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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Journey 5 Day 20 – Celebration followed by Agony

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to take time out to be at Tearfund’s annual staff conference.

We heard about the value and importance of Tearfund being known as a ‘movement’ rather than an ‘organisation’. I love that idea. Yes there has to be an organisation but the story and real heartbeat of Tearfund is in the movement, the impact, the stories, the people rather than the machine of the organisation!

We were reminded of the core values of Tearfund: Christ Centred, Courageous, Compassionate, Truthful, Servants. Language that inspires and languages that makes me come alive and confirms that notion of a movement rather than an organisation.

Our Chief Executive continued the theme by encouraging us to be a movement that is brilliant at building and doing relationships. Valuing relationships, agility and creativity above and beyond systems and processes. To be in the world but not of the world. To use the values and ethos of Tearfund to be a springboard

It was nice in this context to have genuine quality time over lunch and beyond to spend time with people and build relationships and create enjoyable and memorable shared experiences. All of this in the context of a really great and diverse group of people united in a common purpose, unity and vision! Just Fantastic.

We then also got to hear of lots of great stories of transformation and impact from all over the world. Changes in the law, great fundraising, improved access to anti retroviral drugs for people living with HIV,Communities transformed, programmes being recognised for their quality and standing out for special recognition and so much more!

A great reminder that the values and ethos Tearfund when outworked lead to impact and transformation. That poverty is not about numbers and statistics but about people and human beings and human relationships. To have the local church at the heart of so much transformation is so inspiring and encouraging!

My only lowlight was an innocent game of table tennis that resulted in me rupturing my achilles tendon. Crazy but sadly true!

The longer than expected wait in hospital did give me a really great opportunity to stop, reflect and read a significant chunk of Henri Nouwen’s incredible book ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. It was a timely read as earlier our Chief executive had talked about the importance of us fully grasping our true identity and living out of that place. The identity of being a beloved child of God.

Nouwen’s depth and honesty as he reflects both on Rembrant’s painting (pictured at the top of this post) and the story from Luke 15 is arresting, inspiring and challenging. I was really struck that he takes time to reflect on each of the 3 main characters; The Younger Son. The Elder Son and The Father. Nouwen highlights the fact that he can identify and resonate with each of the characters. The need to feel and live with the reality of rebellion of the younger son but also the desire and opportunity for that welcoming embrace. The resentment and hard hearted approach of the Son and how to break that mentality and approach. The role of the Father to extend welcome, embrace and live in a place of valuing grace, return, restoration and new opportunities. There is a lot of profound and brilliant depth to this work, but depth that is also applicable and has potential to be transforming. Transforming relationships, approaches to work and understanding of ourselves and our true identity. The same themes emerging from the conference. I was in all honesty struck by how much more I resonated with The Older Son than I would like to admit or project. How much  long and crave to feel the embrace of the Father but also how out of that embrace I want to develop and cultivate more of the characteristics of the Father.

At Lunchtime yesterday I had no idea of the agony I would be feeling and the way in which my evening would turn out so differently than planned. I would much rather it hadn’t happened and right now would much rather I was walking and active (So would my amazing wife and children). However I have to face into the reality that I won’t be so free to be active and mobile. I don’t want to be in this state but I am and I have to choose now to embrace it well and use a slower pace of life and mobility to learn, grow and cherish more of the things I so often just take for granted.

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Journey 5

 

Journey 5 Day 16 – Welcomed

I have just returned from a very special weekend away with my church at Ashburnham place. Truly wonderful in so many ways. The theme of the weekend was ‘Welcome’ and it included the theme of how we are welcomed by God. The passage of the Son and The Father (Luke 15) was used to highlight the lavish, outrageous and amazing welcome we are entitled to receive by God. A recurring theme from my readings in Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey and The Return of the Prodigal Son.

To know that welcome, to fully receive it, live in it, live out of that place and to do so with true generosity, gratitude, awe, wonder and acceptance is a profound, freeing and beautiful thing.

