Category Archives: Reflection

Under One Roof

“Under One Roof” is the new title for our fund raising efforts for the regeneration of All Hallows building, community work, and most urgently the ROOF needed, for all our actions to take place in the safe and warm!

We are asking everyone for a very special effort, from April 2017 to April 2018, in fundraising, prayer, and work.  It’ll take longer than that to complete, but to prove to outside funders that we are a vibrant, sustainable community, able to put in the effort ourselves first, we want to show an exciting programme of fundraising and community building in this year in particular.

Dates for your Diary, some wonderful Sundays coming up:

April 15th:   Easter Sunday

Sunday 23rd April: Church Annual General Meeting during morning service. This is a great time for catching up with all that has gone on in the past year, as we listen to stories from the various groups and activities connected with the church, and pray for the future.

Sunday 30th April: Service of inspiration and commitment to our building, to launch “Under One Roof”

Sunday 7th May: our new PCC takes a special time out for lunch together after church, to get to know one another and envision the future.

So before we jump in, a time for some thought, reflection and prayer, during Lent.

WHAT DOES THE PHRASE ‘UNDER ONE ROOF’ CONJURE UP FOR YOU?  For some answers from PCC, see at the end of this email, but think of your own before you peep!!

Can you think of any stories from the Bible in which roofs feature?  A few below to start us off, but I’m sure there are more!

How could you use these for your own prayer? how could you share them with others in discussion? How can these scriptures ‘get wings’ and help recreate not just our building, but our community and relationships?

Two stories really speak to me:

Abraham and the angels Genesis 18

Read what happened when Abraham was willing to take in three complete strangers under the roof of his tent.  Many centuries later the icon painter Rublev painted this scene, in a way which depicted the strangers as the three persons of the trinity. How does this change our thoughts on the story?  See the icon in All Hallows, to the right of our altar, under the stained glass window.

As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares” Hebrews 13:2

Peter and Cornelius:  Acts 10

Two men praying separately, at least one of them on a roof top; one a very Jewish Christian, one a pious Roman gentile. It’s an extraordinary story of cherished world view and prejudice being turned inside out, and the whole Christian enterprise being transformed forever in an inclusive direction: truly a parable for All Hallows as we pioneer hospitality, diversity and inter faith community.  But the household of Cornelius needed a large building, with a good roof, to give hospitality to this shocking new revival, and totally unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the excluded gentile population.

You might also like to have a look at these:

Genesis 19:8 Lot, in Sodom, had his guests “under the protection of my roof

Joshua 2:6 Rahab uses the roof as a hiding place for the spies

2 Kings 4:8-10 the Schunamite woman builds a spare room on her roof, so as to be able to give hospitality and understanding to the travelling prophet

Building Projects:

1 Kings: 5 onwards, and elsewhere – the building of Solomon’s temple: all the craftspeople, benefactors and above all workpeople, who enabled it to happen.

Nehemiah: the renovation of the walls of Jerusalem, achieved by joint communal effort, against much opposition

Ezra: the renovation of the temple itself, again with great opposition

Isaiah 54: 2-3 and here’s a promise:

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;
lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
 your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”

What does “Under One Roof” conjure for YOU?  Here’s some starter words from PCC:

      shelter         united     together      safe    

buckets       family       community

    inclusion      building      safety 

lengthen the stays; brace the tent pegs; prepare for the storm

      sanctuary      opportunity       conflict

different kinds of people           a variety of activity 

    a safe place         conflict         getting along in a crowd

people NOT like us          people LIKE us

           sharing        abundance

 

Pippa Woodhams

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Called by God

We are ALL called by God! Emma preached a brilliant sermon on Sunday, asking us how much we are willing and able to commit to Jesus and his wonderful way of life.

If you’ve ever wondered what exactly it is that God calls us all to, here’s a poem to inspire thoughts and prayers…

 

Lord, you call us to be story-tellers:

planting your explosive news into our defended lives;

locating us in the script of your human history.

 

You call us to be trailblazers:

living in your future that we receive only as gift;

subverting the fixed, fated world of low horizons.

 

You call us to be weavers:

tracing, stretching, connecting the knotted threads;

gathering up unravelling, disconnected lives.

 

You call us to be fools –

for Christ’s sake: bearing life’s absurdities and incongruities;

puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.

 

You call us to be hosts:

welcomers of the sacred, intimate, transfiguring;

lavish celebrants of our communities and homecomings.

 

You call us to be poets:

artists and illuminators of inner space;

naming, invoking, heralding your ineffable presence.

 

You call us to be gardeners:

sowers, cultivators, nurturers of fragile lives;

benefactors of your gratuitous harvest.

 

You call us to be conductors

celebrating polyphony, coaxing symphony;

orchestrating the praise of your inhabited creation;

 

Lord, you lavish gifts on all whom you call.

