Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

Lent blog 2003

This is Grace's first communal Lent blog. There was a rota for posting to ensure an entry every day (of course some slipped!). It is in reverse order, starting at the bottom.

Happy Easter

That's it from this blog.

Thanks to everyone who contributed and thanks to anyone who's joined us by reading it.

Enjoy celebrating Easter.

Posted by Adam on Sun 20 Apr 2003


Are you frightened of dying? I don't mean frightened of death itself but of dying, i.e., how we’ll die. Was Jesus frightened of dying? Certainly, his cry of dereliction suggests as much: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus entered into the place of deepest human fear and alienation. Knowing that gives me some sense of reassurance as I contemplate dying. Not that it removes my fear, but it assures me that it is only through experiencing such fear and alienation that I can receive new life. But this is not only true for death itself but also for all the little deaths that we have to die. Parts of us are continually dying, whether it’s through the loss of a loved one, unemployment, ill health, a broken relationship, moving house, our children leaving the nest.....

When we’re in the middle of these deaths, it feels only like fear and alienation. People try to jolly us along, but their words are hollow and cannot reach us. Perhaps that’s because it’s only through being overwhelmed by the fear and alienation that we can find new life, for it’s only then that God can take over. That’s what happened when Jesus called out to God in despair. It was in that moment that God began the work of bringing Christ back to life, not sometime during the night on Saturday. It was in Friday’s dereliction that Easter began.

What death are you dying at the moment? Can you trust that in dying God will bring new life out of this death? Know that whatever fears hold you back, there is one who waits for you in the darkness and alienation, the one who's been there before.

Posted by anna on Fri 18 Apr 2003

your will be done

today is maundy thursday when we remember the last meal jesus had with his friends before going to the garden of gethsemane to pray and accept god's will for him to die. james kessell has put a piece on gethsemane together here. i don't think i know james but a couple of others in grace do and put me on to it. anyway it is a very simple but effective meditation - thanks james!

Posted by jonny on Thu 17 Apr 2003

Movin on up...

A few days ago, we moved house. I was shocked to find that despite our belief that we are good at throwing things out/recycling/giving old things to charity shops, we had uselessly stored a number of boxes that were full of tissue paper. We had saved the said boxes from the last move with the idea that we would use them and their contents again to wrap our stuff the next time we moved. This did not happen - cos we forgot we had kept them, and all that did happen was our movers carried pointless boxes around, filled with tissue paper and bubble wrap.

This time around, as we unpack our stuff in the new flat, we are throwing out more stuff than ever before and not even keeping any empty boxes or wrapping. We have more room than we've ever had. I guess lent time is for chucking stuff out.

What can you chuck out in your life? Are you carrying around any empty boxes?

Clear out the rubbish in your life. Make room for Jesus.

Posted by Moya on Tue 15 Apr 2003

Previously on 24

For Nero fiddles substitute Tiger putts - and it's not Rome that's burning. Hopeful of my weekly reassurance that the world's crises can be resolved in one day I was faced with golf! Now don't get me wrong, I like golf - but really, aren't there more important things to concern us at this point in time than who will grace the Butler Cabin? Holy Week is the time when the world can say that it CAN ALL MAKE SENSE. Think on...2 quotes :

"Obey your thirst"
(quote from some advertising company)
“But I am still running, trying to capture that by which I have been captured”
(quote from ‘The Bible - Philippians Chapter 3 Verse 12’)

Try to use this week to make some sense of our world.

P.S. Had no replies to my previous entry - where are the alternative film worshippers?

Posted by Mike (missed the 12.00 deadline) on Tue 15 Apr 2003


On Satuday night (last night) at St Mary's Church in Ealing, Grace held a "Stations of the Cross" service. One of the stations was "Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem". He told them to stop crying and look after the children. It struck me that we need to look outside our own world - what we know and makes us feel cosy - and be more outward looking.

In the service this morning we were asked to imagine what it would be like to have Jesus staying with us as a house-guest. Would we do anything differently? The thought appalled me.

