Holy Ground …

collectionToday I am pretty proud to be a resident of GMV.
The response to our collection was amazing … we have too many bags of clothes to fit in my car, which is a pretty awesome problem to have.
People responded to the social media adverts but at least 3 sets of people walked past us and returned home to get clothes to bring to us to be given to refugees. I will deliver these clothes to GRACE this week so that that can happen.

Today showed that the people who live here want to make a difference. I think it shows that people here are concerned about the plight of their fellow humans and particularly of those that have been forced to leave their homes.

A particularly touching moment was when a man walked past and wanted to make a donation because he had once been a refugee from Bosnia and remarked how welcomed he had been made to feel when he arrived. I guess I wondered if he would till receive that welcome today in what seems to be our broken in a attitude country?!

But … today was good, today inspired people and the few of us from HTGP that were ‘out there’ in the cold have been encouraged too.

Tonight I spoke on Transfiguration and took the tack of not allowing ourselves to box God in. I felt the message tonight was that we were supposed to help spread Holy Ground and get the message of love and care ‘out there’ where the people are. For a coupe of hours today I hope that we did that.

Summer talk


ibiza-religonAnother good day as I met up with my great friend Richard from ICS and other people to chat more about Ibiza.

You may remember I went to Ibiza last summer (when I took the pic!) for 5 days with Richard to look to see how we could engage with spiritual seekers and tourists who both live on and visit the island. When I say engage … in case you were wondering … I don’t mean try and convert …. I mean to be a catalyst with them as they seek to engage with the spiritual, the creator and life.

I’m seeing that quite often people see Christian ‘mission’ as trying to change how they act, or how they believe. While that may happen; my view of mission is that it is more to join in with God is already doing, to help people notice what is deeply going on inside them already … to help them some some sense maybe of what they are experiencing in the spiritual part of their lives …. and then allowing God and the person to work it all out. After all … if God is God … then God does not need me t convince people …. God just needs me to show up and be there for when needed!ibiza clubJPG.JPG

I simply want people to be aware that they are created in the image of God and seen as perfect by God … as they are … i.e. they do no need to change to be acceptable! Mini sermon done!

We chatted through some exciting ideas and possibilities for Ibiza today …. only possibilities and ideas at this stage …but I still hope to return to this beautiful place in the summer …. watch this space and we shall see.

pioneering peninsula

peninsula-place-calatrava-architecture-news_dezeen_2364_col_4So … following from yesterdays blog …. do you want an opportunity to be involved in something really quite exciting?

A question … how often do you have an opportunity to be involved in something new, particularly where faith is concerned? How often do you get a chance to be involved in birthing and creating and moulding a new way of being church in a  community that is ever changing, ever expanding, ever more diverse with incredibly exciting plans for it’s future like this … click here!

That’s the opportunity I have, and it’s one I would like to invite others to join me in.

We are looking to develop a missional contemplative christian community. As we develop we would serve the wider community in various, but relevant and as of yet unthought of, ways that we would come up with after listening and hearing what people around us say. This really would be living out gospel kingdom values in a  dynamic and loving way …. really being good news for all we come into contact with.

so ….

What we are seeking?

  • People who are  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 possible 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 feel quite excited by what we can do here
But I know we need more people …. does that include you or someone you know?
Please take time to consider ….

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

 

 

 

 

The Wasteful Extreme Obscene Extravagance of God

water-wineI’ve been thinking a lot about extravagance recently.
One reason being it has been a topic that HTGP has kind of been considering and the ‘elaborate’ title of my writing today is the title I gave my homily last night.
Another reason is that the world today seems to be changing and in major ways, with Brexit and Trump, becoming more scarce rather than extravagant in its attitude and acceptance of people.

Last night’s gospel reading was the story of the Wedding at Cana.
We contemplated why Jesus would do such a bizarre thing as his first ‘sign’ as John calls it.
Those of us in the church community who have been brought up to use resources wisely struggled with this idea of extravagance and the real possibility of waste. In this story alone we are talking of 180 gallons of wine. That’s 900 bottles open to the air in need of drinking. That’s some flipping party! I can’t believe it was all drunk. Some must have been wasted!