Its also beautiful (and very hard) to really know that and live out of that place, but so so important!

Looking forward to discovering more of that this week and beyond!

Today has been a hectic day after the oasis of the weekend but it was so great to be welcomed to Evening Liturgical prayer at 5pm and then also to a great meeting in the evening to be able to explore lots in terms of God being at work in and through his church in Southall. A real couple of oasis moments in the midst of a busy, messy, buzzy and odd kind of day.

Thank you God for the welcome you give to us and the way you use others to bless and welcome us

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Generosity, Humility, Journey 5

 

Journey 5 Day 13 – Morning Prayer and Fruit

Below is my first ever Liturgical ‘thing’ that I have used/adapted to lead a session of Contemplative Prayer. Thanks to Common Prayer, Rob Bell and others for the use of materials. I also wrote the short ‘Loving God’ prayer. Nothing that original about it, but its timely in this journey as I embrace gratitude alongside contemplation.

Thanks also to Rob Ryan, Tom Baker and Frank Ritchie for inspiration and encouragement in this journey so far. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘We are in this together’ . The art and importance of building relationships is so vital. Thank you Frank for reminding me again that although enlightening,  these journey’s or disciplines are also hard, but from that can come much growth, learning and fruit.

Morning Prayer (Adapted)

SILENCE

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Loving God:

Thank you for the freedom to worship you

Thank you for the opportunities we have each day

Thank you for food we have to eat

Thank you for family and friendships

Thank you for the freedom we have to express opinions

Thank you that you invite us to partner with you

Matthew 5

Blessed are the poor, for theirs is theKingdomofGod.

Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice, for great is their reward.

Soul of Christ, sanctify us;

Body of Christ, save us;

Blood of Christ, Cleanse us;

Passion of Christ, strengthen us.

Through our lives and by our prayers : may your kingdom come!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

SILENCE

Galatians 5: 1, 22-23, 25-26

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Come, Holy Spirit. We pray that your fruit would grow within us and be demonstrated and outworked in our lives.

SILENCE

Let us embrace the simple truth that we were made to give ourselves to a cause bigger than ourselves. A cause that increases peace and hope in the world. A cause, a purpose, a task that makes the world a better place. Help us God to know where we can play our part in seeking to live out your values and to live for the outworking of your Kingdom on earth in the present.

Closing Prayer

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us : wherever he may send us;

May he guide you through the wilderness : protect us through the storm;

May he bring us home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown us;

May he bring us home rejoicing : at the wonders of his love. 

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in contemplation, Journey 5

 

Journey 5 – Day 10 – Questions

It might come as a surprise to some people who know me, but perhaps not to others…. I love questions!

I love the great questions that my children ask that highlight a great hunger to learn about themselves, life and the world. There is something about the innocence and the why questions that are so brilliant.

I love the programme Question Time. The opportunity to open the floor to the public to explore the issues of the day with our leaders and politicians.

I love really good interviews and one to one chats that offer real insight into a person and a stage in history.

I love receiving my monthly copy of Third Way Magazine and the great interviews they have each month with some really interesting people. I also love the fact that my leadership team at work offer themselves on a regular basis to run a session where they can be asked questions. They do this for accountability and to enable a sense of being connected. The sessions achieve this and also for me they inspire ideas, vision and creativity, which is so important.

Asking questions makes us human and its also something that Jesus did a great deal. Conrad Gempf’s brilliant book called Jesus Asked shows us the Jesus who asks questions and uses questions really creatively and perceptively. Questions can be there to find out information, to offer support and much more besides, there is both an intellectual and emotional dimension to questions and both are great.

In this season/journey of exploration and contemplation I am keen to ask questions, to explore, to wrestle with things as well as to reflect on statements of truth and certainty.

I’m also mindful however of the need to have questions answered. A former lecturer said that questions are good and really important, But left to long and they become stale and life draining. Sometimes answers are important, to then propel us to the next set of questions!

