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Encouragement for the Journey 15 November 2015

Encouragement for the journey

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Greetings fellow travellers!

At our church in the USA, we used to celebrate Pentecost as ‘the birthday of the church’. It took me a while to understand the logic behind this, because it seems to me that the community that formed around Jesus during his ministry already were ‘church’. They worshipped together at the synagogue, they met for meals in each other’s houses. They were clearly actively engaged in the same work of healing and proclamation as Jesus and he had commissioned them and given them authority even as he continued to teach and guide them. They did make lots of mistakes – ‘We saw someone driving out demons in your name and we stopped him, because he was not one of us’. And they misunderstood – ‘Teacher, promise that we will be able to sit at your left and right hand in the coming kingdom’. And they outright failed on occasion too – ‘Why was it, even when we tried so hard, we could we not drive out the demon?’

So what happened on the day of Pentecost that led people to point to that event as the birthday of the church? It would be easy to highlight the outward signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit – the tongues of flame, the speaking in tongues, the new courage of disciples who had been so traumatised by the crucifixion that they had become totally paralysed by fear and shame. But there is a more subtle change here that I think signifies a complete shift in the identity and reality of the community. During Jesus’ ministry, his message was essentially: ‘The kingdom of God is here. The kingdom of God is among you and within you. This is what God’s kingdom is like….’

After the resurrection and on the day of Pentecost, we hear the first sermon that essentially says: “Jesus the Christ is the good news of the kingdom of God!”

Peter’s message explains how God’s faithful intention for all of creation was fulfilled by Jesus, and how we can participate in the life, love and joy of God’s kingdom here and now through Jesus. If you can believe this, and trust in Jesus, then your life will reflect your acceptance of your place and your part in the community that lives to be God’s eternal kingdom breaking into the here and now of our earthly time.

So our celebration of the birthday of St. Aidan’s helps us remember that there was, in this place, an upwelling and flowing out of the life of the Spirit that formed one more community of people who take their places and fulfil their parts as God’s love is shown and made discernable – however imperfectly – through each one of us.

Blessings as you journey on in Love,

roxy

November 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 8 November 2015

Encouragement for the journey.

love hands

Greetings fellow travellers!

One of my friends from Clevedon wrote to me of an experience she had when visiting a church in Rotorua. A family friend took her to visit Victory Church. On the way there, this friend told her his story, one of pain and suffering. He told how he had been in and out of jail, of his broken marriage and how his sister had been stabbed 27 times. She was amazed to see the tough sturdy man with tattoos cry as he spoke.

And then, they arrived at the church where she found things very different from her usual Sunday morning service. She wrote: ‘There was no gloss there. The people were smelly!! Snot on children, mud on trousers, tattoos, scruffy clothes, alcohol on breath at 10.30 am, a singer on stage that couldn’t hit a note, a sermon that was on the pastor’s tablet that he lost mid sermon…

But my goodness, the welcome! They all greeted me. No one wanted to check in “where do I normally go to church? or am I a Christian? ” It was pure welcome. The brokenness of these people was apparent in their prayers and worship as they clapped, they sang, they went to the front and prostrated. There was such depth in their commitment. They were not frightened of their faith; they needed it, they relied on it. Faith was not a tack on optional extra for these people.’

My friend was both drawn in by such an outpouring of love and devotion, and at the same time not sure that this kind of church was quite ‘for her’. But I think her experience holds some deep and important truths for us in our privilege and our tendency towards decent and orderly posturing. We have so much invested in status, in coping and managing and keeping it all together. I think that some of it isn’t exactly a mask we wear to fit in or to cover up, but it’s more about a way of being that allows us to stay blind and numb to the inner poverty of our souls.

We don’t recognise ourselves as needing and interdependent on one another and wholly dependent on God – we think we’re on God’s team, which is the winning team, and we’re making useful contributions by being organised and responsible and successful. Not that those things are bad, they just aren’t truly REAL. When the power of the truly real touches us, it makes us uncomfortable as we must recognise our essential reliance on God and our tendency to put our trust in our home made alternatives. We must recognise our inability to ensure our own security and, once we are willing to see this as the truth, only then can we also hear and respond to God’s grace and the invitation by Love into love and into the fullness of life.

Peace and light,

roxy

November 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 29/11/2015

Encouragement for the Journey


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Greetings Advent traveller,

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the word Advent, derives from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning coming and the root word of wait in Latin and Hebrew, and also means ‘hope’. Advent is a season of preparation, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, it is a time to recall our hope and expectancy in Christ, we await the coming of Jesus and to signify this, we light an Advent wreath.

