Thursday, 6 October 2016

be brave my girl #nationalpoetryday #sayitwithapoem #messages

be brave my girl
though life's a swirl
of change and fear
I'm always near
in all unknown
you're not alone
just come to mum
if you are glum
I'll listen well
to what you tell
no matter what
to every jot
the good and bad
troubles you had
leave them with me
then you'll see
the way to go
I won't say no
I'm here for you
in all you do

Say it with a Poem #nationalpoetryday

Today on national poetry day
We're challenged to write a message
Anything at all you want to say
It doesn't have to be impressive

Or perhaps I should say, that whatever you say
Is impressive, I want to hear it!
So write it down or speak it out
Don't hide away your message

Mine to you is imperfect
But it comes right from my heart
Words have power to change the world
Now's the time to start.

Message from Grandad #NationalPoetryDay #SayItWithAPoem #Messages

Ride a cock horse
To Banbury cross
To see a fine lady
Upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers
And bells on her toes
She shall have music 

Wherever she goes

This is the rhyme
I often do tell
Grandad would sing
Before he was unwell
Then the Alzheimer's
It took him away
He couldn't sing to us
When we went to stay

Next memory
He is sat in a chair
Not recognising
We were even there
But always we knew
Even then as a child
He loved us to visit
It was there in his smile

Thirty years on
He is still on my mind
Dad of my dad
He always was kind
Now when I hear
This is old nursery rhyme
Grandad brings a message
From back then in time

Friday, 15 July 2016

Mission of the #PokeGym #PokemonGo #Church #PokeStop

I'm guessing you're reading this from one of the following three camps.
1. You're sick to death of hearing all about PokemonGo only one day after it's UK release
2. You're completely confused about what PokemonGo is all about
3. You're playing it and worried about what the heck I'm thinking

Whichever of the camps you're in, bear with me because this is a huge mission opportunity.

What is #PokemonGo?
I hope you recognise this cute little fella (if not then click here).
He is Pikachu and kids, teens and adults have been trying to catch him and his friends on various game platforms since in 1990s.  There is even a card game version which has been a playground craze on and off for years.  Well Pokemon has now been reimagined for the smartphone and we are all challenged to "catch 'em all".  Over 10 million people have downloaded the #PokemonGo app in less than a week and they (and me) are walking (or wheeling) around their local communities, with app open on their phones, to find the characters hidden all over the place.  The more characters you find, the more fun you can have and the more opportunities there are to join with friends and "battle" game play.

What is a #PokeGym?
One of the great things about #PokemonGo is that the developers have created places where players can come to play games called "battles".  They are also places where players can donate a pokemon to help others in their battles; they are places of sharing.  #PokeGyms are places to be and play, they are an essential part of the game and will become popular.

What is a #PokeStop?
A #PokeStop is similar to a #PokeGym but instead of being a place to play games, they are places to gather resources and energy needed to play the game.  It's like a shop for #PokemonGo.  Again it's somewhere people want to visit on a regular basis.

Why is my church a #PokeGym or #PokeStop?
It seems as if the #PokeGyms have been placed in locations where many people have checked in on google or uploaded photos.  There are all sorts of tourist attractions which have gyms (and stops) and also churches, after all lots of people go to churches every week.

What can be missional about this?
It is extremely likely that your church is a #PokeGym or #PokeStop and this is great news for churches, because all of a sudden there will be all sorts of people coming to battle online.  There will be kids, tweens, teenagers, young adults, older adults and families all coming to your church to play #PokemonGo.  There will be lots of people at your church hanging around out of choice and most of them probably won't be members of your church or even people who have ever stepped through the doors.  This is a mission opportunity.

It is an opportunity to show these players that you're connected to their culture, that might be a nice surprise and might change how they think about church.

It is an opportunity to engage with people who come along to play by saying hi and being friendly, you might even join in and make some new friends.

It is an opportunity to serve people, by offering drinks or snacks or just a place in out of the rain.  Or how about offering your plug points for charging their phones?

It is an opportunity to put your church on the map, literally on the #PokemonGo map, and on the social media map.  Suddenly you'll be visible to a whole new set of people.

It is an opportunity to run #PokemonGo sessions where people are invited to come into church and play and share a meal and hang out.  Whatever takes your fancy.

