Monday, 10 December 2012

A weekend of fun and laughter - must be Christmas!


It has been a non-stop weekend of fun. Friday night the church hosted a Gospel concert for the YMCA. It was good to see the worship area packed out. God was truly in the house! Saturday we took 'Get in the Picture' to the local shopping centre. The idea being youngsters and their families are invited to dress-up as a character from the nativity, be it a wise man, shepherd, an angle, Mary or baby Jesus, and then have their photograph taken. This can then be downloaded for free off the Internet. We have done this the last two years and struggled to encourage people to travel up the escalator to where we were set up. This year I managed to persuade the manager, Peter, to let us use one of the empty ground floor shops. What a difference it made.  Thanks Peter. We took around 200 photos in 6 hours. Add this to a successful evening at junior PHAB (Physically handicapped and able bodied) club on Wednesday night and we can safely say the event was a success. If you want to know more about 'Get in the Picture' have a look at the website:  

Saturday evening was sermon writing, I really should be better prepared, and X-Factor on TV - should I admit that?. On Sunday morning church we had a visitor, John the Baptist. OK so it was me in my husband's dressing gown, it kind of looked like camel hair, tied with a leather belt. I did make the congregation jump by suddenly appearing and saying in my dodgy Yorkshire accent (with Gloucestershire tinges - I can't help where I am from), 'Hello, do you want a locust?' (mini chocolate Crunchies) before dipping them in my pot of honey I like to do mad things occasionally. Who said church should be boring? Lets have fun, fun, fun! God gave us a sense of humour and a creative mind and wants us to use it. He laughs with us and maybe sometimes at us given the silly things we do sometimes. It's OK to laugh with God. Spirituality laced with humour is a healthy spirituality. It's Christmas lets laugh and have fun!

Many people think church is boring and unfortunately, it so often is. Church, worshiping God, and sharing the gospel should be done with a smile on our face, a glint in our eye, and with much laughter. Who wants to be part of something stuffy, boring and way too serious? I am as guilty as the next preacher in being far too serious sometimes. I am only human (just wrote humour instead of human then - Freudian slip? HAHAHHA) and sometimes I just have other things on my mind that get in the wayThere is of course a place for being serious but we share a message of Good News that we can rejoice in. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, of God being made flesh, the Immanuel - 'God with us.' Who grew up to be a little boy who played, laughed, and had fun. Who reached adulthood and still laughed and had fun. I am sure there were still a few games played as he teased and joked with the disciples. This is the man who's belly shook with laughter and who's tears mingled with others in good times and bad.  This is the Jesus who is real to me.



Friday, 7 December 2012

Do you hear the Advent heartbeat?

I do not intentionally write in verse but somehow it creeps in, or is it out? I like the patterns the words form on the page. I haven't really noticed that much before. It is as if you can see it living and breathing all on its own with its heartbeat connected to God's. I really ought to start reading some poetry and pay attention to its form but maybe my childlike attempts say something in their rawness that would be lost if they become too polished. Well that's my excuse.  Actually, I will make the effort to improve but my to-do list seems endless at the moment. I never know where my writing is going until I start tapping on the keyboard. I am often surprise by the change of direction and unexpected rambling as I connect with God. You never know what you are going to find on a journey. The important thing is to keep our eyes and ears open. To enjoy the wonder of creation through it to hear the gentle whisper of God's voice. Travel too quickly and you miss the moment. It is in the stillness when we pause for thought that we hear His heart beat.  As we journey towards Advent it is good to pause just for a while...    


I am only a child,
Sometimes I act a little wild.
But I long to be 
who you made me.
To sit at your feet 
And feel your heart beat.
Help me to grow
And others to know
Your love is forever.
You long for us to be together 

As I await your desire
Set me on fire.
The Advent hope
Is surely no joke.
I see your infant smile
Lighting up the dial
Of the ticking clock
As I sit in the dock
Waiting for the sentence
Maybe I need repentance? 

The bars that surround
draw me in by their sound.
Trapped in by my shame
I know my excuse is lame.
I try to change
I find it strange
That after so many years
I still shed these tears.
Knowing I am excepted
Because we are connected.

I will get it wrong
And mistake the song.
But need only remember
especially this December.
You are the one 
That brings me most fun.
You are the incarnate joy,
The love, and the boy
who is the gift...


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Imagine...spirituality of writing


I happened on a television program tonight, Imagine...Jeanette Winterson: My Monster and Me. As they talk about inspiring writers and a love of books I have felt a need to write. Jeanette's life story is an interesting one of struggle and rejection. A sense of shame, despair, and self destruction and a way of coping through the world of books. Her creativity and use of English language is apparent through her spoken world. A working class girl, who despite it all managed to study at Oxford University. In February 2008 Jeanette tried to end her life. Her cat scratching her face as she passed out through carbon monoxide poisoning in her garage saved her life. As she came through she spoke out the scripture, 'You must be born again.' Her adopted mother, Mrs Winterton, would quote scripture at her as a child. The same Mrs Winterton who threw her out the house, and mistreated her. The mother who rejected her because of her sexuality. Jeanette seems not to hold any bitterness of her childhood choosing to forgive.

I haven't read any of Jeanette's work but I intend to. I love books. I always have. The smell, the texture of the page, the woven stories that they contain. There is nothing like a good book. As a child I always had books to read.  Paper to write and draw on and on my birthday, if I was lucky, a new pallet of paints. I have been trying to find the creative Jo that exists within me. The blogging has helped but there seems to be more creativity wanting to find expression some how. I don't yet know what form that will take only that I journey with God as I rediscover that what has been dormant for so long. There is a story to be shared and new ones to be created.   

Mrs Winterton wanted her daughter to be a missionary. Jeannette says, "She did get what she wanted because, I am, but just not for Jesus.. its for the power of the word. I suppose even that is something of what she wanted because it does begin, doesn't it,  'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' and I suppose the word is God to me." The Word and the word collide for me. I am an ambassador for both. There is something about exploring my own spirituality by writing about it. Sometimes you don't know what you think until the pen hits of the paper, or the fingers hit the keys of the laptop. Potential is never realized until you step out in faith and give it a go. 

Out of the mist expression appears
brush strokes on a page,
words formed and made.

Out of my mind the world collides
acts of a play dance,
film credits surprise.

Out of the night sky suddenly falls
darkness and light,
humanity dawns.

Out of my heart emotions erupt
read and you find me,
ignore and I'm lost.