On the station we were asked to make a print of our own hand and think of ways to give practical help to someone. The hand prints were all very individual like the different gifts we have.


Help me think more about others. Help me remembers that others have problems, too. Help me respond to them even when I'm busy or preoccupied with my own problems

Posted by Deborah on Sun 13 Apr 2003

stations of the cross

in preparation for saturday's grace, here's an interpretation/animation kind of on the theme of stations of the cross. turn your volume on or if you don't like the soundtrack add your own...

Posted by jonny on Thu 10 Apr 2003

Stop being such a martyr....

Today, the church commemorates Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who was martyred for his resistance to Hitler. He gave everything he had to give, even life itself, for the sake of the gospel imperative to oppose evil and fight for justice. In his death, we glimpse something of THE death which defeated evil once and for all.

Watching today’s pictures of American troops entering victoriously onto the streets of Bagdad, I wondered how many of those who were tortured and murdered for their resistance to Saddam would ever be commemorated. No doubt the songs of the real heroes will remain unsung.

I imagine that few of us will ever be commemorated for our work for the Kingdom, few of us will be asked to give everything, even life itself. But there seems to be a heresy infecting today’s church: you’ve got to do more, help more, pray more. It’s almost as if God is unable to act unless we’re working for him 24-7. But if only we’d learn to live in the freedom that we’ve already got a Saviour, who tends to work not because of us, but despite of us, then perhaps those of us with a messianic complex would be able to stop being such a martyr......

Posted by anna on Wed 9 Apr 2003

An Invocation for Lent from the Iona Community

Into a dark world
a snowdrop comes
a blessing
of hope and peace
carrying within it
a green heart
symbol of God's renewing love
Come to inhabit our darkness
Lord Christ
for dark and light
are alike to you
May nature's white candles of hope
remind us of your birth
and lighten our journey
through Lent and beyond

Posted by Harv on Tue 8 Apr 2003

what do you want Jesus to do for you?

This story is told in Mark 10:46-52.

Bartimaeus was a blind beggar sitting beside the road to Jericho. A crowd of people passed him by and when he heard that Jesus was the source of all the commotion, he shouted out ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ People around him told him to shut up but he persisted, knowing that Jesus was his only hope. ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’

Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him over.’ Bartimaeus threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus.

And Jesus said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

I’ve thought a lot about that question over the last couple of days. Why did Jesus ask him? Wasn’t it obvious what Bartimaeus wanted?

How would you answer that question? If you had to sift all your needs and wants and unfulfilled dreams and frustrations and imperfections, and condense them to one simple request - what would that one request be?

Bartimaeus asked, knowing that Jesus could answer. And he received his sight.

(Thanks to Anna for using this passage over the weekend!)

Posted by Jenny on Mon 7 Apr 2003


passion pic

Posted by joel on Sun 6 Apr 2003


i should have blogged yesterday, but i only got home from holiday at 10.30pm and didn't feel like it.

this blog has come at a bad time for me. i'm going through a period when i don't feel like communicating very much, except maybe in pictures. my concerns are my own and have nothing to do with lent. like mary i'd rather ponder a lot of stuff than put out. i experienced a lot of grace on my holiday, i wrote a lot down, but reading it back it just seems dumb. it had to be lived rather than added to the world's verbiage. it seems like a matter between me and god. maybe my lent is about communicating less.

the only thing i want to say is this as a 'moment of grace' for the postcard series:

when the latte arrives at the very moment you finish the dessert, without the least glance or gesture on your part.

Posted by steve on Sun 6 Apr 2003


Lent is a time of preparation.

Take 3 minutes, watch this simple animation and consider what you are preparing for...

To get a copy of the animation go here.

