Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

Lent blog 2004

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.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

A few years ago I was working at Spring Harvest over the Easter weekend. On my team was a woman called Rachel who was a missionary in Russia. On Easter Sunday she arrrived for our session with great excitement and greeted us with the words, 'Alleluia! Christ is Risen!' We mumbled 'Good morning.' She was amazed at our lack of enthusiasm about the fact that it was Easter Day. She said that in Russia everyone greeted each other with the words, 'Alleluia! Christ is risen!' and the response would come, 'He is risen indeed! Allelluia!' She said you could wake a drunk tramp on Easter Day who had been sleeping on the street, with the words 'Alleluia! Christ is risen!' and he would respond, 'He is risen indeed! Alleluia!'

I don't know if that's true although as she is a good YWAM missionary I don't suppose she made it up. But it has certainly changed my perception of this day.

This is the day when love conquered death, when truth overcame evil. This is the day when Mary Magdalene heard her name spoken in the still of the early morning and her unbearable grief turned to wild joy. This is the day on which our whole faith hinges because if there is no resurrection then we are to be pitied more than all people.

So, shout it out.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Posted by Jenny on Sun 11 Apr 2004


Before we think about today, I was taken with part of the Good Friday meditation at St Mary’s yesterday and offer a version of it here.

‘Lord Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom.

Remember us, not for our impressive CVs, nor for the things which we hope will appear in our obituaries. Not for being postmodern or even postmen, not for blogs and video trickery, not for knowing the B side of an obscure single, not for being awesomely alternative.

Remember us, not for the virutes we occasionally display or for any credit we think we have in our moral account.

Remember us, as one of the criminal community who hung at your side, and if life will not let us be in paradise with you today, keep a place for us.’

Holy Saturday is about emptiness. ‘The cross is empty now, and still.’ Where is the Lord? The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found.

There is only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday. It must not be like any other day - there simply is no other day like it.

Below is an extract from one of the strangest, and yet most moving readings of the year: it is taken from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday.

“What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out Adam, our first parent, like a lost sheep. The Lord goes in holding his victorious weapon, the cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast and in terror calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand, he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper. I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands; arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me, and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness, the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.’ ”

Posted by Mike on Sat 10 Apr 2004

Have you washed your hands?

Posted by Adam on Fri 9 Apr 2004

out of space?

here's some more then...



















Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the Present.

Posted by moya on Thu 8 Apr 2004


Why did Jesus have to suffer so much?

What would I think of a God who was shielded and detached from the word, in a distant heaven, aloof from the world’s suffering? ("Is anybody up there listening?")

How could such a God identify with us?

How could I RESPECT such a God?

(A few years ago a poster for a Disney film had the caption "Respect is due!" and a picture of people grovelling in front of the Emperor. That isn't respect.)

But Jesus was human and experienced all of life, including the very worst the world could throw at him. We need never think that he can’t identify with our suffering.

I could not follow a God whom I did not respect. But I can respect Jesus.

And now for something completely different. Pilate's famous question "What is truth?" translates into Latin as "Quid est veritas?" This can be rearranged to give the answer "Est vir qui adest" which translates as "It is the man who is before you".

Posted by rebecca on Wed 7 Apr 2004


It’s easy to become disenchanted with attempts to liven up Jesus' parables. Having heard them time and again as a child, whether from childrens' bibles or from the various translations, the first telling using 'contemporary' categories was illuminating, but such attempts quickly descended into cliche. It wasn't that I couldn't see the parallels of God's love in the father from The Prodigal Son, but it was all just too familiar.

In their book "Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals", Herbert Anderson and Edward Foley pick up on John Dominic Crossan's claim that all stories exist on the continuum between parable and myth. That pure myth is pure aspiration, that pure parable is pure grit. They argue that the Jesus story is parable as it reflects the reality of life, just as the phrase "all things work for the good of those who love the Lord" is myth because it focusses on future hope, as yet some way off.

In that context, perhaps we tend to read Christ's parables all wrong. When we reach the endings, we enter the mythical. The father embraced the son and invited him home. The parable is found in the elder brother's reaction, as is sometimes noted, but is it most of all in the immediate joys of the gluttonous lifestyle and the grime of the pig farm. These are the realities which ground us, and the points of identification. That is where we live.

Posted by James (covering for Harv) on Tue 6 Apr 2004

get up and do stuff

despite how appealing the above advert is. you’d never see it on tv. can you imagine nike selling arse groove cushions or the like? would they still make as many billions a year?

most of us put stuff off right until the last minute or tomorrow. but then we never do it. we only do it when we’ve got a boss/teacher/parent standing over us holding a whip.

but why not do it today?

why not rest later?

surely that’s the sensible thing to do…

“where do you want to go today?

why settle for surfing the net when you could be changing the world?

this is not a rehearsal.

you only live once.

seize the day.

choose life.

go on”

carpe diem

so get off the couch and go fix that wonky shelf…

bye bye

Posted by joel on Mon 5 Apr 2004

space [again]

my excuse is, i've just been to vaux

given my state of mind and life at the moment, it was good to lie on the floor and look at the beautiful vaulted ceiling for most of the service while we listened to voices and music. it gave me a space of a different perspective, outside work and the domestic, in which i might recover a sense of self not defined by those things.

today was palm sunday. i wonder what jesus did after the hoo-hah of the triumphal entry and the cleansing of the temple. the gospels say he went back out to bethany, apparently to the house of his friends martha, mary and lazarus. he probably found there a space away from the pressures and demands of his public role. somewhere to not be jesus for a while. to just be human for a bit longer. to enjoy it while it was still possible, before his humanity became a trap. i'm sure he couldn't have faced what happened next, couldn't have engineered it dare i say, without those spaces of recovery and shelter, and their memory.

Posted by steve collins on Mon 5 Apr 2004

Richmond theatre

Inscribed above the stage at Richmond theatre is its raison d'etre.

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art

It's a quote from a poem by Alexander Pope.

What would a church be like that had that quote as its mission statement?

Posted by Jenny on Sat 3 Apr 2004


I've decided to post a rubber Chicken - prompted I might say by a reverend person earlier this evening. A pathetic connection with Easter I admit. My reason (perhaps) is that life seems full of humour especially when it's going badly; even in sadness there's room for a laugh. The lovely Peter Ustinov died this week. He was asked what he would like on his gravestone and he said, "keep off the grass".

