Monday, 30 May 2011

Spiritual direction apprehension

I'm meeting my new spiritual director for the first session tonight. I've met her before, I know she'll be excellent; and I also know she'll be tough and honest with me, which I need. Perhaps because of this, also because it's a step into the unknown, I'm feeling apprehensive.

I trust this next step.
I know I need to take it.

I just pray that I'll be strong enough to face it, weak enough to hear it and flexible enough to accept it.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails

By Carolyn Edwards

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I was given this book by a friend; another Sunday school leader who, like me, worries about how we connect with boys at church. I'm so thankful she shoved it into my hands.

Here are some quotes which have particularly struck me.

Boys' spirituality can be likened to a butterfly.  

While seeming delicate and frail, the dragonfly is a creature of immense strength and stamina.  At a distance it looks like an ethereal jewel; close up it has muscularity and speed.  Incredible and beautiful, the dragonfly is constantly under threat from Predators and the destruction of it's natural habitat.

Also incredible and beautiful, boys' spirituality is under similar threat from a society that measures success and value in pounds and column inches, and from a church which seems to many boys and young men to be irrelevant and boring.

The book states the Five categories of spiritual connection:
- relational
- aesthetic
- active
- intrapersonal
- ritualistic 

From this basis and with the authors research she then identified Ten spiritual connections {which hold truth in our lives}:
1 relationship
2 play
3 story
4 pain and loss
5 humour
6 music and creativity
7 thinking
8 service
9 risk
10 technology

The book then follows these connections as chapters; paying attention to how they look if we are wearing our "God goggles" to see the sacred moments and the work of the spirit.

I love this, I have a healthy amount of boy-personality in me.

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I will say no more about this book other than one simple phrase "go buy it"!

Little Book of Affirmation

I have been advised many times over the last few years to create a book of affirmation for my ministry.  I have resisted/ignored/procrastinated and generally not taken heed of this particular advice.

The thing is I can't imagine having a positive place, it seems so egotistic.  It's embarrassing writing down nice things people say, let alone reading it later.  I just can't see me using it at all.

But I know to take advice from people I respect, those whom I turn to for advice.  So I am taking the first step.

I've chosen the book.
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I know that sounds crazy, after all any book will do, but this means I now have a specific book to start putting things in.

I've also found all the cards and notes I've been given over the last few years.  

These include congratulations for selection and thanks for things I've done and positive comments.  These I've kept because they mean so much, and it seems to me they are the start of the book of affirmation.

You know what's funny; reading the cards and notes was so affirming.  

Looks like there might be something in this.  Worth trying anyway.

I wonder if putting blog comments in is ok, after all many of them encourage me to continue in my ramblings.

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Missing my international friends

I miss my international friends
There, I said it.

I miss those in the Netherlands and Germany.
those in Australia and New Zealand.
those in Canada and Anerica.
those in Africa and Asia.
those separated by distance all over the world.
I miss them.

It used to be enough to be online together, but now it's torture.
It used to be OK to snatch time on the phone, but not any more, even if time allowed.
It used to be exciting to plan trips, but they are too expensive these days and too far apart.

It was OK when online was all we had.
But then we met, then we grew, then we loved, then we separated.
And suddenly I realised how close these friends would be if geography was kinder.
So crazily I backed off, it was less painful to deal with.
But I miss them.

Not much can be done, distances are too great.
How I long for them to see the joy of life here.
And how I long to see the joy of life with them.

We are friends still;
True friends for whom distance and time will not effect.
But it would sure be nice to hug and laugh and cry together.
In the same room, same building, same town, same country and time zone.

Lindas lunacy sunny Saturday

How can you not love a blog hop with the name Linda's Lunacy Sunny Saturday, especially on a day like today when the sun has been missing.

So come and join in

Linda's Lunacy

Saturday Spotlight

Between the Lines

Today I would like to bring the spotlight to Mining For Jems.  She is very much worth a read.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Save the children: pass it on

Thanks to Michelle at Mummy from the Heart I have discovered the Save the Children campaign Pass it On to help save 4 million children's lives through vaccinations. I have joined their facebook page and tweeted about it. And now, here I am blogging about it.

One of the many things I love about blogging is the way it allows me to provide support for the very many charities I adore over and above those I regularly support. This is one of those times.

Today I urge you to sign the petition to save 4 million lives before 13th June 2011.

Today I ask you to support the campaign by visiting the facebook page

Today I ask that you #passiton through twitter and word of mouth, as widely as possible.

And here's a fabulous gift tag which you can make your own, the perfect way of spreading the word and getting more people to join the campaign to really make a difference.

