Bishops & Cake

For me, as I look back, just a few days on, at the two launch events for my new book last weekend, the most remarkable thing is – how much I can’t remember!

OK – so here are some headlines. Some facts. There were over seventy people at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Friday, and around half that number in Steeple Aston the day after. The first event was the big public launch, the second a chance for folk in my parishes to celebrate and enjoy the occasion.

At Christ Church, we had bishops. Three of them. At Steeple Aston we had cake. Enough to feed a small army. You can decide which event you would rather have attended from that. Both featured people buying books, and me signing them – as you’d expect – checking every now and then ‘So that’s to Theodora spelled the usual way?’

Clare Hayns, Chaplain at Christ Church, hosted on Friday. Clare had organised the whole event brilliantly – so much so that I hadn’t had to do anything really. Thanks to Clare, the Cathedral had done much of the publicity around it. Dave Gatward & I gave a bit of background on the book before we chatted about issues raised in it. How had I come to write it…and then…my mind goes blank.

We’re into that section I can’t remember. And I promise I didn’t even finish the one glass of wine that was offered to me!

I do recall a sea of faces. And the Bishop of Oxford likening me to Michael McIntyre (in a good way, I think). I do remember thinking, as people asked questions, ‘There are lots of answers here, and different folk see this very differently, but I think I’ll just try to say it as I see it.’

I suppose that’s the book really. I’m trying to explain how I see the Bible as a story of a radically inclusive love, how St Paul is the gay person’s greatest friend as he argues for one new humanity with no-one left out, how God is revealed constantly on every page to be there for each of us, and that the way texts have been used to exclude is fundamentally bad biblical theology. And yet the church isn’t simply about me and people like me – it’s about all of us. So I will gladly, loudly, determinedly proclaim a Bible theology of welcome to gay people in God’s kingdom and also hold out a hand of fellowship to those who have traditionally excluded us. God’s radically inclusive love is, after all, not just for people who agree with me…

At Steeple Aston, the extent of that love was pushed even further. Half of the gathering was made up of folk who don’t really go to church at all. Playing the part of Dave Gatward was a local writer, Margaret Bulleyment, herself not a member of the village church, and she caught the mood of the afternoon when she said that for her the book passed what she called her ‘Larkin test’: Did she believe it? Did she care? Did she go on caring afterwards? Yes, to all three, was her answer.

And it was something of a privilege to receive questions which basically centred around a community’s concern that they were a good and welcoming and safe place for gay people to live
and flourish, in church and in general.

I was also asked at both events – and this does stay with me through the fog of excitement and unremembering – who I intend as the audience for this book. Well, anyone who wants or needs a Biblically affirming theology for inclusivity. But more than that, I wrote The Possibility of Difference aiming sort of at my 20-year old self, thinking how he might have flourished more with someone telling him that God knew he was gay, that he loved him, that it was OK, and showing him all this from the Bible. If just one or two folk in that kind of place get this book and find that truth…

Job done.
With or without bishops and cake.

Written by: Marcus Green

The Possibility of difference available now: £8.99 

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In a World of Tears and Sorrow

How to keep intercessory prayer fresh, alive and meaningful? That, for me, is a question I repeatedly ask myself, for two key reasons. The first, simply, is that when we do something day after day – whether it be prayer, a world-of-tears hobby, a job or anything else – it’s hard for it not eventually to become repetitive, performed out of a sense of duty or habit rather than with any spontaneity. The second is equally important. In a world where suffering, sorrow, evil and hatred seem as rife today as they have ever done, despite the prayers and hopes of generations across the years, we can become increasingly disillusioned, wondering whether anything will ever actually change. Yet if faith turns in on itself, it is not only of no use to anyone, but it flies in the face of everything we believe about God and his love for all.

It was with these concerns in mind that I wrote my latest book, In a World of Tears and Sorrow. The title is bleak: deliberately so, for the world, today can seem equally grim – injustice, poverty, warfare, intolerance, and oppression continuing to blight the lives of millions. Yet the conviction underlying the hundred poetic reflections that make up this book is that we must continue to hope; that love can still conquer hatred and good triumph over evil; above all, that through working together – not only praying but turning our prayers into action – we can help to make a difference.

