Yesterday I was out on one of my walks with Wilbur (my black Labrador). The sun was out and as I was pondering about this and that and I caught sight of a single beautiful pink poppy. This poppy was sitting within the leaves of a hedge on the side of a pavement. There was a garden full of poppies down the road, but this one was just there, looking beautiful in the hedge. I could have easily walked past this poppy not noticing it or thought nothing of it, but its ‘out of placeness’ caught my eye. Later that day I was in conversation with some lovely folk from a local Church who had been concerned that their Church community was shrinking, their view only fixed on their Sunday morning gathering. As the conversation unfolded, they began to talk about these six or seven other amazing groups that were also meeting at different times of the week. There was a sense of joy and hope as we talked about these gatherings. No, they were not the traditional Sunday worship, and, like that poppy, we could have overlooked them or considered them a bit messy. Yet, those spaces which enabled people to meet and gather had the same intention flowing through them, a genuine desire to share and know God’s love. By noticing what was going on in those places and celebrating it, the sense of Church community became a far richer, buoyant, and diverse landscape.
At the Ark we often talk about paying attention to where God is already at work within our communities and joining in with it. Too often we are all focussed on the way things have always been done or are too busy in our heads to pay attention or try anything different. The poppy and that conversation yesterday not only reminded me of the wonder and beauty of the world, but also that we should never be surprised at where or how God will show up. What may seem messy to one person, is a place of deep belonging to another. God is in all those places.
As we look forward to September with maybe a little more hope as life continues to untangle, let us be brave enough to seek what God is calling us towards and not limit the possibilities of where or how people can encounter God because of our imaginations or what is familiar to us.
This last year has been a rollercoaster of emotion
As we emerge from the restrictions, may we remember for some that this remains a challenging time
May we have the courage to step out of our comfort zones,
to imagine and be inspired to follow where the Holy Spirit leads
to lean into challenges, to be prepared to be transformed and shaped
to step forward. To enthuse and encourage others.
To ignite in others the desire to be curious about faith
We pray that new spaces are formed
Where deeper relationships can be fostered
and the love of God is experienced.
Warm wishes from
Jenny, Heidi, Alex, and Niall