Sunday, 23 March 2014

Awesome Lent reading

I try to read a Christian book during Lent in order to focus my thinking and prayers because I sometimes think I want to be a better 'conventional' Christian! It would make my life as a Rector's wife so much easier if I could just accept some things without wanting to question all the time, if I could spout Christian doctrine like I really meant it, that I knew my bible better and could quote the relevant verse to support my opinions. However, I know that I am not like that and, perhaps, I never will be - I need to test my understanding and voice my doubts in order to work them through.
This Lent I have read ‘Ten – Why Christianity makes sense’ by John Pritchard and it was a thought- provoking, compelling read – so much so, that I have finished long before Easter.  The chapters are written with ten points - and the chapters do not need to be read in the order they appear (although some obviously follow on). I loved this style as I found I could pick it up at any time and read short sections. The subject matter ranges from ‘Ten things I believe about God’ and ‘Ten things I don’t believe about God’ to ‘Ten ways to enliven your faith’ and ‘Ten values for tomorrow’s Church’. It is relevant and up to date in its thinking. It is realistic about where a person or a church might be. There are practical suggestions for enlivening your faith. I went to the early Book of Common Prayer service this morning with a newfound sense of expectancy, rather than dreading a cold church and resenting the early start.  As John Pritchard says;-
‘ It’s an attitude of the heart, triggered through the mind. I often realize (eventually, when my dull brain has woken up) that when God has gone quiet it’s because I’ve ceased to expect much of him.’

Since the Rector@ 6 has been in this benefice, he has run several courses that have been very well attended. His aim was to get us all to be able to talk about our faith – to each other and so we are able to explain it to those who have no experience of the church. Another member of the ministry team is running the present Lent course and we started with thirty people in attendance - so something is happening here! It’s not a case of “not another Alpha course”! These are opportunities to think about our church, our faith and grow together. Just last week, someone said, “I think about it a lot, but I can’t talk about my faith – I haven’t got the words.” Christians need to be able to talk about their faith as John Pritchard says;-
“It’s been said that the average British churchgoer is as well prepared to meet an aggressive atheist as a boy with a peashooter is to meet a tank.”
Hopefully, our benefice is trying to address this.
There is so much I would like to write about – so just go and read it for yourself. I wonder if you will find it as inspiring as I do. 

“...there are other metaphors that, for me, come much closer to describing the God who whispers in my inner and outer life: God as the Mysterious Laughter I hear in creation; God as the Gentle Persuader who touches me lightly on the shoulder; God as the Aching Beauty who speaks through nature and the arts; God as the Shimmering Presence always just beyond my reach but giving depth to common things.”

Saturday, 8 March 2014

One year anniversary.

It's official - the Rector@6 has been in post one whole year! On March 7th last year - the rectory was full of family who were with us for the collation, induction and installation of my husband to this benefice. I remember the night well, as the Rector@6 had gone ahead and I had to drive my car, full of family, to the church. It was such a foggy night and I couldn't see more than a few metres in front of me as I crawled along the unfamiliar country road. Now I know every bend, narrow spot and pothole on that journey - having had to race back to the rectory, on more than one occasion, when the Rector@6 has found that he has forgotten his sermon or keys!
We marked the anniversay by escaping from the benefice and going to find the sea. It was warm enough to sit outside and have fish and chips, overlooking the empty beach. What contrasting weather to the last few weeks and what a contrast to the rural benefice. Now that our Devon house is let, we will have time to get out and explore the contrasting landscapes of Dorset and we are really looking forward to that.
Here is just a taster of what we have to explore....


Monday, 3 March 2014

Paths blocked while trying to move forward

The countryside here in Dorset is still recovering from the massive storms that we experienced a couple of weeks ago. Much of my dog walking is in woodlands and many of the paths are still blocked by ancient trees that have been uprooted. It makes me think about life in our churches - as we try to move forward, there always seems to be some barrier in the way. It takes creative thinking to find a way around the blockages - and that takes up a lot of time! There have been many sleepless nights in the Rectory as, in turn, one of the benefice churches throws up a problem. We never thought it was going to be easy but life is, perhaps, harder than we anticipated it was going to be. We are both tired and in need of a break in order to gain some perspective and to stop us looking over the fence to see if the grass is greener!

This path was lined with magnificent beech trees but they have sadly suffered in the storms.

In other woods, the chalky subsoil is exposed when the trees fall onto one another, causing a cascading effect through the woods. It reminds us of the need to have firm foundations.