A week is a long time ….

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PropheticChurch

It’s been a torrid week – from the impassioned pleas of Greta Thurnberg at the UN Climate Action Conference, the dismissive responses from a few (mainly) rich and powerful men. including the US President, Donald Trump; through to the crass and bitter words in Parliament (and notably the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson) following the Supreme Court judgement and the recall of Parliament. A torrid week, that has left me (and no doubt others) reeling and emotionally tired, weary, perplexed and full of questions about the weeks ahead, and our collective futures.

In the UK in particular the focus inevitably has been on the plan to withdraw from the EU – or Brexit! At times it feels like as a nation we’ve talked about little else for three years, talked and argued and yet resolved nothing. Throughout that time no shared ground or common purpose has been sought, and therefore unsurprisingly none has really emerged. We find ourselves it would seem deeper and deeper entrenched in our positions of Leave or Remain often with little purpose, but none the less with powerful embedded emotions attached. It has become an all consuming issue – and that feels like it will never end; but of course it will.

One way or another, one day the issue of Brexit will be done with, either by leaving (with or without a deal) or otherwise by deciding to remain in the EU afterall. If we do leave, we would no doubt survive any economic consequences even if we, “the ordinary people”, the 99% are the ones paying the price of the new found riches of the few.If we remained we would feel few economic consequences but the bitterness and division would not subside overnight, and the entrenched battles may continue still longer.

To be honest, my real concern has never been the benefits or otherwise of trade arrangements and the like, or whether or not we will be “better off” economically if we leave or remain. Instead my chief concern was, and is increasingly, the genuine worry about what kind of country, what kind of a people we are becoming in the process. I struugle for signs of hope in the current gloom, I see fear, hatred and division – I do not know how, or when, we will be able to come together in reconciliation afterwards.

I hope and pray for the sake of our children, and our grandchildren they find a future that is compassionate, that is fair, that seeks for a genuine peace amongst peoples and between humanity and creation.

I hope our children are better people, kinder people, gentler people than we have been.

 

 

Changing Seasons

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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)

Grace, Love, Hope, Advocacy & Action

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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).