About robryan65

fallible human, creative, Christian, team vicar HT Greenwich Peninsula, real ale, rum and malt whisky drinker dancer in another life - expressing personal views.

turning tables

IMG_0250One of the things I love about living in London, and on The Peninsula in particular, is the beautiful diversity of both cultures and experiences that are embodied in the stories of people I regularly come cross.

As Team Vicar for HTGP I have been blessed  on recent Sunday’s when other people have brought the homily. A few weeks ago Tim, who comes from a justice and trade union background in the States challenged us in standing up and speaking out. Next Sunday, Barbara who is a retired priest who spent a lot of her ministry in the Diocese of Europe will bring the homily from her unique perspective. This last Sunday, Confidence, an incredible ordained man from Ghana shared a homily on the set passage for the day, with Jesus turning over the tables in the temple.

I was particularly struck by the depth of the way that Confidence unpacked the passage. It was simply beautiful to hear him reflect on his childhood playing with his friends in the forest and trapping birds and at some stage being spoken to by the elders as they had moved onto sacred ground. From this story Confidence related and resonated so well with Jesus getting angry with the temple authorities as he turned over those tables.

I remember being totally enthralled by Confidence’s story and smiling as I re-learned that the Jesus story is more than universal, it crosses all boundaries, filters and may be found in all types of stories, challenges, excites and reaffirms all peoples … no matter where they are, who they are, what they think about themselves or how they have been treated.  Maybe as a Christian I become a bit blasé sometimes about how truly amazing our story really is.

Why not listen to Confidence (and others)  here.


Be ….

beThis week at Agapai we started our Lent study using Paula Gooder’s material based on the gritty TV series Broken. Prior to our meal we had all agreed to watch episode 1, entitled Christine,which like others in the series, is hard hitting and full of moral dilemmas.

We shared how the episode made us feel … there were a variety of emotions expressed, my own personal one being anger. Anger that those who are vulnerable and in need of support are deprived of it. Others, again, felt great sadness as we tried to get our heads around the subject finding it difficult to understand how being desperate someone becomes when they find themselves with the choices that  Christine faced on a  daily basis.

I love discussing stuff but anyone that knows me understands that somewhere along the way, somewhere in any conversation or in any teaching, I will eventually get to a point of asking:
‘So what?’
‘What is our response as people, as Christians?’
‘What are we called to do?’
‘What can we do?’

In desperate situations of poverty it is hard to know how to support or help and we talked around this for quite a while.  There are no easy or quick fix answers and that makes answering the question the much harder.

After the meeting one of the group found and pointed us to this link. In this Kerry Hudson writes of her return to the towns where she grew up. Some of her comments hot hard and may point to some of the answers as to how we can respond. They all involve getting involved. Getting hands dirty. Being vulnerable. making a difference.

Today, the Richard Rohr thought for the day really resonated with me as I was pondering the Agapai discussion again.

Today Rohr quotes Beatrice Bruteau

we bear some responsibility. We have to take our part in the work. We, for instance, are now in a position to do something about all the suffering. . . . We are agents within the system and can have causal effects on other parts of the system. We have intelligence, we have empathy and capacity to feel for others and to care about them, we even have insight into the Ground present in every being and calling for an appropriate form of absolute respect.

What will we do? . . . What does “God want us to” do? Not a good way of putting the question, because it distances God from the world, but the answer I propose is Be! Be creative, be interactive, be agape, give being, unite, be whole, be in every possible way, be new. The self-creating world is unpredictable. It’s like a musician’s improvisation. . . . But the artwork will always resemble the artist. So the cosmos will somehow be like the Trinity, the vast Person-Community that is Agape, inter-being. . . .

The answer of ‘Be’
That is real
That is intentional
That is us.




Tears as Sacrament

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA5NS84NjIvb3JpZ2luYWwvbWFuLWNyeWluZy10ZWFycy5qcGc=It’s been a long day …
As most of you know I subscribe the Richard Rohr’s daily meditation
The day today has meant I have only just got around to reading today’s …
or I would have posted this earlier
with just a big …. YES!

I found todays post so powerful that I have cut and paste it here in it’s entirety. You can see it online here and you can subscribe too … tho quite frankly I really do not understand why any of my regular readers are not already subscribed …

I find today’s post so powerful
so real
so …. umm .. life giving
and yes …. ‘we need to teach all young people how to cry’
anyway … go read …. (and I’ve love your comments too)

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Thursday, February 1, 2018

Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. —Matthew 5:4

Tears are therapeutic and healing, both emotionally and physically. Crying helps the body shed stress hormones and stimulates endorphins. Weeping is a natural and essential part of being human. Eknath Easwaran writes:

We can spend the better part of our lives attempting to construct the perfect personal environment, a kind of bubble that will insulate us against everything that is unpleasant. But sorrow is woven into the very texture of life. Pain, disappointment, depression, illness, bereavement, a sense of inadequacy in our work or our relationships . . . the list could go on and on. . . .

Is there meaning in this pattern, in the inescapable mingling of sorrow and joy? The mystics say there is. If tears are a fact of life, they have several lessons to teach us, and the first is to learn to keep on an even keel through life’s inevitable storms. . . . [1]

The Syrian Fathers Ephrem and Simeon weren’t as familiar in Western Christianity as the Greek and Latin Fathers after the early centuries of the Church. The Greek and Latin Fathers tended to filter the Gospel through the head; the Syrian Fathers’ theology was much more localized in the body. They actually proposed that tears be a sacrament in the Church. Saint Ephrem went so far as to say until you have cried you don’t know God.

Most of us think we know God—and ourselves—through ideas. Yet corporeal, embodied theology acknowledges that perhaps weeping will allow us to know God much better than ideas. In this Beatitude, Jesus praises those who can enter into solidarity with the pain of the world and not try to remove or isolate themselves from its suffering. This is why Jesus says the rich person often can’t see the Kingdom, because they spend too much time trying to make tears unnecessary and even impossible.