I’ve chosen poetry to convey this message in order, hopefully, to get that message across more effectively; to breathe new life and relevance into intercessory prayer. Too often such prayer can be so vague that it says virtually nothing. Or, in attempting to cover all the pressing needs of the world in one go, it ends up failing properly to cover any. The idea behind this book is to encourage prayerful reflection on specific issues, whether those be of social justice, of war and peace, of poverty and human need, of our daily relationships, or of something other. The poems are designed to stimulate thought, stir the heart and invite a response – above all, to move and challenge us. My hope, as I indicate in the introduction, is to speak in a way that other prayers may sometimes fail to do, leaving the issues covered and needs prayed for fresh in the mind long after the words have first been heard.

Yes, it is hard sometimes not to feel that nothing changes; that our prayers fail to make any difference; but that should never stop us from praying, any more than we should allow ourselves to fall victim to what is often referred to as charity fatigue. There are countless people out there – real people – hurting, grieving, pleading, longing. They need us to remember them. They need us to respond.

Written by: Nick Fawcett

In A World Of Tears And Sorrow is available now on our website only £8.99 -  eBook is also available

 

 

About Nick Fawcett

Nick Fawcett

Brought up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Nick Fawcett served as a Baptist minister for 13 years, and as a chaplain with TocH for 3, before deciding to focus on writing and editing, which he continues with today, despite wrestling with myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood. He lives in Wellington, Somerset, with his wife, Deborah, and – when they are at home from university – his two children, Samuel and Kate. Delighting in the beauty of the West Country, Nick and Deborah love nothing more than walking stretches of the South West coast path at weekends, and Nick – as well as finding time for online games of chess and Scrabble alongside his many editing commitments – finds constant inspiration for his numerous books in the lanes and footpaths near his house. His aim, increasingly, is to write material free of religious jargon that reaches out to people of all faiths and none.

To see more about Nick Fawcett also visit his website at www.nickfawcett.wordpress.com  Also you can follow Nick on Twitter at   @nickfawcett

Moments of Grace

The Jesuit theologian Gerald O’Collins has authored or co-authored over seventy books. He taught for more than thirty years at that flagship of theology, the Gregorian University in Rome. His students have become professors in universities, colleges and seminaries around the world. A number of his books have become standard texts used by Anglicans and Protestants, as well as Catholics. Many of his books have been translated into

Basic RGB

Bulgarian, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and other foreign languages.

So what is he doing by publishing Moments of Grace—thirty-three chapters that shape prayer which draws on the four Gospels, the letters of Paul, and other books of the Bible?

O’Collins is convinced that merely academic theology is not enough. He thinks he should play a part, along with other professional theologians, in providing spiritual hearing aids. God speaks to us through the Scriptures. But we don’t always listen to God. We need help to let the inspired books become inspiring for us. Moments of Grace aims at breaking open the Scriptures and letting the Holy Spirit speak to us as the living Word of God.

This book opens up ways of listening to the inspired Scriptures. It can make it possible to hear some passage and feel, ‘these words have my name on them.’

Pope Gregory the Great said that Sacred Scriptures are like waters in which lambs may walk and elephants can swim. In other words, there is something there for everybody: for little lambs and mighty elephants. Whether we feel like lambs or elephants, we can all relate to the Scriptures and draw from them refreshment and life.

We receive life-giving force by letting the vivid language and images of the Bible confront us and set prayer going. The Word of God continues to be uniquely inspiring and spiritually energizing—heart-warming and soul-warming.

O’Collins reminds us of that old blessing which Jewish priests used in the Temple: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you’ (Numbers 6: 24-25). O’Collins presses on to note how the face of every human being can shine and become radiant. That happened long ago in Bethlehem. The face of a tiny child shone upon his parents and those who came to honour him. It was the Lord making his face shine upon us. The radiant face of the tiny baby in Mary’s arms was nothing less than the shining, human face of God.

