Saying Grace

Saying grace is to say thank you
thank you to God
for the food we are about to eat
for the world which God created with
so much to nourish us.

Saying grace is to say thank you
it is recognise that food is a gift –
a gift to be looked after
a gift to be shared
a gift to be celebrated.
There is nothing better than to enjoy a good meal
but food is an endless mystery –
that from tiny seeds can come so much abundance
that the climate of a world has just the right conditions for life and the feeding of life.
Creation is a delicate balance of sunshine and rain
of rich soils and natural pollinators and bug-eating insects and birds.

Saying grace is to say thank you
to bow our heads before we lift our forks*
to slow down in a fast-food world
and marvel at the wonder of creation’s cuisine
and be grateful that this day we will not go hungry
that today we will taste the goodness of the world God has created.

Saying grace is to say thank you
thank you to those that farm and sow,
who rear and grow
the animals and crops we eat and digest.
Saying grace is to say thank you
it is to recognise that without those who farm,
without those who plant and plough
we would go hungry.
As we are dependent on the grace of God
so we are also dependent on those who work the land
both in this country and far away.
The food we eat does not grow in supermarkets
but has nearly always travelled hundreds and thousands of miles
before it turns up in our kitchens;
and many have worked long days and for little return
and so saying grace is to say thank you
for them
and to them, too.
It is to say we believe that those who farm
should not themselves go hungry
that we might fill our plates;
that those who farm on our behalf
should be given a fair and living wage
and so saying grace is to say thank you
and is an act of calling us to change our ways
our shopping habits, our spending power
in solidarity and for the justice of the world.

Saying grace is to say thank you
And so remember that as we eat
there are others who have nothing to eat
and so we pray that the whole world
will be given this day its daily bread
and so we join our voice with Christian Aid
and Tearfund, and Oxfam and Cafod
as they knock on government doors
in Westminster and Washington
in Brussels and New York
for trade justice,
for the end of poverty
for bread to be shared
for the worth of every life.

Saying grace is to say thank you
But it is much more as well
It is a pledge
To work and act
For the coming of the kingdom
And the welcome of all to God’s great banquet.

* This whole piece was inspired by the work of Norman Wirzba, but this line is all his, see Making Peace with the Land (IVP, 2012), p.131.

 


Between Cross and Resurrection

Between cross and resurrection*
There is only silence
A body dead in a closed tomb

Between cross and resurrection
There is only sorrow
Grief caught in the horror and the loss

Between cross and resurrection
There is only looking
For a sign of hope, a sign of life

Between cross and resurrection
Is where we find our lives
Trapped in the space between death and living
Struggling to believe another world is possible
Seeking to make sense of the whys and the wheres

Between cross and resurrection
Is where we wait
Wedged in the space between despair and hope
Where time stands still
Where reality plays games with our senses
Where a chapter is ended
And no possibility of a new one beginning

Between cross and resurrection
In silence, in sorrow, looking
Struggling, seeking, waiting

*This phrase is borrowed from Alan Lewis' brilliant book of the same name: Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy saturday


A Tenebrae Reading

Betrayal
'What will you give?'
And Jesus is betrayed
A shadow is cast
A death comes closer
Was this all planned
Months and years before?
Or it the betrayer
Feeling betrayed by a Jesus
Who is the messiah wanted?

One, two, three
Thirty coins in all
A life bought for
A month's manual labour
At the table
A meal to remember
Bread is broken
Wine is poured
A visible sign
To a new passover coming

The betrayal is known
The betrayed as knowledge
'One of you' he says
'Surely not I'
All the disciples reply

Denial
The one who is betrayed
Will be also the one who is denied
As it is written
As Zechariah spoke
'When the shepherd is struck
The sheep will scatter'
'Not I'
A bold Peter replies
But Jesus predicts
Before the night is over
Before the cock crows
Three times will Peter's boldness
Give way to fear
The shadow grows longer
The darkness stretches out

Anguish
In the garden
Overwhelmed with sorrow
Lost in anguish
'Take this cup'
- let there be another way
A different road
An alternative path -
But then
With deep resolve
'Not my will but yours'
Jesus prays
The disciples sleep
Jesus prays
The disciples sleep

Treachery
Arriving on the scene
With swords and clubs
A crowd with religious consent
And at their head
Judas
Who betrays with a kiss
Not a sign of love
Not a greeting of peace
But a slap in the face

Seized and arrested
Jesus is led away
And the disciples scatter
Run for their lives
Head for the hills
Friends disunited
Shadows surround
Only the night lies ahead

Deceit
'Are you the Christ ...
The son of the blessed one?'

