Thoughts from the Ark

October 2021

Thoughts from the Ark
Thoughts from the Ark

With Christmas now just a blink around the corner, I cannot quite believe it! I am certain that time has picked up a pace, I could do with a few more weeks, just to get a few more things sorted!

What I have been working on is our annual family calendar, a yearly event and what seems to have become somewhat of a tradition in our family. When it all started many years back, the only people who appeared in the photos on the calendar were my three children. However, as the years have passed, there are so many more people who appear in the photos that make up our calendar, as our family has grown, changed, and adapted. So, the process of sorting and choosing photos has become a longer process each year, but it does afford me the opportunity to sift through a year of photos. This year has been strange, unpredictable and at times difficult and not one any of us would have envisaged. Yet, as I sorted through the photos what struck me was that despite all the weirdness of the year, what I had were so many captured moments of precious times that have scattered times of joy and love throughout the year.

So, as I complete the family calendar for another year, I am thankful that although my family has, over the years, altered in ways I had not anticipated. I did not want to go through heartaches or bumpy patches, who does! I would have preferred uninterrupted joy! But all those experiences have brought a far richer life, one that can be witnessed through those photos each year.  

At Christmas we re-tell the story of Jesus’ birth and I wonder if we stop and consider just how tough that would have been for Mary and Joseph. The time before the birth was hardly plain sailing, let alone during and after! But we remember the message that it brings to each one of us, that of joy, love, and hope. It is, for me, a constant reminder that in the face of adversity and difficulty that hope, and love can always be found and shared. Sometimes we just must search a little harder to discover it and it can be found in unexpected places.

This Christmas, although we are embracing times of uncertainty and change for a myriad of reasons, I pray that you find moments of joy, hope, and love this Christmas season and throughout 2022.    

“There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect. The world can be harsh and negative, but if we remain generous and patient, kindness inevitably reveals itself. Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness; something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it, we are able to trust and open ourselves.”

John O’Donahue

Warm wishes

Jenny, Niall, and Heidi If you would like to contact the team:

The Ark team is fortunate to gather with and have conversations with a range of people who share with us their thoughts and feelings about life, the Church, God, faith, and their communities.  It is so interesting to hear these stories and discover how people strive to connect with others and to share faith in meaningful ways.  In this edition of ‘Thoughts’, we would like to share with you some of the voices of those who have been generous enough to allow me to print their words.  We wonder if any of this will resonate with you?

“Churches can be friendly places. We feel part of a “family” and enjoy meeting together whenever possible not only to worship together, which is special, but to enjoy hot drinks and a chat before wending our way home. Ask most people and they will be sure that their particular church is a very friendly place, welcoming to strangers too. The trouble is, so many now live alone, that this is the highlight of the week for them, a chance to catch up with one another. We do have a human need to do this and it’s totally understandable. However, most churches also have folk who are on the margins in some ways. They are accepted and spoken to, but not very often included in the groups who are “catching up”. They may end up at a table on their own with one or two who have noticed them there. These folk are often among the more vulnerable people in society, we really do need to care for them as we do for the people “like us”. We need to make more conscious efforts to treat them as we do everyone else and be inclusive. Jesus was fairly explicit about looking after the “humble ones”. Sometimes, trying to include people who are on the margins can be an exercise in loving patience! They may try to manipulate the person seeking to include them into a private “clique” of their own! We learn as we go!”

“We must stop looking for seat fillers – we are looking to save the lost”

“For some people, an important expression of their faith is to congregate and share hymns, prayer, and conversation. I am not one of those people. In the setting of a church service, I often feel lost, restless, and unable to grasp the meaning behind the sermon that is being delivered. When I leave the building, I feel no closer to God than I did when I walked in! And yet, when I am: wrapping my head around an IT problem for someone at church; straining under a barbell to lift my next personal best; battling with the elements in some remote location on the Welsh hills; or when I am wrestling with the latest set of challenges that threaten to disrupt the delicate equilibrium of the life I have built; well then I know that I am not alone, and I feel the abundant flow of peace that is fed by faith. Steadied by that peace, I am equipped to move forwards and address the challenges as they arise, using my gifts to worship in a way that makes sense to me”

“….BUT our new success is Women in Fellowship (though this name needs to change) our new Tuesday group. The long running ladies fellowship was under threat of closing due to the leader moving away. The group consisted of approximately 12 older ladies. We invited virtually every woman we knew, young and not so young. We started with three coffee mornings on alternate Tuesdays. We started ‘proper’ on 7th Sept and as well as ladies we know, we have had at least 1 new person coming each week who picked up the notice in local advertising mags. Are we excited, yes, we are! This group is proving to be everything we hoped plus some.”

Warm wishes from
Jenny, Heidi, and Niall.