Family Worship – Road to Emmaus

Opening Prayer
We need your presence on the long road, Lord.
The road between fear and hope,
the road between the place where all is lost and the place of resurrection.
Like the disciples walking the road to Emmaus, we are in need of your company!
Jesus, stand among us, in your risen power, let this time of worship, be a holy hour. Amen
(From Re:Worship)

Song – In Christ Alone.

Game – I Spy

Theme – If you haven’t guessed by now, our theme for today is all about seeing. We’ll have a story in a few moments about two men who couldn’t see what was right in front of them.
Sometimes we don’t see the things around us. Like our game, we needed more than one guess know what is around us.

To be able to see something, we need to look for it. That sounds simple enough, but we don’t always do it.
I remember when I bought my first car. I was looking at different styles, and even different colours. And after I’d seen a car I liked, I was surprised in the days after how many of the same car I’d seen!!!

It also happened to me in school, when we were learning about something in particular, like birds, or the project we did about litter and rubbish, you start seeing it everywhere.

We need to make a special effort to see what is around us.
Before we hear our reading for today lets (try) and sing our second song (with the words)

Song – God’s not dead.

Story – The Lion Storyteller Bible – The Road to Emmaus

Talk – It’s easy for us to look at these two men, these friends of Jesus as being very silly and stupid. How could they not see their friend?? I’d hope that if I started walking with you down the street, that you would recognise me, and not think I was a stranger. But these so called friends didn’t know they were walking with Jesus.

They thought he was dead. They’d probably seen him die, just a few days earlier. So the last thing they had been expecting was to see Jesus, alive and walking around. Jesus felt very far away for them.

Sometimes Jesus seems very far away from us as well. We know that Jesus is alive and is with us. But we don’t always feel it. And there are many things that can stop us seeing Jesus in our lives. One of the most common problems is that they are too busy.
We have lots of things in our life that keep us busy don’t we. Work, school, families, friends, tv, reading, playing, shopping, gardening, cooking, cleaning, going out, and so on and so on. There are only 24 hours in each day but we like to fill them all up.
And when we get too busy, often the first thing to go, is our time to talk and listen to God. We forget about God, and we stop seeing him around.
Selfishness can also stop us from seeing Jesus around us. When we think only about ourselves and what we want. Or when we think, ‘What can I get from God today?’ ‘What can God do for me?’

This is not the belief that we share because believing in Jesus means that our questions are not about what we can get, but rather, what can I do to give thanks for this world God has given us, and this life, with all its good things.

If we think only about ourselves, we will miss Jesus, when we talk only about ourselves, we miss Jesus, when everything is about us, we will miss Jesus.

Jesus’ friends were so busy talking, and walking, that they missed what was in front of them until they stopped that evening. It wasn’t until they stopped and shared something together that they realised Jesus had been with them the whole time. And it’s not until we stop and listen that we’ll realise that Jesus is always with us.

Jesus told us that we have to love God, and we have to love each other. And when we do these two things, we will see Jesus around us.

So what can we do?
We need to stop sometimes. We need to make time to talk and listen to God. And we need to be reminded of all the things that we have around us. We need to stop and look, and see what is in front of us. And then say thank you.
Lord, help us not to miss you. Help us to stop and open our eyes to you at work in our lives.
Amen.

Song – Open our eyes Lord

Prayers – Post it thank you.

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Song – Alleluia, alleluia

Blessing and dismissal

Jam Sul & BBC Radio Cymru, April 2014

Jam Sul, BBC Radio Cymru April
Jam Sul April

I’ve written before about Jam Sul, but this month Radio Cymru came to record and interview people in Jam Sul about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It was really good to have them here.

Here is what they broadcast on the 18th April.

The Next Jam Sul is the 4th May
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Jam Sul – April 2014

Jam Sul poster April 2014Ok, 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……..

 

Sermon John 11. 1-45 Bound by fear, released by love.

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.

John 11.1-45

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.

“Jesus wept.

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.

Cana-mi-Gei Choir, St Tanwg’s Harlech 23rd June 2013

Here are 3 snippets from last nights concert in St Tanwg’s Church, Harlech. Cana-mi-Gei are a very talented local ladies choir and as you’ll be able to hear, they are sometimes joined by one or two men. We are looking forward to their next performances.

I hope you enjoy them!

125 years of St David’s Glanadda, and my early vocation

This week I was invited to a celebratory service of 125 years of St David’s, Glanadda, Bangor, where I first found the courage to act upon my sense of calling and formally start exploring my vocation.

It was strange and wonderful to be back. The building is often likened to Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. It’s a barn of a building, tall and dark, but for me there is a warmth that welcomes you in. Your eye is pulled up to the alter and your attention is fixed.

Of course the building holds great memories for me, a lot happened over the 4 years I was there, but with any church it’s the people that are the most important. And in many ways it seemed like nothing had changed since the first time I walked through those doors, the familiar chattering before the service continues as many of the same people go about the same jobs and the faint music from the choir drifts up from the vestries down stairs.

It was strange to be back.

As well as it being the place where I first acted upon my calling, it’s the place that encouraged and nourished me in those early years. I preached my first sermon there, carried out my first home visits, led my first services, and chaired my first congregational meetings. I was able to observe the PCCs and have an active role in organising coffee mornings and fetes.

I learnt so much from my time there. And it is only now, after serving two years in curacy that I am really, truly appreciating all that they taught me and all that I learnt from them.

It was lovely to see the old faces, and really good to see some new. The church was decorated in pictures from the local school, and some of the congregation couldn’t wait to tell me about their family service, and he recent work they had been doing. Except for one funeral, at which I did not hang around to chat, I had not been in the church since I left for college in 2009 and so it was really pleasing to see them encouraged and excited by their ministry and gong out into their community. They are a small congregation, but not without hope in continuing their 125 year calling to bring Christ into the community of Glanadda.

As the ordinations this Peter-tide come closer I’ve been thinking back over the past two years since my own ordination and starting my curacy. But this visit has sent my mind back even further. I give thanks for St David’s, who, without their support and encouragement I would not be where I am today and I wish them every blessing for the next 125 years.

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