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  • Count Your Blessings - Day 7

    One sixth of our way through Lent - how's it going for you?  I am having a good one so far!  Busy and challenging, but some real senses of tuning into God a bit more than for a while, that makes me feel encouraged.  Yesterday was very productive and energising, so, yes, life is good, I have many blessings to count.


    In countries torn apart by war but now at peace, such as Angola and Sierra Leone, Christian Aid is helping communities to rebuild their lives and to work towards peaceful, long-term development.

    Pray for lasting peace and reconciliation for communities recovering from conflict, especially those in the news at this time.


    By way of prayer, I offer this hymn by Alan Gaunt, which came to mind as I read today's challenge:

    We pray for peace,
    But not the easy peace,
    Built on complacency
    And not the truth of God.
    We pray for real peace,
    The peace God's love alone can seal.

    We pray for peace,
    But not the cruel peace,
    Leaving God's poor bereft
    And dying in distress,
    We pray for real peace,
    Enriching all the human race.

    We pray for peace,
    And not the evil peace,
    Defending unjust laws
    And nursing prejudice,
    But for the real peace
    Of justice, mercy, truth and love.

    We pray for peace:
    Holy communion
    With Christ our risen Lord
    And every living thing;
    God's will fulfilled on earth
    And all creation reconciled.

    We pray for peace,
    And for the sake of peace,
    Look to the risen Christ
    Who gives the grace we need,
    To serve the cause of peace
    And make our own self-sacrifice.

    God, give us peace:
    If you withdraw your love,
    There is no peace for us
    Nor any hope of it.
    With you to lead us on,
    Through death or tumult, peace will come.

    Alan Gaunt (born 1935) © 1991 Stainer & Bell Ltd

    My Pledge:

    Today - one prayer for peace

    Total £8.30, one prayer of thanksgiving for education, one prayer for peace

  • Count Your Blessings - Day 6

    This week the focus is on Peace and Reconciliation:


    At the end of 2011, an estimated 42.5 million people were living in a place to which they had been forcibly displaced due to conflict or persecution.

    Give 10p for every year you have lived in your current home.


    "My father was a wandering Aramean"... a verse out of context I cite more often than enough.  I have moved house more times in my life than most people, some of them before I can remember.

    I was born in London and my parents were forced to move house because their landlord had a 'no children, no pets' rule.  They moved locally, and almost a year later twins arrived.  Sadly one of them died, and is buried in north London.  We moved then to Buckinghamshire, where we lived in one of a pair of farmers cottages, which my parents rented, and my other two siblings arrived.  The farmer decided to sell the houses and our neighbours gazumped us, buying both (and later converting them into one large house) so we moved to Northamptonshire, to a council flat in the upper part of what had been a Victorian rectory.  By age five, then, I had lived in at least four homes.  A huge old rectory, partially demolished so that an internal wall became an external wall was bound to have problems with damp, and we were forced to move again, albeit just a few miles, to the place that would be home for the remainder of my childhood.  A well built four-bedroomed council house in a large plot - so large that when the council eventually took some of it away to build bungalows my parents were paid £200 compensation - was home for nine years until I left for university and never really returned.

    As an adult I have lived in various places, for various lengths of time, and was fortunate enough to own property for some of that time.  Now I am blessed to live in a beautiful third floor flat, safe, comfortable and well equipped.  I can sleep easy at night knowing that no-one will come and turf me out for having a pet cat, that no-one will sell it over my head, that any structural issues will be addressed should they arise.  I wil never again be in a position to own property, but I think that puts me more in the 'new normal' given how stupid house prices are, but it is not the name on the deeds that make a house a home, it is the love and life therein.  As I wont to say from time to time, in blatant plagiarism,  'wherever I park my car, that's my home'

    I have now lived here for three years (all bar a few days) so I get off cheaply today!


    My Pledge

    Today 30p

    Total £8.30 plus one prayer of thanksgiving.

