Progress … ?

The last few days have been quite exciting on the Greenwich Peninsula.
I don’t think we have cracked it yet, but this week we had some amazingly positive signs.

Following on from the encouragement of the Mindful meditation ….

agapaiLast night we had the largest ever attendance at Agapai with new faces. We had a great conversation around Jesus washing feet and how we use power and authority (based on Archbishops Justin’s book). We also had time to share our stories and pray for each other … it was a very cool time.

 

I hope this continues.
I pray this continues.
But … regardless … we will carry on!

Pioneer hardships

c3efdf0cb15ed169b5be8b53271d8cd9Sometimes ministry can be hard work.
Being in a place of lots of new building in a fledgling community where the landscape and the makeup are constantly changing , can present a massive challenge to the church and how she works.

As a pioneer, someone that is fairly passionate about mission, people and, yes loves the good old CofE, I am rooted in the belief that we are called to serve. In plain English that means I believe I am called here to serve the people of this Greenwich Peninsula. I am yo be here and be ‘good news’ to those that I come across.

To be able to serve and be such good news means I need to have the ability and the space to listen. I have done a lot of listening and responding over the last 18 or so months. As I listen I respond and make myself available, but that is not the pioneering bit as such … that is, I believe, good old fashioned parish ministry often depicted in those lovey old black and white movies.

The pioneering bit, which I am here to do , is to listen to what the community is saying the issues are, noticing the gaps or potential places to develop, and then creating something with others to meet that real and obvious need.

But we have a bit of an issue here and my model of creating sustainable Christian community is not flourishing as much as I would like it to be. The make up of this community is massively transient with a lot of people moving on fairly quickly to other communities in London after staying for 6-12 months. This means that what we hear as being relevant today can become irrelevant pretty quickly.

This means we need to act quickly on ‘stuff’ … but as we are a very small group of people all massively involved in our jobs … available time at short notice is pretty sparse. So, sometimes, pioneer ministry can feel like you are going round and round in ever decreasing circles. Ever decreasing because the ideas bank is getting smaller and smaller.

So … what do we do … that is the question … and one we continue to contemplate. As we contemplate we become aware of a massive and true fact …. the fact that this is GOD’S ministry and not OURS!

Why do I write this and why today?
Today I got an email from a research person from the diocese asking about fresh expressions in my part of the diocese. One of the things that I think Fresh Expressions has been good at is raising the good news stories … while that is good as it encourages and inspires others …. I do believe that just the good news stories can often give people the impression that pioneering and fresh expressions can be all great fun and is the ‘sexy’ side of ministry.

I believe we don’t tell the hard stories enough … the stories of people not turning up or people cancelling last minute, the stories of idea after idea after idea that seem good but, for some reason, don’t seem to be meeting the need of those in the area. The stories of being shouted out and told you are not wanted. The stories of prayer walking in wind, rain, ice, snow and occasional sunshine.

Sometimes all ministry is hard …. but being totally convinced and enshrouded in the knowledge that God has called you, is with you and is working through you (maybe even despite you) is all you need to keep going.

This is a raw and unrefined post … its a bit of a think aloud post … so feel free to comment … I miss my blog community friends ….

 

noticing God

img_1413Tonight was Agapai.
Each week we get together at 8pm as the christian community that we are and we eat together.
This evening there were 4 of us.
Eating together and spending time together and listening to each other is the main purpose of Agapai.

We always ask two questions  while we eat …

What has God been doing with you recently?
and
What can we pray for?

In the past some have seen the God questions as a bit of a threat and not wanted to engage with that with challenges like:
‘What if God is doing nothing?’
‘What if I can’t see God doing anything?’
“What if I don’t want to think about that question?’
or observations of:
‘God never does anything because God is not that interested!’

Of course those views and observations are ok to point.
Before you challenge me the fact I say they are ‘ok’ does not mean I agree with them!
I certainly don’t believe in a disinterested God! Exactly the opposite!
Sometimes, though,  we do feel that God is distant and doing nothing … but I do believe if we never ask the question and consider what God might be doing, then we are never going to notice what God does.

If we take space, even if it is a little short pause as we eat, I believe we end up noticing a lot more of the stuff that is happening around us, and then we can wonder where God was in it … because it is pretty certain if we believe in a present God then God is there. Some would say somewhere … I think more in terms of everywhere!

A few years ago as part of IME training I remember Jean Kerr sent us out into a local high street and look for evidence of God’s love working. It was an amazing experience as all these young curares returned with unique observation after unique observation ranging from couples holding hands to people sitting with homeless and distressed individuals.

Tonights Agapai was a night of noticing God … every body could see an element of God somewhere in their past week or so ….. so tonights Agapai was pretty cool …. pretty inspiring …. and community building ….. why not think about joining us next week!

 

what we are seeking …

seek-copy2017 is here ….
So … what is happening here in the pioneering peninsula of Greenwich … 

I am looking ….
I am praying …
I am waiting ….
for people
for people to join me
for people to join us
for people to get together to
attempt
to birth something new here
something intentionally spiritual
something deliberately communal
something that will make a difference
something that is new ‘cos there is no blueprint
something that will grow and develop as we grow and develop
something that needs to be moulded by whoever joins the journey

church …. yes
religiously set ways of dong things … no
collaborative, creative, meaningful … yes
having to believe ‘right’ things and behave in ‘certain ways’ … no
believing there is only one way to do things … NO!
Jesus gospel trinity based … yes
affirming and encouraging … yes
contemplative Christian community … very possibly yes

Does that sound interesting to you?
Do you live within reach of North Greenwich …. read on a little more …

What we are seeking?