In the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples, we find the origins of the Advent wreath. Who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, would gather wreaths of evergreen and lit fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and lighter months. Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th Century, Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world.

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God’s, eternal presence, no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of life. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus.

The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, each symbolises a different aspect of our journey, hope, joy, peace, and love.

This week we mention hope, which we all need today. Yet the hope of Advent is not like other kinds of hope. We can hope for a good summer, or the price of petrol will not increase. However, honestly, we cannot be sure of any of these things. Advent hope empowers us to live today with greater enthusiasm and expectancy in the Christ who is present, yet is always coming and found in the most unlikely people and places.   I leave you with this delightful poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul.

And sings the tune

Without the words,

and never stops at all. “

Emily Dickinson US poet (1830 – 1886)

 

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

November 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 22/11/2015

Encouragement for the Journey

Unknown

Greetings fellow traveller,

This Sunday is a significant moment in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. For it marks the transition from what is known as Ordinary Time to Advent, which commences next Sunday.

Transition moments are ever present in our lives; some arrive unexpectedly, while for others we have time in which to prepare, ensuring the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

I am aware, that for some of us, your transition moment is not in the past, but in the present, for this morning you are actually right now, going through your own personal transition experience.

This Sunday is also a communal transition moment in the life of our Community of St Aidans. For it is Roxy’s final service, when she will minister to us through her reflection and in our communion service. Of course we will farewell her on Sunday 20 December at our Café Church.

It is sufficient today, to take time to acknowledge the mix of thoughts and feelings present swirling within us, knowing that Roxy and Mark’s short time with us is ending, so they may continue on their transition journey. As we at St Aidans will continue on ours.

Let us not forget, us humanoids experience transition moments from our birth until our death. There is no escaping from these moments in our lives. For each person’s response and experience to their transition moments will be different and unique to them. It is useless to compare and judge another’s experience, for very often grief in its many guises will be present, and we must not compare one grief experience with another, rather, grief is expressed and shared, not compared.

Through our Christian faith, we trust the presence of God, the One in whom we live and have our transition moments. This presence is present in many varied ways, especially in the love and presence of family and friends who hold and love us in our transition moments. For nothing cannot separate from the love of God in Christ Jesus, not even our transition moments.

May this morning offer opportune moments to hold and support Roxy and Mark, along with each other in this significant transition moment within our individual and communal lives…….

Meanwhile with peace, courage and extravagant love

Alf

November 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 1/11/2015

Encouragement for the journey

St Aidan

Greetings fellow travellers!

Today is All Saints Day, and usually we Protestants are a bit cautious about saints and their meaning and significance to our present time and our faith journey. But at the same time, I’m sure you have heard of patron saints, and here are a few for you to consider:

Accountants – St. Matthew

Bee keepers – St. Ambrose

Clergy – St. Gabriel of our lady of sorrows

Computers – St. Isidore of Seville

Dairy workers – St. Brigid of Kildare

Difficult marriages – St. Rita of Cascia

Earaches – St. Polycarp

Grandparents – St. Agnes

Headaches – St. Teresa of Avila

Juvenile delinquents – St. Dominic Savio

Librarians – St. Jerome

Lost items – St. Anthony of Padua

Lost causes – St. Jude

Lost dogs – St. Felix

Musicians – St. Cecilia

New Zealand – St. Dymphna

Perfumers – St. Mary of Magdalene

Pilots – St Joseph of Cupertino

Poets – St. Columba

Rheumatism – St. James

Scientists – St. Albert the Great

Teachers – St. Gregory the Great

Theatrical performers – St. Clare of Assisi

Toothache – St. Apollonia

Veterinarians- St. Eligius

Vintners – St. Amand

This is just a selection, you understand, and many of the saints have multiple special interests. To begin with, many of these seem humorous – how can there be a patron saint of rheumatism? Or of computers? But if we approach this tradition with respect and seek to understand, might we then perceive the intention and the longing beneath the connecting of a person of great faith and devotion to God with an immediate and pressing need?

Personally I have felt deep connections with saint Julian of Norwich and the Dominican Meister Eckhart. They are wise friends and mentors, and just because they are dead does not mean I cannot still hear their voices in their writing, or catch a sense of their abiding presence. The saints who go before us are alive in God, hidden from view but held within the Life that is eternally pouring forth. Love is stronger than death and the saints are cheering us on – I think that’s worth celebrating.

Peace,

roxy

November 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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