Silent has Jesus been
Mute in the face of condemning claims
But now he speaks
Two words
'I am'
Into the darkness of the night
Into this midnight trial
A legal sham
At his most vulnerable
Where he is seemingly powerless
He names himself
With the name of God

Hypocrisy
Jesus
Now stood before Pilate
Silent and still
No sound does he make
No word does he speak

Pilate is bewildered at this
Strange mute preacher
No crime to be found
And so
To the crowd
He asks
'Barabbas or Jesus?'
For the former they shout
For the latter they condemn
A rebel's death to die

Hands are washed
Innocence is declared
But no one is fooled
Pilate's conscience is stained
As
Barabbas is freed
And
Jesus is sentenced
His life to be ended

Humiliation
Clothed in purple
Crowned with thorns
Mocked with homage
Led out to die

All is darkness
All is shadow
Death's door is open
The long road will find it's end
At calvary hill


The City in Scripture

Last friday was first chapel of the term and the first in a series of reflections on the theme of the city in the Old Testament. I put together the following reflection.

The city is not a modern invention
but can be found at the start of the story of humanity
And Cain built a city (Gen 4.17)
and it was not long after the earth was flooded
when humanity gathered again and said
‘Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves …' (Gen 11.4)
The city is not a modern invention
But a human creation
From the earliest days
An attempt at the transcendent
A permanent symbol of our godlike desires

For David and Israel
The city became God’s home
The mountain where he dwelled
The city of Zion, the joy of the whole earth (Ps 46)
For the kings that followed
The city they believed was everlasting
Established forever
But faithless hearts
Led to destruction and exile
And Israel wept in
By the rivers of Babylon (Ps 137)
The city’s fall from splendour to rubble

The city is a place where
Life can flourish, culture is cultivated
Beauty is nourished, and goodness can grow
For the psalmist says that
God is in the midst of the city (Ps 46.5)
And one day its gates will never be shut (Rev 22)

The city is also the place where
Demons can dwell, and foul spirits can haunt (Rev 18.2)
Injustice can reign, and blood is shed
Where the psalmist says that
I see violence and strife in the city … ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace (Ps 55)

Jeremiah says ‘seek the city’s welfare’ (Jer 29.7)
The psalmist says ‘pray for peace' (Ps 122)
Micah says The voice of the Lord cries to the city … (Micah 6.6)
angry at its unjust scales and its dishonest words,
at its violent hearts, and its wicked ways
John of Patmos says Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins (Revelation 18.4)
Jesus saw and wept for the city (Lk 19.41)
and then a week later was crucified on a hill outside it’s walls

The city is not a modern invention
its design is in God
what is yet fragile and unformed
will come to be
transfigured and transformed
I saw a new heaven and new earth
For the first heaven and first earth had passed away
and God showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem
descending out of heaven from God
(Rev 21.1-2)
The city to come is not
Quartered, partitioned, and zoned
People are not divided by post-code and prejudice
But says the prophet
Its gate shall not be shut at all by day
(there shall be no night there)
(Rev 21.25)
Blessed are those who do his commandments
That they may have the right to enter through the gates
Through the city
(Rev 22.14)


tenebrae service

This evening I organised with the help of Hilary Jappy (a member at Bunyan) a tenebrae service. I was first introduced to the creative delights of a tenebrae service by Maggi, when Hannah and I made a visit to Robinson College Chapel back in 2005. Ever since, I've hoped to find an opportunity to plan a similar like service. So thanks to Maggi (we borrow your structure), Geoff for some of the music ideas, to the person who put together this version of the service and all those involved tonight. Here's what we did :-

As people arrived ‘Passio’ - Sanctuary, The Heart Has Its Reasons [track 8, 8.25min]

Introduction and Explanation

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross    (verses 1, 3, 4)

1. THE SHADOW OF BETRAYAL                                          

R4: (Psalm 41:9)
    A reading from the Psalms:                        
    Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
R2:  (Matthew 26:6-25)
    Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant.
R3:    Why this waste?"   
R4:    This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.
R2:    Aware of this, Jesus said to them,
R1:    Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful
thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but
you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
R2:    Then one of the Twelve--the one called Judas Iscariot--
    went to the chief priests and asked
R4:    What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?
R2:    So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.
    From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
R3:    Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
R1:    Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.
R2:    So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said,
R1:    I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.
R2:    They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other,
R3:    Surely not I, Lord?
R1:    The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
R2:    Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said,
R4:    Surely not I, Rabbi?
R1:    Yes, it is you