This is simply one example of how Moments of Grace brings out the Spirit-filled light and power that the Scriptures embody. The book invites busy people to take time out of their heavy schedules and give themselves to prayer inspired by the Scriptures.

Precisely crafted and vividly illustrated, this book sets prayer going. May it prompt many readers into truly listening to the word of God, taking it to heart, and constantly acting on it.

Written by

Gerald O’ Collins

Moments of Grace is available to order now £11.99

Click here to view

Q&A with Jen Purbrook

We’ve been lucky enough to get to know you over the last eight months, can you tell our readers of the blog a bit about yourself?Jen 1

Hi I’m Jen, I’m 18 years old and I do an apprenticeship at Kevin Mayhew. I’ve been through high school and then I did one year of 6th form and then left and came here. I have an older brother who is really annoying. I also have 2 cats who are very fat and demanding.

 

You’ve been working at Kevin Mayhew since September tell us a bit about your role here?

I help out everywhere really. I answer the phones, place orders on our system, print and make CDs, manage the returns.

 

What has been your favourite moment at Kevin Mayhew?

My fav moment was when I got to go to the Music and Drama Education Expo in London in February. It was such an amazing opportunity for me and it was exciting to travel to London for 2 days. I learnt a lot about the selling side of things there and it has helped improve my confidence on the phones and in the shop when selling products and it also helped me with my customer service skills and talking to people.

 

Do you think apprenticeships are helpful to young people who are looking to get into work and why?

I think apprenticeships are great, to be honest. It has really helped me to understand the working environment and it has been a great booster to see what work is really like. I wouldn’t have expected it to be how it is and I think that doing an apprenticeship really helps you to get into the workplace. It would have been a huge shock to me if I finished 2 years of 6th form, then to uni and then into a full-time job. Getting in the experience of a 9-5 job at this age has been amazing.

 

You’ve dazzled us with your huge knowledge of music, tell us a bit about that and what you love about music?

I have been playing music ever since I can remember to be honest. I started with the piano and then went to cornet. I can now play those 2 and trumpet, french horn, drums, ukulele and any percussion instrument. I remember my first piano teacher used to give me a chocolate bar at the end of every lesson! I now play in 2 bands the Ipswich Hospital Band and I play in the Suffolk County Music Service in the orchestra and wind band there. I have been on tour to Spain with the Suffolk County Wind Band and that was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget. What I love about music is that there are only 12 notes but you can create anything with them. When artists bring out music, or when a composer writes a masterpiece, they are all using the same notes but yet they all sound so different. I love that ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has the same chord progression as songs by The Rolling Stones, Jessie J and The Script. But I think the thing I love the most about music is that it brings everyone together.Jen 2

 

What do you do when you’re not in the office? Are there any hobbies or sports that you do?

When I’m not in the office I spend my time playing music, playing football, with St John Ambulance or just generally relaxing.

 

Do you have any talents or special skills?

Annoying people
Music
Football

 

We all love to get away, where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?

When I was younger, as a family we used to go skiing every year and I think that has to be my favourite holiday, going skiing for a week.

 

We love a good musical at Kevin Mayhew, what’s your favourite?

My favourite musical? Either Grease, Hairspray, West Side Story or Miss Saigon.

 

Do you have a favourite quote?

Life is like a camera…
Focus on what’s important,
Capture the good times,
Develop from the negatives,
And if things don’t work out,
Take another shot!

 

What piece of advice would you give to other young people who are looking at doing an apprenticeship?

Jen 3If you don’t want to do 6th form or college, just go for it. It has been an amazing opportunity for me and I think they don’t get the right amount of respect. It has helped me grow so much as a person and you should definitely do it and get the experience.

