Echo

Hi folks! Hope you’re okay?

I know most years you’ll hear someone say something along the lines of “it doesn’t feel like Christmas this year” and I really understand that this year, I’ve had one of those weeks where I don’t want Christmas to come around (mainly when bob Geldof starts spouting about how it isn’t going snow in Africa this year). And then I have periods where it feels okay for Christmas to happen and to come around, I’ve been focussing on the family more this year, I’ve finished work for Christmas, I’ve got time to prepare and to mentally prepare for the Christmas period coming to a head.

Every so often I come across something that stops me dead in my tracks and gives me Goosebumps, and the video below of a woman singing in a church, I have no idea where, but it is so beautifully haunting and peaceful in my head, the echo was the first thing I noticed that made me take notice the first time, it gives me peace inside and helps me to cope with the stress that Christmas has bought to me this year, there’s moments in every person’s life, and faith journey that define them and define moments in a life, and that video is one of those moments in my life, just to sit back and breathe and take a moment.

Have a watch of the video, and see what you think, here’s some questions for you guys as well;

– Where’s the weirdest place you’ve sung, either privately or with others?

– What echo of the Christmas story resonates most with you?

– What if anything has helped you to focus on the simplicity of Christmas this year?

Paz, Andrew

Advertisements

Blue Christmas…

IMG_0021.jpgHi folks, i hope you are doing ok, and that the Christmas season isn’t keeping you from some space for reflection and peace. 

I’ve been in Newcastle a fair bit over the last few weeks, and its been interesting to note a few things… The Christmas markets are up and people are swarming around them, most people are just browsing, but some folks are buying bits and pieces. Interspersed with this is the families that are waiting in line to see Fenwicks’ window, then you have other shops with their Christmas display windows and the numerous folks scurrying around… it’s getting busier by the day!  

And then if you look beyond the busyness and the lights and hustle and bustle scattered around the streets of the city and almost out of sight are the Big Issue sellers and those who have all kinds of mental health problems and various addictions blending into the paths and walls. 

I am also aware of people who are waiting for scans and test results, and those who have lost loved ones this year, or those who’s loss was sometime ago, but yet remains raw. I’m also reminded that the social pressure to ‘have fun’ impacts on many people who face mental health problems each day of the week, all year round and at this time of year, it can ramp up these anxieties ten fold!

This year we are thinking in some of the work I do about ‘Blue Christmas’ – this reminds us that for some Christmas is a dark and difficult time. I write this post not to be a downer on Christmas, but to point to the reality of our world and to encourage us to be kind to one another… we don’t really know what people are really feeling. 

I’m reminded of the Christian message of Christmas, that God is with us… in it all… even when we don’t feel it or know it… ‘Immanuel God with us’… let us try to recognise ‘God with us’ as we go about our planning, and as we meet the stranger and the friend. 

Some questions to think about –

Favourite Christmas film?

What does Christmas feel like for you?

If you could dream a new dream for Christmas what would it look like? 

How can you recognise that ‘God is with you’ as you go about your preparations? 

Peace, Rob

Mary and Martha… what do you see…

Enlarge this picture on your screen & you’ll see that it keeps moving.  As a d-church team, the more we looked at the story of Martha & Mary, the more our understanding & perceptions changed.image00001.png

Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. She had a sister called Mary who also sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said.

Martha was pulled in many directions by her ministry. She came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister keeps leaving me to do this work by myself? When you see Mary can you tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is good for her, and it will not be taken away from.””

Luke 10:38-42

Cristo_en_casa_de_Marta_y_María,_by_Diego_Velázquez.jpg

What do you see in this picture & in the story? Try not to depend on the things you’ve been taught in the past, but look afresh at the story.

Why is Mary sitting?

Is one way better than the other?

Where are the men?

What might Mary be thinking?

Who are the 2 people in the front of the picture?

What’s the relevance of the food?

How would the male disciples react to Mary?

Prayers

Today we ponder, on what we see around us, the situations, the people, the world events.

Is it time for us to seek out a new sense of vision for ourselves?

It is time for us to look at those around us, our families, friends, work colleagues… or whoever it is around us, and to look at them differently?

Is it time for us to consider the situations around us and to look at them with new eyes? To try to find a new way to view them, to give a new sense of purpose, challenge, opportunity?

Why not look at the world around us, what areas do we need to see in a new way? The environment, the political upheaval around Brexit, the conflicts and wars?

Why not name some of them below and use the emojis to say your

Amen!