Posted by Mark on Fri 2 Apr 2004

Mind the Gap

I was reading the Economist last week end and was really struck by the photo below.

Reading the other articles in that issue brought to mind the many gaps there are in our lives and communities. It’s not the fact that the gaps exist that is surprising, but how accustomed we and others are at avoiding and ignoring them - either wilfully, through neglect or exhaustion.

Just some of the gaps discussed in the Economist:

  • The growing gap in people’s trust in governments over issues such as war in Iraq, GM crops, MMR injections.
  • Microsoft and European Commission – the difference between how business views the consumer and how consumers view business.
  • Israel and Palestine - and growing gaps following the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
  • Taiwan - how the small gap in the election results is causing a bigger gap with China that threatens a military build up.
  • The Pensions Gap and the potentially divisive gap between the old and the young - as a community how do we work out how we support ourselves without depriving future generations.

Which brings us to the think about the one who came to fill the biggest gap, that between us and God. How even when he was on the Cross that separated him from his Father he still reached out to the criminal, to fill that personal gap so that he could be with Jesus in paradise. This brings me to a picture by Salvador Dali that has always had a great impact on me and I try very hard not to over use in church video presentations.

Posted by Richard (& Sue) on Thu 1 Apr 2004

Desert Experience

I have been conscious recently of many friends living desert periods. It’s brought back a time for me – 12 years ago, almost to the day, when I was plunged into a period of illness and personal trauma. I suppose I can talk about it now, even if its still paintful, because I can recognise that it led to something very special – even though at the time it felt like the end of everything.

It was of course completely unplanned by me.

I was in a pretty big job, Multimillion project, something I had always dreamed of doing. Pushed well beyond my limits – I was given added responsibility, not because they had particular faith in me, but because there was nobody else around. I became seriously ill, I was forced into my dark night, I didn’t go there willingly, I – I was angry, hurt, in pain, and in isolation –It was brutal. I would never have chosen for that situation to happen to me. It still gets the emotions welling up if I start to think about it.

It was during that time, that I was forced into reordering my whole life and plans. Confronting the fact that the dream job was a trap. That it was not place and the situation that God wanted for me. That my priorities, hopes and dreams carefully built over time had to be set aside - that was difficult. That God had other plans for me and that he knew better. Which he did. Actually it took about 5 years, before I eventually really followed through on those weeks and what the whole thing taught me.

Looking back now, this was the greatest turning point of my life. The path out, was slow and difficult but it was set, and God has brought some truly wonderful things from it.

And I also realise, reluctantly, that from time to time, that the transformation is far from over. ,I still need to check my direction with God, and to reorder my priorities and my direction, and to renew my strength.

Perhaps there is no other way. For anything to really happen in our lives, requires a turning point which is never without pain, challenge, temptation and loneliness, without waiting and prayer.

Lent is that difficult reminder of the struggle that to follow Jesus requires personal transformation, casting things aside, things that matter to us in favour of what matters to him and what ultimately brings us true fulfilment.

Last night I visited a young girl from Romania, who was a victim of the sex traffic industry. She had endured terrible exploitation. She was now alone, she was in a hostel, she had nothing to do, and her prospects were bleak. I felt so helpless. And yet, I felt this girl’s determination to come out of the dark place she was in. I can only trust that if we call on God, he bring us out of these dark times and through to the other side.

Posted by Jackie on Wed 31 Mar 2004


Ring-nosed green parakeets are not native to the UK but for the past 20 years (so I am told) colonies of them have hung out in the greenery of south west London. I have seen a gang of 60 by the Thames in Windsor and one in Bushy Park, Teddington. My office at home looks out over our garden. There is a big tree at the end of it where every morning, about 7 parakeets sit. They perform entertaining acrobatics on the highest branches. I don't know where they go in the afternoon – possibly for beers down the local. Being parakeets they have a good chance of striking up a lively conversation.

Anyway, it makes me happy to see these birds as it is a very rare thing and they are far bigger and more brightly coloured than any of the other birds around. This curious happening reminds me of this saying of Jesus (adapted for blog-use)…

"You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as [a parakeet in south west London]. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket do you? I'm putting you on a light stand….shine!

Matt 5: 14-15 from The Message version with adaptation in [ ] by Moya

Let your little light shine Posted by Moya on Tue 30 Mar 2004

sorry i missed my day there

Yesterday I had no internet. Today my divorce was finalized. Not in the mood to blog. Happy lent and all that.

Posted by Daniel on Mon 29 Mar 2004


There must be something seductively tempting about betrayal or we wouldn’t do it so often. It’s not so much about what we can have, as about what we don’t want. It’s as much about dissatisfaction as it is about desire.

Sometimes it’s just not enough to Be. What’s so wrong about hogging the limelight, kudos, status, basking in our own glory, grabbing a piece of the action? Just being recognized would be a start…..

But there’s always someone coming up with self-righteous exhortations to just be content with what we have. Have you ever tried peddling that nonsense in advertising?

Surely it’s a fundamental human right to have it all and now…

Ambition is good, because it drives the world. Necessity, despite the sales pitch, is the mother of convention, but if you really want to motor, try being the child of luxury.

And nothing is so good it’s not worth betraying. Good causes, ideologies, nations, people…… they all have their sell-by dates.

The world keeps turning and so should we.

Kiss and tell


Posted by Mark Poulson on Mon 29 Mar 2004

Kid for Sale

Lent, Fasting, whats it all about ? not sure, but if you don't pick something easy to fast from then it can be difficult. I hope!

Difficult to say no to like food, alcohol, tv, sex, sleep, chocolate, caffine, meat, xbox, whatever is your fix. Self denial to basic things or comfort things, struggling to resist temptatations that rise from within, consumeristic and hedonistic values that say feed me, i can have, i must have, i will have, oh good i have it now, attitude.

Take a look at this picture, what do you see ?

I can see here a helpless child, when the future is not orange, it is not bright. It is very grim. It is desperate. The headline behind this picture 'Kid for Sale' should make the front page news in my opinion yet it is confined to the supplementary pages of the news website.

Khith is two months old and was up for sale for £25, to a baby trader in Cambodia. His mother eventually decided not to sell but she can't afford to feed him. This story of desperation repeated in unique ways in the lives of millions of others.

