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Encouragement for the Journey 27 March 2016

Encouragement for the Journey

Tomb

Greeting fellow traveller,

This being Easter Sunday, I thought I would leave you with a short but very powerful poem. It is written by Edwina Gateley and is called Small Deeps. Often we read poem, and forget the poet. I thought I would offer you something of this remarkable woman:

Edwina was born in Lancaster, England, and her educational experiences have awarded her a Teacher’s Degree from England, a Masters in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and certification as an HIV counselor in the State of Illinois.

From 1981 to 1982, Edwina lived for nine months in prayer and solitude in a hermitage in Illinois. In 1983, she spent over a year on the streets of Chicago, walking with the homeless and women involved in prostitution. Within these two experiences were the seeds of her ministry that would be realized in 1983 when she founded a house of hospitality and nurturing for women involved in prostitution. Numerous groups and individuals, including the Mayor of Chicago, and the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, have publicly commended Edwina’s work and ministry.

I have chosen this poem, because deep in the human heart is the place, for the seeds of resurrection life to take root and in time to spring forth into the light, to blossom with the fruit of new life.

Small Deeps

We are too complicated.

We seek God here, there and everywhere.

We seek God in holy places, in books,

in rules, regulations, rites and rituals.

We seek God in pomp and glory and ceremony,

in relics and statues

and visions and shrines.

We seek God in Popes and Fathers and saints.

Ah, like lost bewildered children,

we seek outside the God

who waits to be found

in the small deeps

of the human heart.

Edwina Gateley

Meanwhile resurrection peace.

Alf

March 31, 2016 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 20 March 2016

Encouragement for the Journey

Palm Sunday

Greetings fellow Traveller,

Reading these words in this familiar place, you may be aware that today is Palm Sunday with it’s well -known story of Jesus entering into Jerusalem, and, later this morning will be our Congregational Meeting. At a cursory glance it might appear that these two events are not connected, yet, at a deeper level, maybe there are connections.

The story of Jesus making his entry into Jerusalem is a dramatic celebratory event, showing an expression of deep joy for the possibility of political deliverance to come. All the people who lined the streets of that ancient Jerusalem to see or participate in the procession would have their own hopes and dreams, thoughts and feelings. This is perfectly normal for us human beings, we each respond to life’s happenings in different ways. I recall in my past life as a Police Officer when I attended traffic accidents, I knew before I took statements from the witnesses, there would be discrepancies, and each would see and hear different aspects of the accident.

The focus of our Congregational Meeting will be our response to the Engineers Report on our Building. I want to remind you that we each will respond to this discussion in our own particular way. The challenge for us, will be to live in the NOW, within the mists of uncertainty. It is the NOW moment that links the two events, the crowd are in their NOW moment, while we this morning will be in our NOW moment.

A way of looking at this is to appreciate that we are the children of yesterday’s happenings, and the parents of what may arrive tomorrow. What we do today will create our future. To live in the NOW with all its challenges, requires we give opportunity for ‘duende’ this is a Spanish word, which in the arts implies emotion and authenticity.

‘Duende’ is that mysterious power which we feel with music, art, and poetry, it touches our soul but we can’t explain, we are held in its embrace and we are transformed. We feel alive, a new freshness has come into our being, our senses are heighted, and we are in tune with the infinite, the sacred, the One we name as God. We enter the presence of Mystery.

I find this quote from John Cleese (Monty Python & Fawlty Towers) is a helpful way of living in the NOW, while the mists of uncertainty swirl around us:

We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode.’

To travel with courage in the NOW, requires openness to life, with all its challenges and opportunities, these are always present. Remaining open, enables us to be transformed with new freshness and vitality. This echoes the words of that man Jesus who spoke about being open to life in all its fullness. Surely this is a life with ‘duende’.

The choice is ours; will it be the open or the closed mode?

Meanwhile peace in the NOW of life

Alf

March 31, 2016 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 13 March 2016

Encouragement for the Journey

Global Mission

Greetings fellow traveller,

While listening to the National Programme this week, I heard a report on the migrant crisis that is still continuing in Europe, in particular on the Greek and Macedonia border, which has been closed. There was an expectation that during the winter months this exodus from Syria and Iraq would slow down, it has, but still the risk is taken with the people smugglers and over a 1000 people including children a day are arriving on the Greek islands.

Later, that day, I was speaking with my brother who lives in the UK and in the course of our conversation I heard the words ‘they’ and ‘them’ being used in connection with the migrant crisis. My brother offered his opinion and I responded.

For those English Grammar aficionados among us, you will know that both are pronouns, however, ‘they’ is a subject pronoun, and ‘them’ is an object pronoun. In case you may be wondering are we having an English lesson, the answer is no.

Rather I want to suggest that the words ‘they’ and ‘them’ depending on the context, may contain a loaded negative inference.

It is very easy to simply use ‘them’ as a means of objectifying a group or people, likewise, in a similar vein we may use the word ‘ they’ to describe a group or people whom we perceive to be opposed to us or we are in conflict with.

I was intrigued some years ago while reading how hostage negotiators operate; they seek to get the hostage taker to look at the hostages as human beings rather than as an object. This hopefully changes the way they respond, from just a head response to being compassionate.

In our individual and communal lives, there will always be people whom we have a difference of opinion with, or a group we may perceive to be a threat to our way of life. It is important to be aware of the language we use, for it holds a negative or positive energy, which will come through in our attempts at communication.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

March 31, 2016 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 6 March 2016

Encouragement for the Journey

Joshua1v9

Greetings fellow traveller,

It feels awhile since I have written an Encouragement for the Journey. I regularly ask myself, why do I undertake such a task?

Simply, to offer some words that may encourage you on your journey of life and faith.

The word encourage, is such a beautiful word, its meaning derives from the Old French word ‘encoragier’ meaning to make strong. So we may say, to encourage, is to offer something that another may use to build up their courage, to strengthen their resolve for the living of these days.

We all need to be encouraged along the journey of life. Sometimes, we are not aware that we need encouragement, yet, when it unexpectedly arrives at the doorway of our heart, it comes like a cool breeze on a hot day, we feel refreshed and enlivened.

There is no limit to how we may encourage, we are only limited by our own response to the creative nudging of our heart. Let me explain, we have a thought, that so and so may need a phone call, a card, a text, a visit, yet, we say, I will get round to it, but first I need to do….. Alas, that thought, retreats and the voice grows fainter. We turn our focus on matters nearer home and an opportunity for encouragement is sadly missed.

Sometimes, encouragement comes from the most unlikely people, arriving in our lives at just the right moment. This is cannot be programmed, rather it is the gift of spirit, flowing within the synchronicity of life. Words of encouragement don’t have to comprise of many words, sometimes, few is quite sufficient, for it’s the presence behind and in between the words, which will express more than we can imagine

Pause for a moment, reflect on your life, is there someone; you may want to encourage today? How would you like to do that? For who knows, your encouragement may make all the difference in their life.

Meanwhile peace on our encouraging journey

Alf

March 31, 2016 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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