Thanks for being with us… 

IMG_0396 copy.png

Count your blessings…

20181019_080240.jpgHi folks, this weeks blog comes as a guest blog from Angela…

As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression I am grateful to those around me who encourage me to keep going when I feel overwhelmed. Those who remind me of my worth and that I am loved. I started listening to the bible app PAYG (pray as you go) on my phone again this week and felt encouraged to hear that I am chosen by God, called and have a purpose. That I am cared about in such a way that even the hairs on my head are counted. I’ve been listening to it while walking our dog, Ruby, in the mornings and have enjoyed noticing the changing autumn colours around me. This photo I took recently reminds me to look up when I feel I’m walking in the darkness. Day follows night, difficult times don’t last forever. The light is coming and will highlight the beauty and colour around me soon. I’ve spent a couple of times counting my blessings too, reminding myself that I am blessed to have a loving husband, a roof over my head, a new day to live, health, friends….it’s helped put me in a more positive mind.

To ponder….add to the comments at bottom of this blog

1 A film that you go to when you feel down and how it helps.
2 A piece of music or a song that is significant or helpful to you at these times?
3 A verse in the bible, or elsewhere, that you find comforting / uplifting that you could share us
4 Add a list of things that you can be thankful for.

Peace.

Awareness…

Hi folks, I hope you are all ok.

Last week I was on a coaching course and we watched this video about awareness, this got me thinking about how aware I am of those around me and the situation and places that I inhabit, do I spot the verbal and visual signs when people are struggling? Do I notice the subtle changes in society or in our churches, am I aware of God at work in the world…

Have a watch of the video and see if you can spot the differences in it…

How many did you spot?

How aware are you?

What subtle changes have you noticed in society?

Where have you seen God at work this week in unexpected ways?

Peace, Rob

Remembrance…….

remembrance-red-poppie-1465384930NZ2.jpgRemembrance Sunday

WARNING! – this post discusses death.

At this time, when nations are remembering those who died during the wars, I have been thinking about how we deal with death.  I freely admit that death is something I struggle to deal with myself.  I avoid funerals if I can and have often cried over the death of people I don’t know very well.  I feel a deep sense of loss with death, even as a Christian and having been brought up with the belief in heaven and an afterlife. 

Please watch this 2 minute animation.

https://www.facebook.com/cbeebies/videos/884676865256619/

So what does the clip say to you? 

I accept this is meant for young children, however, does it say anything more than a nice animation about a cute rabbit?  Does it tell the whole story?  Where are the soldiers? If this is meant to explain the reason behind the poppies and remembrance Sunday, has it been sterilised too much? Are we shielding the next generation too much?  Do we risk repeating the mistakes of previous generations by hiding them?

Death was always a close neighbour during previous generations.  Illness, poor sanitation, early childhood diseases, poor working conditions…the list goes on of reasons behind the prevalence of death in communities.  I am sure, like me, you have watched documentaries about how other communities deal with death.  Some making a huge celebration of the life lived; some hold on to the body far longer than we are used to (up to a whole year in one community I watched!); some seemingly dealing with it and moving on very quickly.  Last Sunday in the group I was part of, we talked about some of our own communities who still have the dead person in an open coffin at home before the funeral, for family to see and say goodbye to. 

Perhaps it is because of how many families were touched by death in the world wars and how horrific it must have been to live through those times, that generations following have been shielded, or shielded their own children, from the full reality of death.  Think of the words that we use – “passed away”, “gone home”, “lost”…….. to a young child these words do not really speak of the reality of what has happened and can leave some doubt or misunderstanding, particularly if they never see the dead body.  Having pets and the inevitability of their demise after a relatively short time, can help with an understanding of what it is to “loose” someone close. 

And then what?  After we die what is there to look forward to, or is that it?  Does or should, your belief of what happens next, shape the way you live your life? 

Now please watch this trailer.  It really comes alive with the addition of colour don’t you think? 

https://www.facebook.com/TheyShallNotGrowOld/videos/568137420324022/

I hope some of my rambling has been helpful or just encourages you to have a conversation about death.

Sending peace out to you all.

Angela

Let’s talk about halloween.

download.pngHi folks, I hope you folks are doing ok, and that you are coping with one less hour of daylight!

This week we have a guest blog written by Karen Morley, it’s potentially a controversial topic… or not! Here we go…

I’d like to have a (friendly?!) debate about Halloween.

It’s something I struggle with more and more as the years go by. Initially we didn’t engage with it at all. Christians don’t celebrate Halloween. The last three years or so we’ve carved a pumpkin with a heart and given out sweeties to callers. Sometimes I’ve thought we should perhaps add a message (I know Eva does, and it was well received).

Last night I happened to be out at the same time as the Trick of Treaters. This is what I saw:

A father and young daughter skipping hand in hand in costume having a special time together.

People standing on their doorsteps and engaging with their community.

Mum’s hovering in the background making sure everyone was safe.

People having fun.

People, who at least to the outward appearance, “living life in all it’s fullness”. Hang on! Isn’t that our job?

Meanwhile, while everyone was out celebrating, my children stayed home. Because, someone has to be in to bless those who visit us, right?

Some questions.

