So on Saturday I led a retreat at the very beautiful Rudford Church and it’s neighbouring school room.
The day was entitled ‘A day to Contemplate’ and over the four sessions we explored the notion of contemplation as being ‘fully present’ whether that be in conversation, in nature, in prayer or in silence.
We engaged the help of Bible characters such as Martha, Mary and Elijah to guide us on our contemplative journey and spent time learning, practising and simply ‘being’ in that glorious spot in nature on stunning day in early Autumn.
Everyone expressed the desire for another day along similar lines at some point in the future.
It was a privilege to lead the day and to spend time with a great group of people. I came away feeling richly blessed.
We enjoyed a lovely harvest festival at TMC yesterday where we explored, with Christian Aid, the work that is ongoing in Ethiopia supporting women who are working their way out of poverty by working together to build small businesses. In particular we looked at a small business which was bringing renewable energy technology to a small village, improving the lives of the women who had formed the business as well as to the community as a whole.
The women run a shop together, which is powered by the sun. They sell goods, like water and soap, for the whole village to enjoy. The women are now able to make more money for their families, impacting upon their health and education as well as their own sense of freedom and power over their own lives. They are rightly proud of what they have achieved together. We supported this cause with our prayers and our giving and with a commitment to make wise choices about how we act in our daily lives (with climate change in mind) to support those who are struggling most in the world.
Our prayers also went out to our local farmers whose businesses have struggled with the extreme temperatures during the summer and also to the food bank where the non perishable gifts (of which there were very many) will go to this year.
We sang favourite hymns old and new as we gave thanks to God for the gifts of harvest.
Harvest blessings, Jayne
I wrote this piece for a church magazine way back in May but I have had so many people commenting on it I thought it might be worth posting here for a wider readership.
As I write this we are enjoying the most glorious bank holiday Monday weather, which has apparently broken all records? I spent the early part of today with family on a trip down the Wye valley and though i know the valley well it seems that these weather conditions have brought qualities of colour which add spectacularly to the natural beauty of this area; rich green pastures flecked with golden buttercups, bold blue bells and milky white cow parsley; the glistening umber thread of the river wye winding its way down to the severn estuary and all set against a backdrop of cloudless azure. On days like this nature in all its glory is breathtaking and awe inspiring all at once and makes me want to cry out with the psalmist ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.’
Back at home this, enjoying a chilled drink on the patio as the afternoon cools towards evening I notice movement in a mound of soil in the garden, on closer inspection i see an army of ants going about their business with seemingly great purpose and determination. I find I am less inclined to wax lyrical about this feat of nature and hymns of praise spring less readily to mind as I watch the ants march across the patio towards me. Thank goodness then for the very gifted Isaac Watts, whos hymns we love and whose prose and poetry show us the divine mystery of God even in the most insignificant of creatures. In a piece entitled ‘Meditation on the First of May’ he writes….
‘What an exquisite world of wonders is complicated even in the body of every little insect – an ant, a gnat a mite, that is scarce visible to the naked eye. Admirable engines! which a whole academy of philosophers cold never contrive – which the nation of poets has neither art nor colours to describe – nor has a world of mechanics skill enough to frame the plainest or coarsest of them. Their nerves, their muscles and the minute atoms which compose the fluids fit to run in the little channels of their veins, escape the notice of the most sagacious mathematician, with all his aid of glasses. The active powers and curiosity of human nature are limited on their pursuit and must be content to lie down in ignorance.
It is a sublime and constant triumph over all the intellectual powers of man which the great God maintains every moment in the inimitable works of nature – in these impenetrable recesses and mysteries of divine art.’
So as spring unfolds into summer I pray that you might glimpse the glorious divine mystery pulsing through all of life and nature in abundance, a infinite generosity whose wisdom and grace seems to know no bounds.