One step

One step, that's all I ask
The next step along the path
No analysis, no questions, no fear
Just follow the call you hear

Trust me to lead you
Trust me to know you
Trust me to hold you
Trust me 

Think, pray and prepare
Ask, reflect and hear
No plan needed, no goal heeded
Opportunities given, lead not driven

Just one step
Only the next step
No leap
Just step.

this came to me, just as it is, unde the pine tree at Stanton house on retreat. God is good

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Nature Exploration on Retreat

(Written on retreat 25th May 11)

This afternoon I am enjoying the grounds of Stanton House in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.

I have found a shady spot underneath a massive fir tree of some description, possibly Douglas Fir but I wouldn't guarantee I'm right.  

Here I sit listening to the wind and watching it's effects (see earth, wind and faith); able to spend time enjoying the natural world around me. The ducks, cuckoos, grasshoppers, ladybirds, blackbirds, song thrushes, blue tits, bumble bees, butterflies, beetles and geese; the trees, leaves, stream, branches, grass, shade, light, flowers and more all living in harmony and balance.

I reach to my right and pick up a pine cone fallen from the tree overhead.  

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What an amazing piece of engineering, what a lot it has to tell me.

It has fallen to provide life.
It's truth is deep within itself.
The seeds lie inside the dark cracks.
It is made of many layers.
It will open slowly with time.
It is aged yet full if new life.
It is a beauty of nature.

And as I wonder at the fir cone I realise how much this is like faith.  

The many layers which appear in time to release the new seeds of hope and new life.

As I put the pine cone in my bag, a new item for my prayer collection; I see the ivy growing around the base of the tree.  

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What a marvel, what a story it tells.

Each leaf on the ivy is individual.
They spread out from a single point.
Leaves searching for light.
It grows through the individuals.
A network of leaves joined for sustenance.
Always growing and thriving through each leaf working for the one, sustained by the one.

And there it is, an analogy of the church.

A network of individuals sustained by the sacred centre and seeking growth through reaching out.

Who would have thought an hour beneath a tree would provide such wonder.

Earth, wind and faith

Written on retreat (25th May 11)

I am sure I have read about the analogy between faith and wind before, which means it will have been written about many times.  But hey, if somethings worth saying then it's worth saying again, so here goes.

As I lie by this pine tree today in the garden of the retreat house I can see, feel and hear the wind.  It's a warm day with light clouds; the wind is strong and gusty; the sort of day I love.  And so I sit and watch as branches bend and trees sway and leaves move and rustle.  I sit and listen as the sound of the wind conjures up Images of breaking waves. 

The wind is at work.
I see the effect of the wind.
I hear the wind in the trees.

Yet I can't see the wind itself.
Who can?

I can see and hear the effects of the wind and so it is with faith and with my calling.  I can not hear my faith itself, cannot see the calling specifically.  Yet I can see and hear the effect of both on my life.  

The effect of wind on the earth is visible and striking and beautiful and changing and life giving.

The effect of my faith and my calling are visible and striking and beautiful and changing and life giving.

Suddenly the wind of the holy spirit means so much more; Pentecost here we come.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Four babies always remembered

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Five babies slept in my womb
One baby with me came home
Two heart beats never started
Two hearts' beating ended
Four angels to heaven transferred 
Four babies always remembered

Four lives shorter than should be
Four loves more than you can see
Four children they did die
Four kids never to cry
Four angels to heaven transferred  
Four babies always remembered

Written by me May 2011.

This is why I am starting the Berkshire Babyloss Support Group


I have been having extremely vivid dreams over the last few days.  Don't get me wrong, I dream every night; but I tend to wake up with an impression of them rather than recollection.

The last few days I have had perfect recall through the day following the dream.

Yesterday I dreamt I was preaching in church in my underwear.  Don't hang on that thought too long, no one needs that image in their head.  The meaning was pretty clear to me; ministry is a giving of yourself and can feel very vulnerable.

So tell me what the meaning of today's dream is, all thoughts welcome.

Mike, Rachel and I were on holiday somewhere.  We were late (definitely nothing like normal) packing up to leave  and catch our flight.  No matter how fast we packed we just didn't seem to make any dent on the stuff to be packed.  We were panicking.  And then ..... Along comes John Cleese! Not as hotel manager but as the next customer.  He started demanding his room and that made us panic more. 

And I woke up.
So tell me, what does THAT mean?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Psalm 31 speaks to me as I am

Psalm 31 speaks to me just as I am. 
I hope that this rewriting shows my feelings and does justice to the psalmist as well as being a comfort to those today who find psalms hard to access.

