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Book Group 17th Jan

Just a reminder that the Book Group meets next Monday 12th January at 7.30pm for 7.45pm. Steve will, I hope, send out the link nearer the date.

We will continue and hopefully complete our discussion on ‘The Godless Gospel’. The chapters remaining are:

Chapter 8 which essentially deals with the question ‘Is Jesus against family values?’

Chapter 9 Is Jesus divisive?

Chapter 10 Can you have ‘goodness’ without God?

Conclusion

I would hope we could deal with 8 & 9 fairly quickly and then round it off with 10 & the Conclusion. No pressure though!!

If we do manage to finish then suggestions for future reading would be welcome.

Alan

Light and renewed vision

A lovely rendition of “Ring out wild bells”, a poem by Tennyson put to music by Alana Levandosky which we used as our intercessions:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

 

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

 

Margaret and David 9/2/22


 

Walk

There was interest last Sunday in trying another walk. Gwyneth has suggested an easy flat walk around Altrincham. It starts at Seamon’s Road car park in Broadheath, which is opposite the junction with Atlantic Street. We are proposing to meet there at 10 am with something to eat if you want. The walk should be finished by lunchtime but I realise from the past these walks often take longer than expected.

I will be driving, so if you would like  transport, please let me know. The weather forecast is not great but we can only hope.

Lornaxx 6/1/22

Rage and Hope for a New Year

Ouur first eGathering of the year took the theme of Rage and Hope [link to book review]. Hope not as wild optimism, or some future life beyond this world, but as a wilfull re-imagining of this world as it could be.

Picking up Andy’s theme from the week before [link to post]  we shared Steve Earle’s prophetic song “Jerusalem”:

(There is also a very powerful version sung by Joan Baez that is worth checking out).

Steve Earle received death threats for this song for refering to Arabs as children of Abraham. Fundamentalists don’t read their bibles!

Steve and Gwyn 2/1/22


 

Magnificat: Reflections on Sumud

A response to the story of a strong, defiant Mary Luke 1:39-55

Reflections on Sumud

I went to a talk this week; an annual lecture remembering Tom Hurndall, an MMU photography student shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in 2003, when trying to rescue a child. The lecturer was Lara Sheehi, a Lebanese psychoanalyst. She has met with and tells the stories of Palestinian psychoanalysts in the West Bank. Many of their clients’ symptoms are rooted in the experience of occupation. But they don’t only find stories of loss and humiliation and brutality.  They find stories of life, and desire, of moments of celebration and recollection. Because they want to keep Palestine alive. They speak about steadfastness, using the Arabic word Sumud. I have been looking into that word and what it means in Palestine. To help us below are some words by three Palestinian women, in a document produced for the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches:

Fayza, from Doha, south of Bethlehem:

I am steadfast
I am a town councillor. I work hard inside my house: cooking, doing my daily tasks at home, taking care of my husband and children while at the same time working to earn a living. I also try to volunteer and participate in public activities. My friends and family strengthen my sumud (steadfastness) and encourage me, as a woman, to work in the fields of peace-building, Christian-Muslim living together, and interreligious and intercultural communication skills.

Reaching out – Rima, from Bethlehem:

The Wall is like a sign to say: “Go away from here.” It is intimidating. If you go from the checkpoint toward Gilo you can see all the land that was taken for its construction, and the land what we can no longer access. Some of the land had belonged to my grandparents. Despite everything, we must continue to resist. To continue with our daily life is a form of resistance. One example of resistance is coming every day to the Sumud Story House. The Israelis want to stop our lives by pushing us out. We can resist with any sign of life, and any activity helps, because activities make people want to stay here. You can organize a concert or another cultural activity. These are ways that we can reach the world and the world can reach us.

The baby and the soldiers

A story from Nablus: Israeli soldiers were beating up a man in a crowded street. From all sides people rushed to the scene. Suddenly a woman with a baby came forward to the man and shouted: “Why is it always you who makes problems and goes to demonstrations! I am fed up! Take this baby of yours! I don’t want to see you ever again.” She laid the baby in the hands of the man, and ran away. The soldiers left the scene in confusion. When quiet came, the man returned the baby to the woman. They had never seen each other before.

https://pief.oikoumene.org/en/world-week-for-peace/resources/documents/sumud-house-aei-wall-museum-document.pdf

As we think of Bethlehem and the angels this Christmas, let us join our thoughts and prayers with women who get up each day to bring life and hope to their families and communities.

Andy 19/12/21


 

Christmas Gatherings

We will be meeting virtually on Christmas Day for a short service of music and readings. 10:20 for 10:30. A Zoom link will be circulated to all those on our list.  Feel free to drop in and out if your family/turkey committments so require.

There was a desire to meet in person on Christmas Eve, but sadly too many of us had family committments to make that viable.

There will be no meeting on Sunday 26th as again most of us have family committments elsewhere.

