On Saturday we had the launch of the festival of angels at Tewkesbury Methodist Church. It was a wonderful occasion, the children of Tirlebrook School were magnificent in their production of the nativity story and the songs they sung for us. After that I spoke briefly about angels as messengers of God and why they are such an important part of the Christmas story.
There have been so many creative contributions to our festival, I would urge you to go along if you can to see the display. The central feature is a huge angel made from used tea bags stitched together and back lit, this was the work of Gill Shelly, Jackie Dobbs and their team. Other contributions came from various sources around the town, other churches and groups within Tewkesbury Methodist Church. Refreshments including homemade angel cake were enjoyed by all.
So this has been a very Christmassy weekend. It began with messy church on Saturday at Tewkesbury Methodist Church when we heared about the angels in the Christmas story and went on to make lots of different ones in our craft activities.
On Sunday I led morning worship at St Mary’s, Newent where the Christmas Tree festival was underway. This meant that the church was adorned with all sorts of bright an beautifully decorated trees and though it made for a slightly tight space for serving communion it all looked very lovely.
So as you become more familiar with my ministry you are beginning to see that it is a ministry of the heart and soul. I am passionate about our inner relationship with God and the changes that happen within us as we allow God’s presence to emerge in the inmost parts of our being. This underpins a new group called Desert Soul, which will begin on January 3rd at 3.00 thereafter on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month.
The group is rooted in desert spirituality which has inspired many through the centuries to discover within themselves a deep sense of the ever present God. Whether this be through its deep contemplative practice and approaches to prayer, through the searing clarity of the psycho – spiritual insights, or the pattern of life rooted scripture, community and solitude – in both eastern and western Christianity, desert spirituality has formed the basis of a rich and fruitful underpinning of faith in every generation since it’s formation in the Egyptian deserts beginning in third century.
In particular we might note that John Wesley was profoundly influenced by the desert fathers and in his life and works we see that all pervading, rich inner spirituality, which was such a vital and energetic part of the development of Methodism. Sadly we seem to have all but lost touch with that essential part of our narrative which was such a glorious gift to the world in those early days.
Desert Soul seeks to rediscover such treasure which was never truly lost but has rather got become hidden through the ages. As the world yearns for spiritual encounter, it is surely time for that which lies deep in the soul of Methodism to resurface and to once again revive deep encounter with the indwelling God.
“If you study the history or the spiritual life of the Church, you will find that each time a there is a spiritual renewal in the church, the desert fathers are present.” Irenaeus Hausherr
So it may have been a wet and stormy night outside but inside of Tewkesbury Methodist Church all was warm and bright, cheerful and entertaining as a packed audience listened to the amazing a cappella choir known as Heart and Soul. It was an absolute privilege to be there listening to their songs from around the world, some were very moving and some were great fun but all were brilliantly delivered and as I said in the vote of thanks at the end ‘this is a choir I want to join‘. A huge thankyou to the choir and their leader Hilary Davis. The proceeds from the evening will go to TMC and the food bank. Thanks to all who came and made it such a worthwhile evening.
Today I went to our usual Saturday coffee morning at Tewkesbury Methodist Church and afterwards decided to visit the neighbours, that is, our nearest church neighbours at Tewkesbury Abbey. I remember visiting as a young child on a school trip but have never been since, I had forgotten what a beautiful church it is..
Building began in 1087 and the Benedictine monastery was founded there in 1102 with 39 monks from the Abbey in Cranbourne in Dorset. The building was consecrated by the Bishop of Worcester in 1121. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Abbey was dissolved but the Townspeople of Tewkesbury bought the Abbey for the grand sum of £453 and it became the parish church. Today it is one of the largest parish churches in the country.
I enjoyed my visit and was pleased to meet new colleagues whom I look forward to working with during the course of the many events and projects that churches join together in, in Tewkesbury.
The church and grounds are very photogenic but i’m not sure I could do it justice on my iphone…best thing is is to pay a visit and see for yourself!
Monday and Tuesday were great days in Tewkesbury as the Mop Fair arrived in Town. It is a massive street fair which means that two streets are closed completely but it is a wonderful occasion for the whole community who turn out in full to enjoy the event.