 

 

 

Prayer for Thy Kingdom Come

My first ever published book was prayers. I started writing it when I was sixteen or seventeen and it went out into the wild as a proper book when I was 18. I didn’t start it as a book. That was never the intention. All that happened was that I read David Kossoff’s book, You got a minute, Lord?, and had a go at writing my own stuff down. That was it.

I’ve never found prayer easy. Still, don’t. I’ve tried setting specific times aside, but end up finding I’m doing other things instead. I’ve tried quiet times, reading other prayer books, taking walks, writing more prayer books and have come to the conclusion that perhaps it’s not a case of trying to find ‘something that works’ but more ‘doing what fits best when’.

Obviously, I’m dogged by the same questions as everyone else: why pray? Does it work? How do you know? Is anyone listening? How can it work anyway if millions of folk are all praying at the same time about different things? And I don’t really have answers to any of those questions. Except that I’m convinced when I look back through my life, that prayer, and however or whenever I’ve done, is a vital part of everything I’ve experienced and all that I’ve become.

Thy Kingdom Come is a prayer movement which started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England. It is now, just two years later, an international and ecumenical call to prayer. Christians all around the world are asked to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ.

Knowing Jesus Christ can mean many different things. It doesn’t necessarily mean a million road to Damascus experiences or it’s been a failure. Meeting Jesus is a hundred and one different things and more. It’s everything from a helping hand and an understanding ear to something life-changing. Perhaps it is simply the smallest of seeds sown all over the world which over time eventually grow into personal revelations about what and who Jesus is. Regardless, it strikes me that there is power behind millions of people getting together in prayer in the hope of, as Archbishop Justin Welby says, ‘… playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.’ And that’s something I want to be a part of. What about you?

Written by Dave Gatward

For more information about Thy Kingdom Come, check out the website: www.thykingdomcome.global

 

 

‘Thy Kingdom Come’

Thy Kingdom Come is fast approaching and, in our small, semi-rural parish, we have been gearing up for a while now.  There are a lot of things on offer to try, a lot of imaginative cogs whirring round in our heads and a we-all-share_1huge amount of potential for reaching out beyond our church walls.

If you’ve not come across Thy Kingdom Come yet then, may I say, you are missing out!  Last year, the initiative launched by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York saw thousands of people across the world praying during the 11 day period between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The prayer was specifically ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and 85% of Church of England churches, plus many of other denominations, joined in praying for the world and for people to come to know Jesus.

If you took a poll of how people were planning to pray and reach out during TKC this year, then I can guarantee that no two answers would be the same. For us, in our parish, it’s about reaching out to the community and our close friends and family. One of the highlights of last year was the prayer workshop we did in our local infant school, where each class spent a session in the hall exploring interactive prayer stations based on the Lord’s prayer. It was noisy, it was messy but it was also really touching and profound as the youngest children in our community connected with God and interceded for those they knew and cared for (see below for a link to what we did). This year we’ll be in school again but doing something completely different, which will have to remain a closely guarded secret for now or I will be in trouble!

It’s not just in schools, though, that we are hoping TKC will have an impact. We truly believe that we are supposed to bless our community so we’ll be venturing out on a prayer walk and making sure that church is open for prayer every day.  Most excitingly of all we will be hosting a training day by the Ffald-y-Brenin community about how we can work to form the local house of prayer where we live. Individually, we will be encouraging each member of the church to pray for 5 friends or family members who don’t yet know Jesus. We really want people around us to know that they are loved and valued by God and prayer is one of the most amazing tools we have in our box.

There is something incredible about being part of a movement of people praying together at the same time and for a specific purpose. It’s almost as if we are being swept along on a tide of God’s power and love and it really brings into focus the fact that, however, we choose to worship and whatever our style of the church looks like, we are all in this together. We are all disciples and we are all praying for God’s kingdom to be released on earth. So if you want to join in but haven’t really thought about how to have a look at the Thy Kingdom Come website or check out some of the numerous books and resources for prayer and worship available here at Kevin Mayhew. Join the movement and may God’s Kingdom come to you, your community and those you love!

www.thykingdomcome.global

flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk

Written by Mina MunnsRevd._Minna_Munns

Mina’s new book We all Share is available now only £6.99

Click here to view

 

Young Person’s Quick Guide to Leadership – the why, when and where!

