Tag Archives: friends

Oops to the lack of blogging

As the regular(!) reader will notice, there isn’t so much to read on my blog these days. I so rarely log in, let alone think of anything to write about but as I log in today I discover something in my ‘draft posts’ folder from March. Being so efficient, and with that as such recent news I’ll have a go at finishing that post before starting the one I’ve actually logged in to write.

So… Local Preacher Training (originally dated 9 March 2010!)

I’ve been chronicling my journey throughout my Local Preacher Training and it wouldn’t seem appropriate to let Sunday go unmarked. It was my service of recognition so I’ve officially finished (even if I do have to present my project still)! (Come September, strangely it has now been completed and was accepted – I’ll stick a note on about that too).

A group of friends gathered to share in the special evening – someone from university who has journeyed with me throughout; friends from SCM who have challenged, critiqued, encouraged and supported; local friends as well as a good collection of people from the local church, and the circuit. It was a really special occasion. The sermon was something to be beheld, by virtue of the length and the enthusiasm and exuberance of the preacher.

It was a really lovely way to celebrate the end of, at times, a gruelling course. It felt like a fair end to the journey through my time in Birmingham – I started the course within 6 months of starting my permanent job in Brum and was accredited during my period of notice as I prepared to move out of the area.

After the service, we gathered back at the Community Flat (and finished the feast we started before heading to church). A few celebratory drinks were shared before people headed homewards – all except one good friend and the Mrs. It led to the most fun conversations, and entirely unrelated to local preaching. This friend wins the award for most laid back bride to be: “Well, it took a while for me to work out why there aren’t more 11am wedding ceremonies. The other brides faff on with things like hair and make up… well, I *might* brush my hair!”

(Well, come September it’s hard to keep much more of a focus on the event than has now been reflected on. Eh, well…)

Since the service of recognition in March, a couple of noteworthy things have happened. My presentation on my project went well, even though I was 45 minutes late (horray for buses). I reflected on the things we, as preachers, can learn from artists who use words to make and form their art. Whether poets, creative writers, sculptors or painters, artists use words to form things beyond what is immediately expected. My sister’s artwork inspired me to consider this, and her work can be seen on her website. I reflected that, as wordsmiths, we should be encouraged to practise, to seek new and unexpected inspiration, to seek to improve skills and undertake training. I can’t remember what else I reflected upon, but I got some good feedback and provoked some interesting responses. The Local Preachers Meeting formed the final of my preaching duties in Brum and it seemed a nice exit. My final services were led jointly with a good friend and colleague, at work. Again, it was a nice place to share the goodbyes.

As my job changed (in July/August) I started exploring getting my local preaching fully recognised within my new home denomination. That led to a fascinating series of reading and essays but I now (still, in September) am awaiting a(nother) assessed service. Hopefully once that is done, all the assessed services will be done for the time being. So preaching is very much a ticked box for now and it’s nice to have all the written work out of the way.

So now those studies are done, what shall I do next?

Back in Time

The weekend was spent in a long planned and much anticipated break with some friends. We availed ourselves of a company perk of v cheap accommodation which turned out to be fantastically welcoming and well equipped but somewhat behind the times.

The weekend presented a great opportunity to catch up and enjoy company and scenery alike. We shared cheese and stories, cheese and wine, cheese and mead (yay) and cheese and cheese. Spot a theme? On Sunday we, like the good Christian children we aren’t, went to the local church service. Never have I wanted to wretch the poor limp, lifeless body of the service out of the preacher’s hands so soon into a service! Technically I don’t even think it had started!

It’s probably worth clarifying before going any further that this was a guest preacher who’d never been invited before and I strongly doubt will get a return invite.

On appearing at the pulpit she had the normal time for notices to sort her papers but she evidently didn’t as when she arose she then explained she needed to find the right pages so we’d start with ‘a half minute of silence… Amen’. I can’t honestly say it was any the more obvious she’d found them when she carried on but I guess she must have!