  • People who are established Christians and interested in birthing and participating in a missional fresh expression of church with a contemplative flavour on the Greenwich Peninsula
  • People who have, or have had in the past, a desire to focus more on contemplative and prayerful action within a Christian community and be willing to lead aspects of contextual worship, mission and community life on the Greenwich Peninsula.
  • People who can commit to a Sunday evening Contemplative Eucharist, gatherings afterwards at a local pub or the vicarage and a Wednesday evening community meal with sharing of our weekly stories, prayer for each other with sharing of bread and wine.
  • Where possibly join in the prayer life of Holy Trinity, currently 730am Prayer & Pastry at the Vicarage.
  • People willing to develop a meditation group on the Greenwich Peninsula aimed at supporting those who would call themselves spiritual rather than religious people.

Interested?

I’d love to hear from you …. please get in contact  via comments here or via our current website: http://www.holytrinity.online/

I think this is exciting … how often do we get a chance to develop and create and mould something new …. something that we hope will be of use not to us bit to those around yes as well … a blessing for us so that we can be a blessing for others … so … get in touch if remotely or only vaguely interested …

Trinity Language

Last night Holy Trinty celebrated their Patronal Festival. I was encouraged as there was a good turn out staying in double figures and we had some visitors. After sharing words, stories and Eucharist we celebrated with cake and champagne. I enjoyed the opportunity, as well, to hear someone else’s take on The Trinity and Alistair did a good job of getting us to think about relationship rather than explanations. I also thought I need to get more people to give the homily (but that’s a mother subject).

I had some difficulty writing and preparing liturgy for last nights service. Essentially I have ensured with stuff I write that I use inclusive language. I understand how either ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ are not always easy terms for helping people connect with God. For some, like myself, neither label is great as both are quite empty ‘labels’ for me.

For some while I have related to the labels of Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer or Companion. People in gatherings and communities that I have been involved in also seem to relate well to this sort of language.

But in my preparation for last nights service I suddenly started to have a hassle with this.

While contemplating the subject for the service I was hit quite massively by a feeling that however we describe ‘The Trinity’ is, the Trinity screams of relationship. Not just relationship but a mutually giving and receiving relationship. As I followed this thinking I became aware that whereas Father, Son, Spirit talks of relationship, my prefered descriptions of Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer talk of role. I am not sure but I think that takes something away from our understanding. Trinity is about mutually giving, receiving and accepting relationship … But I feel a great lack in being able to express that in a helpful and meaningful way.

As I wrote words for us to say I tried parent, mother/father, begetter, pro creator … But all sounded hollow, false and just too clunky. Finally I followed a traditional route of Father, Son, Spirit and although not entirely happy (particularly as father for myself equates to an overriding double rejection) as I am not sure that is the best we can offer in helping people reconnect with their Creator.

I wonder … Is anyone out there tussling with this at the moment? Any ideas, pointers or suggestions?

5000 answer to prayer!

icon_christ_loaves2We just had a good, no exciting (!) DCC meeting. I never thought I would ever anywhere write that sentence in my life …. but there you go, I have. My DCC are a great bunch of people … they must be because they put up with me!

Tonight I changed the agenda around a bit … we spent the first part of the meeting looking in our bibles and searching for a story that we felt we could identify with as a church now, and why we felt that story was important to us. The idea came from Holy Conversations which I am currently reading.

A number of stories ‘appeared’ which we spoke about. There was Esther, the Exodus, The woman at the well, Daniel, the road to Emmaus, Ezekial, Love your neighbour …. but none of these seemed to resonate with everyone. Until, that is, someone suggested the feeding of the 5000.

When this story was shared I saw the DCC members change … body language changed, there was enthusiasm, people talked of how it seemed to link with us … the disciples had very limited resources but thousands to feed …. just like us trying to reach the thousands of people here when there is only 12 of us. The disciples brought what they had on that day and Jesus took it and multiplied it so they had more than enough …. this is our prayer on the peninsula; that through our little gifts and ability God will do amazing things. Other questions and parallels came…. so it seems we have a story which we can relate to at the moment, at this point in time.

Over the next few weeks we are going to look into this story, study it, think or dwell on it when we can and talk about it lots when we gather. It is my prayer that through this story we will learn more about us as church and our purpose.

Food for thought 


We had our third Agapai last night in its new format. There were 5 of us which has been our largest gathering yet (apart from when the archdeacon visited). A new person joined us who has only lived in the village for a few days and she is looking for community.Agapai felt like a welcoming community last night. There was food, sharing, serious moments, lots of laughter; there was prayer, hope and sharing of bread and wine. There was acknowledgment that God is at the centre of what we do.

All these things were exciting to see. Most of all though, and what I was really excited about, was that there was acceptance. There was real acceptance and the start gas of trust. I can’t be sure but I kind of feel that if any casual observer looked in on Agapai last night that they would never have guessed that we did not know each other very well, or that that particular group of people had never met before. The openness and acceptance showed something of the uniting spirit of God. 

It was a joy to be at …. I’m praying that we continue and grow!