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hospitality

Shaking the Dust

Ancient custom decrees shaking
shoe dust at unwelcome faces.
Unspoken communication
such as this seeks to acknowledge
hostility which replaces
delightful hospitality,
where shoe shakes supersede handshakes!
Such tradition comes not without
trepidation, hesitation
before final demonstration
of submission to one’s wishes
What brought me to stand at your door
and desperately shake dust off
my shoes, with the bitter taste of
betrayal tainting highlights of
our history – our childhood and shared
experience? What? Where? When? Why?
Why use this powerful method
of communication to end
all future destructive attempts?
Few know how to truly hurt me,
yet you have long since scrutinised.
I marvel at such attention.
The impact of pain, exclusion,
petty point scoring runs so deep…
Such consideration deserves
the response long meditated
upon, negotiated for.
A shame those involved knew nothing
of your game, such acquiescence.
Of innocent participants?
Mere cannon fodder to you now
And yet I still forgive you – yes…
but to forget would be foolish.
So I shake the dust off my shoes,
turn away never to return.
As this ritual requires.

Invitation to Abundance

As I prepared my sermon for today around the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, I was prayerfully transported back to Cuddesdon. Only months earlier we had used this passage for a Eucharist with children. They had designed, or at least had a say in, most of the service; they had chosen to focus on the abundance of God. All week I have been pondering God’s abundance, and signs of that abundance, across the parish.

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If we’re considering material abundance, then perhaps the parish in which I serve does not offer a life of plenty. This week Church Times have included a few articles on the need for the Church of England to become more relevant to people who live in parishes just like mine. Whilst I absolutely support the sentiment behind this thinking, I would also question whether people in more deprived areas are withdrawing from church, or just withdrawing from organised church services. In a little over a month I have encountered so many people who wish to share deep aspects of their lives with me and be prayed for. Material abundance is something that they may be able to see but is completely out of reach, much like these blackberries which grow behind bars, impossible for anyone to reach and benefit from.

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A life of plenty is something in the distance that many will fail to see because they are too busy or too preoccupied with the here and now.

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And yet even in these places where hope is difficult to find, there are small reminders of this abundance springing up in very unlikely places and flourishing on very little nourishment.

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I am inclined to believe that it is not material abundance which God offers, neither is it an abundance which we can see but is far out of reach. Instead God offers a rich abundance which may at first be difficult to identify or describe.

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As Isaiah 55:1 says, “You that have no money, come, buy and eat…without money and without price.” Isaiah and the feeding of the five thousand offer an invitation from God to this abundant life where, in sharing the little that we have, what we have grows beyond all recognition.

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What we have to share may not be material; it might be our time, hospitality, friendship, care and prayers. As small as these may seem, when we offer them out they grow in our hearts and the hearts of others.

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When we don’t offer out the gifts that we have, or share what we have, the imagery of “The Old Shopping Bag” can soon become a reality.

The Old Shopping Bag

Do you remember the time when we met
I was new, vibrant and perfect without blemish
You were much younger then
You hadn’t yet met your man
And the children were mere stars in the sky
Those were the good old days
You would meet your friends and take me too
We would go to all kinds of places
You would give me items for safe keeping
Far more than I could carry – I didn’t mind though
I was just happy to be by your side
Sharing in the joy feeling alive

Do you remember the day the pennies ran out
You had met your man by now
I could see how much you loved him and he you
But things were different
We didn’t go out together so much
You didn’t see your friends often
Giving me items for safe keeping
Almost never led to a day out
It tended to result in a visit to one place
The same place again and again
My sides were rarely bulging when we left
And I was beginning to show signs of neglect

That debt came shortly after your first child
How beautiful she was and so very placid
You spent your days loving and mothering
And he would bring home the bacon
Your man the bringer of happiness and laughter
Came home in the middle of the day
He slung his boots hard on top of me
It was miserable and wet anyway
Yet his return seemed to bring
More anguish and distress
I had never seen you like that before
Little did I know it was to become the new normal

The trips out became fewer and fewer
I was now looking positively shabby
With threads dangling and my once vibrant print
Now scuffed and barely recognisable
To add insult to injury one of my straps hung loose
Even the lighter loads that you now entrusted
Into my care were too much to bear
I was tired but that was nothing
In light of your sheer exhaustion
Desperation and insatiable hunger
You asked and you received but never enough
Kind as people were…it was never enough

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The One and Only…

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#654 A #popular local attraction and amazing to see so many people flock to the one and only Cuddesdon #churchfete for a #senseofcommunity #tradition or perhaps just #intrigue Nevertheless, it was fantastic to see so many people in one place, enjoying the beautiful #surroundings and #hospitality

Hospitality 

‪#598 #day16 of #lentchallenge with @bible_society #hospitality as #openhouse #invitation #welcome 

Chalking the door

#530 #epiphany #chalkingthedoor #blessedchalk #christusmansionembenedicat #hospitality 

Tea ceremony 

#526 #machamoment 魔茶 #japaneseteaceremony is a beautiful way to show #hospitality through tradition and ritual. It’s giving the best you have and observing appropriate etiquette on what to say and what not to say. It’s really lovely to prepare as I consider how Jesus contributed to hospitality at the #weddingatcana for my #sundaysermon #john2v1to11 

Posada

#514 #posada2016 #maryandjoseph came to stay with us today and were welcomed with a cup of tea with their previous host. Taking time to enjoy one another’s company is a lovely gift to give and receive, especially at #christmas. #Thanks to Rosie for this photograph. 

Hospitality 

#438 #hospitality today in the form of #openday. It is always a #pleasure to welcome prospective ordinands into this space that we are privileged to look after! Today I #pray for all exploring #priestlyvocations as well as those discerning next steps. May they hear God’s voice above all else. Amen. 

You’re in my seat!


#380 This is a perfect example of #youreinmyseat…cats are so territorial, part of me wants to question why, and then I looks round #localpubs, #restaurants with regular customers, my Dad at #home and even #church. It seems that so many of us are guilty of finding a spot we like, for whatever reason, and sticking with it. Those who have ever worked in offices will usually have worked at specific desks, and I remember how difficult life was as a teacher with no fixed classroom and living out of a series of boxes!! #ourspace is often so important, but when it becomes clicky, and leads us to talk to the same people, and stop looking round to welcome others (particularly in church, perhaps) our ownership of space can be damaging. My partner and I were moved in a church we went to a few months back, because the women who always sat there were unable to adapt…#hosptalitygonewrong perhaps?

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