A time of praise would also have given her the opportunity to get sorted and for us it presented what in hindsight was the best of the time. During it, however, our concern and disapproval was clear amongst the five of us. A very formidable school marm-esque lady (of uncertain name) led the singing. At one point she informed us our singing wasn’t good enough so we’d have to do it again better. On another she apparently told off the choir and the computer in the same breathe for apparently not using the right words to a hymn (the computer had spelling errors apparently… It didn’t. It had the wrong words spelled correctly). The finest moment, however, was suggesting all cold callers should be met with bible in one hand and tea in the other to be invited in for discussion. It turned out she only meant religious door salespeople e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses. She made it perfectly clear that she wanted them to be banned from proselytising but that opportunities for us to convert the heathens were important for us. Kinda worrying for these 5 hellbound liberals when that’s the lightness.

As we returned to the main ‘preacher’ she continued in her dithery way through a kids address which would have been effective in anyone else’s hands. Well, almost anyone. Praise lady had a go in a way which only managed to further condemn this failing activity. Afterwards the kids were removed to a safe distance for junior church. The mrs wanted to know if she could be a child on this occasion.

On their departure we were introduced to the hymn with the immortal imagery that our walk with Jesus is like walking a dog (for him or us, we wondered? I also wanted to know whether if I clicked my heels together three times Jesus and I could go home). The Mrs finally gave in at this point and cracked up in tears and laughter. We weren’t sure whether the looks from the woman in the row in front were of sympathy or solidarity, or both.

The prayers, all of them in one go, were shared in appropriate style: wittery, incoherent and unpc. They included little direction but many uncertain uses of the words please and ‘Jesus I just erm’. Highlights included ‘the dark parts of Africa’ and only prayers for the Christians. Even the lords prayer was introduced with something like ‘i wonder if we could now say the lords prayer, erm, please?’

Our one reading was shared, despite two being listed (and the second being more interesting) and the sermon began. Well, you could say it was a sermon, or you could say it was the incoherent, disorganised, inappropriate ramblings of an ill-informed, ungifted and otherwise hopeless person trapped in 1930’s levels of political correctness and who represented not only an affront to my denomination or faith but to all even nominally religious everywhere. On this occasion perhaps I should call it the ‘sermon’!

After declaring her position as one who was pleased that the church followed the lectionary because it challenged her and others to look for something from the readings rather than just decide what to say and find scripture to back it up. If she’d managed to do this we’d have all found it more palatable. She didn’t. She didn’t even seem to have a theme through what she’d said, despite having proposed one at the beginning. What we did learn from her was that she couldn’t work from the lectionary and the whole of Mark was appropriately bastardised and yet she still failed to make a credible point. The only memorable point, however, was that Jesus is a voyeur but only of Christians. Apparently he doesn’t watch other peoples lives. If that’s not an advert for defection nothing is! She also clarified that Jesus hears everything we say and sometimes we should hold onto that and be quiet. We all wanted to suggest that this was one such occasion. She didn’t, however, say anything about the reading we’d heard.

As the ‘service’ drew to an end we had to sing the wrong hymn, thus confirming we were not singing from the same hymn (book) sheet. As we joined hands with those around us for the grace out eyes were met by pleading apologetic eyes who also were uncertain about which of our many sins had led to such punishment.

As we turned to leave the sympathy continued with an invite to the next service with the very obvious subtext that it could in no way be that bad, and should we be brave enough to return on that occasion we could even get an apple for our troubles. Bribery is always the way forward. 😉 More covert apologies were offered and we made the swiftest exit we could get away with. On our return to our own space all 5 of us cracked up in equal measure of tears and laughter. Never have any of us been to a service which has led to such levels of disbelief, anger, frustration and entertainment. The people seemed lovely and welcoming but the service really was an experience to be beheld but certainly not one to ever be repeated!

(aside: is it inappropriate to tag this in the ‘worship’ category?!)

Breaking with Tradition

Last weekend was a momentous occasion… it was the SCM conference.  That’s not the momentous bit… I didn’t go!  For the first time in a very long time (7 years) I didn’t go and it was great.