Posted by Adam on Fri 4 Apr 2003

Embracing the darkness

Only one could embrace all this darkness,
Only one could carry all pain,
Only one could return hate with loving,
Only one keep forgiving again and again...
Cause of him I will wait in the darkness,
Cause of him I can cope with the pain,
Cause of him try not to stop loving
Cause of him try forgiveness not blame.
One day soon he will banish our darkness
One day soon he will end all our pain
One day soon love will overcome hatred
one day soon forgiveness will reign.
Until then I keep treasuring questions
Until then try and cope with your pain
Until then draw on love without measure
Until then make forgiveness my aim.

Philip Nott Lent 2003

(with apologies to Maggie Dawn, Martin Joseph and the book of Revelation)

Posted by Philip Nott on Thu 3 Apr 2003

The existence of Spiderman is a load of hot air.

Today was my husband's birthday and at 6.30am I was blowing up Spiderman (I enjoyed saying that!). This was an inflatable Spiderman (5ft tall) that one can currently buy from all good toy shops. He has suction pads on his hands and feet and I stuck him to the outside of our 2nd floor flat window. His discovery provided great amusement for my Spiderman-loving husband. The entry of Spiderman into our lives on a more lifelike scale has set me thinking.

1) Would the war have started if Spiderman were real?

2) My husband likes Spiderman due to the very humanness of him in the cartoons and that he struggles with his own psycology and life in general. Okay, yes here I am going to bring in Jesus, but Spiderman tripped the thought in my brain, that Jesus stuggled with things too eg. in the desert or asking his Father if it was at all possible that he didn't have to die after all. A comforting thought when we struggle.

Posted by Moya on Wed 2 Apr 2003

I hope you haven't given up music!


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.
I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned,
they've summoned up a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.
Ring the bells that still can ring ...
You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

"Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs"
Leonard Cohen
McClelland & Stewart, 1993

(Extra points for the grimly relevant film this is featured in.)

Posted by Mike on Tue 1 Apr 2003

Christ beneath me

Beneath are the everlasting arms - and they bear the print of the nails. No matter how far I have sunk, He descends to lift me up. He has plumbed all the hells of this world that He may lift us upwards. He is our firm support.

David Adam - The Edge of Glory

Posted by Deborah on Mon 31 Mar 2003

pray for iraq

rejesus web site is posting a prayer every day for the war in iraq. sometimes it is hard to know what to say - i was glad to have someone else voice something. if you want to pray visit here

Posted by jonny [for harry] on Sat 29 Mar 2003

Poem by a Confederate soldier

I asked for strength that I might achieve
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey
I asked for health that I might do greater things
I was given infirmity that I might do better things
I asked for riches that I might be happy
I was given poverty that I might be wise
I asked for power that I might have the praise of others
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life
I was given life that I might enjoy all things
I got nothing that I asked for
But everything that I hoped for
And almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered
I am most richly blessed.

Posted by Jackie on Thu 27 Mar 2003

welcome to the wilderness

this is taken from peter king's blog. i would have just linked directly to the piece but other than linking to the whole blog couldn't seem to do it so have taken the liberty of copying the piece in whole here - hope he doesn't mind. it's from a group that have just started a new service in worthing:

Welcome to the wilderness.

Welcome to the wilderness.
This is a place of material deprivation.
In the wilderness your means of support are stripped away.
You have no money.
No coins or notes in your pocket. There is nothing to buy - no shops, no food, no water in taps or bottles.
You have become poor. You are deprived.
To survive you have to rely on the rain and the land.
There is nothing you can do to provide for yourself, water is either there or it is not.
You can search for it but you cannot make it appear.
You have the clothes you arrived in. Eventually they will wear out.
Your shelter is a tree or a cave. They do not belong to you but you can use them.
You have no friends, no family.
There is no-one for you to rely on. You are alone.

