Gitter in the Sand.

On my Grandmothers mantle piece sat a glass bottle containing layers of multi coloured sand. This little bottle was a souvenir gift from the Isle of wight (Alum bay). The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica. In their pure state these minerals are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals.
As a child I would repeatedly ask my grandmother if I could remove the cork from the bottle of layered sand. I wanted to mix the coloured layers, to move them from order into a place of multicoloured chaos.
To pour the layered colours into a shallow bowl. Creating and uncovering unsymmetrical patterns in the coloured sand. To run the textured colours of history through my hands.
Somewhere in my loft wrapped in newspaper this little glass bottle of coloured sand is waiting to be rediscovered.
A static hour glass sitting out time. The separated colours  never changing.  The sand holds firmly to the stories of the past, tells of traditions and cultures of our ancestors.
We look to the past to discover lessons for the present.
What happens when we change the lens which we see the sand. When we see it’s true uncontaminated colours.

I don’t feel any desire to rummage into the depths of my loft to find the bottle of sand and mix it.
I am learning to see beyond the coloured layers to look at the individual grains, to the true colours/ true self.
During this past year I have started to learn how to see these true colours. To see the sparkle and glitter in each treasured grain ( person ). I’ve learnt the remarkable power of story. The value of spending time just listening.  Discerning the gifts of the spirit working in each of us .
I’ve come to realise and acknowledge that I have gifts too. To not underestimate the gift of being myself. The importance understanding my true colours . I’ve discovered how these gifts are working within me, how they relate to my context .

The gifts of the Spirit are being poured out upon us . I’m beginning to understand that these gifts don’t come in coloured uniformed patterns. We don’t have to comprehend them, but we do need to see them as actual, making them real.
I’m learning to see that it takes bravely and courage to mix the coloured grains of sand. Learning how essential it is to hold onto my true colours. I’m becoming more robust in my thinking and actions. Discovering how exhausting life can be when the landscape try’s to fade and erode my colours.

The colourful bottle of sand holds thousands of years of heritage and history. Its colours and traditions alone are not enough to hold the our future foundations.
God pours out the gift of the Spirit upon us, not as the historic re-enactment of static sand trapped in a bottle, but as the lived reality of the revelation of God, who is ever present and ever new.
It is our joy and privilege, not simply to share in those gifts, but to realise them, to see them sparkle, making them real in our lives, and for our time.
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A salty unity.

Simone Weil was a French Jew who died of hunger during World War Two.
Simone was extremely well educated and came from a wealthy family.
She worked in the factories and lived on tinned rations. Simone was so affected by what was happening to others she decided to live as they lived.
Simone was drawn strongly to the sacramental life of the church . Her desire to be baptised became overwhelming to her.
Yet she declined, and spent the rest of her short life regarding the bread and wine of holy communion without ever eating them.
Regarding them was enough for her, determination to stay hungry gave her strength.

During this time of lockdown I’ve been hungry too.
Experiencing those familiar unsettled feelings often felt during the first few weeks of a new diet. The longing to find chocolate and cheese in the fridge . Only to find precooked jacket potatoes and a withered salad .
After a while you start to understand the answer to satisfying your hunger cannot be found in the fridge.
It’s about a change of attitude.
As the world endures the worst imaginable suffering . The hunger I feel pierces a bright light in this dark storm.
It’s from these pains of hunger that I take a new fresh bearing. Discovering worship in a different timeless dimension. Worship that does not start at 9.15 on a Sunday morning. Nor does it end after 45 minutes.
Worship is barren of rules, no dress code, no words. A sacred intimate place of mystery. Time stands still as struggle with the pain and sorrow . Tears roll uncontrollably as I find joy in this creative hunger.
An empty glass move my thoughts from hunger to freedom. I become more aware of my own personal rhythms of prayer. Awareness of the frailness and pain of the earth.
It’s taken me back to the story of Simone Weil. I am reminded that is important and ok to be deeply affected by what’s happening around us.
To weep each day does little to ease the pain. The tears have an energy of their own. A salty unity that partners with a overflowing love for each other.
During lockdown we have literately fed each other. Prepared meals for neighbours and friends.

