It’s been too long since I wrote something here.
It has been an age since I wrote anything here about how I was feeling and what I was up to …. for a number of reasons I was simply not able to.
But today ….
I start again
as I begin to explain a new chapter.
Many of you know that on Thursday evening I was licensed and installed as the Priest in Charge of St. Barnabas Little Ilford. There’s pictorial evidence here to show it really happened as I look semi terrified as to what has just occurred and what I now have to do as I stand next to Bishop Stephen.
Yesterday was our first Sunday service together which had an amazing warm and community feel about it… even though it did start at 9.30am.
As we gathered in a giant circle of nearly 40 people around the altar and shared bread and wine I felt this was an incredibly special moment for us as church. People have worked hard and prayed over the last 16 months for a new priest … and they got me! I feel amazingly honoured and already love being part of this community … many of you will feel sorry for them!
Bishop Stephen challenged us at the licensing.
He used the story of the fishermen going back out in Luke 4 after Jesus tells them to return to the deep water and cast out their nets again. This instruction came after they had been fishing all night with no catch. I wonder what the dynamics were on that day … a young carpenter telling experienced fishermen how to do their job. It must have been ‘interesting’ at bare minimum! Anyway, we know the story and that they caught so many fish that their nets started to break.
Bishop Stephen used this to challenge and remind us that our task is to put out into deep water, put down our nets, and expect a catch. This means stepping out of our comfort zones and finding new ways of being church and engaging meaningfully with people.
So … its an exciting and scary time … exciting as we know we are called to set out and do some new stuff (I’ll say more of that later) and scary as we are all in this boat together, setting out, with no clue whatsoever where the boat will go or what we will find as we set out ….. but that’s what we are called to do …. so … off we go!
As I said in an earlier post … I have known Zara and Rikard for nearly 10 years.
In that time they have become two of my my most trusted and loved friends. They are beautiful people, very loving and very welcoming and on top of that they have both been blessed with amazing creative skills. One of the highlights of my ordained ministry was to be able to bless this lovely couple’s marriage.
Anyway … if you’ve read my previous post you will also be aware of the real pain that they both experience and live with on a daily basis. So please, go here again to watch the video … or here to Rilkard’s page. They have done a massive amount of work and are so so close to the target to make this photo storybook a reality. They have already raised £7283 and only need another £1677. That’s amazing!
Today … instead of buying shit you don’t need … go here and pledge to make a real difference in enabling Zara and Rikard to publish something that, really, we all need!
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.
On Tuesday evening I attended an amazing Sion College event which, this time, was held at the East India Club. The subject of the evening was ‘Solitude’ with the speaker being Terry Waite.
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.
We are being encouraged, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, through Thy Kingdom Come, to join in a global wave of prayer between today and Pentecost which is in 10 days time.
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’ve been pondering these words all day.
I’m asking myself ‘how do we trust?’
For some it can be a tall and seemingly unachievable challenge.
Today I was pretty humbled after doing a pastoral visit to a family living here on the peninsula. This family are living in the midst of a real challenge in their lives; the outcomes could be quite scary and yet the faith and trust of these people is outstanding. It’s unwavering. There have been tears and confusion, but the trust has never lacked. I walked away from their home fully believing I had been welcomed into a holy space. I went to pray and bless as the parish priest, and I did, but I returned much more blessed, much more conscious of God, than I could ever have hoped to have left them with.
I get the connectedness thing of Richard Rohr. Just yesterday I was talking with a good friend, whilst tasting a nice malt, around how we are all connected and if we could only just realise that how the world would be full of people who loved and cared for each other. I guess that as we trust more we become more connected and as we become more connected we trust more …. the opposite is that we become less connected and less trusting which is how I see the direction going in the communities and the world I inhabit. Rather than connectedness this results in suspicion or fear.
I rote an essay recently as part of my MA around the subject of the beautiful film of The Shape of Water
. (If you’ve not seen it …. go see!) I quoted these words from an interview about the film with Guillermo del Tor, the director:
‘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?