I understand the conference was great but so was my weekend.  I took the opportunity to get a change of scenery and trekked up to West Yorkshire to catch up with a uni friend, on half term.

My friend and I embraced our shared passions for different forms of crafting and headed off to a rather wonderful centre of inspiration, which either of us only ever go to when together.  On this occasion her husband was left at home so he didn’t have to have the joys of paper, glitter, fabric and yarn inflicted on him again.  We both had a really lovely time and if you’re ever in the Skipton area (and into crafting) it’s well worth a visit.

The two of us had great fun.  She’s all set for making her wedding scrapbook and I’m on a card making mission.  After this we headed back home and made the most of celebrating her baking skills.  Half term had allowed her, and a former colleague, to reunite for a baking day.  My friend, a rather excellent cook, had managed to create a pile of Mocha Cake, Cherry Bakewell Cake and Rocky Road.  So much for my diet, but it was worth it.

On the Sunday morning I set off bright and early (for half term… 11ish) to head back in time to meet the SCMers as they returned through my local station.

They returned looking inspired yet tired from a good weekend.  From all accounts it was a great event but not one I felt I missed, save for the company.  I was a nice change of form to do something completely different during conference weekend, a time in the calendar which was so much a part of my life for a long time.

My biggest challenge arising from it is to now make the time and effort to catch up and visit all the friends I would have spent time with at the conference but didn’t… Diaries to the ready…

Accidental folkie

As many wibloggers are folkies I thought it would be interesting to share reflections from a very folkie month. Those who know me would know that I’m not really a folkie, and a reluctant one at that but in April the folkies have been out to get me.

Since Easter (give or take a day), I’ve managed to see:

Chris Wood
with the Mrs
Karine Polwart
with the Mrs and housemate, D from Up North and Mr Folkie
Kirsty McGee
with D from up north… Ramblin’ Folkie was a bit jealous apparently
Lau
with Ramblin’ and Mr Folkie

and I’m going to see Billy Bragg and Chris Wood (and friends) this weekend. What has happened? I also went to see The Imagined Village which I blogged about here. I have to say that The Imagined Village was still by far the best of those gigs. I’m still not convinced I’m really a folkie despite the membership of the folk club and all, but there are worse things to do with an evening than spend it in a seedy looking pub with an extremely eccentric woman announcing people who play music not entirely to my taste. Or for that matter spend an evening with a good friend in a fascinating venue which isn’t sure whether it’s a cafe, bar, deli or garden centre.

It’s been really lovely to have the excuse to have friends to stay, and to go and see others – the current pace of life suits me much better than madly travelling round the country. I will also confess that I’m particularly looking forward to the next gig, being a Billy Bragg fan (and having seen him several times before). I’m also intrigued as to what it’s going to be like to see the act from behind – I’ve managed a ticket in the choir stalls. Always up for something different, I think it might just be that.

On the work front, things are going well. We’ve found our first community member in addition to me and so I’m sorting that out. Also I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend time in prayer three times most days, and finding silence particularly good. I’m back with the holy again this week as I’m preaching on Sunday and hope that it goes smoothly. I’m quite impressed – it’s Monday and I’ve known what kind of things I want to talk about since last week – normally I work it out the weekend of the preaching. Now I just need to write it. So with that instruction in mind, I shall go off and do just that.

Apologies

I also meant to say yesterday, a big sorry. Many fellow wibloggers and other readers of this site are occasionally in contact with me in Real Life™ however I’ve been really shockingly bad at keeping in touch with anyone over at least the last 6 months. If you’ve been affected by that, then huge apologies and I hope to do better soon. Particularly when I have a phone again.

Proper update

In November I mentioned that life was moving on, and I’d hope to write a little more frequently during a short intermission. As it happened the intermission generally led to a greater lack of internet than the one I had in November. Life has moved on again, and with it my internet connection.

Way, way back many centuries, well months, ago… I got myself a new job. In fact, I got it around the time I last blogged but couldn’t really say a lot. I’m now the Community Leader for an exciting new project in Birmingham at Carrs Lane, a well known local church. My role is going to involve setting up an intentional community and, now I’ve furnished the flat (rather very nicely), is to recruit members to join me. It is going to be interesting to see who comes forwards to be part of this community and where it will be going.

