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Saturday, November 18, 2006

I can't believe it's the middle of November already...

So many things have happened since I last blogged! Firstly, I had the opportunity to preach at my home church - something I've not done since I was accepted to train for ministry! Then, Ministers' summer school in Durham and then the farewell service for Chen, Jen Ho who was the chaplain to Taiwanese students in Manchester... a wondeful event and a sad farewell!

After all this busyness it was time for a nice quiet summer... yeah, right!

We welcomed 17 Palestinian young people and 7 British young people for 10 days at the Windermere Centre for a programme called Kids for Hope. It was 10 days of fun, building new friendships, hard-work, personal development, canoeing and cooking, high ropes courses and walking, laughter and tears. These kids came to learn to be young leaders and potential future community and church leaders! It was amazing! You can read more by going to the Windermere Centre website.

A few days at home in Croydon followed by 4 days at the annual 'Come and Sing' event again at the Windermere Centre! I was leading worship/prayers for the event and based them around our 5 senses. At Come and Sing we were joined by a ministerial student from Taiwan who then joined me back in Croydon for a week or so of sightseeing and holiday club!

South Norwood Chriostians together welcomed over 100 kids to a holiday club called 'Landlubbers' based around a pirate ship and Paul's letter to the church at Philippi. We had a great week and saw the kids learn, have fun and begin to ask faith questions!

And so to the autumn and winter! I'm currently working with Wallington URC to develop an Advent Labyrinth - an exciting venture! Also, we're hoping to start a Pilots kids club following the success of the Holiday club. and as It's November our floating shelter on Thursday evenings at East Croydon United Reformed Church has begun again.

A whole different goup of people came through the doors of the church for the shelter, men and women, young and older, homelessness seems to affect a lot of different people. I'll probably blog more about this when I've time!

Oh, I've also had a weekend in Paris and visited Disney... brain numbing but good fun!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Can hate be good?

Have you seen the advert for Honda diesel cars? 'Hate something, change something, make something better’ has become the theme for a TV advertisement about Honda’s first ever diesel engine, which has been reshown this week.

Entitled "Grrr", the 90 second commercial takes the viewer on a journey through an optimistic animated world of ‘positive hate’.

Wieden & Kennedy, who produced the advertisement, were captivated by the idea of talking about Hate as something positive, a passionate force that could actually be turned to good use, and the slogan ‘Hate Something Change Something’ was born.

I think this is great! What a statement and idea for us to grasp hold of.. we often think we have to love all the time but can 'hate' really be good? Hate of injustice, war, poverty etc... can be transformed into something good!

As the advert says "Hate something, change something, make something better!"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Saint George's day pilgrimage....

We travelled from our Hotel (The Mistral) for an hour on a dirt track, out along the Menies peninsular on the island of Crete. We had been invited by Nektarios a shepherd to join the local celebration for St. George's day. The roughly made car park was already begining to fill up with pick-up trucks and cars. People were gathered from the local town - men dressed in the traditional black. The field in which the chapel stood was filled with wild flowers and in particular red poppies. The chapel itself was a tiny building with a low door way.

We could hear the chanting from outside - and as we entered the tiny chapel the smell of incense hit us. It was a bit of a squeeze to fit us in but the people welcomed us, gave us candles etc. Two men were assisting the Priest, their beautiful voices reading the ancient Greek texts and prayers filled the chapel. ( We tried to supress giggles when they kept loosing their places and the priest had to keep coming and showing them the page etc.)

Greek Orthodox liturgy is wonderfully symbolic, sensory, and visual. The Priest with his white hair and beard, dressed in his cream robes, incense, candles, icons, coming and going. It was wonderful to be part of it.

After a while the whole of the congregation moved outside under the tree where the priest continued the liturgy. An icon of St.George was placed by the door and the bell hanging from the tree was rung.