The Deacons 18/12/21


 

Prayer for the City: A prayer in a photograph

A prayer in a photograph….

One of the consequences of the various lockdowns is that we have been walking much more in the hills that surround Manchester, rather than going off into Derbyshire. From these hills you often glimpse in the distance the distant city. 

 

The city of the plains. When the light strikes it in the right way it seems to be rising out of the plains like some heavenly vision of the New Jerusalem. Other times it seems shrouded in gloom and smog as if those dark satanic mills never went away. But it is our city, where our feet walk, so we pray for our city….

We see the towers rising out of the polluted mist. But in that mist there are people we know who are struggling. Those whose benefits have been cut…  Those who are sick…  Struggling NHS staff starved of the resources they need by years of austerity and now dealing with the consequences of a pandemic…. A stretched city council trying to care for those who need it most with dwindling funds….

And in those towers we see rising above the gloom are the rich and powerful. Those who make the decisions. Those who are doing well. Those who get the contracts and profit from them.  They are great and powerful, but are they servants of all? Some will be trying to serve the greater good as best they can, some simply out for themselves. Civic pride or crony capitalism?

Down below we see the dark that can make us despair. Above we see clouds which dampen our hope. But there are little rays of sunshine breaking through. There are people trying to make a difference. Working around the edges. Shining light in dark corners. Hideaway, 42nd Street, the small mental health charity Andy was collecting for, and many others we can bring to mind….

We pray for our city

Steve 17/10/21


 

Rage and Hope: A book review

Rage and Hope: 75 years of Christian Aid

Christian Aid as a charity has now been in existence for 75 years; a double-edged anniversary, being a testament both to much good work done and to the ocean of continuing need which seems to be swelling rather than subsiding.  To mark the anniversary they have brought out a new book of prayers, Rage and Hope.  We attended the online Book Launch which featured interviews with the current Director of Christian Aid, Amanda Khosi Mukwashi, and the three previous Directors, including Michael Taylor (once of this city).  We commented to each other afterwards that remarkably little was said about the actual book, but I ordered a copy anyway.

Rage and Hope is a collection of 75 prayers, each with its own introduction which is frequently longer than the prayer itself, and a brief biographical note about its author.  The prayers are divided into 4 sections, Remember, Resolve, Resist and Reimagine.  The collection covers a lot of topics which are currently causing misery in our world, and provides valuable if unwelcome reminders of things many of us would prefer to ignore, especially at the moment when we are so drained after a year of living through a pandemic.   Most of the prayers are powerfully expressed and beautifully written.

I think it is fair to say that the collection is stronger on rage and lament than it is on hope.  Michael Taylor said in the discussion at the launch that the hope comes because however bad things are, they can always be made a little better.  Some of the other speakers struck a more optimistic tone, but the tension between the idea that lament galvanises the lamenter to take action, and the traditional belief that prayer will persuade God to act and change things, is obvious throughout the book and makes for an uneven feel.  Prayers which praise the power and goodness of God while detailing the terrible suffering of the innocent are not easy to read.

I must admit to some personal disappointment that this is not a worship resource that it will be easy to dip into for material.  Although it is expressed to be for both individual and communal use, it is not a prayer book in the mould of its much-used predecessor of the 1990s, Bread of Tomorrow.  There is no subject index, although some topics recur, such as gender-based violence, and many of the prayers are situation-specific or cannot be voiced (as written, without editing) from outside the affected community.  A number of them reference the current pandemic and (hopefully) will quickly become dated.  Nevertheless, it will be a valuable book to have when we want to say, “This is not how the world should be”.

Gwyneth 20/4/21

Three prayers from this book framed our New Year Zoom gathering in January 2022


 

Lent Series 2021

We are planning to have an online Lent Series on Thursday evenings during Lent, ending with a service on Maundy Thursday.  What is planned is:

  • To meet via Zoom at 7.30pm each Thursday, starting on 18th February
  • To meet for approx. 30-40 minutes each time (this will allow those who do not have “work” Zoom to host if they wish)
  • To follow the same basic format each week, of prayer/recorded music (Taize-style)/Psalm/Bible readings on the theme for the week/quiet time for personal reflection/further led reflection/closing prayer
  • There may be a time for discussion after the closing prayer, but people may prefer to leave after the quieter time
  • You don’t need to buy or download any materials in advance
  • We will take as a starting point the resources in http://www.unforcedrhythms.org/contemplative-spirituality/lent-meditations/ (though not necessarily their translation of the Bible) and will use their format of considering one of the Gospel characters each week, but as a group we will not be  following the meditative practices and journalling which they recommend, just listening to the readings each week and having a period of quiet – though of course individuals may wish to take it further on their own.
  • I will set up and circulate the materials for the first 2 weeks in advance of the relevant meeting.  Offers to lead subsequent weeks will be very welcome!

As with everything we do, these meetings are very much optional and you don’t need to apologise if you can’t make it or just don’t feel inspired.

Gwyneth 9/2/21