Thursday, 24 May 2018

Circling the City

On Pentecost a group of about twenty of us from Amersham joined hunderds of others in London to 'Circle the City for Christian Aid.  We walked the six miles and visited over a dozen churches to get our booklet stamped!  It was a wonderful occasion, held in perfect weather.  The fellowship was nourishing, the churches inspiring and the cause worthwhile.  Can't think of a better way of spending the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday - the Church on the move - all seemed appropriate somehow!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Prayer - but not as we may know it!

This week our church, along with the two others in our Ecumenical Covenant, has been engaged in a Week of Accompanied Prayer.  Every day people from our congregations have been meeting members of The Team who have been accompanying them on what is basically a ‘retreat’ in everyday life.

Alongside this our church sanctuary has been turned into a sacred space full of ‘prayer stations’.  These have been beautifully and imaginatively prepared.  Each station invites us to spend time ‘praying’ in a multitude of ways.  It’s been a space open to all and some have called in a number of times.

I ‘visited’ a few of the stations on Sunday, Tuesday and today.  One was a Scrabble board, full now of words of faith made up each day by those who sat at that table and pondered what was important to them.  This morning I lingered at the ‘Spirit’ table and drank some of the fruit juice that represented the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ I most longed for in my own life.  At another table, full of broken pieces, I learnt of the Japanese tradition of valuing a broken pot that had been lovingly put back together again – and in so doing, to appreciate that it’s often in our own ‘brokenness’ that we learn the most about God, others and ourselves.

These ‘stations’ have been a real blessing and a wonderful gift to many of us this week.  Just another example of the breadth of prayer in which we can all engage. 

There is no one way to pray – I realised that yet again as I moved from table to table in our Sanctuary this week – appreciating that each one was ‘holy ground’.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Ascension - at St Pauls!

On Monday, on one of the hottest days of the year so far, we climbed the three hundred steps up to the highest gallery of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  It was our own ascension moment – come three days early! 

Now, our audio guide informed us by the time we were half way up, (at Whispering Gallery level) that by the time the cathedral was nearing completion, its architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was no longer able to climb the scaffolding and inspect the work.  Instead, he was hauled up to the dizzy heights of the dome in a basket!  It all seemed incredibly precarious!

I’ve tried to imagine the scene since. This wonderful architect, who had lived long enough to see his vision for the new St Paul’s become a reality, standing in the Whispering Gallery looking down.  What, I wonder, did he say now his job in its creation was almost complete?

I’d like to think he said something like:  Well, I’ve given you the framework, here’s your new House of God, now fill it with prayer and praise, fill it with music and service.

Now I know Jesus didn’t ascend in a basket but maybe the essence of what he said to his disciples just before being taken from their sight wasn’t so very different:  I’ve given you a framework and this is what the Kingdom of God looks like.  Remember the stories I’ve told you, the moments of compassion we’ve shared and the experiences that have bound us together.  This is what the Kingdom of God feels like – now continue to live it out.

Ascension, it’s both the break in the road and the continuation of the journey.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Funerals – maybe we are loved more than we know!?

Perhaps, like many churches, as winter ended we found ourselves having quite a number of funerals - five in quick succession.

We miss these dear friends as many were central people in our community. Yet we also rejoice in the faith they showed, recognising that we are called now to pick up the baton and show a similar commitment as we continue to run the race.

The overriding impression I have of the funeral services we held recently is the sheer number of people who have joined us on these occasions.

In the planning stages the families have often been quite conservative about the number of mourners they thought would show up - yet on the day itself I regularly spoke with stewards who anticipated running out of service sheets.

It’s been super to welcome so many people to these services as we have come to give thanks for a friend’s life and it’s a real testimony to the idea that ‘no man is an island’ and that all our lives are interconnected.

At the last service at which I officiated a granddaughter spoke of the positive world her grandma created. She said she always came away feeling better for being in grandma’s world. 

I thought that was a wonderful tribute.

These spring funerals have taught me that, just maybe, we are loved by far more people than any of us realise.

One small step...

Exactly a month from now, on 20 th July 2019, we shall be commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing. Apollo 11 ...