Bread was blessed and shared among those outside - sweet tasting bread. Wine and olive oil were placed with the bread on the tables and blessed too. The ordinary, staple foods of life blessed and made holy somehow. the men who were on the sidelines - sat around the garden tables which were being prepared for lunch, crossed themselves along with everyone else nearer the chapel. They almost instinctively knew which were the solemn moments and hushed their conversation to join the liturgy.

The service continued for a little longer while we stood in the shade of the tree. The sun came out after quite a wet and chilly couple of days. The poppies seemed to shine as we soaked up the atmosphere.

Tables were placed near us and lots of different foodstuffs were brought out. It is tradition after a service like this one to share small tokens of food - perhaps like the feeding of the five thousand. We were encouraged to join the queue to receive bread, cheese, lamb, sardines and wine (very strong local wine!)

We took are places at the tables and shared together. Then, even though it was only 11.30 am, lunch arrived. Pilaf rice (rice cooked in the juices of the meat) and huge plates of lamb. I'm not sure if it was the atmosphere and the sunshine but that meal was one of the best I'd had in Crete! Wine was served from coke bottles with the tops cut off but went down very easily! We ate and drank until we couldn't eat anymore (and there was still massive amounts left!).

After lunch (and too much wine perhaps!) the barriers of language seems to fall as we chatted with the Greek families. I spoke to the Priest (who was aware of 'female' priests and John Calvin!) and had a long conversation with one of the men who had assisted the priest. He had been a barber for 30 years working for the US Navy at Souda Bay! Some of us shared in having a puff or two of the strawberry flavour 'hookah pipe'.

We had brought with us a gift for Nektarios - What do you take a shepherd as a gift? A chain saw to help him with the pruning of olive trees! He is a very proud man and art first refused to accept our gift but English persistance paid off and it was gratefully received!

It was probably the most splendid afternoon I'd spent that holiday in Crete!

We said our farewells and thankyous and left. From here we hopped into the open back of the pick-up and travelled further along the dirt track out towards the coast.

Crete is spectacular - and the view down to the bay was no exception. Gorgeous sands, clear blue sea - hidden away in a cove! Wow!

Here we swam (not quite skinny dipping!) or sat on the beach! a perfect way to end a perfect day! Although the whole experience wasn't quite over yet!

At the end of our holiday we arrived back to the Mistral to hear Nektarios was coming to visit! He arrived and brough with him a bucket filled with honey from the bees he kept!! After tasting jars were filled by Nektarios and Adonis (below).

Eveytime I have honey I will think of that wonderful day and the generosity of Nektarios, and the people of Crete! Thankyou to everyone at the Mistral for such a great day and fantastic holiday! See you next year!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The South Norwood Labyrinth Continued...

WOW! What a week it was!! Holy Week saw over 90 people come through the doors at Holy Innocents' Anglican Church in South Norwood to walk the Labyrinth! From a group of 5-10 year olds on a holiday club week to older church folk! All who came gained something different from it but all, I think, found it worthwhile! Many thanks to Nicola and Michael, Gary and all those who 'staffed' the event! (It's Gary who appears in some of these photos - Thanks Gary!!)

The first station on the Labyrinth journey was Palm Sunday. People were invited to think about Jesus entry into Jerusalem and his weeping over the city... Instead of pictures of Jerusalem I had images of South Norwood and invited people to think about the question 'What would Jesus weep over in our place today?' They were then invited to take a teardrop and stick it to the photographs...

The second station was 'Jesus cleansing the Temple'. Here an up-turned table was surrounded by newspaper cuttings about injustice etc and a pile of coins. People were asked to reflect on the injustice in our world and throw a coin onto the pile.

The next station invited us to share a last meal with Jesus, we tasted bread and wine, symbols of his body and blood.

Then onto the loneliness of Gethsemane, here the station faced corner, away from the rest of the church. Invited to taste the 'bitter cup' (filled with wine vinegar) and to feel the desperation and loneliness of Jesus.

A crown of thorns and scarlet robe portrayed the arrest and trial of Jesus, how they stripped him, beat him, and placed a crown made of thorns twisted together. "Hail king of the Jews!"