Our combined hunger is woven and twisted into a strong soft blanket. A blanket that hugs me into Gods waiting arms, sharing sorrows of the world.

The alters maybe naked, the candles extinguished and the church doors locked. My spiritual diet has changed.
I’m hungry; the hunger pains are real essential and fruitful.
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Ackiba’s creed.

WE BELIEVE in one master weaver.
Who shapes and intertwines
The stories of the Gospels held
Within our chocolate vine.

We are woven into creation.
Rooted in the ground .
We are the princess of the mountains .
Walking towards the promised land.

We have held Moses in his basket.
Journeyed down the Nile.
Long tendrils lead us to your vision.
Signposting us the way.
Reaching for the light.
Through him all things were made.
We have held bread and fishes.
Shared the jug of Red wine.
Please listen to our story.
As we weave through your time.

These are stories of salvation.
Of prophets, people and kings.
And all of the one God that knows everything.

Dancing through the seasons.
Weaving flowers, leaves and vines.
We might not always see .
Just how these weavings intertwine.

Supported by the Trellis of Pentateuch.
Hang Chocolate leaves of Grace and Goodness.
We believe as we climb through the Gospels.
Are woven into the psalms.
You weave us to your completion.
It’s your shape, your stories .
That we intertwine.

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Princess and the Phoenix

We believe that love is a action that comes from God.
Radiant love informed by our past.
A relational love of creativity.
Simultaneously connecting tears, laughter and deep joy.
A love that is seen when we hold what we feel in our hearts.

We believe that growth comes from a spirited change.
A rooted way of doing. A creative way of being .
We believe as our seeds are carried by the strongest winds.
Passed though the deepest waters. We will not be overwhelmed.
When our homeland is destroyed by fire.
The flame will not consume us.
Through God the father we can regrow .

Rapidly growing, seed dispersing, story telling.
Soil enhancing , shade giver, disciple facilitator.
We are the paulownia family.
Pioneer Princess trees.

Under our wings of dark green leaves .
Woven into our being sits KHOL the Phoenix bird.
A renewed life, symbol of the resurrection and the redemptive power of Christ and eternal life in heaven.
When her time is fulfilled KHOL builds a spiced nest of frankincense and, myrrh.
She enters the fires dies and rises again .

We believe Gods love is sending us to the most unexpected of places.
We call this place home.
A place discovered in shared memories. A shared hope for the future.
Our dispersed seeds will carry the stories of land in which we live and love.
Nibbled leaves, snapped branches, exposed roots, an outward sign of our inward brokenness.
We have the courage to make home in these unexpected places.
Be the first to grow something new.
We are upward growing, challenging, risk takers.
Seekers with Questions.
We look for and find God at work in the most strangest of places.
Jesus offers us an upside down inside out back to front world of love and grace.
We dwell and grow together in this alternative beautiful reality.

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Cotyledon / first leaf.

In my last blog I wrote about waiting ( I was waiting for the outcome of the Church of England pioneer panel). The wait is finally over and I have been approved as a pioneer within the Church of England.
This amazing news was shared with me by a phone call, followed a few days later by a letter from the Bishop. I was delighted, relieved and excited to have this news confirmed to me.
It’s the word confirmed that has made this news ever so scary. It’s the realisation that others see and maybe even understand how passionate I feel about mission. They not only possibly understand some of my heartfelt ideas, they actually believe in them and in me. Attending the pioneer panel has been such a positive experience in which I have felt understood; my strengths and weaknesses fairly identified.
I feel like a seed that has just grown my first seed leaf (cotyledon).

There’s a recognition of my growth and potential. The classification of my future ministry has been identified but yet the shape is not yet fully obvious.

The presence and type of seed leaf is also important in determining the classification of the plant that will grow. For instance, monocots have only a single seed leaf, which often stays in the ground. Dicots, on the other hand, have a pair of seed leaves that usually appear at the top of the growing stem and are then replaced during growth.