The new job meant that, after a stint as probationary co-hab, I returned, for the second time to this midland city – it’s becoming a little repetitive. The returning, that is, rather than the city. My new job is going to involve spending a lot of time in this fair area. It seems a little entertaining that, given my last job required me to travel right across the UK, that my new one wants me to focus on a small(ish) area of just one city. It’s good though.

Right then, this new job. The background to it, in a general sense, can be found here: Carrs Lane Developments and, if anyone’s suitably interested, the document about applying for the community can be found here: Information for applicants. It’s going to be a little of a challenge to have a wonderful fair trade shop immediately under where I live, the local markets 5 minutes walk away and not even that far to the stations. I fear I make be called upon to put people up from time to time, but at least I can get good and ethical food to feed them with.

With the return to Brummieland, came a little more certainty in life and thus I have returned to preaching. I should probably a) do some homework fairly (very) soon and b) blog some more sermons. Entertainingly enough, due to diary suggestions I’m booked up in November and December but not so much between now and then (not that I’m complaining in the least).

Over the next few weeks and months life will settle down into something of a very different way of life. Sharing in a community life in a very different way to previously experienced, and getting to know the inner depths of a city I’ve lived in for a fail while but never really got to know. This opportunity, for that’s what it is, will (I expect) offer challenges, rewards, difficulties and many things I cannot predict. The first of the challenges will be to find the members but I’m interested to see who comes forwards and what they bring. It may not be easy but it should be worth it.

And all this marvelous journey (which has been kept rather quiet over the last few months), kicked off properly yesterday. A collection of my friends and family came to join me as I was commissioned for this role. It was a really lovely service and my thanks go to all involved (especially to those doing the catering – we were very well fed). The flat survived the guests – there were seven of us in total and there was even one bedroom with nobody sleeping in it and no one needed to sleep under the stairs. The kitchen survived well too, but slow cooking does indeed live up to its name! The sofas and kitchen knives went down well with all who saw them and the church members who looked round the flat seemed pleased with what I’ve done with it. Even with all this happening we still managed (just about) to mark two birthdays and mothering Sunday. Special thanks go to the Mrs and C for helping me get the place sorted: for the lifting of furniture; the successful wielding of power tools; the chopping of excessive numbers of vegetables and much, much more.
However great the service and the weekend was, I’m rather pleased not to be going through it again any time soon. It will be very nice to be settled and to have the opportunity to create and maintain a home, with a group of other people.

So, what else has happened over the last few month – I found more grey hairs and got another year older, we went to another wedding (which was very nice) and I averaged a 1000 miles a month in a wonderful little car which now has be passed on to a careful lady owner (maybe doing slightly less miles than me). I’ve spent a fair while on the M1, far too many hours in Ikea and a wonderful time with friends and family. It’s been a great interval, and I’m very glad it’s over.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be settling into a new routine of prayers, frantically trying to get my local preaching homework done, preparing for a wedding (not mine, just to clarify), community members to find, holiday to have, Holy Week and Easter to mark and a new flat to settle into. Good to see life’s slowing down a little. 😉

But for now I should wish my mother a happy birthday and acquaint myself (again) with the delights of the kitchen.

Well, it’s less than 9 months!

After only 3 months I reappear, this time. Life’s been a little busy again lately – as the last post hinted.

Since last writing I’ve left my job and moved out of my flat – both of which are exciting but a little time consuming. Almost 4 years ago I started this blog to talk a little about what it was like to live in community (of the nun variety), then I moved on and eventually started working within another, very different community of people right across the country and the wider world. I met the most amazing people and had a great time but I’ll write in more detail about that on another occasion. This is now going to be another turning point for both me and this blog, so between now and the next major step we’ll have short intermission (during which time I hope to write more frequently).

So forgive me for talking little over the last year and indulge me in a short witter about the last few weeks since leaving SCM.