Welcome to the wilderness.
This is a place of sensory enhancement.
Can you hear the wind? Does it whistle or does it howl?
Does it bring an unwelcome chill to the air or a refreshing coolness?
Is it night or is it day?
Do you long for the sun?s light or dread its unrelenting heat?
Do you fear the night and what may be hidden in the darkness or do you relish the chance to hide from the open spaces?
What can you smell? The dryness or the damp?
Can you smell plants or flowers?
Are there animals nearby?
Is there earth or sand between your toes? Does the ground feel sharp or smooth?
When you run are there rocks to cut your feet?
If you cut yourself how will you stop the bleeding?
If you fall how will you climb back up?
If you become sick who will tend you?
When you are tired where will you lay your head? A rock for a pillow?
Are there insects in your wilderness? Will they crawl over you?
Is your wilderness a place of fasting or will you eat the berries?
Will you try to catch an animal?
Will you try to light a fire?

You are alone. You have no-one to rely on. You can hear the wind, you can feel the ground beneath your feet, the sky stretches far above you, you can smell the plants.
You are very small in the vastness of the wilderness.
Just a speck.

Yet something or someone has been searching every corner of the wilderness. They know you?re there. They know you are very small, yet they search because you are of immense value.

The searcher knows the wilderness very well. He has been there. He understands the loneliness, the deprivation. He knows the cost of the wilderness. A note of desperation enters his cry as he searches. His promise echoes to the heavens as he strives for its fulfilment: I will never leave you nor forsake you?.

Are you scared? Do you feel like shrinking into the depths of your cave?
Or do you feel like running and running until you meet with the searcher?
Either way you know there is an inevitability about this search. The searcher will find you. You know it somewhere deep inside your being, yet still you don?t know whether to hide or to run.

The searcher approaches - very gently. As you would approach a small child tentatively stretching out your hand, so the searcher approaches you, and you know you have the option to refuse.

Words come into your head: "My beloved, come to me. Are you thirsty? I will give to you such that you will never thirst again. Are you weary? Are you laden with burdens too heavy to bear? I will take them and give you rest. I have promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Come to me."

What will you do? The searcher has travelled great distances to find you, yet the last small step is up to you. The searcher is very close. Can you hear him? Can you feel his breath nearby? Can you hear the rustling of his clothes? What will you choose to do?

In the wilderness some find that for which they have been looking. They emerge renewed, enlightened, with a new perspective on life. Others spend their wilderness as they spend everything else, in striving for what isn?t there, in wishing things were other than they are, in self-absorption.

How will you emerge from this wilderness? If you have met the searcher you will be changed, your eyes will have been opened. There will be freshness in your life. Your priorities will have changed. There will be a wellspring of love deep within you. Your life will become a simple act of worship.

If you have not met the searcher, there will be other wildernesses, other times. He will not stop searching, he will not stop loving and wanting you.
You can be sure that it is within the nature of the searcher to search, for his name is Jesus.

Posted by jonny on Thu 27 Mar 2003

and you held me

and you held me and there were no words
and there was no time and you held me
and there was only wanting and
being held and being filled with wanting
and I was nothing but letting go
and being held
and there were no words and there
needed to be no words
and there was no terror only stillness
and I was wanting nothing and
it was fullness and it was like aching for God
and it was touch and warmth and
darkness and no time and no words and we flowed
and I was given up to the dark and
in the darkness I was not lost
and the wanting was like fullness and I could
hardly hold it and I was held and
you were dark and warm and without time and
without words and you held me

Janet Morley

Posted by anna on Wed 26 Mar 2003

A call to risky living

Lord, I trust You,
Help me to journey beyond the familiar
And into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
And break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, can I trust You
To be stronger than each storm in me?
Do I still yearn for Your glory to lighten on me?
I will show others the care You’ve given me.
I determine amidst all uncertainty always to trust.
I choose to live beyond regret and let you recreate my life.
I believe that You will make a way for me and provide for me,
If only I trust You and obey.
I will trust in the darkness and know that my times are still in Your hand.
I will believe You for my future,
Chapter by chapter, until all the story is written.
Focus my mind and my heart upon You,
My attention always on You without alteration.
Strengthen me with Your blessing
And appoint me to the task.
Teach me to live with eternity in view.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven.
Feed me,
And, somehow,
Make my obedience count for You.

