads to an increase in faith, hope and love. Desolation is whatever blocks that connection…
What in our life connects us to Life, love, faith, hope, peace… the qualities of the Spirit
What is it that drains us of that Life….? What should we ‘embrace’ What whoudl we ‘keep at a distance’?
Here’s one sequence of Examen meditation and prayer to use that you might find helpful.
Give thanks
Replay the day you’ve had. Freeze frame the people or moments you’re grateful for.

Look for Hope and Joy
Where have you seen moments of forgiveness, compassion, courage, joy, unexpected love…….

Notice any sadness or regret.
Some news you heard about or event you were part of? Some word you regret or action you neglected? Recognise the down as well as the up.

Consider, in light of all this, how might tomorrow be different regardless of whether it’s a toffee, coffee cream or Malteser you get?