The first weekend the other half and I went to a wedding in the Far East (well, further east than we’d been before… East Anglia ish), and however nice that was it immediately proceeded some more exciting (for me) activities. In the week before I finished work a friend had phoned me up to ask my plans and on hearing I had a couple of days said “Can you help us move our boat?”. This led to interesting mental pictures of picking up said boat and carrying it but fortunately that wasn’t what was planned. So we arrived, late on the Sunday night, to a 62 foot long narrowboat and crew that appeared to have been in the wars and the friend then left us with his wife for the three of us to move the boat. I’ve never been on a narrowboat before but I certainly think it’s an experience worth repeating! We cruised slowly down river and worked our way through the locks and got to know each other better. The minor confusion was that both my other half and my friend’s wife have the same name… I’m sure there’s a conspiracy where such people are taking over the world as I know far too many of them! Eventually, I got the opportunity to drive. 😀 In typically NC-styley, I managed to crash into the overhanging trees twice but steered very well under the narrow and low bridge, and round 2 very, very tight corners (the kind that would have been challenging in a car). We saw the most amazing scenary and wildlife – there were so many herons and kingfishers, and we even saw a water vole! The other half is all set to become a canal pirate now!
On the second day we stopped at a town and went ashore for lunch. During this time we realised we’d got suitably used to being on the boat that we still thought things were gently swaying. At the end of the travels we decided to nip by and visit a friend of ours who’s currently imprisoned in a well known university. We kidnapped him, drove him out of the city limits and even out of the county. After such an achievement, we fed him top notch pub grub, then unfortunately had to return him once again. Having never been that far east before, I think we’ve both decided we’re up for another visit (and getting to go on the narrowboat again is only a small incentive, honest).

After such a nice relaxing few days, gaining very good arm muscles, I then packed my flat up and moved out to become (for the short term) a probationary co-hab (bonus marks for getting the reference) but am looking for a new set of accommodation as I need somewhere to go until March then things change again.

But cutting a long time short, we get to this week which has been particularly nice. Starting with the Mrs’ birthday, we went out with her friends for a nice night out but it marks us all getting old. After the meal, we went to the pub… for a cup of tea and we were all back home by 11! What’s happened to us? We’re all aging! This followed me getting my hair cut a lot shorter and now I can see many more grey hairs. Oh dear. 😉 On Tuesday I took a brief tour of the country to go to a job interview south of here, and to a gig north of us. The gig was amazing – we went to see The Imagined Village. If you haven’t heard about the project, you really should follow the link and look them up. A collaborative venture involving people like Martin and Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Benjamin Zephaniah and Simon Emmerson it’s bringing a new expression of folk that even appeals to a determined non-folky like me! It was really a top evening and it was great to catch up with some friends while abroad. Hearing England Half English to John Barleycorn was great, as was Scarborough Fair on the sitar and seeing Eliza Carthy bouncing around the stage. Billy Bragg was teased lots for his pearly king outfit, and Simon Emmerson for his dog film. For me the highlight over all that was Benjamin Zephaniah’s reworking of Tam Lin. All in all it was a really excellent evening!

So yesterday concluded the nice week as C, the Mrs and I went all met up for lunch and then after the day we went out for a meal and a good evening was had by all. This was nicely concluded by a surprise phone call from Tractor Girl who had met up with Orthodoxy so I got to speak to them both! It was great!

With that, I’ll had to bed and I’ll try and write again soon. I owe my successor a leaving speech!

Sermons

I was planning to blog about knitting and sermons for a while. As you will be able to see by the fact that I’ve only blogged once in the last two months (before today), I’m kind of behind in my blogging. Life, it seems, gets rather busy at this time of year. My feet don’t feel like they’ve touched the ground in a while, and it will still be a few months yet before they really do.