Jesus describes those who grieve as feeling the pain of the world. Weeping over our sin and the sin of the world is an entirely different response than self-hatred or hatred of others. Grief allows one to carry the dark side, to bear the pain of the world without looking for perpetrators or victims, but instead recognizing the tragic reality that both sides are caught up in. Tears from God are always for everyone, for our universal exile from home. “It is Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted” (Jeremiah 31:15). I am grateful that the new emergence of hospice work, bereavement ministries, and formal “grief work” seems to indicate we are beginning to understand this. In Men’s Rites of Passage, the “day of grief” is often the turning point toward a man’s initiation. Men finally discover that so much of what they thought was anger was actually sadness, loss, and grief. [2]

Tears seem ridiculous in a culture like ours which is so focused on diversions and entertainment, and are especially a stumbling block to men. Crying will make us look vulnerable. So many men hold back tears. Is it no wonder men don’t live as long as women, on average? We must teach all young people how to cry. Now, in my later years, I finally understand why Saints Francis and Clare cried so much, and why the saints spoke of “the gift of tears.”

© 2018 | Center for Action and Contemplation
1823 Five Points Road SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

imagine what is was like for the shepherds ….

shepherdsTonight, the third of our Advent meditations was based on the Shepherds.
You can read it below and hear it here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for the shepherds?

They were outcasts

not merely living on the edge of the city

but totally outside the protection of its walls

the lowest



no one wanted to be near the shepherds

Have you ever felt


or worse


hear the words of God:

‘I am bringing YOU yes you

you sat there

you thinking you are worthless, ignored, alone

I am bringing you good news of great joy’

How does knowing that God comes to you

that God searches you out

make you feel?

When you get that good news of great joy

what would be your response?

would you run home and share it with those close?

would you keep it to yourself?

would you tell everybody you could find?

What would that good news of great joy look like for you today

Spend some time now

talking to God about what that would look like


tonight …. how do you respond to what you have heard?

imagine what is was like for Joseph

The second of our meditations, this time from the character or viewpoint of Joseph.

The meditation is shared below.

You may can hear the audio version here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for Joseph?

A righteous man

a kind man

a person that would never want to embarrass anybody

definitely not Mary

even if he felt incredibly hurt

or let down

How do you react if you feel let down by someone?

Do you seek revenge?

or do you try to keep things quiet and dignified?

talk to God about that

People must have thought Joseph was daft

maybe a bit of a mug

believing a ridiculous story

how did he cope with that pressure?

how do you cope with the pressure

of others talking about you?

others laughing at you?

others not trusting you?

Joseph had his own visitation

from an angel

in a dream

with that message to say Mary was telling the truth

God spoke right into Joseph’s life

And Jospeh listened and acted accordingly

Do you believe God speaks today?

Do you think God would want to speak to you?

Have you had a dream and wondered

whether it was God?

Have you listened … or dismissed it?

thinking it to be your imagination?

When was the last time

you gave yourself a chance to hear God?

Sit now

and listen

ask God to speak ….


what do you hear?

imagine what is was like for Mary …

mary-icon-1461514928In HTGP we are looking at Advent in an even more contemplative way than we do normally.

Rather than listen to homilies as we normally do, this season we have decided to replace the homily with a short guided meditation which is attempting to help us put ourselves in the story, though a variety of characters, and ask ourselves some relevant questions.

Last week we took the character of Mary … the mediation is shared below ….
You can hear the audio version here.


Can you imagine

for a little while

what it was like for Mary?

A young woman.

A faithful woman.

A person going about her normal everyday business, not harming others, being helpful, being ‘good’ … whatever good looks like!

God called her ‘favoured one.’

Did you realise …

God calls you the same …. does that description fit you?

What description would you use …. tell God that description ….. what is God’s response to you?

Can you imagine that day for Mary?

She was clearing the cellar, singing away to herself when it happened.

An angel … bright as could be was suddenly there



from nowhere

I wonder how she felt?

How would you have felt?

Would you have stayed …. or run ….

Would you have listened ….. or frozen in fear

And that message

you will be carrying The King of the universe

Awesome ….. or scary?

But of course

Jesus lives in our hearts

so essentially

we are all pregnant with Jesus

What effect does that have on us?

on our normal everyday matter of fact life?

Maybe, like Mary, you feel to unimportant to carry Jesus

Maybe, like Mary, you think you are too young

Maybe, like Mary, you fear no one will believe you

But …. Jesus lives in you … and me … and all of us

Whether we recognise Jesus or not

He is here

As we sit and stare at Jesus

and Jesus at us

listen to what Jesus is saying  ……


What does the son of God say to you tonight?


turning a corner … ?

Yesterday seemed to be a good day for HTGP.

In the afternoon we held Making@Church.
After a massively encouraging first event we were surprised to see only one family attend. That one family have loved it so much they have come, on their own, for the last 3 months. Yesterday 3 more families joined them which is not exciting and impressive. I had got to the stage where I was genuinely starting to ‘feel’ for the sole family as it can seem quite awkward with only a few people there.
Yesterday we told the story of Noah and the lego creations are pretty impressive. Even the one with rocket launchers on the front!

In the evening we held 18:01 and Katie, who is on placement with the East Greenwich Parish before going down the ordination route, spoke incredibly well on the Parable of the Talents. Her message may be heard here.

Again we had a good attendance and to seems that the 5 new people, all be it one family, are coming each week (twice yesterday) and it felt like a bit of a key day when a corner may have been turned. We are now very visible and I wonder what the community thinks is happening on a Sunday night inside our bit of a goldfish bowl.