POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Does anyone remember Robert Lindsay as Wolfie in “Citizen Smith”?

It was a TV series at the end of the 70s; Wolfie was the self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front (the TPF, merely a small bunch of his friends), the goals of which were “Power to the People” and “Freedom for Tooting”. He was, in fact, a bit of a loser, who did not very much to reach these goals!

I’ve been starting to bring my own “Power(points) to the people” as I’ve been putting together Power Point Presentations to go on t’internet before our Church services. A mixture of images, Bible verses, and quiet music, lasting about 7 or 8 minutes, we hope these will (a) tell people that they’ve logged onto the right place and (b) help people to settle into a more worshipful frame of mind. Otherwise there is slightly inane “chat” on the Chat function. It developed out of my Good Friday meditatative service – basically a PPP with music, readings, pictures and poems. It was well received; and gave me a bit of confidence. I’ve been exploring the “Design” settings, and the “add video” options, and I’ve had fun putting them together. I think I’ll be quite sorry (in a very small way) when we go back to “real” church, and I won’t get the opportunity to do them again!

But I wonder if, as we’re so spread out as a congregation, whether a mid-week Zoom meditative service – basically a PPP that someone has put together (me! me!) would be welcome. I’d enjoy doing that, I think. I shall suggest it, I think.

Our Zoom Church meetings have been going well – they’re not very technical or wizzy; you can’t see the speaker (so I may try to put together a PPP for when I’m giving the sermon next week, if I feel brave enough!!), but they are something that keeps us all worshipping together. And when we unmute, and switch on our cameras for “coffee time” afterwards, it’s chaotic but good to see everyone!

If you’d like to join us, let me know in the comments, and I can give you the link for Sunday.

Poems VIII (and a picture too)

I hadn’t envisaged my “Poems” series going any further than last week, but some of you have sent me poems – thank you – and others have mentioned poems in the comments section. So I will share those too, but I’d like to share a poem and a picture, both of which were on FB

This poem is beautiful, and captures the feeling of this “Locked Down Easter” perfectly. I won’t post all of it, but I urge you to click on the link to read it.

EASTER 2020

by Malcom Guite

And where is Jesus, this strange Easter day?

Not lost in our locked churches, anymore

Than he was sealed in that dark sepulchre….

 

The other is this powerful painting that was also posted (follow the link to see it)

Good Friday 2020′ by Polish Jesuit, Vyacheslav Okun

An interesting debate (or rather, couple of comments) followed the posting of this painting

A: What so many people do not realse realise is that even of there was a state of the art resus team at the foot of the cross….. he was DEAD!!!!!! There is absolutely no dispute about that…. what happened next? Aaaaahhhhhhh that’s question that so many people want an answer…. but if they read the book!!!!

B: that’s really interesting take on the picture. I took it completely differently that the medics were ‘being Jesus ‘ and Jesus was all of the people who were sick and dying from this virus

What’s your take on it? I think I saw it more like the second commentator – Jesus suffering as those who suffer from the Covid-19, and the medics as those sorrowing friends who took Jesus from the cross, little understanding that there is more to Life than death.

Poems VI

 

EASTER SATURDAY

Elizabeth Rooney

A curiously empty day,
As if the world’s life
Had gone underground.
The April sun
Warming dry grass
Makes pale spring promises
But nothing comes to pass.

Anger
Relaxes into despair
As we remember our helplessness,
Remember him hanging there.
We have purchased the spices
But they must wait for tomorrow.
We shall keep today
For emptiness
And sorrow.

Poems V

This one wasn’t one that was sent to me, but one I found when looking for resources for my Good Friday service…

Here it is, on Good Friday (with apologies that I cannot get the breaks in the right places.):

A QUIET ROAR

 

one

 

he lays his left hand along the beam

hand that moulded clay into fluttering birds

hand that cupped wild flowers to learn their peace
hand that stroked the bee’s soft back and touched death’s sting

two

 

he stretches his right hand across the grain
hand that blessed a dead corpse quick
hand that smeared blind spittle into sight
hand that burgeoned bread, smoothed down the rumpled sea
three

he stands laborious

 

sagging, split, homo erectus,
poor bare forked thing
hung on nails like a picture
he is not beautiful
blood sweats from him in rain
far off where we are lost, desert dry
thunder begins its quiet roar
the first drops startle us alive
the cloud no bigger
than a man’s hand
Veronica Zundel 


	

A thought for today

Can I direct you to this sermon, or thought, or whatever, from Bishop-in-Charge, Mark Edington. It’s a longish read, but it’s worth it.

