So preaching/ worship leading friends, do you ever lead a service where everything seems to unravel and go wrong? I led two services this morning, the first was fine, and we entered into a good time of worship together, the message seemed to flow, I had planned it to be interactive and relaxed and it was...
The second service was little short of a disaster, I forgot the intercessions and muddled things up, the message was lost somewhere in the confusion. I forgot a couple of vital elements and although people said they enjoyed it/ were challenged by it, I truly wonder whether they were being polite...
It had been a long week, I'd had a big funeral, and a project to present, so I have to admit that I was not best prepared ( I do need sleep), but excuses aside, I am left wondering why one service worked and the other one didn't...
I hope I am not the only one who has experiences like this sometimes, ( not that I am wishing them on you), so for those like me who do mess up; How do you pick yourself up and move forward?
Guess which service my supervisor decided to attend?
My last two posts were poems written following the death of a much loved and faithful church member. They reflect my feelings surrounding her death, and the way that I see the church responding and reacting to it. I did not really know this dear lady personally but have witnessed the pain and loss that others have expressed and shown. As I wrote it occurred to me that it was not merely the loss of this dear soul that was being mourned, but also the loss of the way that things were, and the dawning realisation that they will not be that way again.
Mourning is a liminal space,where we live between the realities of how things were and how things are, unsure which way to step for a while, afraid that if we move all will be lost. Taking a step over the threshold towards the future can be daunting and not a little frightening. For those who find themselves unexpectedly living in a strange land the sense of disorientation can be doubly hard.
I believe that today, maybe particularly in rural Britain, many churches find themselves in this liminal space, and that they are being woken to the reality of their situation by circumstances such as the death of a much loved member, or the closure of a building, or any number of other circumstances that highlight the vulnerability they feel.
This is not a new reality for the people of God, Biblical accounts of faith surviving times of exile remind us that God does not leave us, they also remind us that sometimes he calls and places us way beyond our comfort zones...
I work amongst a group of rural churches in North Yorkshire, I believe that we are beginning to open our eyes upon a new cultural landscape and are finding that we are truly in a place of exile. But there are opportunities here, opportunities to seek God in a new way, to own our vulnerability and to move on from there...
In a recent reflection and presentationfor my own churches entitled "Where do we go from here?" I used these two images;
For me they capture a sense of helplessness and confusion that are often experienced by folk looking for the way ahead in an uncertain landscape. But we are not lost for God is with us, and as we begin to lift our eyes from the confusion he will lead us forward, and will unravel the paths beneath our feet...
We need to journey to a new place, and although I know it has been used before I think this image of Grommit laying new track because he has come to the end of the line speaks vividly and powerfully into our situation today.
We need to learn to listen to the God who drives us into the wilderness so that we need to rediscover his strength, to yearn to be filled by the Holy Spirit afresh, to be strengthened and equipped for the journey ahead, for we might just find that he desires to lead us away from exile, and put within our hearts echoes and longings for home!
I have been pondering the Gospel reading for next Sunday, considering the way that Jesus peers and neighbours reacted to him; it seems that he deliberately provoked them, saying a prophet has no honour in his own town, and pointing to the way that both Elijah and Elisha were sent beyond Israel to Naaman who was leprous and the widow at Sarpeta in Sidon.
Was Jesus being deliberately contentious? I think he was, his friends and neighbours had been delighted with his teaching but he was pointing out that it was not just to them that he was called. Did he overdo it? Maybe so, for it certainly provoked a strong reaction…. but maybe we have forgotten the impact that the gospel should have on its hearers; it is shocking and disturbing and challenging, and ifwe say that it isn't then maybe we aren't really reading it!
Dave Perry has an interesting photo on his blog of the seagull sculpture in the centre of Leeds, I like the way that he has captured both light and shadow in his picture, and have written this reflection in response to his words and picture…
and I offer you a picture of my own…
The light and shadows combine to highlight the beauty and potential of the shore…
By the time you're reading this, I'll be en route to a Great Big City to see my son in a play. I'll go by car and bus and train and no doubt cab and maybe even subway. Thus, our Friday Five.
1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?
Car, I travelled yesterday to collect a new (second hand) car. It is a cheap runabout really with a small engine making it fuel efficient, perfect for the small rural journeys I need to make. We have a big car for longer trips.
2) Have you ever traveled by train?
Yes, quite a lot, all of Christopher's hospital appointments were easier to reach by train than car, we would catch a train into the centre of London and then take the tube to South Kensington. On a more fun note when Tim and I first met neither of us drove, and so we would go for days out by train. My children all use trains to get home from University, student railcards and a good railway system make it easier for them.
3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?
Yes we are served by two railway stations and a regular bus route, and yes I do use it when I can. I have also started to do more walking and even cycle when I can; U believe in staying as carbon neutral as possible!
4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?
An old fire engine; my step-father bought it at auction when we lived on a pig farm for pressure washing the sheds, during the 70's we lived in an area that was being terrorised by an arsonist who was setting light to farm buildings. Our neighbours raised the alarm one day and we reached their property before the fire brigade. We dashed across a field and over a wooden bridge which collapsed behind us. It is a journey I won't forget quickly. The barn was saved!
5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?
The next long trip I am planning to take will either be toSheffield to hear my daughter play, or to Lancaster to watch my son in a play! I guess it's a mum thing!