  • Pancakes, Pebbles and Possibilities

    I had this crazy idea... borrow a camping stove and make pancakes live in the service whilst talking about Jesus' sojourn in the wilderness and his temptation to turn pebbles into food.  I spent a fair bit of time researching and then prototyping pancakes mixes that were... vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, all in the interests of inclusivity.  And so I had all my ingredients ready, fired up the stoves (I'd been lent two), launched into my talk, mixed, poured... and they stuck fast to the billies!  Thankfully, someone nipped into the church kitchen and found a decent nonstick frying pan and we did eventually manage to get some pancake shaped pancakes.  Covered in lashings of golden syrup and honey, the children certainly seemed to enjoy them.  I then mentioned the possibilities of using the Christian Aid Lent resources.

    My piece de resistance (or some such) was cooking pancakes and simultaneously changing the slides on the screen with a remote zapper - mutli-tasking... no bother!

    It was a very long day - extra setting up time needed for the service, and then an important church meeting which meant by the time I got home I'd worked seven hours straight with no break.  I'm not saying this was a good thing - it wasn't - but it is unbelievably wonderful to have the energy and mental capacity to do so.  Even six months ago I probably could not have done it.  I am whacked, my joints are really achey, to say nothing of ludicrous numbers of hot flushes (not sure why either of these has intensified but they have) and not everything about the day went as I might have wished, but overall I am content.

    Perhaps the pancakes are some sort of a parable in which the intent somehow overrides the execution?

    Anyway, someone took a few photos during the service, so I may, in due course, be able to post them here!

    EDIT - one photo, editted to protect identities of minors.

    pancakes editted.jpg

  • First Sunday in Lent

    Lent - the time when our pianist/choir leader tells me he is going to drag out his dreary anthems.  Solemn maybe, dreary, never.

    Just for a change this year, and because the Christian Aid thing doesn't cover Sundays explicitly, I've decided to post a Lenten hymn from BPW each Sunday... at least that way six of them will get wider  airing!

    Today I've opted for one I don't know very well, but which is based on the temptations of Jesus:

    When he was baptized in Jordan
    Jesus knew his chosen role:
    Ready now for time of testing
    In the desert of the soul.

    Starved of bread to feed the body,
    Starved of rest to feed the brain,
    Starved of friends to feed the spirit,
    Jesus daily bore the strain.

    During six long weeks of trial,
    Evil masquerades as good:
    Points false roads to instant lordship,
    Tempts him with the Word of God.

    He attacks the great impostor:
    Evil shall not win this day!
    Ready now to serve his calling,
    Sets his face Jerusalem way.

    On the hour of our temptation,
    As we meet each vital choice,
    Make us wise and make us willing,
    Lord of life, to heed your voice.

    Bernard Braley (1924-2003) © 1979 Stainer & Bell Ltd & The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes Trochaic set tune in BPW Charlestown


    Busy Sunday for us - morning worship than Church Meeting - so better stop blogging and get there!

  • Count Your Blessings - Days 4 and 5

    It's the weekend, so Christian Aid give us time off for good behaviour, or some such!


    If you don’t know your legal rights, you can’t defend them. In São Paulo, Brazil, tens of thousands of
    people live in unsafe housing. Those who complain to their landlords risk immediate eviction. Christian
    Aid partner Gaspar Garcia runs a human rights centre where tenants can go to receive free legal advice and to join forces with others in a similar situation to demand change and to face their landlords together.

    How many of your human rights can you name? Give 10p for each one.


    Did you know that children have speical rights? That means there are certain things that adults have to make sure children have; like somewhere safe to live and the chance to see a doctor if they are sick. The good news is that all children also have the right to play! But, at the moment, there are many children around the world who don’t have time to play because they have to work.

    Give 10p for every different game you play this weekemd


    A very long time ago, as part of my Girls' Brigade Queen's Award I had to read chunks of the International Declaration of Human Rights, with speical reference to the rights of children.  To my shame that part of my memory is very, very rusty.  Rights I can recall are, in no particular order...

    basic education


    food and shelter

    basic healthcare

    freedom of movement


    At 10p each that comes to a mere 50p.  Look here for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and see just what is enshrined in its principles.  Quite sobering.


    My pledge

    Today - 50p

    Total - £8 plus one prayer of thanksgiving