surprised with time

fullsizeoutput_b36I’m finding that I’m still loving the change that this new role is brining …. the change of people, the change of location, the change in culture, the change in outlook, the change in who to go to with questions, the change in how to deal with change.

A large part of the answer to that question comes from prayer. So, after saying I would not change things too much for a while, on my first Monday I re-started Morning Prayer from Monday to Friday in the church. It has been a real encouragement and blessing to say that I have never been on my own and that anything between 2 and 4 of us pray each morning at 8am for around 20 minutes. I feel that this commitment to pray together is the first of many stages for us as St Barnabas as we try to understand more of what God is doing in the area that God wishes us to join in with.

One of the biggest changes I think I am enjoying is that people here have time for people not just in our parish but across the whole of Newham. No one seems to rush off to do other things, preferring to ‘catch up’ or ‘share something’ or ‘simply listen’. Im loving that people seem to value people in this crazy new setting I find myself in. (and to be clear, and to avoid offending, I am not saying people were not interested in people in other locations that I have been.. I am just saying that in Newham it is far more noticeable).

Yesterday I attended my first chapter meeting. The food was great, the conversations were helpful and the information shared from the diocese via the Area Dean were meaningful and will help me in my ongoing ministry. It was great to join chapter as one of 5 new people in the area. There is a great mix of people with some being here a short while to those who have been ministering here for well over 20 years. I love that there is such a great and diverse group of people for us to share with, support and learn from. I was even asked for advice which helped me to feel part of things right from the start.

Ministry is always full of surprises and the most exciting time yesterday came from a  ring on the doorbell. I opened the door to find a young woman with her 10 month old daughter wanting to ask about baptism. It was such an amazing chat that we had as I was pretty aware how difficult it must have been for this person to ring the bell on the outside of this quite large, maybe intimidating, building with a monster of a front door! I am so looking forward to working with this family and welcoming them in what I hope will be a powerful and life changing experience of God for them. And the great thing to remember … is that there is no pressure there at all …. I/we just need to turn up …  the rest is up to God and no one else.

 

i could write about …

IMG_1079Ok … I know I’ve been quiet
It was forced on me … no broadband for nearly 7 weeks has been a challenge to me …. so tethering to my phone has forced me to use data wisely.
blogging does not fit into that wise use when you need to concentrate on emails and stuff!

Since yesterday, however, I have been connected again.
No more data watching …. but now I have too much to put into a post
I don’t know what to blog about …

I could write about …
– the excitement of meeting with the Serbian Orthodox church who meet in the St Barnabas lady Chapel twice a month (see the pic)
– the amazement of visiting the Trinity Centre that does an outstanding amount of of community work and support
– my thoughts on how I feel about being in the minority as I walk around this beautifully diverse neighbourhood and try to understand
– our first PCC meeting where we had loads of laughter and sharing of great stuff
– the wonderful cakes that are baked my people of the congregation and they way they just love hanging out together (our service finishes at around 10.30 and people were still drinking coffee/eating cake/chatting an hour later …. that is so special to see!
– the fact I am already on first name terms with a local landlord and talking about Christmas
– getting to chat with great people from the Schools Trust and exploring how we can work together
– the pub theology group that meets in the morning in the pub …. coffee only being drunk of course!
– visiting the Tate to see Shape of Light and The Clock alone and with friends
– having the honour of good friend Rikard staying and now having a copy of the beautifully painful book ‘Look, I’m wearing all the colours’ which makes me smile and cry in equal measure

Maybe I will go into more detail of some of those over the next few days
It’s been a pretty active time

so … seems I am back in the world of blog … it feels good!

 

cramped space

IMG_0995It’s easy to do … and I think already, now 14 days in, I fell into a bit of a cramped / space / busy situation trap. As I kinda said in my last post without actually saying it; there is a mass of stuff to learn here. The juxtaposition of a rich array of different cultures, values, interests, concerns, lifestyles is pretty mind-blowing.

In that desire to learn, to gather info, to meet people, to make friends, to start to put roots, to seek to understand, to find people and places of peace, to watch God, to ask more, to think ‘what is God doing here?’, ‘What is church in this setting?’ and also ‘what does ‘mission’ look like here?’ ….. it’s easy to pack a diary and leave little room for thinking or for processing what is being said.

Yesterday was set to be a busy day.
I had a sermon to think on, reading to do and appointments to make.
A BT person came to sort out the faulty phone line in the church.
I was waiting for Virgin Media to give me a phone line and internet connection.
At about 8:45 am, after Morning Prayer in the chapel, I left the vicarage with the church keys.
I closed the vicarage door. As my arm was pulling closed the door my brain was shouting ‘Noooo!’ My arm ignored my brain.
No keys
Well … wrong keys … church keys … not vicarage keys
No phone
No wallet
and really rather dire …. I was outside with NO HAT!

I stayed relatively calm, after a little panic and angry with myself moment,  and felt God say …. ‘I need you … just you!’
As I pondered what that meant I started to chat with people who stand outside the vicarage waiting for the bus. I chatted in the vestry with the BT engineer. I chatted with some of the congregation who were passing. As I sat in the vestry I suddenly realised I had unexpected space to think about what I was hearing.
The space allowed ‘stuff’ to settle, to work it’s way into my thinking.
i chatted with more people and was more ‘available’ …. which is something I may have been fooling myself into thinking I was being.

On the situation … my amazing church warden had an old key to one of the locks on my front door which worked. And I have learned a valuable lesson … In this new space it is vital and important and imperative that I meet people, watch things, see what is going on and learn as much as I can … but all of that is lost if I allow myself to be cramped by meetings and the urgency of the task without having space to think, to reflect, and come up with more questions and maybe some ideas.

I think it’s not so much a new lesson learned … but an old secret remembered … for the next few days at least!

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.

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 …

 

a great day

DSC_0415I love days like today ….
a long day ….
full of a variety of things
where I am doing a lot of the  stuff I feel I am ok at and that energise me
rather than those draining things that no one likes to do …

The day started in school as I chatted to parents about baptism while on ‘gate duty’.
After having a cup of tea with a member of staff, I rushed off to our secondary school to take the Harvest service …
Did this little trick as part of my talk from my friends at Mission Magic:

It seemed some of the staff and students were pretty impressed as I had a lot of good feedback … and it was fun with a great Harvest message … bonus!

I then rushed to another school to have chat with a member of staff as well as do some self esteem work with a pupil …. before then popping home to prepare food for tonight’s Agapai.

As I knew we had new people coming tonight to Agapai I played safe and produced a vegetarian dish and sorted some stuff in the bread maker … and then I made it back to the secondary school for the prospective Year 7 Open Evening. Here I had some great conversations with current students, staff and prospective new parents.

Finally I got home after 7 in time to finish the meal for tonight Agapai and take the bread out of the bread maker! Tonight we had a great chat, we shared a little of our stories and passions … we had new people … and we ended by praying for each other before sharing some bread and wine with a few of the words from the Northumbria Community’s Eucharist liturgy.

I feel so flipping energised!
The day has flown by ….
… but I feel I have done some of the stuff I was created to do today
So today is a good day
Not perfect … as some things and some people are missing …
but a good day …. and tonight … I am content with that.

Tonight I will be finishing my day with tonight’s Northumbria Community Compline:

The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,
under me to uphold me,
about me to protect me,
behind me to direct me,
ever with me to save me.
Amen 

 

what a weekend

poster latest .jpegIt’s been a pretty amazing weekend!
For the last few months I have been pretty involved in the planning and running of the first ever Residents Association Summer Fayre. I was part of an amazing team that caught a big vision of local traders, local artists, local musicians, local foodies …. you get it …. local local local …. getting together to put on some sort of festival which would be enjoyed by local people. The vision for the event was that local people would have an opportunity to showcase themselves o that local residents could then make contact with them in some capacity throughout the rest of the year.

We received lottery funding, we received sponsorship from some amazing people and organisations and we put on a pretty cool and great event! We had 400 – 500 people throughout the day.

I had some amazing conversations with people and particularly loved the conversation which went something like ‘I’ve got friends who are Christian and vote Tory …. how does that work?!!!’ You know I would have agreed wholeheartedly with this person …. (now don’t go bashing me Christian Tory friends …. because I am not saying you ain’t Christian or rubbish like that …. I’m just saying I don’t get your voting choices! Two different things!)

The atmosphere at the event was amazing. Lots of people talking to each other and some people now, a few days later, making links and sharing conversations of Facebook …. which has got to be good as talking is how community starts …. and we need more community here.

Some people did ask why there was no Holy Trinity logo on the sponsor list considering the amount of time I had given  …. my response was that, for me, the role of church is to bless community and help community to grow and to inspire community … but most of all to serve community. We don’t need recognition for people to know we are serving … that should show in our attitude of being willing to just get involved and bless. I hope we did.

So … my hopes from this is that community will develop, that we will interact more on the peninsula and that we, as church, can understand more about how we can bless this community. Working behind the scenes to help this community grow is something that church does , or should do, and it’s exciting to see. Obviously we also want HTGP to grow (you’d surely expect a vicar to want that!) and maybe when people see us they will become interested … but if they don’t … nothing will change …. we will continue to serve, and to bless, and to get involved … because that is what we are called to do here. That will not stop.

Thanks planning team, thanks musicians, thanks stall holders, thanks funders, thanks concierge and porters and village manager, thanks bouncy castle people, thanks millers ark people, thanks food vans …. and thanks to those of you who came.