Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

September 2023: Grace

Grace September 2023 Grace flyer

In the run-up to Grace's 30th anniversary in November, September's service was about the idea of grace, and October's was focussed on the Grace ethos.

What does grace (not Grace!) mean for you? Please bring something about your experience of grace, to share with us - it could be a reflection, music, ritual, story, poem, image...

Here are a few of the contributions - more will be added as they are received...


On hearing of the death of Dave Holme, I paid tribute to him in my usual way: with a song. In 2004 Dave made a memorable contribution to Nine on the subject of Abraham and Isaac, which made me think of this song. But as well as referencing Isaac, it is also about grace.

Lo, the full, final, Sacrifice
On which all figures fix’t their eyes.
The ransomed Isaac, and his ram;
The Manna, and the Paschal Lamb.
When this dry soul those eyes shall see,
And drink the unseal’d source of thee.
When Glory’s sun faith’s shades shall chase,
And for thy veil give me thy Face.
Lo, the full, final, Sacrifice
On which all figures fix’t their eyes.

Music by Gerald Finzi. Words by Thomas Aquinas. Full text here.


Weaving Tapestry - A community of followers of Christ (Living on the Edge)

Quote: Albert Einstein

Life is a tapestry, The Individual is only an insignificant thread in an immense and miraculous pattern.

Quote: Anita Moorjani (a survivor of cancer)

In the tapestry of life, we are all connected, each one of us is a gift to those around us helping each other be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together.

This picture is what Grace represents to me.

Relationships of Depth (no person is an Island) we all need connection, sense of belonging to be heard and taken seriously, understood. These are some of the things Grace gives me.

Taking Risks to explore unknown or new Horizons (the man in the picture needs to get in the boat) new ways of being relevant to the world around us.

Leaving our comfort zones of familiarity (show the house on the Island where the person is placed) Grace is about seeing spirituality from a new perspective, a chance to explore your learning in a creative flexible way. Discovering your gifts as to enable others to learn.

The Flag can be seen in the picture as a guide to spirituality for those who do not see the church as having relevance to their daily lives.

The building in the picture across the Lake is where Grace meets to explore what it means to ‘Live on the Edge’

Living on the Edge for me with Grace is addressing Social Injustices, helping to eradicate inequalities building a sense of what community is about. Exploring the spiritual needs of everyone.

In the picture, the far ship is setting out into the unknown – indicating we are all on a journey of life, some at different parts of the journey than others.

For me I am excited about the next phase of the journey with Grace and playing my part.

Steve Summers:

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other's work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
Seamus Heaney, ‘Clearances’ part 3


What is so special about Grace
that’s seldom found in any other place?
Well, firstly it’s inviting and friendly
including everyone whoever they be.
Secondly, it’s all about being creative
in exploring God in different ways, wherever we live.
Thirdly, God speaks to us all differently
and creative Grace opens the key.
Fourthly, there is time and space to contemplate
without feeling rushed or being late.
Fifthly, there’s time for a drink and a chat
to discuss what we’ve learnt, on this and that.
Sixthly, there’s always some food, spiritual and other
to give us strength, from our heavenly father.
Seventhly and more perfectly,
Grace feels like a family.

So for me Grace spells out:
Generous and genial
Radical and realistic
Artistic and adventurous
Creative and caring
Enjoyable and effective

Steve Collins:

I was having a very difficult time at work, intense overwork, any break had been continually put off and my mental and physical health was close to breaking. In a state of desperation I was suddenly allowed to take the first week of December off, seemingly not the best time to take a holiday and a bad moment to take off for work also but medically necessary.

The unexpected holiday was pure grace. I got a spacious apartment all to myself, half price, perfect sunny weather, peace. I could not have survived what happened next without it - my mother’s health crisis and becoming her carer for several months. Of course I thought the holiday was to compensate for what had passed, not what was to come.

In the middle of it all, as I sat alone with a coffee a bird came and sang to me - a strange gift that I’ve never experienced before, which can stand for the strange and unexpected quality of grace - the gift, not of what you thought you needed, but of something it had never entered your head to need.

All the birdsong in the clip comes from this one bird. The break in the film is because I stopped filming, but the bird carried on so I resumed.

Ready for grace:

We have often referred to this quote:

we are ready for grace
when we are bone tired of our struggle
to be worthy and acceptable.
after we have tried too long to earn the approval
of everyone important to us
we are ready for grace.
when we are tired of trying to be the person
somebody somewhere sometime convinced us we had to be,
we are ready for grace.
quote from ‘shame and grace’, l.s. medes

Congregational responses:

When all the best advice does nothing to help
We are ready for grace

When nothing you can say or do will make things better
We are ready for grace

When we’ve grown tired of pursuing self-fulfilment
We are ready for grace

When we are beyond ourselves
We are ready for grace

Where there is conflict and a lack of peace and understanding
We are ready for grace

When we feel that we don’t need it (even)
We are ready for grace

When there is just no way we can offer someone grace
We are ready for grace

When people are being cancelled for sharing their honest thoughts
We are ready for grace

When the time is right
We are ready for grace

When the pain is so great that all we can do is cry for relief
We are ready for grace

When we finally stop trying to earn the goodness and generosity of God and accept it as a gift
We are ready for grace

When we lose sight of hope in the storm of the world
We are ready for grace

When we are exhausted
We are ready for grace

When we feel totally frustrated
We are ready for grace

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