Sunday, 19 October 2014

Lay Pioneer Minister Calling

This morning at church the announcement was made - I have been appointed as the first Lay Pioneer Minister in the Diocese of Oxford.   This is my letter going in the church newsletter to expand on the announcement.


Thank you for all your well wishes on the announcement that I have been appointed as a Lay Pioneer Minister.  It is a really exciting time and I am so pleased to be able to share it with you.  I have had a few people ask for a bit more explanation as to what it really means; so I hope this helps.

What is a lay pioneer? 
The Church of England defines a pioneer minister as "someone who has the ability to envision, form and lead new forms of church appropriate to a particular culture (often called fresh expressions)".  A lay pioneer is a minister who feels called to lead as a lay person.  

Why lay pioneer ministry? 
Right from the start of my calling I have felt God want to use me as I walk alongside people in their every day lives, as one of them, and I feel blessed to be able to fulfill my ministry in this way.  Until recently I couldn't define this ministry as anything other than a "hanging around" ministry.  But in the last few years pioneer ministry has become better known and it's become clear to me and others that this is the ministry I'm called into.

What does my pioneer ministry look like now? 
At St Nicolas we have two fabulous fresh expression services for families who would otherwise not come into a church.  We have our monthly People, Prayer and Potatoes messy church and our weekly Noah's Ark toddler group congregations.  Through these services we are thoroughly open to community.  This is pioneering; actively seeking people to come and join us.  I spend at least half of my ministerial hours outside of the church doing other pioneering ministry activities.  I meet with communities of people where they are, geographically, socially and theologically, to explore what it means to be disciples of Jesus.  That might result in people joining existing churches such as St Nicolas; but might also lead to new ways of being church which are rooted in the teaching of Jesus, whilst looking completely different.  For example Oakwood Forest Church is a completely new form of church which is evolving as it grows.

What will my ministry look like a year from now?
The honest answer is that I don't know; this is a new ministry in the Diocese and a new focus for me.  I will visit other churches to inspire them to reach out into their communities as I have been doing for messy church; I'll be delivering some training about forest church to Ordinands and LLMs as early as next month; and I've been asked to meet with those interested in lay pioneer ministry in the Diocese.  But what else I will do is still evolving.   What I do know is that 'for now' I'll  keep on doing what I'm currently doing; ministering in church, in the parish and in the community.

What can you do for me?
You have supported and encouraged me every step of my journey and I ask that you continue to do so.  Please pray for me as my ministry grows and my role evolves; that I might be sustained and enlivened each day.

Post Script 
After the service on Sunday when the announcement was made Harry came up to me and said "you need a pick axe girl if you're going to be a pioneer".  Wise words indeed.  Harry hit the 'axe' right on the head about what it is that this ministry is - it's about chipping away at society and helping people find God within themselves; and it's about chipping away at the closed doors of churches to let the beauty of the Holy Spirit rush out.  I'm the girl with the pick axe.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

who is it? #poetry #god #cmsconversations

Who is it?
That you call God
Is He real?
Coz most say not
And if He is
What does He do?
Does he ever
Talk to you?
And if He does
Then what's He say?
Please answer me
Right away!

Is He good?
Does He care?
He can't stop war
How's that fair?
What about the poor
He can't stop drought
He watches floods
What's that about?
And then the bad
Does He stop them?
Do I need to
Ask again?

Tell me now
Just you to me
Who is God?
What can He be?
Please answer me
I long to know
Coz I look at you
And I know
That God is real
But I can't explain
Show Him to me
One more time again


Monday, 6 October 2014

All Age Harvest Prayers #church #prayer

These prayers were written by my friend Sarah for her church's harvest festival.   I gave her a tiny gem of an idea of prayers with different breads but she took it to a deeper place.   She has  generously agreed that I can share the prayers here. Thank You Sarah.



Notes: A Child holds up correct bread during each section.

We have some visual aids for our prayers today so you may want to keep your eyes open!

Let us pray:
Father God, we come to you this morning to give thanks for your world, to pray for those in need and to ask that your kingdom will come.

See this farmhouse loaf.
It is a large loaf, enough to feed many.  It  reminds us of God’s bounty and provision.

We give thanks for the earth, it’s beauty and abundance and ask forgiveness for the times we have wasted it’s resources and not cared for the environment as we should.

May we always remember to be thankful for all that we have been given and for those who produce our food.

See this wrap.
It has been rolled and stretched thin.
It reminds us of those occasions when we feel stretched and stressed and feel we cannot take or do any more without breaking.

We pray for all who feel they are at breaking point because they have too much to do or because they are in pain.

Help us to recognise our limits, to rest and seek your peace.

See this bagel.
It has a hole.
It reminds us of those holes in our lives where we feel something or someone is missing.

