Creation Tide

I wonder how many people realise that this month has been the season of Creation or ‘Creation tide’ the time of year when 2.2 billion Christians are invited to pray or care for creation, Starting on the 1st September, The world day of Prayer for Creation or Creation day through to 4th October, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi (author of the Canticle of the Creatures in the 13th Century) that some western traditions observe.

Picture of Chris Burt TalkingDuring Creation Time at TRINITY there have been two bring and share LOAF (food that is Local, organic, animal friendly and fairly traded) lunches giving us the opportunity to think and pray for creation whilst enjoying food and fellowship, Martin Pett has spoken to the LINK group about the work of the TRINITY Creation Care team, and as part of the Connect weekend Chris Burt took us on a fascinating tour of the Churchyard at TRINITY South Malling. He told us he was currently half way through the annual hay cut. Hay cutting is important to keep the churchyard under control, but it is also vital to leave some areas of long grass for God’s creatures to live in. Hay is cut and turned into compost, which is then spread on the grass, encouraging it to grow at an even faster rate! It almost goes without saying that Chris is a busy man! Chris told us about the plant Yellow

Rattle, which is nature’s way of keeping the grass down. Yellow rattle fastens onto the grass root and stops it growing, allowing more room for wild flowers.
Chris said that in the last eight years at the Picture of Everyone Enjoying Chris Burt's Talkchurchyard, this year has been the most prolific for wild flowers, but orchids prove elusive! Wildlfowers like poor soil, so the less grass the better. Chris said that he has bags of grass compost, but sadly he is not allowed to give them to the people that own the field next door, as they have horses and they are concerned about poisonous ragwort getting into the mix.

Next we looked at the area of the church designated to mason bees, so called because they usually nest in brick walls. They are known for being the best Home for Mason Beespollinators, and are solitary in the main and non-aggressive, so often sought after. The males do gather, however, in mating season for the female. Once fertilised, the female builds a nesting ‘tube’, where she lays eggs. The egg furthest from the edge of the tube hatches first, and the hatchling literally taps either the nest wall or the egg of the next one along, so they all hatch out.

There are plenty of other visitors as well: slow worms, a five foot grass snake, glow worms, and bigger creatures like the resident fox, who does a circuit of the churchyard, and kestrels and sparrowhawks. The female kestrel who followed Chris about one time was left a juicy trail of rodents etc. as Chris went about unearthing wildlife! Lastly Chris talked about ladybirds and how the invasive Harlequin beetle, which has been introduced is fast taking over, eating ladybird larvae and beetles.

Seeing a slow worm and being in the churchyard environment for this lovely talk really was experiencing God’s creation.

Movement of Love

Some of you may have seen on the news sheet that I have been part of starting a campaign called ‘Movement of Love’. A few of you have asked me what it’s all about so this post should tell you a bit more, and I hope inspire you to join in.

Like many, earlier this year, I was struggling to come to terms with news stories of increased levels of hate and anger in our nation. It was around this time that God reminded me of a phrase he had given me a year before: Movement of Love, and I felt him encouraging me to do something with that phrase, to gather like minded people and to encourage others to be part of a movement of love to impact our nation. I had a choice in whether to despair, or in fact, to hope.
MoL_circle quoteThe message of God is that love is abundant, extravagant and beyond expectations. Our aim, at Movement of Love, is to see more of this and less hate and bad feeling. So, the campaign was set up for people of all faiths or none, for anyone who wants to be a part of a movement of love in our nation and we hope that others will continue to join us and pledge to have an attitude of love like this.

Of course in principal it sounds great, but it isn’t always easy, even as Christians. Augustine of Hippo (4th Century Bishop and theologian) said hundreds of years ago that he was:

entangled in a love of this present age, of temporal things, that is, and is far from loving God and his neighbour as scripture prescribes.

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on how God wants you to live your life, even if you are destined for Sainthood like Augustine! So, are we too busy loving the things of this age to love those around us as the bible tells us to? (Matt 22:39)

love1cor_MoLv2JPGChristianity is of course already a Movement of Love – love is our foundation – but so often, as individuals and as the church, we don’t display that love as actively as we might. So Movement of Love is a reminder to us and an encouragement to be that loving presence wherever we are. And let’s face it, there is plenty of opportunity in our communities to do that – thousands of people struggle daily with loneliness for example; and what about those with depression or mental illness, often suffering alone? or have we considered the homeless man huddled on our street corner; the family whose home has been burgled; those surviving by visiting a foodbank each week?

LOVE_quote3WilkersonJPGWe are commanded to love people. Regardless of race, religion, age, sex, whether they are in church or not, we just need to love people. I think that is perhaps the greatest witness to our faith, to demonstrate the love that God first showed to us.

And that’s what Movement of Love is all about, sharing some love with those around us, in the small things and the large. It’s for individuals but also for us corporately as the church, or perhaps as a business, a school, an organisation. We are asking what can you do to be a loving presence in your community? And I hope that as TRINITY, together we can really engage with what this means for us here in Lewes.

