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Through the Window in Lent.

Week Four: Clouds

We do rather well for sunsets from both the front and back bedroom windows of our house. We often call to one another – “come and look at the sunset”. Depending on the cloud cover, the normally white grey or black clouds take on such beautiful colours as the sun drops below the western horizon.


Meditation


As I look at a sunset, I can’t help but bring to mind words from a hymn: “The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren ‘neath the western sky”. People I’ve never heard of, but real people with real lives are ever waking to a new day, as the sun goes on setting and rising. And I somehow catch a vision of the family of our world of which I am apart. People living in a multitude of different situations and circumstances, but all part of who we all are, part of who I am. And I am humbled by the privilege of belonging.

Something to think about…


Might the setting sun help you bring to mind people far away?

Can you find anything through your window that helps you a feel part of something greater?

How about taking pictures of different cloud formations when they catch your imagination and express different things to you?

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Baking Through Lent: Week Three: The Last Supper

I wonder if there is a meal that you have had in the past which was really special…a time you spent with people you really care about? I guess recently we haven’t been able to meet in each other’s houses, never mind have friends’ round for a meal, so maybe this meal took place some time ago…maybe on a special occasion like a birthday or a family celebration like a wedding or Christening or even a Christmas dinner? I wonder if you can remember what you ate?


This week in our ‘Baking through Lent’ series, we are remembering a really special meal that Jesus shared with his friends in the last week of his life….


It was Passover in Jerusalem. Passover was a special festival when the Jews gathered together to remember and gave thanks to God for delivering them from slavery in Egypt. They prepared a special meal to remind them of their experiences in slavery…they had special dishes such as a dish of bitter herbs to remind them of the pain of slavery…flat hard cracker type bread called matzah because the night that God rescued them they had to leave suddenly and so did not have time to prepare and let the bread rise in the usual way… they also had a cup of salt water to remind them of the tears they shed whilst in slavery and a dish made of apple and nuts called haroset (an applesauce-like mixture made with wine, nuts, apples, etc.) to remind them of the mortar used by the Jews in Egypt when as slaves they were forced to make bricks to build huge temples and pyramids. Every year the Jews would eat this special meal to remember and thank God for helping them.


That last week of his life, Jesus and his friends travelled to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. They wanted to eat the Passover meal together. Jesus told Peter and John to go into Jerusalem and get things ready for the meal. Peter and John did exactly as Jesus said and, that night, they met to share the Passover Meal together. When they ate the meal, they remembered how God had taken care of his people all those years ago. How God had set them free.


Jesus and the apostles followed all of the special instructions for the meal. They ate bitter herbs to help them remember the bad times that the Jews had had when they were slaves in Egypt. They ate roasted lamb and they drank grape wine and ate unleavened bread.


Then Jesus did something very special. He took the bread and broke it in to pieces and gave it to his friends and said,

This is my body which is given for you. Keep on doing this to remember me


At the end of the meal Jesus took a cup of wine and said,

This is my blood which is shed for you. Do this to remember me


The disciples wondered what he meant. Then Jesus told them something that was very sad. He said,

Someone here who is sharing this meal with us is not really my friend. He is going to get me into trouble. He will betray me to those who want to take my life.


Only Jesus and Judas knew who Jesus was talking about and it was at that point that Judas left Jesus to put his plan into action.


Today, for our baking project, we are going to make something a bit like the dish of sweet apples called “haroset” that Jesus and his Disciples would have shared. We are going to make apple blondies which are a bit like pale brownies. To make this you will need the following ingredients:,


Apple Blondies


1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3-4 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
You can add a handful of some chopped walnuts too…but that’s up to you!

Set the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
o In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well until a thick batter forms. You may need to add a bit more flour or a bit more syrup to get the right firm consistency.
o Transfer to the loaf tin and sprinkle on the brown sugar.
o Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden.
o Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
o Blondies are meant to be fudgy in the middle, which looks a bit like the mud-cement, and you can cut them up to look like bricks.