Most seed leaves are almost identical regardless of the type of plant. These narrow leaves are delicate and fragile. Its an embryonic leaf supporting and providing nutrition for the growing plant. Theirs so much strength in the leafs weakness.
These first leaves are supported on a stem so fragile if handled incorrectly the plant may perish. The total utter weakness of any newly germinated plant is its greatest strength.

My weakness has not been a barrier or an obstacle, it’s not blocked out or stopped me following my calling to God; instead, it’s the heart of my calling, the very thing that has allowed God to work most effectively through me.
There are times when I focus on my weaknesses and inadequacies, my failures and sins. They try to overpower my thoughts, taking me to places I’d rather not be.
The beautiful reality is these weaknesses are often my strengths. They are gifts from God, a constant reminder confirming to myself that I need to give myself completely and wholly to God, looking for God’s greater strength to do in me what I cannot do myself.
It’s overcoming my weaknesses and trusting God that has pushed me and drives me. It’s God’s strength and love that has grown me.
Strengthened by his love and power at work within me. Taking each passing moment as an opportunity for surrender to God’s Love. To give thanks for my strengths and weaknesses. To show others the joy I feel spending time with Jesus. The relationship I embrace is not just an emotion I feel; it’s an action, a calling, of who I am meant to be.

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Galatians 2:20 New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I am….not a sunflower.

A sunflower is not; an over grown marigold, or a mutated daffodil, It’s not a freaky big plant that’s grown out of control, It’s not a bi annual, it’s not a tree, it does not sting, it’s leaves are not black and it’s flower head comes in many colours but never blue. It grows regardless of wealth or what people say or think about it.
At this point you may have noticed that this is a list of what the sunflower is not.
Its easy to focus on what we are not. To look at what we don’t have, but when we strip away the not haves, in our naked nothingness we start to see who we really are and something of who God is.

Let’s go back to the sunflower, I can’t leave you with a list of what a sunflower is not without telling you something of what a sunflower is.
Latin name: Helianthus annuus.
Helianthus is derived from Greek helio- (sun) and antho- (flower).
annuus means ‘annual ( completes its growing cycle in one season ).

Did you know sunflowers follow the sun. Its not something you might notice when you have a lone flower in your garden. If you are lucky enough to see a field of sunflowers it’s obvious they know which way to look.

Something I found out recently, is that Sunflowers continue tracking the suns direction long after the sun has set. Through 360 degree’s they ensure that they are always oriented in the direction of the sun.
Their unity is totally dependant on one thing. Their relationship to the sun.
Facing the sun these flowers grow tall, towering above the other flowers. Theirs something truly wonderful, awesome, and beautiful about the sunflower. It seems so sure of who it is, confident in it’s just being.

Who am I?
For me this week the question has not been who am I but – who do others think I am ( waiting for the pioneer panels outcome ) .

In this time of waiting I need to be more like the sunflower, turning to God, almost pointing God out to myself, reminding myself that God knows who am.
That it’s in my very core of my being to turn to God, not just in these days of waiting but in all that I am.
It’s a being-ness in which Jesus walks with me into freshly ploughed fields and whispers sow.
It’s a being-ness that calls me to put on Wellington boots in readiness to walk in a direction that I have never walked before.
My being-ness needs to follow God as much as the sunflowers need to follow the sun. It’s a natural God created being that guides me to a place of doing. In my being and doing I to turn to God, to seek and find the core of my very self.
When I turn to God in this time of waiting, I feel the warmth of love that I follow, I see something of my I – am -ness in myself and others as I turn to face the warmth of one who loves us all.

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John 13:7 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Getting ready.