Fasting for me sharpens my perspective, i often fast by not eating food, i like eating food, but when my stomach is screaming to be to fed, and it feels like like hunger pangs are too much, i am reminded that 80% of our planet earth cannot afford the luxury of a decent meal, and consider themselves fortunate to have bread or rice, nevermind a bar of chocolate or a can of coke.

Somebody told me the other day that the hunger cramps is one of the most instense pains that a baby feels. Now even as i write this i have shed a little tear for this Khith,who is genuinely poor and helpless, whose 'B' page newsworthiness does not get it the priority it deserves.

I dont mean to bring a picture of doom and gloom, but a reality check, a remembering of all our brothers and sisters in which we all inhabit the same planet. Fasting gives me a reality check when I learn to look beyond myself and my current situation.

So why not today spare a thought, a prayer, a donation, an action to help, towards others in desperate circumstances.

Posted by pauly on Sat 27 Mar 2004


The colour of lent. Purple symbolises penitence and self discipline. Due to the expensive dye, purple is traditionally seen as the colour of royalty, wealth and power. So whilst we wait for the king, purple is the colour.

Now, the cost of fabric dyes is obviously less of an issue, we're more likely to debate what shade of purple is the new black. But what does purple mean to you?

a purple website
purple heart
my car is purple, the brochure called it chagall blue
deep purple
the colour purple
interior design to get that mystical, serene, heavenly vibe
the paint colour in the best campus bar of my student days
clergy's shirts
purple rain
purple prose

Posted by Adam on Fri 26 Mar 2004

Pregnant with God

March 25th, the feast of the annunciation. Nine months and who knows how many shopping days ‘til Christmas. In my lent group last night, we were thinking about the agony Mary must have felt when watching her son die, an agony coloured by knowing that she was complicit in his death, that they chose it together. Mary by saying ‘yes’ to God, Jesus by being true to his message.

Mary was given a choice that day the angel visited her. The answer: “let it be to me according to your will.” She chose the tough, risky path; the path of huge suffering but the path which offered life.

Are you being offered a choice similar to the one Mary was offered? A choice in which you can see the risk, the deep joy and pain in one way forward, and something more like ease and normality in another? Is God holding out a choice like this for you now - an opportunity to be involved in some risky, faith-demanding business? Or - to put it another way - what of God are you pregnant with right now?

Posted by anna on Thu 25 Mar 2004

handling appetites

Recent news coverage has been giving major time to a series of subject that until recently would have been considered very passe and definitely not cool. HIV infections are back on the increase in London and all sexually transmitted deceases in general across the UK. Concern is being expressed in high places. Binge drinking Britain is raising more concern as drunken excess washes all over our city centres every weekend. And then there’s the fat thing. Obesity is becoming a real problem, even in the very young.

Christian tradition has always sought to put fasting in the picture as far as true discipleship and spiritual growth are concerned. Another term for this area of the Christian character is ‘temperance’ or ‘self discipline’ to give it its more modern name. But temperance was not mere moderation or avoidance of extremes. It was a virtue which produces cheerful asceticism. Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope…..” Positive discipline in the good pleasures of a good creation.

It is exactly because the sensuous delights of life (food, drink, sex, etc) are divinely ordained that they are very dangerous if completely unrestrained. They need to be tempered and brought to their true quality. The body is good and the gifts of physical pleasure are good but only if they are subordinated beneath the higher calling to honour God in all we are and do. As Paul says in 1Cor 9:25-27 “Athletes exercise self control in all things simply to win an earthly perishable prize but I keep my bodily appetites in check and knock my body into shape so that I might not loose my heavenly prize.” (My paraphrase.) We need to control our appetites. It is only by a godly detachment from the world that the world’s beauties and pleasures can be fully enjoyed. It seems that the true path to earthly joy, as well as heavenly glory, are still to be found along the well worn tracks of former spiritual disciplines.

Posted by Steve Paynter on Thu 25 Mar 2004


I found these old Victorian Bottles buried in the ground and they got me thinking about renewal.

When I look at them I see them as more beautiful and precious than the day that they were made. I hope to create giant Chandeliers using them.

Generally people don’t like change, it brings uncertainty and we usually find it easier to stick with what we know. God asks us to be like him but this doesn’t mean loosing our personality or uniqueness. He created it and doesn’t want to destroy it. Christ-likeness is about changing our character. Paul writes, “…take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you” (Ephesians 4:23-24 TM).

Posted by Errol on Tue 23 Mar 2004


As we enter the Lent period the conversation normally gets round to ‘and what are you doing for lent this year?’

We all go about our Lenten Journeys in different ways, some of us giving up on things we can well do without, others on more responsibility, by praying more regularly, by reading more or whatever we feel we need to do as we build up the story to the death of Christ and his glorious Resurrection.

Its easy to do things, but if we are to grow spiritually in our love of the Lord and in the work that asks us to do then maybe we need to take time to address something that affects us all.

When we use this period to do some ‘spring cleaning’ and we delve into our inner selves let us look at what it is that troubles us and is something that we normally leave alone?

What is it that if tackled head on will allow us to move on in our spiritual journey and make us more complete as a Christian.

I am talking about Forgiveness and being able to Forgive.

What a joy it is to be a Christian and believe in a god who completely forgives the sins of everyone who repents and believes in Jesus AND forgives them for all time.

So as our God Forgives us then we as Christians need to be able to forgive our brothers and sisters.

Not just our friends but our enemies as well!

‘That’s not easy!’ I hear you say.

But who said the journey to Christ would be easy anyway?

In Mark 18: 21 we read the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked ‘Lord if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him seven times?’

‘No, not seven times’, answered Jesus, ‘but seventy times seven’, because the Kingdom of Heaven is like this.

And so as our Lord forgives us when we repent then we are to forgive those who have injured us and repent and so be able to enter His Kingdom even if we feel they have not truly repented.

This is the true meaning of forgiveness as we should let God deal with this person if repentance is not forthcoming.

If you have sinned against someone, then go to that person and repents and in Christ name ask for forgiveness. It will be granted..!

In Matthew 5: 44 we read;

‘You have heard that it is said ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies’

But now I tell you:Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may become the children of your father in Heaven.