(coins thrown onto the floor)
Music ‘Part One: Exposition – Canons’ - John Law, The Art of Sound Volume One
(slices of lemon are passed round – the bitter taste of betrayal)

2. THE SHADOW OF DENIAL                                                

R4:  (Zechariah 13:7)
    A reading from the prophet Zechariah
    "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
    against the man who is close to me!"
    declares the LORD Almighty.
    "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered...."
R1:  (John 10:14-15)
    I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know
me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and
    I lay down my life for the sheep.
R1: (Matthew 26:31,33-35)
    This very night you will all fall away on account of me,
    for it is written:
R4:    ‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’.
R3:    Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.
R1:    I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster
crows, you will disown me three times.
R3:    Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.
R2:  And all the other disciples said the same.

(sound of a rooster crowing and the words ‘I do not know the man’)
Sing Jesus remember me - Taize               

3. THE SHADOW OF SEPARATION                                       

R4:   (Psalm 13)
     A reading from the Psalms:
     How long o Lord? Will you forget me forever?
     How long will you hide your face from me?
     How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in
     my heart all day long?
      Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
R1:   (John 16.16-20)
      A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a
      little while, and you will see me.
R2:   Then some of his disciples said to one another,
R3:   What does he mean by saying to us, “A little while, and
      you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and
      you will see me”; and “Because I am going to the Father”?
R2:   Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them
R1:   Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I  said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

(Piece of cloth torn apart in three places and the words – the pain of separation, the agony of being torn apart, the ache of being broken-hearted)
Sing How long o Lord – Brian Doerksen

4. THE SHADOW OF ANGUISH                                                

R4: (Psalm 31:9-14)
    A reading from the Psalms:
Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.
    My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning;
    my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.
    Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbours;
    I am a dread to my friends --
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
    I am forgotten by them as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.
    For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side;
    they conspire against me and plot to take my life.
    But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."
R2: (Mark 14:32-41)
    They went to a place called Gethsemane,
    and Jesus said to his disciples,
R1:    Sit here while I pray.
R2:    He took Peter, James and John along with him,
    and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
R1:    My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, 
    Stay here and keep watch.
R2:    Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed
    that if possible the hour might pass from him.
R1:    Abba, Father, everything is possible for you.
    Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.
R2:    Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.
R1:    Simon, are you asleep?
    Could you not keep watch for one hour?
    Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
    The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
R2:    Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them,
R1:    Are you still sleeping and resting?  Enough!  The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

(silver cup on stand)
Sing Stay with me - Taize               
Music ‘Carlotta’ - Ennio Morrione, The Mission [track 6, 1.18min]

5.THE SHADOW OF TREACHERY                                               

R4: (Genesis 37.18-20, 23-24a)
    A reading from the book of Genesis:
    They saw Joseph from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. They said to one another,
R3:     Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what becomes of his dreams.
R4: So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the coat of many colours that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit.
R2: (Mark 14.43-50)
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,
R4:     The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.
R2:     So when he came, he went up to him at once and said,
R4:     Rabbi!
R2:     and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested
him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them
R1:     Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.
R2:     All of them deserted him and fled.

(the words 'the kiss of Judas was a slap in the face' followed by the speaker being slapped)
Music ‘Betrayal and desolation’ - James Horner, Braveheart [track 13, 1.25min fadeout]
Sing My Lord What Love Is This - Graham Kendrick (verse 1 and chorus only)

6.THE SHADOW OF HYPOCRISY                                          

R1: (Isaiah 53:7)   
    A reading from the prophet Isaiah:                   
He was oppressed and afflicted; yet he did not open his mouth;
    he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth. 
R2:    (Matthew 27.15-24)
Now at the festival the governor Pilate was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them
R4:  Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?
R2:  For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him
R3: Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.
R2:     Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them,
R4:     Which of the two do you want me to release for you?
R3:     Barabbas.
R4:     Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?
R3:     Let him be crucified!
R4:     Why, what evil has he done?
R3:  Let him be crucified!
R2:     So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water [pause as Jug of water is poured into big metal bowl] and washed his hands before the crowd, saying
R4: I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.

