A new pattern

IMG_0099It’s been a pretty exciting week and I am now in a position to share something of what has been happening here on the Greenwich Peninsula. I am also conscious that I have been quiet too long and that I also need to reform the habit of being here more regularly as writing here helps me to reflect particularly when I receive your comments and opinions.

Since my licensing on September 4th I have been doing a lot of listening, praying, walking, talking, drinking coffee, listening, , listening,  more and … err listening! I think there have been a few beers, rums and whiskies there as well.

I have been asking the 12 members of Holy Trinity Greenwich Peninsula (from now on HT as that takes just too much writing!) what they love about HT, what they wish to change about HT and how they think we should ‘be’ in the future as christian community on the Peninsula.

There have been overwhelming common threads, although it is fair to say that there is not one model that will ft everyone. In the main there is general agreement that meeting on a Sunday morning at 11am just does not work for most people. Most of this community disappear at the weekend and those who belong to HT can only make that time every 3 or 4 weeks.

In addition I have heard people say they are too busy and that they do not ever have space to simply be with God and hear God speak into their lives. ‘There is no space to grow or feed my spirituality’ is a comment that struck a chord with me.

From December we will trial a new pattern for 3 months:
Sunday – 6pm contemplative service in the school
Wednesday 730pm meal, sharing bread & wine, and chat in ‘the vicarage’
Friday 730am Prayer and breakfast in ‘the vicarage’ (which I hope will move to the coffee shop)
in addition we will do things in both the coffee shop and the local pub such as pub theo and other things that raise our profile so that we can be a blessing and a support to this community.

None of us think we have the exact right pattern yet … but we are all keen to make a start and try something different for this space. This may or may not be the right pattern … but by trialling it I believe we will learn more about how we can be authentic christian community on this peninsula. I have to admit I am concerned with the attractional pattern we have developed … but I feel also that it is an important part of our process.

I feel privileged to be part of this group. I do not think there are many church leaders who have the privilege of being with a congregation who unanimously and actively are seeking to change so that they can engage both meaningfully and relevantly with the people of their community. I feel excited about what this change will bring. I feel daunted as I lead and encourage these people into we know not where.

so … again … watch this space…. pray with us as we dream of a way forward

I am doing a new thing …

I have come to draw significant strength and encouragement from the Daily Office over the last few years since being ordained. I tend to follow a pattern of using Morning Prayer from Common Worship in the morning and then something else for the evening … which could be COTA liturgy, or stuff from the Northumbria Community, or Moot and sometimes Common Worship again.

Morning Prayer for the next few weeks (called the season from All Saints Day until the day before the First Sunday of Advent ….. (why use one word can you can make up a whole sentence!!))

I know some people struggle with set prayers and saying the same wortds over and over again. I find, however, that as I say familiar words, or words set down, that God breaks in in some unexpected ways. I have been massively struck, challenged and resonated with the words of the canticle, A Song of the new Creation,  said each morning during this season:

1‘I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.
2Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
3‘Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
4‘Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
5‘I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
6‘The people whom I formed for myself,
that they might declare my praise.’

As a pioneer this is a canticle that I have read, re-read, loved, hated, been inspired by and been frustrated by. But these words of God, that come from Isaiah 43, remind me that God is working, and that God is working in fresh new ways.

I received two very encouraging emails this morning and one spoke of a time spent in Jordan trying to look for Canaan as Moses did. This person shared how their view was obscured due to the dense pollution that is now there, and then went on to offer maybe we need to struggle through the pollution to see the promised land.

I believe that person to be very wise. Not just in my patch, but in most places, there is pollution, both obvious and more subtle, that we may well need to see through, or plough through, before we can start to see where it is God is taking us or what in fact God is doing.

One thing, however, I am sure of …. I may not yet quite perceive it …. but God is doing a new thing …..