Help me Lord
Keep me safe
See me
Save me
Hear me
Rescue me

You are Lord
Protect me 
Lead me
Guide me
Find me
Redeem me

I am yours
Faithful God
I trust
I praise
I rejoice
I love you

I am flawed
You know me
You see
You love
You help
You protect 

I wail Lord
Comfort me
I cry
I sigh
I collapse
I waste away

They hate me
Love me Lord
They turn
They leave
They flee
They forget me

I trust you 
Lord my God
Hold me
See me
Hear me
Deliver me

You hold me
God of rest
You give
You care
You comfort
You shelter 

Oh blessed Lord
You love me
My hurt
My fear
My life
My everything

You heard me
Oh Lord God
You came
You love
You know
You accept me


The value of girls

I have been moved by this BBC News article today which talks about the foeticide of girl babies.

The horror of the situation has me in tears.  The way women are being forced to abort their baby girls by their extended families, unforgivable.

I try never to comment on cultures I don't experience; nothing is ever as straight forward as it can appear from the outside. But if this story is right then the abortions are about money and prestige.  I understand that the culture means girls leave the family at marriage and therefore boys are "needed" to care for their elderly parents; but that does not excuse abortions.

This story has hit me especially hard because I am the mum of a girl; a beautiful girl, a girl with a life ahead of her with endless possibilities, a girl who's aim in life is NOT to look after me, but to do whatever she chooses.  

I am also the mum of boys who couldn't survive pregnancy; a mum who lives with the loss of her babies daily.  It happened TO me, I lived through it.  I know the value of all babies, any babies, all gender, any gender.

I pray that this news today might start to make a cultural change, protecting the lost generation of girls.

In the meantime this song came to my mind:

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Berkshire Babyloss Support Group – BBSG

Here it is, details of the support group I am fundraising for so that I can start holding support meetings in the Autumn.

Mission Statement: To provide a place for bereaved parents, their families and friends who have experienced the loss of a baby during pregnancy or at birth.

We aim to hold a monthly evening Support Group at a suitable venue in the Reading area once a month. The group will be led by a trained miscarriage counsellor who has experience in walking alongside those bereaved through baby loss.

The support group is to be a place where we hope attendees will feel comfortable and among friends, a place where they feel able to share their experiences, worries, fears and problems. Attendees will be going through a range of feelings: deep sadness, anger, disbelief, shock, bitterness, guilt etc. These are all different stages of grieving, and are perfectly natural after the loss of a baby at whatever stage.

All of those in the group will have experienced either one or more losses and will therefore understand how each other feels. Sometimes just by talking or listening, it's a great relief to discover that other people feel the same way and that you are not alone.

We will welcome attendees to come to the group as often as they need, but if someone feels they need a break, that's fine too. It is understood that some months will be better than others, and if an attendee haven't been for some time, the group will only be too glad to see them again.

Everything shared at the support group will be held in confidence by all attendees at the group; this will be reminded at the start of each meeting.

If you are reading this and thinking that you might be able to help me in running the support group then please let me know.

If you are reading this and thinking it might be something you, or someone you know, might want to come along to then also please let me know with your email address and I will keep you informed of the meeting details.

All I ask for now is prayer in the establishment of this group.

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Would Jesus mock the rapture?

At 7am this morning I was enjoying the jokes and humour and laughter about the rapture.  How silly that a group of people really think the world is going to end today at 6pm and they will be raptured.

I even wrote the previous post "today is judgement day" in a slightly mocking style. Although to be honest I was just jumping on the rapture bandwagon to share a great piece of music.

But now it's 8am and after an hour reading tweets and blogs I am angry and disappointed by the overt mockery.  And it's not the general public that I'm referring to, them I excuse.  It's those who should know better, who are called by God to care for souls and nurture lives and guide the lost.  And they are mocking, and it turns my stomach.  I respect and admire these people and perhaps that's why I feel so strongly; I'm disappointed that this is their response.

And to make it worse this is all on the week that the Gospel in the lectionary is "I am the way, the truth and the life" in John 14.  This passage speaks to me about love of all, about the fact that Jesus died for us all, that there is room for us all.  It shows the disciples confused and not understanding.  If they found it hard then is it any wonder so many of us find it hard to explain our faith now.  And how did Jesus help the disciples understand? He loved them and explained and nurtured and illustrated for them; he was there for them.

So we should today follow Jesus' example.  We should not mock those who have followed one man who thinks the rapture is today.  We should not make jokes at their expense.  We should not degrade them through our actions.

We should pray for them, be ready to help them cope after today, love them and help them know that God has their spaces ready for them.

Jesus would not mock, he would love.
So should we!

Today is judgement day

I could be talking about the end of days, talking about the rapture, but I'm not.