For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike and gives rain to those who do good and those who do evil ‘Why should God reward you if you love only the people that love you?’

The scriptures are littered with references to forgiving and forgiveness so once we have learned how to do this then we need to practice forgiveness.

As Christian we should practice a spirit of forgiveness to all around us, in our homes, our families, our place of work, in our Church and in our worship.

Can you imagine what a different world it would create if we all practiced more forgiveness, and took Christ to be our true friend and followed his perfect example?

We can make a change by setting our own example to others and so helping to create a society closer based on Christian values, and with the Lords help, we will.

If you do nothing else this lent, attempt to live like this and see how by how much grace we need. If you want a perfect example of forgiveness, go to the cinema after Friday and see, ‘The Passion of Jesus Christ’, by Mel Gibson.

God Bless

Here’s the trailer for the film

Posted by Matt Stevenson on Tue 23 Mar 2004

gethsemane reflection

gethsemanebreeze.jpg this is a little early (it should be a holy thursday post) but this is my last chance to post on the lent blog so i wanted to contribute it anyway. gethsemane is a flash animation made by jonbirch for proost for highway video as part of their latest cd rom of flash animations. it may take a while to laod but is worth the wait (you'll need a flash plugin to view it). the idea jon had with this piece is that as jesus was in the garden knowing he was being called to face death he would have had to contemplate all the things he would leave behind. the words that flash across the screen are things that maybe we would have to leave behind - could we do it? thank god that jesus could!

Posted by jonny on Sun 21 Mar 2004

spaced out

space = essential















it is common to find that we usually underestimate the amount we need




















take some of the above if there is none around you today

Posted by Moya on Sat 20 Mar 2004

A-Z An Acrostic Psalm

This was my psalm for the grace service last saturday. I got the idea from the old psalms which began with every letter of the hebrew alphabet so i thought i would do the same with the english alphabet. Enjoy!!!

All praise to you Lord!
Because of you all things are made.
Creation is the greatest gift of all -
Don’t doubt it!
Everything is made by you - from the
Flowers and the animals to the
Grass on the fields.
In our wildest dreams we couldn’t have come up with the
Joys you have made
King of Kings
Lord of Lords.
Many have tried but
No one is greater than you.
Others may be undecided whether to
Praise you or
Question you but I
Rejoice in your
Salvation and
Trust you
Unquestionably. You are
Very reliable and we
Worship you for your
eXceptional work.
You are the first and the last – the A-

Posted by harry baker on Fri 19 Mar 2004

Oh, what might have been.....

Despite Martin Scorsese’s attempt to portray the lure of obscurity and a loving relationship with Mary Magdalene as Christ’s last temptation, I wonder if Jesus ever stopped wrestling with the desire to abuse his power. In Luke’s account of the struggle in the desert, the Devil only leaves Jesus for a while.

If only he’d given in, he could have had it all……… a decent palace, an end to Roman rule and, crucially, control over image rights for future Mel Gibson films.

But he’d have ended up as just another revolutionary turned oppressor. Napoleon, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, the Protestant Church, The Sex Pistols…. they all started so well.

When you’ve finished kicking over the statues, the challenge becomes how not to duplicate the destructive patterns of the past. So much easier fighting against, than fighting for.

Nick Cohen, in last week’s New Statesman, wrote a really constructive critique of the anti-war movement. He pleads, as a left-wing journo, for engagement and support for the nascent democracy in Iraq and not an abdication of responsibility for purist motives, however much the war may have been wrong in the first place. Otherwise, the vacuum of power will become a vortex of never-ending civil strife, killing all hope for a people who have suffered so much.

Of course, Christ did bring an end to Roman rule, destroying it from within, through the grass-roots explosion which happened after his ascension. But that brings us full circle. The body of Christ faced and faces the same temptation as Jesus himself…….

What do you do with power when you’re faced with it? Abuse it or reject it? The church has done both, with disastrous consequences.

As we embrace new forms of being church, let’s not make the same mistakes as the past. For it’s the failure to engage with power honestly which is the root of all kinds of evil.

Posted by Mark Poulson on Thu 18 Mar 2004

I am the Lord your God

I am the Lord your God: you shall have no other gods but me. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

The evening gatherings at our church have been looking in reverse order at the 10 Commandments and this last Sunday we ended with the beginning – ‘you shall have no other gods but me’ Right through the series we have been brought back to thinking about our priorities in this world – what and who we put first and how that impacts our relationship to the world as well as God.

One reading said “We do not consciously disobey God, we simply do not take any notice of him. God has given us his commands; there they are, but we do not pay any attention to them, not because of wilful disobedience but because we do not love and respect him. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

Claude Lorrain’s painting of The Golden Calf (which was projected during the evening) is a great example of just how easy it is to get things wrong. Here are the Israelites dancing around a tiny, almost invisible object perched on top of a column – while all around them the beauty and majesty of creation and its Creator are ignored and unloved. They had completely lost the plot.

It was good to spend a time trying to get our priorities right. People were invited to take a magazine clipping or to write or draw a representation of their own particular distraction – they could then leave them to be washed over in a clear bowl of water or fed into a paper shredder for destruction – depending on the individual’s mood.

Finally we listened to Moses’ speech to the Israelites after he had come down from the mountain for the second time:

‘And now O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and to observe the lords commands and decrees that I am giving to day for your own good.
To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it, yet the Lord set is affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts therefore, and do not be stiff necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of Gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.’

(Deut 10 12-17)

Posted by Richard & Sue on Wed 17 Mar 2004

a time of self-denial?

During Lent last year I read a rather irritating magazine article (unfortunately, it was by an author who usually irritates me). She had read a letter in a newspaper from someone who asked where the idea of giving things up for Lent came from because it wasn’t in the Bible. The author misused Desmond Tutu's quote "I don't know which Bible they are reading".

There is actually a fairly obvious connection between abstaining from things for Lent and Jesus's time of temptation in the wilderness, but it is several steps removed. Firstly, it happened at the beginning of Jesus's ministry, not the run-up to Easter. Also, according to Matthew and Luke (though not Mark), Jesus ate nothing for forty days. Since it is unlikely that he would have survived this in practice, it is difficult to take the story at face value. (Please don't anyone mention David Blaine. Even assuming he didn't cheat, he was starving himself under very carefully controlled medical conditions, so it is not a comparable situation).

