The risk of blossom.

As darkness falls this evening, the winds of storm Eunice seem to be subsiding and my thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this storm. The storm has claimed lives, closed schools and caused mass disruption across the country.

My college lectures for today were forced onto zoom, and we learnt about God’s mission for the world and how as Christians, we are called into this mission. As we discussed the topic of mission I  watched the large bamboo in my garden being battered by winds that gusted at nearly 90 miles an hour, and unlike the rest of my garden, these long flexible green-leaved canes have withstood this massive storm. The Latin name for Bamboo is Phyllostachys, and this simply means leaf spike and refers to the flower cluster of the Bamboo. The flowering of bamboos is an intriguing phenomenon because it is a unique and very rare occurrence in the plant kingdom. Most bamboos flower and seed once every 60 to 130 years, and the energy to produce these flowers is often so exhausting for the plant that it dies.

It struck me how much risk is involved when you grow a bamboo plant from a seed. How precious the seed is when it comes from a plant that has given its life to blossom.  

This week at college, we have been looking at mission and asking the question does God take risks?  It made me think of the bamboo that’s in my garden. I brought the bamboo plant from a specialist bamboo nursery in Germany, and it arrived through my letterbox as a tiny precious seed.  I always thought the risk of sowing seeds was in the planting; that the risk we take as gardeners is that germination will not happen, and the seed will not grow. Theirs the risk that I will not provide the seed with the right conditions.  I might overwater it, starve it of some essential micronutrient and consequently, the plant will wither and die, or worst still never even germinate.

I’ve realised this week that the risk was not planting the bamboo seed; the risk I took was to release one of the fastest-growing plants on earth into my garden – a plant that can grow as much as 10 centimetres in a single day. I risked planting a species of plant that grows with so much vigour you can watch it grow, and I confidently and knowingly took the risk of planting this fast-growing bamboo into my garden.

We often think or are told that being missional is risky business. That to be missional, we must take risks, take chances, and set ourselves up for failure and possible pain. Yet the risk assessments we make in our minds do not always reflect the whispers of our hearts.  If we never plant the seed we remove the risk of germination, If we remove the risk of germination we also remove the risk of growth. If we remove the risk of growth, our future landscape will not change, instead, it will become trapped in a musty cloud of slow decay and gentle decline.

So my thought for today ponders is ‘God the biggest risk-taker of all’.

C.S Lewis wrote about God as a risk taker, and in his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan the lion represents Christ, and C. S Lewis describes the risk of being in the company of this great lion ‘as not safe, but good’.

During our lectures this week, we learnt that it is ok to talk about a risk-taking God… that as Christians, we should partner with God as “fellow risk takers’ and step out into a changing landscape and join in Gods great journey of adventure.  We were warned that this journey is risky but reminded that Jesus is commissioning those who would follow him to be bearers of the light, even to the ends of the earth.  Jesus never promised that it would be easy: he spoke of times of great violence and persecution when most people would prefer darkness to light, Yet,  John 1:5 tells us “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

What an extraordinary thing.  What a risk – When I pushed my precious bamboo seed into a tray of compost, I took a seed from light into darkness. Yet through germination, it overcame the darkness and grew back into the light that continues to sustain and change its life.

What an extraordinary thing: what a risk: for God to entrust his precious light to a young girl from Nazareth called Mary – to entrust his light to a motley crew of disciples – to entrust his light to you and to me.

We have a responsibility to journey with people from the darkness into the light to risk being bearers of the light – a responsibility to those who are still to come, to create and recreate a landscape that reflects the light and love of Jesus into the darkest pockets of the earth. 

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Great Depths.

This weekend the next step in my journey has been confirmed, it’s a gift from God. Yet I wobble, and I am scared, scared in the knowledge that I have to walk through this door, In response to the emotions that I am holding I have taken Psalm 51 ( the message) and added a few of my own words.. my own way of taking my emotions and giving them to God.

This weekend the next step in my journey has been confirmed, it’s a gift from God. Yet I wobble, and I am scared, scared in the knowledge that I have to walk through this door, In response to the emotions that I am holding I have taken Psalm 51 ( the message) and added a few of my own words.. my own way of taking my emotions and giving them to God.

Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy— hold my emotions
Scrub away the guilt of my tears,
Wash away my doubts.
you know how much I trust you.
Yet sometimes my doubts just drown me.