I might be referring to the fact that society judges us each every day and I wish it would stop, but I'm not.

I might be talking about the movie "judgement day", but I'm not.

Instead I'm referring to the words from a fabulous song, celebrating life and joy.  It's Prince and it's 1999.  

Watch it, hear it, sing and dance and celebrate that rapture day or not we are loved and forgiven.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Let it be

Let it be by The Beatles

Great words
There will be an answer, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Amazing message
When the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me

And the most amazing instrumental breakdown EVER!

It says it all

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Are cheerleaders aloud at licensing?

I was with a friend tonight who thought it could be a great laugh to have a group of them cheering me on at the licensing in November.  I'm not sure if she means pompoms and rara skirts, or human pyramids, or excitable chants in a Taize styley; who knows but it is so nice to know I have "cheerleaders" both within and without the church.

So it got me thinking; in a late night, over tired, comical way. 

Would there be t-shirts?
Could I wear one under my cassock?

What design would they be?
Perhaps with the multi coloured LLM logo on that so many of us would love to adopt?
Or maybe a slogan such as "Emma for God".

I have only twice in my life worn a t-shirt as a group; both times in the USA and with bestest friends who convinced me to.  I like the idea, but also have the reserved British thing of not wanting to stand out. (yes, I know, it'll be obvious which one I am at licensing).

But Rachel on the other hand, now she loves a T-shirt she can design herself in her choice of colours.  Perhaps pink with yellow writing, I can see it now.  

So what would her custom t-shirt say? 
I envisage ....

"My Mum Works For God."

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

True Supervision

I know I've mentioned before, but it's definitely worthing saying again. Vicar Neil (previously NVN) is the most amazing support and I am blessed to be able to learn from him.

This week I've been struggling with the lectionary gospel of John 14 (see this post John 14:1-14 on first sight). I was scared by the prospect of preaching on it, because of the wealth of information and doctrinal complexities. I prayed and shared and the fear subsided. I shared some more and prayed some more and God gave me the subject to preach on. But not in it's entirety. Fear remained.

Then last night was my ministry support group. I was able to share how busy my diary is at the moment and get tips on how to manage that and prioritise commitments. I shared how my calling is strong and my becoming clearer all the time and how with that my confidence is growing. I really explained the work I do for the miscarriage association and the amount of time that takes, which I don't think they really had known before. We talked about how my ministerial working agreement needs to include this and all other roles I have in charities in the community. They heard, they advised, they prayed.

Neil especially sat next to me supporting me in where God is taking me. He is the spiritual support alongside Mike who is my life and family support. How did he show this? Most specifically by taking the preach off me this week, having already been given inspiration himself. This is not something he has ever done before, and not something I expect to happen again; but this week he knew it was the right thing to do, and the relief I felt was amazing.

This to me is true supervision. He often puts me in situations which I find uncomfortable and he nurtures me through it. He always allows me to fly but is down on the ground ready when I land. But when he can see I need help, he provides it; without judgement, with support.

I will write my reflections on the Gospel, it might even become a sermon which is never preached. I need to work through the issues that it's brought up in me, and I will. And I can, because I am supported.

This is true supervision; thank you Lord for providing me with it.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Big Sing of Iona Songs

If you've never been to an Iona Big Sing then you haven't lived.

If you've never even heard of an Iona Big Sing, well it's an event.  Led by Alison Adam of the Iona community it brings novice and experienced singers together to sing songs from around the world. Within a few hours a glorious sound is made.  

St Nics hosted a Big Sing last week as part of the year of "Going Deeper". Alison Adams came and led a workshop of Iona songs after which we sang them as part of our worship. AMAZING!

This song is the one that spoke to me.  Maybe it's the words, maybe the music, but I think it's the signs that Alison taught us to accompany it.  It took the song to my heart, touching my soul.

I may not have the signs filmed (not yet anyway) but here's the song to enjoy.

So why do I love a big sing?
It's the sound, from passionate voices lifted to God.
It's the fun, of learning new songs and harmonies.
It's the freedom, to sing and dance as the music takes me.
It's the worship and joy and letting your worries float away on the notes.

Love it!

Monday, 16 May 2011

illusions and faith

What do you see?
The old woman?
Or the young lady?
Can you see both?

This is a classic optical illusion; one I used a lot as a facilitator of workshops to show how two people can see two aspects of a problem, both valid but different.

Why am I sharing this today?
Because it powerfully shows us how we can jump to conclusions without seeing the whole picture. How sometimes we can be blind to all the possibilities, even when they are right in front of our eyes. How there are often two sides to the same issue.