But the tradition now is not to attempt to eat nothing, but to abstain from certain foods for forty days before Easter excluding Sundays, and this doesn’t have a precise biblical basis. However some people take it very seriously. In "A Vicarage Family", the autobiography of Noel Streatfeild, the narrator describes a scene in which her little sister accidentally eats a sweet during Lent (someone else put it in her mouth), and afterwards she confesses to her father that she is no longer worthy to be called his daughter. Obviously she is playing to the gallery, but she wouldn’t do that if she didn’t think it was what her father expected. There can’t be anything to be gained by abstaining during Lent which can justify reducing a child to this.

So traditional self-denial during Lent is not specifically biblical, and imposing it on somebody else can have disastrous results, but the fact is that some people find it a valuable discipline. If you do, go ahead, but regard it as just that -- a valuable discipline. It doesn't have to be a food. Give up plastic bottles, and help the environment. Or better still, do something positive. Start learning a new language, so you can communicate with more people (and anticipate Pentecost). Write letters for Amnesty International. Give a blood donation. Not everyone can do that, but if you are able that’s all the more reason to. You might help someone to survive until Easter.

Posted by rebecca on Mon 15 Mar 2004


At Grace yesterday about 10 different people remixed various psalms or wrote their own.

It seems that whatever our mood might be, there is a psalm which reflects it – whether triumph or defeat, excitement or depression, joy or sorrow, praise or penitence, wonder or anger.

There don’t seem to be psalms of boredom, voter apathy, disengagement and other 21st century ills but Steve explored that with us during the service.

Above all I was struck with how our psalms, in all their variety, simply declare the greatness of the living God.

You have searched me and known me O God You know when I sit down and when I rise up. Psalm 139

Here was mine – not a remix or a rewrite, just a record


This is the crisis I knew had to come
Destroying the balance I'd kept
Doubting and settling and turning around
Wondering what will come next
Is this the role that you wanted to live
I was foolish to ask for so much
Without the protection and infancy's guard
It all falls apart at the first touch
Watching the reel as it comes to a close
Brutally taking its time
People who change for no reason at all
It's happening all of the time
Can I go on with this train of defense
Disturbing and purging my mind
I count up my duties - when all's said and done
I know that I'll lose every time
Moving along in our God given ways
Safety is sat by the fire
Sanctuary from these feverish smiles
Left with a mark on the door
Is this the gift that I wanted to give
Forgive and forget's what they teach
I'll pass through the deserts and wastelands once more
And watch as they drop by the beach
This is a crisis I knew had to come
Destroying the balance I'd kept
Turning around to the next set of lies
Wondering what will come next

Posted by Mike on Sun 14 Mar 2004

because we can

well i just missed the midnight deadline, but that's excusable since we only got back from Grace an hour ago. we started the service by doing the psalm structure twister for real:

we did it because we can. 'because we can' is an important spiritual principle. we get very inhibited about what we can do and be in church. even the most radical of us have an inner script, which we seldom examine because it's internalised through years of working round permissions and other people's sensibilities.

doing something 'because we can' breaks through that barrier into the freedom of god. the freedom of god, of forgiveness, has always been frightening because it's alien to the rest of our lives and how we expect to approach a deity. faced with the unconditional we invent conditions for our own comfort. so doing something crazy or outrageous in church, in the place we should be most free, breaks through to our true situation before god. we can.

Posted by steve collins on Sun 14 Mar 2004

Just another day

I was on my way home from work the other evening, just another day. It was all very normal until I hit the traffic jam. Traffic jams are occasionally normal on my journey too. This one wasn’t going anywhere fast. I turned around, headed back the opposite direction, cut off right, which would have been left if I’d been going the right way. Tried to "get round" the blockage. Instead met a solid impasse of vehicles all doing the same thing on the same set of inadequate side roads and lanes. I cursed the traffic. I hated the "waste of my life". I wanted to be home doing my things in my precious evening time. My one hour journey took me three, or thereabouts. Must have been an accident or something quite nasty I guessed to have completely blocked the road.

It didn’t take many hours for the email to arrive. Joe (shall we call him that?), had been in a serious accident that day, and yes it was thought to have been on the same stretch of road that I found blocked. Serious head injuries, in need of much prayer. Joe was a young lad who I’d taught in Sunday school. He lived across the road from me, not 100 metres away. He’d stopped coming to Church a few years ago. We saw his family only occasionally too.

I’d cursed the traffic that kept me from home. The traffic was the result of the accident that killed Joe. He didn’t die immediately. We all prayed and prayed and hoped. He remained unconscious for several days before finally slipping away. One wouldn’t have thought that he’d given his brief adult life to Jesus, but one hoped that in his silent unconscious hours, heavenly communication took place.

I now almost daily drive past the place where Joe’s accident caused my traffic that I cursed. I remember the young Joe in my Sunday school class, and wish that his life had turned out differently.

When you get up and set out on today’s journey, will you return home? Or will you be taken somewhere else in another vehicle with flashing lights and sirens sounding? If today is your last day, are you ready to meet the Lord? As we count the days off during this lent period, we know where it is heading – the inevitable. We just don’t know how many days we have left ourselves though. I hope yours and my end is not as unexpected and abrupt as Joe’s. I hope you answer your questions while you still have time, before perhaps someone else "curses the traffic".

Posted by Matt on Fri 12 Mar 2004

Retribution or Restoration

Desmond Tutu describes two forms of justice: retributive and restorative. Retributive justice is what vigilantes and governments mete out upon wrongdoers. It’s also the argument frequently used to describe our “hell-worthiness” -- i.e. we are sinners to the core, deserving punishment in order to meet the requirements of justice. Therefore God gets off the judge’s seat and takes our place...etc., etc. But I like Tutu’s take on justice. He gleans it from the African notion of ubuntu: “the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships” “Justice, restorative justice, is being served when efforts are being made to work for healing, for forgiveness, and for reconciliation.” In the whole history of humanity, civic punishment has never stopped crime. It’s an endless cycle. That’s why South Africa organized the Truth & Reconciliation Committee to seek out the truth rather than punishment for the years of apartheid atrocities. They knew retributive justice was a lost cause. So why stuff our understanding of Jesus’ atoning act in that courtroom model? Jesus died to restore a busted up relationship between Creation and Creator. In that, justice is served in a way that will last for all eternity.

