For our gatherings this week people were invited to share a piece of music, of any genre, that conveys to them a message of hope. During the service we listened to the music, with those who chose it being encouraged to say a few words about the piece, why it is important to them and why it gives them hope. Listening to the music, sharing what the songs mean to us, provided an opportunity to reflect on where we find hope and how music can be used as a way to give us hope, in different ways, whether that be by helping centre us spiritually, or it giving us hope for a better future, or a hope that God will use us & extend grace and truth and love through us.
How do we as a church relate to the culture that surrounds us; this was the theme of our service on 12th August.
One option is to see the church as a bunker, a protection against the ‘evil’ things outside it; at the opposite end of the spectrum, there may be no difference between the two. We explored these ideas using lego to build a safe haven, then steam which disappears into the air around it, with a hazy boundary between what is ‘church’ and what is ‘culture’ (big questions in themselves!).
As a group we weren’t comfortable with either of these positions, so, using play dough and tea bags by way of illustration, we looked at other possibilities – how church can be changed by incorporating good parts of culture or how can church venture out into the surrounding culture seeking to influence and change it. Two different colour lumps of play dough can either be combined to create a new colour or can be set alongside each other. Whilst adding hot water to a tea bag meant that although the tea leaves remained in the bag they were altered by adding water to them as the water was changed by having the tea bag in it. This encouraged us to consider how church and culture were interrelated and interactive, and reflect on how they can be infused in the most refreshing and healthy way.
The service was in part inspired by the book ‘Christ and Culture’ by Helmut Richard Niebuhr.
This blog post written by Shelia
What’s your view of God? Is he a severe old man waiting to punish or is fun an adjective you’d use to describe him?
Our monthly food service kicked off our July theme of 'play, joy and being childlike' as we were instructed to play with our food, a direct contradiction of the rule most of us remember from our childhood! Then we considered communion, usually a serious time in most churches. Is it OK to smile or laugh during communion? Our conclusion was that if we were remembering Jesus’ life then that could be appropriate but if we were only thinking of his death then it wouldn’t be right. Overall we thought we’d prefer to think of his life, much as a eulogy at a funeral service might seek to reflect the nature of the life of the deceased and not just be a sombre thought of death. In life our view of Jesus is as a fun-loving person – after all he did talk about a camel going through the eye of a needle, surely with a twinkle in his eye?
Written by Shelia
For our away day on 11th July around 15 of us gathered at the Moravian church settlement in Fairfield, East Manchester. Our day included plenty of time for socialising and enjoying being together along with food (healthy home-made soup and bread as well as chocolate treats and homemade flapjack).
Part of the time was spent reflecting on where we were up to in our individual lives with the invitation to pause whilst soothing music played in the background. Then to use some of the art materials provided to express ourselves; pastel colours for the calmer emotions, harder felt-tip pens if appropriate and using different textures and colours of paper – rough or smooth as desired.
The afternoon gave a chance to explore the museum at the settlement or to stroll along the canal before gathering again to consider our life as a church, both past and where we’d like to go in future months.
Written by Shelia. Photo taken by Tim.
Without really realising it, autumn is upon us! A time of change, trees losing leaves, days drawing in and clocks changing. It also a season of remembering. "Remember, Remember the 5th of November" and Remembrance Day. But this only Sunday service (Wednesday will be focused on fireworks), we looked at reclaiming Halloween as a time to remember those who we have known but have died, and also those who have died and no one was around to remember them. Rest in peace.