Friday, 12 February 2016

Give yourself away #valentinesday #micropoetry #haiku

Take a risk
Give yourself a way
Hope and pray

I wrote this for Valentines day thinking about an amazing young lady who's heart has been broken.  But it also represents the way I want to still try and live, taking risks and keeping God close.

Valentines day #haiku #poetry #micropoetry

Brilliant blog posts on

Look and See #rethinkchurch #lent #love #poetry #haiku

Look and see
I see no words
Only love

Look and see
I see pure truth
Full of love

Mark 12:31 The Message (MSG)
Jesus said, “The first in importance is,
‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one;
so love the Lord God with all your passion
and prayer and intelligence and energy.’
And here is the second:
‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’
There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

Look and see
Thanks to Bible App
I read 'love'

Thursday, 11 February 2016

No Scrubs #40acts #lent #prayer

I have to admit to feeling deflated by today's #40acts challenge.

"Alright. Some of us are clean freaks. Others prefer to live in organised chaos. One thing we can all agree on, though, is that our communities feel like nicer places when they're litter-free. It's better for the environment, and easier on the eye. Roll your sleeves up and make your world cleaner today.
Green: If you're not heading out today, or you only have half an hour, why not offer to do the chores for someone else in your house – a family member, or a house-mate perhaps. It might feel a bit awkward to ask your neighbour if they need anything cleaned up, but if you share a communal area, start there.
Amber: Grab some rubber gloves and a bin bag, and hit the streets for a community clean-up. If you want to get really fancy, you could even use separate bags for plastics and paper, and drop them off at your local recycling point when you're done.
Red: Remember that circle of friends you contacted yesterday? Well, today's your first chance to plan a get-together for a cause. Organise a cleaning party – perhaps you'll all get together to litter-pick, or clean off some graffiti, or repaint a community area that's looking a little tired (you might need permission from your local authority first). Put a date in the diary and start planning!"

I can't offer to do the chores for someone else, I can barely do the chores around my own home and Rachel and Mike have to help with so much more than they ever did before.  I can't hit the streets; I'm not safe to cross the road on my mobility scooter any more because I can't see the traffic; and if I bent down from my scooter then I'd probably pass out.

Of course, I could organise a cleaning party or a litter pick like that we did at Oakwood Forest Church a few years ago, but it would feel like I was delegating this challenge to other people.

I guess this is what is meant by being in the wilderness; to feel so useless and so tempted to be despondent.  But I know that God has other ways He uses me and I will pray that today He shows me ways I can clean up, perhaps by advocating for injustice locally.  I will see.

This challenge has also prompted me to post about how I'm having to move from organised chaos to organised placement at home so I have a chance of ever finding anything.  You can see that at MS Calling.

My circles #40acts #lent #prayer

The first 40acts do lent seriously challenge this year is circles.

"All of us have circles: friends, family, immediate and wider communities – the list goes on. Today's act will prepare you for a generous Lent of connecting with and serving these circles of people.
Green: Find a notepad and pen – sketch out your social circles: friends, family, colleagues, sports teams, church. Notice how they might overlap, or be completely disconnected. Stretch yourself – include the circles of people that you *could* plug into a little better, with more effort. Stick your doodle up somewhere in your house, as a reminder for the next 40 days of the people God has placed into your life. They're your opportunity to practise generosity!
Amber: If you've got a little more time today, do the green option and then spend some time praying intentionally for these circles and how your 40acts experience might impact on them.
Red: Want to go all out today? Why not contact one of your circles – start a Facebook group, use WhatsApp or email, or pick up the phone – and let them know about 40acts? Encourage them to join you for the next 40 days, and see if you can find a group of people in your local community to make a generous impact wherever you are."

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to draw out my circles diagram, and not just because my lack of sight is a challenge.  There are so many interactions and overlays and I couldn't make it all work, but I think I was missing the point so I stopped messing with it.

As you might be able to see my life was quite segmented through school, uni and in my work; I kept all the sectors in their places which I'm guessing is quite normal when you're figuring out who you are and what life means.  But when I started reaching out through social media and realised that God was calling me to something more, life started linking up in all sorts of ways and cross connections happened.  Now life is linked and complicated and yet much more real and meaningful.  Really interesting challenge and lots to pray and ponder about.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Ash Wednesday #rethinkchurch #gather

Today we gather
Gather together
To receive the cross
From ashes gathered

On the first of lent
We gather to remember
That Jesus alone
The wilderness entered

And so we gather
To start our journey
Gathering with Jesus
To journey together


In previous years on Ash Wednesday I've blogged the following
What Christians do
Rewritten psalm 32
A poem about Ash Wednesday

Monday, 8 February 2016

Amazing creations #SnapHappyBritMums #craft #fairtrade

Amazing fairtrade #crafts from around the world including India, Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia @cms Oxford #SnapHappyBritMums

God at work #haiku #poetry

Going where the people are
Joining in God's work

Pioneer minister limerick #poetry #god

There once was a church pioneer
Who knew most would never come near
So she went where they were
With God leading her
Now they're no longer filled with fear

Monday, 1 February 2016

Lent 2016: activities, courses and books

I have been collecting together a list of lent courses which are available for people to follow this year.  It will be sent out to the church congregation but I suddenly realised it might be useful for others as well so I thought I'd post it here.