And so it can be with the journey to faith.
It can seem as if you know all the answers, but who really does?
It can feel like there's no need to see anything else, but is that always true?
It can look like the meaning of life is unnecessary, but is that enough?

When I speak to Mike I often feel as if we are talking from two sides of a window. I see the old woman; he sees the young lady. We find it hard to see each other's perception of the world and it's meaning and the need (or otherwise) for a relationship with God. My hope is that one day we will both be able to see both sides and that the window will be removed.

Noah's Ark at St Nics

Today was the trial run of our brand new toddler service at St Nicolas Earley.

We invited half a dozen families from outside the church who would provide us with honest feedback as the sort of people who might (hopefully will) come along to the weekly service when it starts in September.

We ran the service exactly as we plan to, allowing us to see how it works and learn from the trial. We started at 1.15pm; welcoming families as they arrived, inviting the kids to play with the toys or partake in the craft project and offering the adults a hot drink. After an hour of play and craft we tidied up and gave the kids drink and snack; and today, as a thanks for coming to the trial, a slice of the cake I made.


We then gathered at the front of church in a circle for a few songs, a bible story (today of Noah's Ark), a brief talk on the story and an opportunity for the kids to show their craft, prayers and a final song or two. This took us upto the time when parents needed to start heading off to collect older children from school, as we had planned.

Those of us planning and leading the session were pleased with how it went and encouraged by the fact that parents said they'd love to come in September when we start up properly. We also learned a few things; about the layout of the church and provision of hot drinks, the need for a few more older kids' toys and the need to encourage our invaluable granny helpers to get more involved with the families themselves.

All in all it was a fantastic afternoon; we look forward to making it an every monday provision at St Nics for the entire community. If you'd like to come then just remember it's at 1.15pm Mondays from 5th September.

don't forget....don't be a dinosaur.....

John 14:1-14 on first sight

Over the last 2 years that I have been preaching I have been presented with a few lectionary selections which have made me wish I could go off piste. But nothing like the feeling this Monday Morning.

I am preaching at the main service this Sunday, something which always adds that little extra pressure than preaching at any other service. I can't really explain why, it's my stuff rather than anything to do with the service or the congregation or even expectation.

And then I open the lectionary, see the readings for the day and read John 14:1-14.....whoa!!!

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of preaching on this part of Jesus' teaching. I take comfort in knowing that others will be feeling equally as concerned and worried about it. But let's face it, that's no real comfort.

There are so many issues in this passage that can be devisive, so many complicated doctrinal questions that many have struggled to find answers to over the centuries.

I am afraid today; full of fear that I can not write and preach well enough to meet the expectations of this passage. But I also know that I do not preach alone; I preach with the Holy Spirit in my mind, in my heart and on my lips and that is what will get me through this week.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Psalm 91 - refuge and salvation


God is my refuge
God is my safety
God is my shelter
God is my shield
I .... fear .... not

I dwell with God
I am guarded by angels
I am lifted up
I am delivered
God ... Loves ... Me

God delivers us
God protects us
God answers us
God saves us
Because ... We ... Love ... Him

New Forest Appreciation

A mere 75 minutes from our door in Earley, Reading to our door in Barton on Sea, Hampshire seems more like 75 worlds away. We leave the hustle and bustle of the Thames Valley with it's pollution and high density of population; and arrive at the quiet and tranquil New Forest with it's ponies and trees and beaches and fresh air.

Of course we're biased. We love the area so much that we have got a place down there, a bolt hole to which we can escape and let life slow down. But I promise you, no one can help but chillax in a place as wonderful as these photos demonstrate.

Pony and Foal

View towards Bournemouth

View towards Isle of Wight

And tonight, as we get ready for the working week again, it's great to appreciate the New Forest in all it's wonder and beauty just a short drive away.

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Psalm 23 - Guided and Restored

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I am a sheep
He is my shepherd
He quietens me
He guides me
He restores me

I am scared
He walks with me
He comforts me
He sustains me
He feeds me

I am alive
He follows me
He holds me
He hears me
He loves me

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Friday, 13 May 2011

Psalm 55 - Fear and Trust

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Where are you Lord?
Please answer Lord
I'm scared!

My heart breaks
My fear overwhelms
Rescue me!

Halt the wicked
Stop oppressors
End it!

You've left me Lord
Abandoned me 
Stop hiding!

I know you're there
You hear my voice
Save me!

I trust you Lord
I'm ready Lord

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This idea of shortening the psalm came to me in prayer today.  

It was amazing to read the psalm differently, really analysing it to distill down the key meaning that was speaking to me.  I think I might do this again.

This is a prayerful exercise, not a theological one; please don't take this as a new form of the psalm.