Despite feet not touching the ground, Jen and Sarah came to my trial service and this is the sermon from then. I think this is the one but I’m not the most imaginative or sensible when it comes to filenames so who knows…

Readings – Proverbs 9: 1 – 6, John 6: 51 – 58

Sermon
Communion! Bread rolls and grape juice or port and wafers. Communion! That’s what sprung to mind the first, and every, time I read through today’s Gospel reading! It’s something familiar to Christians throughout the world, continues in a legacy started by the first Christians and follows a commandment from Jesus. While different churches have their different approaches and different styles, sharing bread and wine together is what many people, even outside the church, associate with Christianity. Communion is something very special to me and I have been fortunate to share in many different celebrations. From everyone sharing their lunch together at a Christian festival like the one I’m going to next weekend, or joining half a dozen elderly nuns and a priest in a convent to an integral part of a friends wedding or on a normal communion service on a Sunday morning, it is always a special experience. I was intrigued to know what, if any, insight could be gained from the readings. How could Proverbs bring understanding to a practice that hadn’t even started, and why is John’s account so different from his fellow Gospel writers? What challenges can we take from the experience and what reassurance, and how can we share this with others?
Proverbs may not seem the first place to turn but it presents many interesting ideas worth exploring when considering communion. We hear of the host preparing a feast and inviting guests – something that echoes the Gospel reading but we’ll come back to that later. The host, Wisdom is a female representation of the Holy Spirit and the poet tells us that:
“She (Wisdom) prepared her meat and mixed her wine.”
as the New International Version translates the verse. This verse is later followed by the invite to the guests saying:
“Come, eat the food and drink the wine mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.”
The Spirit, in the form of Wisdom, has made a feast for all who want to gain in life and knowledge to join. I think it’s fair to say that most, if not all of us, want to live in the ways of understanding and life – and that invite still applies to us! The Spirit invites all of us, from the beginning of time, to share in the feast and that legacy will be passed on to a new generation by us. Through sharing with each other, and with the spirit we will grow and be nourished by it. As we become more familiar with the Spirit we can begin to understand the role it plays in our own understanding and life. It is our ongoing connection to God, and the gift given to us by Jesus to help us.
To come to Wisdom’s table requires us to admit our shortcomings – we will will always be unable to truly comprehend the nature of God. It also requires us to look at what we are being asked to share in – the feast itself. Wisdom has prepared meat and mixed wine. This is where the echo with the Gospel gets a little louder. It is the same flesh and wine we are invited to consume by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is inviting us to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood. This is the feast prepared by Wisdom and talked about in Proverbs. By sharing in the feast we are entitled to taste the delights she has to offer. We learn more about ourselves and the nature of God through this relationship. It is through the involvement of the Spirit that the feast becomes more than the sum of its parts – it becomes Communion with God.
It is this communion with God that John is talking about. His account of Jesus’ commandment to us is markedly different from those of the other Gospel writers. When Matthew, Mark and Luke offer the Last Supper as the setting, it is worth noting that John does no such thing. John doesn’t actually mention the last supper at all – not in relation to this or any other story in the whole of his Gospel! He emphasises different aspects of Jesus’ commandment and they can add to our understanding but we need to explore why John writes so differently.
The earliest Christians generally came from the regions where Jesus conducted his ministry and were primarily Jewish by background and culture. As the early Christian movement grew, it spread into new areas and reached people of different backgrounds. John, it is believed, was writing from Ephesus in modern-day Turkey around 70 years after the death of Jesus. The community he was living in was so different from those that Jesus visited. The culture, language, religion and lifestyle were completely different and he needed to find a way of getting his message across. He wasn’t writing for people who were seated in Jewish traditions, he was trying to write for everyone. There is nobody who is excluded by the Good News and John tried to write for as many people as possible. As such he wrote with explanations of Jewish tradition for those unfamiliar with it, but also with ideas and images familiar to people from other backgrounds. It is with that in mind that we return to the reading we heard earlier.
