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Minister Prayers Walking the Way

30 May 2020 – Pentecost

On Sunday we will arrive at Pentecost. It is the Sunday that remembers and celebrates the birthday of the church – when (according to Luke) the Holy Spirit arrived 50 days after Easter and gave the disciples enough courage in their hearts and fire on their tongues to emerge from the upper room where they had been hiding and to proclaim the good news that Christ was risen and the world had changed.

This Pentecost may feel similar to us. We are being encouraged to venture out from home a bit more, to gather with a few more people but still to take care. More businesses are being encouraged to open to the public and we wait to see just how effective that will be and whether this will allow us to live with this virus or whether it will all be too much. But, even with restrictions gradually lifting, we are not yet allowed or being encouraged to open church building. However, the delight is that all across the country the church has proved itself open for business in a variety of new (and old but slightly adapted) ways. Long may we continue to speak God’s word in new ways.

As I explained last week I’m going to spend this month engaged in old customs (slightly adapted for modern times) by walking our streets in prayer. I hope those of you who are allowed out and are active will do the same. You can plan your own prayer routes and make your own commitments to walk a particular area. The way to do so is to go to https://www.openheavencoventry.org/the-app, register, and mark the roads that you wish to pray for. When you have done so you go back and click on it to say that you have prayed for those roads and pick some more. If you find that there are no streets to pray for in the area you can access, then go and walk them anyway and pray for them again.

My plan this Monday, (1st June) is to start from Ansty Road church about 10am, walk to the Forum, cross the road and walk back up the hill all the way to B&M’s, cross back over towards the westbound side and walk back to the church. I think it will take a couple of hours, but you might want to send some time following the route on a map and somewhere along it we will have prayed together, I am aware that some who are housebound have committed to joining me in this way.

On Tuesday, I will start from St. Columba’s about 10:30am and go into Drapers Field, and then along the canal to Electric Wharf and back along Sandy Lane. It’s not quite so far, but I have a meeting before and after. Join me where you can.

Prayer

May God’s Spirit dance in our hearts, sing from our mouths and rest in our minds. May God’s Spirit fill our souls with joy.

Hymn

She sits like a bird, brooding on the waters,

hovering on the chaos of the worlds first day;

she sighs and she sings, mothering creation,

waiting to give birth to all the Word can say

Bible Acts 2:1-4

Reflection

I love words (you might have noticed) –  the sound, the feel on my mouth, the way they can surprise, shock and be misheard. The way they take you somewhere else altogether. I love to know their meaning – I discovered this week that the Greek word we translate as hospitality is philoxenia – literally “love of strangers”. It is the exact opposite of xenophobia. Wow, that puts a different perspective on how/who/when we give hospitality. I love how words can convey solid ideas and wild imagination. The way they bring me up short, inspire me forwards or make me think again about which words to share.

Of course words can be dangerous things – when they are twisted, slanted, weaselled; when they conspire to create lies and half-truths; when we are reminded that some words are never kept. Sadly, my words are on the whole English. I have a splattering of other languages, but I’ve never been adept at retaining them and have forgotten almost as much as I’ve ever learnt. Even when I think I know another language, I go blank when I have to use it and sigh with relief when I can revert to English – a Scots/Mancunian English that conveys harsh consonants, short to the point vowels and the lilt we called home.

When the disciples emerged into the Jerusalem streets, their listeners heard their mother tongue, the dialect that had been whispered in their ears as infants, the sounds they had learnt on their home streets. They know the nuances, inflections, intimacies and they understand this brogue in a way that they could never quite understand the language of empire and oppression that was supposed to bind them together, but in truth whispered lies.

On this Pentecost, we hear the Holy Spirit in our own tongue. We hear God’s truth become embedded in our hearts, we see the excitement of people hearing good news for the very first time, we share the passion of those being confronted by grace once again. In his commentary on Acts, Willie Jennings calls these verses “The Sound of Intimacy”. What a wonderful way to become aware of God’s Spirit alive in peoples lives.

Prayer

May God’s Love bring us together

May Christ’s peace be shared with all people

May the Holy Spirit blend our voices in one healing breath.