Taken from 'Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community'

Posted by Harv on Tue 25 Mar 2003

a different response to the war

I heard someone talking on the radio today about the US helicopters that Iraq said were shot out of the sky by a civilian on the ground with a gun. Of course, the guy on the radio said that wasn’t possible - this was the latest technology, an invincible weapon of war. No old farmer with a rusty rifle could overcome it. Although, he added, there was one part on these helicopters which the pilots called the Jesus nut - because if that was hit it would be the end; only Jesus could save you.

I’ve thought a lot about Steve’s post since it went up. I can understand why he feels like that and respect his decision. But my response has been different.

I don’t feel I can award myself the luxury of a media fast, because this war is happening to me. OK, not at all in the same way that it’s happening to the people of Baghdad, or the British forces who have been hit by an American missile, or the TV reporters who have died. But the government that I voted for has sent its troops to invade a country of people like us, people working hard to make a living, trying to live the best lives they can. I don’t want to go through the next few weeks or days - however long this war will take - oblivious to that. The Iraqis have no choice but to be fully aware of what is happening to their country and their people. I want to remember them, and the people who are doing the fighting, and the people who have made the decision to send them there and I want to try to pray, although much of the time I don’t know what to say beyond ‘Lord, have mercy’. We’ll all have different ways of coping with what’s happening, but I suspect that prayer is where our experiences will overlap - Lord have mercy.

Posted by Jenny on Mon 24 Mar 2003


i've done a flash animation (you'll need a flash plug in to view it). click here

have also redone if you're interested....

Posted by joel on Sun 23 Mar 2003

give up the media for lent

I dare say right now the war is progressing as wars do. Some gains, some losses, deaths and injuries, explosions and silences, speeches and press conferences. I don't know, because I haven't bothered to turn on the TV or look at those parts of the newspaper today. Not even the BBC website.

At some point between September 11th 2001 and now, I realised that most of the climate of fear and tension in which we live comes from our immersion in the media, in whose interests it is to keep us in suspense, always reading, always watching. It's not enough for us to be made miserable by what has already happened - we must be made miserable by what might happen. We must be made to feel that we might be victims of terrorism at any moment, even though death by such acts is as rare and exotic as death by man-eating tiger. As September 11th showed, the problem of the media is that everything that happens happens to us. Which is a pressure our ancestors never knew and for which we're probably not designed.

So I decided not to partake, or only sparingly. Because while my head is full of punditry and the world's traumas, I can't create. Or be cheerful, or enjoy the world around me. If the darkness prevents that it has prevented the only blows i can strike against it.

I'm not advocating detachment or escape from the world's problems. at least not all the time. but when all one can do is worry helplessly or spectate at the disaster, i feel i'd do better to shut it out and do something more positive.

Posted by steve on Sat 22 Mar 2003

lost wilderness

The simple temptation of the familiar is a strong one. It's easy, to stick to what I know. Nothing to question, familiar challenges.

An extra day at work, 20 minutes of MTV here, 15 minutes (or hours on days like today) of 24hr news channels there, a video of the series I recorded, blogging, emails, bulletin boards, drinks with friends - ways to pass the day, all familiar, all easy to slip into.

Lent is reminding me to try and defy the temptation, not just for the sake of beating a temptation for Lent (no point in giving any one thing up for Lent then diving back in at Easter). The challenge for me is to find some space outside of the familiar, time to listen, to question.

Posted by Adam on Fri 21 Mar 2003

First Strike

Once again I decided to post my first thoughts and still nothing cheerful to report. There was no escaping the start of strikes against Iraq and many students staged a "walk out" day in protest - as I saw for myself from the cafe window.

Here's what Albert Einstein once had to say...

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

Posted by Mark on Thu 20 Mar 2003

A thought - or lack of it

Take 5 minutes right now just to stop, chill, kick your heels back, look out of the window and consciously receive whatever refreshment God wants to give you at this point in your day.