Posted by jason on Thu 11 Mar 2004

The Passion Movie -- **warning--SPOILER!!**

Just kidding.

mars bar

I'm an American, so I don't know much about Lent beyond giving things up like chocolate and alcohol, a vain attempt at discipline of some sort, really just further aspirations towards that hierarchy of success that co-opted Christianity long ago--read your Bible more, go to church more, buy more Left Behind books, lose weight, elective surgery...

And I'm reminded of Tyler's words

Self-improvement is masturbation.

I, for one, have died numerous times over the course of the last 9 months, and have found Jesus, alcohol, and cigarettes in the process.

For me, having to give anything up for a few weeks, to pretend to be put-out and hardened by the experience of less Budweiser or Godiva, is interesting.


It seems to me that those of us who actually see Christ get most things taken from us by default.

Something like protecting us.

Something like kiddy-barriers at the top of staircases.

Something like instant reverse Karma.

Nothing at all like a lack of Nestle in your diet.

I'll tell you what I hope to stop consuming during or around this Lent season. Mars bars.

The kind that come out of one's ass.

You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. Never wanted you. In all probability he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen...We are God's unwanted children? So be it.

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

Posted by daniel on Wed 10 Mar 2004

Do less. Do it better. Do it slower. Living that is!

My apologies to everyone who is fed up with all the talk and hype around Lord of the Rings but I am currently leading a Lent Course on Tolkien, so it’s in my mind very much at present.

“Doing less but doing it better” is currently a repeating theme for a number of people and surprisingly it is a strong message from LOTR’s too.

Tolkien's Christian vision of life as it was meant to be lived is seen in his imaginary creation of Hobbiton in the Shire. Here there is time to sit under a tree and read a book, time to linger over renewing an old friendship, time to eat simply and heartily of good plain food. (Hobbits enjoy 6 meals a day.) Hobbits know how to enjoy a good party, grow flowers and make things to last. They travel everywhere on foot, slowly, so as to enjoy the jounrney and nature around them. Life is rarely rushed. Tolkien had a deep reverence for everything in creation and especially things that grow slowly like trees. In our world maddened by haste and obsessed with speed, trees are a good antidote. Book 1 is a lesson in patience itself, when it takes the Hobbits a long time just to reach Bree. Rivedale is an even longer, more complex and difficult journey. “Anything worth doing well is worth doing slowly” according to Tolkien.

The Ring of Power gave the bearer longevity. But increased quantity of life is not what we need, its quality of life that really counts. Even Bilbo after 60 years of ageless living tells Gandalf that he feels “thin and stretched, like butter spread too thinly over a slice of bread.” In our day of surface living, fast living, makeovers, and where change has become the great constant of life; where we can cram 3 or 4 lives into one, buy a new personal identity for ourselves when we feel bored, and choose our own life style - we think we are living life to the full. But perhaps we are just doing more to cover up our own emptiness? Simply increasing the quantity of life does not increase its quality. Jesus said “Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted about many things; there is need of only one thing”!

The poem below says something similar but unfortunately emphasises that time is short. There is plenty of time to be and do the one thing that is needful?


Have you ever watched kids > > On a merry-go-round? > > Or listened to the rain > > Slapping on the ground? > > Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight? > > Or gazed at the sun into the fading night? > > You better slow down. > > Don't dance so fast. > > Time is short. > > The music won't last. > > Do you run through each day > > On the fly? > > When you ask How are you? > > Do you hear the reply? > > When the day is done > > Do you lie in your bed > > With the next hundred chores > > Running through your head? > > You'd better slow down > > Don't dance so fast. > > Time is short. > > The music won't last. > > Ever told your child, > > We'll do it tomorrow? > > And in your haste, > > Not see his sorrow? > > Ever lost touch, > > Let a good friendship die > > Cause you never had time > > To call and say,"hi" > > You'd better slow down. > > Don't dance so fast. > > Time is short. > > The music won't last. > > When you run so fast to get somewhere > > You miss half the fun of getting there. > > When you worry and hurry through your day, > > It is like an unopened gift.... > > Thrown away. > > Life is not a race. > > Do take it slower > > Hear the music > > Before the song is over.

Posted by Steve on Tue 9 Mar 2004

Touching the Void

Two men, immense courage, trapped on a mountain. A seemingly impossible situation – certain death. Beyond all we can imagine. How to keep going? How to move forward when all hope is gone? One, with a broken leg sets himself targets – small distances to achieve in 20 minutes. The biggest and most impossible tasks brought down to tiny steps.

Posted by Deborah on Mon 8 Mar 2004

Wide, wide as the ocean….

What do you want to do?

Stay on the shore (safe and sound)?
Test the waters?
Put a message in a bottle and hope that someone gets it?
Roll up your trousers and go for a paddle?
Take the plunge? Sink or swim?
Tread water for a while?
Look out for a good wave to catch (will you get wiped out)?
Embark on an epic journey (you may need to stock up on supplies)?
Or maybe just go for an ice cream?

Posted by harv on Sun 7 Mar 2004

technology vs. tradition

Posted by joel on Sat 6 Mar 2004

chocolate theology

My theology of chocolate:

The Day Chocolate Company produces Divine chocolate, under the Fair Trade mark. It goes even further than the usual Fair Trade requirements of guaranteeing minimum standards for the price received and long-term contracts, health and safety, and educational opportunities for the producers. The producers are also shareholders in the company, and have a say in its running. Supporting them, by buying (and eating) the chocolate, is definitely a Good Thing.

Now the downside: There are certain things we need to do in order to stay alive -- sleeping, drinking water, eating enough Vitamin C ... Eating chocolate is not one of them, no matter what some people may think. And the simple truth is that it isn't actually very healthy -- it can't be a coincidence that it tends to be the first thing people give up during Lent.

In addition, most of the people involved in the production of chocolate could never afford to buy it themselves. So they are reliant for their well-being on a completely different group of people buying a product that they don't need and would be better off without. Is chocolate really benefiting the world?

But if you can't live without chocolate, you know what to do. I'm just waiting for them to start making Fair Trade chocolate digestives.