 

Hymn

She dances in fire, one with God in essence,

waking tongues of ecstasy where dumbness reigned;

she weans and inspires all whose hearts are open,

nor can she be captured, silenced or restrained.

John Bell & Graham Maule

© WGWG. The Iona Community

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Minister Podcasts Prayers Walking the Way

Pausing for Breath

The fifth in our series of conversations explores our response to John 17 and the prayer of Jesus for all who would walk the way of Jesus.

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Minister News Prayers Walking the Way

Sunday 24 May  Sixth Sunday after Easter

I wrote last week about the way in which this time has created a new routine in the way I work. But routines can’t last for ever and already it’s time to change to a new pattern. Throughout June we are going to join with churches across the city in praying for Coventry. This is going to be done by walking every street whilst we pray. When this was planned we had no idea that it would coincide with a time when we have been unable to go out unless absolutely necessary, and just at the moment when those who can are emerging to look around a world that feels very different to the one we knew in March. Yet, it is still a time when we are unable to open our church buildings – so how apt that before we can imagine going back into our buildings we must walk through our communities and pray for them. 

So I am going to commit myself to a prayer walk every Monday and Tuesday through June. So there will be no time for Podcasts, or the Bible Study unless something new emerges whilst I walk and pray. I would love you to join me in this enterprise. We could walk as two or three together, but you can also plan your own prayer routes and make your own commitments to to walk a particular area. The way to do so is to go to https://www.openheavencoventry.org/the-app register with it and mark the roads that you wish to pray for, when you have done so you go back and click on it to say that you have prayed for those roads and pick some more. If you find that there are no streets to pray for in the area you can access, then go and walk them anyway and pray for them again. 

But the other way that you can support this is by following the route I give you each Sunday, follow it on a map and pray with me. I will begin on 1st June by walking the whole of Ansty Road and on 2nd June by walking from St. Columba’s and around Drapers Field. Each Monday I will be somewhere around Ansty Road and on Tuesday’s around St. Columba’s. 

But this week, we finish our May routine. On Tuesday will be the final bible study in our 1 Peter series join us at 7pm on Tuesday at  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4043156568. And next Sunday will be our podcast for Pentecost bringing that series to an end. We will return at another time having listened for something new to say. And at Ansty Road another change will begin, on Monday the builders will move in and so whenever we return to church it will be to something new. It means that none of us can go in the building without first checking with the builders. Please do so through me. But also, how exciting, nothing stands still. 

be blessed, 

Craig

 

Prayer May Jesus be glorified through the life of his people. 

May God be glorified through all who know God’s presence in the world

Hymn I heard the voice of Jesus say

‘Come unto me and rest;

lay down, O weary one, lay down

your head upon my breast.’

I came to Jesus as I was,

forlorn and faint and sad;

I found in him a resting place,

and he has made me glad.

Bible John 17:1-11

Reflection This is the prayer of Jesus for disciples who are going to negotiate the world without him. In some ways this is the real Lords Prayer, the one we know by that name was a teaching aid. Here in John, Jesus is commending disciples into God’s care. They know God’s name, that Jesus has come from God. They have been given God’s word and know the truth that comes from God. They will remain in the world and so need God’s protection in order to remain a united community of God’s people. 

This is a prayer for people who are going to be pulled so many ways by so many different demands. The pull of family, religion, and tribe. The complications of work, loyalty and ambition. The love of pride, wealth and status. These are people we recognise, facing similar pressures to those we face and Jesus fears that these fragile disciples will crumble under this pressure and yet also knows what he has trained them for. I can remember when I was first ordained as a minister, so full of expectation and hope, ambition and ideas. Suddenly I was faced with an enormous pastoral situation, a baby was born with severe brain damage and lived just six short days. I found myself with these parents I had only just met, grandparents I met in the lift on the way to the ward and I didn’t know what to say or do or even if I could cope. I didn’t know if my training had equipped me for this situation – but discovered it had. Somehow I ministered to them (and they ministered to me) and we discovered that God had given us just enough resources to live the next day. And every June for the last 22 years we remembered Ella and her short life amongst us. 

Prayer Righteous God, though the world does not know you, we know you, and we know that you have sent Jesus to make you known to us, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for us may be in all people and that Jesus may be in them.’