Posted by Moya on Thu 20 Mar 2003

One day

One day.....
youngsters will learn words they will not understand.
Children from India will ask:
What is hunger?
Children from Alabama will ask:
What is racial segregation?
Children from Hiroshima will ask:
What is the atomic bomb?
Children at school will ask:
What is war?
You will answer them.
You will tell them
Those words are not used anymore,
Like stage-coaches, galleys or slavery
Words no longer meaningful.
That is why they have been removed from dictionaries.

Martin Luther King, preacher, civil rights activist

Posted by Mike on Tue 18 Mar 2003

Time for some soul gardening

Lent could perhaps be a time for us to give God time to work with us on some "soul gardening" Gardens need to be weeded in order to give plants the space to grow. Perhaps we need to create some space in our lives for the Spirit to grow things in us. It may mean that aimless internet surfing, late-night soul numbing TV(you know the ones I mean!)or another "important" activity such as these may have to give way.

And replace them with what? How about talking to a friend about important stuff like your relationships, work or faith journey? How about reading a gospel and putting ourselves into the stories to hear Jesus challenge us or console us afresh? Or just resting in the hospitality of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit?

Posted by Philip Nott on Mon 17 Mar 2003

A way I pray

A way I pray is every night using a prayer bracelet. A prayer bracelet is a piece of string/rope with knots tied in it. After every twenty-five knots there is a bead. After you have done one hundred knots in the string/rope you tie the two ends of the string together and put a last bead on. At every knot in the bracelet you say the Jesus prayer, which is Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. At the first bead you pray for the Holy Spirit to be with you while you pray. At the second bead you lift up to God everything that's on your mind. On the third bead you pray for any particular person/people and on the last bead you wait in silence for a bit.

There are plenty of variations for the prayer bracelet. You can have fewer knots between each bead. I have seven between each one. Also, you don't have to have beads you could have shells instead.

A picture of a prayer bracelet, made by my mum. (This isn't my one - mine has less knots)

Posted by Harry,age 10 on Sun 16 Mar 2003

Mixed motives - theirs, yours, mine.

The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. All this will I give you if you bow down and worship me.

Jesus said, "away from me Satan. For it is written, Worship the Lord, your God, and serve him only."

The roots of the Lent tradition lie in the desert. It started in the journey of the Israelites to their Promised Land, through hardship and discomfort. Thousands of years later, Jesus fasted in the desert where he had to confront temptation in all its forms. Glittering prospects of power and immortality were paraded before him from which he turned away. It all looks easy as written down, in a few lines, but the 40 days were more likely to have been a painful struggle and confrontation between different parts of his nature, human and divine. All of us have to confront the conflicting motives in our own shifting hearts and minds.

Today another struggle is taking place in the desert and in the world and the mixture of motives among nations and leaders can seem painfully obvious. There are the good motives: justice, delivering the oppressed, ending tyranny, security and safety, peace. But also lurking are competitiveness, power seeking, lying, determined lack of understanding, chasing of popular support, vengeance, and simple arrogance which have created a muddy bewilderment on a global scale. Do the leaders themselves recognise their own mixed motives, or just those of their counterparts?

Perhaps while we scrutinise the leaders, we mustn’t look away from ourselves, we need to start by searching within. But can we confront our own motives? Do we truly know why we act and think the way we do? Are we motivated by obedience to God, or just some of the time, or hardly at all? Are we seeking to impress others, get ahead, or trying to avoid any trouble? What is it that drives our hearts to ironic detachment, looking good, defiance, self deception even in the midst of serving God?

Mixed motives are not necessarily a bad thing – as long as we wise they remind us where we are coming from. And from where we can come to God, knowing that he loves us not for these carefully worked up self complications, but for who we really are.

He searches and knows us. And everyone else in this world. Believe it.

