Honest Christianity – blessing to participation in the Kingdom

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We used this blessing at the end of our harvest cafe church this morning. I don’t think I have come across it before and was particularly struck by some of the imagery. It seems earthy and honest:

Be a gardener.
Dig and ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
And seek the deepness.
And water the plants in time.
Continue this labour
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring
Take out with you what you have received here
and carry it to God
as your true worship

Be a gardener, Julian of Norwich
Return Blessings p.117

I thought it was a great way to end a service and I sensed an equipping to get on with doing good. I find gardening, pruning, planting sowing metaphors helpful in exploring how my faith and service can grow, they engage and focus me. I think it is because they are natural, therefore organic to how nature works. What metaphors work for you?

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Go the distance – blessing for summer reconnections

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Perhaps over the summer holidays (Northern hemisphere friends) you will be catching up with friends and family you have not seen for a while or colleagues have been leaving at work. I have said goodbye to 2 people this week and looking forward to catching up with a few folks over +he rest of the summer. This blessing may resonate with many of the places we might meet up, seaside, countryside. Many of us are pretty good at the greetings, perhaps setting aside the embarrassment, after we have had a lovely time with them, this is how we could leave them:

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.
May the road rise to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
May the rains fall softly upon your fields.
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Honest Christianity – a blessing for summer reflection

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We had this blessing in church this morning and I expect many of us are ready for a break and are on or getting ready for our holidays, I thought this would give us a reflection to re inspire us upon our return.

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

Have a wonderful re inspired summer and may we know we are blessed now and blessed for our return.

Honest Christianity – blessing the new

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On Wednesday two Birmingham hospitals, Birmingham Children’s and Birmingham
Women’s, join together to become one hospital Trust. It is our privilege as a chaplaincy team to be asked to do a blessing in our hospital chapel at the end of the day.

One of the challenges is in knowing what to include within the blessing. I know that there has been a lot of hard and good work going on to provide a more effective service to our city and this will continue. But as with every new endeavour there are areas where we hope to both receive and be a blessing. In the lead up to Wednesday I will be praying and reflecting on what it means to ask God’s blessing on this new hospital. Wednesday is the birth of a new hospital, having a blessing as part of it is contributing to the hope for a good birth.

I am currently inspired by this prayer from Mary and Mark Fleeson for a commissioning:
May the blessing of joy be yours today and each new day, the joy of following the call.
May the blessing of peace be yours today, and each new day, the peace of following the call.
May the blessing of confidence be yours today, and each new day, the confidence of embracing the call.
(From A Blessing and Comfort Prayer Book http://www.lindisfarne-scriptorium.co.uk)

Honest Christianity – what we want for those we serve

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I was reading through my (Sally’s) research notebook and found that it also contained some other reflections from my ordination training.  I was reflecting on the idea of what we wish for as a way of articulating blessing and lookng at it now realise that I perhaps don’t say some of these things but they are what I hope for people – in all the places I minister.  For me part of exploring honest Christianity is to identify and name what some of these things are.  This is what I wrote…

I wish you…  The Lord bless you with…

Hope like a mustard seed that grows and reproduces…

Honour in your self-image…

The delight God has in you…

Heart knowledge of being loved…

A sense of gratitude in the little things…

Peace in your heart…

Life in all its fulness…

Seeing the abundance of God’s blessings…

Shalom – a wholeness of life…

A sense of belonging to God’s community…

What should I add to this list?

Wondering Wednesdays – praying for the adorable nephew

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Last Wednesday the adorable nephew stayed with us and we made pancakes, ate pizza and laughed lots!  As well as being his auntie I am also godmother to the adorable nephew.  Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray but when I came across this blessing from John O’Donohue it seemed so apt:

May you recognize in your life the presence,

Power and light of your soul.

May you realize that you are never alone,

That your soul in its brightness and belonging

Connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.

May you have respect for your individuality and difference.

May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,

That you have a special destiny here,

That behind the façade of your life

There is something beautiful and eternal happening.

May you learn to see your self

With the same delight,

Pride and expectation

With which God sees you in every moment. 

Clearly this is a blessing which we can pray for anyone, not just young people.  I have met people near the end of their lives where I would want to pray this and depending on the day it is something I need to remind myself of.  Tiredness can sap perspective and a negative experience can knock self-esteem.  One of my hopes in ministry is that I can mediate something of this delight as so often we can experience something of God through one another.

Reference:  John O’Donohue  Benedictus  London:  Bantam Press, 2007, p127.

A Blessing for Leaders – not just those in the church!

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We often begin our CYM Executive Team meetings with some liturgy, Sam Richards Director of Oxford CYM often brings something creative and apt.  One time it was this blessing from John O’Donohue for leaders or as he calls it, those who have power.  There has been a bit of discussion over recent days over the nature of being a priest today and our politicians constantly provoke debate about what leadership means.  I am blessed in that most of the leaders I know and work with are humble, gracious and seeking to serve and follow Christ.  As we start a new year I want to pray this for them remembering particularly all those who are leaders in places outside of the church as they also need our prayers and grace to live out their Christ given vocation wherever that may be.

A Blessing for One who Holds Power

May the gift of leadership awaken in you as a vocation,

Keep you mindful of the providence that calls you to serve.

As high over the mountains the eagle spreads its wings,

May your perspective be larger than the view from the foothills.

When the way is flat and dull in times of grey endurance,

May your imagination continue to evoke horizons.

When thirst burns in times of drought,

May you be blessed to find the wells.

May you have the wisdom to read time clearly

And know when the seed of change will flourish.

In your heart may there be a sanctuary

For the stillness where clarity is born.

May your work be infused with passion and creativity

And have the wisdom to balance compassion and challenge.

May your soul find the graciousness

To rise above the fester of small mediocrities.

May your power never become a shell

Wherein your heart would silently atrophy.

May you welcome your own vulnerability

As the ground where healing and truth join.

 May integrity of soul be your first ideal,

The source that will guide and bless your work.

Reference:  John O’Donohue  Benedictus – a book of blessings Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers) London  2007 p161.