Posted by rebecca on Fri 5 Mar 2004

I want to have a really good laugh

Lent feels like it should be a very solemn time but I'm tired of being responsible and dependable. I like Mark's exhortation to waste time and I can't remember the last time that I did. This is how I feel today:

I want to have a really good laugh;
not a polite
or an effortless
not a tight-cheeked
surface smile
that makes my face
but bypasses
the best
of my body.
I want a deep, fat, uncontrollable laugh
that shakes my belly and sows tears
on my cheeks; that erupts and cascades
all over the conversation; that I surf as it surges
but end up submerged; that rumbles deliciously
like thunder in summer; that tricks me
into thinking it’s tamed, but that fractures afresh
when my eye catches yours; that’s raucous and rude
and defiantly unrepentant; that leaves me gasping
for breath but still wanting more; that goes underground
for hours at a time, then surfaces in dreams
in the dark of the night; that leaves me weak,
exhausted and satisfied.

Posted by Jenny on Thu 4 Mar 2004

if a thing is worth doing...

On Sunday in Church the sermon was about doing fewer things but doing them well. On Monday my boss announced that we will be doing fewer projects but spending more money on them. On Tuesday I was interviewing a guy for a job and he said something about doing as little as possible but doing it effectively. Today I pick up a paper and read that my company is sacking a load of people in a re-prioritisation exercise, “we are going to do fewer things, but do them better” a spokesperson said. Could these persistent references be a divine message coming through, I ask myself.

Lent is associated with giving things up and I guess it’s good to trim the fat and focus on fewer and more important things. But I’m not sure. I like wasting time.

Brothers and sisters, I urge you to embrace distractions, to engage in playful experimentation, to take unannounced detours. To be single minded may also be limiting and to be focussed may require us to be blinkered. As someone may have said, “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly”

Posted by mark on Wed 3 Mar 2004

the waiting desert

The desert waits,
ready for those who come,
who come obedient to the Spirit’s leading;
or who are driven,
because they will not come any other way.
The desert always waits,
ready to let us know who we are -
the place of self-discovery.
And whilst we fear, and rightly,
the loneliness and emptiness and harshness,
we forget the angels,
whom we cannot see for our blindness,
but who come when God decides
that we need their help;
when we are ready
for what they can give us.

(By Ruth Burgess in Janet Morely’s “Bread of Tomorrow”)

Mike said something a couple of days ago about lent being a time of letting go of what gains power over us. I’m afraid that if I let go of everything that drives me there would be nothing left; that after my identity had been deconstructed piece by piece, I’d be left clinging to the dregs only. Jesus calls the poor in spirit ‘blessed.’ I long to be blessed, to inherit the Kingdom of heaven, but can I face the letting go necessary to get to that place? Would I recognise myself? Would people still love me? I want to discover who I am but I fear the pain of letting go; I should try to remember the angels......

Posted by anna on Tue 2 Mar 2004

darkness in me

as you all know i run my own blog with a series of worship tricks. i recently posted worship trick 71 which was about andy thornton's web site. there is no way of doing this on a blog but i wanted to shout from the rooftops that the stuff i was highlighting was absolutely brilliant - andy is one of those geniuses! but for all i know no one followed it up - at least no one made a comment on that post. anyway today's post is simply one of andy's meditations darkness in me. if you click on the link you can read it from his site with an ambient guitar loop behind it. but if not i have posted it here... (andy if you read this thank you for the gifts you offer to the world)

if you are wondering why i have posted on the lent blog so soon after my last post - i have swapped day with someone who couldn't do today!

Darkness In Me

There is darkness in me
When I cool down
and become aware of myself
When I turn praying into waiting and listening
Instead of chatting and listing requests for intervention…
And when I'm left on my own and turn off the amusements around me
Then I get uncomfortable…
Because there is darkness in me.
There are doors somewhere in my soul
That I've used to shut away the things I didn't like.
Behind the doors is the darkness
Occupying part of me.
How did it get there, this darkness?
Perhaps many ways…
When I heard people tell me about the way I should be
And it didn't match up to my experience of being free
So I felt I had to lock away something natural in order to be acceptable
And I denied that part of me…
When I got hurt by something or someone
And I didn't or couldn't let the hurt out… didn't say anything
Just looked for a door to open and stuff the pain behind
Because there was nowhere safe to go for a hurt child…
When I trusted someone in my innocence
And they let me down
And I had to find somewhere to put my hope of trust
So that it never got let out again to mess up my life
With it's childish optimism…
When I was helpless and needy, and no-one came to my rescue No family, no friend, no loving God to protect me
And I came to believe that I was all-alone in this dark world…
When I heard that my sexual thoughts and feelings were anti-social
And I concluded I'd be better off shutting them out
Sticking them behind some closet door where they belong…
When I did something wrong and couldn't own up to it
Because I couldn't believe that people would like me any more
If they knew what I was really like
So I hid the wrong, and the guilt and started live my deep divided life…
The life of me, and the secret me
That's behind all the doors
In the darkness
In me.
And on every door I sense a warning sign:
'Beware - opening this door will result in great pain'
And I don't know if that's true or not,
But I don't feel strong enough to withstand the pain
To take the risk.
I need someone stronger, bigger than me
Who can share that hurt,
who won't leave me while I open up the doors
And take the consequence.
Someone who won't judge me for my weaknesses
Or my badness
Someone who can bear all my brokenness.
I am looking at a man on a cross.
The perfect man who exposed the imperfections in others.
And so the fears and insecurities of the world
Rallied together and tried to destroy him to end the opposition
To the darkness.
And yet no matter how much darkness came his way
He was not destroyed.
Even the force of the darkness of death could not
Overcome him.
He has shown me that God is strong enough
To stay with me and love me as I walk towards my hidden doors.
I will sit here and take a risk.
I will let myself journey to one of my dark places
And confront its forces.
I will question and revisit its origin
Allowing its impact to overwhelm me
because it cannot any longer consume me
because I am no longer alone
because the God of the man on the cross is with me
My new, eternal parent, who can stand to
Know all the darkness in me
And breathe love into the unknown rooms behind my dark doors.
I will stay here and hear the wordless voice of my darkness And one by one allow all the doors of my soul
To come
Wide open.

