During the final 7 days of Advent, evening prayer (Vespers) uses a series of sung responses known as ‘O Antiphons’. Each is a call for the coming of Christ with a different name or attribute of Christ used daily. Today’s the first of the seven, is ‘O Sapientia’ – ‘O Wisdom’:
‘O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.’
This wonderful little short from ‘The Work of the People’ with poet Malcom Guite explores Guite’s beautiful Advent sonnets and seems an appropriate way to begin our final week of Advent.
Today we celebrate the life of Isaac Watts, a prolific writer, theologian and hymn writer who lived during the late 17th and early 18th Century in England. From a young age Watts began to express his dissatisfaction with the clumsy versification and passionless singing of the Psalms in church. Wearied by his lamentations his father challenged him to write some of his own. This simple invitation kick-started Isaac’s life’s work; Today he is remembered as one of the most celebrated hymnists in history, with many of his hymns still being sung in churches today. The words of ‘Joy to the World’ a popular Christmas carol are amongst Watts’ achievements. It was intended to be a modern interpretation of Psalm 98.
Take a moment to read through Psalm 98, then read over the words of the hymn. Can you see the similarities? Have a go at writing your own version a Psalm – how can you express the same ideas and experiences with language and imagery that is more familiar and meaningful to you.
Today is the Feast Day of Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun and mystic who lived in the 16th Century. Teresa is known for her role in reforming the Carmelite order and her writings; ‘The Life of St Teresa’, and ‘The Way of Perfection’, and ‘The Interior Castle’. Below is an extract from her writing on hearing God’s voice:
Today marks the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order. Known for his writings and commitment to a life of poverty, Francis’ early life stands in stark contrast to his later one. Born into a wealthy family, Francis spent his youth enjoying the pleasures and privileges that wealth afforded him. His life however, took a sharp turn when, he was struck with a serious illness, triggering a season of reflection. Dissatisfied with what he saw in himself, Francis experienced a deep conversion, leading him to exchange his former life of excess for one of poverty and abstinence. After initially living as a beggar, Francis began walking from town to town wearing only coarse woven robes, preaching the gospel and performing acts of charity. Within a year Francis had been joined by 11 other men, who had chosen to follow him and the life that he had chosen. His small group of followers quickly become known as the friars minor. In c.1209 Francis sought and obtained Papal approval for the friars minor to be established as an official order within the Church. Once established the order grew quickly and became increasingly organized. During this time Francis began to embark on a number of missionary activities which often kept him away from the order. Cracks in the leadership quickly began to appear in the vacuum created by his absence and in 1223 a new rule was confirmed which shifted the focus significantly from ideals with which Francis had begun. Disillusioned and disappointed by the events, Francis stepped down from his position of leadership and retreated to live out the rest of his life at a hermitage. He died in 1226. St Francis of Assisi has been attributed with a number of prayers and sayings which still provide many people with both challenge and solace. Below is one of the most well known of these, we invite you to join us in praying these words today:
‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace, that where there is hatred, I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that where there is doubt, I may bring faith; that where there is despair, I may bring hope; that where there are shadows, I may bring light; that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand, than to be understood; to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. ‘
The world we live in has become characterized by a compulsive connectivity, but many of the ways that we connect with people, with our physical environment, even the way that we prepare and consume food have become disconnected from our physical bodies. While it’s not all bad, it can be helpful to make a conscious choice on occasion to engage our physical body in the process of connection, especially in areas where our habits are becoming destructive or dysfunctional. Here are three ways that you can choose to cultivate the art of presence:
This Sunday 10th August we’ll be pausing for a cuppa. This is an open time to drop in for a cuppa and a chat. We usually ask that everyone bring something along for afternoon tea to share, but this Sunday we’re asking you to bring along something a little bit different.
We have decided to get behind the ‘Homeless Help Pack Challenge’ . This involves putting together a pack of some basic items that are useful to those living on the streets. They can be new or in good second hand condition.
Below is the list of items, please bring along as many items from this list as you can rustle up when we gather on Sunday and with our powers combined we’ll put together as many packs as we can. If you can’t be there on Sunday but would like to contribute some items then you can drop them off at the Powell’s anytime between now and Friday the 15th August.
What you need for a full pack:
1 x backpack (needs to be big enough to fit everything below) 1 X beanie 1 X scarf 1 x gloves 2 x socks 1 X emergency blanket (you can get them from most camping equipment stores also at the warehouse) 1 x toothbrush 1 x toothpaste 1 x deodorant 1 x soap bar 1 x wet wipes (small packet) 1 x razor 1 x comb 1 x hand sanitiser 1 x small jar peanut butter/marmite etc. 2 x small cans of tuna/chicken etc. 1 x packet of crackers 1 x packet of fruit cups (small tubs of fruit in juice) 1 x small can/jar of apple sauce 2 x breakfast bars / muesli bars 2 x small juice boxes 2 x small bottles of water 2 x plastic spoons 1 x toilet paper roll
As the organiser acknowledges, responding to this challenge doesn’t speak to the underlying causes of homelessness, but it does allow us to extend kindness and a human touch to those in our city who are living and sleeping rough.
When: Thursdays 8pm, commencing July 24th (Term 3) Where: Oranga Community Centre – The Wiberg Room Facilitator: Hayley Reffell Cost: $25 (13 weeks) / or $2.50 per session (casual rate)
Have something simmering away in your imagination that you haven’t managed to get out?
Want to live your life more creatively?
This group is for you…
The Artist’s Way is a course in exploring and cultivating your creativity. Using Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artists Way’ as a guide this creative cluster will meet weekly exploring themes from ‘The Artist’s Way’ and looking at how each impacts our own creative work– or lack of it! The creative cluster will also aim to provide support, encouragement and accountability for one another as we embark on our own creative projects – whatever they may be.
‘No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.’
Whether your aim is to develop work you want to sell or perform, or just to be more creative with your home cooking, there is something in this course for you.
Introductory Week Exploring the Basic Tools
Week One Recovering a Sense of Safety
Week Two Recovering a Sense of Identity
Week Three Recovering a Sense of Power and Anger
Week Four Recovering a Sense of Integrity
Week Five Recovering a Sense of Possibility
Week Six Recovering a Sense of Abundance
Week Seven Recovering a Sense of Connection
Week Eight Recovering a Sense of Power Strength
Week Nine Recovering a Sense of Compassion
Week Ten Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
Week Eleven Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
Week Twelve Recovering a Sense of Faith
For more details contact Hayley: 02102947735 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow we’ll be gathering for a special [pause] to have a cuppa and discuss ideas from:
Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.’
If you haven’t managed to finish reading the book, or haven’t started yet – Don’t Panic! You can still come along and join in the discussion.
If you haven’t already, we recommend that you watch Brene’s TED talks (see below) on vulnerability and shame. Or if all that’s too much for you – there’s an animated short film, ‘The Power of Empathy’ it’s only 3mins long!
If you know others who would enjoy being part of the discussion please invite them along.
If you can’t make it along tomorrow we will be posting some thoughts for reflection related to the book throughout the month of May, so you’ll still have a chance to join the conversation.