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Posted by Ruth on 23 July 2016

We have had a wedding at church today. For a glimpse, see here https://vine.co/v/5mvLzi7Hh9V

And, once the celebration inside finished, it moved outside - drummers and all. The drummers were on the doorstep, the guests were all around, and others stopped to see what was going on.
Drumming on the doorstep

It was wonderful, joyful, beautiful and celebratory. We loved it.

And of course, a wedding is a public event because marriage is a public matter; to be married has implications in our public life.

As has our faith. Our faith is not just a private thing - between me and my God, or even between us and our God. One of the significant things about our way of being church, our identity as Bloomsbury, is that we seek ways to live, and practice our faith in was that have reality in a public sphere.

And this wonderful wedding celebration has raised all sorts of questions for me about going public. Our practice of baptism is - has the capacity to be - very public. as is our practice of communion. And much that we do and commit ourselves to has significant public significant.

But how do we cross that doorstep. Even with our glass doors, the doorway to the church can be quite forbidding and hard to pass through. Watching the drummers move beyond the door and everybody follow them has made me wonder, how do we learn to do that as a congregation - to move outside with the things we know to be significant - like this document Continuing_Statement_from_West_End_Church_Leaders.docx

We have on occasions moved beyond the doors to say things that matter to us - one of the latest was when the youngsters shared Easter greetings with chalk on the doorstep.Easter Greetings

So, what else might we do to moe beyond the doors, and tell our story….?

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Posted by Ruth on 09 July 2016

Once a month, ministers in our area meet for breakfast. We have good breakfasts, interesting conversations,and gain a lot from the meetings.

We met on Wednesday, and central in our conversation was discussion around how we wanted to respond to the responses to the referendum result.

This is what we came up with.

Because we do not live in a Kingdom shaped by exclusion, by mutual suspicion, by discrimination on the basis of colour, language, ethnicity, gender, orientation or wealth.

Because the Kingdom of God is open to all, and we are committed to living it into being.

Please use this in whatever way is helpful

Statement_from_West_End_Church_Leaders.docx

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Posted by Ruth on 03 July 2016

We are doing lots of work on the walls of the building at the moment. Many years in the planning (that is, in getting planning permissions!!) we are finally doing various bits of work to deal with water damage, with damp and with some general refurbishment and upgrading of our downstairs Friendship Centre.

It has some significant impact on our normal ways of doing things; most notably, the kitchen is out of use for about 15 weeks, and so we are not having lunch together on a Sunday; a startlingly uncomfortable experience. Suddenly, we hardly know who we are….

However, it will not be forever, and we have already started the conversation about what things will look like when the rooms are open again - what it is we value, what it is we miss, what it is we think we are doing. If you are not yet part of this conversation, please join in; there will be a variety of ways to join in.

The changing nature of Sundays, and our pattern of meeting ought to be reflected on website.

However, there we meet the unchangingness of things. There appears to be a conspiracy of the little people who live inside the computers (if that’s not a true description of it, please don;t confuse me by correcting me!)  to prevent us changing the page that describes our Sundays. What is there is currently out of date. But as of today we are yet unable to change it. Which is distinctly frustrating! We have not given up hope yet….. however, we are running out of ingenuity.

But there is also the changingness of things; we are very near the launch of our new website. Watch this space. It is almost ready, and will be fully up to date in news, and information.

It feels very significant this week to be thinking about things changing and not changing, and the difficulties in both; the things we want to change and can’t, the things that have to change because of other circumstances, the things that are changing but not fast enough…. here is a description of what the UK feels like this week. The decision has been made - and, things will change. But in what direction? How fast? What will it feel like and is it what we are expecting? And what about the stuff that seems stuck?

And it is not just our relationship to the EU. It is our life in the Kingdom; the life we long for, the coming of the blessing that we pray for, seek and work towards. Sometimes it seems in grasp, and sometimes it is so far away. Sometimes, we know exactly what it will look like and can see it appearing - and other times we are not at all sure what we are seeking. And all too often, our main experience is that it is all so far away.