John’s exploration of Jesus’ commandment is firmly set in traditions outside Judaism. Many religions of the time held the belief that you could achieve communion with a God by eating some of a sacrifice offered by a priest. The priest would offer the sacrifice and after everything else had been sorted, the believer would be given back a portion of the meat. It was believed that the sacrificed meat was transformed into the God. By eating the flesh, the believer was bringing the God into themselves and would become one with them. The consumption of any food, including meat, is a very intimate process. The food is taken in, absorbed, and becomes part of us. You are bringing something from the outside into you. If it is good, it will feed and sustain you. It will lead to growth and keep you going. The meat from the sacrifice nourished the person not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally – just as communion can and does for us.
By explaining Jesus’ instructions in the way he did, John is giving people an understanding of the importance of Jesus. He is emphasising the Divinity of Christ. It says to the readers of the time, This man is God. By sharing in the feast, we are sharing with a man, but a man who is equally God and equally human. For us, he is our living sacrifice!
John makes it even clearer when he reports Jesus saying:
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. Just as the living father sent me and I live because of the father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
By eating the bread of life, the flesh of Jesus, he is with and in us and each of us is in him. That’s what communion is for us. A celebration of the eternal link between Jesus and each of us. But how is it that the bread and wine that we share become the spiritual foods spoken about by John, or hold the promise mentioned earlier by the poet in Proverbs? The answer is in the involvement of the Holy Spirit. If we were to carry on reading from where we left off in John’s Gospel we would come to a passage about the importance of the Spirit. Jesus talks about the role of Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, when he says:
“The words I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving spirit.”
This refers back to the promise spoken about in Proverbs where Wisdom offers the guests a way to life. The Spirit is transformative. There are many accounts in the new testament of the work of the Spirit and the way it brings life. We are invited to receive guidance for our lives from the spirit, and it is the source of the gifts God gives to share life with those around us. When we share in communion the Spirit is with us and there is a transformation here too. The bread and wine are changed through the Holy Spirit to bring the blessings of life and understanding promised by Jesus and to which we were invited by Wisdom. In the moment of joining in communion we are united with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and by this union we are transformed. We may not always be aware of it but we will have been nourished. Through this small action on our part, we bring Jesus into our bodies and into our lives. Is is with us in all that we are all that we do. Sometimes that knowledge can be really unsettling but that is a good thing. We can be reassured and know that Jesus is alongside us and we are never alone. This is also where the challenge comes.
Jesus is with us in all that we say and all that we do, which means he is with us every time things go well, but also when things go badly. With that in mind, we should try our hardest to be faithful on all occasions. Through the guidance of the Spirit and the teachings of Jesus we can learn how best to act in each situation. We know that we are growing in life and understanding but how are we dealing with that responsibility? Wisdom tells us to leave foolishness behind as we feast and we need to live that out in our daily lives. Jesus tells us that he is the bread for the life world, but we know of so many parts of the world where life is restricted. With the transformative Spirit, we can take this challenge and embrace it. We can each play a part, however small, in the lives of those around us. Whether it’s making a cup of tea, doing a night of babysitting, volunteering for a project or something entirely different we can share with those our lives touch. Maybe our actions will be as small as the pieces of bread we eat, or as short lived as the taste in our mouths but through the Spirit of God they may be changed into something amazing. When we share in or remember the sacrament of Holy Communion, may we feel encouraged to use our lives to share understanding and life with the people we meet.