The way of the cross reminded us of the help Simon of Cyrene gave to Jesus. Participants were asked to pick up a stone and feel its weight, to imagine the weight of the cross on Jesus and Simon's shoulders. To think about the things that weigh us down and the crosses we're called to bear.

At the place of Crucifixion, The prayer walk invited people to think about all the wrong things in their lives, the hurts and pains, the sin and 'nail' these to the piece of wood... The sound of hammering echoed hauntingly throughout the building....

The suffering servant was a place of images of Christ and music... Using 'Can we start again please?' from the Musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Images of the crucified Christ and the lyrics 'We think you've gone too far... Can we start again, please?' proved to be a moving experi

Jesus' death and burial was experienced by the extinguishing of a candle....


Death was not the end!! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!

An empty cross is transformed with yellow daffodils!

Friday, April 07, 2006

South Norwood Easter Labyrinth

It's been such a busy week! I've spent most of it preparing for a new event for Holy Week!

The Easter Labyrinth is a multi-sensory journey through the events of Holy Week. Not so much as a 'service' or 'event' but more of an 'experience'. At each point along the journey there'll be something to see, something to read, perhaps something to do, and lots to reflect on as we follow Jesus on his journey from his entry into Jerusalem through the events of his final week to the joy of resurrection.

It's being held at Holy Innocents Church on Selhurst Road in South Norwood, Croydon and will be open most days from 10am - 7.30pm (except Good Friday when we will open at 3.30 -8.30pm)

I'll have some pictures after Monday when it's set up and ready to go...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Margaret's reflections on India....

Here are some reflections written by Margaret Beasley from Manchester who was another participant on the recent URC/PCT visit to North India.


Streets full of people ...........
people jostling for trade at market stalls
people worshipping at roadside shrines
people living under sheets of plastic
people - working ... cooking ... washing ... surviving ... dying ...
all on the streets.

Streets full of energy and noise ............
the noise of horns hooting
the noise of bike bells ringing
the noise of street traders shouting
the noise of cars, buses, lorries, scooters
noise ..... energy ..... chaos ..... everywhere!

Streets bursting with colour .............
the faded colours of the ancient buses and trams
the brilliant colours of the saris
the gaudy colours of the decorated yet delapidated lorries
the blue and white of plastic sheeting
that’s home to the street family

Streets full of smells ..............
the tantalising smell of spices and cooking
the choking smell of traffic fumes
the gagging smell of cow dung and rotting rubbish
the fragrant smell of flowers and incense

All my senses are heightened to everything around me ............
the madness of the thronging streets
the calm of the Jain temples
the tempting smells of the food stalls
the grinding traffic weaving past the sacred cow
and the street children - ragged, dirty ..... yet wise

It’s Heaven and Hell all in one place ......
It can only be INDIA!


Ancient city
Crowded city
Where all life is lived on the streets

Holy city
Holy river
A place of pilgrimage and peace

Where people bathe and pray at the river’s edge
Where bodies are carried through the narrow twisting streets
To be washed in the sacred waters of the Ganges
Then burned with reverence on the funeral pyres.

Candle lights float on the water
Twinkling in the darkness
Carrying all our hopes and dreams and prayers
Bringing me closer to my God
And my Hindu brothers and sisters closer to theirs.

Dawn over the holy river
Yellow glowing sky
Air still and cold
As boats glide silently by
Sun rises above the horizon
Bringing light and warmth to earth once more.

A chaotic place
A mystical place
A restoring place
A resting place
but above all - a very special place.

Monday, March 13, 2006

My friend Emily....

Check out my Taiwanese friend's blog... We met in India and she has some very interesting photo's on her site! Emily (Ju Fang) stayed on in India to spend sometime with a friend she'd met at a conference and seemed to have a great time!

Although most of her site is in Mandarin (Chinese) her photo's are just great!

It's at...


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