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April 2022: Uncommon Ground

Grace April 2022 Uncommon Ground flyer

How do we create community while celebrating our differences? How do we affirm and love others when we don't like some of the things they do? How do communities of difference work in the world?

Our Lent series of events were based on the book 'Being Disciples' by Rowan Williams. This service was inspired by chapter 5 'Faith in society'. The article is available online here.

The slideshow for the service is here.

Intro - everybody has a value to God

Sue showed images of crowds:
does that feel like you’re looking at God?
do you feel that everybody is of value to God?

Genesis 1 verses 27 and 31:
God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God saw everything that he had made,
and indeed, it was very good.

Quotes from 'Being Disciples' by Rowan Williams:

The reverence I owe to every human person is connected with the reverence I owe to God, who brings them into being. I stand before holy ground when I encounter another person – not because they are born with a set of legal rights which can be demanded and enforced, but because there is a dimension of their life I shall never fully see; the dimension where they come forth from the purpose of God into the world, with a unique set of capacities and possibilities.

This means that whenever I face another human being, I face a mystery. There is a level of their life, their existence where I cannot go and which I cannot control, because it exists in relation to God along – a secret word he speaks to each one, whether they hear or refuse to hear.

We contemplated the final crowd image while listening to 'Everyday People' by Sly and the Family Stone.

Exploring our differences

A washing line, pegs, paper and stickers. This caused a lot of discussion and amusement.

Take a piece of paper
Write three unusual things you like
Write three unusual things you don’t like
Hang the paper on the line

Take some red and green stickers
Stick them on the sheets of paper
Green next to the things you agree with
Red next to the things you disagree with

Communities of difference

How do we create communities that can handle our differences? What are the essential qualities of such a community?

We split into two groups, to discuss and write what we thought were the essential qualities onto sheets of paper printed with a 'jigsaw puzzle' pattern, one thing per piece.

We then looked at the 'Rule of Life' from The Community of the Tree of Life.

The gifts we are given are not just for ourselves

How are you using the gifts that God has given you for others? The unusual and the unseen? Write it on the paper (on the floor). Light candles and place them on the words as a prayer of support

In Ephesians 1: 18 Paul describes:
‘having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints’


And in 1 Corinthians he describes a community of Christians:
‘If one member suffers, all suffer together with it, if one member is honoured all rejoice together with it’

A confession in a time of overwhelm

Forgive us when in the face of all that is happening in the world and in our lives we find hope hard to cling to

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Forgive us when we shy away from the losses we need to mourn, and when the inadequacy of our words of comfort stop us from standing alongside those who grieve

Blessed are those who mourn for, they shall be comforted

Forgive us when we’ve felt unequal to the task, or insufficiently informed to respond to a prompting from you

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

Forgive us when we’ve felt burnt out, apathetic, ambivalent or when we’ve mistaken irritation for righteous anger

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be satisfied

Forgive us when we have spent too long re-affirming the rightness of our opinions, or the wrongness of others’

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy

Forgive us when our hearts and heads feel too full to process another event, to acknowledge another suffering, to continue to love

Blessed are the poor in heart, for they shall see God

Forgive us when peacebuilding seems like something for the professionals and we don’t seize opportunities to demonstrate your love to others in our everyday interactions

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God

Forgive us when we virtue-signal our self-denial or adopt a cause that you haven’t called us to

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Sending out

We thank you for your body that gather here tonight - physically, on-line and in our thoughts and prayers

We ask that you send us out to:

Do justice
Love kindness
And to walk humbly with you

Each playing our unique part
using the gifts you have lovingly created in us

Amen

Update on the Wolf Fields labyrinth

Earlier in the day we had put the woodchip path material on the labyrinth. We asked for donations for A Rocha, to cover the cost of woodchip delivery (the woodchips themselves were free!). The cost was met, with some extra.

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