Why?quick-guide-leadership

“Harris, the Headmaster wants to see you as soon as possible in his study.” was the summons. “Oh dear, I am in trouble.” was my initial thought as I left my 6th form tutor group. I already regretted having confronted a partisan sports teacher from a visiting school the day before quite so aggressively. Now it appeared the matter was going to be taken further. Minutes later I was reeling from shock as the headmaster informed me that I had been chosen to be head boy. The experience of finding myself in that role was challenging and enriching. It stood me in good stead for leadership throughout my life. I once spent a fortnight in Windsor Castle on a leadership course which was different.

Research shows that young people who have leadership roles in school go on to become leaders in their adult life. A few years ago, I was asked to run a training day for newly-appointed school prefects from schools all over the country. My preparation revealed that there were few resources written specifically for young leaders. Apart from those who go into the armed forces, young people with leadership potential tend not to receive training until they are in their mid to late twenties. My book aims to address this hiatus. It introduces young people to leadership theory (formation, styles, relationship to management), poses questions to help people explore their motives and strengths, and points them towards other resources. I have tried to be concise. The Appendix includes practical toolkits about communication, conflict resolution and chairing meetings.

When and Where?

I usually have two or three projects on the go at any one time. One day may feel like a day for poetry, the next for non-fiction and the next for a radio script! About once a year I go away for a month to somewhere with fewer distractions and concentrate on one piece of work. I wrote Young Person’s Quick Guide to Leadership last September in France in the foothills of the Pyrenees, courtesy of friends who loaned me their house. I know, it’s a tough life but someone’s got to do it! Having submitted the completed manuscript – one of my shorter ones as it happens – there was a discussion about a version for junior and primary schools. So, I sat down with a friend, Heather Torrens, who specializes in training pupil-leaders in primary schools to see what would emerge. We linked up with a brilliant young illustrator, Jethro Wilson who very quickly grasped our vision. The Junior edition will appear shortly. There will be a downloadable Teacher’s Guide, outlining leadership training sessions.

Final words.

I asked some young people including some of our grandchildren to test drive these resources. I was glad to take on their advice. I hope others find it useful.

 

Young person’s quick guide to leadership is available now

Only £5.99 Click here to view

Written by Paul Canon Harris

Have you ever imagined yourself as a castaway on the popular radio programme Desert Island Discs?

deep-calls (1)

Have you ever imagined yourself as a castaway on the popular radio programme Desert Island Discs? Along with the favourite records, book and luxury item, the guests are given a Bible as a matter of course. Now, suppose that instead of the entire Bible, you could only choose one book. Which would you go for? One of the Gospels? A favourite Letter, perhaps? Top of my list would be the Book of Psalms, the song book of the Bible: 150 rich pickings, a cornucopia of prayer, praise and worship to God. I love the Psalms and they were the inspiration for my new book Deep Calls to Deep, the title of which is taken from verse 7 of Psalm 42, one of the Psalms chosen for the collection. Through these reflections, I hope to encourage and help the reader to draw nearer to God and go deeper with him.
God has much to say to us through the Psalms and their timeless poetry gives us a language to express ourselves to God in return. We can make the words of the Psalms our own, engaging in prayer intellectually and emotionally, as we admit to God our true feelings. It’s been said that the Desert Fathers regarded tears as the purest form of prayer. We offer our whole self: heart and mind, soul and spirit, as we show our longing for a closer walk with God, who desires for us to go ever deeper with him. Our prayers should be vibrant and lead us into the very heart of God.