Strengthen and sustain us and all ministers of your church,

that in the range and diversity of our vocation,

we may be catalysts of your kingdom in the world,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Roger Spiller (1944– )

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Good Friday Reflection 7

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

At his most desperate, at the end, having gone through the experience of abandonment, having endured humiliation, torture, and scorn, and now facing death, the final words Luke has Jesus uttering come from a song about trust in God. ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ is drawn from Psalm 31.

In his pain and loneliness on the cross Jesus finds solace in the scriptures which had formed, shaped and directed his life.

For me this begs the question, what stories are we so deeply embedded within that we can find solace, strength and direction in our darkest moments?

The stories that shape us, can not only bring us much consolation in times of hardship and great need, but can also shape our responses, our reaction to situations we face. Just as athletes train their muscle memory for instinctive response in competition, we can prepare ourselves to be able to respond creatively, courageously, non-violently, and with humility and grace when we face desperate situations.

The stories around us in films, on television, in the media, too often invoke a fight or flight response to injustice, violence and hardship. By soaking ourselves in the story of Jesus we prepare ourselves to follow his example of creative response, of taking up our cross, of refusal to succumb to violence and oppression in our lives and the systems we are part of. Just as Jesus was able to find strength and trust in God from the stories that had shaped him, so too we can find strength and trust in our darkest moments.

For the times when we could easily fall into despair, for the times when we could react with violence or cowardice out of fear, for the times when God may feel absent from our lives, if we truly allow ourselves to be shaped by the stories of the life, actions, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, if we commit ourselves with trust to God, then we too may see life come out of our own darkest moments.

Jon Dorsett

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Good Friday Reflection 6

It is finished. (John 19:29-30)

The Pharisees might agree he is finished. The threat has gone and we are again in charge of the religion. We can again demand the keeping of the law as the way to go. We can again set up the tables in the temple which are so profitable for us.

The disciples, especially Peter, might agree he and we are finished. We have denied him and we have lost faith in each other. He was betrayed by Judas and all of us. We have lost touch with each other and we have lost him. But he loved us to the end. He loved us and we are bereft and in despair. He held us together and we are broken. We are a busted flush.

Where now, are all our protestations, we loved him, denied him and scattered.

The Romans might have agreed. He is finished we handed out the toughest of sentences. We don’t understand him but he was unpredictable to the end. He is safer dead: finished.

Jesus said it is finished. Come to me he said. It is finished I have done for them what they could not do for themselves. I have broken down the wall of perfection between the altar and the people. I have opened the way to God. I have shown a new way. I have made a new way. I have loved them to the end.  I am the way: The way to God and the way to know God and to walk with God.  I have redeemed them. I made them and |I died for them, to redeem them, to set them free and be mine.

We can say I am his and he is mine. We can say we are free to love him as daughter and son: As brother to the brothers and brother to the sisters. We were born in bondage cut off from our true selves and from him.  I am his true friend and servant because he suffered for me. He has carried my sins and born them away. We are released into the way of love and peace and hope.  This is the place where I am released to walk with him because I can see his wounds and know release to be who I am and know him as both creator and redeemer.  This is a new kind of Glory, a new reason for hope, as I see him I become like him.

It is finished, finished, finished, finished, finished.

Let the people claim their inheritance for it is finished, finished, finished, finished, finished!

David Randolph Horn

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Good Friday Reflection 5

I thirst (John 19:28)

John’s gospel starts by telling us that “in the beginning was the Word”, that the Word was there when everything was created.

He was there when the water was separated from the land, when rivers were formed on the land.

He was there when Moses struck the rock with his stick at Horeb and water rushed forth.

He was there at the wedding at Cana when water was turned into wine.

And now he is here on the cross, he refused the drugged wine earlier, he is bleeding and dying. His mouth is parched, his tongue is sticking to the roof of his mouth and he says “I thirst”
And who responds? A soldier shares some of his thirst quenching drink.
“I was thirsty and you gave me a drink” (Matthew 25:35)

“The Word of Creation, the Word of Life has become flesh and made his dwelling amongst us”, he has become human and endured pain and thirst, he has allowed us to crucify him that we might find “living water”, that we might find life.

Mother Teresa sums up the words “I thirst” in her own reflection of Jesus’ thoughts from the Cross. “I thirst for you. I thirst to love and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to me. Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I thirst for you. Come to me. Thirst for me. Give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to my heart.”

Paul Magnall

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Good Friday Reflection 4

My God, My god why have you forsaken me. (Mark 15:34 / Matthew 27:46)

Jesus is quoting here from Psalm 22 as his Jewish hearers would know, which is a psalm finishing in praise and comfort but not here.

This is Jesus’ most intimate, most human, cry. We are born into an attachment and being securely loved is an essential part of our well being as adults. Being abandoned as a child can and often does have appalling consequences for us. Jesus was loved in a warm Jewish community.  Being abandoned in Jewish society was a big deal. Jesus had lost his friends and now above all his God. He’d gone from the traditional Passover  meal, surrounded by friends and probably family, to total loss of all his psychological and spiritual world. The heart rending humanity of it reminds that Jesus was fully human. How easily do we own up to being and feeling totally abandoned? We have to feel utterly at rock bottom, utterly rejected, dismissed and ignored  by so-called friends, family, community, to say we are abandoned. Jesus had nothing, not even the comfort of his God. It’s the last abandonment, and the essence of what we can feel as human beings at our worst moments.