We pray for all who feel lost or lonely, for those who slip through the holes in society.  Help us to be aware of your love and to share that love with others.

See this bread roll.
It is a smaller version of a loaf, similar and yet different.
It reminds us of children.

We pray for all children everywhere, especially those who struggle to be children because poverty or lack of family forces them to be like adults.

Help us to support the children and families in this area.

See this pitta bread.
It is plain and dry.
It reminds us of the places in our world which are dry, where crops do not grow easily, and where just having enough to eat, however plain, is a luxury.

We pray for people everywhere who are hungry and give thanks for aid workers and foodbanks.

Help us to support them however we can, through our prayers and our giving.

See this “best of both” bread.
It uses a mixture of white and wholemeal flour.
It reminds us that difference does not always need to lead to conflict.

We pray for the parts of our world where there is fighting.
Give wisdom and courage to all those with influence and bring your peace.


The earth is fruitful
     may we be generous.
The earth is fragile
     may we be gentle.
The earth is fractured
     may we be just.
Creating God,
     harvest in us joy and generosity          as we together share in thanks            and giving
Amen



Sunday, 5 October 2014

Harvest People Prayers and Potatoes Messy Church #messychurch

Today has been a busy day and a half, and it's been fantastic. Unsurprisingly my highlight has been the messy church session we call people prayers and potatoes.

We started today with an all church harvest brunch, an amazing full breakfast for over 100 people cooked by eight dedicated and talented church members.  We then moved into the church, carpets protected with plastic and chairs artfully arranged, for a truly messy harvest experience.



This is the first time that the planning team took the lead for everything and it was wonderful to see their ideas come to life and be meaningful and enjoyable for the families who came.

Here are the activities they produced with some photos.

1. Seed to plate
We are blessed to have a primary school teacher in our team and she produced a sorting activity which got the kids to put the images in order for making a loaf of bread

Seed - wheat - combine harvester - miller - baker - shop

2. Prayers on fruit and vegetable shapes on banner



3.  Where does food come from?
We provided a world map and challenged the families to place rice, pasta, noodles and other foods including fruits and vegetables onto the places they come from in the world.  I think we might need to engage some additional geography lessons.

4.  Fruit and vegetable printing
I bought carrot, potato, leek, celery, sweet corn, apples, radishes, peppers and broccoli for printing.  The broccoli really didn't work but all the other were a huge hit with the kids and parents, all of whom wanted to join in the fun of printing large strips of paper.





5.  stick your favourite food on your plate
We provided all sorts of fruit, vegetables and favourite food pictures and invited people to chose their favourites, deviate them and stick them on to a plate.  The analysis of the meals would make for a lot of fun.



6. plasticine fruit and vegetables
Turns out that this is the best thing we've ever done!
And it turns out we have some amazing sculptors!





7. Conker run
We promised that we would have a mass building project every month and this month the challenge was to build the world biggest marble run for Conkers.  The dads certainly enjoyed the challenge and we used the creation for a prayer activity. Post a conker and say thank you to God for something good that he's given you.


Father who feeds us
We thank you for those who help us find you
For those who help us learn about you
For those who help us know you
Amen.

All Age Harvest Sermon 2014 #christianaid #action #church #jesus




This sermon is based on the Christian aid resources for harvest "Baking Hope"

Bread is a staple in the majority of the world.  It is eaten every day and provides the bulk of the diet.  Bakers are traditionally very important people, although we seem to have lost that in our society.  So let's see what you know about where your bread comes from.

Congregation tested about the origins of the breads presented.
Croissant - France
Crumpet - Australia
Bagel - Poland
Pitta - Greece
Tortilla - Mexico
Naan - India

I'd like to share with you a story from South Sudan.  Nyipock is a baker, he bakes 600 loaves at a go, often baking several batches a day.  The loaves he bakes are called garrassa.  Nyipock serves his community with the bread, but he also serves his church.  Bread is important in his church and also in our church community. Let's hear a verse from 1 Corinthians 10:17 "Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf."

We hear these words during the Eucharist and they remind us of, and join us to, Jesus in his death and resurrection.  They also remind us that we are joined in a community. A community in this church today. A community of churches in Earley. A Christian community across the globe.  In sharing the bread we are joining together and celebrating together.

There is one key active ingredient in bread, does anyone know what it's called?  Yeast.  There is a very short parable in the bible about yeast in Matthew 13:33  “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Yeast is tiny and yet without it bread won't rise.  We need this tiny yeast to bake this great big loaf of bread.  In the same way, we might feel like we are tiny and too small to make any difference in the world BUT with our actions and prayers we can make a huge change in the world, with God's help.

You can make a choice to buy fair trade; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.
You can send a letter to your MP asking them to make a stand against climate change; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.
You can tell someone about Jesus; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.
You can bring someone to church; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.
You can donate to the food bank; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.
You can tell someone about the food bank; it seems like a tiny thing but it makes a massive difference.