Posted by Jackie on Sat 15 Mar 2003

simple prayer

thanks for life
lord have mercy
your kingdom come

i don't know if this is helpful but i've thought about this for years but never got round to writing it anywhere so the grace lent blog seemed the perfect place. i guess in some ways it was inspired by the jesus prayer. i was trying to think in terms of prayer what things did i want to say. these three seem to capture it and extend the scope of the jesus prayer a bit:

gratitude for the gift of life
prayer for god to show me, others, the creation his mercy
and for god's kingdom of justice and peace to come on earth as it is in heaven

there's no particular way to pray it - they can be themes or lines to be repeated. yesterday i tried praying these using the prayer cord that jen made after the grace on the jesus prayer. if you remember it was in four sections of 25 knots. so i used one section for each and then the last section for silence. just an idea....?

Posted by jonny on Fri 14 Mar 2003


For Thursday, a prayer written by the late Monica Furlong.....

Be silent
Be still.
Alone. Empty.
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God
Look upon you
That is all.
She knows.
She understands.
She loves you with
An enormous love.
She only wants to
Look upon you
With her love.
Let your God
Love you.

Posted by anna on Wed 12 Mar 2003

Hard return?

Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son

“More than any other story in the Gospel, the parable of the prodigal son expresses the boundlessness of God’s compassionate love. And when I place myself in that story under the light of that divine love, it becomes painfully clear that leaving home is much closer to my spiritual experience than I might have thought...
Leaving home is much more than an historical event bound to time and place. It is a denial of the spiritual reality that I belong to God with every part of my being, that God holds me safe in an eternal embrace, that I am indeed carved in the palms of God’s hands and hidden in their shadows. Leaving home means ignoring the truth that God has ‘fashioned me in secret, moulded me in the depths of the earth and knitted me together in my mother’s womb’. Leaving home is living as though as I do not yet have a home and must look far and wide to find one.”

Henri Nouwen
The Return of the Prodigal Son

Is it time to head for home?

Posted by Harv on Wed 12 Mar 2003

harvesting seaweed

I was given a book called The Earth from the Air for Christmas, 365 stunning photos by Yann Arthus Bertrand, taken from above of people and places all over the world. The photos show the incredible beauty and diversity of this fragile globe on which we live, but also our interdependence. Today’s picture is of a man harvesting seaweed in Bali, making the most of ‘otherwise unpromising space’ to make a living. These photos produce a strange combination of feelings in me - awe for God who has created such a rich and beautiful planet as home for us, and shame for the myriad ways in which we exploit one another and spoil our environment.

It's hard to know how to live so as not to cause others harm. I may recycle my newspapers, buy free range eggs and fairtrade coffee, but I also drive a car, buy asparagus from Peru and throw clothes away just because I'm bored with them and fancy something new. There just seems so much one could repent of in Lent before you've even got out of bed in the morning. Maybe my guilt antennae are too finely tuned after a childhood in the Brethren church. Maybe I need to learn to say thank you to God more.

Posted by Jenny on Tue 11 Mar 2003

the fourth gift

a bit stuck on ideas so click here

Posted by joel on Mon 10 Mar 2003

a link in the chain

I've never done good things
I've never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue
[David Bowie, 'Ashes to Ashes']

I have no problem with the idea of coming from dust and returning to dust. What happens in between is the problem. Maybe I've never done good things, or bad things, or anything out of the blue, but for as long as I am not dust I am a link in some six-degree chain. Without each of us the chain fails.

Cory is a Divinity student from Ohio, studying in Aberdeen. Steve Taylor in New Zealand, who also studied in Aberdeen, linked him to me, and this weekend I linked him to Grace and Moot. I do this kind of thing a lot, by email and sometimes in the flesh. Whatever else I do, I'm in the linking business. Sometimes it feels like I must be number three on everybody's chain.

I'm tempted to feel important, and in one sense I am important - because I am a link in a chain. But that's probably it. The best thing about this is the friendships. It's not about being the destination, or the biggest link in the chain, but about faithfully passing something or someone along towards a destination of God's choosing. We are all carriers of the Kingdom, and it's not ours to keep or claim ownership. Just to be faithful in passing it on. How many degrees of separation is anybody from a follower of Christ?

