Brian was back on Sunday with an unmissable sermon. No video but you can read the text. Inspired! Unexpected Wait
The end of February saw several of us heading off for Harrogate to attend the New Wine Leadership Conference. Not only was the weather exceptional (snow and lots of it) but the talks were absolutely out of this world. Prepare to change your thinking with a simple click.
To find out more visit the New Wine talks here
My brother, a Methodist minister, gave me ‘The Lectionary 2018’ for Christmas. Having never followed it, except for main Sunday services, I am amazed at how it connects, builds and illuminates the message.
For instance, Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Epiphany, the message was the authority of Jesus. Monday’s reading showed Jesus exorcising a demon from Legion, shocking and scaring everyone who observed a man who was like a wild animal, transformed to a completely sane and peace loving state. Today Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead and healed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Both of these passages, revealing who Jesus is, build on the theme of the authority of Jesus.
At the same time, there is another theme being played out in 2nd Samuel. King David has been in exile as his son Absalom launches a power play against his father. Here we see David responding in a puzzling way. When a man comes by to curse him (yesterday’s reading) he believes that perhaps it is God’s will and allows the man to follow and throw stones. In his humbled state, he asks that all who wish to join him in exile turn back, he has no destination. Of course these groups stay with him.
In today’s reading we see Absalom killed by a party of David’s men even though David asked that no harm would come to him. The response of David is great woe. He is inconsolable. Absalom, O Absalom, why you and not me?
In David’s response we see the love of God. Though Absalom was a rebel, he was the son of David and David loved him. In Jesus, we see the love of the Father for his children. Lost causes, hopeless situations, life put on hold all changed by the power of love. Jesus has the authority of the Father to pour out the love of the Father on His children.
And what about us? How do we, if we have received this most awesome love, pass it on?
A new book about the Ecumenical County of Cumbria
Growing Spirituality is a personal reflection on the spirituality of Cumbria. This book briefly tells the story of the faith from the first Christians to those denominations that signed the covenant partnership and supported it in Carlisle Cathedral on 27th November 2016.
In telling the story of faith Growing Spirituality reflects on the spiritual styles that have played an important part in shaping the churches of the county. It is a story of the dynamism of Christ’s disciples over the last sixteen centuries, rooted in prayer, community and mission. Finally Growing Spirituality asks where the spirituality of the ecumenical county may be taking us in the future?
Growing Spirituality is published by Open Spirituality Publishing, 150 pages and costs £10.
ISBN – 978-0-9926277-1-3
Available from OSP please email your postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy.
Cheques made payable to ‘OSP’ or online payments to ’OSP’ Sort Code 16-52-21 Account 52295495
Books can be ordered from Cameron via his Diocesan Spirituality Adviser email email@example.com
ViK Sekasi, the Furness Deanery Youth Minister has prepared a beautiful report about the experience of a Prayer Space in the John Ruskin school.
Perhaps I was having an overly emotional day having been flattened by a particularly nasty case of the flu since Sunday eve. I walked into the church yesterday in advance of Roger and Yu Zhu’s wedding, just to take a quick peek and leave some treasures behind, but what I saw instead was love and beauty beyond measure.
You see, here in rural England, everything we do is a voluntary act. We have a house for duty Priest who came out of retirement, along with his wife June, to lead us, a full year after the departure of the previous full time Priest. We are part of a deanery which is having to make do with fewer paid full time priests and part of the suffering for the deanery means that we, the tiny communities of Coniston and Torver, are not considered large enough to require their own full time priest.
Being small does not diminish the work load at all. In fact we hold a range of services each and every Sunday, weddings, baptisms (one a month in Coniston), home groups, celebrations, festivals and minister to all who come our way, including the 300,000+ people who come into our community every year through tourism. We have an active Fair Trade coffee morning each and every Wednesday a.m. which reaches out to people travelling through as well as to locals in the heart of the community. A mid-day prayer service allows for quiet meditation while all the chatter in the coffee morning is going on.
It takes a lot to support these activities and the on the ground ministry. We have two lay ministers, two church wardens, several voluntary musicians, several deanery synod members, a Mother’s Union, a full PCC, and each and every person on the electoral roll, fully signed up and committed to the community.
Knowing all of this, what I saw yesterday made me realise what a beautiful church family I am part of. The day of Roger and Yu Zhu’s wedding the weather was horrendous. Tears of joy were falling from the heavens. Earlier, all hands would have been inside the church, cleaning, beautifying, laying flowers on each of the candle sticks made by Peter, setting tables, preparing food, making it beautiful and perfect for the wedding.
