Blessed Dawn: Book Of The Hours

Tadhg Talks...

20170720 BLESSED DAWN BOOK OF THE HOURSIt’s almost sunrise. To the east, from here in Capel Curig, sunrise will appear over some of the most scenic of north Welsh mountains of Carnedd y Cribau in a few moments. It’s almost the start of a new day. Nearly, but not quite yet. There’s a hush in the air. A sense of anticipation. All is still.

The sun’s rising is recounted in ancient Celtic and Druid stories of Lugh – dont forget the celebration of Lughnasadh, harvest celebration in about two weeks. Lugh, representing the sun would ‘die’ each evening some say, only to be ‘reborn’ each morning at sunrise. A quotidien resurrection. An opportunity to start afresh. A brand new day to do something positive, to change things, and to enjoy the moment.

There is something ‘magical’ about the dawn. It is a time when the night gives way to the oncoming new day, darkness gives way…

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Closing Message

New pathwayLeaving Service

So I want to begin by reminding us of the promises I made when I arrived here, these were;

  1. I would be useless at admin, and
  2. I would take you on a profoundly deep journey of discovery of God within you if you would chose to come along.

With the first one  I think I possibly even exceeded your expectations …For your part, you  have been entirely gracious and supportive in this – thank you

With the second one… well you exceeded my expectations with numbers who did sign up, and attended the sessions every fortnight for almost 3 years,  or who came on the retreats, or who engaged in the countless one to one or small group informal conversations, or our celtic circles that have unfolded through the journey, or those who were challenged through my preaching and teaching to look again, to think outside of the box that the institution so often puts around our faith.

You also exceeded my expectations with the commitment, depth, wisdom and discernment in which you have grown and with the leadership emerging from amongst you to ensure  this ongoing spiritual unfolding.

Our work together has been an incredible journey of mutual learning and growing in The mystery of God that inspired the psalmist to write.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.

As a natural introvert and contemplative,  the evangelistic, outward facing, publicly engaging ministry is not my natural style, it doesn’t come easily at all. I have to work at it and in some ways I feel a lesser minister for those reasons especially when I see the brilliance of my extroverted and profoundly gifted colleagues.

But 2 weeks ago on ordination Sunday in which 2 of those amazing colleagues were ordained, both the  President and vice president  spoke during the morning service and it was something our president, Lorraine Mellor  said that struck a chord. She said that she and the vice president Jill Baker were very different people so much so that she wondered how it would work between them. She herself was an evangelist  with a broad engaging, outward facing ministry whereas  Jill Baker was to be found quietly leading retreats and pilgrimages. Lorraine said that she would spend the evenings at conference gathering and socialising with people in the bar whereas Jill would retreat to her room in search of the peace and silence (which is precisely how we introverts must recharge our batteries).

The distinction that Lorraine made in her address reminded me of Paul’s words in Ephesians:

‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’
It struck me that ministry is vast and God gives his people many different qualities so that collectively our gifts can portray something of those different dimensions. Length and Depth and Height and width of the love of God.

My own ministry I think, is rather like pot holing, going into the deep, deep places of the soul and discovering hidden treasures, peace and beauty beyond measure as we begin to realise that the spring from which we drink, that promises we will never be thirsty again, was there within us all along.

Now there is a huge amount of discussion at the moment at connexion, districts, circuits and local churches about what we can do about our declining numbers and empty buildings and there are many exciting new and multi dimensional initiatives in this circuit and beyond that are addressing the issues but I want to say this…

All that we do must be underpinned by a strong, congruent, and deep knowledge of who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, in the depths of our own soul.

Christ came that we can have life to the full but so often we wear our religion like a straight jacket… with all our oughts and musts and  shoulds and institutional habits and religious language so that we have learnt, quite wrongly,  that what we do (and indeed don’t do) is far more important than who we are in Christ.  ‘Doing’ has become more important than ‘Being’…And that is completely the wrong way round.
As you know I have a great love for Celtic Spirituality which is at the heart and soul of our Heart and Soul sessions on a monday evening.  For the Celts, Christ was in everything, through everything in the stars and the moon and each blade of grass, the cycles of nature, in the silence, in their encounters with each other, and in whomever they came across. Christ was at the core of who they were! Immanent in every moment of life. It was this way of being that attracted the world want to know this Christ. Nobody needed to meet to discuss what they must do to gain followers of Christ. Christ was immediately palpable in the very fabric and daily lives of those who followed him.

But one can hardly wonder why engaging the world in the good news  today is so difficult when the major church headlines of the last week have included things like the pope banning gluten free bread at communion on theological grounds and another mainstream denomination publicly tearing itself apart over gay conversion therapy….

These are symptoms of a religion that has lost all sight of the breadth and height and depth and length of the love of God and instead is wearing a straightjacket of human making….

So my deeply soul focused, celtic and monastic,  style of ministry – that challenges institutional norms at every opportunity is not perhaps what you were expecting when I arrived here  but is absolutely  who I am called to be with a passion, as you now well know, and I have sought to live that calling with integrity during my 3 years here.

I can’t tell you how sad I am to be going so soon, there was much more that I wanted to do and yet I know that, within my decision as within this circuit  the transformational power of the Spirit is at work. And sometimes it takes a change in circumstance to release the Spirit. The burning platform we call it. It is far easier to let the Spirit to flow and for transformation to happen when you are on that platform than when you are stuck in the rut of doing things because that’s the institution has always done them.  

This circuit has some of the most gifted people lay and ordained, that I have ever met whose ministry and leadership lives and breathes the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God. Right now you are in a position. Rather like the disciples locked in a room. A bit fearful as there is a significant change in circumstances, you are maybe wondering what the future will hold  and yet you are more equipped than you can even begin to imagine to go where the Spirit is leading you. You are rich beyond measure in your personal and corporate spirituality and are set free to be magnificent. The rest is just about  perspective. If you see this as an opportunity – you will entirely flow with and be transformed by the Spirit.