Elsewhere we see this same extravagance line in Jesus actions. When feeding the 5000 12 massive basketfuls were left. In a  hot climate fish and bread would not last long. I guess it was wasted and thrown away.

In the story of The Prodigal Son, the father rushes out to greet his ‘lost’ son; the son who minjae-lee-laptop-sleeves-blossom-desirehas been extravagant in a  wasteful way and thrown away his inheritance, rather than being condemned as one might expect, is then welcomed back in more extravagance by the father.

Moving away from Jesus we see Mary being extravagant, and again wasteful, as she pours a years wages worth of perfume over Jesus’ feet. A little bit would have done the job. Again, instead of being condemned, Jesus praises her for her actions.

As a staff team we have read and chatted about Archbishop Welby’s lent book ‘Dethroning Mammon‘. Archbishop Welby writes ‘abundance exists to be given freely and openly’. He alludes to various incidences when God is extravagant and suggests we are called to mirror that.

I’ve been brought up to believe extravagance is wrong.
I grew up with a mother who worked hard in minimum wage jobs who saved and protected her money. I think this then led to her being over-protective but that is a separate issue. It’s hard to change a mindset of a life time.

To have an extravagant outlook I guess we need to sit quite lightly to feelings of ownership. If as Christians we believe all is a gift from God and all is Gods then at best we are only stewards and loan holders of God’s stuff for a limited amount of time. This should mean we do not get too attached to ‘stuff’. But …. we do!

One question Welby asked in his book was ‘what is your most expensive possession and would you give it away’. For me that would be ‘my’ house. Could I give that away? No is probably the honest answer! I wish I could say differently … and one day maybe I could be that extravagant … I decided with other things like my apple, or Max the mini that I could give them away if needed. It would be hard, but I could…. or I like to think I could.

But is this extravagance that seems to be pouring out of the bible only to do with money and possessions? I think sometimes it is really easy to make a donation, or give a gift. To be extravagant with time can be a real challenge. To be extravagant in our attitudes is a bigger challenge.

If we extravagant in our outlook then we have an attitude of welcome, a mindset of acceptance and a practice of love. In a world that seems to have changed to significantly in the last 6 months I believe that is what people need to experience. In this world where fear is bubbling and hate is thriving people need to hear the gospel message of extravagance …. a message that lavishes abundantly on me …. and on you …… and on everyone else too!

Whether we think we deserve it is immaterial …. God lavishes it anyway
Whether we think ‘they’ deserve it is immaterial … God lavished it anyway
Whether we think ‘what a waste’ is immaterial … God lavishes it anyway

Surely this is Christian mission …. to be extravagant in our welcome, in our love, and in our acceptance.

 

new notes …

img_1179One of the challenges I set myself a few months was to learn a new skill.

I was finding all I was doing was working or thinking about work and, in my experience, when that is all you do you soon start to become dry and find it difficult to vision or be creative.

I have always wanted to learn to play the sax. I was told by my mum years ago that I was not musical (after singing quite well in a  choir at school) and so for years, simply years, I have believed I could not do anything musical.

At the cathedral I used to panic about having to sing the sarsum corda but had wonderful patient people around me who helped and told me I could sing it ok.

For an ‘unmusical person’ I have always loved music … so a few month ago I borrowed a sax from a  friend and started to have lessons. I found I progressed ok (much better than I expected) so I now have my own sax and I am learning … slowly … but still learning to play some tunes. I have a great and patient teacher that I see every other week or thereabouts and I am having a lot of fun.

The result of learning a new skill, something totally out of my comfort zone, is that it has reminded me, or maybe it has re-taught me, that learning something fresh can be incredibly alien. For someone that doesn’t read music too well coordinating breathing, reading and finger movements to get tunes that sounds like tunes can be awkward. I look at Jason (cool sax teacher) and marvel at how he can play anything he chooses with seemingly little effort. And …. when it all works together for me, on those odd ocassions, and the sax just purrs a tune the feeling of understanding, resonace, achievement and excitement are pretty powerful.