Isaac Watts, Meditation on the First of May: The Lion Christian Meditation Collection © Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild. Lion publishing PLC 1998
So this afternoon we held our Desert Soul group as a mini retreat at Prinknash Abbey. The Abbey is the home of a Benedictine monastic community set in stunning Gloucestershire countryside and the peace experienced in that setting is very tangible.
Our session took the usual format for a Desert Soul session, approximately half and hour exploring the ‘matters of the soul’ followed by about half an hour of silent contemplation…and then closing reflections. The big difference today was we that we followed our meeting with tea and cake in the Abbey tea room, which is simply one of the best tea rooms in Gloucestershire as far as I am concerned and their gluten free cake really does take some beating.
It was such a good afternoon that we have decided such a mini retreat, now and again, is definitely good for the soul. Next session will be back in our usual venue on 19th September at 3.00, all are welcome.
This evening I was invited to attend the awards ceremony at the sea cadet unit in Tewkesbury. The award being presented was in fact the Queens award for volunteers. A certificate was presented signed by the Queen commending the unit on the tremendous amount of work that is carried out by volunteers to ensure that the young people grow into adulthood with the values and gifts rooted in the culture of the Royal Navy. The award was a beautiful crystal trophy presented by Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire Dame Janet Trotter DBE, CVO. Following the formal presentation we were invited to look around the unit at the various classes the cadets were engaged with and after that a buffet supper was served.
Congratulations to all those involved in the unit they should be very proud and it was a privilege to be invited.
On Sunday afternoon we celebrated 179 years of Methodist ministry and witness in Tibberton as we held the final service in the chapel. The service was led by myself – Rev’d Dr James Tebutt, Circuit superintendent preached and church steward Peter Gardener gave an excellent history of the chapel and its ministry. Over 100 people attended which, if you know this tiny chapel, was quite challenging but we did manage to get everyone in. Afternoon a superb tea was enjoyed by all following the service.
I say it is the closing of a chapter, because the story does indeed continue. The methodist members will continue to meet an to continue their ministry with a new venture planned called ‘Together at Three’ which will be held every 3rd Sunday in the parish church room and will be a time of fellowship with tea and cake and will hopefully attract members of the community for a time of sharing. In addition there will be joint services on Sunday mornings at Holy Trinity with shared leadership on alternate Sundays.
So, yes, as sad time but another chapter opens and the work goes on. Do continue to check in here to find out how this new venture unfolds – I am certainly looking forward to being involved in this new phase of the life of the Methodist church in Tibberton.
Just a reminder to members of desert soul group that we will be having a mini retreat when we reconvene in the new methodist year. This will be at Prinknash Abbey on 12th September – we will gather at church beforehand (1.30 pm) so that car sharing can be sorted.
In the meantime have a good summer break and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.
On Wednesday this week Apperley celebrated 10 years of ecumenical teamwork between the Methodist and Anglican Church for Open the Book. We celebrated with the team performing the story of Jesus being taken up into heaven, which all the children from Deerhurst and Apperley primary school attended. As this was the last session of open the book before the end of term, we wished the year 6 children well as they prepare to move on to senior school. After singing happy birthday to the team the children went back to their classes and the team enjoyed a slice of birthday cake.
I led the united service in this beautiful chapel this morning in Tibberton. A new venture in the deepening bonds between the Anglican and Methodist churches in this village, right in the heart of one of Gloucestershire’s farming communities.
I have just returned from leading our combined house group’s away day, which was held at the House of the Open Door, Childswickham, near Evesham. What a glorious day this has been in every way. The venue is stunning and I thoroughly recommend it if you are looking for somewhere for a retreat. We were also blessed with beautiful weather and the gardens were in full bloom. The food was excellent and so was the service.
Our day explored the themes of practical and spiritual hospitality through the story of Martha and Mary and as we journeyed through the day we engaged with how these two aspects of hospitality inform our mission as house groups.
A good day was had by all, so good in fact that we have a date in the diary for next year to do this again!