starting again and deep water

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.

licensedMany 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!

Look again at ‘Look, I’m wearing all the colours’ …

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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!

Thanks.

turning tables

IMG_0250One of the things I love about living in London, and on The Peninsula in particular, is the beautiful diversity of both cultures and experiences that are embodied in the stories of people I regularly come cross.

As Team Vicar for HTGP I have been blessed  on recent Sunday’s when other people have brought the homily. A few weeks ago Tim, who comes from a justice and trade union background in the States challenged us in standing up and speaking out. Next Sunday, Barbara who is a retired priest who spent a lot of her ministry in the Diocese of Europe will bring the homily from her unique perspective. This last Sunday, Confidence, an incredible ordained man from Ghana shared a homily on the set passage for the day, with Jesus turning over the tables in the temple.

I was particularly struck by the depth of the way that Confidence unpacked the passage. It was simply beautiful to hear him reflect on his childhood playing with his friends in the forest and trapping birds and at some stage being spoken to by the elders as they had moved onto sacred ground. From this story Confidence related and resonated so well with Jesus getting angry with the temple authorities as he turned over those tables.

I remember being totally enthralled by Confidence’s story and smiling as I re-learned that the Jesus story is more than universal, it crosses all boundaries, filters and may be found in all types of stories, challenges, excites and reaffirms all peoples … no matter where they are, who they are, what they think about themselves or how they have been treated.  Maybe as a Christian I become a bit blasé sometimes about how truly amazing our story really is.

Why not listen to Confidence (and others)  here.

 

variety

UnknownAnother good varied day today.
After starting the day with centring prayer I visited Trinity School to meet with Juliet, the chaplain at the school. Bishop Christopher suggested we met as I am working with the staff at our Blackheath site and looking at how we might inclusivly introduce Eucharist as part of our worship in school.

I spent a great couple of hours talking with Juliet, we shared lots of ideas and it was really quite refreshing to meet with another creative person who is attempting to try new things in different places. I learned a lot from my time with Juliet and loved some of the ideas she has for working in schools …. and I am going to shamelessly adopt them (with her full generous permission of course!) Sometimes just chatting helps …so thanks Juliet for your time.

Keeping with the chaplain being I then spoke at the Easter Service at our Peninsula site. I used the Easter Banner from Mission Magic:

and it seemed to go down well with the children … and adults. And the secret … well, bobs, I can’t tell you!

Following that the working day ended with Mindful(l) our meditations session …. always a great way to end a day! Why not sign up here for next weeks meditation session.

The day of a team vicar / school chaplain can be a varied one!

Dance Ecstatically!

dancers-graphicI have been enjoying being challenged (again) by the daily meditations of Richard Rohr this past week.

This last week Rohr has been writing about Trinity. I was particularly reminded by Richard of how history has often fed people the patriarchal / supreme monarch / critical spectator and disinterested image of God.

That’s not the image of God I hold. It’s not the character of the God I follow. Richard correctly points out that we become like the God we worship. If our image of God is a God who separates and is prejudiced and discriminates then we become that person too.

I have for some time had a real issue with Augustine’s theology of original sin. In my reading ‘the fall’ comes a little while after God looks at the world and says ‘it is good’ before then looking at humankind and saying ‘They are VERY good’.

How can Augustine describe something created by God, in the image of God, labelled ‘very good’ by God to be embroiled in an original de facto layer of sin?!

If we view ourselves as created ‘in sin’ then our image of God is bound to be warped. It is quite difficult to believe in a God who loves us totally if we are then expected to believe that God sees us as full of crap and sin and stuff! To me … that does not hold with being created in the image of a loving and caring and fully engaged with us God.

Because God created us…. we are all loved and accepted totally by God …. just as we are with no need to change or be anything else other than the people we have been created to be.

