Friday, 28 February 2014

Root bound #god #calling #church #mission #life

Two months ago at Oakwood Forest Church we planted seeds in little pots as we explored creation and our role in looking after it.  My little seeds sprouted and seemed to be doing well until this week when no amount of water could sustain the young plants. 

Today I was explaining to Rachel that the plants had become root bound and it got me to thinking about God, Church, life, mission and calling.

Look at this photo of the poor root bound plant; it's desperately trying to reach out further but the container it's in constrains it, inhibits it, literally keeps it contained inside and unable to reach outside.

Do we put God in His box, contained safely in a part of our life, our society where He can be found but where He can not fully act? Is God only in our Sunday? Or is God in our every day? Is God in our home, work, leisure, health, politics, justice, illness, recovery, death? Do we allow God to reach out into every aspect of our lives as He longs to do?  We need to embrace God in our everything and everywhere.  We need to allow God to be with us and help us. And we need to share God with excitement and enthusiasm wherever we are.

Look at the photo and see how the poor plant has no room to grow it's roots.  No room to explore and find new elements, nutrition and resources.  It is bounded by an impregnable barrier which you can see through but not break through.

Does the church do the same to us?  As I look at the heart sinking debates about Women Bishops (please can we hurry this up) and Gay marriage (seriously, it's marriage based on love, a gift from God, let's just get on with it).  We are called to go to all nations telling the good news of Jesus Christ and baptising people yet all those people hear about the church are how non inclusive we are. We are bounded by our own impregnable barrier and it's time we realised this and pulled it down. We need to stop allowing  people to gawp at us as weirdos and invite them inside to meet who we really are and understand what our faith really means.

Look at the photo and see how the roots and see how they keep going down but they don't find an alternative.  They could grow up into the middle soil and find other sources of sustenance but the plant isn't able to do that. It's stuck and so it dies.

I know that I am as guilty of this as anyone.  I think I know the plan for my life and I plot the route I'll follow. But life isn't like that, I know that so well; and so we have to be flexible and allow our lives to take new courses which feed and nurture us.  My experience tells me that when we allow that to happen; when we bend and flex and follow the right path then we find a richer life with God leading the way every step. It's not easy, and it can hurt to change direction; but God is with us and knows what goodness will come of it.

Look at the photo and see how little volume of soil provided.  This seed was planted with good grace, energy, enthusiasm and real hope for growth; but the soil was too small, too poor quality and with too little sustenance to keep the growth going.

Jesus tells us to care for the poor, feed the hungry, stand up for the down trodden, protect the weak and guide the lost.  We are called to be a missionaries and to share God's word and love as we go.   it takes energy and prayer and resources in large volumes and we can not underestimate this when we set out. That doesn't mean we don't do it; but it means, as I know from experience, that if we do it alone we will struggle and might fail.  We need to make time to rebuild our energy, we need time in prayer for guidance and love, we need people to help us.

Look at the photo and see this plant and it's wasted potential. One seed planted which will never grow to produce seeds, fruit and new life.  One seed which has tried desperately on its own but has had to admit it is only one seed and needs additional help.

We are all called to God's work. We are all disciples of Jesus' disciples and we are called to share the good news as they were.  But we don't have to do it alone. We are all part of one body and together we are strong and deep and more than enough.  It is easy to feel alone in our calling but we aren't; we have the body of Christ and Christ Himself to feed, guide abs sustain us. God knows His plan for us and as long as we keep leaning on Him our potential will never be wasted.


Are you root bound?
How about your church?
Your relationship with God?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Messy Mandala

I was looking at Mandalas when I was planning some worship for Oakwood Forest Church and quickly got intrigued by the many forms they take and how useful they might be in my prayer life.  There is more than enough written about Mandalas generally, even plenty about Christian Mandalas so I won't bother repeating anything; but you can visit my pinterest board to see some I am drawn to.

What amazes me the most is that mandalas are very ordered in their methods of creation and patterning.  They are based around symmetry and reflective design.  They are anything but messy.  And yet they somehow allow my prayer to be messy and real and active and jumpy which is sometimes just what I need.  I guess it's something to do with the safety of mess within a structure of order.

Anyway; after wasting spending a good few hours drawn into the mandala world I thought I would have a go at creating one myself.  Here is the result.  I don't know what it says to you, that's what's so great about them as an aid to prayer; but there's something about the flow of love from Jesus into the world and the power of the Holy Spirit to create, heal and love.

What do you think?
What does it say to you?

#100happydays could it work?

I've started doing the #100happydays project along with a couple of million others around the world.

What is it?
The idea is to live in the moment, reduce the stress of uncertainty and identify the happiness in every day life.

How does it work?
Everyday I'll take a photo of something which made me feel happy. This will be at least one moment of happiness in every day for 100 days.

Why am I joining in?
1. My lovely friend Penny thought it would be a great idea for both of us
2. I love taking and sharing photos anyway so this isn't an ordeal
3. I am being stalked by the black dog at the moment and I know it would do me good to find at least one happy moment in each day

What can you expect to see?
Creative projects
Anything which catches my attention

I'll be sharing the photos here as well as on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and might share my feelings about the project as I go along. Watch this space.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Love is ....... #messychurch #God

Yesterday at People Prayers and Potatoes Messy Church we explored Love.  
What love is.  
What love feels like. 
Who we are loved by.  
Who we love.  
Why we love.
How we can love more.

We started with these powerful words which so many of us have heard at weddings; words written by Paul to the church in Corinth.  As I read them I was struck by the power and beauty of these definitions of what love is and what it isn't.  It's a challenge to each of us.

But then I read these simple words from 1John "Love comes from God" and I relaxed in the knowledge that if love is all those things, then all those things are given by God to us. They are a gift, they are not a challenge.  They are a truth, not a tick list.

We know what love feels like because we receive it, in abundance to share with others, to pour out to those we love.  In fact we receive love in such huge quantities that we long to share it with others.  We are commanded to love one another, but actually it is something which is almost impossible not to do when we open our hearts to God's love of us.

And how do we know God loves us?
Because He gave His Son, Jesus Christ to the world as a man to live and teach and die for us.

That's a valentine message and a half isn't it.
God gave of himself to us all as a perfect gift of love.

And so we responded to these words, these truths about love in the world.

Through these crafts the families left with full tummys and full hearts telling who they would give the cards and creations to.  Love going out into the world from God, through us to others.