Unexpected Graves

Poor Mark and his wife Judy, who live in Paris, have been caught out by the closure of flights, and are in Massachussets (sp?) I think they have family and friends there, but all the same, it must be hard for him to be separated from his flock at this time! He joined us for our Zoom service (which I think was very generous of him, considering it was about 4.30 am where he was!) He was going on to join in other online services from the Convocation.

We are truly blessed to have him as our Bishop in Charge.

by Jorge Cocco

Caught Up (kinda!)

Do you know, I’m not sure how helpful it is for me, or for anyone else, to read about how I failed at completing 40 Acts this year, so I think I’m going to stop blogging about what I haven’t done, but rather briefly think about what I have done. If anyone wants to follow 40 Acts, the blog is here so you can read it for yourself.

For ACT 13 I posted some Ninja notes through random post boxes, some with Bible verses, others with encouraging sayings

For ACT 15 I tried to pray whenever I felt prompted…which wasn’t very often, I must admit!!

For ACT 16 I promised our neighbours, who are facing the closure oftheir restaurant, that we would support them in their takeaway business. So far, that’s meant three pizzas and two slices of gorgeous Chocolate-Apricot gateau! Not exactly a hardship! We are also committed to shopping locally – partly through necessity, but also to support small businesses through this difficult time.

For ACT 18 we are driving much less…!!! (Though not necessarily by choice) Isn’t it amazing how Venice is so clean when the everyday traffic stops

 

For ACT 23 I am trying hard not to moan through this confinement period: we know it is for the good of our health, and the good of others’; we have work to do and so can earn money; we are able to go out for a short walk in the beautiful countryside round here (1 km from our homes, no more than 1 hour, go alone); there are supplies in the local supermarket & other shops. We are lucky. I know there are people confined in small appartments with children, trying to work, or unable to work, worried about where money is going to come from…so definitely NO COMPLAINING!!1

For ACT 24 I’m telling you about LEND WITH CARE which is, in my opinion a great charity to support. Now I give a £15 voucher to any young couple I know getting married (!) so they can choose who to support on a new venture, as they start on their new life together. And it’s the gift that keeps giving: as you are paid back, you can lend to another entrepreneur. With an outlay of my initial £15 I think I have supported 4 or 5 people starting new businesses.

There! I’ve caught up in a more positive way!!

LUNCH TIME!!

I’ve got three lessons this afternoon, and quite honestly I’d rather just have a nap…

Catching Up

As I said, 40 Acts has been a disaster for me. I started off less enthusiastically than in other years, and quickly lost motivation, as the news of the pandemic became more serious and I started feeling anxious.

So, what did I do, if anything…You can click on the title of each section if you want to read the meditation from 40 Acts

ACT 7: You first

After you.’ It’s not something you hear very often in our preoccupied, me-first society. Yet, how easy it is to offer a higher place in the queue, your seat on the bus, the chance to go through a road junction first. And what a blessing to receive it!

Green: Everywhere you go today, hold the door open for anyone who’s following you.

Amber: Allow another shopper to go ahead of you at the checkout or let another driver out of a junction.

Red: Continue into the week, looking for opportunities to practice ‘preferring others’. Determine to make this a constant habit.

I do try to be considerate, to hold doors open, to let lesser loaded shoppers go first and so on…So today I continued to do this. I also tried very hard not to make sarcastic comments (only to myself) about drivers who I considered to be driving slower than they should be! Nothing world shattering, I’m afraid!

It did make me smile though, as I remebered last year…One 40 Acts day I was feeling right mardy, as I wandered the aisles of Lidl with my trolley filling up. I felt a prompt from somewhere, pointing out my less than charitable efforts.

“Oh alright then,” I grumped, “I’ll let anyone with a basket go first.” SIGH

I got to the checkout. Shortly after, a guy holding a couple of baguettes arrived behind me.

Allez-y” I said, and he thanked me, and went next. As I prepared to unload my shopping onto the conveyor belt someone else arrived with a basket. Hah, God, I thought. Very funny.

Allez-y” I said, and as she slipped by me (yes, you’ve guessed it) two more people with baskets arrived. By now God and I were in on the joke, so I was happy to let them past too…but it did make me wonder about God’s sense of humour!!