Psalms today

I used to dislike the psalms.
Then I started to understand them.
After some time they started growing on me.
Now I see their role in my faith.
But I'm still not keen on their wording.

What I find I do is create a synopsis of a psalm in my head; a shorter, less theologically sound, but more accessible format for me.

So I thought I could start writing these down and share them with you.
I hope someone might find them speaking to them as much as they do to me; enjoy.

++Rowan's words recorded

No longer do you need to rely on my accounts of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Oxford Diocese.  Now you can hear the recordings.

His sermon at the Eucharist

His teaching in the afternoon

Monday, 9 May 2011

++Rowan on Unity

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This is the second blog post on the teaching given by Archbishop Rowan Williams on 7th May 2011. 

Its worth noting that: I did not record the session, I made notes, they may well have included many of my own thoughts arising from the session and of course my notes are affected by my own filters (we all have them).

That said, hear is what I heard and learned.

1Cor12:13 "For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

The disciples used to argue about who was the greatest.  in the same way Paul had to deal with churches who would argue about who was the greatest.

Paul tells us that we need to push back against the spirit of rivalry.  We need to fight against the debate about who has the best gifts.  We all have gifts, all of us; God given gifts.

We should not be competitive; we should not be jealous of others; we should instead know that we are working with our gifts.  We should unite with our various gifts.  Unity is about a readiness to receive. 

But this is not easy, let's not kid ourselves it is.  We are brought up to be competitive, society is competitive. But competition is the opposite of unity; how can we receive from the spirit if we are so desperate to achieve?  

If we can leave the competition behind, unite together, then we will be more ready to receive.  At this point we are also going to be happy to share ourselves and our gifts so others can also receive.

God is a trinity; it is a living out of a lack of competition.  

The trinity always does the same thing.  

Each part has it's own skills and they are complementary to each others. 

The trinity shows us how to be united.

Through the One Spirit we are united.  The spirit was poured out for us to drink, the spirit of communion together.

But how has the spirit poured out?
Johns gospel provides the details about the one spirit.

The breaching of Christ's body in crucifixion means that the spirit can flow out.  The spirit floods from the broken body of Christ; it is released.  It's a spirit of communion, fellowship and communication.  It is access to being where Jesus is.  

We are brought into fellowship by the action of Christ and the subsequent flowing of the spirit.  It all comes from one complete act of love and prayer; unity provided over us all through the flood of the spirit.  The self giving love of Christ unites us.

So one of the important things about Christian unity is the skill to sense in each other the prayer and action of Christ.  

We can and should recognise Christ in each other.  

This is how evangelism works, by Christ being recognised in us, us recognising Christ in others and them then recognising Christ in themselves.

Look at the body; there is a plurality of gifts within it which work together to create a one working body.  Unity as one body is working to better communicate and support each others.

So it is with the church.  
We all work together; as long as we communicate effectively and support each other.

One spirit is about recognition.
One body is about communication.

At the heart is one Christ who has made our diversity (individuals and church) his own.

Unity is therefore about the one Christ, his one action and his one outpouring for the Father.

We need to be aware of and develop the recognition and communication in our own church communities.

The search for recognition and communication needs to happen where we are.

Unity is that mysterious something we already possess; something we need to be brought back into.  We can spend effort in exploration and recognition and listening but we should do so in the confidence that we are unified by the one action by Christ. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

++Rowan on Mission

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On Saturday 7th May 201, after a Diocesan Eucharist, the Archbishop of Canterbury ++Rowan gave a teaching session to clergy and LLMs in the Oxford Diocese. 

His main teaching was on "one spirit, one body" which I will post on tomorrow.  Before that, he responded to the three inspirational presentations given about ways churches in the Diocese are making disciples.  This post shares what I learned from ++Rowan's reflections on the mission of making disciples.

I was inspired and energised by the sharing on how three churches have opened their doors to the community in mission, thereby making disciples.  I heard ideas which we could use at St Nicolas, and a passion for mission which enthused me.

++Rowan summarised these activities simply and succinctly "these activities are showing people what they already have". 

It's obvious, now I hear it, but that had never occurred to me before in that way.  But yes, speaking to people about our faith helps them to see the goodness of Jesus in their lives already.

This is what mission and evangelism are about; we need to know that "God is there ahead of us" and all we are doing is showing Him in their lives.

++Rowan related this to the sacred centre.  He said that we want to build the sacred centre; by "developing the sacred which exists in the lives of us all."

But more than that, he helped me realise that the sacred centre is not new territory; it's the centre that exists already.  

Therefore in making disciples we are not about providing the sacred; but deepening the sacred.

We have it.  But the it we have we don't necessarily know we have.

Or as ++Rowan put it...