Music ‘Minas Morgul’ - Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [track 6, fade up, track five, 0.43min stop]

7. THE SHADOW OF DEATH                                                    

R4:     (1 Samuel 9.15-17)
    A reading from the book of Samuel:
“Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to
Samuel:
R1:     Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.
R4:     When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him
R1:     Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.
R2:     (John 19.4-7)
Pilate went out again and said to them
R4:     Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.
R2:     So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them,
R4:     Here is the man
R2:     When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted
R3:     Crucify him! Crucify him!
R4:     Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.
R3:     We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

(sound of hammer hitting nails into cross)
Music ‘Angry Flames’ - Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man [track 8, 1.25min stop]
Sing Were you there when they crucified my Lord

8. THE SHADOW OF HUMILIATION                                          

R1:  (Isaiah 53:1-5)
    A reading from the prophet Isaiah:
    Who has believed our message and to whom
    has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
    He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
    He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
    He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows,
    and familiar with suffering.
    Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
    and we esteemed him not.
    Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
    yet we considered him stricken by God,
    smitten by him, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our sin;
    the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
R3:  (1 Peter 2:21-23a)
    A reading from First Peter:
    To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you,
    leaving you an example, that you should follow in his
steps.
    "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his
mouth."
    When they hurled their insults at him, he did not
retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. 
R2: (Mark 15:16-20)
    The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers.
    They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
    And they began to call out to him,
R4:    Hail, king of the Jews!
R2:    Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Music ‘This Love’ - Craig Armstrong, The Space Between Us [track 2, 4.20min begin fading out]
(crown of thorns is placed on head and cross is picked up and carried out, people follow)


de-coding the new 'church' language

emerging church - a loose term that reflects christians who are experimenting and trying to discover church in a postmodern world. those who identify with the term 'emerging church' resist trying to define and label it. there is a difference in how the word is used in the uk and usa, because of the different contexts. for more see eddie gibbs and ryan bolger's Emerging Churches (2006, spck). in the uk, see emergingchurch.info and the blogs of andrew jones, jonny baker, jason clark and kester brewin (this is just some of the major players).

inherited church
- this term is used to described the existing church, which still is the vast majority, from which those involved in these other types of church listed here are moving beyond. some are very critical of inherited church, others are more kind! evangelicalism does come in for a lot of criticism.

liquid church - first coined by pete ward (lecturer in youth ministry and theological education, kcl) in his 2002 book of the same name. He borrowed the word 'liquid' from zygmunt bauman's book Liquid Modernity (2000, poliity press). Liquid church is church that moves beyond the one-size fits all (solid church) into a more dynamic notion of church which is focused on networks, relationships and communications.

deep church- first coined by cs lewis, but used more recently by andrew walker (professor of theology and education, kcl)  and others to describe church that seeks to reconnect with the common historical Christian tradition and go beyond denominational divides. See Andrew Walker's essay 'Recovering Deep Church' in Remembering our Future (2007, paternoster).

mcdonaldized church
- first coined by john drane in his book the McDonaldization of the Church, which adapts the theory of george ritzer to the church. It is church that is pre-packaged and takes on the characteristics of McDonalds.

post-christendom
- the understanding that in recent years there has been a shift from christendom to post-christendom. in christendom, the christian story was known and accepted and society was christenized in many ways. after christendom, the christian story is much less known and the chrisitans find themselves on the margins of society and competing for the public square. see the work of stuart murray, especially his two books Post-Christendom (2004, paternoster) and Church After Christendom (2005, paternoster).

mission-shaped church
- a 2004 church of england report which got the anglicans moving into exploring and financing different kinds of church. operates under the name fresh expressions.

alternative worship
- worship that emerged out of the likes of the nine o'clock service in sheffield in the mid-1990s. it can be described as creative (embraces the arts), post-charismatic  (tends not to do singing) and post-evangelical, visual, kinasethetic, post-modern, contemplative, retriving and rewriting liturgy, rediscovering theology (especially doctines of incarnation, creation and trinity), having a positive of view of contemporary culture. see jonny baker and doug gay's book Alternative Worship (2004, spck) and steve collin's alternative worship website.

post-evangelical
- first coined by dave tomlinson's in his 1995 book of the same name. casued something of a debate. a term that describes those wanting to move beyond evangelical church and theology. 

churchless faith -  first coined by alan jamiseon in his 2002 book of the same name. the word refers to those who still express or identify with the christian faith but have beyond the church. these people are evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal church leavers (and jamieson's research showed often church leaders as well).


far I have come, far I must go

The following piece of liturgy below was written by jenny baker back in september 05 for a grace service (you can find it here, along with the rest of the service plan). the refrain 'far I have come, far I must go' has been running round my head ever since, resurfacing at key points over the last year. It resurfaced tonight as I lay in bed, a few hours after a challenging bunyan elders meeting. It feels as a church, and in my life, that God has brought us to a liminal place, where God is asking us to trust him.

