Franciscan Blessing

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

A few weeks ago while browsing the blogging world, I came across this blessing, known as a Franciscan blessing, but accredited to either a Benedictine nun, or a Dominican brother, depending on which site you visit. It hit me when I read it for the first time, and has stayed with me, so I wanted to share it with you.

May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for
justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that
you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able,
with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you
and remain with you, this day and forevermore. AMEN.

Restless Discomfort. It was the first line that did it, restless discomfort. It doesn’t sound like something you should be praying for. I could imagine how well it would go down when I lead intercessions on a Sunday morning to pray that we be given a restless discomfort. However it SHOULD be something we regularly pray for. So often in the church we fall into the trap of being comfortable with our surroundings and what goes on in our churches. We think, ‘ye, we’re ok’ when we should be stepping back to look at the wider picture and how we can be more effective, and reach more people with the gospel message. I sometimes feel this way about the wider diocese. It is so easy to look inward, and to get wrapped up with internal politics and our own situation. We NEED a restless discomfort about easy answers and superficial relationships!!!

Holy Anger. Another powerful phrase, another aspect we need to regain in the church today. When we are in the trap of easy answers and half-truths, when we cannot see past our own situation, we miss the events where we could truly have effect. Injustice, oppression, exploitation, it is easy to say the right words and to make the sounds a church should make, but as Christians and followers of Christ, we should be people of action. It is easy to talk about the troubles of our world, but much harder to allow them to affect you, and to touch your heart.

Isaiah speaks of the correct way of worshipping and honouring God, of the right way of acting in the world. ‘To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free’ (Ish 58:6). Holy anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation so that we can work for justice, freedom, and peace. What are we to do?

Isaiah continues on in chapter 58, to ‘share your bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless into your house’. Not just sending the means to bring an end to a situation, but connecting with people, allowing the situations to touch your heart.Holy anger at the wrongs in our world and a passion and drive to BE the hands that bring justice, freedom and peace to those in greatest trouble. If Isaiah doesn’t convince you, even with the list of benefits he continues on to describe, then the example Jesus showed us in acting for those oppressed and those at the lowest points of our society should give you some motivation in praying this.

The Gift of Tears We don’t often think of tears as a gift or a blessing. Most of the time when we cry, it is over a situation that has upset or hurt us. Sometimes we cry out of frustration, or sometimes out of despair or loneliness. There are many occasions when we find ourselves shedding a tear and quickly wiping it away, hoping that no one saw. It is not often acceptable to cry in public, not in our society. First of all it’s seen as a sign of weakness, and our society is constantly telling us we need to be strong and independent. Many people feel very uncomfortable around crying, unsettled and unsure of what, if anything, they can do. We would rather people cry in the privacy of their homes. But we are called to be with those who suffer, and those in need.

To cry can be a great relief. If we are honest, we all feel much better after a good cry, and what a great gift to be able to cry with others, to be alongside others in a time of need and to help them find joy. Pray for the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation or the loss of all they cherish. How many people in this world are in pain? Who are rejected? Who starve physically, emotionally, spiritually? Who lose all they love and care about? What a joy to be there for people to be a comfort to them, to help them turn their situations from pain to joy.

Foolishness. In a world when we are constantly told to grow up and be serious, to pray for foolishness just seems wrong. Foolishness to dream that our world can be better. Foolishness to follow Christ in his actions and deeds. Foolishness to believe that we really can me a difference. But of course we can make a difference, and we will if we pray and do what the first three parts of this blessing talk about. Of course we can make a difference if we are restless about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, and seek truth and love deeply. Of course we can make a difference if we work tirelessly for justice, freedom and peace. Of course we can make a difference if we reach out to people and offer them comfort and work to bring them joy.

We CAN make a difference, we just need enough foolishness to believe it and with God’s grace we CAN do what the rest of the world claim cannot be done.

Restless discomfort, Holy anger, the Gift of Tears, and Foolishness, these are things we should truly pray for. I hope that you are able to pray this, and make it a prayer by which you live your life.

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23rd Spetember: Baptism Sermon

I decided to talk about the importance of asking questions.

No matter how many questions I asked, I would never know everything about you. For you to know anything about me, you would have to ask me questions. But what would happen if I answered in riddles? Or answered using all the longest words I could find out of a thesaurus? You probably wouldn’t understand what I was trying to tell you. You wouldn’t know what I wanted you to know.

This is how the disciples felt in today’s passage from the gospel according to Mark (9.30-37), Jesus had been telling them that people who hated him would come and get him, and they would kill him. But this would not be the end, he would raise again.

The disciples were really confused and didn’t understand what he was telling them. But rather then ask him, they argued among themselves. They were too scared to ask him.

