This is an image I like. In took it at St Augustine’s in Bradford as The Bread Church was setting up. This is a small congregation made up of local people some of whom don’t have any other connection with the church. There I met Ann Challenger who led the group and has since died. Ann was like a mother figure to the group and each week would oversee the making of bread and the shared meal.
The group was in the process of changing its name to One Table and although the group was not made up of regular worshippers necessarily, this was a group living in a way inspired by the faith of its leader. These everyday activities – making bread, setting the table, eating together – are rituals which can help connect people into the meaning and values of the Christian faith in a way that some church formats struggle.
It was deeply moved by Ann’s little church and the conversations that went on over bread and soup.
We live in an apparently divided and competitive world. Our leaders are vulnerable human beings within a prevailing culture which separates the winners from the losers, the strong from the weak.
We build our towers as high as we can. We build so that we can impress our neighbours not in order to serve them; upwards not outwards.
The world economy is one in which we compete to influence what people think, feel and believe. It is a tough and often brutal economy of ideas.
The important trading routes are no longer international shipping lanes but the optic fibres and satellites uploading and downloading ideas; each trying to corner the market.
God has given us a different reality. It is not a product that can be bought or sold, not a lifestyle choice or the next big idea. You can’t buy shares in the God’s reality. God’s reality is the world made as he/she intended. And it is here, if we look for it. Surprisingly nearby.
God’s world is one in which we are able to live together, share ideas and work towards communities without fear, free from poverty and injustice; where all people are valued for who they are and have a place at the table. It is not a divided world and doesn’t separate the winners from the losers.
This world is the real world because God came to make it real.
Jesus was and is a real person who engages with people at a personal and intimate level. He is the everyday messiah. He is divine and yet takes an interest in people as they go about their daily lives without favouritism. He brings hope to the worst of us. The early church with its examples of hospitality and community living has endured and is important to us now.
How can we choose God’s vision in the everydayness of our lives? What does it mean to model God’s reality in the way we live and work together? Is it enough to trade ideas and win arguments – or do we first need to quietly and modestly become the idea? Living differently.
Wellsprings Together Bradford and Welfare Reform Impact Bradford are local organisation (or which I’m a part) help inspire and coordinate poverty responses among the faith groups. Twice a year they put on an event called Hope on the Edge at Bradford Cathedral which aims to bring together those working to alleviate poverty and transform communities.
On Sunday May the 7th our gathering this time will focus on HOPE for our Bradford Episcopal Area. Representatives of churches, groups and organisations from across the district are invited for a time of creative reflection and prayer.
You will be able to engage with a range of varied prayer styles – explore stillness; reflect through art and music; pray corporately, urgently and creatively. Listen to Stories of Hope emerging in Bradford – seeds that indicate the new potential in times of adversity and disappointment.
Join us for an evening of creative prayer in Bradford Cathedral on Sunday May 7th from 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm.
Just turn up or let us know you’re coming on this link
More info email@example.com
Went to an inspiring evening at Bradford Cathedral last night bringing together a wide representation of people representing the City. Flourishing City asked what it takes for a city to flourish. There were some very influential people there including senior management from the council, church leaders, faith groups and activists. Here are my notes.
Jerry Lepine the dean was great. I have to applaud his enthusiasm for the subject of ‘city’ and the welcome he gave. He introduced the evening by saying the cathedral belongs to the City – “it is your cathedral” he said.
We are not about just delivering big shiny boxes, we must step back and allow the next generation to come through endlessly curious, telling stories and connecting people. [Kersten England]
Here’s a little piece about welcome from Charles E. Rice. In it he talks about everyone’s search for welcome as a search for ‘home’.
Even better, he says, is giving welcome. When we offer our fellow pilgrims welcome we find “the welcome we ran home to on cold or lonely nights”, it is “portable, elusive and holy”.
Charles seems to be pointing to the kind of welcome that brings the eternal concept of home into the ordinary experiences we share.
I have been reflecting on how our churches and small projects do communications. Some recently have come to me and said that they need help and are not very good at it. What they mean is that they struggle with social media and are hopeless at updating their websites.
I went to Wakefield today to do some mission planning work. Unusually I took a break to get lunch from a very impressive sandwich shop. The friendly owner was eager to share thoughts about how Brexit would impact on the local people. I took my sandwich to the cathedral which provides a welcoming and accessible space for prayer and reflection.
A really wonderful discussion last night led by Bishop Toby Howarth and organised by the Thinking Faith Network in Thornbury, Bradford. The bishop took the parable of the Good Samaritan and the question to which it responded.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ … and, Love your neighbour as yourself.
As part of my job I am working towards setting up a number of places of welcome across Bradford. Places of Welcome is a specific idea pioneered out of a city wide consultation in Birmingham about what makes a city welcoming. The Diocese of Birmingham then set up the Places of Welcome network.
A Place of Welcome has a sign outside a building saying come on in. Places of welcome is not a new idea but what I like about this version of it is that it’s a very clear and simple proposition based on five principles; It has a very clear set of values and an ethos to which supporters can readily subscribe. Continue reading