I’d love to see pictures of your apple blondies. Do paste them on this Facebook feed.


Whilst you eat your apple blondies, I wonder if you can think of any ways that God has helped you?

Can you think of any struggles or disappointments that you’ve managed to get over and rise above?

Perhaps you could spend some time thanking God for looking after you.

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Through the window in Lent: Week three: Flowers

Most days we walk up and down our garden path for at least 20 minutes. In the summer months we were passing close by a reddish pink hydrangea bush.

Meditation


Each hydrangea flower head consists of lots of small flowers, each of which has at its centre what appears to be another smaller flower. Each individual element is lovely in its own right, but together they make an even more lovely whole – and one that attracts the birds and bees.

This year we have depended on family and friends for shopping and prescriptions, emails, phone calls, photos of things we can’t visit for ourselves, and unexpected treats. All of which we are very grateful for in their own right. Added together they are enriching our lives in a wonderful way.
In the care and generosity we are being shown we recognize and feel the gracious love of God.

Something to think about…

  • Have you had to depend on others during this past year?
  • Do you find it difficult to depend on others?
  • Are you able to ‘lean on’ God in challenging times?
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Through the Window in Lent: Week Two: Birds


During the first lockdown we put birdfeeders in our tree. We were, and are amazed at how many birds come to the tree: greenfinches goldfinches, great tits, chaffinches, bullfinches, robins. Then collared doves, dunnocks and pigeons come to feed on the ground under the tree where seed has been dropped by the greenfinches (messy eaters!).

Meditation

The birds have become quite precious to us. We feel a responsibility for them – making sure there is always food. We see how they live alongside one another including different types. There is an occasional scrap but it’s quite rare. Different types will feed together on the same feeder They will cue up on the branches waiting for their turn on the feeders.
I can’t help remembering that Jesus is reported as saying that God’s dream for us all is like a tree where all the birds of the air make their home in its branches.

Something to think about...

Can you see anything from your window that means a lot to you?

Can you see anything from your window to encourage you about our human relationships?

What keeps your hope for a better world alive?

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Through the Window

Many of us have spent a lot of time looking through windows over this past year. The restrictions on our freedom have encouraged us all to spend more time being attentive to the natural world. And many of us have found that our sense of being more attuned to the natural world has nourished and sustained us.
Each week during Lent, Margaret and Chris Goddard, who have been shielding since last February, share some of the things that they have noticed through their window and how it has helped and continues to help sustain them.


We, Chris and Margaret, have been shielding since the beginning of March last year. Apart from driving to a ‘safe place’ to walk a couple of times a week, when we are able to, we spend some of our time walking in the garden or enjoying it through the window. We are fortunate to have two small trees in both front and back gardens, some shrubs, flowering plants, and a bird box. We find we are valuing much more highly the wealth of plant and wildlife that we can see through our window. These five reflections give something of our experiencing of shielding.

Week one: Trees
If you have a tree outside your window stand or sit and look. If there is not one where you can see it, you can use the picture at the top, or any other picture you can find, or imagine a tree that you know.
We have a magnolia tree in our garden. In spring it produces white star-like flowers. It does not look much at the moment, but it is covered in buds.

Meditation

Our tree gives me hope: hope on three counts.
Hope because, in time, the buds will cast their protective silky cases and burst out into beautiful flowers, giving us real pleasure.
Hope because the coronavirus appears to be being brought under control, and so meeting with family and friends and enjoying their company, in the flesh, becomes much more likely.
Hope because the season of Spring points us to the new life when the whole of creation, and relationships within it, will become good, just as God intended.

Something to think about…


What do you hope for in the near future?
What do you hope society will be like a few years from now?
What/who do you place your hopes in?

