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Telling Stories

We are just back from a double bill of London shows. The first was “The Play That Goes Wrong” – I was crying with laughter, it is brilliant – full of slapstick and beautifully observed humour. It is a Murder Mystery Play by a Student Drama Society in which the set falls apart, relationships shatter, props explode and the players desperately try to deliver their lines and tell the story whilst the audience collapse in laughter. The second was “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” We are brought into the world of an Autistic boy trying to make sense of a dead dog and his parents separation in a world that is loud, where words are confusing but numbers make perfect sense. It was a poignant reminder that this is the way that some of the people served by St. Columba’s view the world.

Story telling’s many forms has the ability to get to the heart of human existence, to open our hearts and give us a glimpse of a different place. Jesus of course told many stories, and they have been re-told in many ways. They open up spiritual experiences and moral dilemmas and share a world enlightened by God’s goodness and kindness, grace and mercy. Yet stories can also be spun into hate and confusion. I write this a week after the Orlando murders, two days after Jo Cox MP was assassinated – each carried out by people who it seems heard a different narrative, one that spoke of fear, hatred, the need to rid the world of those who are different. In any difference of opinion we need to be careful of the words we use, minded that some people are going to take throwaway remarks literally, will not hear any nuanced discussions, and hatred will find space to breed.

We need to keep telling stories of love, grace and mercy; acting with kindness and care. We need to laugh and cry together even when everything seems to be falling around our ears. We need to find ways to communicate across all that divides us and open our spiritual experiences to those who tell a different tale. Reflecting on this week I was reminded Desmond Tutu’s words, “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness.” They seems like good words to carry into tomorrow.

Be blessed, Craig

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Mission News

Talking Mission

Here we are, our first month as Ansty Road United Reformed Church, there has been much to do and we have been focusing on some of the practical issues of merging the two churches and leaving Harefield Road. At our forthcoming Church and Elders’ Meetings it will be time to think once again about Mission aims and objectives.

We began the process last August when we discussed six themes drawn from our existing mission statements and grouped them with some biblical characters that emerged from the discussions we had around the Nature, Faith and Order of the United Reformed Church during 2015. The conclusions we come to as we look forward may be very different but for the moment I would like to continue working with these themes.

Praying like Hannah,  1 Samuel 1

Hannah’s prayer was soaked in pain, bitterness, anguish and grief. It produced praise, power, potential, prophecy, proclamation. Prayer will be at the heart of who we are, it will be place where healing begins, it will be available through the labyrinth, regular prayer times and in an encouragement to spend regular time with God.

Growing like Mary of Bethany, Luke 10, John 11 & 12

Mary is the disciple who learns and worships at the feet of Jesus. Discipleship is about growing faith through learning from the bible and for each other. We will create regular opportunities to explore the bible, make a faithful response  and create discussions that help people think about faith and spirituality.

Welcoming like Martha, Luke 10, John 11 & 12

Martha; housekeeper, theologian, disciple, witness – who together with Mary creates a culture of welcome and worship. We will be committed to creating welcome, hospitality and friendship where people are inspired to worship and witness.

Encouraging like Barnabas: Acts 4, 9, 11

Barnabas is an encourager, he eases tension, finds the best in people, goes out of his way to welcome people into the church. We shall encourage people to make new beginnings and develop their skills. We will put our prayers and biblical pondering into action, emphasising a care for the vulnerable.

Witnessing like Mary Magdalene: Luke 8, 24, John 20

Mary, first witness to the resurrection, yet has been misrepresented through history and sidelined by patriarchal narratives. We will seek ways to witness to Jesus however much the message may be sidelined or ignored. We will explore developing a new centre in Stoke. We will network and partner with people of good will in creating loving communities.

Celebrating like the dancing cripple: Acts 3

A man’s life is turned around when he meets the risen Christ through Peter and John. His reaction is to dance with joy and amaze those around him. We need to celebrate life’s moments, celebrate the good news of Christ, celebrate a love shared. As Dory told us one day, these moments are like a comma changing the flow of a sentence – so let’s find reasons to dance.

So be prepared to share your hopes and ideas. Be open to the way the Spirit is moving, join with us as we explore God’s Mission for Ansty Road United Reformed Church.

be blessed

Craig