ACT 8: UNDER THE WEATHER

Coughs, sneezes or assigned to bed… if you live alone, it can be difficult to manage cooking or even making a drink; and if others depend on you, there’s the pressure to carry on, regardless of how ill you feel. Someone you know is going through a hard time with their health, so put aside time to help them in a practical way.

Green: Text or call someone you know who is unwell to see how they are doing.

Amber: Create a care package or ask someone if they’d like you to prepare a meal for them.

Red: Set aside some time for a hospital or care home visit, or relieve someone who cares for a relative full-time for a couple of hours.

This seemed a bit ironic, as the pandemic crept closer to us… But Mr FD wasn’t feeling 100% as he was nursing a cold. I felt that looking after him, and keeping my patience (he’s not the best of patients!) was a good effort.

I did also text a friend who wasn’t feeling well, with some Get Well Soon thoughts.

ACT 9 PREPAID

Imagine turning up to buy something, only to find you haven’t brought enough money. You apologise and start to move away, but the assistant says you can take it because someone else has already paid. The stuff of fantasy? Not if you become part of a growing momentum of pre-paying on behalf of the needy.

Green: Leave coins taped to a car-park ticket machine.

Amber: Check out websites like www.suspendedcoffee.com or search on Facebook for ‘suspended coffee’ to find an outlet near you where you can buy drinks for the homeless to collect later.

Red: Contact a Christian holiday centre and ask if they have a bursary scheme whereby you can offer to pay towards a guest’s stay.

I intended to do the green act, but never quite got round to it. The best I could do was leave a spare plastic jeton in the supermarket shopping trolley. Not even a 1€ coin, but a plastic jeton!! Still, I guess it would still be useful if you didn’t have your coins with you.

ACT 10 LITTERBUG

Every cigarette butt casually discarded, every sweet wrapper or takeaway container soon adds up to a big problem on our streets. Let’s care for the planet God gave us. Find a bin. It’s a win-win.

Green: Pick up five pieces of litter today.

Amber: Keep a pair of protective gloves in your pocket or bag, ready to remove debris wherever you go. You could even separate out the litter to recycle at home.

Red: Plan a community clean-up day. Advertise it as widely as you can and gather a team to systematically work through specific areas. Spread the word on social media with the hashtag #40acts.

Sorry. Did nothing…

ACT 11: FRIEND INDEED

We’re thinking of friendship in its thick-and-thin sense, today. Among our circle will be friends who are going through tough times and need someone near them. Sometimes, fear of saying the wrong thing makes us stay away, but so often all that’s needed is some company and a listening ear.

Green: Call a friend who you know is struggling and ask them how they are.

Amber: Give a small thing like a card or their favourite food to let a friend who is sad know that you are thinking of them.

Red: When you speak to someone, listen carefully to what they tell you and, if anything rings alarm bells, ask them if they’d like you to go with them to get extra support elsewhere.

We have friends in Rome – as the pandemic in Italy gets worse, and the restrictions more severe, I sent them a message assuring them of love and prayers. They joined in our Zoom church service today – it was lovely to see them!

Also, later on, after France was put under lockdown (allowed out only for a few reasons) I posted some Ninja notes into people’s post boxes – hopefully to cheer them up.

ACT 12: CHOCOLATE TUESDAY

It’s a rare person who doesn’t like chocolate, so this one is for lots of people around you. Wherever you go today, spread the love, chocolate style! You’re obviously going to need to work within your budget, but push the boat out and buy Fairtrade if you can.

Green: Buy a box or tub and leave it by the coffee machine at work, or at the school reception. Add a cheerful ‘help yourself’ note, with the hashtag #40acts (and your name if you want to encourage a response).

Amber: Arm yourself with chocolate and hand it out to those you meet as you go through the day.

Red: Keep an eye out and an ear open for God to prompt you about who to approach. As you offer them the chocolate, add an explanation about 40acts and see what conversations open up about Jesus.

I knew this was coming, as Chocolate Tuesday is a recurring Act, so I was already prepared! Chocolate bars for the students I was teaching, a box of chocolate for the staff at the Language Centre, and another left out for the students. A card and a 40 Acts sticker. While my students were surprised, they were happy to accept. And one bar left over for Mr FD!

I’m pausing in the mammoth catch up now, as I’m going to have a Mothering Sunday Skype (or equivalent) call to my mum.

More at a later date!!