Once they were settled for the night, Jesus gathered the twelve together,

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The disciples didn’t ask the questions they wanted to ask, but instead of Jesus telling them off, he reminded them that all are welcome to come to him, all are welcome to come and ask the questions they need to ask, all are welcome, just as they are.

This is something we need to remember, that just because we are baptised does not mean we have all the answers, we all have questions, and we all need to grow in our faith. We do not magically learn stuff, we learn through asking questions, and we should never not ask.

30th September: Harvest Family Service

Harvest is a time where most of our crops, fruit and vegetables are picked and ready to eat. Over the last few weeks thousands of farmers have been working hard to collect in all the food before cold and bad weather sets in.

The plants have spent months growing big and strong and producing its fruits, with the help of Gods sun and rain, and all the other things he has given us. We sang about some of them in our first hymn, can anyone remember them? (modern version of we plough the fields and scatter)

I know we are surrounded by farms here, but i wonder if we really know and appreciate all that goes into collecting in the food.

I have a game for us to play, to help us think about all the hard work humans have to do after God has done all of his bits. So I want you to split into two teams. Taking turns, someone from each team will have to act out an action, and the rest of us will have to guess what they are doing. The team with the most points will win a prize!

READY?

1. Picking fruit

2. Climbing trees

3. Digging

4. Hoeing

5. Weeding

6. Fruit sorting

7. Pruning

8. Cutting a tree down

So we know lots of hard work goes into getting the food that we eat! But we need to remember that it is a gift from God. God gives us all these good things to enjoy.

What do we do when we are given a present?

We say thank you. So for our prayers today, we are going to say thank you for all the good things God gives us.

(both teams won and everyone got chocolate buttons).

Modern ‘We plough the fields’ with local verse

I found this modern version online last year, and someone from the congregation wrote a local verse which we sang at this years harvest service and the harvest supper.

 

We plough the fields with tractors,

With drills we sow the land;

But growth is still the wondrous gift

Of God’s almighty hand.

We use our fertilisers

To help the growing grain;

But for its full fruition,

It needs God’s sun and rain.

 

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above,

So thank the Lord, O thank the Lord

For all his love

 

We do our shop in Tescos

For parking there is free

We get a trolley for nothing

The Co-op charges me

We should be shopping local

To the Wenallt store in town

But then of course there’s Sunday

And glory shines around!

 

Then why are people starving

When we have life so good?

And some in crowded cities

Search dustbins for their food;

And even some go hungry

Who farm in distant lands;

Lord, help us learn more swiftly

To share with open hands.

False Starts and New Beginnings

I have started many blogs in my time. I have kept some going for years. But I always end up with that urge to delete it all (because I think it is no good) and start all over again.

So…. this is me, starting all over again…..again.

And with any new thing, introductions are needed.

My name is Sally.

Revd Sally to some.

To others Sal, Sara, Jen, oi, thingy, sup! or Curate.

Most of the time I will respond to anything, but Sally is fine with me.

I am a curate. I serve in the Ministry Area of Bro Ardudwy Uchaf in the diocese of Bangor and have lived in Dyffryn Ardudwy for one year and 4 months. If you don’t know where that is, I don’t blame you, I had to get a map when I first found out where the Bishop wanted me to go. If you are interested, check out the website, www.broardudwyuchaf.co.uk, (my attempt at bringing the churches into the 20th, if not the 21st century).

In terms of my work and the church, I am passionate about mission, technology, liturgy, connecting with people around my own age group and those ‘missing generations’ within the church, the 20somethings to 40somethings. I love preaching, although I am far from the most eloquent speaker. I also enjoy working with the local schools, especially those unplanned interactions such as question and answer sessions, and the times I need to drop something off, because children are not afraid to ask the difficult questions and I enjoy their energy and interest.

I firmly believe I have the best job in the world, and I give thanks to God for my vocation.

I enjoy studying Church History, and look forward to the future where I might get a chance to do some formal study again. I not long ago graduated from my Masters degree at Cardiff University where I looked at the model and teaching of discipleship within the Eucharistic service (posts of this topic will come up, I promise). I have been asked to consider working my thesis into a book which is an exciting and scary prospect, but not one I really want to face at the moment.

I have a dog. She is a collie/whippet cross and she is two and a half years old. Her name is Poppy and she is the best dog!!! The best things about dogs is that they are always happy to see you, and they are very forgiving, especially of those days when I spend a lot of time away from the house, and my grumpy moods.

I am increasingly enjoying travelling. As I have discovered, when you are getting more then a student budget you are able to go away on holiday more and I am looking forward to my second holiday abroad this year later this month.

Anyway. I think that is enough about me. No doubt you will learn more the more I post.

I intend to keep this blog for sermons, work related activity and my theological musings. I have another blog out there which is less churchy (dare you to find it! Prize for those who do).

There may be a lot of activity to begin with as I transfer things over. I look forward to hearing your comments and reading others blogs.

Ttfn.