We all know at least one "tiny" thing we can do which will make a massive difference; I challenge you this week to do it.

Let us pray.
God of the great feast and the simple meal
Blessed are you in the sowing
Blessed are you in the breaking of bread
Blessed are you in the sharing of bread
Blessed are you in our daily bread
Amen.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Jesus the light of the world #bible

This week saw the first meeting of a new home group; a group that has come out of the need of mums looking for fellowship.

We started at the beginning, the beginning of John and the beginning of everything.  

John 1:1-9The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word,and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

Coming out of the reading were thoughts of what light can do for us and therefore what Jesus does do for us. 




Friday, 3 October 2014

autumn leaf #poetry

Image courtesy of Amanda Bashford


Autumn leaf
      Upon the ground
Red, orange
      Green and brown
Picked you up
      Brought you home
Reminded me
      Of where we roam

Creation's beauty
      Here to see
Floating down
      From highest tree
Picked you up
      Brought you home
Kept just you
      One leaf alone

Please don't fade
      Don't turn to grey
Keep your beauty
      Every day
Picked you up
      Brought you home
Autumn leaf
      You're not alone

(C) Emma Major 2014
     

I have a friend #autism #cancer



I have a friend 
Who herself has a friend 
Who for the third time is fighting cancer 
She was in remission 
Second set of remission 
For the third time it's back, even harder 

Her child is autistic 
Non verbal autistic 
Needing care all day 24/7
She needs our support 
Our monetary support 
So please give as others have given

No Denying it,  being a parent of a kid on the spectrum is hard.  Put Cancer on top of that, and well,  its' harder. That cancer,  out of remission and spreading for the third time...Non-verbal child who needs care 24/7 and  well,  that's what nightmares are made of in the autism world.  

Right now this is Melanie's world.   Her Thinking Mom's Revolution name is "Booty Kicker" and I am sure that what she is doing right now... giving cancer a run for it's money. 

Please join us in supporting her family in their time of need. We know Melanie has so much faith,  love and healing energy behind her.  Please say a prayer for her and her family now too,  see her happy and healthy and caring for her amazing son.  

We are all cheering you on Melanie sending you love and light and healing!!

IF you would like to donate to the fundraising Campaign to support Mel and her family please DONATE HERE:

http://t.co/LeZ12VJ2Q4 


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Nelson Mandela #nationalpoetry day #poetry

Today is national poetry day and I've been inspired by this photo and quote by Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela
Fighter for freedom
Wanted equality
Across his Kingdom

Tried to make changes
With talk and debate
No one would join in
Wouldn't co-operate

Caught in a dead end
No choice but attack
He took radical action
Got caught in the act

Shut up in prison
A cell far too small
Housed young Mandela
Staring at just four walls

He could have grown bitter
With anger and grief
But the years never did that
He waited for release

Eventually it happened
The country saw sense
Mandela walked freely
But he wasn't against ...

The people who oppressed
Him and all his kin
Instead he worked with them
So change could begin

For decades Mandela
Has inspired us to be
Against any oppression
To act if it we see

Today we remember
The path that he took
Peace, talk then action
Can bring change afoot

(C) Emma Major Oct'14


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams and my black dog

Everywhere I've gone today I've heard the sad news that Robin Williams has (apparently) committed suicide.   Here's how it's been for me and my black dog.

10am
Black dog has woken up after a lovely long sleep.
I feel desperately sad for Robin that he was suffering so badly and also for his family who will be grieving his loss.

1130am
Black dog is rubbing at my legs.
I can't stop thinking about how depressed Robin must have been and comparing it to how depressed I've felt in the not so distant past and what stopped me taking my life.

1230pm
Black dog is curling up in my lap and making himself comfortable.
The news is full of Robin's struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. I "need to" eat but I'm stuck in a car for the long drive home from holiday.  I can't shake the feelings of sadness.

2pm
Black dog is wrapping himself round my neck.
Do other people ever feel jealous that someone has been brave enough to end the pain of depression?  I don't feel suicidal at the moment but the feelings are so close that I can touch them.

3pm
Black dog is in my lap asleep.
I can't shift the sadness and irritability I feel.  Why do I have up have this illness? Why did he?  Why does my family have to suffer?  Or his?  Will I be able to resist the black dog if a depressive cycle comes back? He didn't.

7pm
Black dog is on the floor by my feet.
I can at least write about it now. This is good; this is processing.  I wish we lived in a world where mental health was understood and appreciated properly; perhaps this writing will help just one person.  

Robin Williams RIP you gave so much joy to so many, I am so sorry you suffered so much. I wish I didn't understand and I wish you'd found someone who understood enough to help you.

If you are feeling suicidal please ring The Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90