You’re the one who believes in me, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my life.
You have all the facts before you.
whatever you decide about me is fair.

I’ve been feeling wobbly and of step,
You know that is nothing new for me
What you’re after is trust from the inside out.
Please continue to guide and walk with me.

Wash me in the power of your sea and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me with the rough pebbles.
Help me listen to the rhythm of your ocean,
set this fearful mind free to dance in the waves.
Don’t look too closely when I slip and trip,
I just need alittle time to adjust to the new life you have given me.

God, make a fresh start in me,
shape hope and joy into the chaos of my life.
Please don’t throw me out so deep
That I cannot swim, and if you do, please
Bring me back from time to time,
So I can once again feel the pebbles beneath my feet.

Guide me and push me to the far edges of my inner self.
Guide me to the lost, so they too can find a new way.
Create in me a clean heart
and I’ll sing in the deepest waves.
Gift me your voice,
I’ll let loose with your praise.

Just standing still does not please you,
a crisp clean paddle in the sea is nothing to you.
I learned about you
when my heart was broken
I ventured out into great depths
For you

Make our church the place we can all delight in,
splash us all with deep waves until our cry’s turn into laughter.
Unite our worship with the dry and the soggy, the tearful and the joyful, the rich and the poor.
Unite our worship with so much love that we sing and laugh to your praise.
That together we can walk with you into the places of great depths and danger.
Amen.

Light weight Armour.

Sermon – Ephesians 6 10-20

I have a vision of how my garden might look each year; I always see a riot of colours, plants that are bold and stand tall.  This year the perfect vision is once again replaced by the reality of an overgrown garden. In need of some garden inspiration, I headed for a local garden centre, and there I found this riot of colour that I could for a price pick up and take home.

One of the plants that caught my eye was the bold colours of the gladioli. The name gladioli originates from the Latin word ‘gladius’, which means sword and symbolises strength, victory and pride. The meaning dates back to Roman times, when gladiators fought to the death in the Colosseum, and when St Paul wrote a letter from his prison cell to the Ephesians.

St Pauls letter covers a range of moral and ethical issues that remind us that the faith to which we are called into can sometimes be uncomfortable and challenging.

Paul writes about real everyday life. As we journey through life, we  might find ourselves living a very comfortable life and possibly shielded from the reality of the problems facing the world.

 Pauls letter concludes with a reminder that to live a Christian faith is to live uncomfortably and speak the gospel with unashamed baldness as an ambassador to Christ.

To speak truth takes strength and courage, and perhaps it is even harder to listen to that truth when the subject is the Global climate change emergency that faces our world today.

More frequent and intense droughts, storms, heatwaves, wild fires, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and warming oceans. All are directly causing permeant damage to the world’s ecosystems, destroying homes, wildlife and people’s livelihoods and communities.

Perhaps I have already provoked some uncomfortable feelings by mentioning these things: anxiety, fear, embarrassment or shame at not doing or caring more.

It is an uncomfortable truth; all that has been spoken about is happening: the wildfires in Greece,  recent floods in Germany and China. We have reached a tipping point, a time to boldly speak words of unvarnished truth and take actions that safeguard the integrally of creation.  

 Paul writes, “that we need to be strong, to put on God’s whole armour and stand firm against powerful authorities. With Christ, we will be equipped with enough courage and strength to stand our ground and boldly live a life that speaks the truth.

We need spiritual armour.

Individually we need the 21st century equivalent of the 1st century “armour of God” as described in Pauls  Letter to the Ephesians so that we too can live a life of truth and hope.

In the letter, Paul gives us a spiritual overlay to the first-century armour of a Roman soldier.

A belt of truth buckled around your waist;

A breastplate of righteousness to give you courage and protection to face what is wrong and must be righted.

Feet fashioned with shoes that are ready to run not to war but to peace.

A shield to extinguish the flaming arrows and a  helmet of salvation to guard your mind from what is untrue or fake.

And lastly, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

The power of God is present; God’s light and love is an invitation for us is to co-operate with God’s mission in the world.

To step out peacefully  “speak truth and action, and perhaps even harder than speaking the truth is listening to the Truth. The truth is that creation is broken, disintegrating, from the accumulated sinful action and inaction of humankind.

We need to acknowledge our need for protection and claim God’s invincible and available power. And it is God’s power and protection that we are assured of.

