Thursday, 10 August 2017
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
It's not always the case that I find myself in tune with a Bishop on Thought for the Day...but today, the Bishop of Leeds, our former Bishop of Croydon, Nick Baines gave a Pause for Thought on Radio 2 that chimed with what we have planned here for the summer at HT.
Nick's transcript is below if you'd like to read the whole thing, or you can listen to it here.
Nick spoke abut the power of songs - words and music combined - to 'shred our souls' as we listen to songs that convey the whole range of human emotions.
He then turned to the Psalms:
Whether howling with complaint about the injustices in life, or laughing with joy at the wonderful enormity of the cosmos, or weeping alongside those whose lives have been torn apart, or encouraging your mates to stick with it regardless of the hindrances … the whole of life is in there and there’s a song for everyone at every time and in every place.
Over the summer services at Holy Trinity we are looking at some of the Psalms.
On Sundays it is Psalms 61-63: God my Rock (61), God my Fortress (62), God my God (63).
Tomorrow at Rendezvous - our 10am midweek service - we begin a series on 'My Favourite Psalm (and Why)'. Different preachers will say how the psalm they have chosen has been used by God to speak to them at some point in their life - pointing them to God, to hope, to comfort; enabling them to express pain, sorrow, doubt, delight.
Come along and let God put a new song in your mouth!
Monday, 7 August 2017
We also began our sermon series on Psalms 61-63.
Psalm 61 is full of evocative imagery for those who are struggling or weary:
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Where we turn an unpromising pile of metal panels and self-tapping screws into a very useful shed.
The base - see The Games Shed pt 1
We were visited by a garden gnome with home-made cookies...
(Break for a curry)
A satisfying afternoon / evening's work. The doors will go on tomorrow. Thanks, Steve!
Update - the next day...
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
To my old theological college, Oak Hill College, for a '3-day intensive'! Sounds like a physical work-out, but the sessions are set in the classroom and focus on forming 'resilience' in ministry.
Why are some people able to cope with stress, hardship and trauma, and even able to bounce back stronger than before, whilst others are overwhelmed and crushed by similar experiences? Why are some more resilient than others in the face of these kind of pressures? Is 'resilience' a trait that some are born with, or something that all can develop? A strong case can be made for the latter.
Mindfulness is the practice of training the brain to respond in a disciplined way - not to be taken over by events or experiences. Mindfulness can be described as 'being more fully aware of your own experience in the present moment', and the practice of it involves focusing on what you are experiencing as you sit quietly - thoughts, sounds, sensations etc are all noted without following them up.
It has its origin in Buddhism, but was taken up and secularised by clinical psychologists in the 1970's who found that mindfulness practice helped bring relief to those those in chronic pain. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a means of managing the 'stresses' of life in the 21st C.
Most studies don't focus on the benefits of this to the life of a clergyman, but one study with obvious parallels was conducted among members of the US Marines... You can read about it here. The study, and others like it, show that mindfulness clearly has some benefits for both physical and mental health. The brain changes the way it responds and reacts to stress when mindfulness has been practiced, and a mindful person is a more resilient person.
The session ended today with time spent drawing connections between what the secular practitioners of mindfulness are discovering, and what the Bible has always taught as being a wise way to live in God's world. What every Christian who prays and spends time with God knows in their own experience to be true.
Thankfulness is emerging as one of the most beneficial attitudes for health. Thankful people are healthier people. Religiously centred thankfulness is particularly beneficial. (I'm not sure who or what you are thankful to if not to God). Practicing thankfulness in the midst of difficulty has more benefits than the removal of suffering and stress.
Why is being thankful so good for us?
- We are more likely to savour - to dwell on, to recall and retell - positive experiences
- Thankful people are more likely to be content - not constantly seeking new stimulation
- A positive approach makes negative emotions and bittr ness less likely
- Improved sleep is a result
Psychological literature is slowly discovering that what God has always said is true. Spiritual practices work. God is good for you!
Jesus called it 'life in all it's fullness'
If you would like to listen the lecture on resilience (previously given to a ministers conference) click here.
Saturday, 8 July 2017
To the Emirates Stadium in N7 this afternoon for the much anticipated Just One event.
It was billed as an invitation event - i.e. each one bring Just One guest - which made the decision to open with 20 minutes of Hillsong worship an interesting choice. Should we be expecting our non-believing friends to sing a song that repeatedly recites the creed? Hmmm.
The interviews were more guest friendly, including ex-footballer Linvoy Primus, and former Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, who both spoke about personal faith.
The London Community Gospel Choir, Matt Redman and Noel Robinson all played their part in leading us in praise.
The central part of the event was J John explaining passionately the message of John 3:16, pointing us to the identity and authority of Jesus. His talk was clear and offered listeners the chance to respond - and many hundreds did.
I pray that for those who responded to hearing the good news of Jesus today, this encounter with him will be as significant and life changing as was a similar experience for me 33 years ago in Derby Assembly Rooms. Best 50p I ever spent...