The other morning I received these words from my Richard Rohr daily thought:
I am interested to see many more forms of intentional community than what we see today. . . . I would like to see the equivalent of Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities connected to every parish, where young people might commit to live for a term of two or three years, committed to the work of justice and peacemaking.  I would like to see the parish encourage members to purchase homes in the vicinity of one another and in neighborhoods where there is greatest need, as an expression of the parish’s work. . . . I would like to see every parish have a version of a L’Arche community.  I am interested in the construction of simple homes, affordable and available for both poor and rich, to create neighborhoods where all can live and interact and be helpful to each other.
As I reflect on the future here on the Greenwich Peninsula I am challenged as to how this might look. As I consider moving in to a new setting in Newham I am pondering those words and feel challenged. I believe intentional community to be the real energising thing in ministry …. pairing it with cathedrals and parish settings grounds and earths it in a powerful way.
More pondering, reflecting, contemplating.
Wow is all I can say.
Terry spoke amazingly without notes for 10 to 15 mins. He was humorous in sharing some stories, humble when sharing of his 5 years from 1987-1991 held as a hostage and deeply profound when reflecting on how that 5 years , most of being in solitary confinement, had affected his ongoing life and work.
Two of the simply most awesome comments he shared were that although he would never wish to repeat the experience that he was ‘the better for it’ and that he found no problem forgiving his captors. The latter he said was due to being able to take the time to understand the reason for their actions (he then digressed a little on to the current Middle East situation and the West response … maybe I’ll blog about that at a later date) … I would hope I would be able to do the same in such circumstances but am not sure I would be as bold as this man who not only forgave but has been back on a number of occasions and has continued in his work of hostage relief even offering to go to Iran in 2007 to negotiate with those holding hostage British sailors.
I jotted down a few other notes which hit me …
When engrossed in rough times he made some suggestions of outlooks to get though the experience:
have no regrets about what you did to get there
avoid self pity
don’t oversentimalise your situation
take the experience as an opportunity to get to know yourself better
Those are incredible words coming from a person held and deprived from all human communication for 5 years. I’ve reflected on them for a few days and it seems to be that they comprise some pretty good advice for most of the stuff life can throw at us, particularly the using of the opportunity to learn more about yourself rather than be pitiful and descend spiralling into a victim mindset that is particularly quite common for the who suffer from the imposter syndrome.
Thank you Terry for an amazing evening .. and thank you to the new people I met around the table for adding to what was just a great all round evening.
Today is Ascension Day where, in the church, we remember Jesus leaving the disciples and ascending into heaven in front of them, still carrying the scars of the crucifixion.
At Holy Trinity Greenwich Peninsula we regularly pray for the community and for the next 10 days we are particularly highlighting prayer by receiving prayer requests from residents which we pray for on our Friday morning Prayer and pastry meeting at 8.00am in The Prayer Space.
Across the East Greenwich Parish there are other opportunities to pray as well. So … have a prayer request for you or w=your family … then please get in touch as it will be a privilege to pray for or with you.
The Richard Rohr daily thought today ends with these words:
Without connectedness and communion, we don’t exist fully as our truest selves. Becoming who we really are is a matter of learning how to become more and more deeply connected. No one can possibly go to heaven alone—or it would not be heaven.
Inherent Goodness can always uphold you if you can trust it. I call that goodness “God,” but you don’t have to use that word at all. God does not care. It is the trusting that is important. When we fall into Primal Love, we realize that everything is foundationally okay—and we are a part of that everything!
I’m asking myself ‘how do we trust?’
For some it can be a tall and seemingly unachievable challenge.
‘We live in a time of fear, and hatred and rage. Every day on the news, and every day in social media and every day in our lives, we’re told to fear something, fear the other, fear the other religion, the other immigrant, the other gender; and it is a time to embrace the fact that there is no us and them, but only us, and that’s what we have.’