 Claim it, wear it, speak from your heart, and turn words into powerful actions.  

Ephesians gifts us a cosmic scale vision, suitably fitted to the nature and scale of the global climate emergency. A vision that brings to our attention that we might live in misguided or selfish ways. It reminds us that we need to keep our eyes open and pray for each other, that God’s protective armour will equip us to stand firm against the wrongs of this world.

And unlike the bulky, heavy suits of protection worn by firefighters that today are working tirelessly to save homes and ecosystems in Greece, the armour that comes from God is lightweight and gifted to every one of us.

With God’s armour, we possess this hidden power that means that we can take our place, confidently and in hope, in contributing to change, no matter how high the tide of despair rises around us.

 We are awakening to the reality of an ecological disaster on an unprecedented scale.  What we do matters, but what and how we love from the centre of our self matters most of all: how we love every molecule of soil, every tree, and every human life for whom Christ “descended into the lower parts of the earth” and “ascended far above all heavens so that he might fill all things”.

So what can we do?

Some but not all of us might be able to change the way we shop; some might be able to change the way we travel.

However, we all can use the sword of the spirit and share Gods word. To do this, we don’t need beautiful Bibles with Gold gilded edges.

And unlike the Perfect Red, White and Yellow, gladiolus available to purchase at the garden centre. Gods word is free for us all to take home.

St Paul writes that the  Bible is your sword, and we are about to go into battle to save the world. This week I invite you to pick your Bible and step into God’s Story. To hear, touch and see the words of God our creator, who at the very beginning  looked out over all that he created and saw that it was Good ‘ very Good’.

Amen

Severn dwelling in the word on zoom. Acts 6 1-7

Dwelling in the word is at its simplest about listening to scripture, emptying our hearts, sharing the diverse interpretations of the passage shared. It is about taking the time to purposefully listen to God’s voice and share the words that the spirit is placing in our hearts. When we share and empty ourselves before God and each other, we hear the view of a friend and the view of strangers. We become aware of the voices that see the word through a different lens to us. As we dwell together in God’s word, we are privileged to hear how God’s story meets our story. During dwelling in the word this evening, I felt prompted to rewrite the passage, to change a few words so the passage spoke into the world that some of us might see today. 

Acts 6 1-7.

Now during these days, when the disciples were decreasing in number, the people remained quiet, hungry and voiceless. Families overlocked, and unheard, communities were being neglected. And the church called together the whole community of disciples and said, ‘it is not right that we should neglect the work of God in order to sit in church. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we must select from among ourselves, pioneers and prophets full of the spirit, whom are unafraid to speak the truth. While we, for our part will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving God’s mission for the world. However, what these pioneers and prophets said did not please the whole church. For they choose to proclaim the Good news of the kingdom, to teach and baptise and nurture new believers. They choose to respond to human need by loving service, to seek and transform unjust structures of society of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation. They choose  to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the church. The church then questioned these prophets and pioneers that stood before them; they laid in their hand’s systems, statistics, traditions and liturgy. 

Despite this, the word of God continued to speak through these prophets and pioneers, their numbers gently increased, and a great many new belivers  were baptised in a muddy/messy churches and came to be disciples of Jesus, obedient to the faith.

Thirsty roots of dormancy

Dormancy stands firm on the crossed paths of winter, listening to those that reflect their brokenness, and loss into the chaos of perfection.
Dormancy gives light to the fresh Green leaves that grow without  flower or aroma, a seasonal nudge of green that awakens  the path towards spring.  The thirsty roots of dormancy  give hope to the  depressed soil muted into a waterlogged submission of seasonal weather and government restrictions.  Dormancy is bare and vulnerable, bearing witness to the seasons, littering the landscape with a dependable mulch of wonder and love.

Lent is about love, a season in which we dwell in the soft mulch of dormancy and clear space in our lives to be deeply honest with God.We acknowledge our mortality, our frailty, failure, and limitations. Love humbly speaks a raw unvarnished truth and hears us.It is  this listening that stirs our inner dormancy, awakens the thoughts and prayers that silently sit in our hearts. Lent requires us to wake up, to prepare for the season  that awakens dormancy.  Jesus went into the wilderness after God spoke these words to  him: You are my beloved with whom I am well pleased.