Modern-day life may bear no resemblance to the experiences of the Psalmists, but basic human nature and emotions don’t change. We can easily identify with the range of feelings expressed, as the Psalmists poured out their hearts to God in sincere, earnest prayer, holding nothing back. King David’s love for his Lord and his enduring personal relationship with God shine through. He wasn’t afraid to show his emotions, from the anguish and agony of spirit in Psalm 22: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ to the spontaneous exuberance of Psalm 103: ‘Bless the Lord, all my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.’
In this collection of Psalms, many of which were penned by David, I’ve chosen an extract from each Psalm as a springboard for my thoughts and ideas, which are presented as a short reflection and then rounded off with a prayer or poem, a verse or two from Scripture, or part of a well-loved hymn. It’s a book to dip into when you have a few minutes. You’ll find a variety of themes, including upbeat praise and worship, crying out to God for help in times of trouble, admitting doubts and fears, expressing an intense longing for God, and confessing sins.

In our fraught, pressured world the call to be still before God and rest in his glorious presence is more imperative than ever, as illustrated below, in an excerpt from my book:

STOP!

Be still, and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

I am exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

You know how it is: you’re worn out, run ragged, pulled in all directions and everyone wants a piece of you. Juggling frantically to keep all the plates up in the air at the same time, you somehow keep going beyond the point of exhaustion, even though it’ll all catch up with you sometime soon and you’ll collapse in a heap. It’s madness but you keep going.

You haven’t intentionally stopped reading your Bible regularly and surely God knows how busy you are at the moment? After all, you’ve been working hard for God all this time, so praying on the move is ok, isn’t it? Except it’s hard to concentrate for more than a couple of minutes and the distractions come thick and fast. Before you know it, and however unintentionally, God has been side-lined and his voice drowned out by the clamour of daily life. There’s been no time to spend quietly with God in his presence, seeking his will.

Finally, God has to shout to be heard, and it’s not the gentle whisper that Elijah experienced, but loud thunder that booms over the busyness. Unmistakeably, it’s God who is speaking and he won’t be ignored: ‘That’s enough! Stop what you’re doing, right now and listen to me!’ It’s time to refocus, put things in perspective and ask yourself what’s really important in your life. Where does it get you, all this chasing your own tail? Could it be that your energy is being expended needlessly? If only you’d asked for God’s help and guidance much earlier, instead of trying to go it alone.

There’s no need to start feeling too guilty, though. God understands how and why this has happened to you. Instead of chastising you, he’s offering a solution, a lifeline, reminding you that he is with you (Psalm 46:11) and giving you the opportunity to find a resting-place in him, amidst the apparent mayhem of life. Take it right now, don’t delay! Don’t be like the people the prophet Isaiah wrote about, who ignored God’s message to them:
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
lay down, thou weary one lay down,
thy head upon my breast.’
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary, worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
and he has made me glad.
Horatius Bonar

Written by: Linda Ottewell

Deep Call To Deep is available now: Only £6:99

Click here to view 

Margaret Rizza writes:

These beautiful reflections on the Psalms draw us right into the heart of Scripture, giving helpful insights into our ordinary, everyday lives. Deep Calls to Deep is a book which will inspire and awaken us to new horizons and this will reflect the way we go about dealing with the very ordinary things which we encounter every day of our lives. The thoughts and reflections after the extracts of the chosen Psalms are very helpful and constructive, allowing us to see anew some of the very difficult things arising from a culture which poses many things which need much reflection.

This is a book of great depth and will be a great blessing and resource to many people seeking a closer relationship with our Creator God.

‘Spiritual espresso – a shot of strong, stimulating spiritual reflection to start the day!’ Don Egan, Director of RSVP Trust

 

 

 

I’ll hold my hands up and say…

 

we-all-share_1

I’ll hold my hands up and say that when I first began working as a children and families worker at a large city-centre church I had little to no experience of working with under 5s. Having been a junior school teacher, I kind of knew what I was doing with the 7-11s, but anyone younger stumped me slightly. In terms of the under 5s, I spent my first year in the job pretty much blagging my way through and learning on my feet, but it was in the flying by the seat of my pants scenarios that I truly started to make a connection with the amazing spiritual capacity of the youngest children in our churches.