Hymn I heard the voice of Jesus say

I am this dark world’s light;

look unto me, your morn shall rise

and all your day be bright

I looked to Jesus, and I found

in him my star, my sun;

and in that light of life I’ll walk,

till travelling days are done.

H Bonar (1808-89)

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Minister Podcasts Prayers Walking the Way

Dwelling with Prejudice

Our third podcast explores John 14 and the ways we dwell with prejudice.

Credits

Lemn Sissay “Colour Blind” in Gold from the Stone

Alison Phipps and Tawone Sitholé “border crossing in Togo (insert place of choice) in The warriors who did not fight

Piano played by Brenda Beauchamp.

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Bible Study Minister Walking the Way

To the Scattered

The First letter of Peter is written to the scattered Christian communities in first century Asia Minor, it reminds them that despite the harshness of their life that they are sanctified and more precious than gold. What might the letter be able to say to 21st Century people scattered to their own homes?

Join us on Zoom every Tuesday from 28 April to 26 May. For the link contact Craig or check the letter sent to church members for Sunday 26 April.

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Minister Walking the Way

Disciples in the Modern City #1

In May I had the privilege of listening to Rowan Williams, speak on Disciples in the Modern City. He told stories of three remarkable, awkward, rebellious, idealistic, radical women and the communities that emerged around them.

The first was Maria Skobtsova. From a wealthy Russian family she rebelled politically and religiously, espousing atheism and radical politics. However,  too radical and idealistic for the Bolsheviks she fled Russia for Paris in 1923. There, her second marriage collapsed and she dedicated herself to theological studies and social work.  She had been drawn to the Eastern Orthodox Church by focusing on the humanity of Christ, “He also died. He sweated blood, Thy struck his face.” Living in extreme poverty she began a ministry of hospitality amongst a community of refugees. She would venture to the market to find surplus and rejected food for a rejected community. When she felt a vocation to be a Nun, she found a Bishop willing to accept the vows of a twice divorced woman who refused to go into contemplative seclusion.

In the 1930’s she welcomed the Jewish refugees that were arriving in Paris. During the Occupation protecting as many as she could, declaring “Every Christian should wear the yellow star.” At the heart of her community was interdependence and solidarity, she was never Lady Bountiful handing out gifts to the poor. Her work was the common work of all who stand in need, “We should not give away a single piece of bread unless someone means something to us.” Maria would eventually die in the gas chamber at Ravensbrück, maintaining solidarity with her community until the end.

Rowan Williams closed with a question about discipleship and I pass it to you. “What solidarity do you make with people on the margins of safe society?” Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” and I ask, “How does our discipleship express love and solidarity with our neighbour?”

be blessed

Craig

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Minister Walking the Way

Learning Habits

Last month I wrote about the Holy Habits of discipleship. This month I want to focus on the key habit of learning. At Ministers Summer School we looked at discipleship and were reminded that “A disciple is learning to live the way of Jesus in their context at this moment”

The first disciples of Jesus learnt at his feet – remember Jesus telling Martha that sister Mary had chosen the better part by choosing to learn from him (Lk 10:42). On another day she learnt of his compassion as she fell at his feet grieving her brother (Jn 11:32). Those disciples shared the stories and sayings of Jesus so that later generations could continue to learn and be identified as disciples.

Our learning takes the experience of first century Israel and translates that into our own context – sometimes we discover that human experience changes little across times and cultures, other times we discover that modern life creates its own questions to be explored in this moment. Thats why we continue to explore the bible on a Sunday, or in small groups and should be doing so in our individual lives – not as some strange add-on to church life but as a normal holy habit that is shared with those around us.

So what was the last thing your learnt about Jesus? How did that impact on your 21st Century life? How can we enable each other to learn? What help do you need with your own learning? Speak to you your Elders, let us know and help us to find ways to support your discipleship.

Another thing I learnt this week was the idea of TTT – it’s a question to be asked each Sunday – what will you de doing This Time Tomorrow (or Tuesday or Thursday)? In answering it, we hear about the challenges of being disciples Monday to Saturday and get an insight into the ways we can prayerfully support and encourage one another in our daily lives. So, be ready with a response when I ask, “What will you be doing TTT?” And receive the prayers we offer.

be blessed

Craig