a special love …

20429624_10154784638772543_5760356242749648249_nYesterday was a special day.
I day when I saw these two beautiful people commit their lives to each other.
It was a very special moment and I don’t think I have been to a wedding ever before where there were tears, good tears, from every speech.
I think looking around the tables many others had tears of joy as well.
As ‘Uncle Rob’ I feel an incredible sense of pride to have been able to see how my eldest neice has grown in to the amazing woman that she is.
I have no right, have done nothing to deserve that feeling, but feel it just the same.

I do not really know Esgrid but his devotion to his new wife, and his sense of loyalty and love to his new family was very obvious. It was, again, something quite special to see and experience.

It’s clear these two have something special.
Something very special that is to be cherished and nurtured.
Rachel and Esgrid …. I pray that God continues to bless you both, to reassure you both, and that you will always be conscious of God walking and encouraging and loving and accepting you both.

We were asked to write blessings or comments and place them in that lovely red letterbox. I had something but failed to bring it with me … so I include this blessing here from John O’Donohue’s Book of Blessings

As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.

As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.

As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.

As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.

As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.

As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other’s every gift.

As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.

As twilight harvests all the day’s colour,
May love bring you home to each other.

Bless you both
Uncle R

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!

new chapter for Charlton

IMG_1828I love new chapters.
I find it a real privilege to be somewhere where there is real joy and sense of anticipation.
It’s amazing to share with others in worship who are excited about their future.
Last night was one of those nights as Liz was instituted and inducted as the new Rector of Charlton.

Charlton is the next door parish to East Greenwich which is the Team Ministry that HTGP is part of. Last night was great to be part of and speaking to people of the parish afterwards they are clearly very pleased and excited as to the potential of what may happen in the future.  I can understand that as I have met Liz a few times in my two years here. She has always been fun to talk with and very clearly a naturally encouraging and caring person with a real concern for people …. so I can understand their delight of having Liz as their Rector..

Archdeacon Alastair spoke well and gave a good reminder to Liz … and all of us … being that the work cannot be done on our own … that the work is God’s work and we must refrain from attempting to do stuff in our own strength but follow God and involve others. So true!

So … welcome Liz … we will continue to pray and look forward in excitement with you to see how the future rolls out!

If you live in the area … maybe you should check out St Luke’s out St Thomas‘ … or both!

 

skittles and synod

Never thought I’ve ever actually say these words … let alone write them down …. but … wait for this …. we had a really good Deanery SynodIMG_1819 meeting last night! There … it’s out in the open. I enjoyed a Deanery Synod meeting!

A large part of last nights agenda was given over to each church having 3 minutes to tell us about it’s context and mission. I actually loved hearing what others were up to, what their challenges and passions were, and how they were dealing with them. This was a great way for the first meeting of the new synod to start because too often we can be caught up in our own locations to notice what others are doing. It’s great to hear how diverse and yet united a deanery we are.

As a team ministry of three churches we pooled our 3 minute allocations to take 8 mins and 45 secs (get us!) to talk about the mission priorities from our Mission Action Plan. This was quite an inspired idea from Margaret! People spoke specifically across the parish about Growing our Spiritual Life Together, Children and Young People and Loving Service to the Community. The fourth priority of Visibility was presented by each individual church.

In my 90 seconds I gave everyone different flavoured skittles in an envelope and asked them to eat one, then another and then other …. as an illustration that for HTGP our biggest challenge when we think visibility, or anything really, is how quickly this community changes it’s flavour …. with new people coming and others leaving what seems like every day, and how it will continue to do that for the next few years until the building stops.

At HTGP we attempt to better visibility by being around at community events and, for me personally, being present regularly in the community at school gate and coffee shops. In addition we tweet everything we do (well maybe not everything!) and do a lot of advertising and profile racing through our website and Facebook page …. so we may have a challenge with concrete visibility in terms of location, but in terms of social media I hope we have quite a big footprint.

So … I hope future Deanery Synods are as informative and engaging … from what I heard last night  I think there is a real possibility that could be so … (and big plus is that I have all those skittles in the pic left over … 🙂 )

awesome Eucharist

Baptist communionThe end of term at the Koinonia Federation is always busy for everyone, the chaplain included. Being the end of an academic year, there are people moving on and new people joining. This week there were will be both sadness as we say goodbye to some great people and excitement as we look ahead to working with a new team.

One of the exciting things for me this week as chaplain was presiding at the first ever school Eucharist in our secondary school. During the preceding two weeks I had the pleasure of teaching all 6 classes an RE lesson on The Eucharist. This was an interactive lesson which the students responded amazingly well to with some great conversations as we discussed the meaning and names of Eucharist across the Christian tradition. One student summed it up by saying … ‘So … Rev Rob … you are saying this one meal is the same thing but we all call it a different name and think some slightly different beliefs about what is happening … but they are all the same and all equally valid?’ Job done!

During the lessons we came up with a practice of ensuring all students and staff felt included in this celebration. We decided that people should have the freedom to come forward or stay seated. We discussed that some might want to come forward forward for a blessing rather than receive bread. We then discussed that some may feel left out who did not want to receive bread or a blessing and so decided people should have the freedom to come forward and say no thank you or simply shake their head.

On Monday morning we celebrated Eucharist for the first time. The students were fantastic in their level of respect and there was an amazing atmosphere of inclusion as most students came forward, some of faith and some of none, to receive bread, or a blessing or simply to come forward as part of the school family. There was a tangible sense that this was a special time for all of us who were there.

Sometimes being school chaplain means you get the privilege of being involved in some amazing things.

 

and next there was lego …

The busy weekend continued after Saturday as we hosted our second making@church service at HTGP on Sunday.
lego july pic
I think the postcard is pretty self explanatory as to what this is about. I got this amazing idea from a colleague, Peter O’Connell, and it seems to work amazingly well in this community.

making@church is our response at HTGP to the changing demographic on the Peninsula. Until quite recently the village looked like it was overwhelmingly populated by young professionals … certainly the people waiting at bus stops indicated that.
Recently, in the last four or so months, we are seeing many more young families at the bus stop and doing school runs.
Making@church is our relevant response to what we observe happening around us.

The format is simple and non labour intensive … sing a couple of worship songs, tell the particular bible story in two different ways, e.g. lego video and Godly play style and then give each family unit a box of lego with the simple instruction to ‘build something that you are inspired to build after hearing that story’ … after around 20 minutes we then show our models, pray using lego, eat pizza, receive a blessing and go home.

I love this format of service …. not just because it is simple … but because this is one of the few things I have seen church done worship wise that really DOES bring the family unit together. There is no child / adult divide. We have whole families building a model and helping each other … it’s simply beautiful to see.

A great comment on Sunday afternoon was ‘this is better then other church!’ …. I’ll take that as an indictor that we may have hit on something here on the peninsula.

On Sunday, we looked at the Parable of the Good Samaritan …. below are some lego interpretations of the story …. note the ‘Police Donkey’

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.