That’s a powerful and quite horrible image of fear that breeds when we are disconnected. It results in suspicion, brokenness and a sense of needing to achieve alone. In such a climate people will always put themselves first and neglect the other.
All we have is each other says del Toro. I think that connects strongly with the words of Rohr today.
We are meant to connect.
I get that.
but … and there is always a but ….
How do we work that out in the world?
What is the secret … how do we love … how do we trust as a default?
Can we or is that a simple naieve optimism?
Tonight at HTGP I led a meditation rater than shared a homily. I was inspired by a photo from a friend, Tracey Affleck, who kindly gave me permission too use it tonight in our worship (its the one I’ve pasted next to the icon in this post). Thank you Tracey!
The photo has profound and important words and I have placed it next to the icon that shows Jesus with a disciple resting their head on Jesus’ shoulder. I think that disciple realised they were enough. I wonder if meany of us are able to realise that truth?
Tonight I wanted people to leave knowing they were approved of, that they are enough… not because I say that they are … but simply because I think God and Christian theology says so and that tonights reading in John 15:9-17 says so. I feel quite strongly that we hear too often that we need to improve, that we need to do better, that we will only be acceptable when we do something, or achieve something, or look or sound a particular way. We have taken on board a lie that says we will be more acceptable to God when …..
There is no when.
We are all acceptable to God.
Jesus says ‘You did not choose me, I chose you!’.
You can’t get much clearer.
As we are …. we are enough
You are enough.
Anyway you can hear the meditation here … and I’ve printed the text below for those who like to read as well.
Meditation John 15: 9-17 You are enough
‘As the father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.’
Abide in my love
Abide …. meaning: accept, acknowledge, consent,
concede, submit or live with
Accept you are loved by God
acknowledge God loves you
consent to receive God’s love
concede that you don’t have to earn God’s love
submit to knowing you are great in God’s eyes
live with the knowledge that you are enough
How does the sit with you?
can you believe it?
not having to change to be loved
loved as you are
you are enough
How do you view your relationship with God?
God watching and waiting to catch you out?
or a friend
a friend willing to lay down a life
Is that strange?
difficult to embrace?
uncomfortable to hear?
‘as the father loved me, so I have loved you’
you are enough
God knows you
the good and the bad
as well as the ugly
the habits and stuff you hide
bathes in God’s light
It’s easy to love someone at the start of a relationship
in that idealism and infatuation
but then it becomes more difficult
as you notice stuff
harder to turn a blind eye to those irritations
God knows you
all of you
even the stuff you hide from yourself
God still chooses to love you
You did not choose me but I chose you’ says Jesus
Jesus chose you with eyes wide open
there is about you to know
embrace that thought
in your mind
that God loves you
God loves you
God loves you
Agapai has been on elf the highlights of the week for quite a while now. I find there is something very special, something very ‘rooting’ and ‘connecting’ in a small group of us getting together each week to talk, pray and eat. Well actually we eat, talk a lot about anything, then talk a little about our weeks, pray for each other a little and then share bread and wine before going home.
Tonight we chatted a lot while sharing a little of our lives, our concerns, and what we wanted or needed prayer for. It is always exciting to see what is happening in each of our stories and how there is an evolving pattern of the cycles of our lives.
I believe that when we eat together something special happens. When we eat together with Jesus at the table, present in bread and wine, then I believe something special and spiritual happens …. but I probably think that about the former as well.
It seems to me that many if not every important conversation or ‘event’ that happens in the gospels in in the context of a meal. I’m sure there is something in the eating, but I am sure there is something more in the giving the time; because as we eat and chat and listen we are giving the gift of time and presence to each other.
I am wondering if that ‘giving of presence’ is a key element go growing any kind of community. This small Agapai group is community; I think we would all agree with that as we have all supported each other through ‘stuff’ this year. But, I don’t think we are community because of our size … we are quite fragile … but we are community because of our willingness to be present to each other, to listen to each other, and to pray for each other.
I think what is happening here is quite exciting …. although I am not sure I fully understand it …