Category Archives: Spirituality

Little Voices: Big Difference

A Day with John Bell of the Iona Community on Saturday 4th April from 10:15am to 4:30pm at Leeds Trinity University, Brownberrie Lane, LS18 5HD

John Bell is a Scottish hymn-writer, broadcaster and former student activist whose main concern is the renewal of worship at the grass roots level.

Find out how song and Bible stories can inspire you to feel empowered to make a difference in the world!

This day is free to attend but registration is essential as numbers are limited. A voluntary collection will be taken at some point during the day.

Please bring some food to share with others at lunchtime. Tea, coffee and water will be provided and there will be a cafe open at which food and drinks can be purchased.

An evening of celebration, protest and solidarity on Valentine’s Day

”My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite…”
Romeo & Juliet Act 11 scene 2

Love (c) Jessica Hische

Following our response to the bishops’ Pastoral Statement, a few members of the congregation decided to get together at church for an alternative Valentine’s evening yesterday as a symbolic protest to insist that love is far more diverse than the Church may be ready to recognise.

It was a beautiful evening: we prayed through a liturgy of celebration and blessing, we lit candles to remember a dear friend, recently lost, Kye, and to pray for the church to become more compassionate and diverse. We also shared some delicious food. Adriaan had us in stitches with food/sensuality allusions and metaphors from Song of Songs (on hearing this, you’d never look at a pomegranate the same way again!) and Nicola shared a powerful and wonderful poem, which she has just written… and left not one dry eye in the room: 

This is my church, your church and our church, 
a church of unity, sanctuary, asylum, a whole church

Those who have travelled whether willingly or not,
those white or of colour, those with all those who’ve not got

The upwardly mobile, middle roaders and oppressed,
those who’s assigned gender doesn’t meet the way they’re dressed

Those of native language, those with words that helped form it, 
those whose emotions run so deep no words we need, 
those so deeply hurt they can no longer bleed. 

Those who can sing it and shout it that Jesus died for them, 
those scared to even whisper for the weight of silencing from men

When I walk through the doors, oh hi so glad you are here,
not what do we do it’s her, you know her, the queer. 

My name resounds in joyful muse 
never feeling my sexuality, anyone does confuse, 

we are there gods people, 
God’s children worshipping in his image, 
holding up the hearts of those broken whilst they heal, 
holding those so broken they can no longer feel, 
those who had once given up on mankind. 

But here in my church, in your church, in ours, 
all hearts are thrown open and arms wrap tightly 
with the words of our beautiful all inclusive lord, 
we are but people all formed in his image 
so we go forth with strength and rise to the challenge. 

We may have less rights be frowned on by many 
but together we have faith not experienced by any, 
we are the few sent to make us the many. 

Together we grow, divided we fall, 
if you hurt one you will hurt us all, 
but we will take that pain and make it a gain 

For this church is my church is your church is ours, 
our sanctuary, our breath our infinite love divine, 
I am so proud to with these people entwine. 

My church your church ours we conquer, 
ever carried forward by the strength of our father
— Nicola Edmonds, 2020

Here too is an excerpt from the liturgy we used:

An affirmation of Faith and Hope 

O God, Giver of Life, 
Bearer of Pain, Maker of Love, 
affirming in your incarnation 
the goodness of the flesh: 
may the yearnings of our bodies 
be fulfilled in sacraments of love, 
and our earthly embracings be enjoyed 
as a foretaste of the glory to come, 
in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, 
our Companion, our Lover and our Guide. 

May the outrageous welcome of God 
accept us for who we are; 
May the incarnation of the Word 
touch and hold us close; 
May the wandering of the Spirit 
help us risk ourselves for love. 
May God drive us out with power 
to fill the world with her justice. 

‘Tis the season to REMEMBER.

Last night we had all sorts of ‘fun’ with death, with the help of this beautiful ofrenda.

This gift from Mexico is with us all week! And will be the focus of our worship next Sunday morning – so please bring a photo or special memento of someone important to you who has died to place onto the ofrenda in celebration and remembrance of them. We are also hosting St Michael’s and St Chad’s to mark our ‘church birthday’ (or patronal festival) of All Hallows’ so do please bring some food to share with them over lunch if you are able.

Wild City Retreat at All Hallows

Wild City Retreats are led by our own Pippa Woodhams and on 22nd October there will be a Wild City Retreat celebrating Autumn. You can find more details on the LCI website

Maunday Thursday / Passover Meal

Maundy Thursday was an amazing evening of Jewishness, Jesus and Junk Food!

Our Jewish friend David Winston (with Heston as his sidekick) led us through a Passover meal; the ancient liturgy and symbols helped us to understand more deeply the ‘past’ of our Christian faith, and also the ‘present’ message of freedom and hope it offers in our modern world. This was especially poignant with our night shelter guests (fleeing homes in danger, longing for freedom and fullness of life) sharing the meal with us.

Then we had a wonderful (partly-kosher!) dinner courtesy of our Junk Food Café; our imam friend Adam taught us about wudhu (ritual washing before Muslim worship); and then David R-H led us reading John 13, saying our prayers and washing each other’s feet.

It was a very special and moving night. Jan said it was a deeply profound inter-faith experience and encounter; David Winston said it was like a big multi-culture-and-faith group hug 🙂

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What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

Leeds HOR Flyer

MONKeying around (or, Spiritual Disciplines for Daily Life)

St Francis of Assisi recognised that lots of people are keen to love and serve God in daily life – but not keen to live in a friary or convent! So he formed the Franciscan Third Order to complement the First Order (Friars Minor) and Second Order (Poor Clares).