This weeks daily readings have reminded me of this stuff which can be quite difficult to hold on to in a society that judges us according to how we look, how hard we workand how much we earn.
Every Saturday Richard Rohr gives a task to help us bed the weeks meditations …. I looked forward to Saturdays and it did not disappoint!:

Practice: Ecstatic Dance

God cannot be known by thinking but by experiencing and loving. As you read about the theological framework and practical implications of Trinity, I hope you will take many opportunities to explore this concept in your lived experience.

Here’s one way you might play—with a childlike spirit—and feel Trinity’s flow in your body. You may even lose track of where you, the dancer, end and the dance itself begins.

Choose a favorite or new piece of music—classical, world, contemporary; anything that calls you to move!—and find a place in which you can listen and move without inhibition, barefooted if possible.

Allow your body to lead, following the invitation of the music. Let your mind take a back seat and tune in to the sensations of each part of your body.

Feel your feet connect with the ground. Let limbs and joints turn and bend as they will. Swing and sway your head, shoulders, hips. Sink deep into your body, remembering what it is to be a human animal.

Dance until you are pleasantly tired and then gradually slow your movements, perhaps to another musical tempo. Continue moving in smaller, gentler ways: breathe deeply, stretch your arms and legs, roll your head.

Come to a seated position and rest in stillness.

So …. remember you are VERY good …. created in the image of a loving concerned and very involved God ….

so
go
dance
Ecstatically!

Ashing, Eating and Awesome

ashwednesdayToday has been a busy day, but one of those days where you feel good to be alive, thankful for beautiful friends and mindful of just the awesomeness of some of the things I find myself involved in.

The day started at our secondary school where I was asked to take an Ash Wednesday service. We offered ashes to the students …. and I was totally thrown to see so many, more than 100 in all, lining and waiting for me to ash their foreheads or hands while saying ‘remember you are dust and to dust you shall return …’ The atmosphere in the hall was one of great dignity, respect and reverence. It was a complete privilege to be part of such a great event.

Following this I visited another one of our schools to work with the pupil faith team. We have just finished writing the school prayer (we being the whole school community but the students in the main) and today we were planning an assembly in which we plan to introduce the prayer to the ret of the school community. Again, I was in awe of the ideas that these amazing primary school students were putting together.

I then popped to Stanmore to see one of my best friends who is currently in hospital. Her bravery and determination was just beautiful to see. She is a real inspiration to many, myself included and today reminded me that good friends are like gold dust … and we really should make more time to appreciate those special meaningful friendships.

The day ended with Agapai where we ate together, prayed together, watched this short video together and then chatted about Ash Wednesday and Lent. The evening then drew to a close as it had started …. with me ashing the people of Agapai with the same words I used in the morning … ‘remember you are dust and to dust you shall return’

Those words have hit me in many different ways today …
Saying it to over 100 energetic full or promise 11 years olds this morning was incredibly moving and quite choking ….
Saying to to the old lady on the tube who requested them after she noticed my ashed forehead and dog collar gave me an opportunity to hear her story and her desire to ‘go home’
Saying them tonight at Agapai with people I am getting to know and admire in a great ways hit me as a concrete way of serving those around me
Saying them tonight, to myself, at the end of the day as I write and reflect …. causes me to challenge myself and ask what is this Lent going to mean to me, and how am I going to use my life from now on …. because …. one day I was formed from ash …. so it follows one day I will return.
Amen.

mind-ful (l)? launch

mindful-jpegTonight we ran our first Mindfulness Meditation session on the Peninsula. It’s great to be able to do this in partnership with the people of Now Gallery.

We used the John Main school of meditation and his use of the mantra or sacred word such as maranatha or metanoia.

This was the first event HTGP has done like this …. and there was not as many there as I thought there would be based on feedback …. but also there was not as few there as my worst fear would have liked me to believe.

Tonight was a good start which I hope we will build on … not so we look good or can say how many people we are serving … but because we genuinely believe this is what the people of the area need in their lives …. time to just be and discover or rediscover ‘stuff’. In the feedback slips everyone felt their stress level had dropped which is why we are there!

So …. if you feel you missed out … same time and same place next Tuesday!