If we’re going, to be honest, the under 5s in our churches can be something of a neglected group. In a lot of churches we often don’t have the volunteers to provide even a basic crèche facility and, when we do, there is sometimes very little spiritual input. As a church leader, I understand completely how hard it can be to know where to start to include our youngest members in a meaningful way. However, when I started to engage more with the under 5s, I realised that there is so much depth we don’t give them credit for and many easy ways of including them in what we do so that they can truly be part of the whole body of Christ. And that is the key. If we truly believe that children are part of God’s family and have as much of a place as adults do, then we can’t allow them to be excluded from our most important Christian rites. If we want our children, from the earliest age to be part of the story of our community, then we need to find more than token ways in which they can participate. It was believing this that got me started on the journey towards what eventually became
We All Share.

As I learned more about play techniques and the spiritual journey of the under 5s and listened to the stories from churches across the denominations and across the world, I became more and more encouraged. There are so many examples out there of children being drawn into the symbols, actions, words and story of Holy Communion. As well as my own experiences of working with children, I heard stories from others of under 5s showing deep understanding of what the bread and wine represented, of families being taught some theological truths by their youngest members and of children acting out in detail what they had seen week by week from their own vantage point. I learned, most importantly, that Jesus belongs to all of us, irrespective of age!

So if you are used to working with under 5s, or you have no idea where you would even start; if you are a church leader, a children’s leader or a parent; if you have children’s groups or no volunteers whatsoever; if you want something you can use at home or something you can use on Sunday morning with very little preparation, there will be something here for you. Have fun, be inspired and let me know what you are doing!

 

Buy now at Kevinmayhew.com 

Available as Book or eBook – £6.99 

 

Written by Mina Munns:

Revd._Minna_Munns

A question of Blame

Currently, I am quite busy writing a book on fear and anxiety, called ‘Be not afraid’. In my head, it’s a sort of follow-up to my book on happiness, called Happy Talk. Whether the new book actually ever gets published will be up to others. I can but hope.

The intention is to look at general fears that are around in society at the moment, things like fear of violence, economic collapse, ecological disaster and those fears that particularly hit us as individuals like fear of a lack of worth, isolation and embarrassment, fear of growing old, illness and death. There’s also a chapter on fear in the Bible and the most frequent phrase ‘Be not afraid’.

One of the things that I’ve picked up on is the anxiety created by our society’s ‘blame culture’. I feel to me as though this has become toxically pervasive. Its roots appear to lie in the increasing individualism that we are experiencing that focuses so much attention on ‘me’ and ‘my’: my wants, my happiness, my rights, and the growing willingness to go to the law to claim compensation for someone’s mistakes.

Blame is a protection ploy – protecting me from getting the blame by pointing to someone else, usually, it’s actually the wrong person. Blaming someone else seeks to get us off the hook. The bad workman blames his tools, the employees blame the managers, the salesman blames the customer. It’s a contagious virus. In a company, someone starts blaming someone else for mistakes made and gradually others join in over totally unrelated matters until a whole culture of blame is established. It undermines trust, diminishes efficiency, breaks down a sense of teamwork, and stifles innovative creativity. If mistakes always end up with some form of retribution people fear making mistakes, don’t own up to them, blame others. But everyone makes mistakes, and everyone can learn from them. A learning and forgiving culture undermines a blame culture.

How easy it is even for congregations to harbour a blame culture. Church numbers are in decline – it must be the vicar’s fault, or the bishop’s, or the general assembly. Three children have stopped coming to Sunday school – it must be the new Sunday school teacher’s fault. The hall was left in a mess last week – let’s blame the youth club.

We need to distinguish between being blamed and being accountable. Taking responsibility for my actions, including my mistakes, is a willingness to be accountable. That’s very different from blame. I don’t find Jesus blaming people.  What the Gospel speaks about is learning and forgiveness and transformation. These are what should be found in a community of trust and love – a church.

I’ll have to make sure that if the book does not get published I don’t blame anyone else but me.

 

*Written by John Cox – April 2018*