My learning of the when and how to breathe while playing, what notes to play, how loud or soft to play them seems to be an apt illustration for me of how we support people who are seeking to connect with their God. It can be awkward, alien, uncomfortable and hard work …. the encouragements for me while learning to play have been those moments of resonance between myself and Betty (everyone has to make their saxophone …. don’t they?!), those moments when the sound has been great and I have felt ‘connected’.

In a time and culture when people feel ‘connected’ through technology yet in reality are possibly the most disconnected and reclusive we have been for centuries the question to ask, in my mind, is how to we aid this connection?
How do we support people as they walk the journey to that point of resonance?
What can we do, if anything, to either encourage or discourage that resonance of one-ness?

So … some questions … never said I had answers … but questions are always more fun to deal with than answers ….

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 …

what a day …

cs618508-01a-bigYesterday was one of those packed and varied days with little space to reflect upon activity as I rushed from one event to another. It was the type of day I had before I was ordained and working with YFC when I always seemed to have to jump from one meeting or task to another and take on different roles as I journeyed through the day.

Yesterday started with morning prayer as usual and then staff meeting where we reviewed the week via a bacon roll (thanks Margaret!) and looked at the web ahead of us. We reviewed a lot of Christmas services and carol events.

Following this on my way home I bumped into a person who, this year, will not be celebrating or experiencing the joy of Christmas in their home. This person was really quite sad and lonely (as we chatted I told this person I was a blogger and they asked if I would include our encounter … I said I would not normally as it is always hard to not by accident make some identifying comment … but this person specifically asked that I did … so here you go!) We chatted about this person’s life and the person said it was helpful; before going on to say that I was the first person they had spoken to in weeks and that they missed personal conversation … it made me weep to think that this is even possible in an overcrowded city like London! We prayed together in a  coffee shop before I then had to move on. I always find chance encounters to be full of God … it was a real privilege to spend time with this person … thank you.

I next arrived at St Mary Magdalene Peninsula school to be the chaplain / speaker at the Christmas Service. The staff there, as ever, are amazing at getting the best out of children. Some of the Year 2’s sang solos in the choir (is a KS1 choir the youngest choir going?) which were simply stunning. I then spoke about Jesus and the Christmas Story using a candy cane as an illustration all aided by a bit of fun ‘magic’ (there is no such thing as magic children … remember this is just a trick!) that produced the desired wow factor – all thanks going to Mission Magic who sold me an awesome trick!

After chatting with some staff I headed to Craft for a coffee and a meet up with a cool guy called Dave Pilkington. Dave is training at St Mellitus to be a vicar to work in the Olympic Park … overseen by the amazing Bishop of Stepney! We talked about mission and the church and contemplation and a lot of other stuff. You know that feeling you get when meeting someone that just instinctively tells you this guy is a good guy … well it was like that. I will be watching with some envy but also great anticipation as Dave starts to develop things in the Olympic Park.

I then hopped on a couple of buses from this meeting to get to St Mary Magdalene Blackheath to be part of the audience as the Year 7’s put on an amazing production of A Christmas Carol. It was a great couple of hours and allowed me to wander the school and chat to people before hearing some amazing singing and seeing some excellent acting.

Hopping on another bus took me to The Pelton Arms where it was my turn to sing carols and join with others from the East Greenwich Team. Lots of people in the pub joined in and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to sing carols in their community. I think that is quite key for us to note … that going out from the church and giving people opportunity to mark events in the wider community , rather than always inviting them to join us in our smaller one, seems to be becoming more of a perceived need. It is interesting that this follows on from Jean’s observations here.

It is clear to me that people last night wanted to join in the singing of carols, that they wanted maybe to connect with something that is lying dormant deep within them … but I wonder if it is not until they were exposed to some resonating experience (in this case our singing carols in their pub) that people are even aware that there is something lying dormant within. I am thinking aloud … but it is worth proper thought and reflection as I wonder whether the people in the pub would have experienced carols and that sense of memory or wonder if the church had not gone in to that space?

Following the Pelton I finally got home …. listened to some Bowie and went to sleep. A lot of stuff yesterday that I need to take the time to reflect on … and I will do!

Our next Parish carols is at the Vanburgh on Thursday night (8pm) so why not join us!