Changing Seasons

Standard

42386859_932891876906224_1849594349961084928_n

This weekend saw the Autumn Equinox and at Share Ministries we marked it with an evening of folk music from local friends and an open mic session for others to share songs and poems.

Autumn Equinox (also known within Pagan community as Mabon) is celebrated when day and night are of equal duration before the descent into increasing darkness and is the final festival of the season of harvest. It is also a time to recoginse that the balance of the year has changed, the wheel has turned and summer is now over.

Recognising and marking seasonal change is important, it’s important to do so within the context of creation (the natural world around us) but its also important to do so in our own lives (we are of course also part of that same creation). Seasonal change in our lives can take many forms; we move from childhood to teens  and early adulthood through our middle years and into our old age. But of course other changes of season may also take place; our health may change, relationships come and go, hopefully we learn to love and also inevitably to cope with the loss of people we love. In all these changes in our life seasons God travels with us, offering light even in the dark times, providing us a sense of balance in our lives that holds us firm in good times and bad.

My ministry seems to be in something of a season of change – decisions about new priorities and partnerships are underway, as well as new challenges faced by those I work alongside and those we seek to serve as friends in community. Universal Credit casts a dark shadow over the coming season as the roll out hits Sheffield around November / December this year, its total effects are still of course unknown but the experience of many in places it is already in operation show it has caused more problems than solutions, deepened peoples experiences of poverty rather than lifting them from it. In the past six months alone our food bank service has seen a further 26% growth in those seeking help – if Universal Credit increases these figures we will find it increasing hard to cope with demand in the same way, thankfully our supporters are still generous and we will continue to look for the best ways to exhibit our key values of Love, Hope, Grace and Advocacy despite the increasing challenges.

Our Equinox Blessing

Blessings for the bounty of your Summer harvest.

Blessings for balance in our life as we attune with the power of equal night and day.

Blessings for that which falls away, that which needs to be released with faith and trust into the mystery.

Blessings for gathering and storing the light & warmth of the Summer sun as we head through this transition season towards the dark of Winter when the earth goes to her womb-place and takes that which has fallen away and uses it to create new life that comes in the rebirth of Spring.

May we all harvest well so the light within can carry us through the time of least “outer” light.

 

(Photo by Katie York – Sunshine & Poppies)
Advertisements

This Class Gives

Standard

DgSucTVX0AA0dLx

Apparently people were “queuing round the block” to donate food for a Sheffield food bank in return for a limited edition Peter McKee can ….. Now good people across this country give to food banks including the one I’m involved in at Parson Cross Initiative each and every week with no expectation of reward; I’m glad this stunt is bringing more food, I’m hoping it will prompt debate, I’m worried people will still not question why some are still needing support from food banks in UK 2018.

As a nation we must quickly come to understand the “cost” of allowing the current state of affairs to continue:

  • The “demonisation” of those not working – or indeed those “under employed” to use the latest government jargon
  • The distrust of those claiming disability or sickness benefits, this is true across the board, but is often even more so in relation to “unseen disabilities” and mental health issues
  • The ignorance and assumptions of those who “have” about those who don’t. Allied to this many of us seem to forget that our economic grasp of life is relatively fragile. Only this week we were giving a food parcel to a man who less than 12 months ago had been doing fine employed full time as a driver.

All these attitudes, underpinned of course government policies deliberately designed to create another “hostile environment” around benefits and social security payments, have a cost on all of us. Not simply a financial and economic cost but a moral, and indeed a spiritual one.

We are called to respond – as Christians we are called to respond with love and grace, with an eye on justice and the values of the Kingdom of God so often spoken about by Jesus. As humans we are also called, the cost of excessive inequality, and a lack of compassion leads us towards a kind of barbarism that devalues the humanity of each one of us.

 

Grace, Love, Hope, Advocacy & Action

Standard

 

 

35156797_1966441403390128_4949106491811430400_o

About a month ago  I (along with Charlotte a volunteer with PXI Projects) attended a conference at Bishopthorpe Palace, the home of the Archbishop of York, for advocates working with the Acts435 charity, it was there that we were both struck by some words from Rev Alison White – Bishop of Hull. She spoke of “Grace, hope, love and advocacy in action” words which we at PXI Projects have rapidly adopted as a phrase which underpins everything we attempt to do in our work.

To help us keep focused on these words we asked Laura (one of our artistically gifted volunteers and supporters) to do us a painting that we could hang on the wall to inspire us and remind us ….. the picture above shows the painting (almost complete).

Sorry!