We want to see people say "ah, yes, I knew that; but I didn't know I'd known that".

Bishop spotting

What a day yesterday was; a fantastic Eucharist service, the opportunity to meet and talk to the Bishops of the Diocese and the Archbishop and then a teaching session by ++Rowan.

I am breaking down my many experiences and thoughts into a number of blog posts.  The first was the caption competition that aired yesterday.  The second is this, my experience of the men themselves; and you'll just have to wait with baited breath for the rest.

he is real, and so apparently am I.  And he is much larger than life than I expected, in personality that is.  Of course I know there's a good chance that Alan might read this (Hi Alan if you're dropping by) and so I feel a little weird saying too much, but suffice to say he's joined my list of people who I'd invite to my dream dinner party.  And in case you don't believe we are both real, here's proof:
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it's fantastic to meet the new Bishop of Reading.  Engaging, interested, positive about me being licensed.  I look forward to meeting him again in the future.

it struck me how much more reserved he is than the other Bishops in the Diocese.  Of course this is not a bad thing.  He was slightly to one side of events, but therefore able to spend more time with each person.  I enjoyed seeing him again and thanked him for our meeting.  I'm not entirely sure he knew who I was at first, but he did after a very few seconds.

surprisingly our Diocesan Bishop remembered having met me almost a year ago and was asking when I will be licensed.  He seemed genuinely thrilled that he will be undertaking the licensing in November.  As am I.

And then there's ...

I queued in line to meet The Archbishop of Canterbury like everyone else.  Having read his books, watched him on the TV in documentaries and marrying Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as having  heard him on the radio, my expectations were high.  I expected him to be much more aloof than he is; much less human somehow.  But I can happily confirm that he is a man, just a man; a holy man, a wise man, a man of God; but in the end a human just like the rest of us.  More than that, he's an open, interesting, interested and gentle man who I am really happy to have met.  He even allowed me to be cheeky and have my photo taken with him for my blog; here it is.
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Oh and the most bizarre part of the day.....
as we were heading to the car to get to the teaching session I saw someone waving from a car; 
guess who .....
My new mate Rowan :)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

caption competition

Here is a caption competition, a photo from today's teaching session by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It shows ++Rowan (seated in the centre) and +John (standing on the right).

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I can't wait to hear what you think they might have been discussing in the teaching session.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Dear so and so...

Dear So and So...

Dear Mike
I know work's crazy these days but does it always have to mean you're late home on a Friday when Rachel is super excited to see you?
love Em xxx


Dear Rachel
I was so proud of you today when I saw you asking questions at the church visit about how infant baptism is different to adult baptism. I know you find it hard to speak in front of your class and I am thrilled that you managed to find the courage.
love you baby, Mummy xxx


Dear Train Operating Company
Please make sure your trains run on time tomorrow between Reading and Banbury. I have made the brave/silly decision to take the train to attend the Eucharist and teaching being held by ++Rowan and would like to make it on time.
thanks Emma


Dear Emma
I can't wait for our girly night tonight; I wish we could still see each other every single week like we used to, but hey life is what life is.
love Em


Dear Readers
Thank you for reading; I am constantly astounded that anyone would want to read my random thoughts and ideas, thanks for being a quiet encouragement to keep pouring them out through the computer

Flashback Friday - the men in my life

I was sorting my study out this morning and this card fell out of a box.

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I haven't seen this card in at least a decade. I was given it by the man who trained and nurtured me into a workshop facilitator of civil engineering projects.  A man I remember with thanks for trusting me and having faith in me.

It's made me think of the other men who have inspired and nurtured me through my life.

A civil engineer, a transport engineer, a highway specialist, a hard worker, a perfectionist, a model of how you can love your job, a picture of how work can overtake your life if you're not careful.

A lecturer, a manager, a family man, an inspiration to students, a motivator, a supporter

A project manager, a first boss, a workaholic, a listener, an inspiration, an encourager to find your route to success, a man who knew I could do it

A live life to the full kind of guy, a maverick, a professional, a comedian, a thinker, a business man, a partier, a man who gave me confidence, a man who pushed me when I needed it

A rock, a love, a friend, a support, a bring me back to earth, a go on Emma I know you can do it, an I'm always hear for you husband extraordinaire

A client, a truster, a wine connoisseur, an experienced bloke, a provider of an opportunity that made all the difference

A colleague, a joint author of papers, a conference attender, a laugh, a thought provoker, a friend, an encourager

A vicar, see-insider, a selector, an arm twister, a vocation advisor, a man who told me I really was called

A vicar, a supervisor, a colleague, a friend, a listener, an answerer, a pray-er, a writer of thanks, an inspiration, a push in the right direction

I owe a debt of thanks to all these men, today I remember them specifically as valuable men in my life.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Vote, please vote

It's 5.30pm.
The polls will close in four and a half hours time at 10pm.
If you haven't voted, now's the time to make time to go and cast your vote.