I am with you - Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book 2016
Available to buy £9.99 (click above) as paperback, e-book or pdf download
In I Am With You, Episcopal priest and theologian Kathryn Greene-McCreight examines the biblical portrayal of God’s presence among us as light in darkness. Close readings of Scripture are woven into a framework patterned on the monastic hours of prayer.   God’s interaction with us in light comes as address, drawing us into relationship with the Creator. The resurrection of Easter morning bears the Light that both illumines our darkness, refines our dross in its flames, and draws us into the presence of God, that "Light by which we see light".  With an introduction by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, I Am With You is a reflective and thought-provoking guide to the solemn season of Lent.

Pilgrimage by Churches Together Britain and Ireland
Available for free online, click above; and supported by BBC Radio
The CTBI Lent Course 2016 represents a departure in style and format from that offered in previous years.  Each week, we are invited to gather in groups for reflection and spiritual conversation around a series of themes drawn from the overarching title of ‘Pilgrimage’. The idea is that we embark on a spiritual journey through Lent, both alone and in company, sharing with others our personal reflections, stories and insights.  The notion of ‘Pilgrimage’ is presented in the form of collections of sayings, images, wisdom and prayers from a variety of sources, which are gathered into a pack of seven conversation booklets suitable for personal and group use.

The Psalms by Bishop Stephen Cottrell (York Course)
Available to buy £3.49 for booklet or £8.99 for CD or available in Braille or Large Print £4.00
The ancient poems we call Psalms are over 2000 years old. They were written in very different times from our own when humans could travel at the speed of a camel - not at the speed of sound. But these songs have stood the test of time for they address many of the problems we still face: violence, injustice, anger - and bewilderment. Why do the wicked prosper? Where is God when we suffer? In this 5-session course, Bishop Stephen Cottrell - a prolific and popular author - reflects on the psalms in general (and five psalms in particular). He invites us to join him as he does so.

Do Lent Generously: 40Acts
Available free online and across all forms of social media
Lent is usually about 'giving stuff up', isn't it? What if you could add something transformational to the traditional?  What if you could give up chocolate and give the money to your favourite charity? What if you could turn the TV off and spend more time helping your neighbour? What if Lent was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness that reflected God's amazing generosity? Well, that’s where 40acts – the generosity challenge from Christian charity Stewardship - comes in.

Count your Blessings with Christian Aid
Available online for both Adults and Children (click above)
Celebrate the good things in your life this Lent with our thought-provoking Count Your Blessings calendar.  Our daily bite-size reflections will inspire you to give, act and pray to bring justice to our world and change the lives of people living in poverty across the globe.

Love Life; Live Lent by Paula Gooder
Available in church or dig out your copies from previous years
Available for young people, families and adults.
Love Life Live Lent is a unique booklet that helps you change the world for the better during Lent one small action at a time!  LLLL offers 40 simple choices and actions for each day of Lent to make the world a better place. In addition, each action is accompanied by a Bible verse and a short reflection from bestselling Bible teacher Paula Gooder and parish priest Peter Babington, unpacking the action and exploring what it means to be a disciple today.

#Do1NiceThing Challenge from Love your streets
Available online (click above) and across social media
Lent is a time of preparation around remembering the forty days Jesus spent in the desert praying and preparing for his public ministry. It is the period from Ash Wednesday to the events of Easter weekend - a time traditionally of giving up - but Love Your Streets also encourage you to GIVE OUT?  #Do1NiceThing is about loving the person in front of you - serving others and the wider community. It is about being the change, making positive steps to make life better for others (and yourself in the process!). The ideas are generally very simple and require not much thought or pre-planning. If you don't like one of the ideas, do something else!

I Witness: Living the Mission of Jesus by Diocese of Winchester
Available free online at Diocese of Winchester website, click link above.
The Diocese of Winchester’s Lent Course for 2016 is designed to help us grow in confidence as we witness to the Gospel in all its fullness.  Rooted in the Acts of the Apostles and Luke’s Gospel, it will help us to explore how Living the Mission of Jesus in the power of his Holy Spirit means we are people and communities who:
Steward Faithfully, Act Justly, Serve Sacrificially, Teach Effectively and Proclaim Boldly.

Transforming Mission by CMS
Available free to download (click above)
A resource for Lent, Holy Week and Easter from CMS.  We want the world to know the Jesus who transforms the world.  God is God of transformation. He transforms darkness into light, chaos into order, fear into love, exile into homecoming and death into new life and new beginnings.  CMS have produced a number of tools and resources to help explore how mission can transform us as followers of Jesus and through us, transform the world. These include Transforming Mission - Resources for churches featuring small group materials, mission partner stories and ideas for special ‘meals with a meaning’ throughout Lent, Holy Week and Easter.

Pray with Us through Lent: US
With a focus on Migration and Movement
A study course exploring migration and the global movement of people, with stories from the world church.  Download here

Words for Lent: perspectives on Luke
Available to buy (click above) for £3.99
Words for Lent is a lively, fresh and often adventurous approach a series of readings from Luke's gospel, with 40 readings, comments and prayers for the period of Lent.
Writers are drawn from around the world and from different traditions, including Methodist and Baptist clergy, a Zimbabwean living in Wales, a curate in Oxford and a Jesuit priest. Their different perspectives will challenge you not only to reflect again on the story of Jesus, but also to act in the light of the readings.

Lenten Photo a Day Practice from Rethink Church
As we journey through this season of Lent, some will choose to give up something. Some will go about their lives as if it was ordinary time. Some will choose to be more reflective. Some will take something on. Whatever your practices this season, will you join this photo-a-day challenge and share with the community how you perceive each word of the day? No explanation needed. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I am sure there is at least one lent activity in the list above which will capture your imagination.  I will be following at least two of these and will hopefully be sharing my thoughts here.  I would love t hear from you about what you are following.