As the tress in the woods awaken to spring, settle into Lent with this firm foundation that you are  God’s beloved child. Instead of fighting this season, embrace it, go for a walk, hug a tree and listen to the diverse language of love. Listen to the love that speaks  unvarnished truths into our dormant heart. Jesus calls us friends and invites us to humbly share our lives as we are.

Candlemass and Snowdrops.

Sermon prepared for zoom – 31st January 2021.. Luke 2-25,35

Today the church celebrates the feast of the presentation of Christ; this day is also known as Candlemass day. It was the day of the year when all the candles that were used the coming year were brought into the church, and a blessing was said over them – it was the Festival Day (or ‘mass’) of the Candles.

I thought I would start by sharing with you this wonderful picture of snowdrops in the snow.

Snowdrops were often called Candlemas Lilies or Candlemas Bells in days gone by.  The snowdrop’s flower looks delicate and fragile, yet it has the strength to stand the coldness of winter and push its way through the cold frosty ground to flower.

 In the harshness of winter, these flowers bob in the wind, as if they were flickering candles. And close up, the white of the petal is entirely unblemished except for touches of green.  Green being the colour of life.

The snowdrop is dependable; We know they flower from mid-January into February, even their name Candlemas lilies tell us this. 

One of the things I find most challenging at the moment is the inability to plan. Things we once thought would always be dependable, change shape and form, often reappearing in a virtual way.  Even preparing this sermon, there was a moment of wondering if we would be in the church building or on zoom. It’s frustrating; it is almost as if everything I am doing and planning is done in the darkness of the unknown.  As if I am holding a small candle that will only light up a small area around it, just enough to take the next step forward, but most of the time, the next step is still unknown, waiting for the light to reach into the darkness.

I remember when I first visited trinity college for their open day to study there the following year. I was barraged with questions, most of which I couldn’t answer:

“Why do you want to study at trinity?”

“what course will you be studying.?

“ will you study full time?”

And

“ would you like a cup of coffee?”

That one I could answer, but most of them I couldn’t actually answer, most of the questions asked left me in tears, the words just could not or would not form.  All I knew was as I was here for a reason, and that was more than enough to cope with. It was as if I had been gifted extreme short-sightedness. What I felt became more important to what I saw. So there I was full of thoughts, no words and lots of tears… not a great first impression. 

I don’t know about you, but this feeling can create a feeling of vulnerability for me. It’s uncomfortable, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from living my life with  Jesus, it’s that when life gets uncomfortable,  that’s when I need to start paying attention,  that’s when God speaks loudest.

Today we celebrate the presentation of Christ, this took place 40 days after Christmas, when Jesus, the Light of the world, was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem by his parents to fulfil the required ceremonies of the law.

We can see this story depicted in the window of St Peters Church.  I would like to journey with you through todays gospel reading.

Try to Imagine Mary with Joseph at her side, working their way through the crowded temple, in Mary’s arms; she carries her new-born son. Mary was doing what every Jewish mother had been commanded to do by Jewish Law after her male child’s birth. Two overjoyed elders greet them, Anna and Simian, who immediately recognize that this six-week-old baby, is the salvation they have been waiting for.

I am always amazed that Simian and Anna recognised Jesus. Over their many years of hopeful waiting, hundreds of babies would have come to the Temple for these ceremonies.

So how did Simeon and Anna know that Mary’s baby was the promised Messiah?

Like us, Anna and Simeon lived in complex and worrying and yet hopeful times, with reasons to be fearful and faithful. Both were looking for salvation, trusting that even in the midst of being occupied by the Roman empire, God was still faithful to God’s promises. They were living in the kingdom of Caesar, seeing its impacts and the suffering around them, and yet they remained deeply faithful.

Simeon had heard messages from the Holy Spirit, and Anna was given to prophetic speech as well as fasting and ceaseless prayer. And they kept their eyes open, trusting that God would transform the world and bring about the justice that was so profoundly needed.

Our gospel for today told that Christ has come so that our inner thoughts will be revealed. With the birth of Christ, God began a new movement in the world. A movement of getting what’s in here out there.  Of breaking down the wall between inside and outside.  It is a movement where it is ok to show our vulnerability and share our tears, hopes and dreams with those that we find around us.

The words of Simeon and Anna’s witness revealed that Jesus has come to reveal what is hidden.

All that we try and keep separate even down to the very inner thoughts hidden deep within us. God comes to us in the midst of our brokenness in our faithfulness and vulnerability.  

