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  • This is the place....


    This poem was read at the vigil for Manchester:

    I was reminded of this prayer:

    This is the place
    and this is the time;
    here and now,
    God waits
    to break into our experience:
    to change our minds,
    to change our lives,
    to change our ways;
    to make us see the world
    and the whole of life
    in a new light:
    to fill us with hope,
    joy and certainty
    for the future.
    This is the place
    as are all places;
    this is the time
    as are all times.
    Here and now
    let us praise God.

     

    I'm not sufficiently insensitive or crass (I hope) as to suggest that this prayer fits the Manchester situation.  But what it does do, which is important, is to speak hope, love, determination and openness to God's transforming presence in all places, all times.

    Wherever we are, however we feel, this is place, and this is a time for people of faith to live the words we profess.

    #Manchester #PeopleMakeGlasgow #HopenotHate #Lovewins

  • Learning Together...

    Yesterday I was a participant in a day conference reflecting on Christian unity at which the keynote speaker was Rev Malcolm Duncan.  Whilst the material shared was familiar, for me at least, it was a good reminder of important practices in learning to disagree well.  I don't agree with Malcolm Duncan on everything, and disagree on some major topics, but admire his honesty and openness in modelling relationship with those he disagrees with.

    Today I will be hosting some US students in a day exploring some stuff around faith and politics, faith and social action, faith and contemporary issues.  I'm really blessed to have three Baptists offering input to this day, and at least one C of S colleague attending.  We don't all agree on everything, except the fact that faith matters, and relating faith to life matters.  My speakers have diverse theological and political views and I am confident that they will model disagreeing well.

    I'll be using material from JPIT and Christians in Politics to reflect at the end of the day (including a prayer that I just might have written!!)

  • #Manchester

    In 1999, I moved to Manchester to train for Baptist ministry.  It was a city about which I knew very little, and of which I was a little afraid.  Over the next four years, I fell in love with this gritty, edgy, diverse, warm, rainy, post-industrial diamond-in-the-rough city where strangers at bus stops tell you their life history.  There's a gruff, self-depracating humour about the place, and a resilience to adversity that is admirable.

    In Manchester I learned loads and was 'initially formed' for ministry, a process that now continues in another rainy, warm, diverse city, which I love just as deeply.

    The image above is a piece of art by Jim Medway that captures something of the essential Manc psyche.  A Saturday night on Oxford Road and lairy clubbers exchange banter and trade insults in a bus queue.

    Some thoughts.

    The first time I went to the Manchester Arena (then MEN) was for a Soul Survivor 'Message to Manchester' Christian event in 2000.  Young people from all over the UK came to the city to 'bless' it with practical actvities such as gardening, clearing rubbish and helping bring hope to broken communities - and they did; the lasting legacy is well recorded.

    Manchester Commonwealth Games 2002.  Highlight of the Games, for me, was watching the netball finals at the (then MEN) Manchester Arena.  Afterwards, adults and children of many nations spilled out of the arena in Victoria station in merry mayhem.  Sports commentators commented on the friendliness of the city, and how taxis and service buses stopped to pick up people for free.

    And then 2017, events still unfolding in the news of lives lost, people injured and displaced.  City centre hotels opened their doors, individuals their homes, taxi driver switched off their meters.  The GMP, North West Ambulance, NHS, first responders and people of good will leapt into action.

    god made manchester.jpg

    This image captures quintessential Manc cheek and humour.

    For me, at least, it also expresses a profound truth... this diverse, resilient city is one where values of love, compassion, righteous anger, hope and faith are to be found.



    Good is stronger than evil,

    Love is stronger than hate,

    Light is stronger than darkness

    Life is stronger than death

     

    If praying be your thing, then please pray for Manchester.  As well, or instead, you might like to light a virtual candle here or here