This enabled anyone to follow Jesus in the Franciscan way, and commit their daily lives to intentional love, joy and humility.

If that sounds tempting – or you’d like to be more intentional about daily spirituality – this brilliant booklet is given to everyone exploring the Franciscan way of life…

chasing the wild goose


IDAHOBiT cross 2We have had a lot of positive comments about this cross made by Kerry at the IDAHOBiT 2015 event a few weeks ago, so here it is for everyone to see. Hope you can read it! Click on the cross for a larger version.



Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent

Drawn Together for Lent…

The meditation below, from Pippa, given at our Ash Wednesday service, kicks off our small group meetings weekly through Lent this year.

Come and celebrate God’s love and generosity and think about passing it on!   “Count your Blessings” with Christian Aid and make connections that count.   At this key moment of our community life, before Easter and a new chapter with our new priest, let’s be drawn together to prepare, pray and learn.  We will be following a series of Christian Aid reflections, linking international issues with similar themes relating to our own community.

7.00 in church: 

Tues 24th Feb; Thurs 5th March; Tues 10 March; Thurs19 March ; Tues 24th March.

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isaiah 10 -11

Isaiah 58, to me personally, is one of the most powerful passages of scripture.  It is one which moved me very directly, when I was a searching Christian student in my early twenties.  We were rather into piety in those days: looking for light, blessing, healing, guidance, the power of the Holy Spirit.  There was a backlash from the 1960s that any wiff of activism was a suspicious, liberal, “social gospel” – faith without power, and mere legalism.

Then one day I happened upon reading this passage from Isaiah 58, and it struck me like a thunderbolt, perhaps my first direct experience of God.  We were chasing the wrong goal, in looking for blessing without context or understanding of the nature of faith.  Here Isaiah presents a dynamic interaction between obedient service and experience of God. THIS is what God wants, and all these blessings will follow.  The result: homes are rebuilt as housing policy provides affordable housing for all; hungry people have food, intercepted or otherwise; oppression comes to an end; people are well clothed.

And for those who have enabled these things:  healing; glory; answered prayer; experiences of guidance; energy; springs of ongoing water and light.

Well, sometimes.  Sometimes it’s just a long hard exhausting slog.

Where are we now?   In PCC this week I was weeping over our government policy, when asylum organisations say that there will be no positive responses to requests for asylum until the election is over – we must be seen to achieve numbers for people deported.   This election is affecting my friends and my colleagues and possibly sending some of them to their deaths.     So I wept in PCC and end up exhausted, with many others.  Where do we go for solace and support in our work for justice?   Someone said, perhaps tears are the only rational response.

Where do we go?  Increasingly, I go out into the natural world, and I have had a fortunate opportunity to lead retreats over the last five months to enable others to do so.  To bring together the city, our personal stories, our worship with all its myths and festivals, and an acute observation of what is going on outdoors.   There is a deep disjuncture in our society between ourselves and the natural rhythms of the world, hard to perceive in the city.  This attitude is linked to our relationship with other people across the planet, as people as well as resources are seen for our “use”.

What’s happening in FEBRUARY?  It’s gloomy, people get Seasonal Affective Disorder. New life is coming but it’s still hidden.  Lent sees Carnival in many parts of the world, on Shrove Tuesday, just before Lent begins. Carnival seems good to release emotion.  “It’s as if, before the discipline and order of Lent, the untamed pageantry of our unconscious souls must be let loose. Carnival costumes often contained opposites like dressing up as our shadow-selves, or the part we do not reveal.  Both Lent and carnival are about looking at the un-named, which wells up within us. At carnival we let it go into the streets for a day, with feasting and play and relaxed rules, and during Lent we bring it before the loving gaze of God.” (Tess Ward)

On our Wild City Retreats we have been looking at the Celtic Tree Calendar:   “The tree that the Celts associated with February is willow.  Known as the Queen of the waters, the willow is the most feminine of trees. It’s Celtic name, Saile, means to leap or let go, which is why leap year falls in February.  Willow calls on us to make this leap, but the only way is to release feeling, cut ties that bind us to past ways of being or thinking. As we do so, life changes and we surge ahead.” (Tess Ward again)

Willow has strength and flexibility, it makes cricket bats.   It has stupendous energy and regenerativity.  Cut a bit and stick in the ground and it will grow.   Fast!   Lots of schools have made beautiful living sculptures from it.   But it is also the tree of grief the weeping willow, associated with water.  “There we hung up our lyres. “

So, in our Ash Wednesday service, I bought in some curly willow from our garden. The bright chequered cloth of carnival was covered with paper, and the willow branch surrounded with chunky sticks of burnt willow, transformed by fire into: Charcoal.   A reference to the ash with which our foreheads were marked in the following Eucharist.  Burnt, transformed.  Natural growth, tempered with fire into something creative.

We were all asked to walk round the table draw a line round the vase of willow, to symbolise our journey this Lent.  Thick and thin lines, broken bits, interactions with other lines, smudges: willow and grief transformed and shared.  One simple line each, but it all merged together and we had made a drawing.  Drawn Together.  You can see this in church.  Perhaps it will be changed again before Lent is over.

Sometimes the calling we receive from God is to pour ourselves out, to be changed, to be transformed through fire.  Grief has been called the river of tears which washes us on down river to the new place we are meant to be.    Lamentation is a true response to injustices we are called to respond to.  But there is hope, we are all part of the wider cycles of nature, resurrection, growth and loving service.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house;  when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rea guard. THEN you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and God will say, HERE I AM.” Isaiah 58 6-9


Faith in Dark Places

Faith in Dark Places