It is this faithfulness that brings us together, and it’s that faithfulness that led Simeon and Anna to be in the Temple at the very same time that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus arrive.  Simeon is drawn there by the Holy Spirit’s prompting, so he’s there at just the right time. It is Simeon who recognizes the child first, and he is so excited he breaks into a prayer of thanksgiving,

His pray overturns all the values that have guided their lives and the people around them up to this point.  Simeon holds in his arms the peace and grace of God’s  Salvation.  A fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy, “The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.

Simeon tells us that salvation has come to all, to everyone. he says that Jesus is the one who will reveal our hidden thoughts because Jesus is the one who gives us the strength to share what’s in here with everyone else out there, that we are not alone that we no longer have to hide.

On this holy day, this day of Candlemas, perhaps reflect on the candles in your life. The times that they burn brightly and the times in which they have flickered. Ask God to give you the courage and faith to risk taking the next step and following Jesus on the way that leads to life. And when you next see a cluster of snowdrops, maybe spend a few moments to reflect on how they can be seen as a symbol of hope in the darkness of winter.

 Hope in the wonderful love and faithfulness of the Lord while you trust that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 Let us be glad and full of hope, like Simeon and Anna.

Sermon prepared for zoom – 31st January 2021.. Luke 2-25,35

The Divine Mentor.

The last few days I have been trying to bring some order into the chaos of my overloaded bookshelves. The trouble is the books themselves are distracting. Books full of memories and more importantly these books are part of my story. During this very unproductive sort out I rediscovered ‘The Divine Mentor ‘Written by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. The opening paragraph of this book pulls you into the text, you just know this book will change how you read the Bible. As you near the end of Wayne Cordeiro’s book he outlines his method of Bible study S.O.A.P and it’s this method of Bible study that I’m going to share with you today as part of my blog.

WHAT DOES S.O.A.P. MEAN?

S. The S stands for Scripture. You physically write out (with pen and paper) the passage of scripture. You might be amazed by what God reveals to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading!

O– The O stands for observation. What do you see in the verses that you’re reading?

A– The A stands for Application- this is when God’s Word becomes personal to you. What is God saying to me today? Is there an action that I need to take?

P– And finally P stands for Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in his Word, pray about it.

My personal example….

Genesis 15: 7,21
Scripture
After writing out the passage it was the words in verse 11 that drew me in. “And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away”.
I used to foster little boy and rightly or wrongly one of his favorite activity’s was chasing pigeons. He would giggle with great delight as the pigeons he chased flew away. Many of these pigeons where hungry, and in search of food, some were injured and missing limbs landing on the ground to rest.
In the passage Abraham cut all the animals and two but not the birds. For some reason the birds were different or special in some way. And yet when the birds of prey came down and fed on the carcasses of the sacrificed animals Abraham drove them away.
I wonder metaphorically speaking who are the birds of prey in our communities? Is it right to deny them nourishment, to drive them away?

Observation.
One thing that struck me when I read the passage again was that the sacrifice must have been a messy and noisy process. Slaughtering a 3-year-old cow, goat, ram, sheep and birds could not have been be done quietly within a community of people. The sacrifice must have been observed by others. The animals that had been sacrificed would have been unblemished, even an animal with a limp (disability) would not have been consider worthy of Sacrifice.

It opened many questions to me.
Did Abraham prepare the sacrifice by himself?
Does Sarah his wife watch the sacrifice?
What does it mean to us with disabilities to be seen as imperfect by the communities in which we belong?
Why is Sarah Abrahams wife not mentioned in this passage?

The sacrifice is at the Centre of the passage, the Centre of Gods mission to the world. I personally read the sacrifice as a quiet private event between Abraham and God. An intimate special time where Gods promise is fulfilled. Yet the woman (Sarah Abraham’s wife) who will carry and deliver that promise is not mentioned.

My thoughts are drawn to our church buildings and the eucharist. How churches are often built in the Centre of our community’s. How today they have lost their voice and seem unnoticed to the wider communities. I was also drawn to the people inside our churches receiving the eucharist (the promise fulfilled).

