About robryan65

fallible human, creative, Christian, vicar type at St Barnabas Manor Park, real ale, rum and malt whisky drinker dancer in another life - expressing personal views.

building community c

barn-raising.jpgThe 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. [2] 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. [3] 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.

Waite on Solitude

IMG_0458On 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.

Thy Kingdom Come

P2P_Facebook_Profile-1Today 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.

 

naieve optimism?

shapeThe 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?

You are Enough

enoughTonight 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.
More than.
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?

Being enough

not having to change to be loved

loved as you are

because

you are enough

How do you view your relationship with God?

a servant?

a subject?

God watching and waiting to catch you out?

or a friend

a friend willing to lay down a life

for you

Is that strange?

undeserving?

difficult to embrace?

uncomfortable to hear?

but hear 

‘as the father loved me, so I have loved you’

because

you are enough

God knows you

totally

the good and the bad

as well as the ugly

the habits and stuff you hide

embarrassed over

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

different views

different niggles

harder to turn a blind eye to those irritations

God knows you

totally

all of you

even the stuff you hide from yourself

and yet

God still chooses to love you

You did not choose me but I chose you’ says Jesus

Jesus chose you with eyes wide open

knowing everything

there is about you to know

embrace that thought

tell yourself

in your mind

that God loves you

God loves you

God loves you

Because 

you

are 

enough

Amen. 

we talked we prayed we ate

IMG_0437Agapai 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 …

 

Look, I’m wearing all the colours

b684aae33877fbc4971c1c3a35627612_originalI have two friends that I love very much; Zara and Rikard are both beautiful people, creative loving people, who have an amazing insight and outlook upon life, despite life being an agonising struggle that brings friends around them, myself included, to tears.

Look, I’m wearing all the colours is a beautiful and painful photo story of love where both Rikard and Zara life with chronic illness and pain and depression. Please watch the video, and PLEASE contribute so that this book can become a reality. I saw the proof copy at the SICK exhibition last year. It really is stunning… and to quote Rikard:

This project has been 13 years in the making and your support will help realise my dream of publishing this book. I believe that storytelling can help drive social change and by showing the often unseen aspects of life with invisible illness, I hope to raise awareness and eliminate stigma.

I’m not asking you, mt readers and friends, to support this because I love Zara and Rikard … but because this story really needs to be told … it really really does! The story may bring tears … but that’s because it is real … and needs telling!

So get yourself over to the kickstart page and support this … PLEASE!

Seems I’m on the move …

IMG_0426Seems something new is happening.
An announcement was made today.
I’m on the move to St Barnabas.

I’m really excited and very daunted and sad at leaving Greenwich but hopeful of great things in Newham. A move in any type of ministry or work always produces mixed emotions I think. When I visited I loved the place and could picture myself there … and they seem to like me so I believe this is going to be quite exciting. And daunting! But I think I already said that!

Anyway … I don’t move until the end of July / beginning of August with a view to a September start …. so until then I’m continuing seeking God’s way here.

More of this at a later date I am sure …

life with tears

mark2-20180412155052320_webI was moved to tears when I read this article from the Church Times on Saturday morning. Mark Edwards is interviewed on his book ‘Life After care: From Lost Cause to MBA’. The title makes it obvious this is a story about the struggle that continues into adult life when you experience rejection from parents, or in Mark’s case, being taken into care away from his parents.

Mark shows courage in his sharing his story and there are some lines that particularly resonate …
“I have experienced the dark night of the soul. And sometimes I haven’t felt worthy of being a priest‘, and experiencing “bouts of depression that left him curled up like a baby’ as well as outlining childhood ‘fear when locked in a cupboard by foster carers’.

It’s hard to imagine, I think, if you’ve not been there what the effect of such experiences can be in a persons ongoing life. Mark sums this up, I believe, in a really truthful statement … when he admits that even today being asked to trust someone causes him to ‘bristle’.

I get this because when people who should naturally love you (in my case both parents) let you down and, worse, hurt you then trust for anyone and anything can be a real challenge. In fact I find sometimes that it can be near to impossible …. despite the overwhelming evidence that is there of love or approval and support from that  person, trusting in them or it seems a chasmous step. So much so that often when in a  ‘trust situation’, I have heard in my head  the words ‘well if my own mum couldn’t …. then why would I expect you too?!’

I think we can easily overlook this in church, believing that a faith in Jesus heals this and therefore should allow the person to move on …. it does, but not instantly, not completely, and not always. The image I have found most helpful and light giving in my darkest times are of the scarred Christ … the Christ in heaven with the open wounds in his hands, feet and side.

I believe I am healed, I am risen, but I also know that I still carry the scars … and if the scabs on those injuries are knocked or picked they can start to bleed again.

For Mark, as with others, he talks of people that believed in him, of people that gave time to him, of people thats saw the potential and saw what he could be if given some space, trust and support. I relate strongly to that and have many people that have been those time and permission givers to me.

As tears rolled down my cheeks reading through the article one of Mark’s statements jumped out and hit me …

Today, as Team Vicar of Christ the King, comprising Brunswick, Brunton Park, Dinnington, and North Gosforth, in the diocese of Newcastle, he considers himself to be in recovery, and determined to live in the present.

This is central to his prescription, as is taking responsibility for one’s actions. “I played the victim so long, I didn’t know how to be anything else,” he reflects. “There came a point when I had to stop blaming my past for bad decisions I was making in the present.”

It is a daily choice to make.
It is a difficult one.
It’s the right and necessary one.

Reading the article, wondering on my own situation has brought a few bubbling questions …

As church, as people, how do we allow people to make that step from victim?
How do we support those inside and outside our churches who don’t have that firm solid bedrock of loving parents that were supposed to look after them and give them that sure start?
Are there things that we do that actually make it worse, that keep people as victims?
Do we expect people to ‘move on’ when they have ‘found’ Jesus?
Do we support our leaders who struggle?
Are there people we should be giving time to?
Do we look for potential or for perfection?Do … are … how …can …what …

Lots of questions … and I’m sure lots more …. discuss …

Poor Clare

When I was in Seattle it was a joy to experience Lacey’s music and style of leading worship …. Lacey writes great songs with meaningful lyrics (personally I don’t think you can say that for a lot of contemporary worship stuff today).

I love this song ‘I stand with you’ because as Lacey says: ‘This song was written in response to the perpetual injustice faced by marginalized peoples of society. We stand with you. God stands with you.”

Check out the song and check out Poor Clare too. While you are there maybe spend some money too …