Posted by steve on Sun 9 Mar 2003

one degree

The idea of six degrees of separation really appeals to me. The idea that, however physically separated we are, we are all only 5 (on average) acquaintances apart. Obviously it not only appeals to me but also to others as it continues to inspire entertainment and challenges.

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return

On Ash Wednesday this solemn statement is repeated to each person as Ashes are imposed. A sobering thought at a time of repentance but as we move through lent we should take strength from these words and their implication. If we are all created equally from 'dust' we are only 1 degree separated from everyone else. A connection as close as your family and closest friends.

Often Lent is seen as an introspective and singular journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, take comfort from sharing that journey with others on their own parallel paths. Others that, however physically far apart they may be they, are still only 1 degree away.

parallel blogs: wiblog for lent - graceway

Posted by adam on Sat 8 Mar 2003

The First Thing I Noticed On The Way To Work

Now, I know you would like a cheery little message. Me too. But I stumbled on this, and since I decided to go with first thing that struck me, here it is.

Lent, I suppose, is a time for mourning (pancakes apart) in preparation for the crucifixion, and this advert for social workers is the story of Errol.

"We want people to realise that social workers and social care staff help some of the most vulnerable people in society including children, older people, people with mental health problems, physical or learning disabilities and the homeless." "Social workers deal with intellectually and emotionally challenging work every day that can transform people's lives."

Errol’s not afraid of death - he tells you he’s had a good life. Only think he wants is a dignified walk to the pavilion. His family far away, called to say he can’t manage alone. They were big things you did because they made death a small thing to Errol.

Posted by Mark on Fri 7 Mar 2003

Thursday 6th Meditation

Reading: Luke 4:1-13

This reading is for me about totally working out our lives with God all the time....'One does not live by bread alone....worship the Lord your God and serve only not put the Lord your God to the test (or do what God is wanting and not what I am wanting to do out of self centredness, hoping it will be blessed). For me it is about (like Lent is) - about focussing, getting better about not being sidetracked or forgetting that God is there....about working life out with God as far as we are able.

The following is something to do that. I've nicked it from 'Beyond Words', a book by Patrick Woodhouse...

"To go to your room, and focus the mind in the silent discipline of your practice [of listening to God], is to seek God for himself alone. Then prayer, instead of being a thinly disguised process of spiritual calculation, becomes the daily offering of a gift...our muddled selves just longing." p.89

Focussing...meeting with God...just being...bringing heaven closer to earth and vice versa.

Thought: do the 'thin' places the Celtic christians talked about just exist when or where we want them to? Or out of our disciplined attentiveness to God can we live in the thin place more often?

(If you have any further theological thoughts on the thin places idea U can email me on

Posted by Moya on Thu 6 Mar 2003

Sup up your pancakes and collect your ash

In 1756 the king of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting because of a threatened invasion by the French. John Wesley recorded in his journal on February 6th:

'The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration'.

In a footnote he wrote, 'Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion was averted.'

Wesley also wrote:

'Some have exalted religous fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it.'

A frequent practice of the Pharisees was to fast on Mondays and Thursdays because these were market days and so there would be bigger audiences to see and admire their piety.

If we give up green jelly babies or mars bars for lent are we merely pandering to modern day nonsense or is this a serious attempt at following a biblical commandment?

What if we give up something we need?
Should we only give up fairly-traded products?
What if the money we save is given to a worthy cause?
Do we 'suffer' to tell the world that we are holy?
Do we suffer at all?
Does walking around London with a dirty mark on our heads provide our city with the joy of the promise of forgiveness?
Does purple suit you sir?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. A day of repentance and fasting for Christian churches throughout the world.

The Collect for Ash Wednesday

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent;
create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
we may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect forgiveness and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted by Mike on Wed 5 Mar 2003

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