Are there any risks?
One of the amazing things about #PokemonGo is that it is encouraging people to get out of their homes and go out and about.  Of course there are risks with this, especially if people aren't looking where they're going when they're walking or cycling around.  And it isn't great that everyone has their smartphones in their hands ready to be stolen.  But let's be honest; most of us are carrying our phones in our hands or pockets most of the time and aren't really paying attention to what we're doing anyway.  That said, I would advise that care is taken when out and about playing #PokemonGo.

What are we doing at St Nicolas Earley?
Of course it is all fine and good to talk about it, but we have taken the pikachu by the yellow ears and celebrated the fact that we are a #PokeGym.  We have:

  • Tweeted and Facebooked about the fact that we're a #PokeGym

  • Created posters which will be up all over our summer fun day tomorrow inviting people to find the exact location of the #PokeGym
  • Made a sign for our noticeboard telling everyone that we are a #PokeGym and welcoming people to come back on Sunday
  • Requested that the game developers make our church hall into a #PokeStop so that players can come to get resources and then play battles

The opportunity for mission is coming your way, what will you do?

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Garden Bird Antics #poetry

The EU Referendum has been causing me great anxiety and so I've been spending time in the garden trying to focus on the local and centre myself.  This has been a good thing to do and has led to a few poems about what was going on around me.

Bird Feeder Gossip

It's 5pm
On a summers day
Time to meet
Hear gossip of the day

We all hang out
At the feed station
Share latest news
Over our daily ration

Tweets about bats 
Latest news on cats
Down low on dogs 
Squirrel warning facts

Here together
It's one for all
But care is needed
So we don't fall ....

Into the patch
Of the local moggie 
He waits till late
Even if it's soggy

Listening in
Getting the goss
We let him keep
Thinking he's the boss 

But he's not. Oh no
He's in our power
We're up high
In our wooden towers

Whilst he can try
To bring us down
Most of the time
He leaves with a frown

So here we meet
Gossip, plan and eat
He can sit on his seat
Safely there at our feet 

RSPB Bird Feeder

Blackbird Blessings

Blackbird up there in a tree
Thank you for singing to me
Blessing me with songs so sweet
Floating down beneath your feet
I do not know
What they say
But please never
Take them away
Your tones connect me with the world
Imagery round my mind swirls
Of woods I used to walk within
Thank you for such a blessing

Friday, 24 June 2016

How should we respond to the #EURefResults today?

How do I respond
As a minister in the church
On a day like today
When my heart is full of hurt

I pray that calm will come
I know that God is here
But right now in this place
All I feel is fear

When pain is what I know
And concern is in my mind
None of us are alone
But what peace can we find?

I look to the church leaders
And read the prayers they share
But somehow it's not enough
It doesn't take away my cares

I read their public statements
"Political process in place"
But it doesn't stop this hurting
It doesn't help me face to face

Here in this community
Division has occurred
It may not be a war as such
But many are disturbed

And we have to hold that
To comfort and bring hope
I guess that's all that we can do
But how when I am hurt?

And then I finally remember
That this is who God needs
Me just as I am right now
Searching for the peace

Click here for the official statement from the Archbishops

Friday, 17 June 2016

Reflections on my Body as a Disabled Christian

These are my thoughts and reflections having heard PaulaGooder’s talk about her book “Resurrection: The Body and Christianity” at StPaul’s on 16/6/16 and following the #fullaccesschurch tweets from the Disability and Jesus conference on 11/6/16.

People think that everything we don’t like now about our bodies will be gone when we are resurrected; and yet we will look like we do now and be completely recognisable to our loved ones.  But there’s no evidence of this in the Bible; the gospel accounts show that the disciples didn’t recognise Jesus – therefore his body was obviously different; and yet Jesus was still able to show the holes in his hands and feet and therefore the things that disabled Him stayed in his resurrected life.  What a challenge.  Our disabled elements of our body will be a part of us but in a different form when we are resurrected.  A perishable body will be buried (planted like a seed) and a body of power will be resurrected (as a fresh shoot of a plant).  And this shoot will keep growing and building and gaining power as our resurrected lives continue; we will be gaining abilities and losing our disabilities.