What is your experience of halloween?

What REALLY is Halloween celebrating?

What do you know about the festival of Samhain?

What do you think the church should do with halloween?

Let’s talk about the trees!

 

PIXNIO-276010-4691x3126.jpegHi folks, I hope you are doing ok? This week I want to talk about the trees! Psalm 1 talks about the trees like this, it says that we are ‘like trees planted by a stream of water that bears fruit in season’. At our last walking pilgrimage we had the opportunity to walk through the trees along the side of the river, it was beautiful. The leaves, changing colour as the autumn season starts to take hold, the water running by, and along the way we saw a tree which had fallen showing us some of its root and another tree that had come down that we had to go under… so nature and the trees move to their season of dormancy while the constant flow of water runs past, that in due time will bring forth life again. Here we have a scene of life and death in contrast with each other.

This passage also reminds us that we walk in this sense of life and death, the challenge for us is to be people that bring forth life and hope. It seems to me that there is a sense of stewardship in this passage, yes of course to the created order and how we look after the planet, but also wider than that, does it not challenge us to think about the way we relate to each other and even to ourselves. So some questions to ponder…

Have you ever hugged a tree?

How do you feel about autumn?

What words or phrases connect with you in this Psalm?

How does this sense of stewardship challenge you to relate to nature, others and yourself? 

Peace, Rob

‘Are your clothes wrecking the planet’

8-500(3).jpgHi folks, I hope you are doing ok! There has been a bit going on this week and my head has been all over the place, there has also been a lot going on in the news as well. I thought about doing something about #Cakegate, but the story that struck me again this week is an environmental one. I watched Stacey Dooley investigates at the start of the week, it was entitled ‘Are your clothes wrecking the planet’. You can read more herehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/5a1a43b5-cbae-4a42-8271-48f53b63bd07 or check it out on the iplayer.

One of the images that stuck with me was the one of Aral Sea, in the 1960’s this sea covered 68,000 sq km, it was one of the largest inland seas in the world, hosting all manner of fish and wildlife that you would expect. Now the water has all but gone, they damned it further up the river to move the water into the fields to grow cotton for clothes. She explains that it can take over 15,000 litres to water the cotton to make a pair of jeans.

This episode also covers the pollution that pours into local rivers that are used to bathe and cook food. No matter what legislation is put in place locally these firms keep on polluting! Stacey even turned up to an industry conference on making things more ethical and sustainable, and  no-one would speak to her about her findings, apart from a rep from Levis who said “We share information on how to reduce the water footprint of our cotton. We’re working on a solution that takes old garments, chemically deconstructs them and turns them into a new fibre that feels and looks like cotton, but with zero water impact.”

Stacey did speak to several fashion bloggers and they talked about doing their part to not throw out and buy so much and talking to their fans about the issues… small steps in a large issue!

So what…

What is your favourite item of clothing?

What was the last piece of clothing you purchased?

How aware were you around this industry?

What can we do?

Peace, Rob

The universe and the environment.

Debris-GEO1280.jpgHi folks, This week we are meeting upstairs in the front lounge of the Crescent Club from 8.00pm, I hope you can make it along. This week we continue our thoughts about the environment. I want us to think about some words from Psalm 19. Here we have words that talk about the heavens, it talks about the heavens pitching a tent for the sun… Just hold that thought for a moment… poetic words, yet so jaw dropingly beautiful. Check out the psalm for yourself, it’s truly magical!

 As I read that Psalm I was reminded of a trip a few weeks ago with my friends. We walked a lot and enjoyed various beverage stops along the way, we also camped and as we got to our campsite a mate gave me his powerful binoculars, he pointed roughly where to look… as I looked with my naked eye without the lens to help it was incredible! But then when I put the binoculars to my eyes… it blew me away… Truly incredible!!

A program that was shown just this week highlighted the problem of plastics in our environment. It is a real concern and demonstrates the need for better infrastructure and maybe even better products that don’t leave such a trace.It’s a huge topic we have discussed numerous times before! But what about space… I did some digging around and according to NASA there are some 500,000 pieces of debris floating around in space from the size of a finger nail up to a bowling ball. This was highlighted in the brilliant film Gravity. As of 2016 there were some 2000 satellites orbiting the planet as well. Of course space is huge, and there is lots of room, but already the international space station has to change course once a month to avoid hitting something! 

Human beings are being more adventurous as technology improves. Mars missions and further ventures into space are getting cheaper to do. Space tourism is very much on the agenda and so the mistakes of our dealings with the planet could also lead us to do the same in space… All of this begs many questions…

Life on other planets and solar systems… what do you think?

When was the last time you stated up into space? How did it make you feel?  

How do the heavens declare the Glory of God? 

How do we as followers of Jesus keep humanity in check when it comes to our resources on the earth and that which is to be explored in the universe? 

Peace, Rob