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  • Forty... Biblical Shorthand for 'A Lot of...'

    Yesterday was our fortieth Sunday on Zoom.  That it coincided with Advent 4 is, in part, due to the fact that lockdown coincided more-or-less with the Annunciation, and the liturgcial nicety that Mary's pregnancy was textbook duration lasting from 25 March to 25th December (yes, I know...!).

    Forty, though, is a Biblical number that symbolises 'a lot of...'

    Forty days in the wilderness/desert for Jesus, echoing forty days in the wilderness/desert for the emergent nation of Israel... a lot of days, a lot of years.  A liturgical nicety, not, most probably, a historical accuracy.

    For me, these past forty weeks have flown by, and I am humbled and proud in equal measure at the resileince of our church community who have Zoomed in week by week, who have adapted and adjusted to whatever it has taken for us to journey onwards in this strange season, in this peculiar virtual land.

    We don't neatly come out of this after forty Sundays, we have no way of knowing when we will reach 'the other side' but we believe we will.  Just as the Israelites didn't know when they'd arrive in the Land of Promise.  Just as Jesus didn't have a neat forty day calendar for his sojurn (pace 'forty days of...' study scheme writers).  Just as Mary almost certainly didn't give birth precisely nine months to the moment of conception.

    Perhaps I am odd, but I find that comforting... that even God who, presumably could if God so-desired, make eveything neat and tidy and precise, is content with things 'taking as long as they take...'  Forty days, forty weeks, forty years... a lot of them, anyway.

    So, may the God of 'lots of days, weeks, months, seasons and years' lead us onwards, for as long as it takes, and lead us to the 'beyond' wherever, whatever, that is, in God's own time.

  • Beauty...

    This arrived by post this morning - it's beautiful.  Stars shining in the universe, what a great church!

  • The Nineteenth Blessing

    I really love this little wooden dove - for sure, it is mass produced, but its fragility and beauty express something of the wonderful gift of peace...

    This morning I walked soley in the dark, back at least an hour before first light, and I loved the stillness of the streets (apart from refuse trucks, delivery vans and  few buses!)  Peace and stillness often seem to go together.  But my walk wasn't silent, there was birdsong, the sound of the river flowing under a bridge, the rustle of the breeze in the trees... peace isn't nothingness or even necessarily inactivity, but a state of being within it all.

    This winter solstice of the strangest of years, may peace be yours. 

  • Peace Quilt

    As part of our focus on peace, I shared this photo of our completed 'peace quilt'.  It is beautiful, not so much for its appearance (though I am pleased with how it turned out) but for the memories it carries and the stories it tells.

    The four corners honour I, the grandmother of T, who has faithfully joined us online each week for worship.  The life story of I is incredible, a German woman who, having been in a concentration camp,  went on to train as a doctor.

    The centre, where the embroidery is, was 'just a church tea towel', used to dry cups and plates after prayer meetings, funeral teas, Sunday School parties, and any number of other events in the life of a church.

    The faded, stylised Victorian(?) figures were a tea towel used to dry the mugs of our weekly drop in for vulnerable adults... memories of dominoes, and Redemption Hymnal, of ginger cake and the inimitable Miss A who ran it for decades.

    Memories of overseas service with TLM, of people's holidays in New Zealand, Norwich and the Shetlands... lingering smells of kitchen drawers... stories of loved ones no longer here, and the story of our 2020 experience all bought together in one place.

    Sewing the quilt was a privilege, sharing something of its story a responsibility, knowing that its value lies, not in silver or gold, but in the life of this community, a precious gift.

  • Advent 4 - Peace

    It's hard to believe that this is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent for this year.

    With a slight emphasis on the theme of 'peace' we enjoyed a service of Lesson and Carols with some gorgeous music, and voices literally from around the globe.  It was very special.

    It was our 40th Sunday on Zoom - and I am so proud of everyone for sticking together through it all.  Clearly we will be on Zoom for a good while yet, and the experience will inform our worship permanently.

    Looking forward to our virtual Christmas services now, knowing that we have travelled together this unplanned journey with hope, love, joy and a measure of peace.