This terrifies me; in fact I had to stop reading the twitter stream from #fullaccesschurch when someone tweeted that we will still have to use a wheelchair in heaven.  But I am reminded that it is so much less about our bodies and so much more about the context in which we find ourselves.  It is not our bodies which are disabled in this world so much as the world which disables us by not accommodating us; and the Bible tells us that the resurrection world will be a place which enables us as we are and ensures that we can fulfil our callings in all their fullness as God has planned.

Two main chains of thought come from this.
1.      If I will be resurrected as a disabled person with MS, which by the end of my life is likely to be pretty disabled; then I will be resurrected with a broken body and yet will be full of power.  I cannot imagine how it will be; but what I am hearing is that I will leave a world where my disability and disease is reducing me; to a resurrected life where it is the basis for my life which will be healed and empowered and rejuvenated.  If this is possible then I start to think about who I am; which is a body but which is not JUST the body but also the mind and soul and heart.  My mind and soul and heart are not being reduced or disabled, in fact I think they are being rejuvenated through the suffering of my body.  I am able to be more reflective, more understanding, more able to empathise and more able to think without distraction.  This of course may not have been the case in generations gone by when being disabled would completely limit a person; but thanks to technology and society and my own stubbornness and the blessings of Jesus I am able to continue to live a life of relationship and thought and exploration and ministry.
2.      If I will be resurrected blind and unable to walk and possible extremely weak then it strikes me that I will be resurrected exactly how I was born in my human life.  That’s a wow moment.  It’s a point of blessing in so many ways.  We are all born blind and weak and unable to walk and we learn and build and are nurtured and grow.  Suddenly I feel hope and joy with the idea that my resurrected life with God will be a repeat of the life I have already lived but with a parent who is all about making me the entire person He has called and always knew I would become.  And because this is a resurrected life this will be beyond all limits; it will be able to peak at some high point which I have never yet experienced.  How amazing to be able to realise that.

I guess what is holding central for me is that our resurrection bodies will be resolutions to our problems in this life in ways we can’t start to understand.  We may have the attributes which we consider disabling in our world, but they will not disable us.

Another point from both Paula’s talk and the conference which has stayed with me is that how we live in our body affects who we are.  In 1 Corinthians 12 (repeated in Romans 12) Paul explains identity and relationships through bodies because these things all happen as and in bodies.  What we do with our bodies affects who we are; and therefore what anyone else does to enable or disable us affects who we are.  I wonder how Paul would feel about the modern world which disables so many of us so well?  And what would he think of the body of the church which disables us?  What would he think of a church which has no ramps or automatic doors or low lecterns or has endless series of steps up to altars and pulpits which cannot be accessed by wheelchair users; or no hymn books and service sheets or assistance for the partially sighted; or hearing systems which never work properly for the deaf or worship which terrifies some members whose brains are wired differently?  It’s a challenge isn’t it!  What would Paul think about a church which disables people?  What does God think?

Then there’s the other big thing which most of us who are disabled Christians have encountered; the need to be healed of our disability in order to meet the needs of those who offer it.  I believe in healing, and have received healing of my emotions and heart as I get used to living with MS and especially with blindness.  But I do not expect that I will be healed physically; it hasn’t happened yet and I can’t help but think that God sees a plan in this for me and that I am called to a ministry which benefits from my disability.  And yet Jesus healed people; all over the place he healed.  Paula Gooder talks about the fact that Jesus’ healing miracles are about integration of the person into their bodies in order to integrate into their communities.  Jesus’ healing was predominantly about healing relationship through the body, rather than about healing the body alone.  For example; the woman at the well was healed not so much for the physical aspects as to enable her to join back with her community.   Jesus would never imply that bodies cannot be in relationship until they are healed; but He was focused on healing relationships by healing the bodies.

I wonder what Jesus would think of those Christians and Churches who require us to pray more to be healed in order to be the best we can be to meet their need for us to be able?  I wonder whether Jesus would be more interested in Christians and Churches healing relationships throughout society than healing the individuals who make the able bodied feel uncomfortable; because I am sure that is a large part of what’s going on.  The things that makes our bodies is an integration of heart and soul and body and mind and spirit; a beautiful body working together for and in God.  No matter who we are and what our bodies are like we are integrated in ourselves and with God; and in this integrated way we are in relationship with the Body of Christ.  It’s all about relationship, rather than about the form of individual bodies.  We are all one body and must be inclusive completely.

