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Posted by Ruth on 17 May 2016

Yesterday, unexpectedly, I was leading an evening of reflecting and looking ahead for a group I am part of on my own (that is, it was the doing it on my own that was unexpected!) Because I was doing it alone, I was working with minimal notes and no real script. And it went ok.

The only rough part came when I said, as I often do, “the thing is, I simply don’t believe in vision”. And, in good part, but predictably, came the question, “but what about the verse “unless there is a vision the people perish”?”

And to that I gave my predictable response; “why is that the only part of the Authorized version people quote; the more accurate translation in contemporary terms says it differently; for example, New International Version “where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” And so the debate goes on.

But it has got me thinking. Because there is a lot about vision in the Bible - it’s just that it is usually disrupting plans, not giving them - Moses seeing the burning bush discovers a call back to what he had thought he had escaped from; Amos visions sent him out as a prophet when that was not his life plan; Ezekiel’s strange vision (as if any vision is not weird!) of wheels and eyes and so on challenges the nation’s sense of itself; Isaiah’s vision in the temple calls him to a new ministry - and then in the New Testament, Mary’s “vision” that we call the annunciation was really not what she had planned, nor was Joseph’s vision in the night. And Peter’s vision of the blanket let down from the roof and the call to eat completely overturned his understanding of what the gospel was, or at least who it was for.

So I need to modify what I say - I believe in vision. But not in finding and implementing a vision. Vision doesn’t confirm our sense of direction. It challenges and redirects us - often uncomfortably.
Visions come as gifts (sort of). Our call is to faithful obedience, and openness to change.

To respond to Pentecost, really….

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Posted by Ruth on 01 May 2016

We had an organ concert here yesterday evening; the Scott Brothers, who play organ piano duets and who also show animations, drawn by Tom Scott, which illuminate the music.

It was a delight; energetic, happy, incredibly skillful, wondrously artistic and sheer good fun.

As a concert, it was dedicated to one of our memebrs who died last year, John Winn, who loved the organ recitals, and who really wanted to see the Scotts come to Bloomsbury. So we were very glad to celebrate his life with this music (we are also planning a memorial service soon) and to welcome the ffamily as part of the audience.

I love the idea of celebrating somebody’s life with such beauty, skill and joy; it was a truly fitting occasion.

And it has made me reflect on how we remember people after they die. I am convinced that ti is very important to have a funeral - a proper time to say that somebody has died, and that we are sad, that we grieve and miss this person - even in the context of our conviciton of life held eternally in love. We miss people when they die, and it is important that that is acknowledged, and that we have a good space to express our own sadness, as well as giving thanks for somebody’s life, and affirming our conviction of love that does not let go.

But there is also a place to celebrate a life - the time to tell the funny stories, recognise and rejoice in achievements, find an all-encompassing story for somebody’s life and their place in the community; memorial services, and memorial concerts are places to do that, and important in the cycle of our times together.

It also seems very important that we do not try and muddle the two. We may be able to do the two things in one event - but they are not the same thing. And if we miss one or the toher, our mourning, and our remembering and thanksgiving is trucnated.

No, it’s not a disaster. There are other things we might do that are far worse, much more damaging and which we need to address.

But that doesn’t mean this is unimportant. So I amgrateful to John’s family for giving us the opportunity to do all that we need to do, properlay and in good order.

And we continue to remember them - and all who mourn the loss of people whom they love -  in our prayers.

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Posted by Ruth on 23 April 2016

Tomorrow, it’s the London marathon.

For many of us, that will mean that we get to go and watch people running. For some of us, it will mean disruption to our travel. For others, it will mean the moment to sponsor a friend or family member who is raising money for something really signifcant.

Among all of these - and all of these may apply to me - I also find it is a day when I am just so impressed at the dedication, commitment and sheer energy of those who take part. Behind every runner is hours of training, giving things up in order to do what has been committed to, spending hours running and other training which might have been spent with family or relaxing, or - something else. There have been significant choices about diet, about where to go on days off, about where to inverst time, money and resources.

Tomorrow, for those of us who can get here, we meet to worship.

As always, I will be struck by the effort, the time, the energy and commitment that people put into being here, doing things, being the church in this place in our generation.

And once again, I will be moved, challenged and quesitoned in myself about how much, if at all, I give my energy and my determination to what I say I believe is the most important thing in who I am; being the person God has called me to be as part of the community to which God has called me. ...

 

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Posted by Ruth on 18 April 2016

We had a terrific concert here on Friday evening - about 75 people turned up to hear some young musicians play a wide variety of music - harp, cello, bells, timpani - and raise money for Save the Children’s work in Syria.

At least, by the end, there were 75.

The concert felt rather like a morning service. People were coming in after things had started - and the final tally of people was much higher than it seemed at the start. Our morning service has a similar pattern. As we share the call to worship, those of us up front are aware that not everybody we expect is there. As we come to the second hymn, the congregation is inexplicably larger….

Much better that way round than seeing it diminsh as the service continues!
But it is one of the things about where we are - and that was certianly the case on Firday might; travelling by public transport means that the timing is not always dependable. One of those who had written one of the three world premiers that we heard on Friday evening arrived as the concert finshed - which was disappointing for all concerned. But the traffic had been very bad, and he had just not made it.

The fact tyhat so many did - and inded do, every Sunday, is therefore, for this reason as well as for so many others, I remain delighted and grateful to all those `who make the journey regularly, with determination and usually, in good time.

But be assured, whenever you arrive, you are welcome!

PS And if you are planning to come to worship bnext Sunday morning, remember it’s the London marathon, and various roads will be affected….

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Posted by Ruth on 12 April 2016

Apologies for being so long since I last blogged; after Easter (hope you were checking our blog at http://www.easter.org.uk ) I was away, and then there were struggles with technology.

We had a church meeting on Sunday, and were thinking about resources; our building (major work to be done over the summer) and our finances (major work needing done, as we think about what we have, what we need and how they might best meet). We reflected together about some of our activities and the resources to carry them out (rotas - and the need to check up when we are responsible for what, and making sure it is done)

And we struggled with technology.

Indeed, the technology has come to symbolise for me all of our reflections about resources and how we use them. When it is all fine, it is there, taken for granted, and makes life move smoothly. When it breaks down I (others are different ) am stuck; I don’t know hwo to solve the issue, and I feel frustrated, edgy and - when it gets very bad! - despairing.

The encouraging thing is that somebody sorted the technology - it took some work, some skill, quite a bit of time and I am grateful that there are those who can do this sort of stuff.

I am hoping that our other issues - making the building more fuinctional, sorting out and increasing the income, and managing the rotas can be approached in the same way; finding the right people, the right skills, the right intention, and the a proper amount of time.

And then of course, there is what it is to face any of this as the people of God; we seek the wuill, purpose and possibility of the Kingdom of God.

So that’s ok then…..

Please join with me. with us, as we pray, as we reflect and as we seek the next part of our life together.

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There’s planning - and then there’s Pentecost by Ruth: Yesterday, unexpectedly, I was leading an evening of reflecting and looking ahead for a group I am part of on my own (that is, it was the doing it on my own that was unexpected!) Because I was doing it… Read more
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