Vote for your local councillors
Vote for the AV Referendum

Better still, do some research on the issues; I recommend the following sites:

Yes to Fairer Votes
No to AV
AV referendum explained
AV: where parties stand
Red Pepper
Behind the spin

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gallery: April

This photo sums up the gallery theme of April for me perfectly.

The world's our oyster and this month we experienced it; like a beach it's full of opportunities.  There are places to explore, endless expanses of soft sand to walk through with shells and fossils and stones to collect along the way.  

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As we walk we see our footprints in the sand behind us.  We can see where we've been.  Three sets; Rachel's, Mike's and mine.  And this month especially I know that there's another set of footprints with us always; God's.  We cannot see them, because he carries us as we walk through our lives.

So let me leave you with this fantastic poem by Mary Stevenson.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. 
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. 
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. 
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only. 
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, 
when I was suffering from anguish, 
sorrow or defeat, 
I could see only one set of footprints, 
so I said to the Lord, 
“ You promised me Lord, 
that if I followed you, 
you would walk with me always. 
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life 
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. 
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, 
“ The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, 
my child, is when I carried you.”
--Author Mary Stevenson--

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

AV Vote

Following in my series of poems, here's another; this time it's on the subject of the AV referendum.

Time to vote
to place your mark
yes or no
the choice is stark;
keep as is
or make it new
most don't know
or care, do you?

I used to care
back in my youth
used to campaign
to change the booth;
but now it's here
it seems too late
am I cynical
or taking the bait?

So yes I voted
made my choice
read the options
And voiced my voice;
I long for change
a fairer way
but who knows if
it'll turn out that way

All that matters
to me now
is that you read
and find out how;
you will vote
on this decision
have your say
bring the future you envision.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The need for peace

It was a shock, the news today
Osama's totally gone away
Hurray, hurrah they all did say
But is it right to feel that way?

He planned it all, the devastation
Brought it down upon a nation
Grief and loss and then frustration
Osama vanished away from creation

Ten years on, today they found him
Not holed up below a mountain
But in a street, in fact a mansion 
Living there, at last they caught him

Osama's dead, the worlds the same
For most, all that remains is pain
Cheering, celebrating, it's not a game
We must stop the hunt for gain 

Today I pray that peace abounds
That Gods great love can us surround
Jew, Christian, Muslim, all
Together stand and never fall

We are all the same, at the core
Made as man, wanting more
Only together can we be sure
Peace can be found, once and for all

Osama Bin Laden RIP

Yes, I really mean it, Osama Bin Laden rest in peace.

I refuse to celebrate; I am disappointed by the scenes of celebration outside the White House; how can it be right to cheer about a death?

A man has died!
Yes he managed a terrorist organisation, that makes me angry.
Yes he organised the 9-11 attacks, for that I feel he is unforgivable.
Yes he attacked many of his own country-men and women, that is the lowest of the low and makes me sick to my stomach.

But he is now dead; that is enough.

Now he stands in front of God to be judged.  It is not right to celebrate his death.  I feel sick to my stomach, the same way I did when terrorists celebrated the death of those in 9-11.

This morning instead of joy I feel relief that a major leader of terrorism has been stopped.  But I also feel fear that these celebrations might anger those who might now fill the empty shoes at the head of a terrorist organisation.

Osama bin laden RIP.

Lord God, we need your peace and healing on our world; help us to work together across religions and nationalities to seek peace together.  Amen.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Alzheimers and Daffodils

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I was watching Country File on BBC1 last Sunday evening and was fascinated by the segment on how daffodils are being grown to create an Alzheimers drug which halts the development of the disease.

Alzheimers is in my dads side of the family.  I watched my grandad deteriorate through my childhood.  He started forgetting what he was doing and where he left things; progressed through forgetting who he was and what year he was in; eventually started wondering off and getting lost; before being hospitalised and loosing all ability to speak or control his muscles.  It was slow and painful to watch, I hope it was less painful for him.

And now we are told that the humble daffodil, beautiful yellow flower of spring, holds the chemical ingredients for a disease halting drug treatment.  There are fields full of daffs in Wales now, specifically to be harvested for this purpose.  

Never before has this yellow sign of spring held so much hope; for Alzheimers sufferers the daffodil truly is a sign of new life.

PS @tweeetstreet has started a campaign with Tesco to raise money for Alzheimers; for more visit here thank you xx

Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday