street wisdom …

5b1b93306e454When you move to a new area you need to meet people.
The only way I know how to do this is to be out and about … cafes. pubs, music venues, the street at key times of the day.
Sometimes, though, I don’t feel up to the vulnerability level that getting out there on my own places me in and so I need to collect ‘tools’ to help me.
People sometimes say I’m brave to minister the way I do … I’m not sure that’s the case but it is true that I often go out scared, wondering what I might come across, how I may be reacted to and what will happen. But … that is part of the role so if you can be brave while terrified then … well … that’s ok I guess.

A precursor to all these is to wander around the streets in a prayer walk. I have already lost count of how many times I have prayer walked around the new parish … that sounds pious … it’s not but just merely be focussing in on the fact that I believe nothing happens without prayer and, in these early weeks, part from meeting people all there is to do IS pray!

At my tutorial at CMS with Cathy Ross on Monday we were talking about this and she suggested I try Street Wisdom as some kind of tool to work with. Essentially the concept is tying some exercises to heighten your observation skills on the street before gong on a ‘quest’ (taking a question out and looking for answers on the street).

My description does it no justice so what I suggest is look at the website, download the free audio guide and give it a go. I wanders and saw my patch is a new way, even after just a few weeks of being here. Slowing down and listening, looking, smelling and just noticing was quite an amazing experience. I was surprised by what hit me, and the message I received.

IMG_1140I was walking down one street asking my question (which was ‘what is this community yearning for?’) when I stumbled across this great big sign saying ‘one way’. I don’t really do ‘one way’ things and kind of found is amusing that I had planned, and went, in the opposite direction. I felt an answer developing that was saying there is more than one way, and part of the issue is that, in the past, one way has prevented the right way.

As I continued to wander I came across some garages attached to flats. These garages had

been gated off (I’m guessing by the council) and had been boarded up. They spoke of desolation. I felt they had been ripped away from those that had cared for them. As I looked, I saw a real beauty and potential in them. I was nervous, at first, wandering their on my own (that vulnerability thing again) but as I disappeared from sight of the community i felt the space to be one of great peace and welcome rather than threat and fearsome. I guess that could be different on any other time than 3pm on a sunny day!

As I continued with my quest i got a growing sense that the answer was something along the lines of ‘being cared for’ or simply ‘being loved’. Maybe that seems an obvious answer and maybe we could argue every community is looking for that But … this came from listening to and watching my streets; so its not just about being loved but about being loved in a way that means something … and that will be the next quest …. ‘what does loving look like here?’

I’m wandering … not lost …

life_s_journey_by_annakoutsidou-d6f3c0zI don’t know what to do.
I’m not sure where to go.
I have no idea where to start.
But I feel comfortable with all of that as I wander around this new place of mine searching for signs … of something … i”m not even sure what I am looking for!

My thinking has been challenged as I have tried to communicate in some of the shops. I was quite shocked to find myself thinking ‘why don’t people understand me?‘ …. after all it is me that has moved in to a new area … the correct question to ask myself is ‘why don’t I understand people here?‘; surely I have some responsibility to work out how to communicate in a meaningful way.

So … I seek to undertand.
The only way I know how to do that is by rubbing shoulders with people in the locations around me. I don’t quite know where these places are yet. To find them I wonder, purposefully but aimlessly, not sure of where my journey will take me, but going nonetheless. So I wonder, in no particular pattern, looking, listening, waiting, watching and responding when it’s right to do so.

I always find this stage of ‘starting anew’ exciting and terrifying. Some days I can be out easily doing that watching and waiting stuff. Today I hid in front of the computer. I was doing necessary work … well not necessary but work for Sunday … but it has not helped the wandering and discovering. Sometimes, it is just too hard to go out again … to put myself in that place of vulnerabilty … waiting to see what happens …. but tomorrow will be another day … with more opportunities … and more chances to wander.

So I may look lost.
I may seem Idea-less.
(maybe I am!)
But I wander intentionally, with purpose, while I search.

A prayer that I hold on to at this stage is that of Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

 

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.

 

Disturb our control (gpcu ongoing)

man lookingA little while ago we had our PCC Awayday and welcomed Laurence Gamlen as our facilitator.

We looked at the challenges of each part of the parish and presented in much a similar way the we did at Deanery Synod last week. At the away day, however, I got people to dance to an ever changing tune, rather than eat different flavoured skittles, to illustrate that our community keeps changing.

Towards the end of the day, Laurence reflected and questioned whether we needed God to ‘disturb our control’.

I have reflected on that for a while … asking that ever necessary question of
‘Am I allowing God to be God here and lead me or am I trying to force things of my own ideas’.
‘Am I giving God enough space to influence my thinking … and am I listening to God or merely playing lip service?’
‘Am I trying to control this or am I letting this develop freely and organically?’
I think they are healthy questions for all in any form of ministry  to be asking and reflecting on regularly.
Very regularly.

If I am trying to control I certainly want God to come and disturb that.
While reflecting I have re-discovered this prayer attributed to Francis Drake …. I’ve blogged about it before, but it seems appropriate to remind myself again ….

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Lord ….
prevent me from sailing too close to the shore ….
to push into your future with strength,
courage,
love
and hope.
Amen!

gpcu pt 6: prayer & pastry

prayer and pastryOne of the first things I started after arriving at HTGP was Prayer and Pastry on a Friday morning. I think it is really important that a community has opportunities to come together to pray.

Prayer & Pastry is an opportunity for anyone that wants to to start their day in prayer and grab a sort of breakfast before launching themselves in to the day ahead.

Sometimes we use standard morning prayer from from Common Worship, while other times we replace some of the service of morning prayer with an examen type meditation.

Being able to check in with each other before getting on with the day is always good … particularly while consuming great (not just good … but GREAT Monmouth or Has Bean coffee and a pastry of some description).

So … Friday mornings … 8am …. maybe see you sometime?

 

a collect for peace

sometimes … all we can do is pray …

C7iJxb3WkAAstW1

walking for change

12642677_947115258675954_1567955323478933877_nToday I walked around the Peninsula with Alastair, who is on placement with the East Greenwich Team Ministry prior to him training for ordination. We chatted and prayed as we walked around the new buildings.

As we embark on something new here as the church on the Peninsula, prayer walking is, to me, a necessary pre-requisite. This is how I started things in Rochester and then again in Gillingham. I don’t know why … sometimes it makes no sense … because, after all, God knows everything and knows what I will pray about …. but for some reason, i know that without prayer things do not seem to happen. With prayer things do seem to happen! Simples!

For me, today was a big encouragement. I often walk around the Peninsula as the ‘parish priest’ but walking around with a like minded person today seemed more intentional and focussed.

As I walk, I guess I am looking for people who are interested in joining me on this weird journey of trying to birth and grow a new way of being church here on the Peninsula. I am convinced there are people here who have a faith and are interested in being part of developing something new.

Please pray I may find some of those people soon.