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Morning Prayer on 25th October

The world now is too dangerous and too beautiful
for anything but love.
May your eyes be so blessed you see God in everyone.
Your ears, so you hear the cry of the poor.
May your hands be so blessed
that everything you touch is a sacrament.
Your lips, so you speak nothing but the truth with love.
May your feet be so blessed you run to those who need you.
And may your heart be so opened, so set on fire,
that your love, your love, changes everything.
And may the blessing of the God who created you, loves you,
and sustains you, be with you now and always.
May it be so. Amen

A Prayer of Blessing from the Black Rock Prayer book

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Consider the sparrows …

Yesterday, was a momentous day in our household. Brandishing a pair of garden shears, as the evening sunshine dappled the back garden with light, I shaved my son’s curly locks off! 

Over the last few weeks of lockdown, my son’s hair has been growing at an alarming rate…not downwards but upwards and outwards in tight ringlets! It has been driving him potty! But with all the hairdressers closed, it seemed as if he had little choice but to put up with it. Latterly, he’s taken to wearing a ‘man bun’…quite the thing I’m told. 

The lack of hairdressers is just one of the lesser trials of lockdown…a much more significant one is the impact of the shutdown on our economy. Volunteering at the local Foodbank, I’m aware that demand for emergency food parcels has increased dramatically as those on zero hour contracts have been laid off and the furloughed workers, getting 80% of an already insufficient salary, struggle to manage to feed themselves and their families. Simultaneously, the foodbank has also seen a rapid decrease in stocks as many of their former food collection points have been closed. 

So it was that Joel had the bright idea of raising awareness of the challenges facing those on less than sufficient income and at the same time raising money for food bank….One night, over tea, he casually mentioned that he was going to raise money for foodbank by getting people to sponsor him for shaving all his hair off! I admit, initially I was sceptical….I wondered if people were beginning to experience compassion fatigue…so many good and worthy causes…so many needs. Where do you even begin to reach out to help your neighbour at a time of global challenge? 

But something has been happening to our global conscience…almost imperceptibly, many of our former values and measures of worth are being subtly challenged….As large sections of our community have to live on reduced means, we are becoming aware of a need for a basic income that isn’t about ensuring survival but enabling people to thrive….in a time when we are more aware than ever of those who service our society, those who ensure that many of our basic needs are met, we are now beginning to re-value and applaud their formerly unacknowledged efforts…to name just a few…residential care workers, refuse collectors, all those working in the food retail industry, health care workers… 

As Rowan Williams said recently, there is a fresh realisation that my happiness and security is intricately and inextricably linked to another person’s happiness and security. The South African word ‘ubuntu,’ summarises this beautifully…’I am because you are.’ 

Given these anxious times, I have been thinking of late about Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount…in one section of his address, he counsels us not to worry…look at the birds of the air; they neither reap nor sow nor store in barns, he says, but their heavenly father feeds them.’ 

What is Jesus getting at here? Is he advocating that we just abrogate all personal and social responsibility and rely on heavenly handouts? Surely, he would have come across those in his society who fell through the net, if there were even such a thing as a safety net back then. 

Throughout the sermon on the mount, Jesus is pointing out the many subtle and obvious ways in which our lives are bound up in each other…a healthy community is one which realises that we are part of an intricate web of life in which each part is interdependent, and as we give and sow and reap so we receive a full and wholly sufficient measure in return, pressed down and running over.  

Many are hoping that the lessons we are learning in this time of global challenge will be received and applied as we emerge from life in lockdown. May we realise afresh each other’s true worth, may we wake up to the realisation that the natural world is not a treasure trove to be plundered at will but a living organism of which we are only a part and that it is incumbent on us to  ensure that our footprint is a light one, careful of the needs and requirements of the rest of the natural world.  

As I was sitting at my desk overlooking the garden at work this morning, I noticed the birds on the grass…they seemed to have their beaks full of a wool like substance…on closer inspection it transpired that they were busy collecting my son’s curly locks to line their nests…. 

‘Consider the sparrow…..’