Standard

Apology-Cover

There are undoubtedly times in all our lives when it is right for us to say sorry. Sorry for things we have said, or indeed things we didn’t say but should have, sorry for our actions and the hurt they have caused others. Recently I’ve needed to say sorry at work to people who have felt hurt by the actions of another group, there’s a real chance that had I spoken up and passed on information earlier this hurt could have been avoided (or at least reduced); and although saying the words and feeling regret (and “wishing you’d have said something earlier”) are all relatively straightforward things to say and feel, re-building relationships are often much harder.

Often apologies are between individuals, they are personal and private – but sometimes they require more of a “corporate” apology. The Church (as an institution) has many things it has need to “apologise” for …. from modern revelations about abuse, to the wholescale persecution of other faiths and different denominations, or it’s theological justification of false ideologies and oppressive practices such as slavery and colonialism.

My own latest encounters with “sorry” have made me think about why and how we say sorry, and what purpose it can serve.

  1. We say sorry because we are. It might seem obvious but there needs to be a genuineness in our apologies, sorry isn’t about minimising the damage to us, or just because we’ve been “caught out”. We should understand what pain has been caused to the other person, and what we’ve done that has caused or played its part in that pain. The psalmist says a “a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51.17 KJV) suggesting perhaps that our sorry should take on, absorb and carry something of the pain we have caused. “Don’t say sorry if you’re not…” I have heard myself say to my children and grand children when they think it’s the code word to get them out of trouble for a particular thing they’ve done wrong “…go and think about why you are sorry, and what you are sorry for” It seems good advice at any age perhaps.
  2. We say sorry not because we expect forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift, not a right, whether from God or from another individual. When we have wronged someone we have no right to expect forgiveness, but simply to hope that it might be given. Now obviously I could write a whole blog peice on how and why we should choose to forgive, and why God also chooses to forgive (and maybe I will) but thats not for here and now.
  3. We say sorry with the hope of healing. The act of apology has the potential to heal. That is not the same as expecting “everything to be as it was before”,  it is to say the word “sorry” acknowledges and takes “responsibility for the wrong done. Sorry says “it is not your fault, you are not the one who did wrong, that was me/us”. In saying this it offers the chance for those wronged to move on to a place of healing from the hurt caused, in the knowledge that the “wrong” has been understood and acknowledged. It should also provide the opportunity for those apologising to look again at what they did wrong, and to learn from it – hopefully choosing to avoid simply actions in the future. As such, saying sorry can become at least a start of a healing process for both parties.

 

 

Holy Week (2) – Good Friday Lament – What’s wrong with the world?

Standard

DZiMXgqW4AAPVMK

This Good Friday the two local Methodist Pioneer Ministries (Share & Open House) took the opportunity to worship together. A drum beat led us before we nailed to the cross, where we held a prayerful lament based around words suggested and collected from people attending food bank sessions over the last couple of weeks. People then named and added additional “wrongs”.

In the evening the cross was taken to Judiths Open House where it remained until Easter Sunday.

“When Words are Not Enough….”

Standard

Lauras prayers 1

Well it’s months since my last post – both Advent and Christmas have passed without comment from these pages, and now we have entered the season of Lent. It is always a time for inner reflection and hopefully (though not always) of some revelation too. In my Pioneer Ministry (Share) we began the forty days with a short prayer time to mark Ash Wednesday; around five of us shared a short liturgy, received and offered ash crosses on our foreheads, and spent time at various prayer stations.

Lent this year has also coincided with the first real steps towards trying to secure funding from Sheffield Methodist Circuit and elsewhere for the continuation of my ministry and other work beyond the end of 2018. This process itself has forced me to re-examine what I do, how and why and do it, and how I work alongside others (in Church and beyond). Needless to say this has brought both positive, and more challenging emotions to the fore; much has been done in so many ways since I began here in 2010. People have come and gone, faces and roles have changed and the world moves on – however it is to this place I still feel called and the ministry I attempt to fulfill that I still feel called to.

Hopefully I will find more words in the coming weeks as I continue to reflect and discern the new paths …. meanwhile I sit and contemplate the prayer poem featured at the top of this post written the other week by my friend Laura.

When words are not enough,

Let us hold the silence.

When prayers are not enough, 

Let us act out our love.

When life turns us about,

Let us find our way.

When all is darkness,

Fill us with hope and love.

When we are weary,

Let us rest.

When we are full of fear,

Send us a bird singing sweetly, a rainbow.

Lift our spirits and remind us of the beauty in this world.

When we are ready to follow you once more;

We will walk your path,

Sing your song,

Dance with the seasons,

Weave the threads,

Mould the clay.

As the tears fall,

We have joy in our hearts,

To be part of your creation.

(Laura Hill 2018)