Posted by jonny on Mon 1 Mar 2004

now with added days...

february 29th a day made up of the left over bits of other years (or perhaps we are getting into credit and using up the extra bits of this and 3 more years to come). An extra 24 hour journey from past to future (without jetlag). A day of birthdays for people a quarter of the age of their peers. A day, traditionally, for the normal(?) practice to be reversed and women propose marriage to men. a day added by pope gregory XIII to effectively stop the chance of easter happening at christmas. a day that feels like its not meant to be there, special to us because of its 'out-of-place-ness'.

and this time round it falls on a sunday in lent.

sundays in lent have that same feeling as february the 29th, well they do for me since we did the lent blog last year. a blog for lent seemed like a good plan, 40 entries to fill, roughly 3 each didn't seem too difficult to organise a rota, then we tried to work it out, there were more than 40 days between ash wednesday and easter, the mystery of sundays obviously being in lent but not part of lent raised its head.

sundays are feast days. feast days in the middle of a fast. feast days to celebrate the resurrection in the middle of a festival which has one eye looking forward to the celebration of easter. days of joy in the middle of focusing, reflecting, taking stock. a day to take a step back from our lenten discipline and remind ourselves of the hope and joy we wait to celebrate and yet has already been given to us.

odd day. off to work for some 'normality'.

Posted by adam on Sun 29 Feb 2004

where's this all leading?

haven't had time to think up profound entries because i'm at work doing this [saturday 10.30pm]. i haven't had to work a weekend in ten years - it's generally not productive as i conk out by the middle of the following week. it only works if the deadline is monday, as now.

i realised today that the beginning of lent had passed me by - shrove tuesday and ash wednesday were full of meetings and late working. i've been in this crisis situation since december - too much work, too much responsibility, too little time. there have been several moments when i thought i would walk out on it, or be thrown out. moments when i'd had enough, or things seemed to be going very badly. i even wrote myself notes for what to say with titles like 'resignation'.

but each time the crisis somehow failed to finally happen or reach fruition. there was always enough of a temporary solution to keep the show on the road. and i wonder what the purpose of god is, in all this, keeping me in this situation.

a lot seems to be resting on me. more and more as the job goes on. i wouldn't be working tonight if it weren't. my boss is being nice to me - which is vaguely unnerving. it either means i'm doing a good job, or a bad one but he knows that if he rattles me i'll not manage at all. we'll find out when this is all over.

Posted by steve on Sat 28 Feb 2004

Beauty for ashes.

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah)"

It seems to me that there is a lot of heaviness in the air at the moment. It comes with the freezing cold. the sense of spring feeling so distant. It is a kind of desert time, “living and partly living” where one just has to hang in there and wait for better times.

People in general look sad, stressed and there is also lots of sickness, (most of the office has been down with various bugs), job insecurity, and death has been passing through.

Today I was with friends who were mourning the loss of a much loved father, who was originally from Poland. He along with thousands of others had endured terrible privations and displacements during the war and with others had courageously and doggedly survived with humour, patience and a certain gruffness, but humanity fully intact. Many elderly Poles were there with stories and memories. It reminded me of the many funerals I have attended over the years, of my Hungarian family and their friends who had trodden similar paths carrying experiences and feelings that we can never fully be able to share.

Chagall, the painter encapsulates the wandering soul, surviving pogroms, Soviets, Nazis, moving from Russia to France, to America, Israel and back to with his passion, sense of self and sense of God fully alive. This is from one of his poems written in 1946.

Only that land is mine
That lies in my soul
As a native with no documents
I enter that land.
It sees my sorrow
And loneliness
Puts me to sleep
And covers me with fragrance stone.
Gardens and blooming inside me,
My flowers I invented,
my own streets –
But there are no houses
They have been destroyed since my childhood
Their inhabitants stray in the air,
Seek a dwelling,
They live in my soul,
That’s why I smile some times
When the sun barely glimmers
Or I cry
Like a light rain in the night.

Chagall carries his losses and hopes in his paintings - there is always the sense of rising above, or resurrection, of bold, fresh and colourful hope. This is the stained glass window in Tudeley, Church Kent, a memorial to a girl who drowned, but Chagall points to the crucified and resurrected Jesus.

Posted by Jackie on Fri 27 Feb 2004

Happy Lent

So Mad Max chose Ash Wednesday to open ‘The Passion of the Christ’ in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In today’s papers comments ranged from ‘perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years’ to ‘The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre’. Some Jewish protestors turned up in concentration camp outfits. We have until March 26th to wait. Ah well, we have Lent to keep us occupied.

"Lent" means springtime/ new life. It is a reminder, prompted by the lengthening days and winter sunshine, to cherish the new life in our hearts, to give our lives a service. We will need to sort stuff out, clearing some space for new growth. We will need to care and nurture, to make space and time to grow.

Our tools are the traditional ones: Prayer; generous giving and "fasting" in the sense of a letting go of what gains power over us. (Does the wholesome love of a man for an ipod constitute power?)

“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

St Francis de Sales

P.S. Don’t worry about Braveheart. The film should earn at least £20m in the US alone which could help make up for a bit of controversy.

Posted by Mike on Thu 26 Feb 2004

fasting and feasting

welcome to the grace lent blog 2004.

every day during lent someone from the grace community/network will (if they remember) post a scripture, a thought, a reflection, an animation, an insight, a photo or a space to be silent....

lent has become an important season in the year for grace over the last few years. i'm not really sure why. i've come to really appreciate it. for us i think lent is some of...

  • a time to prepare for easter
  • a season of repentance
  • has a special focus on reflecting on our relatonship with god
  • a reminder of our mortality (you are dust and to dust you shall return)
  • a time for going into the (equivalent of) desert
  • recommitting our lives to the way of christ

we were joking at the grace plannng meeting on monday that we do a good desert experience but struggle more with joy! not sure it's entirely true but it reminded me of this reflection i came across at anamchairde (which b.t.w. is a site full of a lot more weighty content for lent so far than i can muster!) who had traced it from another site full of lent stuff (ignore the naff design!).

Fasting and Feasting

Lent can be more than a time of fasting; it can be a season of feasting. We can use Lent to fast from certain things and to feast on others. Lent is a season in which we can:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from, thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on divine order.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on nonresistance.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

from a Benedictine website as quoted in The Tablet, 3 March 2001, p. 325

Posted by jonny on Tue 24 Feb 2004

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