It’s an abandonment known by many around us. Prisoners, refugees, asylum seekers, those who are hated for things not their fault,  those killed for no reason but their faith, the old living in solitude and unable to go out, the child of abusing parents…the list could go on. Jesus is part of that list, at the end of his life. Dying a death which was a total abomination of torture, he is overwhelmed by the  feeling of abandonment by his God.

When we meet such a feeling of being abandoned in ourselves, we know that Jesus, in his humanity,  felt it too, and at that point may have lost as well any idea of resurrection. I don’t know. I do know  that at such moments hope is a word with no meaning, and we are left with faith alone.

But we learn from the mystics that when we have finally lost God, when the desert has nothing to give us but to show us how it ignores us, then we learn what God is and is not, and what God has to give us.  To be alone with an ignoring God is often part of our journey, and may be the richest part of it.

And above all Jesus’ abandonment calls us to be people who offer God’s compassion and love to the abandoned, to bring the resurrection story as well as the story of the cross.

Jan Betts

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Good Friday Reflection 3

Woman, behold your son. Son Behold your mother. (John 19:26–27)

Dying on the cross Jesus gives his mother and his disciple to each other in love, knowing they would need each other in those coming days of grief and confusion. In such a moment of agony Jesus is still thinking of others – loving them, nurturing them. And nurture is something that has been talked about very much at All Hallows in the last few weeks.

How do we in our own need and grief and suffering when faced with the death of a loved one, or serious illness, or lack of stability in life use that to reach out to others?

Or do we instead prefer to curl up in a ball and hope those others will go away. Their hurts and anguish not really our problem, not really our concern.

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Andrew Shackleton but I remember hearing of his death around this time a couple of years ago and what I heard made me feel I had missed out. In the midst of his dying and departing from the earth what you told me was how he reached out to you, ministered to you, and nurtured you, still to the end concerned with your wellbeing.

It also raises questions for us about our own need to mother or nurture, those of us who have no children by choice are aware of the ways that God uses this to help us to find creative ways to nurture others – this is a concern that is ongoing for All Hallows as a whole I think given our ministry to LGBTI people and Asylum Seekers and one to continue to think about this Holy Week and Eastertide – how do we provide an alternative family to those forced to flee from their country, often still living in the UK in a state of trauma and isolation? Having to leave families that ordinarily would do the nurturing that God is now asking us to do for them. How do we nurture those who have been rejected for daring to be themselves and be true to their orientation and gender identity? How do we teach them that family can be good, that compromising who they are is not necessary to receive ours and Jesus’ love and acceptance? How do we offer to them the opportunity to hear, this church will be your mother?

Kerry Cockerham

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Reflection 22nd February 2015

A person cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human. To become human is what this individual person has been created for.

—Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher

(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)

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Reflection 15th February 2015

How to do nonviolent resistance (part 3 of 3)
Fifth, nonviolent resistance refuses to sow hate for the enemy. Hate gives foundation to hate until hate becomes a cycle that never ends. Nonviolence
vows not only to end the oppression but to end the hate as well. “Love your enemy” is not poetry; it is strategy. Those we want to have love us, we will have to love first.

Sixth, nonviolent resistance is based on the faith that in the end justice will come because justice is right and God is good. Two commandments undergird nonviolence and ring in every heart: The first is “Love your neighbour as yourself,” and the second is “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay.” Love is our responsibility. Justice is God’s.

Each of these principles taxes courage, demands great spirituality and promises opposition equal to the length of the struggle and the depth of the issue.

—from Heart of Flesh: a feminist spirituality for women and men, by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans), reprinted in Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, ed. Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis).

(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)

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Reflection 8th February 2015

How to do nonviolent resistance (part 2 of 3)
Third, nonviolent resistance condemns systems, ideas or policies that oppress but never launches personal attacks against individuals who are the agents of
the system itself. If we cannot assume the good will of those who oppose us we must at least not judge their motives. Ideas and systems are bigger than any single person. To attack individuals in order to curb a sinful system only plays into the hands of the system itself by failing to focus attention where
attention is necessary.

Fourth, nonviolent resistance absorbs physical attack without striking back physically. Suffragettes went to jail to win the vote and never struck a blow. Women and men faced attack dogs in Selma, Alabama, to win the right to be human beings without themselves becoming barbaric in the process. It was row upon row of Indians falling to their knees under the gratuitous blows of their English masters that sent a chill up the spine of a colonial world. Nonviolent resistance unmasks the inhumanity of oppression and gives all of us another chance to repent and begin again to be thinking, feeling human beings.

—from Heart of Flesh: a feminist spirituality for women and men, by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans), reprinted in Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, ed. Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis).

(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)

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