Want to know more? Check out: www.facebook.com/movementoflove2016 or Twitter @movementoflove or chat to Jules…

New Wine 2016

New-Wine-National-Gathering-1We were part of a small group of people from TRINITY who attended week two of New Wine, a Christian festival held in Shepton Mallet each summer. We camped but had the privilege of the facilities of a wonderful mobile home.

For us, the main joy was soaking in God’s presence and learning more about cultivating a love affair with Jesus. We spent a lot of the week in the Hungry venue, which was a quieter, more meditative space than some of the other events on offer, although we also enjoyed the amazing corporate worship with thousands of others in the main arena.

song-of-songsOne of the speakers, Charlie Cleverly, has written a commentary on the Song of Songs, and I have really been enjoying reading this. Christianity is much more than a religion – it is an intense personal relationship with our Maker and Redeemer. It is being drawn into the vortex of love, servanthood and mutual adoration which exists between the three persons of the Godhead, with each person acting as servant and lover to the other two. The Holy Spirit always points to Jesus, sublimating himself, like a spotlight illuminating Jesus. We see Jesus on earth always subservient to His Heavenly Father, always looking and pointing to what the Father is doing. Likewise, the Father’s voice comes from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus acts as the divine lover, with an intense desire to be in close relationship with His bride. Our separation from God at the fall meant that we could no longer walk with God in the cool of the evening, but the sacrifice of love on the cross means that we have been reunited with Christ, and we who were far off have been brought near. Lovers have a desire for closeness and intimacy; this is Christ’s desire for His relationship with us. However, we are ever wayward lovers: pursuing lesser gods and desires that glitter but lead only to death and separation from Christ.

BelovedWe need to create an inner temple where we commune with our lover; a space – in our minds and in our activities devoted to seeking the one our hearts desire; seeking him in the pages of scripture, in our acts of public worship and private prayer; cultivating a meekness of Spirit and purity of mind that transforms us into the beautiful lovers that Christ requires. Slowly our ugly sin-filled selves are transformed by being in the presence of the one who is altogether beautiful, to be more like our wonderful Jesus who we love and adore.

Once we have tasted and seen that the Lord is indeed good, we share all the desires that Christ has for his world. We want to share the relationship which we have; to make our love affair known. As we worship the king we want to increase the kingdom, to bring heaven down to earth, and point others to the heaven of love which is loving unity with Christ.

Love & Humility

Square logoPicture over one hundred children screaming for one of a small group of adults to be unwillingly hauled up in front of them and soaked with water.

It sounds like some sort of Lord of the Flies social-experiment-gone-wrong. In actual fact, this was the daily morning routine for the participants of TRINITY holiday club, this year dramatically entitled Escape from the Pyramid of Doom…and what a lot of fun it was. The daily activity to which this refers is the Great Balloon Sacrifice which is an opportunity for the children to nominate leaders and then, following a shout-off, for one of those leaders to have a balloon filled with water popped over his or her head. It is one of the highlights of the club and, as days go by, the plotting to nominate particular leaders becomes more and more Machiavellian until by Friday children were waving pre-made banners in order to canvass support for their leader of choice.

It would be easy to claim that this event somehow aims to highlight the sacrifice of Jesus in some way, but that would be dishonest; there is nothing more to it than the friendly ritual humiliation of the adults with whom the children particularly bond. For, make no mistake about it, this is about love: the most popular leaders are the ones dragged to the front which is why the organisers and up-front leaders always suffer, as do the teen helpers, and woe betide any leader with a child or sibling attending! But, what is in it for the adults? Why do so many children become helpers at the club once they are no longer old enough to attend? Why do so many people help out year after year? Do we have a higher than average number of masochists in our congregation?

loveThis too is about love. Love of our town, love of young people, and love of Jesus. Getting to know a group of under elevens, making crepe paper mummies, singing action songs and running around the churchyard are all rewarding experiences in themselves, but it is difficult to imagine a collection of thirteen to eighty-seven-year-olds volunteering annually just for the pleasure of getting a custard pie in the face. What made it worthwhile was seeing the hands in the air when our youth minister asked if anyone had made Jesus their friend for the first time. We know what it is to have the love, guidance and friendship of Jesus in our lives. And the daily difference it makes is one we should be desperate to pass on to everyone, no matter their age.

Jesus did not dismiss children as incapable of trusting him and his message. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke recount stories of Jesus’s interaction with children and the lessons he teaches us from them. In Mark 9 v 34 to 37 the disciples are arguing about who amongst them is the greatest and Jesus uses a child as a way of identifying humility in a follower: he says “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my nhumilityame welcomes me”. It is impossible to care too much about your pride when spending time with children so how we relate to children becomes symbolic of how we relate to everyone. If, as Christians we cannot enjoy some embarrassment by getting covered in tinned spaghetti, water or shaving foam for the sake of showing children the love of God, then how can we expect to show humility and love to adults who are far more difficult and frustrating in their behaviour?

Helping at holiday club shows that there is no place for pride in Christian relationships; the young people recognised it and welcomed it. The challenge now is to show that humility to everyone else.

 

For more examples of Jesus’s interaction with children try Matthew 19:13-14, Matthew 18:1-14 and Mark 10:13-16

 

Kirsty Stannard