But we keep going. For, the promise is that the Kingdom will come, and our prayer is that it will come in our prayers and our lives. We see the glimpses and we live in the now and not yet; the Kingdom is here in Jesus, and it is not yet here, as we live towards it.

And to that we hold. Even when the website is not (yet!) up to date.

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Posted by Ruth on 21 June 2016

Last week was our anniversary. And a lovely occasion it was.

And this week, we celebrated the 80th birthday of our Minister Emerita, Barbara. Another lovely occasion. Barbara spoke in the service (https://soundcloud.com/bloomsbury-1/2016-06-19-am-simon-woodmanmp3#t=11:38 ) and we sang her favourite hymn. Then we shared lunch, and in the afternoon, what felt like hundreds of people (probably somewhere just over 100) gathered in the Friendship Centre to catch up, sing happy birthday, eat cake (lots and lots of cake) and celebrate.

It was a fantastic occasion. People came back who had grown up at church, or had been part of the congregation at one point, and have now moved away, people met up and caught up who don’t get enough time to be together, there was laughter and memory and joy. An unbelievably HUGE thank you to all those who made it work; the catering was a triumph, the ballons were wonderful, and the invtations a work of art. And a HUGE thank you to all those who came; you made it very special.

In one way, this was not what church is about; we didn’t talk about theology, we didn’t pray, we didn’t change the world.

Except, of course, we did.

In the midst of what has been a deeply sad, frightening and at times unbearable week, in the face of despair, and the bitter, angry campaigning that is going on, we celebrated, affirmed good relationships. There is place for lament in the face of what is going on - we ought to be taking it more seriously. There is a place for righteous challenge to the lies and scaremongering that is coming from both sides in the current campaign.

But we can get caught in such dark places, and get sucked into despair and anger when we spend too long dealing with it.

So, if is also good to remember joy, friendship, good food, laughter and happy times.

It may not change the world - but it changes us, and then we can make a difference; of such is the Kingdom built.

So, thank you Barbara, again, for leading us into service and joy.

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Posted by Ruth on 13 June 2016

Whoops - a bit late this week; sorry (if anybody noticed!) Saturday, when I usaully write the blog, got swallowed up with other stuff.

And yesterday, when I catch up if I miss Saturday, was Anniversary and AGM.

It’s an odd day, Anniversary. We had some lovely greetings (thank you Ekklesia and Crown Court in particular!) wishing us “happy birthday” - gladly received. But it’s not actually our birthday. A bit like the Queen (and if we’d known all that was going to have been happening on June 12th when we started making plans, we’d have chosen another day!) we don’t celebrate our birthday on our birthday.

Anniversary service these days generally happens sometime about the early summer - but the date is determined by when our invited preacher can come. The actual date of our founding is March (or is it - it depends on what we mean by founding…!) And over the years, our Anniversary service has wandered about.

But we do celebrate it.

And what are we celebrating…the faithfulness of God for another year, and the faithfulness of God’s people. These are important things to celebrate. When the world is grim - and it is, as we read news from Orlando, from The Jungle in Calais, from Syria - when we read about brothers and sisters dying, being exiled, harmed, persecuted for their faith, when we read about hate crimes being perpetrated in the name of faith…in the face of all that, it matters to say that God is faithful and God is good. And that there are people of faith who try to live love and hope and life into being. We fail, and we are compromised, and we get it horribly wrong because we don’t see well enough - either our world, or the love of God. But the faithfulness of God is unchanging.

Yesterday, Rev Dr Sam Wells preached for our Anniversary service. We were glad to welcome him (and hope he might come back sometime!) Leading us into encounter with the story of the three young men in the furnace during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he would not let us escape their amazing statement of faith…
If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan 3;17-18)

Our God will save us - but even if not…..

Can we dare to live this, in our world as it is, not as we want it to be, pretend it is, insist it should be; will we live in the presence of God, even if the presence of God is not the way we want it to be?

There is a call to discover and to honur the faithfulness of God for the coming year. ...

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A wedding! And going public… by Ruth: We have had a wedding at church today. For a glimpse, see here https://vine.co/v/5mvLzi7Hh9V And, once the celebration inside finished, it moved outside - drummers… Read more
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