I’m wrestling with lots of questions at the moment around how to live honestly and with integrity? How to keep wrestling with the idea of what it means to be a whole life disciple? How can I be a great employee and also a great Husband and Father? Am I doing to much or to little? What are my real gifts and strengths? What am I really passionate about? How can I live more and more in a way that makes me come and feel alive in my relationships, work and life as a whole? Am I in anyway living life in all its fullness (John 10:10)?

I’m also wrestling with a set more more personal and emotional questions that are more private. I hope to get some answers but I know that sometimes it will take time or that the answers may not come. Lament and questioning things are so important and sometimes the freedom and clarity only arrive after a long time.

I am enjoying the chance to contemplate and explore. To find some answers but also to keep some things in tension and very much unresolved. I enjoy the journey far more than the destination and like wrestling, exploring and asking questions. Its part of who I am and part of what it means to be human and its brilliant!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in contemplation, Journey 5

 

Journey 5 – Day 9 – Creating Space

Less is More seems to be a key message and experience not only for this journey but my journey overall in 2012. I’ve enjoyed a week of my birthday, time off, a wedding and some work and I’ve really sought hard to be fully present at each event. What has also been great is approaching all of these things with fresh eyes, a fresh heart and a fresh and renewed knowledge of who I am and my identity.

I’m looking forward to starting 4 weeks of contemplative prayer with some colleagues. We ‘experimented’ for a week a few weeks ago and combining Anglican, Iona, Benedictine and many other ‘expressions’ of prayer proved to be a real insight into the vast riches of prayer in various forms.

I also have the joys of a weekend at Ashburnham coming up as well as my retreat and a trip to the Urban Retreat as well. Its a seasonm of seeking, reflecting and going deep!

I am really enjoying the intentionality of creating space to pray, to reflect and am definitely beginning to find a rhythm to it as well as a fresh joy and opportunity.

Its great to create space in a variety of ways…. in a quite room, driving, walking or elsewhere just as it is also great to be with people and have quality time. I’m enjoying both aspects but the key is taking the time and being intentional and really present in the moments.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in contemplation, Journey 5

 

Journey 5 – Contemplation – Day 1 – Rest

As I begin this journey I feel so thankful and privileged to have spent the past week in beautiful North Cornwall. The combination of quality time and a truly beautiful place mean that I feel the most rested, open and refreshed I have felt for quite some time. I was really intentional in seeking to have a week of rest, stopping, playing and having quality time with my amazing family. Having that focus has paid off as I was able to really rest and relax fully. Being fully present, totally committed to the moment or the experience, a recurring theme for me in this series of Journeys. It was key in making this week so good and I sense that it will be really important to be both intentional and fully present in taking time out to contemplate and be able to take some quality time to pray and retreat on this journey.

I took just 1 book with me to Cornwall to read, Brian Drapers ‘Less is More‘. A very apt title and I certainly experienced more by doing and seeking to be less productive.

In preparation for this journey I also had the joy of spending half a day with the legendary Simon Jones who helps run an Urban retreat and prayer room. It was so helpful to listen to someone who has practised and lived out the art of retreat and contemplation as well as experiencing the prayer room itself. He also recommended a lot of good resources. I think I will be aiming to use some of these in my times of retreat.

My aim during this Journey is also to finally read Nouwen’s classic The Return of the Prodigal Son. This quote from the book certainly inspires me to want to read it, albeit with a certain degree of trepidation and anxiety over having to explore letting go and letting God invade my life more fully!

“Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenThe Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

I am looking forward to returning to the urban retreat on Tuesday for some quality time to reflect, rest, pray and retreat.

P.S.My Generosity Journey has therefore come to a close. I don’t feel that I was able to practice as much generosity as I would have liked or expected, but I learnt a lot and it was great to follow a daily Rhythm of generosity for 25 days.  My work colleagues will be pleased to know that my final day of generosity also included purchasing some quality fudge and shortbread for the office next week!

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in contemplation, Journey 5