From Jill Nugent

I spent a week in August on Bardsey Island in Wales as chaplain. It's my 3rd visit as chaplain and a unique experience - open to anyone who wants to volunteer! The island is known as a holy island, at the end of the pilgrimage route along the west coast. It is a really special place, very small with the ruins of an abbey, a working farm, a bird observatory and a few houses. You have to be ready to live simply if you stay - there is no electricity, only cold water from the island well, calor gas ovens and outdoor bucket toilets. In return you get to enjoy the incredible beauty and wildlife of the island. As chaplain, I took 10 services in all, which is not actually that demanding as, except for Sunday, most were morning and evening prayers. I also set up a prayer activity, which I find is popular with the day visitors and, in addition, I kept the chapel tidy. My other task was to sit in the outdoor cafe each morning, just to talk! I have discovered you have to allow for the Holy Spirit to work on Bardsey and then go with the flow. My well prepared morning worship, for example, was attended by far fewer than an impromptu evening candlelit service, in which people obviously felt something special in the silence following the blessing, as no-one moved for 10 minutes! Bardsey is often referred to as a 'thin place'. The best thing for me is meeting people from all sorts of different backgrounds, some committed Christians, some just enquiring, yet all aware of the significance of the history of Christianity on the island.

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A recent trip to the opticians has given me three new pairs of glasses and a
lighter bank balance! What a myriad of lenses and options as well as frames,
there is to choose from! 'You see those two red lines; is one directly above
the other?' 'Yes. No. The top one is moving away'. Ah! Wandering vision.
Pressure test: that's OK. Under the microscope: one eye seems to be older
than the other. how does that work? My eyes are an original pair!!! No
cataracts clouding the sight, thankfully. Glaucoma free: that's good. Eyes
are wonderful things: amazing interaction of light, cells. nerve and
brain-power to perceive images we understand and colours to delight. Not
everyone has all these attributes, sight can be marred by poor focus,
clouding lenses, colour - or non-colour - cast, better or poorer binocular
vision.

I recently attended a partner church conference with Open Doors. We were privileged to hear from Pastor Edward who lives in Damascus and is well known to Open Doors. He described how people in Syria are feeling very frustrated after six years of troubles and seemingly no end in sight. They thought that if they prayed then God would do something but it seems to them that he has not done anything. However, they are seeking encouragement from the book of Habakkuk, who learnt to wait on God, silently, and to trust God for a favourable outcome.

Pastor Edward went on to talk about living in hope. He referred to Romans 8, where Paul says all things work together for good. God has a special love and care for his people, he knows us intimately. He has a purpose for us all. Pastor Edward tells his church to picture it like the wings of an eagle, on one wing is God’s sovereignty and on the other is God’s love. We need both! We were also introduced to a new resource for churches called Dangerous Faith. It is useful for either individual or group study and is based on the Book of Acts. It consists of eight sessions, with a video, Bible study and discussion questions.

If you would like to read about Open Doors, the latest magazine is always on the table in the vestibule in church alongside a monthly prayer diary.

Jill 

The 3 churches day retreat was enjoyed by all. We took part in a music quiz, learnt a little about the history of church music and sang a selection of modern hymns to traditional tunes. Lunch was a highlight, as usual. Afterwards there was the opportunity to have a go at writing a hymn and setting it to music. The day closed with sharing and prayer.IMG 4354

At Easter we held two main services - a meditative service on Good Friday and a communion service on Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday we gathered around the cross, which had on it a crown of thorns, a purple cloth and a  bamboo stick, representing the events of the day. We reflected on the Biblical accounts of the crucifixion through a series of dramatic readings shared amongst the congregation. In addition we left any issues we had in our lives at the foot of the cross, on screwed up paper slips, representing the fact that we can leave our concerns with Jesus. Afterwards we enjoyed hot cross buns and conversation.

On Easter Sunday we thought about the women who discovered the empty tomb early that morning. We heard a dramatic reading illustrating the thoughts of those women on the day. The talk focused on possible mistakes made that first Easter and is reflected in the following poem. Holy Communion had a special Easter liturgy too.

 

                   Easter Mistakes?

   If high priests thought they could eradicate the Jesus ‘thing’.

                 Then they were mistaken.

   If they assumed leverage in money given to betrayer and guards.

                 Then they were mistaken.

   Thirty coins came back, but nothing from the soldiers.

   Were mistakes realised?

   Perhaps – but there was no stopping the Jesus thing!

   If disciples thought it was going to be the end, after all.

                    Then they were mistaken.

   If women sought to prepare a crucified body for burial.

                    Then they were mistaken.

   The huge stone was rolled away, God’s amazing plan revealed.

   Were mistakes realised?

   Surely – a task was grasped, a new faith was spread.

   If we think we know the Easter story very well.

                    Then we are mistaken.

   If the cross holds our attention and not the empty tomb.

                    Then we are mistaken

   A miracle, a risen Christ, much good news to tell.

   Are mistakes realised?

   Hopefully – all things are possible with God.

                                           Including resurrection!!

                                                                                                                                     A poem by Jill Nugent