Oops I forgotted to blog again

I think I meant to write something before now. Oh well, that’s the problem when life gets in the way. It’s been something of a busy month and I don’t intend to go through it all but it’s been good.

In my last post I threatened to tell you a little more about when Jen and Sarah came to stay. They came to stay about 5 weeks ago now and the date of the Sunday is somewhat imprinted on my brain. Jen recounts the weekend in this post. As she said, we had a good weekend and went to the science museum. She was suitably entertained that I could do about as well with the mechanical digger as my reputation (at times) would suggest. Digging is certainly one of those things in life that I’m quite good at, at times. It also appears that i’m not to bad at mending & fixing either at times but I’ll come on to that.

The reason that the Sunday 20 August 2006 was somewhat imprinted in my brain was that it was the date of my trial service to go from ‘on note’ to ‘on trial’ as a local preacher, should I be successful. Those are the first two stages of training and I had to do the whole service myself. It was a challenging weekend because I was so nervous and was so grateful to Sarah and Jen for keeping me sane. When we got as far as Sunday morning, we went to leave my flat but couldn’t get through the gate. It took 5-10 minutes before we could get the padlock to open. That didn’t exactly help with nerves and when we got to the church I realised I’d not printed the order of service for the organist, then she wasn’t up to playing so one of my assessors ended up doubling up to do that too! I was so grateful to her too. My mentor introduced me at the start of the service and was really lovely about it all. He said a few words to the congregation and I could feel the tears just welling up inside me. I decided that the start of the service wasn’t the best time to burst into tears and fortunately managed to hold onto them but I was so, so nervous. I think it’s probably fair to say that the feedback was rather good for the service and I am now ‘on trial’ following the local preachers meeting. Now I have to do lots of study. It was really great to have Jen and Sarah around though to give me lots of hugs. I think that’s probably enough said about that really.

The week after that something rather exciting happened at work. Richard has already discovered what I’m talking about and Wood wrote for it (as did I, a little bit). We made a book and it’s great. Check out Richard’s review if you don’t believe me but it really is fantastic. It’s so amazing to have been involved with it since the beginning, before I joined the staff, and now it’s real. It’s so exciting.

I went to Greenbelt too and it was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I went to my first wibmeet despite being on here for nearly 3 years now. Doesn’t time go fast. Greenbelt was great and I think that it has been suitably reviewed by everyone else so I’ll leave them to it. 😉

So eventually we get to this month and things are as busy as ever – hence the lack of blogging. I went to a brilliant conference and it was great to catch up with people I’ve met over the last couple of years. I also got to spend some quality time with a good friend during the week and we agreed to teach each other new skills. Scary eh?

Speaking of teaching. I understand from Jen that my teaching of relaxation techniques has been quite successful. It’s really reassuring to know that it’s been successful and now I think I probably want to take some of my own advice. This is where the fixing (of Jen, a little bit) has been coming in.

The mending is in relation to my teaching. I’ve been teaching a friend to knit, and she’s teaching me guitar. This is a rather scary concept but exciting too. I’ve never tried teaching knitting before and it was a little daunting but my friend did very well. I was dead impressed and she learned to knit and purl, and cast on. She did really well and put me to complete shame because it took me about 15 years (not continuously, I hasten to add) to learn to purl. :$ At one point, as is perfectly understandable with newbie knitters she went wrong a little bit and I managed to fix it. It’s the first time I’ve tried actually fixing it properly. Normally I’d just unpull it if it was mine, but it wasn’t my knitting which meant I got to learn a new skill too. The guitar playing is a little more interesting. I’m not a very good student at all and I’m very nervous about it. She taught me 8 different chords and I need to practice them but the guitar went out of tune over night so I need to learn how to tune it too. My friend left me a tuner so it shouldn’t be too hard but I’ll give it a go when I get home. I need to practise more but hope to get there eventually. I’ve never been very musical so this is quite an undertaking! Oh well… if she’s going to be doing so well with her knitting, maybe it’s the incentive I need to practice my guitar playing. Wish me all the best with it.

Finally I should provide a little update on my knitting. I went to a knitting and stitching exhibition at the weekend. It was very good and I found some cool yarns made out of such exotic things as Bananas or at least their leaves and stems, Hemp and containing Soy Beans. It was very cool. I also got complimented on my knitting which was fantastic. The people who complimented me do the most exciting things and I’ve decided I want to go off and join them. They do giant knitting and recycling and it’s so, so cool. I texted a friend saying that I’d fallen in love after seeing that stall – she seemed suitably entertained by the concept! I’m still going on with my second sock. I’ll be done before I retire. I had a good crack at it last night but I think the tension might be a little tighter on this one. I’ll have to have a look later and see whether it’s too tight but it’s good to be making progress. Hmmm… maybe I should be counting rows though. I’ll show you a picture of my new bag (which was what the compliment was about) and my sock progress if I can.

Anyway, having not blogged for ages I think I’ve now written an essay so should call it a day. I’ll try and write slightly more frequently, but I do say that worryingly often.