Before I entered the church, I ran into June, having spent the morning beautifying with flowers, she now on her way to change clothes. As I coughed away, she mentioned that Linda too is ill and suggested we were going to have to stop meeting on Sundays as I thought to myself wryly and Saturday and Tuesday and Wednesday too. I do hate being ill.
I walked into the sound of beautiful music and a scene of total calm and serenity. Pat, the church Secretary was wearing a very smart grey pin striped suit. Both Peter and Tim were dressed in dark handsome suits wearing big smiles. All work and preparation done, nothing missing, everything ready and waiting in eager anticipation for The Wedding.
I walked across the street to deliver a package to Anne and looked back to see Nick, the church Warden, walking into the church, wearing full rain gear on top, morning dress below and carrying a big cooler loaded with the best drink, as only Nick is able to do. My heart melted as I saw him enter the church carrying his bag of goodies. Nothing is too much trouble for Nick. He is always there. Always on duty. Nick misses nothing and expects nothing in return for his service and commitment. He may be one of many, but there are none like him.
Each and every person is involved in other work throughout the community, much of it voluntary. Lives of living daily sacrifice. Only today I don’t see anything but love. Complete selfless acts of love and generosity. I stand in wonder and awe as I look upon my big (in spirit) beautiful church family.
A few have asked to read Sunday’s talk. I would have liked to have ended with a fabulous link to the Lord’s Prayer. I also considered handing out envelopes, each with a name of someone on our electoral roll to hold in prayer. In the end, it would have been adding too many elements for this particular talk. Another time! Yours, in faith!
The event on 26 April included a musical encounter with the newly refurbished organ played by an accomplished organist from Bristol! Like all Sing and Share services, this was a one-off.
Pictures from another encounter with the master rebuilder of the organ are below. An evening of Bach delighted all.
At the end of the evening, a feast, remembering Linda’s father’s 90th birthday.
Life has been pretty crazy lately. The wheels of my daily juggling act are all developing seeds of their own. What started out as a mixed portfolio of life giving activities has turned into barely overlapping wheels of potentially life sapping obligations. Just as in my previous life of The Iron Maiden, Financial Controller par excellence, I am now the Queen of yes, operator par excellence, can do, will do, love to do girl. The only way out is to physically get away from it all and get close to God.
Knowing that I needed more time alone with God, I started ‘prayer and praise’ last August. First gently, sticking a toe in the water, I started bringing along a friend into St. Andrew’s on Tuesday at noon. We would pray and sing and praise and pray and just be with God. After a few weeks it seemed selfish just to keep it to ourselves so I opened it up to others. It is now a regular part of our church life. So with this regular commitment and all the other ways that I regularly pray and study (NT Theology last year, OT Theology this year) I thought I was already doing the right things. I still didn’t get it and my yes girl mentality was taking away all that space I had in my early years alone with God. Those important revelations that once came with a mighty hand, were not as frequent in my swirling world.
Enter Mary D, (code named now MD) over the Atlantic. A few words brought out a life giving beautiful soul. MD comes from Lighthouse Int’l Christian Church which is a mecca and multicultural melting pot for souls who have come from places like Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Individuals and families come, many as refugees, new to the christian faith. Many move to other parts of the UK from this entry point. The church itself is growing rapidly, even with this steady movement. Meeting at 4 p.m. for prayer, praise, worship and food (imagine the treats in store with this international pool), they are outgrowing their home and looking to expand. Oh what I wish for this phenomenon to take hold over our population of pioneers in the lakes. But this wasn’t all that MD brought to the table. She was convinced that what I needed was a precious book she was carrying with her called Begin the Journey with The Daily Office by Peter Scazzero.
Now I’ve been studying and praying and praising God with zeal for years. I’ve done just about every configuration of sound bite study. In fact, I’ve determined that what I need is more theology to understand the world and the people and the circumstances of those early days to encourage those stubborn hold-outs with a logical way to come to the grace of the Lord. I thought I needed this little book like ‘a hole in the head’ and was pretty adament that I couldn’t possibly accept it. Mary was having none of it. She insisted that this precious well worn book was for me. God has put us together over the Atlantic for a reason. And so I did what I was called to do and accepted it with a grateful heart. MD’s gift has brought me back to the quiet time that I’ve been missing in my world of (the most maddening combination of visionary, operator and processor) can do it all madness. So starting from next week, we’re all going to begin exploring this precious little book, slowly, in Prayer and Praise. Our infusion with the living Lord just got a whole lot richer.