Hope breaks through despair.
No hatred, or suffering can last forever.
Eternity is God’s, and so are we.
“It is finished”, he said, we are free.
This Easter seems to be one for firsts. My bishop this morning has released two different Easter messages (one first), one written and the other a video (another first).
The video is filmed in various locations around the diocese, (Bangor Cathedral, St. Seiriol’s Well, and Penmon beach), and ‘it follows the story of Jesus’ death, resurrection and appearances after his resurrection and examines the meaning of these events’.
Great to see even more advancements into the 21st century and the diocese using new methods of communicating the good news of the Gospel.
A few weeks back I did an afternoon for the Mothers’ Union. It was meant to be a ‘Quiet Afternoon’ for three local groups coming together, but I failed on the quiet point. It was my first event for the Mothers’ Union, the group in the parish always meets on a Friday which is usually my day off, and my previous incumbent was an active member as well as our lay reader, so there was little need for me to get involved.
I struggled to come up with a theme for the afternoon, the woman in charge of my local group told me, We don’t like silence, but we don’t like too much taking or discussion. People have done things where we have to move around, and we don’t like that…..but…we don’t like saying still on those hard chairs.’ Another member asked me ‘please…just do something different’.
So after much thought and prayer I decided to stick with something I know about, music. So I got videos for 4 pieces of music that all been popular in the last few years. I also tried to pick different genres so there might be something they all like….???
The most popular comment I got at the end was that they were ‘shaken’. I have to admit, I have never been more proud of feedback in my life. I SHOOK the Mothers’ Union.
I’ll need to do this in different parts because WordPress will only allow me to include one video per post.
This afternoon we will be looking at images of Christ in the secular world, in particular God in popular music which either talks about the artists faith, or could be used in worship but have also been huge hits.
We often despair with the younger generations we see around us, their values and priorities often seem so alien and to many it seems like they even speak a foreign language.
The church is (as we all know) very good at childrens work, but when they get to teenagers and young adults, they seem to drift away and disappear. We are in the 2nd, 3rd or sometimes 4th generation who have not been involved in church.
But not is all lost!!
There are still many places where Christ can be found. Christ is still present in many places where the church is not.
If we can be aware of where Christ is speaking, then we have a greater opportunity of meeting people where they are.
“so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.” Titus 2.10
And maybe these can inspire us in our own faith, and in passing it on from generations to generation…
Song 1 – Linkin Park ‘What I’ve Done’ (2007)
Post can be found here.
Themes- repentance, confession, redemption, salvation, forgiveness, baptism, politics, environment, regret
Post can be found here
Themes – personal faith, difficulties in life, pleading to God, Jesus is with us all – regardless of what we do.
Click for video with lyrics (there is no official video for this song)
Themes – death, loss, hope, finding comfort, remaining grounded, keeping on track
Post can be found here
Themes – do not worry, plans of God.
Ok, so Jam Sul is an experiment of ‘cafe church’ that we have been trying out for the last few months. This is our third month and I think I’m safe in saying so-far-so-good. Attendance has grown with each one and the word is getting around that the church is doing something new – ‘shock’! Our intention has been to do something truly family friendly for people who would not dream of coming to an average Sunday morning service, those on the fringe of church, and those who we’ve just been able to drag in.
It’s true that at first some people came along without even knowing it is a church event. They just came to play some music, to ‘jam’. We had a lovely comment after the end of last months from one of the guitarists, he said ‘I never thought I’d be hanging around with people [Christians] like you’.
This month we had the title of ‘Alive or Dead’, which initially we thought of doing the Easter story. But on second and third thought we decided we’d like to try and get some people coming to our Holy Week events, so we shifted to the story of Lazarus which was the set gospel for this Sunday (Lent 5 Year A).
The set up is very relaxed, people sat around tables, in the location we;re currently at there is a cafe next door which people can get drinks and cake from, and there are some welcoming activities to get people talking; this time it was drawing faces with different expressions on and identifying the different emotions on drawn faces. We have some modern Christian music played by our ‘band’, usually 4 or 5 songs in the time, and a range of different activities, crafts, games and stories all based on our chosen theme. Towards the end of the hour there is usually some quiet time and space for reflection with a psalm being read out with some incidental music played in the background.
Each time has been different.
We are going to be continuing the experiment and seeing where it takes us. Watch this space……..
Here is my draft reflection/ sermon for the morning. I think I’ve rambled too much in the middle, and lost concentration by the end, but I’ll look again at them before I preach it. It’s very short, but it never stays like that when I preach.
Fhew! I hope you would excuse me if I took a few breaths after reading all of that! Our gospel today is one of the longest in our lectionary. Sometimes, I don’t understand what they were thinking when long readings appear on a Sunday morning, but this week I’ll forgive them, because the story of Lazarus can’t really be divided.
“Lazarus, come out!”
And the dead live.
I don’t blame the on-lookers for being astonished when Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, death is usually so…..final….that for someone to command the dead to walk, and the dead actually responding must have been something beyond belief, and if we’re honest, quite frightening.
But even though his is called to new life, he is still confined, and constrained by all the trappings of death.
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” John 11. 44
Alive, but bound. How many of us would that describe?
There are many things in life that can bind us, that can constrain us, that can keep us [as prisoners] in darkness, and away from the true light of life.
Even when we hear Jesus calling into life, and the joy he offers us, there are many things in life that weigh us down. I wonder what are the heavy things that are trapping you today?
Maybe the expectations of others? The heavy load of work we took on because we couldn’t say ‘no’? Maybe you’re bound by the limitations you set yourself, by continuing to carry a burden from days, months, years ago? By believing the unkind words of others, or dwelling on a hasty judgment from the distant past.
Maybe you are limited by your fear of failing. Or scared of what others will think?
There are many things that can bind an individual.
What things do you think are currently binding the church?
Fear of change as we continue down the path of ministry areas? Fear of sharing the little we have with others and spreading our resources too thinly. Nostalgia for the past? To a time when church going was in the basis nature of society? Maybe it’s our fondness for our buildings, and the buildings being our property which stops us from re-imagining what church can be for those lost generations?
What about the churches fear of upsetting people, and our need to keep unity above all else?
There are so many things that bind us, that trap us, that keep us in a state that is not life. Bound in our grave clothes, unable to move, unable to see what is around us.
[There has been one passage from Isaiah 61 which has been floating around my head for the past few weeks, it’s one you should know quite well by now because it’s been read at every PCC we’ve had in the last few month.
“ to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners”]
Death, or lack of life can come in many forms.
Jesus calls us to life. We are called not just to release ourselves, but also others around us.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”” John 11.35-36
Shaking off those things that bind us can be a difficult possess, but not an impossible one. Jesus brings life, not just to those who are dead, but also to those who are dying due to the things that bind them.
Love can release so many burdens, and release so many binds. It is love that can cast away the fear that holds us so tight. It is love that can “Take off the grave clothes and let [us] go.” John 11.44
On this Passion Sunday, pray that God will once again put a new life within us and that during this passion and Easter season we might be transformed to live by God’s spirit and create the kingdom of God on earth.
We did the story of the storm on the lake this week in Ysgol Llanbedr, and Ysgol Dyffryn. From my point of view it was the best story we’ve done ever! We got the kids to sit in the shape of a boat, one of our team had made a cool mast, and I got to play the sea and squirt the kids with water pistols when the sea got rough. Who said the Bible was boring????