Tewkesbury Methodist church remained open through both evenings offering it’s christian hospitality. We met many interesting people in the process who stopped to chat about anything and everything from theology and politics to personal life stories. Some brought their fears and concerns and welcomed a listening ear and others, brand new to the UK, marvelled at the tradition of the Mop fair and all the fun that was to be enjoyed.
Many thanks to the team who were involved at church and to Dave Amies for contributing the 2 photos of the opening ceremony. We will definitely be opening for the Mop fair again next year!
I’ve been a tad too busy to post for a few days, mainly visiting poorly people, attending harvest suppers, leading harvest festivals and learning arabic!! As we increasingly engage with Syrian families settling in and around our circuit, some of whom have little or no english language…yet, I thought it would help things if I at least learnt some basic arabic. So far I can say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ ‘coffee’ and ‘goodbye’ which is quite useful I find, especially since our local family are extremely hospitable and over coffee we have much fun teaching each other our native language.
The collection of pictures I have chosen for this post are autumnal scenes I have captured while I have been out and about this last week.
If you are in Tewkesbury on Monday or Tuesday next week it is the Mop Fair, see details here http://www.thecityofgloucester.co.uk/whats-on/tewkesbury-mop-fair-p707833. Tewkesbury Methodist Church will be open throughout to welcome visitors and we will also have the parables exhibition on at that time.
So next week I’ll maybe include some pictures of those events but in the meantime……
مَع السَلامة (maʿ al-salāmah)
Today I led two harvest festival services. The first was at Tewkesbury MC where we explored the theme of ‘whacky seasons’ and how climate change is affecting farming and agriculture in some of the world’s poorest countries, our retiring collection was for this years Christian Aid project in support of pea farmers in Malawi. The service was was followed by a bring and share lunch.
Our Harvest Festival at Tibberton MC this afternoon welcomed visitors from different churches across the circuit as well as friends from the Anglican church. this was followed by tea and a seeming mountain of cake….What is it with Methodists and cake!!!
Here are a selection of pictures from today.
Today we had a wonderful time at Tewkesbury MC as we welcomed lots of young people to our harvest messy church. We took the theme of Noah and the ark and after finding lots of pairs of animals and getting them safely into the ark we enjoyed many fun activities such as making rainbow stained glass windows, colouring animal masks, making rainbow cakes, building arks and making doves, which we sent out to see how far they would fly. Next we looked at all the lovely things that had been made and listened to the story of Noah and the flood. After that it was tea time with sandwiches, healthy snacks and the rainbow cakes we had made earlier. A great afternoon with lots of fun had by all and I’m really looking forward to the next one..
Well it’s been a busy week so I thought I would give the headlines of what I’ve been up to:
On Sunday I led worship at Hartpury Methodist Church. Not strictly for the first time since many years ago as a trainee local preacher I led one or two services there. We explored the theme of inclusivity and how we might address this as a church when there is so much division and exclusion in our world.
The afternoon saw many of us heading off to Dursley for our Circuit meeting followed by a lovely tea in which I was introduced to Nigellas gluten free almond and mandarin cake – finest cake ever! After we shared in a circuit service led by Rev’d Dr Jonathan Pye who also spoke on the theme of radical inclusivity….a big theme in the methodist church at the moment.
Monday was a mix of admin and visiting. At midday however I took time out to have lunch with some friends from my previous church in Basingstoke who are staying in the Cotswolds. We went to the Gardeners Arms in Alderton and I was amused to see that they also cater for your dog…
Tuesday was a day of more visiting and meetings and I was especially pleased to meet ecumenical colleagues from Tewkesbury Churches together at St Nicholas church in Ashworth where we did some future planning of joint activities.
On Wednesday I led a communion service at a residential home, continued my mission of getting to know people with yet more visits ( and therefore more wonderful hospitality) and in the evening was the guest speaker of one of our women’s groups (I hope they enjoyed the evening as much as I did).
So that brings me right up to the moment, this morning I have been catching up with emails, completing preparations for my two harvest festival services on Sunday and am right now catching up with my blog.
We have a great harvest weekend ahead with services and activities all over the weekend. I’ll post some pictures early next week.