Train tickets purchased, overnight accommodation booked. Reading material has been sourced and journal purchased. A large selection of coloured pens are displayed on the coffee table.
Supplies are plentiful, tea, biscuits and a glass of wine for the evening. Best of all I have time to read, make notes and prepare for the one day pioneer selection panel (Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community).
I’ve made colourful notes comprising of an individual mix of badly drawn pictures and mispelt words.
I’m doing what I feel is expected of me. To study, gaining knowledge before I attend the panel . What I am reading is far from dull, the text is rich bold and exciting. My chosen method to study is dull and unimaginative. The typed text that I read remain as words that move from text book to my journal.
So over nourished with Christmas I find myself curled up on the sofa reading and writing. It’s easy to stay in my pjs and fluffy festive socks, it’s comfortable and warm.
I crave this warmth that the inside brings. It’s the inside that’s blurring my vision, it’s being inside that’s consuming my energy an dulling the imagination.
It’s time to squeeze my feet into Wellington boots (which seemed unusually tight due to my reluctance to remove my fluffy festive socks) and spend some time in the garden .
Outside my colourful notes become fully formed pictures. The energy that had been locked way was released into the space that is my garden. On a cold winters day this space is full of warmth and love.
A horticulturalists winter garden is full of anticipation of what’s to come. Impatient excitement holds God’s garden in this time of preparation and waiting.
The garden is waiting for the days to lengthen and the sun to warm the sleeping bulbs. The surface is littered with decaying leaves and a few hardy plants some of these plants could be called weeds.
You see weeds are just plants that don’t fit in.
People are not weeds but can be treated as if they were; pulled up, displaced never being given the opportunity to get their roots down.
I am not called to the fruitful, or the colourful, but to those that live on the edges of our community’s. Those that feel unvalued and misunderstood. Those that hold onto life in the most unusual places. Living in extreme conditions unable to grow.

As a gardener we remove the weeds in favour of plants we want to grow. It’s us controlling what grows in our gardens. What happens if we listen to God and start to grow Gods garden?( you might like to call what we grow a church).
When I imagine God growing my garden it changes shape, colour and direction. It becomes a garden with no boundaries a living breathing community full of mystery that some might even describe as chaos. Beautiful chaos that is diverse, a chaos with a sense of humour, a chaos that loves unconditionally, allows us the freedom to explore who we are, love that allows us to question . The garden would be and expression of God’s love for us, expressed through things like forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and gentleness.

When we garden with God we create the right conditions to grow a community that shows someone they belong and matter, not just to God but belong to one another.
In these conditions we grow and Flower.

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Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”
Hebrews 12:2

Question 6 – The silent wow – Part 2.

Question 6 on the BAP ( Bishops adversary panel ) form asks you to tick one of two boxes . The trouble is I don’t fit simply into one box.
God created me to live life muddy. To find an immense amount of joy from creation. When outside my confidence sours, I think big, I think beyond the walls of a box, I lift myself to Jesus breathing in air that so full of a love that’s beyond our understanding .
My shape is God given, it’s just not box shaped. My shape is created for me. I can’t change it, I can’t be squeezed into a different shape. I can’t function unless I can be true to my shape and true to God. The wonderful thing is that we have our own shape. And yes some of us are box shaped, but not me.
It would be a very plan and predictable world if we all fitted neatly into tick boxes. If we could define our personalities by ticking box A or B
I simply cannot fit and function in a box I can’t conform to its organised neatness.
The trouble with questions that only allow A or B answer is they don’t allow for us to express ourselves it’s saying you can only be one.
I just don’t fit neatly into one, I’m always the odd one out doing my own thing. I’m not trying to be awkward or prove a point, I’m not wired. I am just being true to myself and true to my calling
This also applies to my future ministry it would need to be a different shape out of the confines of what some may consider normal or different . It’s a shape open to ideas, it’s a shape that fits in with the people.
My ministry would include all those that don’t fit into boxes, It would be for those whose boxes are crumpled, whose boxes are broken and those whose boxes have been flattened by society.
I am hearing a calling that’s rooted and grounded in God’s love. Taking that love to the unchurched in a context that they understand. It’s leaning their language and seeing the world that they live in through their eyes. It’s dancing forward while talking creative sideway steps that come from God.

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John 1:14 The Message (MSG)
14
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.