Sunday, 28 November 2010

Urban Expression Associates

A good day yesterday, Associating with other Urban Expression Associates in Birmingham.
Clare and I were asked to lead a workshop on worship in an urban context, based on Crumbs of Hope. So we took along the tiles as an example of the kind of thing we do. I think they were generally well received. If you would like to see them, click on the tile to the left. Personally, I recommend viewing them using the button.
As well of reading examples of our work and (hopefully) explaining some of the how and why of our writing, we also invited the groups to create their own, "Urban Expression" blessings, arising out of their journeys to Birmingham. It is wonderful how skilled people are at writing if only given the opportunity. Over the next couple of days, I'll get them all up onto Dancing Scarecrow, but for now, here is a taster:

The Sun still glares through the car windscreen, despite the dirt from the gritting lorries trying to block it out. May the light of Christ get through to you this week, despite the dirt in the world.

Sadly, no one wrote their names on the blessings, so we can't attribute copyright. If you want to use them, I suggest © Urban Expression, administered by Dancing Scarecrow 2010.

Advent Hope

An interesting, collaborative Advent project, orchestrated by Andy Goodliff. We'll be adding our tuppence-worth later in the month.

Hopeful Imagination

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Uncluttered LIves

We are well into the birthday season in Openshaw! Starting with Clare in October, Rachel, Imogen, Beth, Deborah and Joan all have birthdays in the run up to Christmas. So it was not inappropriate that we looked at the need to "de-clutter" our lives today. This was the last of our series exploring the values of Urban Expression and we focussed on the need to hold our possessions lightly - which is somewhat ironic as this post is being written on our new iPad!

Jesus asked Bartemaeus what he wanted. Bartemaeus replied that he wanted to see - but in giving the gift of sight, Jesus gave so much more - dignity, respect, the ability to earn a living etc.

So we looked at Simple Gifts (and also sang the almost impossible song of the same name!). We first drew up lists for Father Christmas of what we would like. My request for a Gibson Custom Les Paul guitar sat well with Joel's desire for £999,999,999,999! Neither realistic nor generous!

So we moved on to look at what our community really needs. Safe, creative play spaces; a bigger primary school; jobs and so on. These were written onto wallpaper.

And all our requests were sent to Father Christmas in the time honoured fashion of burning them up the chimney!

Prayers were wrapped in a gift box. When we opened the box it contained "Hope" "Joy" "Peace" etc.

And we closed with the following eucharist which Clare wrote:

Clearing Out The Clutter Eucharist

So much stuff!
clothes that no longer fit
stains that won’t wash
buttons missing and seams undone
toys which are broken and tangled
or with pieces missing
creased trump cards
odd marbles
party bag fillers
toys and books outgrown
craft projects half done
teddies which hold memories
and can’t be thrown away
toys never opened or played with
bits and bobs
lurking at the bottom of draws
messy toy boxes and book shelves
time for a good clearout!

So much stuff!
memories of the past
we want to cherish
and hold on to
scars we wish we could forget
thoughts which come back
to haunt us and weigh us down
voices inside our head
which damage confidence
and prevent us from moving on
people and relationships
we neglect and don’t have time for
guilt and shame
we wish we could banish
broken relationships
we wish we could mend
or leave behind.
Time for a good clear out!

Jesus asks,
“What is it you want from me?”
as he calls people
to leave their homes
and their families
their jobs and their friends
and to follow him
into an unknown future
travelling light
with few possessions
relying on the hospitality
and generosity of others
learning what is important
and what really matters
learning to trust God
building friendships
experiencing life
knowing what weighs others down.

Jesus asks,
“What is it you want from me?”
and he gives freely
not of possessions or things
but of gifts
that have a deeper value
love -
for those that are unloved
acceptance -
for those that are rejected by society
justice -
for those who are wronged
friendship -
for those who are lonely
food -
for those who are hungry
peace –
for those who are tormented.

Jesus asks,
“What is it you want from me?”
as he invites
those who have learned to travel light
to share a last meal with him
perfume is poured out, extravagantly
to be used in love
not held back
for its monetary value
bread is broken
"This is my body
given for you",
wine in poured
"This is my blood
poured out for you",
not bread and wine
but body and blood
life itself!

In this bread
all humanity
are called
to be one.
[share bread]

In this wine
all humanity
are called
to a new way of life.
[share wine]

Jesus asks,
“What is it you want from me?”
and invites us
to God’s table
to share in the life
God gives us
Jesus offers us
a chance to clear out
the clutter of our lives
to be forgiven
and live free of the things
that weigh us down
and to travel light
to give and receive
gifts that last
gifts not of things
but the deeper gifts
of God and of ourselves!
© Clare McBeath, 2010

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Peace Jigsaw and Poppy Petals

On Sunday we had one of those mornings when everything that could go wrong did, ending up with me apologising to the congregation of our local URC church that we would need to put the clocks back 10 mins to OBTT (Openshaw Baptist Tabernacle Time) in order to have our 2 mins silence at 11.10 am when the rest of the world had resumed the business of daily life.
It is then rather appropriate that having started from a place where everything fell apart we then focused our service on re-membering and putting peace back together. While Tim preached a sermon on re-membering and the difficulty of remembering if you have not lived through the experience of war, a group of children and adults who wanted a more active way of reflecting went to the back of church and made a "Peace Jigsaw" by drawing a picture of poppies and a cross and then cutting it up into jigsaw-shaped pieces. We then challenged the rest of the congregation to put peace back together by remaking the jigsaw - it was a lot harder than it looked and we reflected on the difficulty of peace-making!
We followed this with our intercessions in which we sang "Let us spread the pollen of peace" while coming forward and taking a handful of poppy petals (cut from red card) and scattering them on the fabric that cascaded over the communion table as an act of both remembering and re-membering and a commitment to peace-making.