Heavy Heart Full of Love #prayer #poetry #mission #Orlando #JoCoxMP

Such a week of awful news
TV full of doom and gloom
Fifty dead
Shot in a club
MP shot
Doing her job
Added to the wars non stop
And inequality that drops
The weakest in the darkest place
Without water
Without a home
All across the world they roam
And no one wants to take them in
They are blamed for everything
What has our world become
I do not know what can be done
But surely 
One thing we should see
Is that it's real for you and me
All this grief
All this loss
My heavy heart
Removes life's gloss
Today I want to shut it off
To close the door
Switch off the phone
Makes me want to be alone
And cry
And rant
And shout so loud
God of mine
Why do you allow?
And yet I know
That my dear God
Is crying too
Through all this loss
Seeing our world
Feeling our pain
He sees the evil
Repeating again
He must despair
At our lack of care
But when I start to feel it here
It's overwhelming
What can I do?
I'm just one person
As are you
But together joined with many more
Surely we can do, what's been done before
And make a change
Improve our world
To heal the sick
And warm the cold
To feed the hungry
And save the damned
We can't give up
We must make a stand
To shout out loud
Put down the hate
Love each other
Gay or straight
Enemy, neighbour
Near or far
Evil can not win this war
Love must open every door
So together stand
Together say
We'll help each other
Come what may
Through prayer and action
Donation, petition
THIS is our God given mission
With heavy heart I impart this vision
Can you make the same decision?

These images include:
Vigil for the LGBTQ victims in Orlando
Jo Cox MP campaigning for a stop to violence
Refugees in Greece taken by Amnesty International
Palestinian children queuing for water after Israel cuts their supply

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Yesterday (praying it away)

This came to me in a few minutes as I was waking up this morning.

The background is that yesterday was a very rough day missing Rachel, who is away in France with school for a week; and feeling extremely overloaded with lots going on at church.  But yesterday evening was mums and more home group where we're following Brian Maclaren's "We make the road by walking" and we were looking at chapter 44 all about self care.  I opened up about my feelings and received amazing prayers and prayerful advice.  I pray that this blesses many others who read this as it has blessed me.

Yesterday (praying it away)
To be sung to "Yesterday" by The Beatles

Yesterday all my troubles got on top of me
I was tempted just to hide away
But I asked for help, yesterday

Suddenly, I am not alone in my stress
There are great women praying for me
And it really helped, yesterday

Why, I always forget, to ask for help, I just don't know
When I say something's wrong, people pray and I'm okay, ay, ay, ay

Yesterday, prayers took the fear from in the way
Now I don't need a place to hide away
Oh I believe in praying it away

So when you're overwhelmed, just reach out and ask for prayer
Do not second guess yourself, just ask a friend to pray away, ay, ay, ay

Yesterday, prayers took the fear from in my way
They can do the same for you today
Oh I believe in praying it away


Here are the original words from a recording in 1965.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Servant Queen Poem #poetry #HMQueen #Christian #Prayer

Last month I was thrilled to discover that the book "The Servant Queen and the King she serves" was available in large print, braille and audio CD from Torch Trust and ordered a copy of the largest print and the audio CD.  The book, written by Mark Green & Catherine Butcher and published by HOPE in partnership with Bible Society and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, takes a closer look at the Queen’s personal faith in Jesus and the impact it’s had on her long life of service to the nation.

I've listened to the book several times since it arrived and have been surprised how moved I have been by the Queen's trust in Jesus, prayer life and calling to her role as Queen by God.  It has inspired me and you won't be surprised to hear that this took the form of poetry.

Queen Elizabeth II
Is ninety years old this year
She has always been a Christian
She keeps Jesus ever near

Her most favourite poem
Speaks of trusting entirely in God
Reaching out into the darkness
Seeing His light filling the world

In the book written for her birthday
The Queen talks about Jesus her King
The King she serves and follows
And holds highest above everything

She talks about valuing prayers
Said for her round the world every day
Feeling God's love and inspiration
And receiving blessings in many ways

The Queen's seen a world of changes
Of disruption and trouble in lives
But through it all she is never discouraged
Because she knows that God's love survives