It has been a joy and a privilege for me have been a minister in this circuit. I have learnt so much and my new churches will receive a better minister because of everyone of you here. There has been much laughter, love and friendship shared between us, the occasional tussle but nothing that the grace of God, shared with each other,  did not sort out.  There is inevitably much left undone when a term of ministry is cut short and I would want to say that I am sorry for the expectations left unfulfilled  yet as I  said, these often make way for new  opportunities when the Spirit is free to do her work.

But in the end words can’t say how much I will miss you nor express my gratitude for all that you are.

So my heartfelt thanks to you all and now a blessing.

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Native American Wisdom

A55635E0-EA15-4186-B119-7F204FF82826Treat the Earth and all who dwell there with respect.

Remain close to the Great Spirit.

Show great respect to your fellow beings.

Work together for the benefit of all mankind.

Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.

Do what you know to be right.

Look after the well being of mind and body.

Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.

Be truthful and honest at all times.

Take full responsibility for your actions

Letter to Trinity Church

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Dear Friends,

You may remember that at last year’s Methodist conference a rainbow of wrist bands had been produced with the Methodist church logo on them and the words of Micah 6:8  Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly. I had one in each colour and wear them even now. Apart from the fact that this is one of my favourite verses from scripture, these wristbands also remind me on a daily basis of what a great motto this remains, even in the 21st century; or perhaps especially for the 21st Century. It does seem that in this global world, dominance  on a variety of levels including finance, armaments and exclusive territorial rights – seems to be a somewhat aggressive strategy for a number of world leaders. It is a strategy that is totally at odds with this verse from Micah, which deep down we all know to be the path to harmonious equitable and abundant life for.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel that the self centered, exclusivism of some of the most  powerful in the world right now is  a narrative that is becoming increasingly scary…How do we ever draw back from this? Where will it end? What is the future for our children and their children if this trajectory of abuse of power continues?

And yet if you look closely at  grassroots level you will notice that something quite remarkable is happening…a quiet revolution is taking place which shows that the old order of division is breaking down and the desire to do justice, act kindly and walk humbly is springing up in all sorts of places. Such stories are not hard to find if we can just divert our attention from the attention grabbing headlines of global politics and look for the stories of Love.

Take this headline in the Independent for example

‘A multitude of different faith groups are teaming up across the UK to help the homeless, Muslim NGOs are working hand-in-hand with churches in London to distribute food and sleeping kits.  Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Quakers, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs meanwhile opened up a night shelter in Leicester last week, in what is believed to be the first enterprise of its kind.’

And this is not a one off story! Every day new stories of love, kindness and of people bravely standing up for justice come across my news feed in many different guises. People of different faiths and people of no faith sharing and caring together and doing whatever they can to bring comfort to the vulnerable and to victims of injustice.

Change is undoubtedly happening right now, it is painful and sometimes terrifying but a new order of things is being birthed and we have a choice set before us. We can either retreat into the fear and despair that plays into the hands of the powerful demagogues or we can follow Micah’s call and walk humbly together that collectively we might do our part to help bring this new world into being.

As I write my last letter for this church before moving onto my new appointment, my prayer for you is that you will continue to write new stories of kindness, hope and justice and to make a stand for the weak and the vulnerable. I pray that all the  green shoots of hope and new life in this church will be nurtured and brought into full bloom, and I have every confidence, that when I come past this way again, which I surely will, the one thing that won’t have changed is the love and grace with which you hold all. This has been such a blessing to so many and something that I will carry with me always. Thank you.

Blessings, Jayne

Silver

If you are a moongazer as I am you should be enjoying the beautiful full moon at the moment. There are some clouds in the sky giving her a veiling her, but ever she is beautiful. Tonight she reminds me of Walter de la Mare’s beautiful poem…Silver.

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream

Walter de la mare

© The Literary Trustees of Walter de la Mare

Heart or Mind


The important shift in the journey of the soul is the movement of consciousness from the head space where our thinking and analysing and mental chatter occurs through verbal language, to the heart space where silence is the all pervading method of communication.

By its structure and nature the head space is dualistic. It is designed to help us navigate our temporal world and does so through judgement based in duality; us or them, right or wrong, male or female, dark or light.

The heart, in structure and essence is an integrated whole. When our consciousness resides here we know no dualism. There is no God, self or others as separate entities, there is only all in all. In this space there is a melting of all the barriers that divide – verbal language being amongst the most critical.

Thus our most powerful prayer is the contemplative silence of the heart space where we do not engage words or images – not even those of God – for mainly these are constructs of the dualistic mind.

In the silence we gradually begin to integrate what the psalmist understood so well when he wrote ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Such knowing is deep – it is the dissolving of all that created the illusion that we were ever separate from God at all, and in the bliss of such oneness the deep yearning of the soul is fulfilled.

Spring

Spring – Christina Rossetti  

tumblr_o74l1r22aV1rsmd6ho1_1280Frost-locked all the winter, Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
What shall make their sap ascend
That they may put forth shoots?
Tips of tender green,
Leaf, or blade, or sheath;
Telling of the hidden life
That breaks forth underneath,
Life nursed in its grave by Death.

 

Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.

There is no time like Spring,
When life’s alive in everything,
Before new nestlings sing,
Before cleft swallows speed their journey back
Along the trackless track –
God guides their wing,
He spreads their table that they nothing lack, –
Before the daisy grows a common flower
Before the sun has power
To scorch the world up in his noontide hour.

There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, –
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,

Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.