We are creatures of comfort.
We like to be safe and secure
to be surrounded by what we know
to be in control
to order our lives in the way that suits us.

We want our journeys mapped out for us
itinerary decided, tickets booked
time of arrival guaranteed
refreshment breaks at regular intervals
and a credit card for unforeseen circumstances.

But Jesus said ‘follow me’ without saying where he was going
just promising transformation along the way.

The Israelites in the desert, rescued from slavery and oppression,
were tired and homeless, hungry and thirsty, insecure and unsettled.
And their minds went back to what they had known.
They yearned for the structure of predictable slavery rather than the broken walls of unknown freedom.

Liminal space is the place of inbetweenness, of insecurity.
It is the Israelites in the wilderness,
it is Paul blind in Damascus waiting for Ananias.
Liminal space is emptiness and nowhere,
it is uncertainty and chaos,
it is a place of discomfort and unrest.
Liminality is a place of dying and rebirth, of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from view.

Nothing good or creative emerges from business as usual. Much of the work of God is to get people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough so they can learn something essential.

This is the invitation of God, to move
- from comfort to insecurity
- from what we know to what we have yet to discover
- from what we are good at to what we might fail at
- from safety to a place of risk

God of broken people and broken places
We confess to you our love of comfort,
of the known and predictable,
of the safe and secure.
We recognise that you call us into liminal space
To leave what we know and venture with you into desert and wilderness, into blindness and discomfort
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far I have come, far I must go

God of broken people and broken places
We thank you for all that Bunyan has been to us and to many others
We thank you for the space to listen, to grow, to create, to be challenged
We recognise that you are calling us on
To leave what we know and venture with you into new things, into engagement and participation, into creativity and risk, into new structures and opportunities
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know and we’re not sure where we’re going
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far we have come, far we must go.

God of rebuilt people and rebuilt places
You have plans for deserts and wilderness
‘Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
The thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
Grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.’

God of transformation we look forward to what you will do
With our lives and with Bunyan

On the journey of faith,
Far we have come, far we must go.


Advent Explorations 4

Happy Chistmas!

We ran our fourth advent explorations service tonight on the theme of good news? The service started in darkness and then as we sang o come let us adore him the church was slowly lighted by candle. I had a number of guys of different kinds of drums to accompany. Then borrowing an idea from ikon's greenbelt service 'fundamentalism' we had four people one by one stand and speak about good news. The first shared 10 good pieces of news and 10 bad pieces of news. The second began with 'I'm going to have a baby'. The third 'I'm going to be a dad ... sort of'. And the fourth was about someone who had it all. I think it worked well. People then had an opportunity to explore different stations, especially exploring micah 5.2, before we joined together again at the end to sing a few more carols and pray.  It's been a good four weeks.

God of light and hope
Of stars and surprises
Open our eyes to your glory
And our hearts to your presence
That we may respond with joy to the angel’s good news

God of joy and peace
Of songs and silence
Open our ears to hear your story
And our hearts to your Spirit
That we may respond with wonder to the mystery of Jesus

God of wonder and creation
Of shops and street corners
Open our mouths to speak good news
And our hearts to your Son
That others may discover the word of Christ


Advent Explorations 3

Tonight we held our third advent explorations which focused on the theme of joy (our readings included Zep 3.14-21, Phil 4.4-7, Isaiah 12.2-6).  To help to think about joy, we each wrote on a piece of paper what we felt the word 'joy' meant to us and then we put them inside balloons and inflated them. Later came the fun bit when we popped all the balloons (photos coming soon hopefully) and unravelled people's descriptions of joy to make a giant puzzle (the puzzle was a bit hard to construct), but it was fun. I'll post some of the words I wrote on tomorrow's advent blog. Finding something that expresses joy and rejoicing we found really hard as a theme, but I think it was a good evening. We are doing one more on christmas eve, which after last nights planning should be good.