Application.
Today our church communities are a body of people. The broken. the tired, the happy and the sad. Abrahams community would have included the people which traveled with him: his family, his slaves and his wife Sarah, who carries and gives birth to the son they both longed for.
Members of our church families and those on the edges of faith and in our church, communities can be and feel invisible, feel as if they are not welcome. That their disabilities need to be cured. Finding spaces to listen to hear the stories of the people is just once small thing we can do.
Listening a place of love, listening to what the scripture tells us. Listening is than the gift that echo’s love and value’s the persons worth and identity. It affirms and shows people they are real, and more importantly their stories are important.
God graciously invites us human beings to be his partners, not for our sakes, but in order to fulfil his greater purpose for the entire world.

Prayer.
Generous and compassionate God. May we live life in a way that reflects your love and generosity to all. May we know your power moving through us. So that your Kingdom will come in the world in which we live.

Amen

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Genesis 15:7-21

New International Version

7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

The pioneer allotment.

Let me explain where the pioneer allotment came from and why. To understand why, I think it might be helpful if you knew a little bit about me. I am a pioneer in the Bath and Wells diocese.  My faith has come from a deep spiritual connection with creation.  I think in pictures, came to faith early one morning in my garden. 

As a picture thinker I find it helpful to draw the words that I am reading. It’s a translation from the written word into a language that I understand. The pioneer allotment is just my personal translation. 

From this… 

To this… 

Allotments are at their heart a community that shares an individualistic communal environment. Each allotted plot  holder (allotment owner) is working within the guidelines set down by their allotment association. Each plot holder translating what these guidelines means to them. Theirs flexibility, and unity in this unique place where people grow together. It’s a place that you grow what’s relevant to you. In a method that’s of your choosing. 

Growing seasonal local food means you become more in tune with the land. Plot holders naturally nurture new members. Wanting to share knowledge, share the joy of the harvest, wanting others to feel that joy too.  

The allotment holds onto and works with the traditions of the past. It’s an earthy visible process that openly shares its highs and lows with its community. It’s a place open to all, regardless of wealth or knowledge. 

Allotments are a place of doing. 

As I wander around my allotment, I see a patchwork of creative planting; pumpkins, runner-beans, potatoes, cabbages. My drawn pioneer spectrum comes to life. The rich blended landscape of our differences, from the traditional to boldly different. The pioneer allotment starts with the traditional church plant. Replicating traditional methods and planting.   

As we move further along spectrum  we find the planting slowly changing. As we change the planting and the methods, so we push against traditional boundaries.  Moving further along the spectrum our work becomes more unknown and vulnerable. Working with seeds that have yet to germinate. The harvest is not guaranteed. 

It may look muddled. The soil is often poor, requiring a lot of organic matter (manure) to be added.  Here success cannot be measured by the fruits of our harvest. My own allotment is very nontraditional. I’m constantly told by other plot holders that my methods are incorrect. 

They even take matters into their own hands. Removing the stinging nettles from my plot.  They see them as weeds while I see them as habitats for butterflies. 

The strange round cucumbers that grow in my chaotic allotment taste no different to the straight green cucumbers grown on the more traditional allotment.  As pioneers we see the possibilities a space can offer. We work to Create different holy spaces; spaces that grow round cucumbers and orange carrots, Spaces where God is at work, spaces to meet Jesus. Spaces where the Holy Spirit is active.  

It’s in these holy traditional and chaotic spaces that we come together as family. We share memories and a shared hope for the future. 

Psalm 23

The beautiful words of Pslam 23 have at times prettified me and given me hope on some of my darkest days.
I wrote this poem just to reflect on the pslam and how important it is to me.

As I wander through the green uncut grass
the stories of the garden unfold.
Imprinted into the soil, deep dark tunnels of despair,
My burdens glistened into the dewy footprints of life
I know that I am the gardener, listening to the creator.

With every seed thats sown, I learn more of him.
When I doubt, he lifts me up, reminds me that I can grow.
He leads me through valleys that I never knew existed,
waters my soul with life giving streams, which hydrate me.
Growing in a new place, Where its safe to sit and stay.

With him I am at peace to say no words,
as he knows my every thought,
even the secrets deeply hidden in my heart.
His blessings ignites my reasons, fills my toughest day with hope.
With His spirit I know I am safe.

Humbled by the constant calling of his Creation.
His arms outstretched, always ready to listen to me.
I feel his presence through the earth. vibrating whispers of a calming voice.
Leading me tough the turbulent waters.
To a place of stillness and inner peace.